6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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Tribute Tuesday – Katrina Pilkington “Kat”

Tribute Tuesday – Katrina Pilkington “Kat”

It has been a while since I have been able to put together a Tribute Tuesday post and this weeks tribute is someone I am truly honored and excited to write about.  Katrina Pilkington, known by most people as Kat, has a heart that is rare by most standards.  While she enjoys being healthy and partaking in fitness challenges and goals, she always…and I mean always, finds ways to help others reach their goals in the process.

To tell you the truth I have no idea how she does it.  Katrina Pilkington is a woman who a few years ago decided to shed over 40 pounds for herself (see her story) and in doing so created a new energetic voice in the community and the blogosphere directed totally at those who want to become more healthy, more fit, and share ideas on how to go about it.

With only starting to run seriously just a couple of years ago, Katrina Pilkington, over the past nine months has completed her own challenge of 6 half-marathons in 6 months, attained her Certified Personal Trainer, has blogged about some new idea, product, person or technique every single day, holds a full-time job and is very active with her newlywed husband.  Sarah Jessica Parker in “I Don’t Know How She Does It” has nothing on Mrs. Katrina Pilkington.  She is truly amazing.

Kat Pilkington

She doesn’t know it yet (well, she will now), but she is an inspiration to me.  If it wasn’t for her example, Inner Fire probably would not be around today.  Kat showed me it was possible to get a message out that would inspire, motivate and be fun to write.  She also set an example on that there are plenty of topics out there to be expressed each and every day.

You don’t have to take my word for it, take hers in my interview below:

Interview:

Name: Katrina Pilkington or Kat
Blog: Fitty Kat

Katrina Pilkington at the Women's HalfBirthdate/Sign: December 10 – Sagittarius all the way

Place of Birth: Clearwater, Florida
Place growing up: Clearwater, Florida
High School: Pinellas Park High
High School sports: None – I had my head in the books
College: Tampa Technical Institute
College Sports: Nope
Other Sports: Never did any until I grew up!
I have linked to your “my story page” above so everyone can read your amazing story, but can you tell us what was the major turning point that started your fitness journey?
I’d struggled with binge dieting off and on and depended on quick fixes only to regain the weight back each time I stopped. I decided once and for all that I wanted to be the healthiest I’ve ever been and the fittest I’ve ever been once I turned 30 and have since worked to help others learn to live a healthy life the right way through the right methods.
If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling you get when you are working out what would it be?
Powerful
When and why did you start running?
I started running and did 5ks and smaller races back in 2007.
What is one thing you love most about competing in road races?
I love the sense of accomplishment. I’ve done races and distances I never thought my body could take me through and hadn’t planned on it. Having asthma that kept me from playing sports when I was younger definitely motivates me to keep going and seeing how capable I really am.
Following your twitter, facebook, and blog, we know that you just past the NASM-CPT exam.  What do you plan to do with it?
I wanted to learn about fitness in more depth on my own and to teach others what I’d learned through my blog and in person. I’d love to start teaching boot camps and learn more skills to do more with others.
Kat with husband Gary, and Jaeden

Kat with husband Gary, and Jaeden

We all have those days when we just do not feel like training.  What do you do to get past that feeling and get on with your workout?
I am super structured and as long as I have a training plan in my face, I get up. Having to turn off the alarm and sit up and go. Only one rest day a week is required for me and the only other time I rest is if I’m sick. My workout will get me through the rest of the day better than anything else could.
What would you say is your greatest obstacle you ever overcame?
Running 6 half marathons in 6 months all around 2:10 while working to increase my lung capacity through having allergen-induced asthma (went from 74% – the lungs of someone in their 60s or 70s – to now 88%)
What is your greatest victory?
Those races – and now training for my first full marathon!
What are your favorite quotes?
“Love yourself and be awake, today, tomorrow, always”
~ Buddha (tattooed on my left, upper, inner arm as a daily reminder)
Coach Brad, Kat & Gary Pilkington

Coach Brad, Kat & Gary Pilkington

Carpe Viam!!!
Goof Race Recap – HITS Ocala

Goof Race Recap – HITS Ocala

HITS is a fairly new triathlon series, with a unique concept.  Their tag line is “A distance for everyone”, which really says it all.  A HITS weekend consists of 70.3 (half-iron distance) and a 140.6(full-iron distance) on Saturday, and on Sunday, Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.  It is a pretty cool concept, and they are really well-organized.

