Saturday, 9 April 2016

Relentless suffering

So back in last year John got in touch to query if I'd be up for a slightly different run, which took three events that were being held on one day at a venue called Rockingham castle, where you could do all three races in the space of one day. Ten miles, 10k and a 6k, so around nineteen miles or so I thought.
As time went on, there was literally no information being released about what to expect, aside from an email with entry number and a little more to say not less than twenty miles, which given I'd done double laps at Tough Mudder which were about eleven didn't seem so bad.
I did think about doing training for this as I also want to be able to complete three laps of a Tough Mudder course this year which could be thirty six miles. Sadly my training was put on hold when an old injury decided to flare up, then after that seemed to subside, I had problems with my legs. So needless to say not a lot of training has been done.
Got down to Nottingham and John picked me up, then we headed over to the hotel which was a lovely Hilton place. Got settled in and then headed out for the meal. We met up with Gaz and Evee or rather puffin muffin to give him his full title. I went with a large mixed grill, tiny steak, gammon, chicken, chips sausage mushroom and egg, very nice if the steak was a weird shape. A couple of Guinness and black and we were chatting to our own groups,  although it only changed when I mentioned the Arctic marathon which has a $15,000 entry fee, which puts Tough Mudder's entry fee into the shade a touch.
We chatted amongst ourselves and someone suggested sending salad to the other table, with 22 forks, or a steak shaped lettuce, basically a lot of talk about lettuce. We eventually finished and after a second portion of chips. We headed over to the hotel and got off to bed after John got his waiver and entry number printed off.
I was out like a light and woke a couple of times due to the bed being so warm but got a good night's sleep. Woke around 6 and got ourselves down for breakfast, more sausage, eggs, beans and hashbrowns.
We walked over to the event site and got ourselves into the reception area to collect race number, timing chip and wristband, waited a bit in the tent set aside for relentless suffering entrants, a sort of food and drinks station. The warm up talk seemed important but no one was really listening, then a warm up, which I took part in as it was a bit chilly, then we were a bit delayed in starting people off so we finally set off at 9:30 which was alright as they were delaying the time you had to be setting off for the last run.
The first obstacle was a small triangle wall to climb over, which was easy then a slightly taller one, again not too bad, we then had our first varying obstacle, water barrels before into a really cold stream to walk along before some press ups before having a bunch of metal barriers to clamber over which was physically draining, then more stream and a skip of water which had a drop into the skip and a jump off the end of it which was pretty unsafe, especially as you had to use the edge of the skip to get out.
Most of the other obstacles were a combination of carrying things cargo net and mud. We got through a forest section and it seems someone removed the signs, so we ended up going in the wrong direction and having to turn back after finding we'd missed the sandbag carry, so back over the course we headed and found it, it also meant we got to so the kettle bell drag.
It turns out we were carrying 40kg bags of sand up and down a hill eight times, the hill had an incline of around 45° or more angle, Gaz and John had enough and decided to take the forfeit, which was less than the 25 press ups I ended doing by completing the obstacle. They went on ahead as they wanted to get into the OCR championship, I just wanted to finish it. I don't know how long it took me but it must have been close to ¾ of an hour easily, towards the end I was just resting at the top, finally back on track I skipped the part that we had already done.
I continued running and occasionally walking until the next obstacles but they all pretty much blended into each other after this point where they were climb over something or carry something. I did manage to split my shorts on the tyre flip as they were stuck in mud. I eventually gave up with obstacles as I had no energy left and my motivation to do them was in the toilet so I took the forfeits.
I finally saw the finish line and four walls to climb over so I just walked past basically going "yeah, screw that, I'm done" before crossing the line after five hours and forty minutes, which for eighteen and a half miles seems quite long, especially as I can usually do Tough Mudder in three and a half.
Aside from the slight issues I had with safety and people not really helping each other, it was definitely something that was challenging and I'm glad I took part, I just wish I knew how hard it might have been before hand and that we hadn't gone in the future wrong direction, I might be up for doing it again next year, possibly over two days instead if just the one.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Training plan

So after I managed to do one run in December which was disappointing but you know how brains can be with the horrible wet weather and a total lack of motivation. I decided last week that I would get back to training for the upcoming Tough Mudder season, so I need to actually get my self out there and put some miles under my feet.

