Archive for the ‘My life… Training for obstacle races’ Category

WOD at www.allandnieva.me

“Just do it” – famous Nike slogan

Today… go for a run.

It was a 5-miler for me

My Nike sportwatch completely died on me, so I can’t share my run with you, but I’m working to fix that… =D

Take your time. Focus on your running form. Focus on your breathing. Focus on nothing else, but the run.

Training for the next set of events (Spartan, Tough Mudder, XTERRA, and RAGNAR), requires a good amount of running. So I ran this morning. I’ll be running on Saturday morning. …and I’ll be climbing Camelback on Sunday.

So if you’re getting ready for race season, like me, get to it!

See you tomorrow for the Friday WOD.

allan

 

Camelback-081615

Great climb up Camelback mountain this morning with my boy, Scotty.

No weighted vest. Just a nice, easy sunrise summit with a friend.

The weather was perfect. There weren’t too many people yet, and I was feeling good. I ran up several of the sections and stretched out at each little plateau. It let me know my training is going well.

I hope you get to go out for a long, enjoyable walk or run today. We’ll be working on explosive power this week using plyometric exercises. So… rest up, enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll see you in the AM!

allan

The first half of this year has been… an experience.FallingIntoPlace

At this point in my life the things on my mind were how I was going to deal with my daughter’s boyfriends… driver’s licenses… how to pay for cars for the kids… high school graduations… college funds… my retirement… Figuring out what to do with my life when I was done with flying…

I never thought I’d discover my wife had been cheating on me, getting divorced, selling my house, moving into a new one, flying new aircraft, and meeting an unbelievably wonderful woman in the most unlikely of places…

…all in the past six months.

So many life-changing experiences meant I had to let go of some things in order to give more time to the things that were more important… like my kiddos, my career, and my health. Figuring out where my focus needed to be so that I could not just get back on track, but to be better than when I started has been the biggest challenge.

One of the many things I let go of was this blog. While my health has recovered quite nicely, my fitness has taken a back seat. I still run and complete my WODs around 3-5 times a week and have gotten my diet under control. However, stress is a powerful thing – it has proven to me that it can override all your good intentions and take over if you don’t watch it… Stress hinders progress, lengthens recovery, and destroys willpower.  The result? I’m well above race weight, noticeably weaker, and it is taking me much longer to recover from workouts.

No more.

Starting next week, I’ll be sharing my training plans again. They are different than basic workout sessions. ‘Training’ is for when you are working towards a specific goal. ‘Working out‘ is what you do to maintain what you’ve already achieved with your fitness plan. They are two separate ways of going about your fitness. I’m training for the upcoming season of obstacle course races. The focus is on core strength, flexibility, and stamina. Secondary to that is arm/grip strength, upper body strength, and lower body endurance.

I’ll share my updates, diet tips, and race results, as always. Thank you to everyone who has continued to follow me. I hope you are able to continue to benefit from what I share every week!

Here we go…

allan

 

 

Blog at www.allandnieva.meI ran the Spartan Beast this past Saturday in Temecula, CA.

After a light workout on Friday, I felt as ready as I was going to be.

I woke up early on Saturday morning and caught the 8:30am flight to San Diego, picked up my rental car and started the one hour and 15 minute drive to Temecula, CA. I realized later that I’ll never do this again.

I arrived at the, now familiar, parking area at 10:30, with plenty of time to warm up and stretch out for my 1pm start time.

Something didn’t feel right. I felt bloated and fatigued, the exact opposite of my normal lean and energetic ‘race day’ self.

Having been awarded a ‘free’ Beast race from last year, I couldn’t pass this opportunity. Having done this race last year in the 110F heat, the organizers cut the race short, for the sake of safety. Of course, the hard-core Spartan racers got upset (yeah, I know we’re crazy), so they offered this race as a consolation.

