Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Craziest Frickin' Day Of Your Life (aka: Warrior Dash Recap)

I have officially finished my first mud run and I can definitely say that it won't be my last!

Before you read the full recap, I should probably explain the group of people I was with.  I call them The Usual Suspects.  In fact, we made t-shirts for everyone (Warriors and Spectators alike) complete with Top Gun style call signs on the back.  For the purpose of this post, I'm going to refer to everyone except The Husband and myself by those call signs to protect their anonymity/privacy since I have not asked for permission to post their names or photos.  So, without further ado, I am pleased to introduce The Usual Suspects!

Black Betty
Miss Placed

Support Crew:
Mr. Fix-It
Na-cho Nurse

Are you thoroughly confused yet?  I hope not.  Anyway, moving on...

On Friday afternoon, the husband, myself and the rest of The Usual Suspects headed west to take part in the Minnesota edition of the Warrior Dash.  After a 5 1/2 hour drive we checked into our hotel, grabbed some dinner and then hung out on a bar patio and had a few beers.  This is a departure from my usual strict pre-race ritual which involves a very safe dinner, no alcohol and getting to bed early.  The Husband and I didn't even make it back to our room until midnight and we were leaving at 6:30 the next morning!  It was all good, though.  We weren't doing this race to see if we could run fast.  We did it to have fun and do something different, so rituals could be ignored.
Now Entering Minnesota
 The alarm went off at 5:30 A.M.  I pulled on my race clothes (compression shorts, knee length tights, old tank top, old sports bra and really old running shoes), braided my hair and swallowed my usual pre-race Clif Bar.  By 6:30, everyone except Maverick, Goose and their kids were crammed into Mr. Fix-It's truck and we were on our way to The Battleground.

Battleground = Ski Resort

When we arrived, we got our bibs and chips and prepared to race...while staring at the last 3 (and most intimidating) obstacles.
Petrifying Plunge, Warrior Roast & Muddy Mayhem

The Husband and I before the race...looking all fresh and clean!

I even did a little yoga to stretch out ahead of time!  Warrior II seemed appropriate - although my form left something to be desired!

Before we knew it, our wave was being called.  It was GO TIME!
And we were off!  Almost immediately, we encountered the first unofficial obstacle of the day: running up a ski slope.  Talk about tough!  The Husband and Miss Placed charged off and that was the last we saw of them until after the race.  I was running with Black Betty and Who-Haa was just behind us as we hit the top of the hill we were confronted by our first obstacle of the day: Road Rage - which entailed running through tires and climbing over wrecked vehicles!  Immediately after that came Obstacle #2: The Treacherous Typhoon.  Warriors were blasted by gale force wind and water. Strangely, it felt kind of good because it was so hot out!
Treacherous Typhoon - as seen from a chairlift
After the blasting we ran on and up and down more ski runs before coming to Obstacle #3: Barricade Breakdown.  We had to climb over a series of chest-high walls and then duck under barbed wire. I think all those downward and upward-facing dog poses really paid off because my arms were strong enough to get me over those walls and I was able to duck under the barbed wire pretty easily.  After that came a horizontal cargo net, crawling through a pitch black tunnel, a pit of sand, a 15 foot vertical cargo net and solid 20 foot high wall and some very wobbly balance beams...all while negotiating our way up and down ski runs!

Finally, the Petrifying Plunge came into view.  Imagine a muddy slip-n-slide.  I hurled myself down it behind Black Betty and promptly got stuck!  I guess they need to make it more slippery.  I scooted the rest of the way down on my butt, jumped up and Black Betty and I took off toward the Warrior Roast.  Nothing says fun like jumping over a couple of walls of flames!  Oddly enough, we were still pretty clean at this point, but that wasn't going to last long.  The final obstacle was Muddy Mayhem: a waist deep mud pit with barbed wire strung over it.  We plunged in and dropped onto all fours to crawl our way to the finish.  In all honesty, the mud was gross.  It smelled like it had been dredged up from the bottom of a lake that morning.  We found that the easiest way to propel ourselves through  it was to use a doggy-paddle type motion with our arms.

As soon as we exited Muddy Mayhem, Black Betty grabbed my hand and we smiled for the photographers (and Maverick who had my camera) before sprinting through mud to the finish line.

And just like that, it was over. Medals were hung around our necks, we were handed a cup of water and a banana (which didn't make much sense) and pointed to the Warrior Wash area which was another wind/water cannon that didn't even begin to wash all the mud off.

The After Party was awesome and definitely lived up to the event's promise of Mud. Sweat. Beer.  Giant turkey legs (I had a couple bites of The Husband's), Shock Top Ale (I refused to share!) and live music.  We all hung around for a while drinking (beer before 10am is interesting), snacking and people watching before the sky darkened and a storm was imminent. We all high-tailed it back to Mr. Fix-It's truck and went back to our hotel to clean up.

