Monday, October 31, 2011

The Original Mud Run DFW

I have to start off saying this is one of my favorite "mud runs".
It might be a favorite for nostalgic reasons (it was my first)....
or maybe because the course is virtually identical each time...
or that it is a flat 10k course, which allows for me to push the pace without concern for terrain changes...
or that is has an all around good mix of challenges and obstacles....

Myself with some of DFW Mudcrew's finest! We are all braving the cold! There is a fine line between brave and crazy!

When I ran this race back in April of this year, I really had no idea what to expect. I was fairly certain that I could handle the distance part of the course. The same goes with the obstacles. But combine the two challenges, that was were it became a grey area for me. My whole game plan the first go around was to pace myself and complete the race in one piece. A friend and I ran the whole thing together. We had so much fun together and we ran at a nice "jogging" pace. We completed the course in 1hr 38m. Pleased with the time for a first timer, I knew I could do better. Again, as the title of my blog suggests, I usually don't like to settle for things...I prefer to better and outdo myself whenever possible. Looking at other previous results, my goal was to have a time in the 1h20m range, about 10-12 minutes faster than last time. I have had this October race in the back of my mind ever since completing the first one. There have been tons of other great events that I have participated in the mean time, but I couldn't wait for the "rematch" of this particular course.

Throughout all my normal training and preparation for every aspect of an event of this nature, one thing that I had really failed to consider....coldness. In Texas especially, we all can't wait for the cool days of fall and winter while being tested with consistent 100 degree days. Conversely in the winter, we anxiously await the warm days of spring and summer to get out of the house. Each somewhat extreme or opposite climate has their pro's/con's, each seem more ideal than whatever current state we are in. The first cool weather came Thursday before the race. It was a huge shock to my system and my gameplan. Now mind you, the temperature didn't drop down into the teen's or something extreme in that nature. But it did go from being 80's-90's down to the 40's and 50's. That's a pretty big swing for my body to get adjusted to with a days notice. Sweating profusely while running.... to numb and chilled limbs that are forgetting how to function. Semi-panic mode sets in for me! I need gloves, jackets, layers, ear muffs, tights, and anything else "arctic proof" NOW!! Well not quite that dramatic, but close. It wasn't just the temperature I was concerned with, it was the fact that we were going to be wet...not a maybe...a definite. That turns cool weather into very cold weather quickly.
Get down, get muddy and crawl!

So after much debating about what to wear and what not to wear I came to a decision.
-Normal running shorts, shirt, shoes (New Balance MT10) and socks
-Windbreaker vest
-Running gloves with a mitten or finger option (Brooks Adapt)
-Compression arm sleeves (Zensah)

Now to the race. Frustration I guess should be expected at all of these events, I don't really know why, but that seems to be the norm. Their timing chip system was not working properly during early packet pickup. So they had to be picked up at the race. The problem was nobody was there to hand them out when we got there. Fortunately we got them with a few minutes to spare before the race and were ready to go. Well...almost. I did not get to warm up like I intended to and mother nature decided to say 'hello' to me during the National Anthem about 2 minutes before start time. I figured I could have an hour plus stalemate with mother nature...heck, it might even make me run faster.

The race begins. The temperature is about 45 degrees, time to find out if my clothing plan will work. I had intentions of pushing the pace hard, at what I thought my body could handle for a 10k. I was looking at keeping my heart rate somewhere in the upper 160's to lower 170's, very doable. I wore my Garmin 405cx GPS watch with the heart rate monitor strap. It will tell me my current running pace, distance and HR. All of this information is only worthwhile if it can be seen. A good portion of the time the watch is covered in mud. I started off running at MY pace and focusing on a quick cadence and fast foot turnover. The HR and legs felt really good, especially without my intended warmup. About a half mile or more into the race, I realized I was only 6-7 people back from the leader. Something felt wrong, this wasn't what I was thinking would happen. I double checked my pace on my Garmin... 7 -7:30....I was doing what I was supposed to do. I kept waiting through the first few obstacles and miles for people to start passing me. Or, the people in front to take off and leave me in the dust. Neither scenario unfolded, this was how the race was going to be. After 2 miles I came to my first opportunity to pass someone. It was two guys running side by side, while passing them I decided to kick the pace back into 7min range to discourage any back and forth action that might occur. After enough distance, I kept the pace hard (for me) and eased back in the 7:30-8 range.

