Monday, May 28, 2012
and up and scratchy, too!
To prove I started out clean.
See that haystack way off in the distance? That's the first obstacle. Took a while for folks to figure out you have to HELP one another up and over. But once that started to happen, it was great. I did not take photos of the rest of the obstacles, and in fact, took this one from the parking lot after the fact. It's taller than it was, and broader than it was a week ago when I tried it out. And a LOT of fun when there are twenty or thirty of you scrambling on it at once!
After that there was a six foot wall, that I amazed myself by getting over, then dirt birms then an 8 foot wall that I did not surprise myself (I did the jumping jacks instead, but I did at least try climbing up on it first)... after that I did not attempt tall walls.
Then there was the culvert crawl under the road, then a bunch of trail running through some woods, including jumping or climbing over fallen logs, then the barbed wire crawl under (we were still dry for the barbed wire crawl), then more trail running.
A mudslide down to the first mud pit, more dirt birms, then the so-called kill-box which included parallel bars (I kinda cheated, dropping to the ground between swings), the tire wall (about 12 feet up... I got up to where I had my arms over the top and some kind strangers tried to help me but I still ended up having to back down... fear of heights, folks... sigh). Then there was a rail fence about 8 feet tall that I had no trouble with. Go figure... tires, rails. Then running the tires (like the football drill). A run to a water stop...
Back to a rope climb and still rings swing (opted out, but did at least get UP on the rope first knot before doing my jumping jacks). Then the monkey bars (again a no-go... push-ups substituted). The the over/unders, which I'm proud to say I did fully and as designed (over a rail about 4 feet high, then under one about 2 feet high... repeat four or five times, I didn't count, just kept moving).
Balance beam came next... yeah, the wind... blame it on the wind... pushed me off when I got to the third height, so I had to climb back up to finish. One more wall that I skipped, then on to the mud trenches. You got plenty muddy in those, and it was slippery getting out. Thankfully there were course helpers who helped you drag yourself out... and a water break. Yes!
After that... lots of running through the woods, creek crossings, some with ropes to pull yourself up the far side. Another set of hay rolls. One gal and I teamed up to get through some of those obstacles. More running. Eventually... the dreaded climbing wall. I again, at least got myself up on it but I knew it was a no-go from my attempt at it last week... and by then my shoes had about a pound of mud on them and my jeans another pound.
So more jumping jacks and pushups. Oh, I left out the tire pull... I can't remember just where it was, but I ended up doing 20 burpees to sub for it, since you had to wait for someone to get there with a tire... before going back to trail running. More dirt birms. More just plain trail running, and then around a cornfield to the last set of obstacles: dirt birm, tires to crawl through (shoulders down, now bum down, shoulders down, now bum down... repeat for each tire!)... hurdles to get over (I climbed, I didn't run 'em)... down into another mud pit, up one more giant dirt birm, then down and around it to the finish line!
I think it took me about an hour and a half. Don't have my official time yet, but it really doesn't matter. The winner did it in less than 35 minutes, can you believe it?
BUT I DID IT! For my kid. He can now say his mom is one tough Army Mom!
Here's how filthy the jeans got. And then, after the preliminary rinse off... I ended up leaving them behind! How embarrassing.
All in all, a great outing. We now return to regular Triathlon training.
Life is good. Live it, and Spark on!
Monday, May 28, 2012
First you need an event. But given that you have one, what are the practical things to think about?
Go backwards in time when thinking of preparations. Think about AFTER the event, when you are going to be wet and covered in mud! Find out what you can about on-site cleanup that will be available.
1) Take a bag of at least clean clothing to change into after you hose off. Including shoes. Underwear if there will be indoor / modesty changing facilities.
2) Think about how you will protect your vehicle's interior... even once you change! Plastic bags / sheets to cover the seats?
Think about parking, how far / what terrain you'll need to cover going to and from the start/changing after race area... are you going to get dirty all over again just getting to the car?
Now think about the event itself. What are the obstacles like? It is "just a few mud pits" or are there other crawling, climbing, hanging activities involved?
3) Plan and acquire needed attire and equipment. In my case this includes cut resistant gripping gloves, knee and elbow pads. It includes long sleeves and long pants and trail running shoes.
In the end, the goal is to have fun, honor those your event is meant to honor (in this case, the Quest for the Vets, our service members past and present). My personal goal is to finish the course, and NOT end up in the ER the end of the day.
AND... don't forget to stretch before and after!
Wish me luck, Spark buds... we are at flag raising minus 6 hours and change. Happy Memorial Day.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
When Memorial Day rolls around, the meaning of the day and the family tradition have a strong pull. So when I contemplated my TRI training for the day, and it said "Bike 10 miles", I knew that a trip on two wheels, human powered, to Mom & Dad's gravesite would easily fulfill that requirement, and that was my plan.