The first run was appalling, I felt awful afterwards but this comes from doing literally no exercise in months and only running at Tough Mudder events, still I persevered and headed out again on the Tuesday for a little longer this time feeling just as bad, though not wheezing as much as from the previous run, then I decided I would make Sunday my last run of the week and for the time being stick to three days during the week, until I'm feeling stronger and I can handle more days per week, when I'm recovering a lot quicker.

I also gave a few chin ups a try as I'll need to work on that, so I can get myself over the obstacles, I'm sitting here writing this having caused myself a mischief in my shoulder, lifting slightly heavier things upwards is uncomfortable, so I'll need to be careful and perhaps wait to start pulling off chin ups when I'm a little lighter.

It was suggested by my friend John that we could do the Relentless suffering, which is one of a number of new obstacle course runs/races that have popped up in the wake of the popularity of Tough Mudder and prior to the Tough Guy, so I'm off to Rockingham castle in March to take part, they do three runs in one day, a ten mile, a 10k and a 5k, so if you do all three in the one day, you get classed as a legend and get an extra t-shirt and medal, given I've managed to get two laps in on three Tough Mudder course this year, nineteen miles shouldn't be too much of a problem.

So as today is Tuesday, it run day although the wind is pretty strong out there so it should make for an interesting run, I may have to change my route slightly to avoid as much wind as possible.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

New season, new obstacles

So with the new year, comes a new round of obstacles that were featured at World's Toughest Mudder, although here in the UK we didn't get some of the obstacles that were unveiled last year, mainly due to safety issues, we didn't get to do beached whale, which was a pity but there were many broken limbs from people being thrown from it so, I guess it evens out.

So the new obstacles are Blockness monster,  frequent flyers club, rainman, backstabber, flying squirrel and there are all the usual suspects making a reappearance, electroshock, birth canal, funky monkey and Everest.

Blockness monster - This looks amazing, large square barriers in water that rotate, so you have to get a team mate or other entrant to pull you out of the water as you hold one of the corners, this one will require quite a bit of upper body strength.

Frequent flyers club - Looks to be a legionnaires finishing obstacle, climb to the platform and drop onto a large air filled mat, this looks like fun especially if its quite high up.

Rainman - Another legionnaire obstacle, like cage crawl but it starts in darkness and you have water poured onto you as crawl backwards, they also seem to have brought back cage crawl for non legionnaires but this time its longer than before at 60'.

Back stabber - If you thought liberator was hard this has just stepped it up a notch, only one peg to use and foot notches at the side of the incline, make this the hell child of liberator, very much about the upper body strength again, liberator is also there for non legionnaires.

Flying squirrel - This is a Tough Mudder half obstacle which is like a zip wire across water that you hold onto rather than sit on, another upper body one and a definite draw towards doing the Half if you've done the full Tough Mudder before.

There doesn't seem to be much new about the other obstacles, I only hope that we in the UK get to try the new ones as they seem really good fun. All the usual ones seem to have been tweaked to make them even harder than they have been before, mud mile is usually great fun, now it might turn out to be strength sapping fun, with the tweaks that are being made.

So I might see you out on the course, just pop over and say hello.

Tough Mudder 26 - London South

Woke during the night for the toilet and Dean was passed out in a chair under the gazebo, then later on John, Paul and Martyn drunkenly arrived back from spending time with the Mudcro group, I was half deciding to help but my bag was lovely and warm, although the cardboard was great for insulation it was hard to lie on and I kept slipping down the incline.

Another trip down the hill, which was easy enough, it was the walk back up which was hard, spent some time resting and relaxing before rushing to get to the start line for 9 am. I didn't manage to meet up with anyone from the group which was a little sad. I stood in the start area eating chocolate peanuts, like I wasn't about to tackle something really hard, Chris James was there and he was on event no.42 with 67 laps, which put my 26 events 29 laps in the shade, though next year I'm aiming to increase the laps.

