Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Waterfront Challenge - 2013

Louisville, Kentucky - June 22, 2013

I don't know if I made a mistake or not.  I signed up for most of the events I will do this year, back in the winter and some of them before the first of the year.  The Waterfront Challenge in Louisville was one of those.  Then! super cool looking events like Mudderland and Tame The Terrain come along on the same day and I'm already committed.  I registered for The Waterfront Challenge because it looked like just a fun, simple (maybe easy) event and you need one of those every once in a while.  Many months back, they ran a contest on Facebook for a free entry and I won.  I was already registered so I signed my son up to do this one with me, unbeknownst to him.  So we leave around lunch time and have lunch on the Ohio River at the Christian Moerlein Lager House at The Banks in Cincinnati.  Excellent food.  Then we headed to Louisville with plenty of time to spare, hanging out on the banks of The Ohio River just a bit downstream from where we started.

Head to registration and fellow Crazy Mudder Mucker Juffrey Turley, who is from Louisville, is working the event so he can run for a greatly reduced price.  Will Work For Races!!  After check-in, another Crazy Mudder Mucker, Jascia Redwine, meets up with us.  We were scheduled to go in the 6:00 wave but decided that we would go in the 5:45 instead.  My son Kameron has taken a liking to being Superman(kid) at these events.  After the first set of obstacles, stair climb and roadblock dodging, we approached a dumpster that you were supposed to climb in and out of.  They didn't put it close enough to the curb and there was about an 18" gap that I didn't see and fell off the curb, twisting my ankle from the beginning.  That really sucked and fortunately I was ok but put a little scare in me.  Lots more running, bobbing and weeving through the parks and then we had to jump about 30 yards in a potato sack, NOT as easy as it sounds.  More park running, jumping through tires and then you come upon a very large field with a pile of tires.  The goal was to carry a tire around this marked field that was slightly less than the distance of a track around a football field.  Embrace the suck!  More running, over and under semi trailers, more running, more tire stepping, up and down hills and more running then a steep hill with a couple of Army drill instructors at the top that are yelling at you as soon as you come into sight.  Drop and give me 15 and they'd better be perfect!    Sir, yes sir!!  They really didn't like the Warrior Dash Superman cape that my son was wearing because is says National Guard on it so they were extra hard on him, hehehehehehehehe.  I was not egging them on either, NOT.  Running through narrow trails through the woods and more up/down hills the trail narrows to a row of picnic tables, at least 10, with hills in between them.  This was cool and a potential ankle breaker.  You had to go up and over each table.  Jascia somehow missed this set of obstacles but I'm not sure how, check them out on the video Jascia.  More running, more hills and you come upon a 25' battle rope with a 25 lb. sand bag at the end.  Stationary pull the rope and ultimately the sand bag all the way to you then pick up the sand bag and carry back to the end.  Simple task but not as easy as you would think when you're over 2 miles into a course.  I think the next obstacle was by far the worst.  There was a pile of barbell weights, 25 to 45 lbs., that you had to pick one up, lift it over your head (not resting on your head) and do full lunges (knee to the ground) for about 30 yards.  Embrace the SUCK!!!  and it did REALLY suck but we are near the end.  One of the last set of obstacles were a series of a flatbed semi trailer that you had to go over or under and two cars, bumper to bumper, that you had to climb over, all this times 2.  I chose to crawl under the trailer then one-footed leaped to the top of car, stepped as hard as I could on the second car, being sure to leave a big dent in the hood and then the dismount.  Same thing on the next set but after I was done, I was thinking I should have at least Bo Duke'd one of the car sets.  Oh well, next year.  The second to last obstacle looked fairly simple.  A bunch of cornhole sets.  What could this possibly be?  You learn very quickly that this one really sucks too.  One bag!  One hole!  or 10 burpees.  Being a little winded after 3 miles my aim and judgement was a little off.  I will say it again, I HATE BURPEES!!  The final obstacle was a fun climb up a 40 foot tall inflatable slide with a waterfall at the beginning and then down the other side.  I must have been carrying a lot of extra weight because I went down that thing with such speed I thought I was going to go right off the end.  AHHH!!  The finish line and a really cool piece of bling for the collection.

Although very fun, this event was not near as easy as I thought it would be.  It was more like a bootcamp class spread out across 5 kilometers.  Several of the stations were designed and manned by a local crossfit gym and another by the U.S. Army but we survived to do it again.  I highly recommend this event to everyone.  Next time, I will make sure to stay the night in Louisville and cool down at 4th Street Live afterwards.

Monday, June 17, 2013

TAC Force Challenge 2013

Franklin, Ohio - June 15, 2013

The first TAC Force Challenge was just last year in 2012.  I was registered for it but the Mud Ninja was the weekend before and the Ninja broke my tailbone so I had to go on the DL and sell my spot to the inaugural TAC but I still went and watched.  It looked fun and everyone said it was great.  This is also where I first met Jason Reed, a fellow mud Crazy.  So when the organizers sold 10-person tickets for $220, the week after the event, I jumped on it and am so glad I did.  This was a great event and the price was incredibly right at $22/person.

