Friday, October 26, 2012

Physical Meditation

Morning yoga is fantastic. It really improves my Fridays.

I tweaked my elbow just enough yesterday while seeing if a one-armed americana would work in BJJ, that I opted NOT to climb after yoga this morning... which is more than a little sad. I think I have mentioned before that combining the physical meditation of Yoga for an hour with an even more private physical meditation on a rock wall is one of the best ways to start any day. Positive, strong, amazing feelings and outlook lasting all day!

Another reason I didn't climb - is I'm Wolverine for my corporate Halloween party today, so I had some costume related stuff to do for that. Yay!

Here I am last night messing with the claws and cigar... I will be wearing a shirt and possibly my leather jacket for the company costume parade!! I did consider just doing a tank top, but decided against it in the end. Since this is my fitness blog and I was just about to do pushups - you get the shirtless version.

Don't ever really smoke kids! It ain't good for ya! Rolled up Cardboard - not smoked - is fine

2 weeks ago Micah (BJJ Instructor) had back surgery to repair a couple of his lower vertebrae.  So Mark, basically the only guy other than me that's been going lately thought we should keep practicing, which is great. I mentioned LAST Thursday that it has been a while since I have just 'rolled' (practical practice - basically just start wrestling/grappling trying to sink submissions/chokes/etc.) and for some reason my brain was having a hard time wanting to. So I needed to. So the past few times we've done that at the end, stopping occasionally to discuss issues and problems and solutions - and it has been fantastic! Even better this week, Micah has come to watch and give tips. Yesterday (again 2 weeks out from back surgery) he got into it a bit more. Hearing tips while rolling is really a great way of learning.

I'm very pleased with the progress I am feeling with BJJ. I'm still WAY far from knowing what to do in many situations, and I pretty much always lose while rolling, but I'm excited in the direction!

Other than Yoga Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and BJJ on Tuesdays and Thursdays - not much else has been going on fitness wise. I still do pull ups and push ups - L-sit Pullups and Chinups after Yoga and/or BJJ usually - but I just realized I haven't done a muscle-up in WAY too long! (like a week and a half or two weeks!) That's no good. Gotta keep that strong. With the bad weather I wonder how useful my pullup bars are... I should do something to winterize them a bit.

Another thing that is lacking in the past week - Trail Running!! Sure I ran almost 20 miles last Friday... but I miss the mountains!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crewing and Pacing the Pony Express 50

Last Friday I had the awesome experience of crewing and pacing for my brother as he ran a 50 mile race - the Pony Express 50 (there's also a 100 miler)

We started out Thursday night heading out into the middle of nowhere South and West of Tooele Utah. Tooele is where the Tough Mudder was, and it's already middle-of-nowhere-enough as it is!

We arrived at the Lookout campsite in the dark, set up our tent, checked out the GORGEOUS stars, and went to sleep.

In the morning we woke up, got my brother off and running, and started our fun!
Brr! Cold early morning!

Beautiful Sunrise!
I don't need this yet!
Two(ish) hours in - SO happy!

Random Rock Peacock!

Simpson Springs Peacock!
Jeans and a running tank - that's hot.


 And by fun I mean that at about 28 miles in - I was still doing stuff like this:

And the girls were doing THIS:

Heeeeeeey! Sexy Lady!
 I knew I'd be pacing soon, so I stripped down the layers (seen previously) to my running stuff  and got ready.
I threw in some Astavakrasana

Ready for anything. Yes, that bucket is a toilet. A 'Luggable Loo'
 Kakes paced first - he was starting to get more tired as he had already passed a Marathon distance.

At mile 31 I started running with him, right as his hip was starting to bug him so we started off (well I started off, he'd been going THIRTY-ONE miles already!) quite slowly due to the hip issues.

He's got wings!
Kakes hopped in the van with Alicia a few miles later.
The hip issues caused some calf issues and some knee issues - but eventually, (and with the help of my amazing wife!) it worked out, and we really got moving again after Dugway Pass.

Fixing the hip!

Cresting the hill! (About 6 miles into my run, 37 into the 50)

Around here I told him "I plan on pacing you as long as I'm not slowing you down" and he replied, "Yeah that probably won't be a problem!"

