Friday, October 31, 2008

The problem with traveling

So I'm set to go on a road trip. I'm taking a bus to Salt Lake City. It leaves tonight at 9 pm, gets into Salt Lake in the morning and then I'll be at a game, then writing and then back on the bus for home. If all goes well I'll be back home sometime around 7 or 8 am on Sunday.

Where does this leave room for exercise? It doesn't, really. I'll get out and stretch my legs but that's about it.

But I'm not quite as concerned about exercise as I am about food. I'll be hungry during the ride I'm sure and what options will I have? Convenience store food? Most of that has loads of calories and isn't exactly filling. What about drinks? Can't exactly load up on water because I'll have to use the bathroom quite often, right? And I'd just as soon keep bathroom trips to a minimum.

Oh well. I'll have to do what I can for the next 36 hours or so. A day of rest and getting back on track with my food intake will await me on Sunday and then it's back to the gym for my week of preparation for the Mission Inn Run.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Next week's plan

I've got the Mission Inn Run coming up in about 12 days or so. I didn't work out today but I've got a run planned for Thursday and hopefully Friday. The weekend is out so that leaves me eight days to work with before the big day. If all goes well...

Monday - intervals, the usual 42-minute run, plus a bike ride afterward
Tuesday - at least 5 miles, hopefully 6, with a bike ride afterward
Wednesday - rest
Thursday - 3-mile run, possibly short bike ride afterward
Friday - rest
Saturday - either 2-mile run or rest
Sunday - 10K

Now, I already know Friday is out. I've got a trip to Disneyland planned and I won't be able to fit a run in around that. I'd like to have a short run the day before the race, such as I did the day before the Mud Run so I'm hoping to run a bit on Saturday.

But I found that the best thing, what helped me the most leading up to the Mud Run, was to hit it hard early in the week.

I have no doubt that I can run the entire 10K and be fine. I am not concerned about the distance. If I were running, say a half-marathon, okay well that may be a different story. But I can run 6.2 miles just fine. But I want to ensure that I am at the top of my game come race day. And the only way to prepare for that is to do so days before the race. Actually, months before, but if you are already there days before would work fine.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More pictures

More proof that I ran in the Mud Run. You'll have to take my word that I enjoyed every bit of it.

Near the end of race, we had one final crawl remaining. The dreaded Mud Crawl. I didn't know what to do initially... well, I actually did know the purpose of this but I wasn't sure if you had to take a header to get underneath the cords. I did so on the first one but didn't on each subsequent one.

I was tired during this part. This is probably at or near the hour mark and I was exhausted. As a result, I wasn't exactly flying through this part. Part of the time I sort of dragged myself on my side.

After the Mud Crawl, I still had a couple of challenges. First, there was a steep climb uphill. Then there was a steep decline. Afterward, there was one final mud puddle.

Now, I can't recall the other person there. I was so focused, I only remember the puddle and the finish line up ahead.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I really am a Muddy Runner

Getting out of the river was a cold experience but it was nice to have "rested" a bit by going through the river.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lucky seven

I didn't intend to run seven miles today. I was meaning to run six miles when I first stepped on the treadmill. Somewhere early in my run, I decided to go 6.2 in order to simulate a 10K. As it turned out, though, I went a long distance. And I felt pretty good.

On Saturday, of course, I ran the Mud Run, all of 10 kilometers. I've got the Mission Inn Run coming up in two weeks now but having trained and prepared for the Mud Run has also made me primed to run this upcoming 10K. If it were this Sunday instead of two weeks from Sunday, I would be confident that I would not only finish the 10K but do so in a good time, in what I consider a good time for myself, anyway.

I think overall though the run wasn't as challenging as it could have been. Yes, running seven miles is a daunting task. However, my heart rate rose fairly steadily throughout the last three miles; actually, to be more precise it was almost stagnant for 20 minutes or so.

I suppose I should take that as a good sign. If and when I run a half marathon or even a 10-mile run, I'm fairly confident now that I will be able to reach the 10-mile mark without maxing out my heart. In other words, I will have quite a bit left in the tank for miles 10, 11, 12 and 13. Running intervals and changing speeds has become ingrained in me so if I run for even a half-mile at one speed I feel like I'm not doing it right.

