Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Inaugural Urban Mudder Review

A few months back, my best friend from college, Heavy D (the other one) asked me if I would do an Urban Mudder event with him.  Without hesitation, I said yes.  Not because I had been dying to participate in a Mudder; not because I wanted to know what it was like to swim in an ice cold pool of shit; not because I wanted to put to the test my months of bathing with the hairdryer plugged in; but because it was an opportunity to hang with Heavy D who lives in Connecticut and I don't get to see as often as I should.  I invited a few other friends who all jumped at the opportunity, however, come the evening before the race, it was back to just Heavy D and me.  One friend who had a knee injury was kind enough to let my other best bud, Eddy, use her ticket at the last minute.

The morning of the Mudder I was due to run 10 miles according to my Hanson Marathon schedule.  I decided to run 8 around my neighborhood really because I had no idea what to expect later on the five mile Mudder course.

I drove into Harlem and got a very lucky parking spot right on the corner of 123rd Street and 2nd Avenue.  I was early so I hung out on a bench in the shade at an apartment complex across the street.  The sun was already high in the sky and hot.  Heavy D and Eddy finally arrived and we walked across the Triborough Bridge.  The event began in waves so we passed people who already finished.  They looked very casual as though they were coming back from shopping or brunch, not even a bead of sweat on anyone's brow.  Piece of cake, I thought.

Before photo.  NYC in the background.

Starting area

Once we were on Randall's Island, signs along the course led us to the start.  It didn't seem like there were too many participants - until we got to the start.  There were kiosks galore, porta potties, bag checks, even a dunk booth in case you felt the need to be steeped in a bucket of ice (which I soon considered a fine option).  We checked our backpacks for $5 underneath a bunch of picnic tables.  We had the option of checking them for $20 with a security guard.  I felt uneasy about our choice so I brought half of my cash, my car keys, and my phone with me.  We saw a line snaking throughout the area only to discover we needed to be on the end of it to start.  We were baking from the heat.  Luckily, they were letting large groups through at a time so the line moved faster than expected.

As we reached the start, the Head Rush obstacle was right in front of us.  People were scaling two slanting poles (one with their hands, the other with their feet) from one end to the other.  There was about six inches of murky water beneath them.  All the spectators (us included) were commenting on the people attempting the obstacle, either with "expert" advice, gasps when people fell into the water, or all out laughter at how dumb some people looked.  Of course, we realized that we would be those foolish looking suckers sooner than we could say "Splash!"

We made it to the head of the line.  The security guard let us pass only to be stopped in a hundred yards to wait another twenty minutes.  This happened two more times until we ended up on the Icahn Stadium track.  Heavy D, who has participated in many a Mudder and Spartan event, commented that this was the worst organized of any of his races.  Waiting on lines with him, by the way, is always entertaining.  He's like one of those guys who gets a studio audience ready and excited before a talk show.  He cracks jokes, talks to strangers, and makes the times pass painlessly.  There was an emcee on the track going over some safety precautions, basically, if we think we can't do it without causing bodily harm, then don't.  And we were off!

We ran around the track to our first obstacles, hurdling over a couple of plastic barricades.  Oh, this is easy!  And then we were back at the Head Rush.  Devant went first.  He completed the obstacle, however, it looked as though he was struggling a bit and if he was struggling, well then I'm fucked.  This is how I gauged each event:  Devant = okay > I'm okay; Devant = not okay > I'm fucked.

Next, Eddy was up:

He did great all the way to the end...

...until it was time to dismount. Hee hee.

I did not make it to the end, but only my feet got wet, unlike Eddy...

Next we had to carry a large metal pipe around a field and over, under, and through barricades:

"It's A Hard Knock Life" was blaring on the 
sound system as we did this.

My partner did not take the task at hand
as seriously as I.  

Climbing the "Bladder" was next.  The hardest thing about this was the black rubber was about 1,000 degrees from sitting in the sun, as was the black rope.  

Go Eddy!  

Ouch. Ouch. Hot. Hot. Ouch...

Then we had to walk across a large pipe:

No problemo!

That spins:

Si, problemo.

We scaled a couple of ten foot walls, meaning Heavy D scaled the walls and then pulled us up.  We went into dark rooms where we had to avoid lasers or else an alarm would ring.  There were alternating piggy back rides.  Then we had to crawl under wire mattress springs (?) which thankfully did not have barbed wire laced into them (like the Spartan races), otherwise I wold be backless, literally.

This is harder than it looks.
Don't let the smile deceive you.