A few miles later my sister and her husband showed up, and my brother in law Ben jumped out to run with us.

Matt was moving a lot better here - and I was getting close to my all-time longest run ever. (14 miles last year in the half marathon I got lost in!) And my knee was starting to tweak a bit.

A funny thing about the end of the 50 miler is that you get to the finish line at 48.5 miles... so they make you run 3/4 mile farther down the road, turn around, and THEN cross the finish line! Yikes! My knee wasn't too happy right then, and I was right around 18 miles - significantly more than my previous long-distance. (I still blame the cold and shock obstacles of Tough Mudder for messing up my knee.)

So Kakes parked the van, and everybody got out to run the final 1.5 miles.

The Magnificent 7! (minus 2, although only 1 person is missing)

Back to the finish!
I actually slowed WAY down and basically hobbled the last 200 yards or so. My knee was NOT very happy with me. Considering I had just run 18.91 miles straight (not including all the dancing and yoga and crew-running done earlier) I felt pretty good! I know I could do a marathon if I wanted. Who knows. Maybe someday I will!

We collapsed into chairs at the Finish Line almost 10 hours after we started. Kakes is awesome and took care of us with stuff we needed from the van. We ate some of the Argentine BBQ that was being prepared at the finish, and talked to a few runners, pacers, organizers, and took some pictures.

BBQ in the background!

19+ miles, sunburned, still alive! Thriving!
I love this woman!!

50 miles! Amazing!

 When it was time we piled into the van,

Enjoyed the BEAUTIFUL sunset

and went back and packed up the Tent and bedding we'd left at the start-line campsite (yay for people not stealing anything!)  ((Not that I expected them to - I'm still happy about it sheesh!)) It got dark fast!

Great adventure for a fall Friday! Saturday morning I woke up feeling a little sore, but not bad at all!

I still have no plans to run a Marathon, let alone an ULTRA marathon, but it was a blast crewing for my brother as he ran this 50 miler.

Now to catch up with the rest of the week!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Few More Mudder Pics!

Before I get to the Pony Express 50 entry (which I paced and crewed - I did NOT race in it!) I figured I'd post a few more pictures from Tough Mudder that were taken by the wife of one of our runners.

Unfortunately I still haven't seen pictures they got of Everest and Electroshock Therapy yet. I'm quite interested in seeing (if they got any of me!) what I looked like on both of those from outside.

Team Inconceivable Before Starting

Just before "Arctic Enema"

Attacking the Dirty Ballerina

Sliding through the Electric Eel

Sliding through the Mud Mile

Crawling the Boa Constrictor

Emerging Triumphant!
See - told you I was triumphant!

 Tough Mudder was fun. I'm still looking forward to the missing pictures - but I'm NOW looking forward to the Spartan Race in June of 2013.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Utah Tough Mudder 2012

As you know, since I've been talking about it for a long time now, yesterday I was able to take part in the Tough Mudder Event.
* Warning - this post is long and full of pictures AND videos! You have been warned! *

* Seriously - this could quite possibly be the LONGEST blog post EVER! * (at least for me)

It was tough. It was Muddy. I don't think it could count as the hardest thing I've ever done... Actually as I'm thinking about it I really can't think of what really IS the hardest thing I've ever done. Physically or Mentally... Maybe moving to Russia when I was 16 for mentally hard, but it wasn't really physically hard. I guess physically Tough Mudder might be up there in difficulty, but it didn't really push me to my limits. I'll have to think about that because I am not sure what "THE HARDEST THING" for me has been...

On Friday I said "My main goal is to conquer most of the obstacles without assistance" and if that word 'most' is taken into account - then I definitely did it! I only fell on ONE obstacle!

We met up and left at 7:30 to get out to the Event Site an hour before our 9:20 start time. Checked in and they wrote our number on our forehead. I wasn't too excited about that, for some reason I don't like having things written on my forehead!

It was COLD! As the sun was coming up it was getting better though. Jumped over the 6 or 7 ft wall to get into the start area and listened to the intro rules and everything by the course MC. Cool guy.

Then we counted down and started the course!

Here's a map so you can follow along!

