Monday, October 10, 2011

Tough Mudder

What an amazing experience at Tough Mudder on Saturday.   The 12 mile course was further than I'd ever gone before, not to mention that the obstacles were much harder than the previous "mud run" obstacles that I'd encountered.  It truly was a Tough Mudder!

I was one of the vast minority of runners who didn't show up with a team.  Many of the obstacles were designed for the runners to work together to overcome the course.    Obviously this put me at a disadvantage, but luckily about 2 miles into the course I made a new friend, Rigo.

As Rigo and I met up on the trail I noticed he too was running solo.  "No team?" I asked.  "No team." Rigo replied.  "Yeah me either." I said.

And that simple conversation changed the whole experience of the event.  Rigo simply said, "Well, you have one now."  And for the rest of the race we ran and
conquered the obstacles together. 

Mile after Mile, through mud, sludge, logs, ropes, water (just thin mud really) and a variety of other obstacles we forged on.

We were by no means the fastest on the course, but we did manage to beat over 90% of our 11:00 heat.  We finished ahead of a large portion of runners from the 10:40, 10:20, and 10:00 heats as well.  We even beat a good number of runners from the 9:40 and 9:20 heats.

While we were out on the course, something I read in one of Johnny Waite's blogs a while back kept coming back to my mind.  What was it that was separating us from so many of the people we were passing.  People who were obviously in much better physical shape than the two of us.

At about the 5 mile mark and beyond nearly everyone on the course was walking.   With so many people around me walking it would have been easy for my mind to convince my body that I should be walking too, after all...I WAS really tired.  But my new friend was the perfect motivator.  I kept running, because he kept running, and I didn't want to lose my only teammate!

It was eye opening  to see how much longer I could push myself after I felt like I was really tired.

When I finished the race I felt amazing.  My knees weren't hurting like I thought they might after that distance.  My SI pain was actually less than when I had started the fact it was pretty much gone. (at least for then, it came back later)

All of that feeling good stuff ended later that evening - I was exhausted.  Totally drained of all energy!  So i slept :)

From Sunday morning until now I've been more sore than I ever have in my life.  Every muscle in my body is sore and on top of that the front half of my body is covered with nicks, cuts, scrapes, bruises and abrasions which hurt every time anything touches them!  I wouldnt trade it for anything.  I've never been this happy!

Reflecting on the event.  I definately learned a few things:

Number 1:  Although I've always had strong legs, that is no longer the case.  It was the upper body challenges that were easier for me and the running towards the end of the race that was killing me.  My legs are WEAK and I have so far to go to get them ready for the Death Race.

Number 2:  I was dead tired after the event.  It was a fraction of the length of the Death Race.  Again, I have so far to go to get ready.

Number 3:  I was so proud of how well I did, I can't wait to take it to the next level and do something even harder.

Number 4:  Heather is awesome as a race supporter/photographer!

With Tough Mudder down, I'm looking forward to the Nov 19 Warrior Dash and Dec 3 Super Spartan and I'm probably going to sign up for the Tough Mudder on the coast Jan 28!

If you're at all interested in running with me at any of these races you're more than welcome!

Special shout out to Rigo - You absolutely Rock Buddy - I can't wait to run with you again!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Li (Death Race) fe

First and foremost this post is my excited announcement that I will be racing in Pittsfield Vermont  June 15th through the 17th? 18th? 19th? Who the 2012 Death Race.  The post has been a few days in the making, but as most of you know, that thing we call life is always getting in the way.  So let me catch you up there first.  

I've been truly blessed these past few weeks.  A month ago my close friend Jennifer and her awesome husband Eric came up to Tyler for a visit.  I had planned to cook dinner for them at our house, but a combination of a hectic schedule and my procrastinating personality left me with nothing to cook and no plan of what to cook the day they were supposed to be here.  Abort plan A and commence with plan B.

Here, I must digress for a second time.  Heather and I have been researching extensively food, nutrition, and healthy eating and living for a few months now, and as a result we have become pretty much vegetarian, but not quite vegan.  I'll still have some cheese or an egg here or there, but not too often.  In addition to that, we are juicing fruits and veggies daily and eating a large portion of our diet as whole-raw foods.  I have a whole blog post planned for that topic so I'll stop there for now and get back to the first digression from my original digression...dinner. (confused yet? I almost am!)

So where can a vegetarian go get something yummy to eat while still giving his non-vegetarian friends a tasty option?  We decided on Mongolian barbeque.  Which is how we found ourselves discussing cafeteria food at schools in Texas less than two feet from the table beside us.  As we are ranting about how ridiculous the food choices are and how wasteful the school policies are, one of the ladies at the next table over interjects her two cents into the discussion.

After a few minutes of discussion, she tells us that she works at a local elementary school.  We connect based on the fact that I'm a teacher without a job, looking for substitute work.  The conversation continues, she texts some people from my last school about me, and they of course tell her how awesome I am :)  She eventually reveals that she just doesn't work at a local elementary, she's actually the Assistant Principal.  She tells me about an upcoming long term sub job that I might be able to do. We part ways for the rest of the meal, and I don't really think too much of the whole encounter.