On we headed with another smoke bomb and I felt quite good, chatted to Chris for a bit and kept plodding on, I was walk running much earlier than the Saturday but with little training outside of events this wasn't surprising. Though I wasn't continuously running I felt my pace was quite quick.  I finished my peanuts and got to funky monkey where I got a few rungs further up the obstacle even with damp hands. I was wishing I'd worn a cheap watch for timing purposes and chatting to other entrants, some were amazed it was 26 events, others I'd done it the day before but most were thrown that I'd done 2 laps on Saturday.

Most of the rest of the course passed without much to write home about except that my legs weren't working very well on any of the hills and I walked more than I ran for the rest of the course, I was especially tired when trying to get over some of the height obstacles. I decided to give cry baby another miss and balls to the walls wasn't too bad. I got up towards Everest and decided to skip past as I couldn't even try to tackle it, given how tired I was.

I did give headrush another go but decided that electroshock could wait for another day. After getting changed I went to the main arena to watch for Carl coming in and see some of the  funny ways that people like to tackle electroshock, we finally got packed up and headed for home, extremely tired but glad to have taken part in the whole season.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Tough Mudder 25 - London South

In a slight change to the usual proceedings, camping was at the top of the hill above matterly bowl so there was no line of site for the scanners to connect to the servers so we couldn't pick up entry bibs on the Friday night, so it meant a trip down to the main arena on the Saturday morning to wait for them to open at 7, which was a pain on the walk back to the campsite to store id.
I needed to be in the 8 o'clock wave to collect an unofficial 25x headband or rather I thought I did, turns out they were handed out in the earlier wave, so I chatted to Gil for a bit till John, Chloé, Dan, Martyn, Paul, Dean and Will jumped into the start area for the 8:20 wave. So I got to hear Gil do his start line talk twice in 20 minutes.
We set off and I managed to snag one of the smoke grenades and ran with that for a bit, which was fun, the first obstacle we hit was killa gorilla that I hadn't noticed till later in the course, was laid out to show the letters TM, which I liked. We continued over bale bonds and into the first forest section for the return of tyre carry and in the distance we could see king of the swingers, which I thought was next but we turned off and hit Arctic enema, which had hardly any ice in it, though the weather was quite warm, we picked one that had no working camera, so no photos again.
As we passed the starting pen John and I ran over to where Gil was doing the start line talk, for a quick hello and away, John went for the pantsing option. On the approach to sewer rat I spotted Viv and Emy walking Yoko, which was hilarious to see and also caused some controversy on one of the faceboom groups. After we left sewer rat the sun was behind the tree line so it felt cold, Chloé started to really feel it. We started to lose Martyn, Paul and the others but kept pushing on to keep warm by devils beard they were right behind.
As we ran past some areas used for storing stuff, I spotted part of the slide from fire in your hole, which was nice to see although it being on course would have been better. Skidmarked didn't cause me too many problems, though I was being extra careful getting over. Then through a field of corn before hitting a landscape feature turned into an obstacle, moto mayhem which was part of a motocross track, Chloé started to feel really out of breath, so we waited a few minutes and made it up one of the hills and she went to see the ambulance crew to get some help, I spoke to someone sitting in an ATV who had hurt their shoulder and sadly ended up retiring.
Chloé got to use an inhaler which was immediately relieving and we continued to pyramid scheme which had no falling issues this time, I did help someone up who pressed on my back causing my ribs to press into the surface and me to help in pain. Martyn had caught us at that point and we all wandered over to liberator, where Dean got himself over to cheers from John and me.
As we approached hero carry you could see the whole event area and I remembered running this way two years ago when I got my fastest time for an event which was also a really warm day. After mud mile I had the usual cleaning out the shoes and onto mineshafted, which was a slide down a pipe into a darkened pit you climbed out of, the slide down sounded like running water, it was so much fun John and I did it again, I managed to find a pound which was nice. John's knee started to give him problems so we continued walking and jogging.
After hero walls where a big bloke decided to push down on my shoulders to get over nearly breaking my back, we came upon lumberjacked, which was a tree suspended on three crossed log braces, which had you being helped over, or as I found easier, using the middle one to pull myself up and over.