After having breakfast with the Team Foley after the Fight for Air Climb I headed out to Ocala with the hope of seeing at least Margie, Kari and Megan cross the finish line.   I have to admit, while I have been training, it hasn’t been as focused as it should have.  My “off-season” mentality didn’t quite transition into the race attitude just yet, but I thought I was at least in shape to do the Oly.  In triathlon season, usually the first couple of months, is usually “Base” phase which just gets the wheels and legs rolling again, develop some strength and start gaining the endurance needed for race season.  With that in mind, I figured an Olympic distance would be perfect to baseline where I am in my training.  Imagine my surprise when I saw a lot of my friends out on Saturday competing in the 70.3.  As I was watching competitors and friends cross the line there was a familiar itch developing in my heart.  I didn’t quite notice what it was at the time.

The course for the 70.3 was pretty intense with loops that included a 1.2 mile swim in a 65 degree Lake Weir, 56 miles of rolling hills and wind of the bike, and an intense mixture of soft trails, and asphalt out-and-backs for the 13.1 mile run.  I was too busy losing my lungs to catch any of the swim or bike, but I was happy to be around to see the finale of the run.

I had my first blog recognition, which was really nice.  I was at the expo, grabbing a couple of Honey Stinger gels for my race the next day and I was chatting with the owner of Kickstart Endurance and she told me she followed IronGoof.  I tried not to make a big deal out of it, but secretly I was really excited.

I missed Margie, but I was really happy to see Megan and Kari cross the finish.  They both were finishing their first 70.3 along with some other members of the Tri Psych Club, so for them this was a huge accomplishment and deserved a celebration.  That itch started to intensify at Chili’s that night as everyone’s conversation about their race surrounded me.

I really attempted to be nonchalant about this race.  I kept telling myself, “Self, this is no big deal.  You know you are not ready to race, this is a small race and this is going to tell you what you need to work on.”  Unfortunately, waking up the next morning at 4:30a, and preparing my gear not only woke up my consciousness but the competition juices and anxiety levels as well.  I showered, dressed, applied my TriTats, loaded the car and off I went.

As I mentioned before, the organization of this race was first-rate, from, staff organizing parking to the transition areas.   Have I mentioned the transition area?  In previous races I have barely glanced over the amenities of the transition areas, well except for the Rev3 Venice Beach.  Let me put it this way, if the transition areas were cars, then every other race I have been in were Toyotas, the Rev3 was a Lexus, and the HITS series was a Bentley.  Not only were there boxes that held gear and clamped a tire for easy removal of the bike, plenty of room for transition setup in-between the bikes, but each participant had their own personal stool with their number and last name on them.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is the little things that make an impression.

I headed down to the beach with my wet suit on halfway, goggles and swim cap in hand.  The temperature outside was perfect with just a slight breeze and the sun was starting to slowly creep up over the horizon.  I was incredibly grateful to see my friends down on the beach.  Pete, Kari, Megan, Michael, Stan and a couple f others as it made me feel slightly less stressed.  After the mandatory meeting, all of the males waded out a bit into the water for the start.  My anxiety reared a little due to the fact, I was using my backup goggles because my regular goggles broke in transition and this was the coldest water I had ever swam in.

The whole beach counted off, “Three, Two, One…” and the horn blew.  We all ran or dolphin dived toward the first buoy.  The water was kind of shallow so I did have some time to start to get used to the water.  I remembered my strategy and my stroke count and I started swimming.  I started losing ground within the first 200m, which was normal for me.  My new stroke technique is still relatively new, so I figured I wasn’t going to be fast immediately.  When I reached the first buoy, I started feeling short of breath, even though I thought I was relatively relaxed.  My chest started to feel compressed like I was being stepped on, and my arms were not moving as freely as I wanted them to.  I moved to breast stoke to see if I could relax a bit, but it was to know avail, the compression would just not loosen. I have never had an issue with my wet suit.  Except for getting out of it, I kinda like it.  I feel more buoyant, warmer and protected from other things that may cause issues in open water.  Now I just felt like it was python, strangling me. I kept going, but it was a combination of freestyle, side stroke, and breast stoke.  When I reached the second buoy, my mind went into overdrive trying to get me to quit.  The ideas popping in my head were asinine.  I kept hearing, “You aren’t trained for this”, “You don’t belong here.”, “Just get out of the water.  It is only a baseline remember?”.  The thing was, I had another loop to do.  I swam toward third buoy, and the water became very shallow, so we really didn’t have any choice but to run through it and start dolphin diving again.   I forced myself to have the one thought that has gotten me through tough training, cold, wet and rainy workouts, and exhausting races; “The mind will quit one-hundred times before the body does.”  I told myself, “Self, that is first and only time that is going to happen today.”  I ran around the third buoy and headed out for my second loop.