Somewhere around the 4-mile mark, I decided to keep the speed at 7.0. I started slowly, at a 6.0, and then increased my speed to 6.5 near the mile mark, 6.8 shortly after that and a 7.3 for the third mile. I had intended to go down to a 6.5 for mile 4, up to 7.3-7.7 for mile 5 and finish off with 6.8 for mile 6. Instead, at mile 4 I wanted to stay at a 7.0. I think that's the pace I'm most comfortable at right now.

I realized that I needed to get to 6.2, not just 6.0, so I had it in my mind that I needed to get over six miles. I felt the twinge from inside, the seven-mile itch you can call it, asking me to run that seventh mile. I was debating whether or not to go through with it when I asked myself "Come on, how often are you here?" By here, I meant not the gym but rather the distance. "Here" was in the sixth mile of a six-mile run but, more importantly, I felt good about myself. My heart rate was where it needed to be, my mental makeup was also fine even though my iPod gave out at about the 17-minute mark and I wasn't in a hurry to leave the gym.

I ended up completing seven miles in about 62:42 or so. Incidentally, I crossed 6.2 miles - or the finish line of my 10K - at 54:55.

Distance runs like these are necessary. Even if you don't intend to run them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The course from a different angle

Earlier this week, I put up the course for the Mission Inn Run. I had to see what it looked like on, the trusty site where you can map out courses and get exact distances down to the .01 of a mile.

This is the 5K course which doubles as the 10K course when you run it twice.

I think my favorite part of the Mission Inn Run will be the ability to use my iPod. My tentative plan is to make up a playlist that will help me run the course. I can start with an upbeat song or two, to help me get started. Then I can alternate between something heavy to help me pick up my pace and something either lighter or less heavy to help pace myself.

But if that doesn't happen, I'll have a couple of long straightaways to help keep me honest. At the very worst, I go at a faster pace on the straightaways and go a bit more slowly around the park and the curves.

I'm actually thinking that jogging the course before the actual event might not be the worst thing either. I may have more time next week to do so.

Pitfalls of a salad

Salads are healthy! If you want to watch what you're eating, eat a salad!

Well, that isn't always true. Some salads are gut bombs and have more than 1,000 calories.

The latest issue of Men's Health spells out the disparities a salad can offer. At Chevy's Fresh Mex, they compare two salads and they couldn't be more opposite from each other.

The Santa Fe Chopped Salad has 318 calories with 39 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbs and 9 grams of fiber. These figures are without bacon and cheese.

By contrast, the Tostada Salad with chicken has 1,551 calories, 94 grams of fat and 2,480 mg of sodium. That's not just bad for a salad, it's bad for a meal. Any meal. That it's a salad that has those numbers is downright terrible. Even if you add in the cheese to the Santa Fe Chopped Salad, it would still be a great alternative to the gut bomb of a Tostada Salad.

In general, some things will make salads unhealthy: dressing, cheese, croutons fall into that category. Too much of the wrong kind of dressing will destroy any salad. Cheese is the downfall of the Tostada Salad while croutons can add up. In fact, according to, six large or nine small croutons have 29 calories. That's fine if you can control your portions but sometimes salads come loaded with croutons.

Salads loaded with dressing, cheese and/or croutons aren't that healthy. Those loaded with mostly veggies are. And those are the ones worth eating.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

There goes my medal

When I ran in the Fontana Days 5K in June, I got a gift bag that came with assorted goodies. Among other things, it came with a medal. I didn't get anything of the sort from the Mud Run. So when I found out that I could get a medal for running in the Mission Inn Run, I was excited.

The first 100 finishers get a medal. So all I have to do then is finish in the top 100.

Well, after I saw results from last year I don't think I'll be getting a medal. The winner ran the 10K in 33:10. That's just ridiculous. Of course, I don't fancy myself as being in the lead or anything like that but the top 100... well, that may be a goal I thought I could have strived for.

Last year, though, 100th place finished the race in 46:15.

Originally I thought perhaps under 50 minutes would be a good time. So I'd have to shave five minutes off of that just to medal, five minutes off a time I thought I had a chance of running if I ran hard.

Needless to say, it's not going to happen. But it's actually a good thing. I want to finish the race, finish it in a time that I can feel good about but mostly finish the race. If I start thinking about running it in a certain time or beating a certain amount of people, it won't do me any good.