I decided to give this one a competitive attempt and run the first wave at 9:00 a.m.  The wave was packed and I started out near the middle of about 150 runners.  After the start, I did my best to make it to the beginning of the pack but I always knew there was at least 5 or 6 people ahead of me.  The trail was mostly and all wooded and very scenic until about mile 2 when you went into open fields.  There were obstacles of different types on the course, standard mud/water pits, walking planks, climbing walls, etc.. but the favorites were the water slide, cliff jump and rope swing.  I learned later, from the organizer, that there were 3 other obstacles washed out earlier in the week from storms.  One was another slide that was to be longer and steeper than the existing slide and that would shoot you out into the big creek.  Sorry we didn't get that one but the one we did get was fun enough.  The clear favorite of most runners was the cliff jump.  This was an overlook next to the creek that was 12 ~ 15 feet above the water and that they had dredged out to ensure no hazards.  If you are at all afraid of heights or jumping into the unknown, this was NOT for you.  Not an issue for me but this is one you just grab the gonads, nut up, and take that jump.  To make things even more interesting, this year they added a $100 bill hanging out over the cliff somewhere for someone to be able to jump out and get.  Since I knew I was only about the 5th or 6th person to hit this cliff, by the time I got there it was already gone.  They clearly needed to make that a little more challenging.  After splash-down, you then had to make a 100 yard trek through the knee to waist deep water.  There was no running this part.  The bottom was very rocky and you were going against a very strong current.  There weren't too many hills on the course and the ones that were there were short but very steep.  It didn't take long for these to get very slippery and only one of them had ropes to help you up.  The next big obstacle was the rope swing.  This was a mud/water pit about 15 ~ 20 feet across and at least 3 feet deep with 2 ropes hanging over top of it.  The goal was to swing like Tarzan across the pit to the other side.  This was nearly impossible and if you did make it to the other side, it was so muddy and slippery and you were coming in hard enough that you busted your ass when you landed.  I made it to within 2 feet of the far edge and securely dropped into the mud pit then climbed the rest of the way out.  I don't think there were many people that could make it all the way across, at least adults.  You would need a running start, grab high on the rope and pick up your legs, then you would have to work the dismount, very difficult.  My son, Kameron, went back and did this one several times until he could finally get all the way across.  They tried to add an ice pit this year but didn't have near enough ice.  The creek water was colder.  The winners of the 'Nasty' award go to the last 2 obstacles.  Second to last was simply culvert pipes under a road but the muck had a very distinctive 'farm' smell to it.  The pipes were small 30" cement pipes that you had to crawl through for about 20 feet and exit into some pretty nasty drainage.  The last obstacle was this very long muck pit, about 70 feet long and about 3 feet deep.  It was so 'thick' that  it took every bit of strength left in you to pull your feet up and make the next step.  I'm sure there were many shoes lost in this one.  It was actually easier to 'swim' the muck stew than try to walk or crawl through it.  To top it off, they placed 4 telephone poles at intervals over it about 18 inches off the surface.  You could either go over them or under them, either way was difficult.

In the end, I was very pleased with my efforts as I ended up with 5th place overall out of 313 recorded finishes.  Even better was the fact that 3 of the top 5 finishers were in the 40 ~ 49 age group.  Clearly the 'old' guys kick ass.  This year they also had a team competition where they took the top 5 times of people on a team and averaged them.  Team Crazy Mudder Muckers took the top team spot out of 22 teams.  Congratulations to everyone.

After the competitive run, I then was fortunate enough to get to run the course again with my sons and the rest of the Crazy Mudder Muckers including several OCR virgins.  Big shout out to Paula Henry and Mike Gray for embracing the Suck.  Now that they have drank the Kool Aid they are ready to take on more.  Running this with my sons was just about the best way to spend a Father's Day weekend.

The one major issue with both years has been the clean-off station.  This year the farm sprayer got stuck going for a water refill.  We hiked our way back to the cliff jump and took a dive in the creek to wash off.  Definite improvement needed in this department.

FYI .. The organizers told me that they are considering a 10k option for next year.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Warrior Dash 2013 - Ohio 1

Butler, Ohio - June 1, 2013

There is a common theme this Spring in the midwest --- RAIN!!  I love to go play and roll around in the mud that all this rain creates but I don't want to live in it and we camped in it all weekend.  The one good thing about all this rain is it makes for a muddy course.  AROO!!!

Warrior Dash will always have a special place in my heart because it's where it all began for me one year ago.  Over the last year I have experienced so many different events that this years Warrior Dash was a HUGE disappointment.  In typical WD fashion, they release waves of a couple hundred people at a time but they always seem to layout the course with a bottleneck from the start.  This year, at about 50 yards from the start line, all runners get necked down to an uphill trail through the woods that's about 8 feet wide.  This does not make for a good start.  Since this was on a ski slope, the hill continued for at least 1/4 to 1/2 mile.  I don't remember when we hit the first obstacle but it was a very long time into the race.  There were only about 14 obstacles in the entire course and several of those were back-to-back.  There were several 'new' obstacle designs that just did not work well.  There was an obstacle with chains that you had to cross and another similar to a traverse wall but with cargo net roping that just wasn't big enough.  There was a backlog of people at every obstacle except the new barbed wire army crawl, similar to the Spartan but a baby version with no mud.  This is my new favorite kind of obstacle ever since the Spartan Sprint.  It makes me appreciate all the mountain climbers, planks, core and yoga I do at the gym.  More disappointment was the fact that there was no real water on the course and if it weren't for Mother Nature, I really don't think there would have been much mud.  The one thing about the course that was difficult was the hills, simply brutal.