Another killa gorilla which was similar to London South in 2013 but pretty tiring at this point, then king of the swingers, which like funky monkey in Cirencester, my hands were dry, so I had high hopes for hitting the bell, I climbed the ladder and a bloke was trying to dry his hands for another go, thankfully he let me slip ahead and I got the bell with a resounding clank, back over mud mile where Dan managed to get covered in mud from head to toe and through cry baby which wasn't that strong so I didn't start to lose all my body heat, it did chill my back but it felt alright.
We got over balls to the wall and over the top over sewer rat and jogged onto Everest, I gave myself a couple of attempts before moving on, first one I slid back down staying on my feet, the second time I slipped and landed heavily on my right side where I impacted feeling it in the bone of my arse, so decided that was it. John went round the back to help people over and we went to headrush which was a mystery obstacle, starting by holding a pole and putting your feet on one, you slowly inch your way along till your feet are in the air and your hands are on the ground before reversing it, very hard on the arms but I managed to get over it. It left me so tired that I almost didn't go through electroshock but I was in the right head space and told myself it was an anniversary event so I had to go through, so I pushed myself through, I managed to get part way through before taking a belt which had me on my knees, I stood up and inched my way forward when some guy ran through and I got another belt and crawled the rest of the way out, happy I'd pushed myself through. It was also amusing watching Dom walk through electroshock eating a pasty or something.
After collecting a headband I made a quick phone call home, ate some energy beans and cleaned out my shoes of the little bits of grit at the rinse station and chatting to another finisher before heading for the start line, skipping the warm up for a second time. As a I stood there mud was dropping off me and first timers were looking at me slightly bemused. I managed to grab another smoke bomb and ran with it for a while. After about 1 mile I started to feel tired but pressed on, running where I could and walking for a little while. I kept giving first timers advice on making arctic enema easier and this time it had ice in the back part of it, which was great. There was no one in the starting pen so I didn't pop to see Gil this time.
I managed to get a few more rungs up funky monkey but started to feel tired and ended up swimming. By devils beard I was walking more than running but still moving forward. Got some help from another solo runner for hold your wood and we chatted for a bit. Then pyramid scheme really tired me out but I got up and helped quite a few others over before continuing on. Carried and got carried at hero carry which was nice as recently I've mainly carried others. Once I got to hero walls I was drawing on inner strength and managed the first wall but grabbed the support for the second, utterly wiped out, needing help to get over.
I used the same technique for lumberjacked but a volunteer was on the second one so I needed help to get over. Walked backwards up the hills of killa gorilla 2, which was easier and missed the bell for king of the swingers.
The sun was starting to be covered by clouds so I skipped mud mile and cry baby as I wasn't in the mood for getting up to the eyes again.
There was an ambulance at balls to the wall as the rope was so slick with mud, it turns out they'd broken an ankle, so the rope was out of use which made climbing up difficult due to the awkward position of my legs. I skipped Everest as there was a big queue and I met John who was taking photos, then headed for the finish for my second headband and cider.
At the legionnaire headband tent they weren't giving out headbands to those who already had on plus they mentioned I was already in the next banding so I accepted it as I already have 14 of them and others should get their first. Then back up to the campsite for a shower and bite to eat, got chatting to Martyn who wanted to do a second lap but when helping on Everest, someone twisted his arm going back down and after going to the medical tent to see how Dean was doing, had himself checked out and it turns out he had a part dislocated shoulder, so decided against another lap, we headed to the main arena to watch a bit of the England Wales rugby match before having an early night ready for Sunday.

Tough Mudder 24 - North West

We wanted and early start as Susan and I weren't staying over this time, my kit was thankfully almost dry so no low morale before starting. We checked into camping to avoid the registration queues. Susan held onto my dry robe, as the day wasn't warm and slightly overcast. There were no crowd surf races but we did a highest pyramid off, against half of the crowd, I'm not sure who won. Bobby did the ages of the competitors and my Dad was the oldest, always nice to be in a winning team.

We got to the start line and I had a chat with Gil after everyone had set off he had done his first event the day before and walked the course, with only a bit of pain behind the knee to show for it. I'd taken my painkillers before starting but the injury I'd received on skidmarked the day before was uncomfortable when running, with no surface bruising, I knew it was bruised ribs/s or possibly broken.

