*Warning: Contains swears. Probably. I haven't written the article yet as this bit's at the top. But it probably will.*
Now, if you know me or have met me you're probably thinking, "Hang on Tim, these sorts of New Year posts are exactly the sort of thing that wind you up, why on Earth are you writing one?".
And well, yes, that's true. I wouldn't normally right about this sort of thing, or even acknowledge it. For me, it's no different to any other time of the year; If you're going to do something just get on with it. But this year is different for me. I had a bit of an epiphany around my birthday, that has changed my focus on life completely.
For the last 4 years or so, I've gave myself to helping others. Convincing myself that I've been too selfish for too long, and trying to make up for perhaps not always being the nicest person on earth in my late teens and early twenties. So I've been trying to be good; I've donated thousands of pounds each year to charities, sacrificed my own time in the pursuit of helping others and provided a huge amount of free business consultancy to over 10 small businesses and start-ups that were launched by friends and associates.
Honestly, it's taken it's toll. The feeling of achievement and helping others is great at first, but when good nature gets taken well and truly advantage of, everything starts to grind. There's barely been a part of my life that hasn't been affected by this. The grinding has taken so many forms, from the simple lack of the word "Thanks", out-and-out rude behaviour in receipt of a great amount work (Sometimes that I've missed important family events for), right through to totally unfounded accusations of affairs and personal attacks on me and my family (Pretty much all of which was based on other people's poor standards, not mine).
I've had enough.
At some point, I stopped (Consciously or otherwise, I can't put my finger on it) putting me first. I'm not even talking about my wife and children, but me. I cannot serve, protect and provide for them if I am fundamentally unhappy. I stopped being a doer, and became a dreamer. Again, the main reason for this was dedicating all of my time to others, with little appreciation; Time that I would normally have spent kicking ass and taking names.
So, tonight, it stops. I've been closing of items and open projects since September in anticipation of a fresh start, and had a lovely final week of doing everything I can for others; Highlight of which delivering a stack of hot food and drinks to the homeless of Salisbury on Boxing Day morning, something that I knew (hoped) would bring no negativity.
2018 is very much going to be New Year, back to Old Tim. I was taught a rule by the first boss I ever had, and a line that was since made famous by Heath Ledger's Joker: 'If you're good at something, never do it for free'. I have lost sight of this so much. I'm a good person, and I deserve happiness. So, starting January 1st 2018, I'm taking it back.
This isn't in any way negative. I'm looking forward to it, excited in fact. Excited to get my spark back, my fight back, my...''Tim" back.
So, bring on 2018. Happy New Year x
P.S. I didn't swear in the end. Fucking check me out! :-)
It's been just 7 months since my last surgery to repair my destroyed forearms and wrists, and 6 since I've been out of the cast. Mobility is coming back, very slowly, but surely. However one thing that is stalling is my fitness.
I've been struggling, really struggling, for the last 3 months or so with several things. Firstly, understanding that my fitness has (inevitably) dropped. Air is getting back in my lungs very slowly, mainly because I seem to have lost all motivation to run. It's been such a natural part of my life since the beginning of 2012 when I started preparing for my first OCR, but I'm just not enjoying it at the moment. The few 5km runs that I have done have been shockingly slow, for me. This time 2 years ago I hit my 5km B of 15:44, and while I've no desire to get back there, struggling to hit even 21 mins on a flat road run is getting frustrating.
Strength is starting to come back, but getting used to the limitations of the mobility in my old training routines is also a big source of frustration. I'm finding however, that because strength is coming back faster than cardio that I'm focusing way too much on it, which in turn is making my cardio suffer even more.
It's not just performance that has suffered so badly. My body shape is heading back to the way of the potato, as I'm comfort eating way too much and again can't get back into routine. Since starting to get back into shape in 2010, my goal was always to be in great shape for our 10 year wedding anniversary, and, while I was in better shape, the timing of the surgeries was just the worst.
It's such a weird feeling; This is all stuff that has come so naturally for so long that I've forgotten what starting from scratch is like. Can I even remember how? It's only now, and in the last week or so, that I've started to truly realise what starting back from here feels like; Workouts that used to be my warm-ups, or 1/3 of a total training session, are now about as much as I can muster.