Warrior Dash really is a beginners race.  My fondest memory of the day is when we were running through the woods on a fairly flat part of the trail, there was quite a bit of water and large puddles from all the rain down the middle of the trail.  To the sides of the trail and along the treeline there was about 12" of semi-dry land.  There were 3 or 4 people on each side of the trail in this dry part, trying to stay out of the mud and water.  I saw this as an opportunity ;) and went right down the middle, through the water between them, stomping as high as I could.  They all started yelling as I turned around and said with a chuckle "Why the hell are you here?".  Embrace the suck!  All in good fun!

The best part about the Warrior Dash was getting to run it with a group of people from different levels.  We had first-time runners, first-time MUD runners, runners on the recovery trail and experienced runners.  We started off as a group and split into 3 smaller groups of varying levels and everyone helped and pushed each other through; learning, growing and conquering as we went.

WD disappoints but we made the best of it and helped each other through it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Morgan's Extreme Trail Run

May 12, 2013

There could not have been a more beautiful spring morning with the sun shining, not a cloud in the sky, a little fog around and temps around 50.  It was a beautiful Mother's Day morning and my Mom would have loved it so to celebrate I decided to go run with my friends in the inaugural Morgan's Extreme Trail Run.  The Morgan's are outdoorsmen to the core and really know how to get people outside.  The trail started at their campground location along the Little Miami National Scenic River and went through the Morgan's childhood homeland.  This had to be one of the most scenic trails I have ever been on.  The hills were incredible but not too hard to run on.  The difference was they weren't straight up but more like switchbacks, that is until the downhills.  The rain from the entire week leading up to this made the trail very muddy but I'm ok with this.  Since this was just a trail run and not a mud run or obstacle course race, most of the runners were just that, runners and not really prepared for the mud.  My Inov-8 212's were made to rock terrain like this where most people were slipping and sliding.  I had to chuckle as I was running on a flat part of the trail that was more swamp than anything and most people were trying to sidestep the mud and water while I simply ran right down the middle of it.  After having ran the Mud Stash the day before, this trail was easy in comparison.  The downside was I had a pulled muscle in my right leg from the day before and it was killing me so I wasn't going to make any great time on this run but I was going to at least finish.  The downhill portions were full of extreme pain and I probably walked more than I ran but I enjoyed it all the same.  The best part was I could run with my phone and headphones listening to music, not something I get to enjoy on an OCR.

The best part of this run was I got to enjoy meeting some more of the Crazy Mudder Muckers; Brandon Lee (Hallowed Punk), Kasmira Thompson and Jennifer Carper.  Looking forward to next years run.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mud Stash - May 11, 2013

I know I'm a little late getting this out there but I'm new to this whole 'blog' thing.

I will start off by stating that the 2013 Spring Mud Stash at Perfect North Slopes set a new personal record for me.  The course was slightly different this year but the hills were still there and still rough.  The Spring Stash and the Fall Stash are ran in the opposite direction of each other and for some reason the Spring Stash seems much more difficult.  The major obstacle this year was the ENTIRE course!  Having rained for the entire week leading up to the Stash, the course was nothing but that suck-your-shoes-off-with-every-step kind of mud and with the slight course change it actually measured out to 3.75 miles instead of 3.15.  The actual obstacles were a welcomed rest from the muddy trails.  It was misting rain the entire time and the temperature ranged from 45 to 50 degrees and seemed to drop as the day went on.  Oh well!  Embrace the SUCK!!!  So I took off at 9:00 a.m. with fellow Cornfed Spartans to try and get a competitive time.  Special thanks to Devon Brown, Brian Ballard and Jason Reed, these guys are true athletes and kept me chasing them the entire time.  As a result, at last check, we took 2nd, 8th, 13th and 18th out of 791 respectively.  This is by far a personal best for me and a HUGE proud moment with a time of 54 minutes.  Never in my life would I expect to be able to compete on these courses at that level after only one year.  The worst part about the entire course was the dumpster full of ice at the end.  WOW!!!

With my goal for 2013 being the Spartan Trifecta, I know that I need to be able to literally go the distance.  After the competitive run, there were several other Crazy Mudder Muckers and Cornfed Spartans there ready to take on the course so I decided to go around again.  This time would just be for fun and ended up taking about 1 hour 45 minutes but it was so worth it.  I proved to myself that I could survive the hardships of distance .. and again that damned ice bath at the end.  The bad news was I slightly pulled a muscle in my right leg going downhill the second time around and I was scheduled to run Morgan's Extreme Trail Run the very next day.  Onward and upward.

Big shout out to Jennifer Jarvi for making a second trip around the mountain!!!

Looking forward to the Night Stash on June 29.