I didn't take my camera. I didn't take flowers. I didn't arrange to meet others. It was just me on the bike. Once I entered the grounds, my bike automatically headed for the corner I remember. I noted how the "three small trees" we used to use as visual markers for where Mom was laid to rest aren't so small any more... still, they are smaller than their neighbors.
When I got to the spot, I parked the bicycle, and stood and chatted for a few minutes. Believe it or not, I spoke aloud, like in the movies. And, unexpectedly, as I started to tell them about my son and where he was and what he was doing, a few tears fell. They did not live to see him overcome his challenges and grow into the man I know they would both be proud of. He was still struggling when Dad passed.
I spoke of their other grand- and now great-grandchildren. And then I invited them along on the ride home, to show them how beautiful the grown-up suburbs mom used to say were "too big" for her have become. The city has grown. Places that used to be fields are now commerial and residential areas.
I took a different bike-path home, one I had not taken before. It wasn't as pleasant as some of the others I have kept to, but it was a little shorter distance. In the end, my ride was 14.09 miles, in 90 minutes, with a 5 minute grave-side visit.
This Memorial Day weekend, I honor those for whom the day was founded: those lost in armed conflicts the nation has been involved in, dating back to the U.S. Civil War (remember, it used to be Decoration Day). May they rest in peace with honor. May their families be comforted that they are not forgotten.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Yesterday was a "rest" day on the training plan, and I was quite ready to go to bed early. The flip side of that is that I also woke early, half an hour or more before the alarm. Guess the body is programmed to say "7 hours - done!"
After a good stretch, I got up and started through my morning routine. By 5 a.m. I was ravenous and ate a banana. The steel cut oats are simmering, and I'm sipping my coffee from my SparkPeople mug (Mary's got a matching one, from her visit here last December... she can imagine having coffee together, as can I).
While I was writing my "sharing the road" blogs, life moved on around me. I found out that this wild concept of doing the obstacle course is causing me to invest in some new "toys". I have the feeling before I'm done, I will have invested quite a bit, between equipping for the triathlon, and this side-trip!
Anyway here are this week's investments: trail running shoes, knee pads, and elbow pads. I put them all on Thursday evening for my neighborhood walk, to see how they would feel "in action". They may be a little warm on the event itself, but to minimize / avoid scrapes and bruises? Worth it.
Today's training plan: run 30 minutes, it says. I'm thinking a light lifting workout might be good to go with it... don't want to overdo, two days out from the obstacle course.
Have a Happy and Active Spark Day, all!
Friday, May 25, 2012
Let me say one more thing: I'm normally a very tolerant biker, driver AND walker. Being "mature" I have been through just about every mindset that can turn someone into a temporary jerk on any means of transit (including bus and subway riding). So my little venting was not my normal behavior... I usually just shake it off.
I once took a class where they asked us about pet peeves and things that drove us nuts. And then, flipping it over, asked us to internally examine ourselves to see if we had ever DONE any of the things that drove us nuts, or could have been perceived as doing them in the eyes of another party. As in the parable of "cast the first stone", we all had to admit that we were not without errors of our own.
The take-away lesson was "everybody is somebody's jerk sometime".
So... as a biker, I try to be considerate of drivers. As a driver, I try to be conscious of both bikers and walkers. As a pedestrian, I try to be conscious and considerate of bikers and drivers. I'm sure I do not always succeed.
Once upon a time, I became suddenly conscious that I was exceeding the speed limit in a zone where children board school busses. There were small children at the side of the road and I had zipped by them... and suddenly I just felt like I'd been slapped upside the head... what was I THINKING? Was it really worth the risk to get to work a few minutes sooner?
No one was hurt. I just became aware. Thank goodness. Seconds make a difference when driving. Thereafter, I ceased being such a hard case about making my scheduled arrival time. If I end up a bit late, so be it. It's not worth risking the life and limbs of someone else's child to me. I can leave a little sooner if I have to or I can just change my mind set.
As a pedestrian, I know I am least protected from the impact of a collision, but I'm also going the slowest. As a cyclist, speed adds to my danger, and I'm not much more protected (a bike helmet only provides so much). So in these two forms of transit, I am most careful. But as a driver, I have the most potential of doing harm to others... and I would have a hard time living with myself if I did. So I try to be aware.
As pedestrian or cyclist, I need to do my best to help the courteous, conscious drivers... by being visible, as well as being wise. That vest? It's coming soon to my closet!
Have a Sparking Great Memorial Day weekend, however you spend it!
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