At the starting line, I looked around and saw myself in a small heat. Upon further inspection, I found I must have been in the ‘injured’ heat, as well. Taped up knees, ankle braces, wrapped up arms and elbows, and even a back brace! We looked like a bunch of patients from a triage ward!

I had to laugh little.

I laughed a little more when the announcer was trying to pump us up. “WHO AM I?!!!” he yelled. “…we are spartan”, in very weak voices, was the reply. We all laughed. That had to be the most pathetic war cry I had ever heard. He tried again, but it really was no better.

“AROO! AROO! AROO! GOOOOOOO!”, the announcer yelled.

We all shot off like… a dripping faucet.

Seriously, this had to be the saddest start to a Spartan Race ever. I kept a slow, steady pace so I could feel out my knee and ankles and get them to warm up. The few who had tried to shoot out from the start line were cut down pretty quickly as we reached the first obstacle – water ditches. Right at the beginning, we were muddy and wet. That’s about par for these races. No worries, because the first hill arrived inside of the first half mile and, as a group, we sounded like a mixture of elderly people moaning about and a herd of asthmatic rhinos.

It was sad.

About two miles in was the first major hill. I recall that I arrived at this hill coming from the other direction during the last race. It was steep. Many of us found the side path that was longer, but much less steep.  This time, going up the sandy hill, just when we were wondering how we were going to reach the summit, there were ropes buried in the sand. We used those to pull ourselves up the last 20′. My knee and ankles were slowly warming up, but it took a good 3 or 4 miles before I could really run, and even then it was touchy.

At any rate, throughout the remainder of the race there were four more hills like that last one. Some of them even more heinous. The very last one on the far side of the course was the very sandy hill I remember from the Tough Mudder course (this was the same location for all three Spartan races in Temecula and the SoCal Tough Mudder). Of all the hills I’ve climbed during races, this one has always been the worst. It seemingly never ended. The narrow path was lined with racers on either side, cramped, or taking a breather, or passed out (literally). Going up the middle meant that you were eating a bit of dust from the climbers ahead of you. The deeper you breathed in, the worse it got. You just had to keep your head down and keep climbing. Eventually, I reached the summit. Or so I thought. It was a short level off, but combined with the steep approach to it, you couldn’t see past the edge until you reached it. This is where some people literally broke down and cried, because upon reaching the edge, you saw the rest of the mountain. You had reached about 2/3 of the distance to the top. This is where my continuous climbing up Camelback mountain with a weight pack paid off. I just kept going, ignoring the racers strewn about the path as I continued past them. It was harsh, but upon reaching the actual summit, I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment and, with it, adrenaline.

But I just got a ahead of myself.

Amongst all the hill climbs, there were the usual obstacles – balance blocks, 6′ wall climbs, reverse wall climbs, 10′ wall climbs, the rope climb, a 30′ net climb, gravel crawl under barbed wire, several water/mud ditches, with the usual under-wall soak, the atlas ball carry, the tire flip, gravel fill and carry, sandbag carry, and the Hurculean lift. There were also 13 new obstacles. One was the sled pull where you sat and pulled a metal sled with 80lbs in it across the length of the rope, then pulled it back into position. I’ve done this one before, but not with this much weight. Then there were the 6′ wall climbs, with an additional fence climb above that, then the climb down the other side. The traverse wall also changed – it is no longer straight across. It is in a zig-zag. Three walls zig-zagging with the bell at the end. I slipped right as I jumped for the bell. 30 burpees for me.

The rope traverse on the far side of the course was new for many people, but I had seen that one on another mud run. Racers drop on the over-water rope traverses because they’re scared. It really isn’t that difficult, but it is uncomfortable, so some people fall.

I can’t seem to remember many others, but there were a few more of those wooden wall climbs. They weren’t a straight wall but, rather, a 30′ inclined wall with spaces between the planks. Many people freeze as they climb over the top. The height can be dizzying, especially if you’ve just been running or crawling and still catching your breath.