It's never been about time for me. Running races or just running whenever has never been about time. Sure, I keep track of my time. And I set goals and things like that. But I don't feel like I'm competing against the clock or trying to win something or whatever. My first goal is to finish. Now, that also entails other things - running continuously, maintaining my heart rate at a certain pace, etc. - but mostly it's to finish. A distant second is time. I figure if I'm going to run I may as well do it in a respectable time. Now, respectable means to me. I don't want to think I'm better than those who finished after me and I certainly don't feel like less of a person than those who beat me.

So medal or not, I'll be satisfied with having run in and completed the Mission Inn Run.

Back at it

I ran today. For the first time since the Mud Run. It felt strange yet comforting at the same time. Strange in that I was no longer running to train for the Mud Run, no longer wondering if my workouts would help me prepare adequately for the event and because I have two new goals to pursue. Comforting, well, that's an odd word to use for a run but it was just that. It's like getting into an old familiar habit.

Anyway, one thing I noticed was how quickly my heart rate dropped off during the rest part of my intervals. First, the stats:

Time: 42:00
Avg HR: 145
Max HR: 181
Cal: 527

Now, this includes the five-minute warmup. Without that my average heart rate would have been a little higher. Regardless, after running rounds of 6.0 and 7.5 for 12 minutes - the longest portion of my run - I went from somewhere around the low 160s to the one-teens in just over two minutes. This is a tell-tale sign that the interval run is not challenging enough - at least, that's what I've read and been told.

The formula is somewhat simple. Take your max heart rate (187) and subtract your resting heart rate (50 or thereabouts). 187 minus 50 is 137. Divide that by half (68.5) and add that back to your resting heart rate (118.5). If you get below that heart rate during intervals, then your workouts aren't as challenging as they could and should be.

Of course, this means that I need to amplify my workouts. I can still use this interval run and frankly I'd be upset if I couldn't. But instead of a 6.0 and 7.5, perhaps I can do 6.3 and 7.8. It's a little modification but it will go a long way, I'm certain.

After my next rounds of running, six minutes of 6.0-7.5, my heart rate went down into the low 120s but between four minutes of rounds and a two-minute sprint, it stayed at around 150. I'd expect that since by that point I'm usually exhausted. I sprinted two minutes at 9.0 and then walked five minutes afterward.

Then to round out my cardio, I biked for 20 minutes. I didn't keep track of the heart rate on my watch but since my heart rate monitor and the bike (and mill for that matter) are all made by Polar, it continuously displays it on the bike. I stayed around the mid 130s and got up to the high 150s during my most grueling part, the final four-minute stretch.

Oh, and one more positive from today. My shoes are fine. I used my running shoes during the Mud Run on Saturday and they looked in bad shape afterward, drenched and covered in mud. But I hosed them down, let them dry and put them on. They had some sand in them which I expected and felt during my interval run today. But I don't feel any sort of remnants right now.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Easy recovery day

My post-Mud Run training sessions officially began today. I went to the gym and was bent on two things: 1) getting on the bike and doing my easy recovery workout, and 2) NOT getting on the treadmill. I know myself. If I would have allowed myself to get on the treadmill, there wouldn't have been anything easy about my easy recovery day.

I walked right past a row of treadmills and though I longed to get on them I made my way towards the bikes. I have not done a workout exclusively on a bike in quite a long time, many pounds ago, but I got on one with the intention of staying on it.

But for how long? I started with 40 minutes, a nice, round number. I monitored my heart rate, of course, and early on it was in the low 80s, climbed up towards 100 and eventually settled in around the one-teens. I tried to pedal harder and faster as the workout got on but my heart rate only went so high before my muscles started to make noise - they weren't screaming but they were certainly clearing their throats.

I reminded myself "easy recovery" and continued on my quest to recover from the Mud Run. See, I had to not only get my muscles some light action, I also had to lay the groundwork for runs I have planned for Wednesday and Friday, runs that won't exactly be easy. I didn't want my muscles to act up or anything so I eased up on the bike.

I got to just over 14 miles after 40 minutes and paused to catch my breath. Almost instantly my heart rate dropped below 100 and was down in the 90s.

That let me know two things: 1) this workout was not strenuous, which was good because that's what I wanted (easy = not strenuous); 2) I can't do only the bike for cardio unless I'm willing to push through screaming muscles and pedal considerably harder than I had been.