I have at least started to feel my passion for OCR a bit again, thanks to being encouraged by a very good friend, Mim, to take on the last Tough Mudder of the season. On the course, there was only the odd one or two people that I came across that I knew. The normal OCR routine for me would be meeting up with a couple hundred of the same faces before, during and after the races, but this was different. Not only were there few of the OCR community there, but it was my first Tough Mudder without a team. Just heading out with me, myself and I. And I loved it. I was slow, but it was fun. I helped strangers. I posed for the cameras. I got muddy. All of the things I had previously fallen out of love with.
So, getting back to basics. The Tough Mudder experience allowed me to really feel alive again, and also realise that my residual fitness has well and truly gone. So how to get back to it? For now, I've decided to stay off the road running, and Grovely (My favourite off-road haunt) is too far away to do regularly. So, I've decided to go back to my old routine of daily hitting a 600m/400m row/hill-sprint. Every day, no exceptions. This used to be a warm-up or daily fitness test and it was great for fat burning. But for now, I've decided to ignore the pace and just get back into routine. Yesterday, I set the resistance on my Concept 2 down to three, from the normal five, and ignored timing. As much effort that I felt comfortable with without it making me feel so bad that I wanted to give up. I finished- Dripping with sweat (Again not something I was used to on that level of intensity) but feeling ok.
I'm now on day two, and feeling good. Today, I put the resistance back to five but still ignored the timing. My plan is to do this for another two weeks and then try to speed up. Mixed up with my normal strength sessions and trips to Grovely when I can, I'm hoping that this is the start of proper, rehab. I have a few more plans up my sleeve to help along the way, but more of that later. For now, I can start to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm heading back towards it.
As much as I'd love to spend all of my time running muddy trails, scaling natural obstacles and throwing heavy weights about, the real world of mortgages and the 9-5 inevitably rears it's ugly head. For me, being a product manager at a software development company, business travel comes hand-in-hand with this. Whether plane, train or automobile there's always been a gap in my luggage collection for a practical bag for a couple of days away from the family that will cater for both work and downtime. Travel bags of all sizes are easy to come by, but I've found it incredibly hard to find something that can carry suitable business attire but also accommodate training kit, especially if that training might involve getting muddy.
When Kitbrix announced the CityBrix, I was excited to say the least. I've kept a close eye on KitBrix since before they launched and as a family of four we've had great use of the three Original Kitbrix that we own- The bags are of great quality, easy to clean and most importantly, easy to keep everything organised. They've proved invaluable as individual units for work travel and beach trips as well as connected together for OCR and trail events. The prospect of the CityBrix rucksack designed for work and play got the juices flowing.
So, what are we looking at? CityBrix is a cabin-size ruck of exceptional quality that it split into an upper and lower section, which opens from a horizontal zip and with a material hinge allowing you to access both sections with ease. The lower section will be familiar to anyone with an Original Kitbrix, with 10L of "play"storage space lined with waterproof tarpaulin. The upper section has 9.2L of "work" storage space, with cushioned sections for your mobile, tablet, up to 12" laptop and any other business kit you might need along with room for a wash kit and fresh clothes. Externally, there's space for a water bottled each side of the ruck and a pocket suitable for easy access to travel documents.
Technical specs aside, what's it like to use? Well as always, I like to be thorough i took it on a 6-month test, using it for a business trip with training kit, exactly what it was designed for, as well as a pleasure only trip with my 5-year old son to The Big Smoke to see a show at The O2 Arena.
I have to say, it's a superb bit of kit for business travel. The dual-sections allow you to truly separate your sweaty/muddy/dirty gym kit from all of the niceties that national and international business travel demands, providing your laptop or tablet are on the small side. If you're using a larger device, simply unzip the bottom of the "top" compartment and I could easily fit a full, 15" laptop in as one. Most of my day-to-day work is completed on an iPad, so it was perfect for my needs. The shoulder straps are well padded and incredibly comfortable to the point where, even with heavy items in the CityBrix, you sometimes struggle to remember that it's on your back.
For the overnight leisure stay to London with my son, it was incredibly practical. The upper section was useful for our travel documents, tickets, phones, keys. wallet, solar charger and other accessories, while the lower section contained our changes of clothes and wash kits- everything we needed for a shot break away. The side-mounted bottle holders made it easy to haul enough fluids around the hot and cramped London Underground, and they also managed to double as an "Avengers Sword sheath" when Oscar's arms got tired!