Under & Over. This little hole is about as deep as your shoulders. Another obstacle to refresh your memory about being wet and muddy, in case your clothes started to dry.

Now to the temperature and the real test of this race. After passing the 2 aforementioned gentlemen, I thought..."I was 6th place, I passed 2 people, now I am in ______place?" I couldn't do simple math to save my life! My brain was cold shocked. I had to break it down in terms of 'passed one guy = 5th place, passed second guy = 4th place'. This process of deduction entertained me for several minutes while running. Being in 4th place of this wave truly felt unreal...not possible. Again, this was not in the game plan. But hey, since we are here, why not shoot for Top 3?? Next target was about 50 yards ahead of me and I was at mile 3. Plenty of time to make a move, not just yet though. I followed his bright orange shirt through most every obstacle.

The obstacles at this race are just all around good and fun! They aren't really a test of personal character or feets of human strength. It's some good old fashioned muddy, cut, bruised, wet and nasty stuff. There were a few obstacles that required some nerve to do...
-A cargo net about 15-20 feet tall with numb hands, not the smartest idea in the world.
-Swimming/wading in a swamp (for lack of better words) with who knows what kind of dead and rotting things in it
-Jumping off a platform into mysterious depths of water
-My personal climbing a dirt mound...while it was being constructed!
....there was literally a bulldozer dumping dirt within 2 feet of me. Needless to say I got the hell out of there as fast as possible!!

These are tall. They are even taller when you get to the top and try to swing over. Luckily they had some crash pads to give your leg a pillow to lay on after it is broken from the fall.

The toughest challenge for me, cold wet feet. The indoctrination to this 'fun' came in the form of a swim across a river at around a mile into the race. The water temperature wasn't that bad actually, but this gave little comfort to my feet down the road. We would get another opportunity to swim at the 3.5 mile mark. And just in case my feet, clothes, hands and mind had a chance to start drying out and unthaw...there were at least half a dozen various pools of water throughout the course to resoak everything. I can't quite pinpoint when or where it occurred, but somewhere around mile 3, my feet became numb. Around mile 5, it felt like running on feet that were "asleep". I was running on instinct and habit of repetitive motion, hoping my feet would land where they were supposed to.

Do you ever wonder where your toilets flush to? I'll give you a hint...

Now to my hands. I wore my gloves with the intention of leaving them on during the running stretches and taking them off for necessary obstacles. The first obstacle that I removed them for some how coerced me to leave them in my zipper pocket for the rest of the race. My hands felt fine and didn't seem to be too affected by the cold. I think what actually happened is I forgot that I have hands. When I "remembered" that I possess hands, it was time to do the Gorilla Ropes. It's a version of monkey bars, except it is with rope instead of bars. They swing back and forth and have some give to them. This was an obstacle that I aced last time and figured today would be no different. I took pride in the fact that, according to the organizations website, very few people complete this obstacle. Well I was going to go 2 for 2 on this obstacle. So, in an attempt to recreate the previous success, I grab the first rope. Funny, I don't really feel the rope, but I see that my hand is attached to it. Swing to the next rung. Hmmmm? Signals in my brain don't seem to be translating and processing the fact that I need to grab this rope and hold on for dear life. I get some kind remarks from a race volunteer..."Wow man you are almost there! You will be the only one to make it today!" This did give me a slight boost in confidence, unfortunately being the 4th person to attempt an obstacle doesn't really say much for being the "only one so far to complete it". I continue this "drunken hand" gorilla rope traversing to about 3/4 of the way through. The next grab feels like I am trying to lasso the rope with a wet noodle (the noodle being my useless hand), this would be the end of this obstacle. Gorilla ropes and I would have to settle for a draw, I struck first, it won the 2nd time. I briefly debated thawing out my hands and giving it another try... then I remembered my current 4th place status. Let's stick with speed!

Gorilla Ropes. Traverse them carefully. Shouts of "bend your knees when you fall so you don't hit your feet at the bottom" hooraayyy!! Numb hands do not like to complete this obstacle!