I rode another 15 minutes. In a total of 55 minutes, then, I rode just over 20 miles. I don't think the workout was too difficult, so I met my goal. In fact, I feel like running right now, as I type. I suppose that's a good thing, since I'll have to run tomorrow.

But here's more proof of the easiness of the workout: my average heart rate was 118 with a max of 140. I burned 491 calories. Compare that to... well, the only recent figures I have are from the Mud Run, when I burned 1165 calories in an hour seven minutes, with an average heart rate of 171 and max of 182. That's a bit extreme of course but subtract a couple hundred calories, raise the max and that's about my typical 50-minute run.

So if I want to ride the bike, I will stick to what I had been doing and ride for 15-30 minutes after a run. Typically, my heart rate has stayed about the same, around 150, during those bike rides. And it works well to complete my cardio workout.

My plan for Wednesday then is set: run, then bike. Run a 42-minute interval run, the bike for 20-30 minutes.

Blog biz

Alright, it's been a while in between posts. I went nearly three months without posting, mainly because I had an audience of one. Now, I'm not sure what my audience is but I've decided that even if I'm the only one reading this I'll plug along and keep track of certain things here.

This blog will continue to be workout-heavy. It's what I started off wanting to do, to document my training for the Mud Run. But now that it's over and done with, I want to maintain that workout element here. I don't really talk to anyone in person about my workouts since my wife couldn't give a care and others really don't want to hear the intimate details of how my heart rate went from 180 to 190 near the end of my long interval run. But I need to express my thoughts and this is one place to do it.

I also want to keep better track of calories and nutritional information. I've got lots of thoughts on different types of foods that are out there and how they can affect you and all that good stuff. For instance, I've started to become rather fond of cheese, specifically Monterey Jack cheese. It's very good but it comes with a price. If I add some to my sandwich for lunch, for instance, I need to account for those calories. I had been using 30-calorie fat-free Cheddar cheese slices but the difference in taste between that and the Monterrey Jack is rather noticeable. Right now, it's a trade-off I'm willing to make.

So there you go. This blog is for workouts, both how they affect me and how they could be useful to others, and nutrition in the same fashion.

I needed some reminding since it's been so long since I've posted this often.

Today's workout

I will do either one of two things today.

A 42-minute interval run and a subsequent bike ride OR a bike ride with no running before and after.

The first option seems best for me. I like to run and I like running that particular run. But I sort of want to take some time off my feet, in a manner of speaking. I've been running a lot lately. I ran six miles on two different occasions last week and I want to change up my workouts.

But at the same time, I can't recall the last time I did cardio exclusively on the bike. Lately I've added the bike to my cardio routine. It has been a pleasant surprise. It is a great way for me to finish off a run and I think it's been rather effective in helping me build up my stamina and endurance.

Probably I'll end up doing only work on the bike later today. It's just that I always feel a bit tentative before doing something new, something different from what I'm used to. And honestly it feels like it would be a struggle to get my heart rate up on the bike to the levels it gets to while running.

I guess there's only one way to find out.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mission Inn Run course

I haven't signed up for this yet but I will in the next day or two. Here's the course map for the Mission Inn Run.

The race starts on a major street near the Mission Inn. I guess the Mission Inn itself isn't part of the race. Anyway, it loops down toward the 60 Freeway, around Fairmount Park and back towards Market Street.

Of course, this means absolutely nothing to you if you've never been to Riverside.

However, the course seems pretty simple and straightforward. I have to admit, I don't like having to run the same course twice. I'd much rather run one long 10 kilometer stretch. But at least it's an option. I don't think I'd enjoy the 5K as much as I'll enjoy the 10K.

Tentative plan

So I've got a plan. Yes, I know that might seem scary but this one involves workouts. And I'm usually pretty good with planning my workouts.

I'm going to rest today.

That's the big part of my plan. Rest up and recover. My muscles are still achy from the Mud Run so I'm going to let them recover another day before calling them back in for some heavy work. I feel it the most on my hamstrings and my quadriceps. Those hills left their mark on me, apparently. So instead of risking severe discomfort or, at the very worst, injury I'm going to rest.

But I can't rest too long. I'm going to run in a regular 10K in less than three weeks now so I have to get back to it.

That's been the best part of the last six or seven months. I've had something to train for. Every time I went to the gym, I had a long-term goal to strive for. Most every workout was, in one form or the other, constructed towards achieving that long-term goal.