The last obstacle was changed. Before you jump over the fire to the finish line, you have a rope swing. You grab a rope and swing across the water/mud ditch, with one little catch. The height you start at will not get you across the entire distance if you simply hold on to the rope where you initially grab it. You’ll either hit the close side of the ditch, then tumble head first into the water, or land right into the water and hit the inside of the far wall. The trick is to grab as high as you can on the rope, then as you jump off (and you need to jump, not just let gravity take you) you reach higher up the rope with the other hand and pull yourself up to get to the other side without hitting the ground or the water/mud in the ditch. This is where people hurt their ankles, their shoulders, or just ended upside down in the water/mud. If you miss, you do 30 burpees.

I made sure I didn’t miss.

I was so tired at the end that when I tried to do my ‘superman’ pose over the flames I almost didn’t clear it. I can’t wait to see what fangled up mess I looked like trying to pose over the fire! I guess it might have been ok because the camera guy stood up and gave me a fist bump just before I crossed the line. =D

I spent a good amount of time stretching out afterwards and cleaning up. The mile walk back to my car was definitely a challenge, but I was done.

In the end, I looked back at the 12.2 mile course, 6.4 miles of it uphill, with a 41% max incline grade, 38 obstacles, 13 of the obstacles being brand new, 120 burpees, 2 calf cramps and a 3hour, 4 minute completion time.

So… I took the day off today. Tomorrow, I will be going on a light walk/jog to stretch out my legs and back because this coming Saturday I will be in Temecula again to do the 9-mile Spartan Super!

It’s ok… I got this!

I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

 

WOD at www.allandnieva.me

“You are the culmination of your habits.”

I got injured at my last race – the XTERRA in the SanTan mountains. It was my fault for pushing hard. It was double track, but I was in the midst of other people who had the same mindset of going hard around the slower runners. However, just after the first mile I rolled both my ankles and hurt my knee. I stopped for a few minutes and actually considered not continuing the race. I watched as all those runners I had worked so hard to pass, just slowly filter by me. It was a reality check.

I really evaluated my recurring injury and decided to just slowly start walking. In a minute or two, I pick up the pace and it seemed to feel ok.  I kept an easy 11min/mile pace and, again, started catching up to the slower racers. Of course, I picked up the pace for the last mile and ended up finishing the 7k trail in 48:55. That placed me at 88 out 171 racers.

Not the greatest, but considering I didn’t know if I was going to finish or not, I’ll take it.

So… I’ve begun ‘working out’ instead of ‘training’ to get myself back to zero. The difference between ‘working out’ and ‘training’ is the purpose and goals. When you work out, you are trying to continue to improve or maintain your overall health/strength/fitness. When you are training, you have specific goals – to improve a distance/time run, to play the game better, to be able to push harder in the competition you are preparing for sometime in the future. The former is generalized, with the latter being specialized. I just have to keep reminding myself to take it easy.

During Christmas week, I started an 11-mile trail run in the McDowell mountains with my wife. About a mile in, my knee was telling me to slow down. I did, but then tried to pick up the pace again. After having to wait for me several times, and after my wife urged me to turn around, I finally did so after three miles.

I wasn’t ready.

I was checked out by my health professional and a running coach. I’ve found that I’ve definitely hurt my body, and it stems for some funny movement I’ve somehow added to my running gait.

With the adjustments noted, I ran another 8.5-miles at an easy 11mi/min pace and felt better. Running on the flat road was less likely to put my knee at funny angles. Here’s what it looked like:

Not great, but much better than my trail run the week before AND I didn’t hurt…  and at least now I know what was causing my pain.