At one obstacle, can't quite remember which, a race volunteer cheer's me on "You're doing great! You're in 3rd place!". I said "Really? I'm pretty sure I'm in 4th." Response "Nope, you are definitely 3rd. There is just the guy in the orange shirt. And some dude WAY up there". Now THIS is what I want to hear! Shockingly I AM in Top 3. Of course, Top 3 is great....2nd place would be EVEN better!! Now to decide when to make my move to pass "Mr. Orange".

Having previously run this course, I had a descent idea of what to expect. After a lovely mud pit and mud slide there was a good running stretch where I decided "this was it". I approached "Mr. Orange" and exchanged pleasantries with him, he was a great guy and was all smiles just like me! I kicked my pace up a few notches to create a comfortable distance between the two of us. Home free to a 2nd place finish in my heat....almost. Since I was fairly confident that the distance I had established between the two of us would suffice in 2nd place, I didn't really think I needed to make it any bigger. No sense in possibly overdoing it or going too hard this close to the end. No sooner than I had established my "personal space", what do I see in my rear view mirror...a NEW runner! He was closing the gap to me very quickly! Who was this guy? Where did he come from? Was he some sort of a "ringer"...playing it conservative until now and then switching to overdrive??  So this "new guy" was about 20ft behind me as we get to the last half mile or so. Not taking this scenario into consideration, I keep my pace and wait to see if he has more in his gas tank after getting this close to me.

Climb this carefully! It is slippery and wet. Oh, and you probably cannot feel your hands.

My race strategy had always been about a personal competition. Me vs the clock. I never even thought about dealing with other competitors, it was just about me doing my best. One of my plans from the beginning...get water at every water station. I knew it would be better to stop, or at least slow down, to get water even if it added seconds to my time. Dehydration would slow me down more than skipping water stations. So I am now in a close race with "new guy" for possible 2nd/3rd place and what shows up with probably a half to quarter mile left in the race?? A water station. I subconsciously go to the station and slow down, grab a cup, start to take a sip of water....then it dawns on me..."Hey moron, you are in the home stretch! A sip of water isn't really going to change anything at this point! You have a dude right on your tail!" Well, the next thing that happens really still has me speechless. "New guy" slows down also, waives at me and says "Come on man! Drop that water, we are almost there!"  WOW! I have to say that again....WOW! I know these types of events are for fun, but they do have a competitive element to them. Everyone, I hope, strives to do their best, at whatever level they are. So I join up with "new guy" and we keep pace to the next obstacle. He informs me that he had to skip a water crossing because he was not a good swimmer and got scared, especially because of the cold, but he tried it anyways. He had to run around the obstacle and estimated it was at least a half mile of extra running! So "new guy" was actually in front of me for a good portion of the race. This explains the discrepancy with the volunteer telling me I was in 3rd place, when I was fairly certain I was 4th place. "New guy" had to back track, catch all the way back up, and now here he was with me on the home stretch. This put me in a semi-awkward position. Could I have pushed the pace and left him...maybe. Could I have lived with myself if I did this, after he waited for me?? I don't think so.

Grab rope, hold rope, swing across mud pit.

"New guy" and I hit the last 3-4 obstacles together. We both ran hard, there was almost a subconscious understanding that when the time was right, a move could be made. This was probably one of the highlights of the race for me. He and I talked about how cold our feet where. About how much fun this CRAZY stuff was. Even though this was a competition, we respected each other for the hard work that had been put in to get us to this point. As if a bell rang in the air...the time came for the "mutual move" to occur. The final obstacle and push to the finish to fairly determine "who gets it?" "New guy" had a couple of steps on me coming out of the final crawl through mud. As I stood up, I took 2-3 deep breaths and 2-3 walking steps. Why did I walk? Was I sandbagging it? I was probably 200 yards from the finish, was I conceding the race to "new guy?" No way! I knew my heart rate was sky high at this point, I didn't even need to look at the monitor I was wearing to know this. I needed this few second pause to allow me to push hard all the way to the end.

Me crossing the mud pit with "new guy" (orange shoes) closing in on me!

