Thursday, 22 June 2017

Tough Mudder 47/48 - Scotland

What a weekend, the weather was scorching hot, the course was undulating and hilly in places, the friends were many and the event was really good, with a couple of exceptions, one of my favourites so far. As the event isn't too far from mine it didn't take too long to there, even having to stop off to ensure we didn't get there too early.

We'd entered the tougher wave, which is the first wave to set off on the Saturday morning, with prizes for the top three finishers. I have no chance to win but you do get a different headband and t-shirt which is always nice to have. We set off and maintained a steady pace with me thinking as I always do that I should have trained on hills to make it easier, I should really have trained full stop but that's a whole different thing. Mud mile was deceptive, as it was really dry until you hit the mud, so after rolling through which is easier than crawling, I was covered in mud, which was really heavy and meant that running was harder, it meant that my energy was being drained, so climbing skidmarked was really difficult.

It was starting to get really warm so artic was a nice refreshing dip, pyramid scheme still had the ropes on it to get up, which was helpful. the rest of the course was well laid out, with enough hills to make it challenging, they had penalties if you couldn't get across funky money which I didn't but as time was getting on there was no penalty to do. I ended up using the rope at everest which was hard but I;m still wary of that since last year at the Midlands. We collected our legionnaire headbands and only kong left to tackle, When I got up there the young lass volunteering said "you've got this" with my brain thinking I probably don't, as I felt tired but as I reached the forth ring, I thought perhaps I do have, reaching the fifth and getting to the other side had me feeling really ecstatic, so much so that I was telling anyone I knew that I had managed to get over.

Off for volunteering which was tiring given how hot the day was, thankfully I didn't burn too much but I did feel sick and tired and had to take shade from the sun.

We didn't get out as early on the Sunday but we had decided to take part in the help 100 mudders over an obstacle, so we headed out between waves, to get up to skidmarked, I of course didn't get myself over before helping 100 people get over it, which meant that I had no energy to get myself over like I usually do, still I discovered helping 100 people of various shapes and sizes was really hard, if people pulled themselves up and over that helped more than if they were shorter and lighter, I think looking back I might so that again but work on lifting weight, like a sandbag repeatedly, might help with this.

Got pulled down off pyramid scheme again but noticed someone running up the side, which was quite dry so we used that to get over. we helped a few more people over and through things, I almost made it across funkey monkey, only just missing the last bar to get me on to the other side, which I was pleased at managing to almost get over, we kept plodding on and then helped a whole bunch of people at blockness monster which is my current favourite obstacle, I didn't manage kong and looking back I should have given it another go but there is always next time.

I thoroughly brilliant weekend aside from the burning temperature, midges and some obnoxious people being loud late into the night.

Pushing myself to be better

So I recently took part in an event and after chatting to a friend, I was inspired to push myself around the course and really give every obstacle a go. I did a lot of events in 2016 and either through the shoes I was wearing being utter garbage, or not feeling it, I skipped past a whole bunch of obstacles, I know that the mantra is about it being a personal challenge, I really slacked off the challenge part.

Not really facing up to pushing myself, I coasted through events, reasoning with myself that I couldn't do whichever one I was at for a variety of reasons, though some were for safety like seeing hero walls covered in mud, which made it look really unsafe, which in previous years I would have just gone for it but I erred on the side of caution.

After getting into blockness monster at the beginning of the year and it being so cold I injured my foot simply by walking, which meant after I found a medical blanket I wore that for the rest of the course and bypassed basically any obstacle that had height or water in it, they had no legionnaire headbands left at the end but I can consider that I didn't deserve one for how badly I had done, just barely getting round the course.

So after having a long chat about always bringing something positive to an event, I went out on the Saturday and pushed myself through every obstacle, I did bypass kong but that was due to being pulled from pyramid scheme and causing some pain in my arm, which meant kong would have been painful to do.

After feeling good that I had pushed myself through everything, I went out the next day and gave everything another go, even kong, which was a tricky one to do, so managed two of the five rings. I came away from this event feeling good about myself and had a desire to make myself a better entrant, Helping more people get over obstacles or offering advice to first timers, unsure of how to tackle something.

So from now on I'll be pushing myself more, to make myself a better entrant to events.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Europe's Toughest Mudder

As soon as this event was released I signed up, thinking I should manage this without too many issues, I know that I should have been training but a combination of new and old injuries ensured I did no training. As the day approached I didn't feel nervous about what I was about to undertake even on the journey down to the site, I still didn't feel anything negative, I guess I just thought it would be like a regular event just during the night which was a big mistake.

The US Toughest events had been two separate loops with 10 obstacles on each, which changed from one to the other during the middle of the event, the Euro Toughest would change this by having a single loop, which we were told would have obstacles start at various points during the event, I'm not sure if we were told they would take them off during the night but that seemed to be the consensus, which didn't happen so after every obstacle had opened they stated open all through the event, with the exception of electroshock, which I'm glad didn't open at all.

