A Three-Hour Tour
You know those days when you come back from the airport and even though you’ve spent the entire weekend stuffing your face you’ve also spent the other part running around San Francisco so you’ve earned yourself a Chipotle Burrito Bowl and even though it’s a mile away it’s nearly 8pm and dark so your husband says “I’ll go get it” and he drives to Chipotle which has a parking lot but there’s something going on in Hollywood for Halloween even through it’s Sunday night Hollywood loves a slutty party so the parking is ten people deep with a valet who can’t magically make more spots appear so your husband has to park two blocks away but he gets your Chipotle and then gets back in the car but the car won’t start so he has to call AAA but he calls you to pick up the Chipotle and then you do but he’s frustrated and you realize the best thing to do is leave him on a darkened sketchy street because your marriage is actually safer that way so you bring the Chipotle home and you eat your Burrito Bowl (no rice) and he calls again to say that he got a jump but when he put the car in drive it totally died so it actually needs a tow so could you come back and maybe bring the Chipotle and so you pack a bag of napkins and water bottles and his burrito and some Halloween candy for good measure and at 9:30pm you drive back out to Hollywood to st in your car on the sketchiest street in town so he finally have a lukewarm chicken burrito and you can eat your feelings in fun size Twix?
Yeah, it was one of those days.
Crossposted from my blog.
The one thing I’ve wanted to do since I began was a mud run. The Daddy of all mud runs is the Tough Mudder. I didn’t think I was ready the last time it was in town, and I didn’t have a team. Not that you need to, but the one thing all of these races have in common is that it’s fun to do them with someone else.
That said, I signed up for the Merrell Down & Dirty 10k alone. Will said he’d be there to cheer me on, but he didn’t know how he’d feel after the marathon. I initially had planned on doing the 5k, but with a glass of wine for courage and from the safety of my living room sofa, I thought yeah, I can do the 10k.
I got progressively more nervous as the date approached.
Here’s the thing about me - I like doing things that are difficult. Like, really difficult. Near-impossible. And then sometimes I do this thing where I beat myself up for not excelling at the near-impossible thing. But running has taught me to put that part of my brain away and just concentrate on the HOLY SHIT I JUST DID THAT part.
So the 10k it was.
I’ve run a 10k before - two of them, plus a half-marathon - but this was going to be a trail run. 6.2 miles of hills and mud and 19 separate obstacles to overcome.
I didn’t do any specific training for the run. I’ve been participating in the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating since the beginning of the year, which has a prescribed lifting/cardio plan. So I added a few extra long runs in and hoped for the best.
Will eventually decided to do the run, so at 5am this morning, we woke up in the darkness and headed out in the cold up the 5 to Lake Castaic and our fate…
Hi it’s 7am on a Sunday, it’s cold & I’m not wearing glasses or contacts so I can’t see.
The run was 10k (6.2 miles) through trails - which means uneven terrain, hills (the first three or so were up up UP) with an obstacle every half mile or so. As we got towards the end, the obstacles were more frequent - eighteen* across the 6.2 miles.
Obstacles in order:
- Low crawl - No problem, but an early taste of dirt.
- Ladder wall - You climb up, you climb down.
- Pushups - The race info said ten pushups but the Army Sergeant said ten. We did 12 for good measure.
- Tires - Hopping through tires. Sorta like you see in every Crossfit-type thing. I wasn’t fast. Next time.
- Low wall - This was one I was nervous about. Two 4’ high walls that you had to hoist yourself up and over. The first wall I ran up and psyched myself out. Didn’t make it. Then I took a second, took a breath, and hopped over no problem.
- Monkey cross - Imagine you’re crossing a jungle gym, but instead of bars there are ropes, and under your feet, every 3’ feet there was a slack line to step on - EXCEPT for in the middle, where there was a 4’ gap. This was a lot about timing the ropes and hoping the person in front of you held the rope back for you.
- Sandbag - Grab a sandbag and run. This was easy. Thanks, weight training!
- Marine hurdles - Three of them, you had to find a way to hoist yourself up and over and down between each one.
- Taller low walls - 5’, maybe? Again, a running start helped.
- Balance beam - This is where I got nervous. Three 12’ balance beams - the first 4’ tall, then youhad to step up to the 5’ tall one, then back down to the 4’ one. Walking the beam wasn’t difficult, but the up/down between beams was scary. But I did it.
- 20’ cargo net with slide - This was FUN.
- Cargo net wall - Easy peasy.
- Mud pit/crawl - The water was deep. A foot doesn’t sound bad until you’re on our belly sucking water from the guy kicking in front of you. At mi four this meant you had to run the last two miles slippery and cakes with heavy mud.
- Tunnels - Get on your hands and knees and crawl. Not pleasant to be in the darkness after the mud, but not difficult.
- 10’ climbing wall - As Will and I ran up we saw a guy fall from the top. Those foot/handholds are shallow, and when you have slippery wet shoes caked with mud…it was a moment where I wondered before I did it if I’d be able to. I relied mostly on upper body strength to get me up and over. This might have been a mistake because…(see #16.)
- Waist deep water - Wadiing through waist deep, muddy water.
- Slippery mountain - This is where I lost it. The sloping hill is covered with water and dish soap. There’s a rope with knots every foot or so, and you have to use your upper body only (they were clear - no using the legs) to pull yourself up and over. I made the mistake of not taking a running start, and once I was on the hill, I tried to pull myself up. I couldn’t. I had nothing left, upper-body wise. There was a soldier (the run benefitted Operation Gratitude) at the top who was cheering me on, but I just had nothing left. I took another run at it and tried to crawl up - I got up three knots and he held out his hand and pulled me the rest of the way. While I got up and over, I wouldn’t have made it wihtout him - and this is one that I have to work on if I’m going to do another one of these. THE ELUSIVE PULL-UP.
- Mud pit - Muddy.
Will and I ran it together, and what I realized after the run was that the running part? Wasn’t impossible. Yeah, I walked some of the steep hills, but I ran the others. There were parts we could have gone faster, but we were just out there to try it out and have fun.
Post-race. This is after we rinsed off. Dig the dirt goatee?
I was hoping to finish in just under two hours. I’ve run two 10ks. Both were regular road races with some hilly parts, but not the steep hills like a trail run has. My first 10k I ran in 1:17. My second 10k I ran in 1:10. So again, with the obstacles and the trails and the hills, I was thinking two hours would be just about right.
My official time? 1:30:38
I’m not lightning-fast but I’m getting faster. I’m not the strongest but I am getting stronger. What I realized at the end of the race is that the running didn’t kill me. It was the easiest part of the race. All of that training on the treadmill at an incline? Helped a lot. The fact that I could have gone faster tells me that the 5k might have been too easy. It’s not that the race was easy; it wasn’t. I’m bruised (my elbows and knees are black and blue) but it wasn’t impossibly hard.
The one thing I need to work on is upper body strength. I need to be able to do a pull-up. (Or three.)
I’m seriously considering the Tough Mudder in July. Stay tuned.
*I swear they said there were 19 obstacles, but I can’t for the life of me remember #19.