The second loop felt a little better, but I was so happy to get out of that wet suit.  I am still not quite certain why I felt that way. It wasn’t the size of the wet suit because when I bought it I was 25 pounds heavier.  Either way I ran out of the water unzipping and getting out of it on my way to transition.  One of the strippers told me to lay down and she yanked it off of me.  I grabbed my helmet while I put on my shoes and crossed the mat in less than 3 minutes.  

bike2

The bike course was actually pretty nice.  Rolling hills, with well conditioned roads and plenty help by the Sheriff’s department.  I wanted to make up sometime, so in my head I thought to just keep passing people.  I only got passed twice during the first ten miles of the twenty-five mile course and I was happy with that.  I played cat & mouse with a couple of them, and ended up passing them in during the last half of the course.  Unfortunately, there was a storm on the horizon and the wind picked up quite a bit on on the second half, not to mention the hills were more abundant and steeper(at least for Florida).   My speed, that I was holding quite consistent at 21 mph started to drop to 18, then 17 and at that point, I refused to go under 18 mph.  I came into transition, averaging 19.1 and I was proud of that.

I racked my bike and sat on my stool to put on my socks and shoes.  I got hung up a little bit, but was still out of there in less than 3 minutes, and it was off to the run.  Pete yelled at me as I headed into the trees, “This is the fun part”.  At first I agreed with him.

run2

I decided to wear my Hoka One One Biondi Speed 2 running shoes with the large sole, because I wanted to test how they felt on a triathlon after being on the bike.  Big mistake.  At first the ground wasn’t very soft, and I was ok running about an 8:15 mile, but as I got further into the woods, the trail got softer and softer.  With that big sole, not only was my foot pushing down on the sole, but then into the soft ground causing three times as much resistance as the a regular running shoe.  I didn’t figure this out at first, but after one-and-a-half miles, I felt like I needed to stop, and that was not usual, not matter what kind of shape I was in.  I walked at the aid station for about 200 yards and then I continued running but at a much slower pace.  I had to do two loops of the run course as well, and I could feel the resistance ease off when I hit the asphalt again.  All of the sudden I was lighter and faster, but I had to do a second  loop into the woods again.  I decided my strategy would be to walk a hundred yards at the aid station and 100 yards at the turn-around, but other than that I would let my legs do what could.   It worked out well as my splits were faster on the second loop.

I ran out of the woods with Pete snapping shots and hearing cheers from Megan, Kari and a couple of others.  As, I crossed the finish line it became clear to me, that I am not in the shape I was in for my last 70.3, but I would enjoy this moment as a victory.  It was not a PR, but it this race let me know what I need to do over the next months in order to take on the rest of my race schedule.

After calming down a bit and chatting with Pete and a few other friends, Summer Bailey found me.  She had competed in the 70.3 the day before.  Summer lives in Georgia, so we really only see each other at races and occasionally chat on Facebook  so it was really incredible to actually chat and catch up with her in person.  She is an amazing woman and with a huge heart and ferocious determination.  We both agreed that neither one of us had trained enough for our races, but it was good to have a race under our belt for the year.  Chatting with her was encouraging, and I know we will be seeing each other again during the season.   To be able to see and chat with her and some others that I do not get to train with allowed me to remember one of the greatest thing about triathlon and racing in general.  It’s the friends  and connections we make.  Other than having a good race and crossing the finish line, it is the best part about it.

 

Besides crossing the finish line what are the best experiences you have competing?

 

Carpe Viam!

 

Goof Views and News #1

Goof Views and News #1

Hey there boys and girls, guys and gals.  It’s the Goof comin’ at ya from Tampa, Florida to give you the first episode of what I hope to be one of many.