Yay, monkey bars!  It helps if your teammate
holds your legs for the second half.(which may 
or may not have happened).

This was easier for me than the guys because
of my tiny feet.  Yeah!!

The Rooftop Series was last.  We climbed up two flights of ladders and then had to jump over a gap of about a ten foot drop onto a cushioned floor.  This is the one event where we had seen people being carried off on stretchers earlier in the day.  The three of us made the jump unscathed.

Eddy be nimble, Eddy be quick...

And then there was the balance beam, that is, the wobbly balance beam.  Visions of broken ankles and legs danced through my head.  I couldn't let go.

$10 is yours if you don't make me do this.  

And then the final event was another flight up, jumping from the rooftop onto a large cushion on the ground.  I was surprisingly excited to do this, considering I was chicken shit about the balance beam.  Eddy was ahead of me trying to get out of jumping.  I nudged him aside and went all out cowabunga!  'Twas fun.

Hey, Geronimo!

We picked up our free Urban Mudder headbands, socks, and tank tops, took some photos, and headed to the beer tent to get our long overdue complimentary Shockwave.

In conclusion, the Mudder was poorly organized, but forgivable since it was the first Urban Mudder in the country.  I had a fantastic time, mainly because I did it with two of my closest friends.  I definitely would do another one.  After the marathon.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mother Nature's Revenge

Sunday (7/19/15) - 14 miles, 2:06:00, 9:00 pace - When I got in the car at 7:30am, the temperature was already 80 degrees.  I parked on Sunrise Highway at the beginning of the Massapequa Preserve bike path.  I usually don't run with a water bottle, but thankfully I brought one that day.  I ran 7 hot miles north.  I stopped in the Bethpage State Park lot and refilled the bottle that I had just chugged in record time.  I headed back south at a quicker pace only because I wanted to get the run over with as soon as possible.  A couple of times I ducked into the woods and actually ran on the dirt trail (which I really enjoyed and will do more of in the future) where I found some shade and a "toilet-tree".  My phone died around the 10 mile mark which was very annoying, but I knew I was averaging a 9:00 pace (the first few miles a little slower, the last ones a little faster).  Finally, around 11 miles I ran into The Emerging Runner (ER).  He was enjoying the balmy weather as much as I was, if not more.  We ran together briefly and then I went ahead.  I waited at a couple of stops to be polite (Why is that so unbelievable?), but also I really was dying to just stop and sit in the shade (Okay, you got me!).  I embraced my car when I saw it baking in the hot sun and cranked up the air conditioner full blast.  By then, the temperature had reached a steamy 87.  I chugged the Gatorade that I stashed underneath the seat and waited for ER to live up to his name.  No Starbucks gathering so we said adios and went our separate ways.

Monday (7/20/15) - 6.01 miles, 53:30, 8:54 pace - So happy to do a short one.

Monday night Sanibel pointed out my creepy
looking bug bites on my leg that turned out
to be creepy looking poison ivy.  
From the "tree-toilet" at Bethpage. 
 It ain't just on my leg either...
Yes, I'm a genius.

Tuesday (7/21/15) - 6.1 miles, 50:10, 8:14 pace -  Ran early to the high school track and did 3 x 1600m with 600m recovery.

Wednesday (7/22/15) - Off

Thursday morning when I laced up, 
I found all sorts of crap stuck to
the bottom of my shoe from
Tuesday's run.  Sticks, stones, wonder it was a "rocky" one.

Thursday (7/23/15) - 8.01 miles, 1:04:02, 7:59 pace - 7 mile tempo run with a one mile warm up.  No cool down.

Friday (7/24/15) - 6.1 miles, 56:16, 9:13 pace - My son and I headed out together, he on his bike, me in my Hokas.  I had a feeling the company wasn't going to last when after the first mile he asked to stop for some doughnuts (I don't run with money, silly boy) and then suggested we stop at the toy store so he could decide what he would like for his upcoming birthday (Um...that's not what I actually do during my runs, son...).  I dropped him off after 4 miles and finished up solo.

Saturday (7/25/15) - 8 miles, 1:10:56, 8:43 pace - I was scheduled for a 10 miler, but since I was participating in the Urban Mudder  (which was spread over 5 miles) later that day, I figured I'd just do 8.  What harm could it do?........

Mudder review to come...

Total Weekly Mileage - 52.4

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hanson Week 7: Cumulatively Fatigued

Sunday (7/12 /15) - 8.14 miles, 1:14:18, 9:08 pace

Monday (7/13/15) - 6:39 miles, 58:32, 9:10 pace

6 run and done.