Now, I have another goal to reach - the Mission Inn Run. In many ways, it will be a continuation of my Mud Run training. This 10K won't involve hills or mud or water - unless it rains - so I only need to concentrate on my cardio. At this point, it's where I need it to be for the 10K so I just need to maintain my training levels and perhaps add some sort of speed element to it, so I can try and finish the race in a good time.

So my three-week plan will be simple: lots of cardio, including interval runs and runs for distance, as well as some bike work. On Tuesday I'll hit the gym for some bike work, probably won't run much if at all. I may do some running on Wednesday and see how I feel. Might rest Thursday and then go for a longer run on Friday. We'll see where I am come the weekend and see what, if anything, I can do on Saturday and Sunday. So this week will essentially be a recovery week.

Next week, I'll hit it hard once more and then the following week will lead up to the 10K, so I imagine more hitting-it-hard early in the week followed by a day or two of rest before the event.

It's good to have a plan. Especially when the first component is rest.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Now what?

I've done the Mud Run. Actually, just yesterday.

So now what? Where do I go from here?

I had a few goals I thought about striving for, some events I thought about participating in sometime after the Mud Run. I just wanted to see where I was at in my training to see if I was physically able to continue.

And now, the Mud Run is over. So I suppose I need to re-visit those goals, right?


This is the biggie. I had not really contemplated ever running a marathon before. Even when I started this weight-loss, fitness lifestyle I did not imagine ever wanting to or being physically able to handle running 26 consecutive miles. I still can't imagine really wanting to run so long.

Would I be able to run a marathon soon? No. There's no way. But I never thought of running a marathon soon after the Mud Run. Even the LA Marathon, which will be held in March of '09, would be too soon.

Still, at this point running a marathon is not something I've ruled out. It does not sound like fun but it would be a good challenge, perhaps the toughest challenge out there. Such a run would require some serious training and probably would force me to tighten the straps around my own diet. I'd have to figure out how to run outdoors more frequently. I did, after all, go nearly three months in between outdoor runs.

There will be one major determining factor in my ability and desire to run a marathon though...


It's not the beast a 26-mile run is, but a half-marathon is nevertheless a daunting task. Running 13 miles would be a good determining factor in having the ability and/or desire to run the full 26. This is something I'd like to train for. There is a half-marathon in June '09 that I'd like to participate in. The Fontana Days 2009 half-marathon is probably on my agenda for next year.

I really don't think it's something I can't do. I think that I could probably train for it. This would take me to the next level of training. I'd have to up my runs from 4-6 miles gradually, go up to 8-10 and then 12-14, possibly even 14-16. Seems within reach but I've never ran 8 miles or more.

It might be too early, though, to think about that. It's October now so that's eight months away. I think starting off in January with the half-marathon in mind would be good. But what am I going to do for the rest of this year?


Actually, this one fell into my lap. The Mission Inn Run will be on Nov. 9 and this year in addition to the 5K the Run will include a 10K course... which is actually the 5K course twice. Oh well.

It's on a Sunday and it's definitely doable. It will be like the Mud Run without all the pesky hills and obstacles. Of course, that will also mean it won't be nearly as much fun as the Mud Run was but it will be an exciting event nevertheless.

So up next will be a 10K then. I think that will be a good way to sort of round out my training for the year. After the Mission Inn Run, I'm going to still work out, of course, but I might change it up a bit. Maybe I'll do more interval training or maybe I'll spend more time on the bike or elliptical or the stairmaster... okay, maybe not the stairmaster.

Whatever the case, I'm still a Muddy Runner. An official one at that.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Mud Run: A cold, wet and muddy experience

Months of training and somewhat worried thoughts culminated on Saturday morning. The Mud Run, which promised to be the most physically challenging event I've ever participated in, awaited me. Finally, it was here.

The Mud Run, the original purpose for having started this blog, is a 10K obstacle-course run. It's in Camp Pendleton, so the course is grueling and quite challenging, as you would expect from such a course on a military base.

Now, although I hadn't logged my training sessions and workouts here on this once-trusty blog, I had prepared well. I was able to run six miles as late as Tuesday, five days before the event, and I knew that the distance would not destroy me. But everything else... well, that's why I was worried.

The first thing that greeted me this morning was the chilly morning air. I got to the event with my youngest brother and we would soon meet up another brother, his wife and her brother. Later, a pair of uncles joined us. But the air was chilly some 90 minutes before the event.