Over the last six months it's proved itself to be a very capable and versatile ruck. I recently supported Ali at the Longleat 10km and needed to get Emma's changing gear alongside my emergency work kit; As someone who is on 24 hour callout, I need to be able to access my laptop and phone, with sufficient charge. Again, the Kitbrix Citybrix was perfect for this, with the added bonus of ensuring that the dirty nappy bag could be stored in a wipe-free section, just in case :-)
It's now been closer to 8 months of bag ownership and frankly, it still looks like new. The build quality is better than any other "casual" ruck I've owned. With an RRP of around £89, you'd want it last and if my experience is anything to go by, you will not be disappointed. Will the dual-compartments suit everyone? Probably not, but if you are looking for a well-made, robust, practical and handsome ruck, you won't go far wrong with this bad-boy.
Well, isn't this a turn-up for the books? Years after retiring my Blogger blog, I've decided to migrate it to a new platform, retaining as much old data as possible, and start it up again. I'm still migrating all the bits across, but hopefully by the end of August 2016 it'll all be here together.
My original blog, Confessions of an Obstacle Runner, was supposed to be an insight into the motivation behind trying to get back in shape, finding OCR and my experiences along the way.
Since last updating this blog, I've started two businesses in OCR and attending over 100 obstacle course races, eventually selling one of the businesses to spend more time with my family. Married to Ali for over 9 years now, Oscar is 5 and we have a new addition Emma who is now 9 months old. I've made a whole host of great friends and lost a load too. While new family members have arrived, rather inevitably, some older family members are no longer with us.
I (had) really stepped up my training, taking a keen interest in nutrition and mobility rather than power and pain management, which was making me a better athlete. I'd say that last year (2015) at the age of 33 I was the fittest all-round that I've ever been, training 6 times a week across sprinting, endurance trail running, strength, calisthenics and HIIT (Through Parafit Bootcamps).
Unfortunately at the beginning of this year I broke both of my wrists, without realising. Carrying on for a few months with increasing pain, decreasing mobility and passive treatment doing little to fix long term issues, I went to see a specialist. A wrist Arthroscopy later and I now look a little more like this...
So, I'm basically back towards starting all over again. Training around the injury is tough, due to the 12-week minimum rehab after which my right wrist will be operated on. I can't risk running due to potential injury if I fall and don't really fancy getting the dressings too sweaty.
So, I figured the blog would be a good distraction from the boredom, and help me to focus on my plan of attack for 2017. Here goes...
There's nothing quite like news of a cold-snap to really get you ready for a race! Desptie being a cold-weather person, after the terror of the Winter Tough Guy in January I was looking forward to some slightly warmer runs! Luckily, the snow wasn't due until Sunday, but we still had a chilly and foggy start for the long drive across to Redhill.
The site was easy to find using sat nav and following the signs when we got close. It helped that I'd been here before for the Spartan Sprint last July. The marshals in the parking area were good and with free parking we were soon onsite with plenty of time to go.
We were a team of 10 mostly of friends from Salisbury and a few guys that I had met through previous Spartan races. A lot of the team were using this as their first obstacle race to prep for Tough Mudder and as always with team runs the focus was on having a laugh and getting through together.
Registration was quick and easy with a single form and timing chip. Key and bag drop facilities were available as always. We made our way to the start line for the obligatory group warm up. Unfortunately it was impossible to hear the instructor, but I never really have been one for those warm ups :-)
The race was either a 5 or 10Km race, the later being two laps. Cost was the same for either option and very good value at £25 for each team member.
We set off towards the back of the pack. There was a single start wave of ~250 runners, which was really nice when I've been used to cramming in with a few thousand people at a time. I was armed with two GoPros for this race and for some reason my head mount camera battery died on the start line :-( I've since re-tested it and it's fine, so I can only think that I'd accidentally turned it on when packing my bag. So, when the race started, I was running back to my bag and then back to catch up with the rest of the team!
Anyway the Priory Events venue is very hilly and straight away we were greeted with some lovely muddy hills. After some turns and muddy tracks, we were at the first obstacle, a ~5foot hurdle. Nice and easy and although there was some queuing, this gave chance to split the main pack up and there was very little queuing once this obstacle was out of the way.