The Goof Views and News.

These will be personal perceptions made during specific times or events that may resonate some of you and news of events that have happened or will happen in the future.  For instance, as I have posted on FB and Twitter, I have registered for the Chicago Marathon as I did in 2011 prior to the Florida Ironman.  Ta da!  The first news of the post.

The Views (Seeing through the eyes of the Goof)

I was at Disney World this weekend enjoying some rest and relaxation and I wouldn’t say it was an epiphany, but it was a clarification of sorts.  I just happened to be in line at Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrow Land when I saw a couple coming toward me. He was a larger man riding in one of those motorized carts, and she was walking beside him.  She wasn’t a small person either.  They obviously were not concerned about their conversation being overheard and I heard him swear at her for some reason.  She yelled back at him, “Well if you would do something about it, you wouldn’t have to ride around in that thing.”  He snapped back with, “You think it is that easy, well you try it.”  She ended up retorting with, “I am! You <insert explicative here>!  You don’t see me needing a <insert another explicative> wheelchair. Do Ya?”  The large man pushed what I assumed to be the accelerator and moved ahead of her.

This is what I recall, it may not have been their exact words, but it did make me look around a bit more during my weekend visit.  Without being completely rude I started focussing on the more obese adults and I noticed something.  Ninety-five percent of the adults that were obese looked miserable.  I am not including people that just had a few extra pounds on them, I am talking about adults that were obviously fat.

There was not one of them that looked like they were having any fun.  Here we are in the happiest place on earth, with perfect weather, scents of food, and sweetness in the air, upbeat music, not a noticeable speck of negative energy in the place and these people are miserable.  Why would anyone want to do that to themselves?  Don’t get me wrong, I have never been that big.  I have been fat where I needed to take some pounds off, but never obese, so I can only imagine how hard it is, but to willingly stay in misery, just sounds exhausting to me.

Later, I sought out children that were, let’s just say, were in need of some more activity, which took all of thirty seconds.  While there were some that were running around, in my estimate, seventy to eighty percent of them were whining for somewhere to sit down.  Sit?  When there are rides, and new things to touch, smell and see?  Of course, most of them had parents that were in the same condition.  Go figure.

There are articles on articles explaining the epidemic we have in this country of obesity, but they are words on a page and maybe a picture.  I was able to watch this before my very eyes and they burned with disgust, pity, and sadness.  The next morning, I got up and ran six miles to clear the images from my head and come up with some kind of dream resolution.  The next time you are at an event or a place where there are families and a lot of people become aware of this. (Athletes: the Gasparilla Distance Weekend coming up, would not be a good place for this kind of perception.)

After mulling this around for the last few days, my desire to help has increased.  I know there are an abundance of people with this same desire and some of them more so if they have been able to overcome this obstacle for themselves, but I really want to help and the kids even more so.  We need to bring this epidemic more into the open and encourage people to move around and do something for a minimum of 20 minutes a day.

On to the News

I have entered into a partnership with Brenton Ford from Effortless Swimming.  He has a new program called Swimprove where a swimmer can log into a website and access an abundance of material to help them swim faster and more efficiently   As I have stated in numerous posts before, I really need help on my swimming.

I will be accessing his website and will be following his advice to the letter and bringing you my results, epiphany’s and observations.  This program of Brenton’s is not just for beginning swimmers, but for triathletes, open water swimmers and masters swimmers that would like to improve and become faster.  Included is not freestyle but the butterfly, backstroke, and breaststroke as well.  I am really excited to get started and document what I have learned.

Gasparilla is this weekend and I am taking on the Beck’s Lite Challenge, so I will be running the 15k and 5k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.

Which races are you running?

I am currently coaching at FitNiche on Tuesday’s with a new program called the Technical Tune-up.  I have a number of runners just looking to have a structured workout that includes warm-ups, and cooldowns and gives them access to a coach running with them paying close attention to their form in order to create more efficiency and keep them injury free.  Most of my runners are return clients, but I do have some new clients that have joined the flock.  I am really excited to be coaching again.  The program goes for 8 weeks and then renews.  I still have some slots available, so if you feel like you are getting injured a lot or just not making any progress, or just want a structured workout, come on out.  Tuesday Nights starting at 6:30 pm at FitNiche in Hyde Park Village.