Tuesday (7/14/15) - 7.54 miles, 1:01:09, 8:06 pace - Speed work.  Ran to the high school track, then 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800m intervals with 400m recovery runs in between.  It was tough.  Usually I feel great after runs (Thanks, Runner's High), not Tuesday.  I was wiped out by the time I got home.  The heat didn't help.

Perhaps I was tired because I was
weighed down from the massive
gallons of sweat absorbed
into my "Dri" fit clothes.

Wednesday (7/15/15) - Off

Thursday (7/16/15) - 7.75 miles, 1:01:21, 7:54 pace

Friday (7/17/15) - 7.54 miles - Ran with the 3-year old in the jogger stroller and my 5-year old and friend on their bikes. I dropped them off at the halfway point.  They weren't as motivated as I had hoped.

Saturday (7/18/15) - 8.02 miles, 1:11:38,  8:56 pace

Total Weekly Mileage - 45.4 - Hanson's theory of Cumulative Fatigue has officially set in.  When thinking about my fatigue, another F word comes to mind...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Perfecting My Easy Pace

Sunday (7/5/15) - 12.03 miles, 1:50:26, 9:11 pace - Started my 12 miler from the Bethpage State Park lot.  I ran 3 miles north and back.  I must have seen twenty little cottontails along the path, from adorable, little kittens to full grown does and bucks.  I felt like I was in a scene from one of my favorite books, Watership Down.  I passed the parking lot from where I started and headed 3 miles south where I met The Emerging Runner.  We headed back north together.  At some point, he told me to go on ahead without him.  We met up again at our cars and headed to Starbucks.

1.0 mi - 09:04 min/mi00:09:04
2.0 mi - 08:56 min/mi00:08:55
3.0 mi - 09:06 min/mi00:09:04
4.0 mi - 08:55 min/mi00:08:54
5.0 mi - 08:36 min/mi00:08:36
6.0 mi - 08:33 min/mi00:08:32
7.0 mi - 08:38 min/mi00:08:37
8.0 mi - 08:50 min/mi00:08:49
9.0 mi - 08:56 min/mi00:08:55
10.0 mi - 11:13 min/mi00:11:11
11.0 mi - 10:07 min/mi00:10:06
12.0 mi - 09:05 min/mi00:09:03
12.0 mi - 08:08 min/mi00:00:19

I guess I'm really happy to have finished my twelve.  
Plus, I was treated to an egg sandwich and fancy mocha latte.
Grazie, Guida Emergenti!

Monday (7/6/15) - 6.34 miles, 57:20, 9:02 pace

Tuesday (7/7/15) - 6.57 miles, 55:52, 8:30 pace - I ran to the high school track in the evening with my bicycle gang consisting of Pete, Santos, Rema, and one of Santos' amigos.  I ran 4 x 1200s with 400m recovery runs in between.  My pace for the 1200s was close to 10k pace.  Since it was late in the day and I had already eaten like a horse throughout, at some point Nature (my nemesis) called.  It was 7:30pm in July so the school was locked.  As luck would have it, there were a handful of porta potties on campus due to construction.  When I said "luck", I meant bad luck, of course.  All of the porta potties were locked behind metal gates.  I was getting desperate.  I found a large tree in the corner of the lot and "inconspicuously" leapt behind it.  As I emerged from the brush adjusting my shorts, a car drove past.  The female driver, a mother with her three kids in the back, clearly saw me and just knew.  I wanted to shrug and mouth, "Shit happens.", but instead, I chose to pretend like I was invisible.  Much more reasonable.  Hey, when ya gotta go...

Wednesday (7/8/15) - Off

Thursday (7/9/15) - 8.08 miles, 1:04:36, 8:00 pace - I just realized that morning that I had not been doing warmup or cool down miles during my tempo runs.  My schedule called for a 7 mile tempo, but I really was not in the mood to run 9.  I decided to just do a 1 mile warmup and then run the rest at goal marathon race pace (or too fast).  

1.0 mi08:43 min/mi00:08:42
2.0 mi08:05 min/mi00:08:04
3.0 mi07:58 min/mi00:07:56
4.0 mi08:00 min/mi00:07:59
5.0 mi07:46 min/mi00:07:45
6.0 mi07:48 min/mi00:07:46
7.0 mi07:42 min/mi00:07:41
8.0 mi07:44 min/mi00:07:42
8.1 mi09:05 min/mi00:00:45

Friday (7/10/15) - 6.4 miles - I brought the 3-year old in her jogger stroller.  No tracking, just enjoying the time with her until she fell asleep on me after a couple of miles.  That's how stimulating a runner partner I can be.