Breath, calm, relax... now it's time to go for broke...100% effort. We both run hard. I know it, he knows it...this is the time. I remember thinking in this final stretch of speed..."I really cannot feel my feet at all." I push as hard as I can go, or I should say as hard as I can go without the true use of my feet. He is right there... I could grab his shirt he is so close. We cross the finish line... "new guy" 1hr10m06.3s 1hr10m06.9s.  Honestly, that was how it should have finished. This guy was a true class act. I can't say I would have done what he did, I would like to though. He earned his 2nd and I earned my 3rd.

After everything was tallied up, I came in "officially" as 4th male/5th overall. But, as I and others suspect, there appears to be a suspiciously fast female time. Not that a lady couldn't win this event, but to be 9 minutes faster than a guy who I know has a 5k PR of 16:05...stranger things have happened, doubtful. So I have taken the liberty of claiming an "official-unofficial" ranking of 4th male/ 4th overall. Does this kinda, to me! I am ecstatic to be OFFICIALLY Top 5. I honestly didn't know if my 9am heat time would hold up over the course of the day.

   We survived! This is about as still as we could get. Shivering was an understatement.                     Go DFW Mudcrew!!

After the race was finished, I ran to the car to get my camera to catch my wife in action. Silly me, I'm thinking I have 20-30 minutes at least until she gets done. I am trotting back to the course to find a good spot to wait for her and what do I see??? Her finishing up the LAST obstacle and heading to the finish!!! WOW, I knew she would be quick...but this fast?? It was when I hurriedly tried to take a picture of my Mud Queen, that I started to think my body was functioning worse than I thought. I couldn't push a button on the camera to save my life. Hugs and congratulations where exchanged, then it happened.... 5-10 minutes after the race...BOOM! Shivering uncontrollably. My jaw was chattering so hard, you could have hired me as a 'human tree shredder'. I piled on my warm pants and jacket as fast as possible and did some jumping jacks but it still took a good hour until my body stopped convulsing.

I always get so much out of these events. I meet new people. I get to revisit with old friends. I get some good pictures and better memories. I learn things about myself. I get cut, bruised, muddy and bloody. But guess who has 2 numb thumbs and can't wait for the next race.... THIS GUY!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weekly Summary: Oct 17 - 23

10/17/2011 Off/Rest

10/18/2011 Recovery Run    
Distance: 3.36  Time: 0:44 
Calories Burned: 453    HR: avg 133 max 150
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: Street
Shakeout run after high volume weekend. Ran with Stephanie and Graham, pushing him in the stroller.

10/18/2011 Tabatta Intervals 
Distance: 0  Time: 0:51
Calories Burned: 458    HR: avg 135 max 189
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: none
Did a series a whole series of exercises, targeting almost every body part. 20 seconds of exercising with 10 second breaks for 4 minutes on each exercise.

10/19/2011 Faster Pace Run    
Distance: 8.01  Time: 1:16
Calories Burned: 969    HR: avg 152 max 169
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: Street
2.5 mile warmup. 3.5 miles at faster pace and heart rate. The rest was a cool down jog. Running at a faster pace helped with my cadence and gait. It really started to "click" for me on this run. Really felt like a 'runner' today.

10/20/2011 Harry Moss Trail Run
Distance: 3.28 Time: 0:42
Calories Burned: 550    HR: avg 147 max 158
Shoes: New Balance MT101  Terrain: Trail
A new trail in Dallas that I had yet to try. It had some fun elements to it. Not the longest of runs, but good nonetheless.

10/21/2011 Evening Run
Distance: 7.14 Time: 1:09
Calories Burned: 911    HR: avg 149 max 161
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: street
Wore my headlamp and hit the streets at night. I love these kinda runs, just all around good fun!

10/22/2011 Medium Long Run 
Distance: 12.0 Time: 2:11
Calories Burned: 1,599    HR: avg 149 max 170
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: street
Ran about 5 miles with my wife. We worked on some speed stuff with her and had fun running together, as always. We split ways and I continued on. After the faster work with her, I had a hard time re-finding my groove, HR kept getting too high. I finally found my groove around mile 8 or 9. I got back to the 'quick cadence' style that I currently am using and love.