We moved on to further hills with a plastic sheet slide down one. Great fun, but it could have done with some extra water to help you slide down a bit easier. The majority of the course was based around natural obstacles, primarily very, very muddy steep hills. This wasn't a problem for most of us after a furious ordering-spree of Inov-8 Talons and Mudclaws, we were able to breeze through these obstacles whilst others crawled, slipped and slided. It was also easier for us to help out Joe as he was on road shoes.
The rest of the run was pretty standard stuff for these mud runs now- Crawling under barbed wire in thick mud and a separate water section, a sandbag carry and 2 x tyre carries. There was a very good cargo net climb and 2 exceptionally steep, muddy hills with ropes to help you get up them.
There was also a fun "grenade" throw where you lobbed a water bottled at some army targets and yelled "Grenade" at the top of your voice. Silly stuff, but a lot of fun and a very good laugh. We moved on further to a trench maneuver and another water slide before starting a second lap.
Having 2 laps of a 5Km to make up a 10Km isn't ideal, but it actually suited this course very well. The reason for that is that there were very few areas that weren't thick mud, and on the second lap this had been chewed up very nicely and made it more boggy and thick (Not allowed to use the words mucky or sticky apparently ;-)). It was good, but the obstacles themselves could have done with a change up. This is something that last year's Super Spartan in the Midlands did very well- Lap two started by picking up a house brick which you had to carry for the entire second lap. Whilst this may sound trivial, by the end of the second lap that brick got heavy! This small change made the second lap have a whole new challenge and is something that Back 2 The Trenches could have done with.
As far as post race goes, the times were viewable on the finish line, photos went up on Facebook very quickly and within a few days the professional photos were up for sale as well. The organisers were also very good at asking for feedback on the Facebook site and have kept a good rapport with the runners commenting on there. This bodes well for the future, which I'm told are going to involve some longer runs with new obstacles. I'd be very interested in them designing a course involving the lake that they have there :-)
The best thing about Back 2 The Trenches is the value for money. It was a great day out for the team and a very good introductory race for anyone looking to get into obstacle racing. Everyone was friendly, the race was easy to find and well organised. A top day out and looking forward to the next one!
Now I'm starting to think that I'm becoming a bit obsessed with buying Invo-8 trainers. Between Christmas presents to each other and the January sales, The Wife and I added TrailRocs, RecoLites, F-Lites and Road-X to our collection, resulting in quite a full utility!
When the Wife's TrailRoc 255's arrived, it was the final push I needed to buy some myself. They looked great, though I knew I wanted the slightly lighter 245s. I've been trying to decide between a set of TrailRocs and TerraFlys for a while now, the reason being that there are a lot of trails locally that are short and linked by roads. My Talons, whilst amazing in the soft stuff, absolutely ruin my knees if used on hard surfaces and likewise my Road-X leave me on my arse when taken through wet grass or mud. So, after seeing The Wife's and seeing even more trail races being won in TrailRocs, my mind was made up.
I wasn't however in a hurry. Whilst helping a few runners get kitted up for our forthcoming Back2TheTrenches race, my friend Simon made contact with Rich at Swaledale Outdoors who offered some very good deals. Although I was in no rush to purchase, I haven't been overly impressed with the service from my current supplier recently so I took Rich up on an offer on the TrailRocs. I must say, service was great- He was responsive, sent me a direct link to purchase online with some Inov-8 ProSocs in a bundle package and the package arrived very promptly. I consider myself a loyal customer to my suppliers and moving supplier to supplier is not something I normally do, but I must say I'm happy to use these guys for everything Inov-8 moving forward.
So anyways, I decided to give them a run-in as a lazy Sunday afternoon session. I haven't run properly/consistently in a while as I'm bulking, so it'd be a good way to try out the new trainers and blow the cobwebs out of my lungs in prep for the new race season. I mapped out a route (In my head) around Holders field, Old Sarum Castle and down through the meadows to 5Rivers and back. This would give me mud, wet grass, concrete, chalk, bogs, wood and gravel to run across and get a real feel for the shoes in their first outing.
In a nutshell they were great. I had to adjust my running style on the wet grass and mud as they obviously didn't give as much grip as I was used to with the Talons, but they were far superior to a normal road shoe. It didn't take long on the steep hill sections of mud to adjust to sliding my foot completely flat after toe-striking thus engaging more of the grips and getting good grip.