So, my goal for this month is to continue to forward progress to eventually get back to zero.What Success Really Looks Like

I’m registered for next two XTERRA trail races here in Arizona in two days, and in a month from now, but my work schedule changed and I’ll be on the road for those two days.  😦

I think that was meant to happen. So I’ll take the break and get healthy again. I’ve been invited to four Tough Mudders around North America, in addition to the one here in AZ, and 11 Spartan Races. In other words, there will be plenty of time to race again. I’ll take this time on the road to recuperate and enjoy moving without pain. 🙂

We all have goals. Just know that in order to achieve those goals, we have to take detours. Understand that it’s part of the journey.

If you’re goal is to start getting back to zero, like me, then look for WODs to return this monday.  In the meantime, happy new year and enjoy your weekend!

Here we go!

allan

 

 

www.allandnieva.me

This was the hottest race I’ve ever run.

Period.

I ran the ‘Scottsdale Beat the Heat’ run last summer when the temps were well into the 100s, but this race was much harder than that 5K event.

The SoCal Spartan Beast was held in the same area as the SoCall Tough Mudder earlier this year, so I knew it was going to be a very hilly race.

I started at 12:45pm and the temp was already at 101F. I was wearing my Camelbak filled with Gatorade. It was the first time I was running a race with a Camelback.  I wasn’t sure about how it would affect me, but it turned out to be one of my better ideas.

When we started running I could tell this was going to be a rough race.  Breathing in the heat was definitely noticeable, but my throat started to feel like it was burning a little.  Each breath in felt like I was swallowing little razors.

That’s when the hill climb started.

This hill was no joke. I paced myself, took my time and just kept moving. I really wasn’t looking too far ahead, but as I round a corner about a quarter mile up the hill, I saw several runners lined up along the side of the course.  They were resting. Some had even started walking back down. That’s when I stopped to look around and noticed the air. There was something glistening in the air. Little flecks of something just wafting around us. It was a silicate-type of dust. That explained what we were breathing in. I had been coughing, but I thought it was just the mucus in my throat building up, but I started to notice everyone else coughing as well.  I looked up and saw the air was filled with this dust! So, I put my headband over my nose and kept going.

The number of people lining the sides of the track seemed to be increasing. They were just giving up. That’s when I saw it… the sign for mile marker 1.

Yup, this was going to be a rough race. I slowed my pace to a brisk walk going up the rest of the hill and as the descent started around mile 3, I ran all the way down the hill.  I continued this pace – brisk walk up the hills and quick runs down the hills.  It seemed to work pretty well for me.  The hills were so long that even the most conditioned runners were being affected and eventually had to slow their pace down as well.  The only difference was that I was recovering faster than they were. My strategy was paying off.

When we got to the ‘rock bucket carry’, I had no issues.  I filled my bucket, put it on my shoulder, walked down and around the hill, then back up. I switched sides once or twice, but never stopped.  I dumped the bucket and started up the next hill.

The tire flips, the tire drag, the concrete block drag… no problem.

The mud crawls were a huge hold up. Many of the runners didn’t anticipate how much gravel would be mixed in with the mud. They weren’t used to crawling along on their elbows and knees and feeling the rocks dig in to their skin. It really isn’t as bad as it sounds and they only cuts I got were when I sped up as I passed other runners over the solid gravel masses at the top of each much hump.  It was completely mind over matter.  As some of them got up and quit, or just stopped in the middle of the obstacle, I just kept going knowing that the sooner I was through it, the sooner I’d be able to move on.

The traverse wall and the rope climb ARE MY JAM! =D  I got those done just the way the did in training. No burpees for me!  But… I missed the spear throw. 30 burpees and I was back on my way.

We got to a sludge pit and I just enjoyed gliding my way through the smelly, but very cooling, water/sludge mixer.  It was definitely a welcome break from the heat. Next up was another mud crawl, then the slippery rope/wall climb, then the fire pit.

Then it was over.

My time of 3 hours and 20 minutes put me in the top 100 finishers.  Of the 8000+ runners that started the event, just short of 2600 finished.  It was that brutal.

I was just happy to finish it.