Post run selfie.  
Bright eyed and bushy tailed after 
a nice nap.

Saturday (7/11/15) - 10:01 miles, 1:30:41, 9:04 pace - I was going to run at Bethpage again, but I wanted to sleep in.  Also, Pete and Santos were away for a couple of days in Cooperstown.  I didn't want to leave the girls alone longer than necessary.  I mapped a new 10 mile route through Rockville Centre, Oceanside, Baldwin, and South Hempstead.  My pacing was spot on, thank you very mucho.

1.0 mi09:10 min/mi00:09:09
2.0 mi08:54 min/mi00:08:52
3.0 mi09:06 min/mi00:09:05
4.0 mi09:15 min/mi00:09:14
5.0 mi08:57 min/mi00:08:55
6.0 mi09:12 min/mi00:09:10
7.0 mi09:11 min/mi00:09:11
8.0 mi09:07 min/mi00:09:06
9.0 mi08:58 min/mi00:08:57
10.0 mi08:40 min/mi00:08:39
10.0 mi07:40 min/mi00:00:05

My new $6 Old Navy Activewear tank top.
I  need to seriously rethink my closet space...

Weekly Mileage - 49.4

Thursday, July 9, 2015

She Is Out Running Happy!

I admit it.  I might have a problem.  I have a lot of sneakers (9 or 10...or 12 pairs?  Who's counting, though?).  One might say, it was an addiction.  To be fair, I'm only running in two pairs these days, my Hoka Cliftons for my easy days and my Adidas Glide Boosts for my speed and tempo workouts.  While in Newport, the family and The Nun did a little shopping at the Navy Exchange.  50% off clearance items, the sign said.  I only looked at the kids shoes (for my kids, not me), until The Nun handed me the box (See?  It's her fault!).  Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 in my size (My REAL adult size, not a translated children's size).  I don't need new shoes, I thought.  I just got my Hokas a little over a month ago (and I almost completely forgot my Emergency Sneakers!).  They're probably ugly...oh, white with pretty pink accents?!  They're probably expensive, even with the discount.  $15??!!  Fine, dammit!! How can I say no?  Upon further inspection, I noticed a small yellow stain next to the laces, likely the reason for the major discount.  Could I live with this stain?  Absolutely.  I mentally tried to picture where the OxyClean was back at home.  Needless to say, I am now a proud owner of a pair of Brooks (My very first pair!).  I ran happy with them just the other day for an easy 6 (Actually, almost ecstatic).

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Montreal and Newport Running

Sunday (6/28/15) - 8 miles, 1:12:55, 9:07 pace - We left Mont Tremblant and drove down to the Marriott Springhill Suites in Old Montreal.  It was raining so I decided to do my eight miles in the fitness center.  The television attached to the treadmill was working so I watched some CNN and the end of "I Know What You Did Last Summer".  My English speaking choices were limited.

Monday (6/29/15) - 6.2 miles.  It was 60 degrees and overcast at 7am.  I decided to run my six miles outdoors.  Again, I wasn't using Map My Run because I didn't want to get international data charges.  I thought I would run 27 minutes down and then turn around.

I met some fellow runners in the hotel elevator who told me where to run on the promenade along the river.  I took a left outside the hotel and saw the river a block away.  I turned left again, as per my elevator advisors.  This brought me less than a quarter of a mile into a marina which was fenced off at one end (Thanks, but no thanks, Elevator "Advisors".  Pfft).  I turned around and headed in the other direction, hoping it would take me at least three miles.  Once I passed the science museum (which we brought the children to later that day.  The kids had a blast.  Highly recommended!), the path eventually crossed a small bridge to the other side of the river.  There were a lot of people riding bikes to work and a handful of other runners, not to mention a creepy man in a tent.  It was quiet and peaceful and reminded me a bit of Copenhagen.  If not for the long winters, I think Montreal would be a beautiful place to live.   At 27 minutes I headed back to the hotel.  I must have missed a turn because I wound up in a construction site.  Luckily, there was a police officer who spoke enough English to get me back on my way.  In the end, I ran longer than 54 minutes so I just guessed I covered approximately 6.2 miles, maybe a bit more.

Tuesday (6/30/15) - 6 miles, 50:23, 8:24 pace - Speed work in the hotel fitness center.  One mile warmup, 5 x 1kilometer with 400m recovery in between, .75 mile cool down.  Later that day we went to the Olympic Stadium and watched the United States Women's National soccer team beat Germany.  USA!  USA!