The chalky and stoney sections of Old Sarum is where they came into their own. The Talons aren't great here and the slightest damp on chalk makes it quite slippery and tough on the knees. Not the case with these- Great grip on flat, incline and decline sections.
Moving down to the mud and bogs in the meadows they performed very well- Again, not as good as the Talons but as an all-road shoe, fantastic. All of these sections were linked by road sections and very hard stoney paths. The TrailRocs gave good grip without the punishment on my knees and back associated with the Talons. Again, my Road-Xs are better at this but they are a focused shoe.
It was a slow run, but perfect for what I was after. The shoe was great overall, exactly what I expected from Inov-8. I'll be using this for some long-distance trail runs this summer and as always will be back with an update in 6 months after proper use.
Well, the time has finally come- Tough Guy is here for the first time since I started obstacle racing last May. The stories that I have heard about this event paint a picture of freezing temperatures, physical and mental torture and provide many with the firm belief that this is THE toughest obstacle race on the planet. I can’t wait!
I’ve been waiting to tackle this event since running the Tough Guy 10K in September 2012. The 10K was good fun and great starter event for the guys with me that hadn’t run an obstacle race before. Lots of lovely mud, deep water and purpose-built high rise obstacles made for a fun and challenging day and only heightened my desire to take on the full 10 miler in winter J
The start to the process wasn’t the best as I was met with a similar level of pre-race information before the beginning of the race. Whilst a large race pack arrived in the post shortly after registration, the photocopied pages were very difficult to read in places and seemed in many parts to be written in broken English. The story was similar on the Facebook page- updates regarding snow and parking seem to be written in “Tough Guy English” often missing words from sentences meaning that they either didn’t make sense at all or could be read one of two ways with two contradicting conclusions. I noted that other users were having similar issues but veterans of the series did not. I’m assuming this is something that you pick up after a while and I’m sure in 5 years’ time I will be getting frustrated with the newbies who can’t understand basic instructions!
Whilst annoying, I do remember a similar situation with the 10K (Even at the start line we still didn’t really know what time we were due to start!). Whilst pre-race clearly wasn’t a strong point, the race itself is, and that should be the main thing really. So I decided to go with it and as long as I knew were to park and where to register, I would figure everything else out on the day.
January 27th was a cold day and despite the snow of the previous week completely vanishing, it was still cold enough to warrant a few layers waiting for the race to begin. Rumours, eventually confirmed, that the stagnant water pools were approximately minus 10 degrees, cemented my decision to run with a top on. This is not normally something that I do as I get very hot, but the ice chunks floating on the top of the water spoke for themselves. So my kit list included my normal shorts, Under Armour ColdGear long-sleeve fitted top, Invo-8 MudSoc 20s, Altura wind guard for my ears, GoPro HD Hero2 on the head mount, a shed load of Vaseline and of course my trusty Invo-8 Talon 212s. I also carried a spare battery for the GoPro in my pocket, sealed in a waterproof bag*.
As I was videoing the race on my GoPro, I wasn’t expecting to put in any competitive times. I knew I’d have to change the battery, which in a muddy run is a good 5 minute job. That coupled with my plan to complete the Wolf6Pack challenge at a suitable part of the course meant that a good time would be impossible, so instead decided to just enjoy the run and take it all in.
The venue was easy to find through the postcode in my new satnav (finally joining the 21st century!) and although I was taken to an impassable ford at one point, I got there in good time. There were several car park entrances with helpful marshals looking at the colour-coded car park passes hanging from the rear view mirror and directing us to the correct places. The “blue” car park held my space and was on the side of a grassy (muddy!) hill. Getting into the space was quite easy, again with loads of marshals to assist, but I had a feeling getting out would not be as much fun!
Despite there already being thousands of people on site, there were no registration queues and the registration process was as simple as quoting your name and number, signing and initialling the waiver, and being handed your race pack. Race number transfers were included, along with a room with wet sponges to apply them with. Little things like this make a big difference to the whole experience. Timing chip was also included along with the official race number and confirmation of my squad, the Tough Guy Squad. As I only registered a week before the race I was expecting to be in a much later wave, but more than happy with that!
I went to the bag drop/changing rooms to vas-up and chat to some fellow competitors. A final bite to eat and sip of water and I was ready to start running. Making my way towards the start line at about ten to eleven, I had to fight past a lot of people to get past the later start waves. It was easy to see the start lines for the squads with large signs, however I couldn’t see the Tough Guy Squad start. In the end I found a large group of people standing on the back of the hill with TGS numbers and decided to start with them.