I earned my Trifecta for the year and now I’m ready to start XTERRA Trail racing season!

See you tomorrow for the WOD!

Team, "Mudder Lode" - BEFORE

This was definitely the muddiest and the “hilliest” event I’ve ever run! The course planners definitely made use of the hills at the Mount St. Louis Moonstone ski resort…  It had rained on Saturday, making the hills even more difficult to climb.  Many of hills found the limit of several people, and they just called it quits on the side of the hill.  Yeah… It was brutal.

Of course, I thought it was fun because I’m a little sick in the head, I guess.  But seriously, I just  knew that after each difficult hill climb there would be a ‘smoother’, if not at least a less intense downhill.

I ran with Team, “Mudder Lode”.  These guys were all fun and jokes and great attitudes!  We were made up of a great mix of Mudder Legionnaires (one or more TMs completed) and newbies.

We started out together, and it was pretty fun getting everyone through the ‘mud mile’ obstacle.  The ‘mud mile’ is an obstacle that consists of a series of trenches.  The peaks between the trenches are made of clay (made slippery by the mud) and the bottom of the trenches are filled with super slippery, thick, clinging mud.  That mud was filled with large amounts of salt so that even though you could reach the bottom, you would float!  Floating on that mud was a pretty weird feeling, but I was glad to be on top of it, and not struggling to stay afloat.  The thickness and the slickness of the mud did not allow anyone to climb up and over each mud hill by themselves.  So you had to rely on your fellow Mudder to help you out.

About halfway through the course, some of us decided to split apart.  Waiting for most of the group started taking it’s toll on the faster runners who needed to keep moving to keep from cramping up.  We waited a half hour at one of the obstacles, standing at the top of the hill, in the wind, and in the shade.  That wasn’t fun.  Overall, we waited close to an hour’s worth, so we knew we had to keep moving.  With 19 people in our group, the slower Mudders had plenty of support.

So when Kevin Lee (an old friend) and I got to the log carry obstacle, we just busted out the speed.  We kept a great pace and kept passing everyone on the log carry loop.  That was a huge motivator for us and after passing off our log, we felt ready to run.  We just kept going at a good pace and found ourselves at the ‘Arctic Enema’ ice bath jump.  We jumped in and I lost my goPro!  After I came out, I told the volunteer and he said there wasn’t anything he could do.

So I asked to jump in again and look for it.

He looked at me like I was nuts and said, “that’s up to you!”

So jumped into the ice pool one more time and stayed under for about 20 seconds. I felt someones arm reaching for me and I stood up to ask what we was doing.  He said he thought I had drowned.  I told him I just needed another 20 seconds or so and went back down.

I didn’t find my goPro…  😦

But at least I was cooled down! Spending about a minute in that ice water really hit me.

After catching my breath, we began running and in another 1km or so down the course was another hill climb.  It was pretty brutal.  We just kept our head down and kept climbing.  Unfortunately, in the middle of the hill I ran into another person and accidentally stepped on their foot as were both falling.  That’s when I rolled my ankle.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) my ankle rolls about once every race, but this time it did something.  Once we made it to the top of the hill, I really felt it throbbing.  We continued nonetheless.

That loop met around where the Arctic Enema ended and we saw the rest of the group.  They were already about an hour-and-a-half behind us!  We knew we made the right decision.  I don’t think I could’ve gone that slow.

We got to Everest and I felt good.  ‘Everest’ is the ramp climb.  With no hesitation, I ran through the gates with a good speed, but right before the ramp was  thick mud.  My right foot sank into it and took away my momentum.  Quickly.  My left foot hit the ramp at a funny angle and two steps up, my right knee crashed right into the ramp, stopping any further ascent.

Ouch.

I walked back, assessed a clearer route and went for it again.  This time I went up so fast I almost went over the other side!  The technique for this ramp climb is to hit it with a constant speed and to keep going until you’re at the top.  Diving for the edge slows you down and doesn’t always work.  I felt better clearing the top.