By the time we got back, the sky had cleared and the hotel allowed us to use their garden hose to clean up (and hopefully salvage) some of our gear.  Personally, I think they were hoping we'd hose ourselves off too before coming inside!

Never in my life has a shower felt so good.  It took a lot of scrubbing and I washed my hair no less than 4 times before I finally felt clean!

The remainder of the night was spent with The Usual Suspects doing what we do best: Drinking. Talking. And Having A Great Time.

This morning we all packed it in and headed home...exhausted but happy.  It was a fabulous weekend.  If you ever have the opportunity to do a mud run, do it.  You don't have to be in great shape to succeed, you just have to be willing to have fun.

We're already talking about doing it again (although potentially an event closer to home) next year!
If you're interested in how we all fared, here are the stats:

Distance: 3.02 Hellish Miles (as described by the event's website)

Gaga (The Husband): 
Time: 41:16.0
Avg. Pace: 13:40

Miss Placed:
Time: 41:17.0
Avg. Pace: 13:40

Ringleader (me): (I'll give a few more of my own statistics)
Time: 45:42.8
Avg. Pace: 15:08
Overall Place: 4213/10450
Age Group Place: 327/1322 (Top 25%!)

Black Betty:
Time: 45:45.6
Avg. Pace: 15:09

Time:  46:26.4
Avg. Pace: 15:23

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An Early Bird & A Night Owl

After two days of 90+ degree temperatures (and a heat index of over 100), the weather improved a little today and promises to return to near record heat again tomorrow.  In the interest of running at the coolest time of day, I behaved like an early bird (which I am not) and headed out for a run this morning.  It wasn't bad, although I did something I never do.  I took my fuel belt, complete with frozen water bottles, on a ~3.5 mile run.  I'm happy I did.  Having slushy, cold water at my finger tips (yes, I did pour some over my head a couple of times) made all the difference between a good, relatively comfortable run and a miserable one.

Distance: 3.44 miles
Time: 34:17
Avg. Pace: 9:58


When I got to work today, I discovered that a heat advisory is going into effect at 10am tomorrow morning and lasting until 9pm on Thursday.  Also, if is to be believed, it's going to be 85 degrees with 90% humidity at 5am tomorrow.  Serious bummer.  I don't want to run in I'm not going to.


After dinner tonight, the husband headed out for 3 miles, so I embraced my night owl tendencies and followed suit and decided to get tomorrow's run out of the way tonight!  I was supposed to be doing a 35 minute tempo run (start out slower, gradually build speed until I touch my race pace or faster for a few minutes, slow down again).  I started out at a nice, easy pace and gradually picked it up. However, rather than backing down, I ended up running the last mile faster than the first two!

Distance: 3.01 miles
Time: 28:43
Avg. Pace: 9:33

Running twice in one day probably wasn't the smartest move in the world, but now I can sleep in a little tomorrow and not have to worry about cramming in a run before work.  And...tomorrow night I start my new yoga class. An hour and fifteen minutes of yoga in this heat should prove to be interesting!  After that, it's going to be a mad flurry of cleaning and packing on Thursday night before I head to Minnesota on Friday night for the Warrior Dash this weekend!


Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hot. Hot. Hot.

If I go outside, I seriously think I might melt.  It's been in the 90's for the last two days, with a heat index of over 100!  In fact, we've been under a heat advisory since some time yesterday.  Of course, I wish I'd have know that before I attempted to go for a long run yesterday!  It was hot.  It was sweaty. It was brutal.  I froze the water bottles for my fuel belt...

 ...and by mile 2 they were slushy.  By mile 3, they were pure liquid.  By mile 4, they were warm - yuck!

I quickly realized that this run was not all about speed.  It was about getting through it.  I took it easy.  Very easy.  In fact, I ended up taking a 30+ minute break at one point.  I had come upon a picnic shelter near a water fountain and discovered a lot of athletes (mostly cyclists) taking refuge from the sun's brutality.  It was kind of fun.  We all sat around bemoaning the weather, talking about bikes (I learned a lot) and running (some of them were triathletes).  Finally, I decided to drag myself the last 3 miles home.  I ran two of them and then, when faced with a steep, mile-long uphill, I called it a day.  I turned off my watch and trudged up that hill and home where I was greeted by the most wonderful thing I'd seen all day: The Husband had the sprinkler going. I kicked off my shoes, shed my hat and my fuel belt/iPod and walked right in.  

Distance: 8.0 Miles
Time: 1:26:02 (not including multiple stops to catch my breath/drink/rest)
Avg. Pace: 10:45

I also crammed in a 3 miler on Thursday night:
Distance: 3.01 Miles
Time: 30:01
Avg. Pace: 9:58

I'm really hoping this heat breaks soon.  I definitely got back on track last week (didn't miss a workout), and I don't want to get totally derailed this week!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Busy Bee

So much to do.  So little time to do it in.  It's been a busy day in Rabbits & Runs land.