Just after 11am the cannon fired, fireworks went off and we ran into battle!
The ‘running’ was few and far between over the first half mile. The sheer volume of runners meant a serious bottle-neck and even with very wide running sections, we constantly slowed to walking pace. After a while the running sections opened up a bit and I could open the taps to move past some of the slower runners. This wasn’t the same issue that Spartan Races tend to have where they make you run down a single file track but more that the waves of runners aren’t spread out enough and there is a huge volume of people trying to get down a track. This unfortunately was a common theme throughout the race- not so much of a problem at this point as I wasn’t going for a time and was nice and warm, but got very problematical later on in the race when the cold started setting in.
The run had a few small hurdles with some thick mud to start with, moving on to a nice long trail section through thick mud with some higher hurdles and steep hills. A few people had already started to dodge these where possible and some even down to walking pace within the first mile. This didn’t bode well!
Moving on we moved onto a slalom hill section- Constant very steep muddy hills to run up and down. My Talons performed excellently here. I know I rant on like I’m sponsored by them, but they really were superb. There were very few places where I slipped and I notice that most others in the same situation were using Talon’s or Mudclaws. Truly amazing shoes! This was one place where queues got frustrating with a lot of people down to walking pace, and again the sheer volume leaving little room to move around them.
On getting to the top of the slaloms we were treated to a short but heavy rain-shower, which was more than welcome to keep us cool. We moved down the hill into the wooded section that I had previously experienced through the 10K run. This was exactly as before with a section of cargo nets and high steeples to climb. It was equally as annoying as last time- these obstacles aren’t tricky or taxing in any way. The only thing that they do is get caught on my GoPro, which is a real pain in the bum.
We then moved on to the river slalom. This was the second time we were in water, but a proper dip this time, right up to chest level at some point for a short-arse like me. Whilst the layout was no different to the 10K, one thing was different… the cold. It was truly freezing, and with each dip in the water my feet got colder and colder. Chest and legs held up ok (Though my legs did go very pink!) but it wasn’t long before I couldn’t feel my toes.
Out of the water and time for a battery change and to complete the Wolf6Pack challenge (A friendly fitness challenge which, on the day, involved me videoing myself completing 21 press-ups. Here is a link to see what it’s all about).
With that done, we moved on to more water, cargo nets and a berlin wall or two before reaching the first high-rise net climb with the first electrocution of the day. Now, I’m not sure if it was generally more powerful or if it was that I was wearing a top for the first time, but the electric gave more of a shock than I’d previously experienced by a very long way! I felt it all across my back that made me think that it might have been that I had a soaked top on. I feel an experiment coming on…
Next was the beginning of the serious water- what seemed like a 100m wade through chest-high, freezing water. It was tough, but I was determined not to slow my pace and kept a quick stride up, passing many people. I did not want to be in the water longer than I had to, and I knew my trusty Talons would drain very quickly once I was out.
With that out of the way, we moved on to a few walls, up to another high-rise via cargo nets then across balance ropes before heading back down to more water. Plenty of dips into the water and out again, with fire to run through in between. The bit of heat was a pain, as you felt warmth then cold, then warmth then cold. The end of this was a tyre tunnel to crawl through into the last section of water, so deep that a short-arse like me had to swim. I was pretty glad to be out of this as I was very cold and was looking forward to being able to sprint off and warm up a bit.
Next followed a large stint of thick mud, really testing on the calves and thighs, then on to the dreaded Torture Chamber. The Torture Chamber required you to crawl in near pitch-black within about 2 foot of height. The floor was a few inches of water and rows of logs followed by electric cables hung down throughout. As you crawl in, there are blood-curdling screams from other runners getting zapped by the cables. I got hit about 5 or 6 times and on one of those I am sure I blacked out. This was pretty horrific- physically not too bad but physiologically the screams and not really knowing where the electric was going to hit really made you not want to go forward. Top work Mr Mouse, top work!
These moved on to the Vietcong Tunnels which were easily tackled and onto the next high section, the Skywalk and Paradise Climb. By this point, the cold was starting to become a pain as the inability to close my grip on my hands properly really made me have to think about things that normally came naturally. Because of this, it took far longer for me to scale down the ropes. I was expecting for the cold to cause physical issues, but was not ready for the way it changed my thinking during the run.