We got to the Funky Monkey and I cleared it fine.

After another mud mile and barbed wire crawl (with even THICKER mud), Kevin and I entered the ‘Legionnaire’s Loop’ – an area reserved for ‘Mudder Legionnaires’. It was a tough obstacle that consisted of a bar to traverse, then a ring, another bar, and another ring.  We looked at it and decided to just jump into the water and wash off our mud.  We were just so muddy, we had zero grip.

Of course the next obstacle was going under and over and under floating tubes in a water reservoir.  That was cold.  I’m saying that after telling you that I went through the Arctic Enema TWICE.  This water was COLD!Team, "Mudder Lode" - AFTER

Then… we were done! Electric Shock, the most feared obstacle, was a non-issue.

We finished under four hours, which included waiting time. We washed up, I got my camera, and waited to take photos of our teammates as they crossed the line.  They finished the course in just under seven hours.  It was a proud moment.  All smiles.

This TM was definitely one for the record books!

Allan Nieva WOD www.allandnieva.me

I have to be honest.  Pushing myself during my last race in Colorado Springs took a heavy toll on me.  I completed all the obstacles that were important to me and finished the race a few minutes faster than my goal time.  However, after returning home, I wasn’t recovering the way I usually did.  Running at the high altitude without getting normalized to it in the days prior to the race, then making my body push itself to the limit for as long as I could throughout that 1hour and 28 minutes really felt great…  BUT, I found out there are consequences.

Our bodies are amazing machines.  Paired with a brain that can be taught to push ourselves to our limits (and beyond), we can make our bodies do things we never thought possible.

However, like I said, there are consequences.

For me, it was how badly I tore up my body.  I climbed that muddy rope all the way to the top and rung the bell with authority.  Something that less than 1% of the racers did that day.  I stuck the spear throw, traversed the climbing wall, conquered every single vertical wall, passed people during the rocky/muddy mud crawl under barbed wire, ran up and down the hill with the 90lb ruck sack, and kept running  when others stopped.

The result?  A finish time I’m proud to share (especially for a 200lb runner), a proud statement to myself, and a body that is as fit (if not fitter) as it was in high school (22 years ago)!  But also… beat up knee joints, extremely sore upper back and neck, and hands that have still not fully recovered (they’re inflamed and have trouble with grip).

So, I took a break for a couple of weeks.  I was back on the road for two weeks, flying around Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, California, and Idaho.  I took walks in the evenings and completed my ‘Hotel WOD’ in the mornings.  I realized I needed to fully recover if I was going to be the person I need to be for my family (and future races).  I can’t be sore and inactive.  I workout because it makes me stronger, but pushing more while my body was in this state would’ve done irreparable damage.  Part of training is learning when to say when.  These past few weeks have been that time for me.

I realized that despite my Crossfit WODs, I had not put enough emphasis on building my muscles and this last race proved it to me.  So, in addition to my running, I have started weight training again.  Not the power-lifting regimen I used to have, but more focus on the ‘pump’.  Long time body builders know that to build mass, it has to be the only thing you focus on.  You can’t build build size if you’re not pushing yourself solely on it.  However, this isn’t about mass.  It’s simply about building up the muscles I’ve let go weak.  So, here’s my new training schedule for the next three months:

  • Sunday (long run or climb up Camelback mountain/Squaw Peak).
  • Monday (Chest, Back, shoulders)
  • Tuesday (WOD)
  • Wednesday (Legs)
  • Thursday (WOD)
  • Friday (Deadlifts, Plyometric body weight exercises)
  • Saturday (rest)

It’s intense, but in order to complete goal of two Spartan Trifectas (Sprint/Super/Beast) and at two more Tough Mudders, I need to be in top shape.  Stepping up my training is going to get me there.