I'd managed to get space near to the rest of Team Short Shorts, with the brilliant Marc as pit crew. I decided to start in my wet-suit but only up to my waist as the sprint lap would have only a couple of obstacles open so I didn't need to be protected form the cold, I did pull it on but unzipped for kiss of mud which had a water pit, and left it on for the rest of the lap. Thankfully the big water obstacles were closed but the new hero walls t boned obstacle was open, this one I managed solo, and quite enjoyed, the grab ledge and strangely even though I was leaning back and pushing against the wall didn't feel unsafe doing so.

As I approached the four mile marker Jon Albon passed by with some words of encouragement, which was nice but I realised he was onto his ninth mile at the point, which took me by surprise. I didn't wear a watch so had no idea of the time when on course, I did find out the time near the end but didn't believe it, as that felt quite slow. After crossing the finish line at 1:31:14 I realised that was a slow 5 miles I'd ran/walked.

I decided upon a burrito and drink of water which I'd not brought anywhere near enough of, then back out for my second lap, I tried to run but couldn't get my legs to keep moving like that so just continued walking on. A few obstacles still weren't open but arctic enema was, so down the tube I went, the wet-suit kept me warm which was great, I had heard of other people who had no cold gear thinking it would be a regular event.

I kept plodding on, taking the penalty at Everest which even with the rope was beating a lot of people, when I saw someone at operation leap after being shocked I opted for the penalty. One of the rules was you had to touch an obstacle and fail, or complete if you were able, so I had to climb the Kong tower knowing I wouldn't get across before touching a ring and falling onto the crash mat, which was uncomfortable on my upper arm.

A burrito and a snickers with some water from Stuart, then I was back out on course, trying to run but having issues with the suit being so thick. king of swingers was open this time with a camera crew at the obstacle, I was aiming to give a thumbs up after jumping and turning to camera but I managed to jump/fall into the water, the penalty was really long for this obstacle, with quite a few of the other entrants doing it. before hitting the water station that I was in need of.

Stuart managed to catch me up and we chatted and plodded on, with only the t boned hero walls proving to be an issue this time, I just couldn't get myself up and over, I had nothing left, so Stuart went with me for the penalty loop.

I reached mud mile after promising myself I wouldn't pee in my suit and as soon as I hit the water my bladder decided that it was time to let go. I should have just loosed my wet-suit and had a pee. I got back to the pit and it was 6:40 so I said that if it had been 6:00 I wold have tried for another lap but knew I wouldn't have enough time to get round so called it a day and started to get changed. I discovered a hole in my wet sock that I had made with my toenail, which would explain why my foot was cold in water,

Looking back on the event, if I had gone with a thinner wet-suit, or chosen the top half over a full wet-suit, I might have been quicker getting round each lap but the cold may have proved an issue, either way if I take part next year I might give this option a try, as I'd like to have got to the twenty five miles, I should also not under estimate how difficult it is running at night, though all said and done, I thoroughly enjoyed taking part and would do it again. 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Mad March Mare

As part of my aim to try and enter and support smaller obstacle events, I signed up for the mad march mare, an event that is quite local to me at Hexham race course. I hadn't been doing any training since I had ran the bootneck challenge, so I knew this wouldn't be the easiest event for me, I even forgot what the distance was  and ended up asking at the start line, a nice six mile run out. I had expected some hills but I wasn't expecting quite so many. We started off with a steady run across the field beside the race course, with a few people complaining about the mud and water, one runner even slipped and landed on their back, I hadn't expected to see so many people wearing running shoes for this event, although I did speak to a couple of people and one thought it was a fun run, which I guess I would say it was but not in the strictest usual sense of the term.

We rounded another field and ended up at a water slide which was good fun though the pool at the bottom was a little cold. An a frame to climb over and then along the road beside the race track and across another field and under a cargo net, then a sandbag carry which included a cargo net, which is truly an evil combination and really tricky. We rounded the field and ended up at the walls, there were two to choose from, I tried the largest and couldn't quite make it, so I went with the smaller one and as usual scratched under my arms. We continued along the road before heading into the wooded section.

This was the longest section of the course, with quite a few steep hills to climb and cold streams to climb up, I ran walked with another entrant for quite a while, talking about various events I've done mainly Tough Mudder and I felt quite good and thought about going for a second lap, I bid them farewell mentioning what I was doing and ran on. It was going quite well until I felt a slight pain in my foot, it seems my injury from a couple of months back was rearing it ugly head, I slowed down and drank the entire bottle of water at the water station before heading on, we had a cold stream to walk through before crawling through an uncomfortable tunnel and arriving at a large pool of water to jump into, the water was quite cold and I hoped that it wouldn't cool me down too much but I was fine soon after. I continued on round the race track and across some bumpy ground that had my other foot rolling a couple of times, which was uncomfortable, a tyre wall climb before heading to the finish and another large wall to climb.

I'm glad that I signed up and really enjoyed the day, though I wish that my foot hadn't given me problems, a great little event that would be better if made into a full ten miles, either I'll be doing that one again.