Let's hope the sun comes out and burns some of this off.

Eventually, that happened. The sun came out and it went from chilly to comfortable. Which was a good thing. As we made our way to the start line, an uncle told us to be prepared to run the event dripping wet, with soggy shoes and possibly stones or sand inside our shoes.

Great. That's just what I need.

Soon, the clock started counting down rather quickly. 26 minutes 'til the start. Then 19 minutes. Then 12. Then 6. Pretty soon 2. And then it got down to the seconds.

It's now or never. You can do this.

Those were my last words of encouragement I muttered to myself. Of course, I'd been storing away every single last scrap of encouragement I'd received from family and, especially, my exchange buddies who chimed in with some well-needed and well-received final words earlier that morning.

And then, it began.

We were somewhat lucky in that we were pretty close to the start line. There were supposedly some 4,000 people signed up and presumably many of them showed up. So we did not have to wait behind 3,500 people to get off and running. I came out of the gate somewhat slowly. I didn't want to burn up all my energy early on. During a six-mile run, I like to save my strength for miles 3 and up, preferably with a lot left in the tank for miles 5 and 6. But I didn't know what to expect from the course so I especially needed to pace myself.

Oh no! Here comes the water!

Up ahead, there were water trucks that sprayed all the passing runners. The first truck got me just a tad bit wet. But I took a direct hit from the second truck. I was wet from head to toe. Now, I can deal with water on my head but I don't usually run with wet and soggy feet.

This probably will be nothing compared to what awaits.

After that, the runners started to thin out a bit. Some of the people who had been in the front slowed. Others made their move from the back toward the front. I tried not to get in any sort of speed races with people in front of me. Figured I'd save my strength for the end. Now, I didn't have a goal of beating people per se. I wanted to run it in under 1:10:00 so I just had a time I wanted to best.

The run at first had few obstacles. It was basically a dirt road, even in some parts, uneven in most, that cut through a hillside covered in brush and weeds. I trudged along, now a bit more dry than I had been.

Get ready to get wet again.

There was no avoiding the first water hazard. It was a stream, probably six inches to a foot deep, pretty muddy. I plodded along, high-stepping, kicking water in the process. Maybe some 30 steps to get past it. Now, that's not that long in the grand scheme of things but it was long enough to leave an impression, a cold one, on my feet.

The path started to deviate uphill, ever so slightly. I remembered looking at the map.

Suicide Hill.

It wasn't quite suicidal but it took a toll. I tried to keep my pace, tried to keep running, and I did. Others were walking but I felt good. I had trained hard for this event and now was the time to show it. I didn't sprint up the hilly parts but I ran. Hard. I had my trusty heart rate monitor to help me pace myself and it worked well. On the hills, I stayed in the 170s, probably got up to the 180s at some points. That was good. Had I been in the mid- to high-180s, I'd have been worried.

So where are the obstacles?

I wondered when we'd get to the dreaded walls and river crossing and Slippery Hill as we went down the back side of Suicide Hill. I soon got my answer. As I rounded a bend, I could hear splashing. I knew there would be mud and/or water there, and I was right.

"Don't jump down into the water!" a Marine shouted at us. We climbed a four-foot high dirt pile and down on the other side was a 20-foot stretch of water and mud underneath, probably water a foot or two deep. At the end, the first wall awaited.

Oh, that doesn't look that bad.

In my mind, I'd built up an image of a 10-foot high brick wall and everyone but me was scaling it. Well, in reality it was a wall that went up to my chest and everyone scaled it, including me. I grabbed the top of the wall, heaved myself up, swung my right leg over, then the rest of me and SPLASHED! down into the water. More muddy water followed before climbing another short dirt heap and into a straightaway before...

What is that, the Rio Grande?

Yeah, it was a deep river crossing indeed. I saw arms and heads sticking out of the water. I pictured myself swimming with fish.

Oh man, it's cold!

That's the first thing I realized in the water. It was cold. Refreshing, but cold. It was a chance to rest, actually. Even though I was moving, I wasn't running. My heart rate went down to 155 almost instantly. My heart took a three-minute break. But when I came out the other end, my feet were blocks of ice. I had no choice but to run.

Squish. Squish. Squish. Squish.