The owner and I are working on the marketing for a new course as well, but I will announce that later when the details are flushed out.

That is it for this episode of the Goof Views and News.  Have an amazing week and train hard athletes, but also train smart.

Carpe Viam!!

Food Friday – Paleo

There is a trend I jumped on early in January, right after I finished the Goofy Challenge. The Paleo Lifestyle. Most people would call it a diet, and if it was temporary than I would say they were right. At first I was a little spooked by it, but my friend and coach Amy Bennett Eck, dared me to try the lifestyle for 30 days and see what results I obtained and how I felt.

Before Paleo

The first week was tough.  I was lethargic, my workouts suffered, and I felt like I had lost a lot of strength and endurance.  (Of course that might have also been from the Half Marathon and Marathon I ran the weekend before I started.)  Something happened about the middle of the second week.  I woke up on Wednesday and I felt better.  Interesting thing was, it was immediate.  I went to bed Tuesday night after strictly following Paleo for a week plus two days and I woke up on Wednesday, feeling like myself again.  I’ll talk about the hi-level science in a minute, but let me just tell you I thought I could take on the world.  The following Saturday I ran ten miles faster than I ever had.  It was just amazing the energy I had.  I don’t have that energy all the time, but I did for the next couple of weeks at least.  Ever since then I have keeping a pretty strict Paleo Lifestyle at about 85-90%.  The other 15% I attribute to pizza, beer, the occasional ice cream and a few items in my race nutrition.

On Paleo

So what is Paleo?  The word Paleo comes from the Paleolithic Era or the caveman era.  It is basically eating as the caveman did, before processing, before grains, before even beans and legumes.  It basically, consists of meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  There are some items that are what I would call, “on the line”, specifically, milk and butter only if they came from a grass fed cow.  There are no grains, no legumes, and no other dairy.  I really thought it was going to be tough and the first week was, but after I toughed out the first week, I really didn’t even miss the bread, pasta, corn, cheese, yogurt or rice.  Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  Well let me give you my results; I lost 12 pounds and 4% body fat in that first month.  Crazy huh?  Because of the Goofy Challenge, my workouts were even cut back that month.  Since then I have lost another 5 pounds, 3% more body fat, my race times are faster, I can run, swim and bike longer and I have found my love for cooking again.

Let me tell you about the results of my friend Susan Johnson-Velez.  Susan is a lawyer and single mom that was a little overweight, and had a severe case of asthma.  She started two months prior to me with just removing dairy, and then started Paleo strictly in December and January like me.  Now, she is down 35 pounds and the three medications she took for her asthma has been reduced down to a seasonal herb.  Isn’t that crazy?  I watched this beautiful woman go from baggy dresses and jeans to mini-skirts and dresses and skinny jeans, tight tops and boots.  She came with us as our sherpa for the Chicago Marathon last October and when I saw her again at Jet City Coffee in January, my jaw hit the floor.  The difference was amazing, and she has only gotten more fit, thinner and hotter since then.

My instruction book for this lifestyle started with The Paleo Diet for Athletes first printing, but since then Joe Friel and Loren Cordain, Phd have updated it.  For the edition I was using, Joel Friel, the father of triathlon training, was instructing the Paleo diet for everything except for pre and post workout meals, and race nutrition.  I have not completed my read of the second addition, but from what I can tell, Joel is not adding suggestions for those meals to be Paleo as well.

Why Paleo?  The theory is, that grains have two major disadvantages; One, they breakdown into sugar, which if  you do not use the carbohydrates right away they end up creating imbalances which increases your insulin levels causing the metabolism to slow down and store fat.  Second, a lot of grains contain gluten which is basically poison.  If the grain, for example oatmeal, does not naturally contain gluten, then there is more than a possibility that it was packaged a facility that also packages grains that do have gluten causing transference.  Interesting enough there is another risk of transference of gluten; through meat.  If a cow is grain fed, then the meat may have a high level of gluten along with the milk produced.  I have actually started buying meat from a farm in Texas that has only grass fed meat.   Slanker’s Farms also has chickens, buffalo, and some fish as well.  All of it natural without antibiotics, pesticides or hormones.