One week later exactly I get a call from the principal at her school.  They have an opening for a teaching position and she wants to know if I'm interested in interviewing for the it. I told her I was, suppressing my exuberance long enough to hang up the phone, before I lost it in excitement.  I interviewed for the job and got it.

I had two days to help move a teacher out of my classroom and set it up for my kiddos...not nearly enough time!  So...I'm now teaching 21 first graders at Douglas Elementary here in Tyler Texas!!! As I type this I can barely talk, my voice a casualty of my first two weeks of my new career.  I  don't think I could have gotten luckier in the whole deal and I don't just have any job...I've got a great class of kids, a very supportive administration and some pretty awesome coworkers!

All of that to say that life has been a whirlwind the past few weeks and that's why it's taken me a few days to write this important blog.  On to the original topic...Death Race 2012.

What is the Death Race?  It's a 48 hour grueling test of not only your physical endurance, but also and probably more so, your mental strength.  Here's a quick montage from this year's race if you haven't heard of it before.

If you've read any of my previous blogs you know I started this blogging endeavor after reading THIS BLOG written by Johnny Waite.  It's an account of his training sessions, preparing for the Death Race.  I was hooked.  I kept up with his training and his trip to the event.  He was one of only 35 finishers out of 235 entrants...80 didnt even show up and 120 quit during the race.

Fast forward to this past Saturday.  Johnny posts this on facebook:  

Death Race 2012 is June 15. As an alumnus, I can register one additional person at a significant discount. Who will commit to doing it with me. I am serious. It will be the best/worst experience of your life. Message me ASAP if you are interested. 

As you read down the comments you see things like "Let me be the first to say ....... No fucking way!!!!!!"(which nine people liked) and "I love that you had to add the 'I am serious' part just to clarify. lol" and " BTW. Asking people to join you in an outing wherein "you may die" is somewhat akin to handing someone a bottle and asking "does this taste poisonous?" Just sayin...."(which 5 people liked)  so naturally I commented too.  But instead of telling him how crazy he was, I told him how crazy I wanted to be too!

And that's how it came to be that I'll be Death Racing next summer.  I won't be the fastest or the strongest physically...But I'll be ready mentally and I plan to give myself incredible leverage...that's what will separate me from the vast majority of competitors who DNF every year.   

Here's an excerpt from a post Johnny wrote after his experience:   
As I looked around the church at the 35 finishers, I thought, "What is the difference between us and the 125 who dropped out, or even the other 80 who did not even start?" There did not seem to be an easy answer. It certainly wasn't just physical strength, as I watched huge, chiseled Marines quit. And it wasn't just conditioning either, as there were phenomenal triathletes who fell by the wayside too.  
The next obvious thing to consider was mental toughness, but we all seemed to have that at the outset, and I know that some of the people who were no longer racing would have never ever ever imagined not finishing. Obviously they had demonstrated mental toughness in the past.
Not being able to see inside anyone else's head, I turned my attention to mine. What had kept me going? Well, my fundraising for POGO. I had promised a beautiful young girl that I would finish. I said "If she and her family can survive three years of cancer treatment, then I can survive three days of racing." Plus the 60+ people who had donated over $5,000.00 to that cause. Then there were Jack and Katy. I actually posted on Facebook that I wanted them to be able to tell people "My Dad completed the Death Race" and not "My Dad started the Death Race but quit when it got hard."
Speaking of Facebook, by broadcasting my training and my progress and my commitments online, I now had thousands of people who would want to know how it went. I could not just sneak back into town in the night and never really mention it again.
So, as I realized, all of this was leverage. Leverage on myself. I had thrown my hat over the fence, as the saying goes, and now had to go get it. No matter what. Reading some people's blog posts after the race, I found that they had left themselves loopholes - where there was still room to call it a success for having tried. I don't think I could have given myself that credit. I had bet the house. I can, however, think of too many other ventures where that wasn't the case. Where I had quit long before I started and then went through the motions. What if I only started things from now on that I intended to finish, no matter what. How powerful a perspective would that be to live from?

So this begins my Leverage.  I will finish next summer.  I'm not leaving myself  any outs.  Hell, if anyone probably should have had an out last year it was Johnny.  Going into the race he had foot, shoulder, and knee injuries and had been on doctors orders not to run for many weeks heading into the race.  But he gutted it out anyway.

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how
far one can go."

-T.S. Elliot

Any and all of you are more than welcome to come to cheer us on this summer.  Hopefully I can even con a few of you into being my crew for the race! 

If you want to learn more about the race check out  The video there is a couple years old and the race is much longer now, but it still gives you insight to how it works.  Thanks for reading all of this (if you made it this far) - I have to write an essay about why I want to do the Death Race this weekend and I'm headed down to Austin for Tough Mudder, which seemed hard before, but now seems sorta puny  compared to what I've got ahead of me, but I'll try to post again next week!  Thanks again to Johnny Waite for changing my life last spring, and again this week.