We set off at a good place and had a slight bottle neck issue on the first part of the course and another just after bale bonds under the bridge, Dad accidentally pulled the rope up after himself. After that it was plain sailing most obstacles were relatively free of other people waiting, managed to avoid hurting myself on skidmarked which was good although breathing was difficult at times. Sewer rat was really deep and very muddy with the walk to the bank up to the house being knee deep and the bank being really hard to walk up. Cliffhanger had two routes an easy one and a harder one, I opted for the harder one again. Spotted Susan and my Mam on the way back round towards pyramid scheme, I was feeling really tired at this point but determined to keep going, there were some people helping at the bottom to get people up, so my Dad went first and got up, I went  up and ended up falling headfirst back down the surface of the obstacle and pivoted on my head which was uncomfortable and had me coming to the realisation people who aren't careful or really unlucky can actually die on the obstacles, it left me with a pain in my neck and Susan and my Mam being really worried about my neck, I felt well enough to continue so I did. Through shawshanked which was nice and cleaning.

Funky monkey is almost impossible when damp, so hands that are covered in mud aren't going to get far, so into the water for us. We reached swamp stomp and they had re-routed the course like they did in Scotland, as people were getting stuck on Saturday, I did manage to get a bomb into the muddy bath again, which is such good fun, though mud swimming round your eyeballs isn't much fun. Through the forest with the brick drainage roads which are hell on the ankles, my Dad was running one hell of a pace and leaving me behind quite a bit, he thought someone else was me and had taken off till he realised and waited for me to catch up, he did offer to walk but I thought that would cause him more problems getting warm than it would for me to keep going, it was hard but I'm glad that I didn't stop.

For someone who by his own admission has no upper body strength he did brilliantly on liberator, getting to the top with hardly any problems. We headed through crybaby which was much nicer than Saturday and I didn't feel as cold as I did, when getting out. I gave Everest a couple of tries before passing it by, I decided to skip electroshock but my Dad decided based on last year he would have another go and really regretted it, I didn't see him go through last year but this time he was zapped quite a few times, before we headed over the finish to collect our headbands and pint, another event under our belts, I took him off to collect his new blue headband and t-shirt.

It was sad that my brother couldn't take part again as he would have enjoyed this course but work being work, hopefully he'll be there next year.

Tough Mudder 23 - North West

Woke early so John and I could be in an early wave, we were meeting up with a friend of Stuart's but sadly couldn't find them. We got into the warm up area and danced about for a bit before heading for the start area and the pledging. Had a quick chat with Gil before heading off, another course another slight bottleneck at the start. Bale bonds was only two bales high which was a little disappointing, then another bottleneck as we went under a bridge and on. Mudmile was early on and it was energy sapping, so by the time we hit skidmarked, I needed to get a hand to get over and I knocked my chest differently to I usually do on that one.
Not having the strength to get over skidmarked should have clued me into what kind of day this was going to be.  Sewer rat had water in the pipes, which was really unpleasant smelling but once out of the pipe I got my feet on the ground so I wasn't swimming in it, then straight after the ground was thick mud that we were almost crawling through, very similar to 2014. There were a lot of different surfaces to run on, mud, loose dirt, sand but the worst was the drainage road made of brick. We waded through the infamous lake that had underwater tunnels and almost freezing water in 2012 and it was quite pleasant.
Swamp stomp was exactly as you'd expect, crawling though mud that was thick and hard going, with a nice pool of thick mud to almost swim through, I got to the other side and decided I would have a bomb into the mud, several times, which was great fun but not so much fun was trying to get rid of the mud from up my nose, John gave the volunteer with the mic a lovely muddy hug.
Hero walls was fine but I slipped down the support and fell off needing a helping hand to get over, we got back to shawshanked and decided to have another go, then cry baby. It was a thick fog of menthol, the thickest I've seen this year, Scotland had been the worst one I'd been through but this was so bad, we needed to wash our mouths out before having a drink if water, it then caused me to lose all my body heat like the Sunday at Cirencester, which made the lovely day we were having into a cold unpleasant one. We both decided that we would try Everest three times before passing. Not sure if the shoes were an issue or the people trying to get hold of people, I just couldn't get a good enough grip so kept slipping and landing heavily on the surface of Everest decided that I would give electroshock a miss before crossing the finish line cold and tired but happy to have finished another event.