The benefits of Paleo start by eliminating all the excess sugar your body doesn’t need or use, and then instead of using sugar for energy it uses fat.  Since fat is a lot more dense than sugar, the energy production lasts a lot longer, which means you last a lot longer.  Can you imagine working out and being able to go a couple of extra miles, just because you want to?  Can you imagine a new outlook on life, not to mention cooking?  I found a lot deeper interest in cooking since I started Paleo.  Also, depending on your body and where you are at the moment, for every pound of excess you rid your body of, it could translate into a 10-12 second per mile decrease in your running time.

There are a lot of resources out there on Paleo.   I personally am only fond of books and articles written by Loren Cordain, Phd and Rob Wolf.  There are plenty of great resources for recopies on the internet.  Do you think you have to give up brownies?  Here is my favorite recipe for Paleo Brownies;

Ingredients

  • 1 16oz container Nutbutter (recommend MeeNutButter)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, cut into chip sizes
  • Coconut Oil, melted for brushing

Directions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

    • In a large bowl add container of NutButter, cocoa powder, sea salt, baking soda, eggs, agave and vanilla.
    • Using a hand mixture blend until all ingredients are combined well.
    • Using a spatula combine dark chocolate chips into the mixture.
    • Take a 9×13 baking dish and brush with the melted coconut oil. Add mixture to the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.
    • Let cool, cut into square and enjoy

    They are awesome, trust me.

    Check out the books and articles online and see what you think.  I suggest just thirty days, knowing that the first week to two weeks you will probably not feel great, but the energy will hit like electricity once your body converts from burning sugar to burning fat.

    I hope you are able to extract some good information and that it may at least increase your interest in this healthy lifestyle.

    Carpe Viam!

    Hogwild Mud Run

    I completed the Hogwild Mud Run this last weekend. To tell you the absolute truth it was a combination of fun and frustration. While I did enjoy the race, there were a couple of issues that would have made the experience better. Let me share my experience with you.

    I arrived at the venue in Dover, a little outside of Plant city, around 11 am, following the advice of the email I received. Since my heat wasn’t until 12 pm the hour I had was more than enough time for me. I say “for me” because since I picked up my packet at Fit2Run the day before, which turned out to be smart. When I arrived, I walked up and saw this long line, so I jumped in and started talking to some of the other contestants in front of me. A group that had camouflage bandannas that had the word “FUBAR” on them(F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition), which I thought was totally cool. After realizing the line wasn’t really moving I asked a volunteer what was going on and was told the organization at the sign-in/registration table was really unorganized. It turned out since I already had my number I did not need to wait, I could go to a different table and just pick up my chip. Whew! There was no way I wanted to wait in that line in the 90-degree heat. I picked up my chip and headed back to my car since I also found there was no bag check. I dropped my shirt, put on my chip, grabbed my gloves and headed to the “expo” since I had plenty of time before my heat.

    The “expo” wasn’t much but a few product vendors, the beer tent, and some food trucks, so I just decided to proceed to the start line with a quick stop at the porta potties. The start line was nowhere near as prominent as the Finish line and I almost had to ask where it was. Without issue, I found this small, area of ribbons which held a table and the start mats. I warmed up and stretched a bit and then headed into the start chute. While hanging out I met a couple that was in the military and another veteran race couple who were very nice and conversational. One of the veterans and I agreed we would like to see what we could do with this race time-wise just for curiosity sake so I set my watch and was ready to run whenever I could at a decent clip. After a bit, the official finally stated we had a few seconds until our heat started to, be ready. He blew the start horn and we were off.

    This was the first time I decided to run in my Vibram Five Fingers, so I was a little hesitant at first, but after a few strides, I realized I felt pretty light and sped up a bit. The first couple of obstacles included a mud crawl, a small hurdle and a jump into a creek. The water was somewhat cool which was refreshing but there wasn’t really any markings to tell us where to go from there. We could move up onto a trail, but previously we were told by an official to stay in the creek and move to our left, which was still kind of confusing. I decided to do just that and took the lead. The water felt pretty heavy with debris but I pushed through and wouldn’t you know it but there was an arrow pointing out of the creek about 400 meters in front of us. We jumped out and I started running through a trail. I felt pretty good at this point and I was running at pretty good speed and felt pretty light because my shoes didn’t hold any of the water. I thought I am really going to enjoy these shoes. It turned out running was a waste since my next obstacle was a fifteen-foot rope wall and it had a line of people waiting to get over it. There was one rope on the far end that no one was using. After talking to one of the military guys, we decided to try it. This was a rope and the wall, while the other three ropes had some thin pieces of wood nailed to the wall to help this one had nothing. I thought what the hell, I did this before, I can do this. I had my gloves and my shoes, no problem, right? Wrong! I climbed about halfway up before my grip slipped due to the rope being soaked. I wrapped my arm through the rope for a second try but I realized I didn’t have the grip strength to pull myself up. What a wuss. I ended up getting back in line and using the medium level rope with two thin boards only on my left side to get over. Of course, I had to go back to the end of the line and waited about 10 minutes to get to it.