10/23/2011  Tough Mudder Training Day - Running
Distance: 7.77 Time: 1:24
Calories Burned: 941    HR: avg 146 max 165
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: street
This was actually two combined runs. One "pre-training" and then the actual group run

10/23/2011  Tough Mudder Training Day - Exercises 
Distance: 0   Time: 1:42
Calories Burned: 558    HR: avg 115 max 157 
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: street
Did the "circuit" off of Tough Mudders website. Each exercise was for 1 minute straight. Every 3 exercises we would jump into the pool and do some sprint work. Probably the highlight of the week. Great group of people with very similar goals and outlooks, so much fun.

Distance: 41.56 Time: 10:03
Calories Burned: 6,439

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week Summary: Oct 10 - 16

10/10/2011 Recovery Run    
Distance: 5.5  Time: 1:03    
Calories Burned: 713    HR: avg 139 max 155 
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: Street
Kept a nice easy pace with my Hear Rate below 145 bpm. Hard to run this slow but my body needed it.

10/11/2011 Normal Run    
Distance: 7.18  Time: 1:14 
Calories Burned: 920    HR: avg 149 max 164 
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: Street
Still feeling the effects of Tough Mudder. Playing around with my running form and stride.

10/12/2011 Off/Rest

10/13/2011 Yoga X 
Distance: 0 Time: 1:16 
Calories Burned: 287    HR: avg 97 max 128 
Shoes: none  Terrain: none
Needed a good loosening up of the muscles. I forgot how important this stuff is!

10/14/2011 Base line route 
Distance: 4.58 Time: 0:46 
Calories Burned: 628    HR: avg 150 max 170 
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: street
This is my run that I use to test my progress. Everything is run exactly the same. My breaks, HR and route are the same.  A 3 minute improvement since the last time I did this, 1 month ago.

10/15/2011 Medium Long Run 
Distance: 12.77 Time: 2:14 
Calories Burned: 1,630    HR: avg 148 max 164 
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: street
A not too far, not too short run... medium. Relaxed pace and calm HR.

10/16/2011  Long Run 
Distance: 16.6 Time: 2:57 
Calories Burned: 2,008    HR: avg 147 max 163 
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence  Terrain: street
Not the longest or long runs, but after the previous days run, it was long enough. Felt great to get the good time on my feet.

Distance: 46.64 Time: 9:32 
Calories Burned: 6,186

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Double Tough Mudder

I have contemplated making a blog. Is it for me? Would anybody care what I have to say? None of this really matters I suppose. But, if I am going to start a blog (obviously I am), why not have the first entry as my Back to Back Tough Mudder experience.

Gettin' dirty, but always time for a smile!
So here it goes....

I have done several "adventure/mud run" races before. Some have been good, others not, and most just ok. They are fun, you get dirty, climb a ladder, everyone has a good time. I have had my expectations let down in the past, was Tough Mudder going to do the same? It seemed like I was training for WWIII in preparation for this event. Countless miles run on trails, pull ups, push ups and so much more. I registered months in advance and thought the day would never come.

So finally the day arrived! My friend Mike and I were registered for the first wave at 9AM. Registration opened at 7AM and we had heard nightmare stories about parking. We got there just a little after 7 and there was already a nice size crowd and definitely some "magic in the air". Registration went extremely smooth, top notch. So back to the car for my pre-race breakfast, timing it so I would have had at least an hour to settle before the race. To my horror, the container in the ice chest that held my breakfast was full of water. My beautiful 'bagel, egg, bacon and cheese sandwich' was soaking wet and too disgusting to even touch. It's always nice when plans go wrong, before a race. I had some Cliff Bars to eat and some Wheat Thins so I was good.

Godwin and myself at the start of Round 1
Ice being added to the pit
Now to the race. It is billed as "Probably the toughest event on the planet" why not do it 2 times in a row? The plan was to run it at 9AM and then again with a friend and fellow beast Godwin at 1PM (he ran 2 times as well!). So pacing the first loop was the name of the game. I won't go into detail about all of the obstacles, just the fun ones and not so fun ones.
Cold cold cold!

One of the first lovely obstacles was called Chernobyl Jacuzzi. It consists of a waist deep pit filled with water and ice. Midway through the pit, you must submerge yourself to get under a wooden barricade. So I get in the pit, waist deep, so far not too bad. Then comes the submerging...WOW!! I went from cool and calm to almost panic in about 1 second. The bar was raised, Tough Mudder is legit.