A small run later and into the deep water. A combination of swimming and the first forced dips under the water was a killer. My lungs started to burn towards the end of this and getting out of the other end was when I really started to feel too cold. The next high climbs, walk-the-plank and rope traversal was a struggle, not physically, but mentally working out what I had to do. The cold was really starting to get to me.
I started really sprinting between each section, trying to warm up as efficiently as possible. The long section of tyres helped with a nice section of running with high knees followed by some nice warming electricity. Another dip in the water, and run up the hill and the final slide down into the lake and up to the finish line.
What followed next was standing in a hot shower for about 10 minutes, and very quick change and a sprint back to the car to get the heaters on. 20 minutes of sitting in the car with fresh clothes and I just about stopped shivering enough to be able to start the long drive back to Salisbury.
The pictures and times came up very quickly. I came 410th overall which, considering I wasn't going for time and the queuing I had to do, I was more than pleased with. Banter afterwards on the Facebook page for Tough Guy was great and you get the real sense of a community of people, all bound by the blood, sweat and tears shed together. Many didn't finish, some finished in hospital, but I have huge respect for every single person that started this race.
In conclusion, there is only one word to describe the Winter Tough Guy: Epic. Physically, I feel like I could have run it three times over, but the cold was just crippling. Many other races claim to be the toughest or hardest of these obstacle races but truth is that nothing I have done so far even comes close to this. If you think the others are tough, you have to try this. Mr Mouse, I salute you!
*I don’t use the GoPro battery BacPac on the head mount as it makes the camera too heavy and the video goes all over the place.
One of the things that I am most frequently asked is “What kit should I use or take with me to a mud and obstacle run?”. It’s a bit of a tough one to answer, as every promoter has different rules and regulations.
The below list is based on my experience so far and that alone. It’s therefore highly biased, but that’s one of the best things about writing a personal blog- I can be as biased as I want to be :-)
Before I get to the list, a few things to consider:
For me, good footwear is key. Many blogs and forums will have people that tell you “What’s the point in using purpose-built shoes, they’re just going to get ruined” or “There’s no real advantage when mud gets thick”. IMO, this is utter balls! The amount of times that people have face planted in front of me, often with very painful consequences due to no grip from their road running shoes is unreal. I personally can’t afford to break my ankle/leg/hip/ribs falling over onto a tree stump, and therefore will do everything I can to avoid it!
Road running shoes, whilst giving a lot of underfoot protection are dangerously slippy and soak water up like a sponge due to the amount of padding and cushioning in them.
It suddenly dawned on me this evening that I hadn't actually signed up for Tough Guy yet! Bugger!
I've been looking forward to this run as one of "The big 3"- I've done Tough Mudder and the Spartan Beast, but like most Tough Guy is the original test. I would be absolutely gutted if I couldn't make it!
Luckily, registration is still open. Only just, but still open. Expensive at £85, but that's my own fault and if it's as good as the 10km Tough Guy was that we did as part of the Tough-Guy-Tri event, I know it'll be worth it.
As far as training goes, it's only 15km so I don't think distance will be a problem. The only issue is that I have been bulking since Boxing Day. I'm coming on 8kg up in weight and have only been doing a very little running, 8Km at most recently. As I've been bulking, all training has been "Low and slow".
I've got 2 weeks to get back in to shape- Plenty of cardio and circuits should help quite a lot, but it's going to be a squeeze!
I want to look forward to enjoying this one and not be competitive. Not sure that'll happen on the day :-)
Well Christmas is upon us and I've decided to sort race entries for some of my relatives.
Firstly, my big brother who is an amateur triathlete will be joining our Tough Mudder team for Kettering next year.
My two nieces will be completing one of the kids Spartan races, which I hope they'll enjoy. They are 12 and 9 so I hope they'll enjoy getting muddy over a short course.
Finally is The Wife. She has mentioned on several occasions that she wants to join me for an obstacle run and after signing up to CrossFit in November and Tough Mudder for June 2013 I decided a warm-up in in order :-)
I've therefore singed us both up to run the Rock Solid Race 10Km obstacle run on 16th March 2013. Her initial reaction was surprise, but she now seems to be getting quite excited for it. I am too, both to run the race myself with her but to help her through to the end.
Bring on 2013 :-)