Wednesday (7/1/15) - Off

Thursday (7/2/15) - 6.27 miles, 48:54, 7:47 pace - Wednesday we left Montreal and drove down to Newport, Rhode Island.  The traffic was unbelievably shitty.  The kids and I checked into the Navy Lodge on the Naval base,  Thursday morning at 9am I headed out for my six mile tempo run around the base.  My pace was faster than planned.  Th highlight was running into The Nun (My high school buddy/"partner-in-crime" who happened to be working with some junior ROTC cadets for a couple of weeks) and her friend toward the end.  It turns out the base is a lot smaller than I thought.

View of the Verrazano Bridge from the Navy base.

The Officers' Club in the distance,

Across the street from the Navy Lodge.

Friday (7/3/15) - Easy 7.4 miles,  1:07:50, 9:10 pace - Back at home, regular 7.4 mile route.

Saturday (7/4/15) - Easy 6.33 miles, 57:34, 9:06 pace - Overcast.  Wore my USA tank top to be patriotic.  

Total Weekly Mileage - 40.2

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lake Placid and Mont Tremblant Running

Sunday (6/21/15) - 10.14 miles, 1:29:47, 8:51 pace - Run to the beach with the Petite Pacer.

Monday (6/22/15) - 6.38 miles, 56:46, 8:54 pace

Tuesday (6/23/15) - 6 miles, 49:59, 8:20 pace - Speed workout at the gym.  One mile warmup, 6 x 800m intervals with 400m recovery runs in between, and a cool down.

Wednesday (6/24/15) - Off

Thursday (6/25/15) - 6.16 miles, 48:39,  7:54 pace - Six mile tempo run.

Friday (6/26/15) - 9.09 miles, 1:19:10, 8:43 - We drove up to Lake Placid, New York, Thursday night.  Lake Placid is a tony mountain village about 300 miles north from Long Island.  I was scheduled to run an easy six Friday morning.  I looked at the tourist map given out by the hotel.  One loop around Mirror Lake is two and a half miles.  I didn't feel like doing a double or triple lap.  According to the local web site, a town loop is "7+ miles".  That sounded right up my alley.

I made a right out of our hotel lot to Main Street.  I missed the direct route (Surprise!) and made a few turns to get there.  I  ran north on Mirror Lake Road which was shaded and lined with beautiful homes.

Beautiful Mirror Lake

Lakeness Monster sighting!  
Best photographic evidence to date.

Back in town, I made a right up 86, a busy  55mph country road, but with very wide shoulders.  Cycling is huge up there. Lake Placid is famous for the amazing 1980 winter olympics when USA whooped some Cold War Russian behind.  But it is also known for hosting the Ironman.  This is ski country so the hills are no laughing matter.  There were cyclists everywhere, more so than runners.  

86 brought me out of town and into a wooded area.  At the time, two escaped convicts were possibly in the area, however my bigger concern was...bears (How'd you know?).  I made a left onto Old Military Road which was even hillier and more bear-y.  I kept checking my phone app because I felt like I was running more than my prescribed distance.  In the end, I ran 9 instead of 6 and I ran faster to avoid any possibility of becoming ursine porridge.

Old Military Road

Lake Placid Olympic ski jump.
These are enormous in real life.
How does one ski down these for the first time?

Saturday (6/27/15) - 8 miles - Friday we drove to Mont Tremblant, Qu├ębec from Lake Placid.  This is another beautiful ski town in the Laurentian Mountains.  Also, another Ironman locale with even more cyclists than Lake Placid.  As we approached the town, I took note of a bike path just steps from our hotel door.  

Saturday morning we drove 45 minutes to Saint-Donat where Pete and Sanibel ran a 5k trail race and each placed in their age group, despite the challenging terrain.  In the afternoon, I set out for my 8 miler.  Of course, I asked the hotel clerk about the safety of the bike path, e.g., bears.  She assured me there were none.  I took that with a grain of salt (Suspicion is my middle name, after all).  The path was idyllic, snaking through the woods along a river.  There were bikers, runners, and walkers along the path, but few and far between.  I did not have my data activated on my phone since we were in another country.  I was going to run by time, figure 36 minutes out at hopefully, a 9 minute mile pace, and 36 minutes back.  The path was marked in kilometers and split off at many areas.  I'm not sure of the accuracy of my mileage since I think my pace was faster when I was alone on the path.

Entering Canada.

The river along the bike path.

Approaching Mont Tremblant.

Village of Mont Tremblant.
No cars.

A couple of giant insects walking the streets.

Total Weekly Mileage: 45.8