Made it out alive
Taking the leap of faith
Walking the Plank. I'm not the biggest fan of heights. Add to this, standing on a muddy and slippery platform at least 15 feet in the air with a pool of muddy water below, whose depth is unknown, does not help. Suck it up and jump.

Berlin Walls. Walls that were claimed to be 12 feet tall. First set of walls are probably 8-9 feet. Ego and confidence... sky high. Next Berlin Wall, much much taller. Ego and confidence... starting to waiver. Doable for sure, but it takes a little bit of strength, coordination and some lack of fear. I'd like to say I have 2 out of 3, its probably more like 1.5 out of 3. By the time the last set of walls come around I'm not sure how tall they are but they might as well have been 20 feet. This last set occurs at around mile 9 or so. I witnessed a group of guys in front of me have a domino effect of calf cramps at this obstacle. First guy cramps (everybody laughs) then the 2nd guy (a few chuckle) 3rd guy (crickets chirping) and then the 4th (only sound is me laughing).

Never hurts to have a helping hand
Everest. A quarter pipe to be run up. This one got me. My first try was a shock, as one moment I am running and the next I am sliding down on my belly. Regroup and try again...and again....and again. I could not get the timing of this down at all. I kept trying to run too high on the wall. I never actually got to jump and reach for the top. It always helps in a frustrating situation to have an audience. Nothing boosts your confidence like ooohhs and aaaahhhs from strangers sitting in camping chairs like they were at a NASCAR race. I was fortunate to have my friends Mike and Godwin make it up this gauntlet and start assisting others with a helpful hand. I needed it.

Funky Monkey. Monkey bars up and then down. I trained the most and was worried the most about this obstacle. My real number 1 goal of Tough Mudder was to complete this obstacle. It really was the obstacle that required the most strength. It is intimidating for sure when you approach, it is huge. Add the fact that the bars spin and are slippery, now we have a challenge. Arms flexed at close to 90 degrees and an "every other bar" approach was the game plan. My friend Mike went first and flew through them, can I get a little more pressure please. One hand at a time, with a steady pace and sure grip... I got through! Funky Monkey Part 1 accomplished.

Electroshock Therapy. Run through live electric wires. I have seen the videos and heard the stories. My friend Mike was concerned about this, I was not. I was anticipating a bad pinch or a burn like feeling. I was not able to see the person in front of me pass through this obstacle to give me a heads up as to a good approach. Again, the stage was set with a huge audience to cheer and laugh us through. My plan was to run through with my hands up by my face, like a boxer, for protection. Here goes nothing. About 4-5 feet into the labyrinth of wires the first bolt comes. I will try to explain what I mean by bolt, words will not do it justice. The best description I can think of is when the power goes out in your house during a storm. The sound of the surge of power, the overloading of circuits...this was the sound I felt in my body. It stopped my body from functioning for a split second and sent me to the ground. If I had my head on straight, I might have panicked. Luckily my body kept going because my mind was in la-la land. It is a scary feeling to have your bodily functions taken away from you. So after a total of 3 donkey kicks to the chest, I was through round 1.

Total time 2hrs 41min
About to start the 2nd round of fun

Round 2

It's funny how a thought or idea becomes a reality. As for deciding to do 2 Tough Mudders in a row, it was really a snowball effect. It started off as a semi-joke for me to join my friend Godwin on his 1PM wave. Godwin decides he will then join me for my 9AM wave, as long as I promise to join him for his later wave. Uh-oh, this is starting to get serious. My "outs" for not doing a 2nd lap are becoming fewer and fewer. I had never even done one Tough Mudder, let alone two. There are so many unknowns to a race like this that several times before even starting I questioned my sanity. The furthest distance I had run so far was 20 miles, without obstacles and mud. As per the title of my blog, "Going for more", is what this challenge was going to be. I embraced it and knew this was going to be truly epic. So Godwin and I made a pact of sorts, double Tough Mudder was our challenge.