    The next obstacle was a reverse ladder wall where the rungs where on an incline backward. It wasn’t hard for me and I got over it pretty quickly and since most people in front of me were adept to this one I only had to wait about five minutes to start. There were a couple of mud pits to run through a quick cargo wall and then a sandbag carry about a quarter mile around a lake, of which I actually ran. the bag was about 25 pounds give or take so I didn’t feel it was all that difficult. Awkward but not difficult. That ended with sliding down these tubes into deep water where you had to swim to the far end to get out. There were also ropes to pull yourself across if warranted, but seeing as though I needed to get in as much swimming as possible, I just swam it.

    Continuing on from there was pretty fast. There were some trails in-between getting over barrels in the pond, another mud pit, and a haystack. I was surprised running after the obstacles. I expected to be somewhat winded but I was able to keep a pretty good pace running though. Of course, I was stopped dead at the monkey bars waiting another 15 minutes. The monkey bars were on an incline up and then back down. My arms were a bit exhausted, but I thought I had enough strength to get through. No such luck, 2 rungs to go and they gave out. Since I have been training more legs and core than anything else due to the triathlons, here is where I decided I need to get my upper body strength back, but I digress. back to the race.

    Continuing on was a rope climb over a trash compactor, a very slippery hill, and another cargo net. The Vibram’s did not let me down during the climbs, when other athletes were slipping back I had no problem maintaining a grip in the mud. I was thinking how much of a believer I came to be in these shoes during those obstacles.

    The next mile or so coming to the conclusion of the race included a long trail run with hills, moguls and a hay bale climb. I started passing people up during the run. I was really surprised how comfortable I felt out in the trails. It really felt like a nice change from the asphalt of Bayshore and Davis Island. I thought to myself about adding some trail runs to my training, just to break it up a bit.

    The conclusion of the race ended with a muddy hill climb to a slide into a puddle, and finally a mud crawl under electrified barbed wire. The interesting part was the first ten feet, or so, was dry compacted dirt, but the last was wet, nasty, thick mud that clung to me like white on rice. I was caked and covered with this grimy, thick, gross mud that weighed me down as if I was carrying twenty-five-pound kettlebells. To make matters worse it smelled so bad I was wondering if maybe it was not mud at all.

    I took a quick picture and headed to another line where there were some man-made showers where people were hosing off. That line didn’t move either, so I followed some other athletes back to the creek and jumped in. After the race, it was not only great to get the mud off, but the water was cool and felt so awesome I could have hung out there forever. All good things come to an end.

    I was a little surprised that of all the races I participated in, this was the one race where I didn’t come across a single person I knew. It was kind of lonely actually. I must make a better effort to coordinate to run with friends next time.

    On my way out of the park, back to my car, I did see something I never saw before. A bull decided to run right through the expo into the woods. Mooing and galloping like you see on TV but never in real life. He looked pretty majestic and strong with a brown and white coat and a full set of horns. I did see him through the trees trotting away until he stopped to graze a little. It was definitely an interesting experience.

    Just a quick epilogue. The last heat was scheduled for 1 pm but at 1:30 as I was heading out I noticed a new heat just getting started. After talking with some other athletes, it turned out that if I had not picked up my packet early, I would have had to wait over two hours in that line. I would have missed my heat and had to start much later.

    Due to the waiting, I ended up with a time of 91 minutes and change. Not the best. I will have to sign up a little earlier for the next mud run and obtain an earlier heat in order to actually compete and find what I could actually do. I do, however, encourage all my running and triathlon friends to give these mud runs a chance. They are really a lot of fun despite the 45-minute shower needed afterward.