Since there was so many people it really took a bit to get moving and then we made it to the first obstacle - "Kiss of Mud"

Next was one of the most dreaded Obstacles - "Arctic Enema" I know - it's a horrible name. It used to be called "Chernobyl Jacuzzi" -  but I think somebody must have complained, so now it has the even worse Enema appellation.  Anyway - I held my camera and videoed the experience so you could see it too!!

About to jump in!

Next were "Berlin Walls" (part one) which were about 8-10 ft tall walls you had to get up and over. Twice. Easy Peasy - seriously, if I had to choose a workout to best prepare, muscle-ups have been the best preparation for most of this stuff. These walls were EASY.

We ran for a while past Mile 2 (Only 10 more to go!)

and hit the next obstacle - "Bale Bonds" - big rolls of hay to climb over.

The 5th obstacle was "Hold Your Wood" which was probably my least favorite event. We took a GIANT and heavy log, and I have bruises from where it dug into my shoulders, along with wrist problems from holding the log with our team mates and coordinating the effort. Yikes!

Next was another Kiss of Mud, then we ran to King of the Mountain... which was just a pile of large hay bales.

Next up - "Trench Warfare" some pretty tight tunnels with a turn in the middle that made it pitch black in the middle. They dug out the trenches, then covered them with boards, dirt, and a TON of dead animal carcasses and bones! It was pretty cool - but could be really difficult for people if it went on much longer. As it was I saw a few that couldn't do it.

Trench Warfare was followed by the "Dirty Ballerina" which was a lot of fun. You could probably get a good enough start to jump over the muddy water pits/trenches, but it worked best if you jumped far into the water and immediately slapped your hands onto the other side and vaulted out. Often we'd jump in and out and turn around to help out our fellow Mudders. Great sense of camaraderie!

After twinkle-toeing our way across the muddy trenches, "Lumber Jacked" where you just jump over some big logs that are set at varying heights. The tallest was about 5 feet... so not too difficult. But lots of opportunity for scrapes on the rough bark (similar issues back in Carry Your Wood!)

Then there was the first of my 2 least favorite obstacles. The "Electric Eel."  Eels are something I very much dislike (But love to eat! Yum!) and apparently my body does not like excess electricity. In this obstacle you crawl under barbed wire like "Kiss of Mud" but in this there is more water, and dangling electrical wires. I made it halfway through before I got my first jolt, and I about cracked my jaw in the clench that resulted. Got shocked 2 more times on the way out - feels like somebody hit me in the brain with a hammer. Yeah I didn't like it. Especially since I started to exit the obstacle with my hand in a puddle and got shocked about five more times. Blech. Still - I could handle this as an obstacle again - it wasn't THAT bad. I still didn't like it much.

"Balls to the Wall" was next - Fun but not too difficult LARGE Plywood wall with ropes up and down.

Waiting in Line to climb up the ropes!
Up next we had the chance to do a "Mud Mile" Which wasn't really a mile - but it was a lot of fun! This is one of the obstacles that really required team work and help - and it was fantastic!

Nice and muddy and fantastic!

"Boa Constrictor" was next - they did a good job with some tight tunnels! You slide down into a pit of water with barbed wire over your head, then back up another tight tube. This may or may not be my hand from the official FB pictures :)

"Berlin Walls" (part two) came next - THIS one was awesome. There was a similar wall at Cahoots, but it was busy and I didn't have time to mess around with it - but THIS time I wanted to do it on my own. 12' walls with a little lip down at the bottom - I made it no problem when I really tried. Just had to step quickly off the lip and not try to step ON the lip.

"Cliffhanger" was next - they had music at this, and it was a lot of fun. Big 4 ft deep water pit at the bottom of a steep muddy wall with a cargo net. Not too hard. There were more steep hills right after a few other obstacles - these without the nets took a bit more teamwork - and this was where our guys excelled. They may not have been the fastest or the flashiest at finishing obstacles (well... Justin and I were pretty awesome at the obstacles!) but they were good at helping others get up the tough parts!

Next up - one I was particularly excited about - "Funky Monkey!" I wanted to conquer this one - because I'm pretty good at pullups now, and I didn't want this to beat me. It didn't. It was actually too easy. Still - I want one in my back yard!