I'm officially 10 days away from the Warrior Dash and my 'To-Do' list isn't getting any smaller.  Actually, I have 2 'To Do' lists.  One is the stuff that absolutely has to get done (make group t-shirts, clean the house before the bunny sitter arrives, and work stuff that has to be done so I can take a day off) and the other is more of a list of stuff I'd like to get done, but won't have a meltdown if it's not done.

In the interest of having more free time to get stuff done after work (and because I develop a serious case of Don't Wanna Run around 5pm every day), I ran before work again this morning. It was a cool, breezy 60 degrees when I headed out to do my interval workout.  I think I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again: I hate speed training, but I love the results!  This morning's workout consisted of 6 400 meter intervals (6x400) with 1 minute of rest between intervals.  It went well.  Really well.  My usual statistics don't really do it justice (since total time and distance also include the 1 minute rest periods).

Distance: 2.14 miles
Time: 21:50
Avg. Pace: 10:13

Seems pretty pedestrian, right? I thought so too. Then I looked at the average pace of each 400 meter interval and started getting excited.

Interval 1: Avg. Pace: 8:25
Interval 2: Avg. Pace: 8:06
Interval 3: Avg. Pace: 7:55
Interval 4: Avg. Pace: 8:06
Interval 5: Avg. Pace: 8:30
Interval 6: Avg. Pace: 7:35

I know, the strangest things make me happy, but it put me in a good mood all day and that good mood translated into hyper-productivity at work and I actually knocked a few things off the 'Absolute To Do' list.  Adding to my happiness was the fact that no idiot drivers tried to maim me today!  I'll take it!

Now I'm off to do a few more small 'Absolute' items and then it's bed time.  I'm going to attempt to get out of bed and run again in the morning.

Are you a 'To Do' list person?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's Called A Stop Sign. It Means That You STOP!

In the spirit of getting back on track, I dragged my booty out of bed at 6:00am today and was on the road by 6:20.  It's been miserably hot and humid for the last couple of days and this morning it was almost pleasant outside!  I was happily trotting along during my first mile and I stepped off the curb to cross a seemingly empty intersection.  Out of nowhere, a car came squealing around the corner, blew through a stop sign (while accelerating), and took a sharp left turn.  Sounds fairly common...since a large number of drivers on the roads these days pretty much suck.  Not so much.  As this charming woman blew the stop sign and turned, she failed to notice that there was a pedestrian in the crosswalk.  That pedestrian was me.   So along with failing to stop, she managed to graze my right side with her car!  She never even slowed down. 

Luckily, I wasn't hurt.  Had I been about a step or two further back, she likely would have hit me head on and thrown me into traffic.  I was stunned.  I was pissed.  Ultimately, I'm grateful that I'm still here and not in a hospital or a morgue.

Thus, my PSA of the day:  Please watch for pedestrians/runners/cyclists when you're driving.  I know you're in a hurry, but would you rather be late or responsible for killing someone?

*steps off soapbox*

After my brush with The Worst Driver In Wisconsin, I continued my run, but I couldn't get back into it.  I think the huge adrenaline surge I experienced sort of sucked the life right out of me.

Distance: 3.24 miles
Time: 32:44
Avg. Pace: 10:07 (my first mile...before the incident, was a 9:42)

I'm determined not to let one horrendous driver keep me from my training.  On the docket for tomorrow: 400 meter intervals.  Ick.  I don't love doing speed workouts, but I do love the results!  Another plus - if I make it out before work tomorrow, it should only be in the 60's! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Getting Back On Track

I've been bad.  Really bad. In general, I've kind of been sucking at life for the last 2 weeks.  Want a short list of the things I've been bad about?  Here ya go:

  • training
  • eating right
  • going to bed at a reasonable hour
  • getting up on time
  • cleaning/laundry/errands
  • spending time with the bunnies
  • reading
  • being organized
I'm two weeks into this training cycle and I've got almost nothing to show for it.  The weather has been nothing but hot and humid.  The holiday weekend distracted me.  A miserable headache (bordering on migraine) incapacitated me for most of the day on the 4th.  Work's been a handful and a half. 

However, none of those reasons are going to make me feel any better in September if I fail to reach my goal.  Thus, I seriously need to get back on track.  Fortunately, I was able to get a lot of "stuff" done this weekend and I should be in a pretty good place this coming week.  My laundry is done (I actually folded, ironed and put away everything I washed this weekend as opposed to letting it fester and wrinkle in a basket).  A meal plan has been made.  Groceries have been shopped for. 

I actually got out to the trails today to go for something that resembled a long run.  It took me an hour and a half to run 7 miles!  Normally I'd be upset, but by the time we made it out there, it was 90 degrees with 70% humidity.  The options were to go slow or not at all.  I picked least I put in some miles!

Now it's time for a little quality time with my little furry masters and a book before I head for bed.

What's your favorite way of getting back on track after a slump?