Heavy blocks of ice gave way to sopping wet shoes but the break did me well. I was able to find my rhythm soon enough. Right in time to reach the second climbing wall. This one was quite a bit higher, maybe a foot more, than the first. Same muddy water before, same initial fears arose. I grabbed the top, started to heave and paused. A quick breath, called my leg muscles into action and HEAVE! got to the top. I couldn't swing my leg over so I sort of placed it on top. I did a half-roll on the foot-long width at the top and SPLASH! back down into the water once more.

What the...?

Up ahead were tunnels. Big pipes actually. Couldn't do anything but crawl through them. It was very slippery and I thought of blood gushing down me knees so I figured I'd try and walk with my hands and toes, sort of outstretched. Kept slipping and sliding, probably went really slow through, but I came out unscathed on the other side. Came out the other end fine only to see a fearful sight.

That's like an escalator of mud.

A steep and intimidating muddy hill awaited. It really was like a long flight of stairs, only instead of stairs there was mud, a stream of water muddying up the little patches of dirt that remained bare, and people slipping and sliding trying to keep their balance.

Slippery Hill. Ha. I get it.

I tried to stay on the side but that didn't work. My foot kept getting caught in the mud. I jerked my foot away from a patch of mud when...


... my shoe popped off. I grabbed it and tried to shove it back on my foot. People walked past me. My sock was drenched and folded over my toes. Finally, POP, my shoe got back. I was almost crawling when I remembered my uncle's advice. I got in the middle of the hill and found my footing. I paid for it because a truck sprayed water on me but I didn't care.

We've got to be almost near the end.

Sure enough, soon after I heard a Marine tell us we were about a quarter-mile from the end.

That's nothing!

I picked up the pace. Passed some people. Then, back to the final mud crawl. There were ropes extending from one side of the mud pit to the other. I had no choice but to get on my hands and knees. I took a header into the water to get under the first rope but crawled through the rest of them without doing so again.

I had one final daunting challenge. Ran up a hill then down a very steep decline. I nearly lost my balance as my feet tried to keep up with the rest of my accelerated body. Came out on the bottom, ran across a final giant puddle of water and mud.

The finish line!! Finish for the foodies!!

I sprinted. I took off as if I had nothing more to lose, which I didn't. I felt fast. Not sure how fast I was going but nothing was going to stop me now. My cold feet responded and the rest of my body was prepared for one final giant push.

Breathing heavily, I slowed right as I crossed the finish line. I walked through a line, past some Marines who took my ticket from the bottom of my bib and came out the other end. Final time was 1:07:44.

I was tired, cold and dripping with water, sweat and mud. But it was over. The most challenging event I'd ever done was over. And I did it.

As I walked around to find the rest of my group, I could only think of one thing.

When's the next Mud Run?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back with a plan

I've returned!

Okay, so I took a three-month break between blog posts. But I've returned nonetheless.

See, I just got tired of writing when I knew I had an audience of zero. And then it just got to the point where it was too much effort for the amount of readers I had. Any effort for zero readers is too much effort after all.

But I've decided that even if I'm the only one reading, I'll plug along since the Mud Run is only eight days away.

Eight days. That doesn't give me much time, does it? I'm not going to get to work out today so I figured instead of working out I'd try and plan each of the next eight days individually.

I've been working out hard this week. I got in a 4-mile run and 12-mile bike ride on Tuesday and a 5-mile run and a 7.5-mile bike ride on Wednesday. I felt exhausted after each, and I'm not even sure how much of a benefit it is to do the extra mileage on the bike but it's helped jumpstart my workouts nevertheless.

Today is Friday and I won't be able to work out. I probably won't be able to work out on Saturday either. Sunday's are usually hard to find time as well but since I won't have to work on Saturday night perhaps I'll get up early on Sunday and go on a run outside. I haven't ran outside since I had a bad incident about two months ago. I tried running 7 miles when I only had 5 in me, so I had to walk two miles home while exhausted and dehydrated. That was not a good experience but Sunday morning I imagine would be doable.

Monday is a must. I think Tuesday would be one as well. Wednesday should be a rest day and then Thursday I think I should have a lighter workout, possibly a 3-mile run and that's it. Friday... I'm stuck on Friday. I wonder, would resting on Friday give me more energy on Saturday? Or would running lightly on Friday - even if its' just a 2-mile run - make me more efficient on Saturday? As long as Monday and Tuesday go well, though, I think I'll be fine.