This was all about grinding through whatever discomfort there was. The first few steps were the hardest. I was starting to think this was a bad idea. I had committed to this and was going to see it through. The obstacles had changed later on in the day. Some were easier, some were harder. Troughs had been carved into what was once a difficult to navigate muddy slope or pit. Hay bales that were once 15-20 ft tall had been smashed to merely little bumps in the road. Berlin Walls that were challenging turned into slippery, mud covered giants. Mix some butter, oil, and some gravy onto a pull up bar. Now do a pull up, turn it into a tricep extension, swing your leg over and lower yourself down. Do it again 2 more times in a row. Then a few more times in a few miles, then yet again.

Truckin' along
The running aspect of Tough Mudder was the best for me. On round 2, I set myself on auto-pilot and just cruised. This was enough for me to be passing most everyone that was around me. I laughed (on the inside) when countless people had leg cramps at mile 3 onwards. I would hear their friends praise their efforts and speak of how much of a warrior said cramped person was. I'm on miles 14, 15, 16.... I have been running for 3 hrs, 4 hrs, 5hrs....

The further I got into round 2, the larger the lines at the obstacles were, Six Flags style. It's not fun to sit and wait to crawl on bruised and bloody knees. Nor is it fun to wait in a group of several hundred people to do a balance beam that you know you are likely to fall off of in the first few steps. Waiting your turn for the less challenging obstacles is not a challenge. I finally approached Funky Monkey again. I was tired and the bars were more slippery. Now here is a challenge that I like, and I accepted.... passed with "flying" colors. Proudest achievement bar none at Tough Mudder, double Funky Monkey!

After Funky Monkey #2, I saw my friend Mike...saw the gi-normous lines at the last 2-3 so so obstacles and made the decision to call it a day there. I had already decided that Electroshock Therapy was not really an obstacle, but more like some frat boys playing with a taser. It's funny and neat, as long as you are not on the receiving end.  Best friend in the world to hang out for another 3 hrs, after completing Tough Mudder himself, and wait for me to prove something to myself (?) I accomplished what I set out to do. Push the limits on an event that for some, completing it once would be a huge undertaking.

One way to attempt the Ball Shrinker
So my day consisted of....
Round 1   11.05 miles 2 hrs 41 minutes
Round 2     9.16 miles 3 hrs 4 minutes
Total        20.21 miles 5 hrs 45 minutes

I wore my new Inov8 X Talon 212's. These shoes are amazing! They hold the ground so well in places where it shouldn't be possible. Very lightweight and responsive, you can be as nimble as you need to be in them. Add in some wonderful Injinji toes socks and you have some happy feet at the end of all this wetness, mud and miles.

On the second round, I slipped on my new Zensah compression calf sleeves. I was a little hesitant about this. I read wonderful reviews on this product. I bought these the day before the race and had yet to even run in them, let alone put them through hell. I don't like to test something out like that but knew my calves were going to be taking a thrashing and could use some "tight love" on them. They were excellent! The squeezing effect of the sleeves really kept my calves as happy as they could be considering the circumstances. I was also worried that they would not make it out alive as I had plans for using them in future distance running. Well they survived!

I carried a Camelbak Hydrobak which held 50oz of water and a few gel packs. I had it more for backup, just in case a water station was out of water. On round 2, there was one station that was bone dry, not cool at all. I drank probably 2/3 of it each time and indulged at each water station.

I took about 5 gels total throughout the race. 2 gels the first round and 3 on the 2nd round. In between rounds, which was about 1 hr, I wolfed down a PB&Honey sandwich, some wheat thins and some GuBrew electrolyte drink. I also popped 3 Hammer Endurolyte  pills to keep the body in check.

Jumping Hay Bales

Bruised, cut and battered. The best souvenir in the world
Only minor fatigue post race. Slightly sore muscles. I expected to be completely spent, but was not. My knees were banged up pretty good and I still have a little 'catch' in my wrist. I'm happy my feet, ankles, knees and other vital running muscles were unscathed.

Tough Mudder, especially my double, was a wonderful experience. So many fun, and not so fun challenges. Less than a week has passed since it occurred and I am already planning my next Tough Mudder event. Probably the Texas Coast and for sure the Dallas location. Always Going for more!!!!!

Alive and well at the end!