Bootneck challenge

I'd heard about another OCR that was being ran from Gaz, so rather than discount entry we took the option of marshaling and running the same day. I ended up staying over at Carly and Matt's as my earliest train wouldn't have gotten me there in enough time. We got to the event site a little late so we were assigned to different places than we had been given.
We were directing runners on course and when the first runners came through there were no markings so they ended up going the wrong way but it was luckily only a slight deviation to the course route, once one of the organisers came over it was sorted out and I ended up directing people up to the field where they ran round towards Carly and Matt before crossing the water and continuing on. There were some clay pigeon launchers in the field and loads of undamaged clays, so we through a few around and smashed them off trees, which was great fun. We were supposed to be the 12 o'clock wave but they put on a 12:30 marshals wave for us, they also taped off the part of the course we were at to direct people.

We headed over to the main area to pick up our numbers and get ready for the wave, we met John who had been taking photos for the event. At first we thought there was going to be just us and another runner but soon after we had 10 people taking part. After starting my watch we ran across the field and then back up to climb over some tires, then up a mound, round the top and through some water and back down the field, a couple of beams to climb over and under, then down to the part we were marshaling, we headed through the water which was biting cold on the feet, then a wall with wooden blocks attached to it. Through some more water and onto a sandbag carry, then through another field to a climbing obstacle. We then had to pick up a make believe rifle and carry it through a tunnel and hold it above our heads and run back round to where we picked them up.

Up another field with a bit of an incline and sadly the water slide had no water left so we headed onto the next field and some orange segment, which was refreshing, over an undulating part of the field and through a spider web being squirted by someone taking great fun with that water gun. Through some water where Carly hurt her ankle then through another field and some angled walls which showed how out of shape I am for these events. Then under some tyres, which reminded me of birth canal but was infinitely harder due to the weight of the tyres, another thing to climb over before heading through a large body of water and back to the start for the second lap. I liked the idea of having one or two laps to do, after skipping a couple of the obstacles we headed up the field to the quarter pipe which was steeper than everest but I don't know if it was my speedcross shoes or that there hadn't been many runner on course but I managed to get up without incident, then across the finish line to pick up our medals.

It was a nice little obstacle run, that could do with some obstacles that are similar to other events but overall aside from the marking issues at the start it was a good day out and a great start to the year,

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Toughest Mudder

So late last year, Tough Mudder sent out a survey asking questions about finishers feelings on an event that was bigger than a regular Tough Mudder but not as big as World's Toughest. So I filled it in thinking nothing of it and going about my business, then in October last year, they unveiled Toughest Mudder, an 8 hour overnight event, that would take place at Belvoir castle in May one week after the start of the season.

Without hesitation I signed up, which meant I saved on the tax or administration fees, so my ticket was reasonably cheap, possibly in the same price range as my first event. I was looking forward to this, although 8 hours overnight will likely mean a wetsuit, for the entire event, which should be interesting to run in. They released a few scant pieces of info over the time between then and now. A new blog post has just gone up, detailing info about this year's World's Toughest, with changes to the bibs and other assorted changes but they also included info about Toughest events and the talk of patches and being a prize money contender for 25+ mile finishers, special headbands and bibs for finishers, I'm now looking forward to this even more than I was previously.

I think the new obstacles they release each year are one of the reasons I keep going back to take part in events, plus the community is always pretty cool, the team at TM always come up with novel ways to get people talking about the upcoming events. So come May I'll be doing up my shoes and trying to get round each lap in a good time as I'm after that 25 mole finisher patch.

Monday, 6 February 2017

No Ego Torch Challenge

So in a bid to take part in more local events. I found a local one a few miles from my house, the no ego torch challenge. A night run off road that required a head torch, or torch of some description, as it was only five miles I thought this should be relatively easy.

I got the bus over to the nearest stop and started to walk to the event site and of course I'd completely screwed up and plotted a walking route to Lambton Castle, rather than the event site. So luckily I'd printed off the information on where the event site was. So after walking through Lambton castle, I made my way across the grounds, finding arrows that mark the route and following some of those. I walked towards the sound of a main road and hopped the wall and made my way down the road.

After quite some time and the start time looming, I finally came upon the garage that marked the turning onto the entrance to the castle grounds. I made it with ten minutes to spare, quickly changing and pinning on my number as I crossed the start line.

As it had been raining the ground was pretty muddy and made me retie my shoelaces as I almost lost a shoe on the first muddy patch. I felt a little tired which wasn't surprising as it seems walking five miles before doing a race is never a good idea. Still I continued on passing a few people on the way. The ground was firm and boggy in equal measures with the occasional hard path, there were a couple of downward inclines that were a touch muddy and a couple of inclines that were also hard going, I opted to wear my regular trainers which was in hindsight not the best choice as they don't have a lot of grip on muddy hills but I didn't slip over which was good.

I ended up chatting to another runner who mentioned they were doing Tough Mudder Scotland in June so I offered some advice on how to prepare and what to expect when taking part. We walked for a bit and ran over the finish line, to some cheers which was nice to hear.

After getting changed I bought myself a t-shirt and headed for the bus, I discovered that I had the start of blisters on the soles of both my feet which wasn't great but if I'd went to the right location to start with, that could have been avoided, overall a cheap and rather decent mud challenge on my doorstep, I think I'll be taking part again next year.