This morning, I ran with weights on my ankles and wrists.  Actually, I did a HIIT run with weights on my ankles and wrists.  I don’t know what possessed me to do that, but I won’t be doing that in the near future.  It was brutal.  This is what it looked like: – not a stellar performance, but after a couple weeks off, it’s a step in the right direction.

See you tomorrow morning for the WOD in the AM!

allan

 

Selfie at the finish line

The Military Spartan Sprint in Ft Carson, CO yesterday was the most fun race I’ve completed in a long time.

This was a tough race.  Starting just above 5000′ above sea level meant that when I wanted to push harder, I just couldn’t.  So… I just had to give everything I had at every obstacle, on every run, without exception.

They packed this race with so many obstacles, making it favorable for people like me who have a lot of physical strength.  I wasn’t able to run faster than I wanted, but I was able to catch up and pass people at each obstacle.  While they struggled, I flew by.  No burpees for me!

The course planners strategically placed obstacles to be even more difficult.  For example, after flipping tractor tires, you climbed a sandy hill and were met with the Atlas Ball carry, so hands were fatigued from the tires AND you were winded from the hill climb…  Or after crawling through 1000′ (yes, you read that right) of mud, you had the rope climb, so your hands were just caked in mud, as were the ropes.

To me, this just made it more epic.  Everything I did in training helped me get through, push through, and knock over everything that was placed in front of me.  It felt *so* great to be able to perform the way I did.

Few made it up the rope climb.  I completed it.  Many struggled with the spear throw, traverse wall climb, tire flips, reverse walls, 90-lb ruck sack carry up a hill, and numerous hill climbs.

Not me.

My time of 1:28:03 was not one of the fastest times. but just performing the way I did throughout the 4+ mile course just felt amazing.  I’m proud of how I performed.

Next up?  The 14+ mile Monterey Spartan Beast!

My Tough Mudder Legionnaire headbands and Super Spartan medal!

My Tough Mudder Legionnaire headbands and Super Spartan medal!

I may not be fast, but I can just keep going…

After all those WODs, the fruits of my labor came to fruition during the two events this weekend.

On Saturday, I traveled out with Scott Lew to run the “8+ mile Super Spartan” in Las Vegas, NV, then ran the Tough Mudder in Mesa, AZ today.  I’m not going to lie… It was brutal on my body and I had my doubts when I woke up this morning, but I DID IT! =D

The Las Vegas Super Spartan was a fun race.  It was sold as an 8.2 mile race, but all the GPS wearers confirmed a 9.2 mile actual distance – the understating of the event distance is pretty typical of the race coordinators.  The weather was great as we lined up for the 8am ‘Elite’ heat.

The race was held at a gravel quarry, so all the ‘hills’ were made of very large piles of gravel or sand.  This proved to provide a very interesting surface to climb and descend.  All the typical obstacles were there – monkey bars, rope climb, atlas ball carry, tire flips, traverse wall, an extended mud crawl (with the barbed wires notably lower than normal), the spear throw, and the wall climbs.  Admittedly, I completed everything without issue, except for the spear throw and traverse wall, for which I paid the price of 30 burpees each.

By the time I had reached the spear throw, the cramps in my calves were starting to take little bites.  I thought to myself, “As soon as I stick this spear I stretch out my calves.”  That turned out to be the wrong decision.  As I picked up the spear, I could feel my calves on the border of cramping, and as I stepped forward to throw, that’s when it hit.  The spear left my hand at wrong time and didn’t even make it half way.  I fell to the ground as a volunteer rushed to pull back on my toes.  He exclaimed, “Whoa! That looks crazy!”

My right calf had not only cramped into a ball, but as he stretched it out, it looked like someone was playing the piano on it.  The individual fibers were cramping randomly.  After it calmed down, I slowly go up… and pounded out my burpees.   It was brutal, but I was good to go again.