Yeah! Easy as pie! Fun too!


Finally we came to the one obstacle that humbled me a little. I didn't make it across. "Just The Tip" is a big sheet of plywood with two boards at foot and chest level on it, 5 feet deep water pit below. The first 3rd of the wall had normal boards about an inch thick, then the next 3rd was skinner, about half an inch,then it was back to the normal size. I made it about halfway and I couldn't do it anymore. If you look up Just the Tip on YouTube - a lot of them don't have the water pit - and in most of the videos people do it by grabbing on the top, or just climbing up to the top and getting across that way. Huh. I could have done that - but I want to be able to do it the right way!! So yeah, failed on that one - but I did say MOST so I'm not too unhappy.

Being the Piratey type of guy that I am - I have no problems with anything called "Walk the Plank" although really I'm more used to bein the one MAKING others walk the plank, not walking it meself! Hopefully one of the team members who had a spectator recording had video or pictures of this - if so I'll either add it in here or post it separately. This was a lot of fun. I didn't do anything too fancy - just a spread eagle type jump followed by a straight-legged plunge to the very bottom of the 15 foot pit. One thing I do have to learn - is how to keep my nose from filling with water without plugging it! (I fell in the Great Salt Lake when I was 3 that messed up my sinuses for swimming - had to wear one of those nose plugs until I was a teenager!) After resurfacing I was fine, but my body was panicking for about 30 seconds trying to re-regulate breathing and sinus clarity... so weird to be fully aware and fine mentally but your body is in a panic...

Second to last was one of the other obstacles I was both looking forward to and slightly dreading. "Everest" - I really wanted to be able to do this one on my own without help. Having watched videos and seen pictures and seen how many people CAN'T do this without help - I know that once people finally get up they are very willing and eager (often tooooo willing and eager!) to help people conquer Everest. I figured if I did have a problem doing it on my own it would be because people were trying so hard to help. At the same time - I did want to have help if I needed it, and having never done something like this before... I had no idea. From watching American Ninja Warrior and various other Freerunning and Parkour Training vids (like this one from DemonDrills) I thought I would be able to handle it. So I started running, and had no problems at all getting up and adequately grabbing the top to pull myself up (AGAIN - hooray for muscle-up training! Seriously helpful!) BUT like I feared, immediately a couple of well-meaning Mudders started trying to grab and pull me up. I told 'em I was fine, and pulled myself up, then went to be ready to help my team - telling the same people who tried to help me that it was fine to be ready, but the next guy (Justin who I trained with a lot for this, and who (like me honestly) was more ready for this than the others on our team) probably wouldn't need (or want!!) help - so he did it fine too. Booyah! Such a good feeling to be capable of that stuff. I REALLY hope somebody got a picture of that!

Here's a picture of one of our teammates - a great, but short member of our team finally making it up Everest. This was difficult for a lot of people! I'm in blue reaching down grabbing him to pull him up!

Finally was my least favorite obstacle. "Electroshock Therapy" - I really didn't like this one that much. As of right now if I were to have the option of doing a Mudder again I wouldn't because of this one obstacle. In a couple of months- maybe I'd answer differently - but looking at pictures of that makes me hurt. Hammers on Brains. Ouchies.  Here's a video of kind-of what it was like. In all these videos the sound isn't great because there was too much mud in the mic! I think it's permanently damaged now actually... HA.

Why am I doing this again?

12 Miles, 21 Obstacles (plus a few minor ones thrown in there), lots of fun. Plenty of Pain. Overall I really enjoyed the Tough Mudder. I wish it hadn't ended on an obstacle I really didn't like - but that's just how it goes. Like they said at the beginning of the race and on a few signs throughout "Don't Whine! Kids Whine!" So I guess I should stop whining about it! :)

At least I stayed true to the "NO QUIT IN HERE!" mantra! And I got my Orange Headband:

And they got lots of muddy shoes! Not mine though! I kept mine. They've been through too much with me this year! They also got lots of money. This race was expensive!!

Next year I might try the Spartan Race instead. It's the same weekend, and there is a deal on it right now. We'll see!! Either way - I'm excited for more challenges!

This one was ultimately FANTASTIC!