On the traverse wall, I started out as I normally do – slow and steady.  Halfway through, I suddenly got it in my head that I was moving too slowly, so I skipped a handhold and reached out for a further one… that’s when I fell.

I won’t make that mistake again.

Team "How I met your Mudder"

Team “How I met your Mudder”

The event co-ordinators introduced a new obstacle at this event.  Since it was in Las Vegas, the called it, “the Gamble”.  In the middle of the course, you had a choice to make – split off and run one mile of smooth, flat, and easy terrain, or 3/4 mile of hilly terrain.  I chose 3/4 mile.

It turns out that my ‘gamble’ paid off.  There were three sand hills in a row, followed by relatively even gravel, for a total of about a 1/2 mile.  The flat course was one-and-a-quarter miles of mild, but continuous, up and down terrain.

The rest of the race was fine and I finished the 9.2-mile course in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

My friend Scott, who I hadn’t seen since the start line, crossed the finish line at about 3 hours flat.  I was proud of him.  He ran the race with a mild injury and was able to finish.

After cleaning off and then getting something to eat, we drove six hours back home to Phoenix, AZ.

I got up this morning (Sunday), a little sore.  Sitting in a car for six hours after running 9-mile obstacle course is not a great idea.  Running a Tough Mudder the next day, probably borders on insanity.  BUT… this is what I wanted to do.

Our team, “How I met your Mudder” had five people at the 9:20am start time.  Two more joined us later as caught up to us near the end of the course.  It was flat course, compared to the ones on in the mountainous area.  This particular event required more strength.  The ‘Funky Monkey’ was notably longer (as soon as I get my gopro video, I’ll post it here.  There was also a new obstacle – ‘Just the Tip’.  It was similar to the traverse wall at the Spartan Races, except that they put it over water and took away the foot holds.  Fortunately, the top hand holds were three long 2×4 boards that allowed you a full grip.  I’ll eventually post that video on my blog too.

There’s was lots of mud and corresponding ways to use that mud.  Mud hills to climb, mud hills to jump over, mud hills to slosh through, mud hills to walk through, and one or two mud hills placed in the middle of the course, apparently, just because…  Fortunately, there was also several water obstacles that allowed ‘some’ cleaning.

The Tough Mudder event planners also introduced a new concept at the race – the ‘Tough Mudder Legionnaires’.  If you’ve completed more than one Tough Mudder, you got a different colored headband, in addition to the orange headband.

  • 2 Tough Mudders = green headband
  • 3 Tough Mudders = blue headband
  • 4-6 Tough Mudders = yellow headband
  • 7-9 Tough Mudders = pink headband
  • 10+ Tough Mudder events = black/orange headband.

It was cool  Isaac and I both received our yellow headbands at this event.  It was funny because we both felt a little pride for having completed this many.  We received several high fives and ‘hoorahs’ as we walked around the course and the finish area.  Admittedly, I think it shows quite and accomplishment (and possibly a sign of mild insanity), especially for someone like me who has lost over 30lbs and can now run ‘longer’ distances without pain.ElectroShockTherapy

“Mudder Legion” status also came with a bonus – at the end, you could split off and complete the “Legionnaire’s Loop”, which consisted of an unknown obstacle but, more importantly, you could skip the ‘Electro Shock Therapy’ obstacle at the end.  Our ‘unknown obstacle’ was a sandbag carry over hay bales and through a tunnel.  In other words, it was nothing.

At the end, you were still given the choice of taking on the electro-shock therapy.  I, along with several other ‘Legionnaires’ opted for the bypass.  That’s when I saw my family…

My wife and kids showed up at the finish line and had been waiting for me to go through electric wires… 😦

So I went though to finish the event.  =D

We had a great team, but took our time at this event, finishing in about 3 hours, 45 minutes (45 minutes longer than previous times).

I’m off of races for a while and will enjoy my time off, but will continue my training in preparation for smaller, upcoming events.

Overall, it was a great weekend and I’m thankful for the memories.