Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder-Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet.

or

Tough Mudder-Probably the Worst Run Event on the Planet
Tough Mudder-Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet...to get to.
Tough Mudder-Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet....but I'll never know.


These are just a couple of the hundreds of slams Tough Mudder Took on their Facebook page this weekend. What a colossal disaster. Here is my story....

I love mud runs. I have been looking forward to testing myself and pushing myself to concur a TM course for over a year. So, in January when they opened registration for TM Mid-Atlantic I said "Where do I sign up?" And I gladly handed over $118.15. The event soon sold out. Or so we thought. They opened more slots up and then those sold out and in turn they opened more slots up until they were up to 24,000 participants for a two day event to be held in Fredrick, MD at Crumland Farms. A venue not meant to hold anywhere close to that amount of people.

Friday

Approx. 3pm: We depart Hampton Roads. We hit a bit of traffic on the Peninsula, which was to be expected. Little did we know this was going to be the theme of the weekend!
Approx. 6pm: We have a great dinner at a little Italian restaurant in Fredricksburg, VA. I wish I could remember the name.
Approx. 9:30pm: We arrive at Meagan's Aunt's house about an hour away from Fredrick (55 minutes actually). She graciously let us stay the night.

Saturday

Saturday approx. 7:40am: We depart on our 55 minute trip to Crumland Farms.
Meagan and Chad, pumped to start the quest to earn their orange headbands!


Approx 8:40: We arrive onto US 15, five miles from the course. TM texts us to take exit 16 b/c of traffic. Someone should have told them exit 16 was closed :(
Approx 9:40: Still in the car about 4.5 miles from the race.
Approx 10:40: Still in the car about 4.2 miles from the race.

This is shortly before we decided to abandon ship.

Approx 11:40: Still in the car. People are starting to abandon their vehicles in local shopping plaza's, church parking lots and neighborhoods.
Approx 12:00: We do the same, 2 miles from the course and start walking.
Now at this time the wind is gone from my TM sails. I was angry, hungry, and annoyed. Oh-and I had to pee, as did everyone else. Some people relieved themselves along the road in peoples back yards, off ramps, etc... I was too afraid of the wild animals to pee in the bushes. Thanks TM.


Approx 12:10: We started walking to the course. The road turned into a two lane country road that lead us out to this old farm. Apparently, the farmland is going to be developed soon and this was a last hurrah. Too bad, it was beautiful.

Two lane country road. We weren't the only ones who decided to walk.

Approx 1:00: We arrived at The Tough Mudder. I was still pissed, but I tried to rally for my friends and turn the day around. We got our race bibs, checked our gear, and hit the 5 port-a-potty's they had for 24,000 people. Oh, that's right everyone went on the side of the road. Why have enough toilets? No need. The first port-a-potty I went into was almost overflowing. It was the worst thing I have ever seen and no matter how hard I try,  I can't get that vision out of my head! Thanks TM.

Trying to make the most of it. Does my smile look forced?


Approx 1:30: We get in the corral. We do some calisthenics as a group, which if I wasn't mad would have been fun, but at this time I thought it totally lame.

Approx 1:40: We finally get to the starting line where there is a "hype man". Who btw, was actually really good. Again, if didn't feel like a little kid who let go of her balloon and had to watch it float up and away, I would have been totally stoked! He was pumping the crowd with some OooRAH's, but then he was also bragging that this was the biggest TM event to date at 24, 000 people. OooRAH! No, no OooRAH's. It sucked. I didn't want to be reminded of the gazillions of people who were still on that two lane country road trying to park. So no, NO OooRAH's for me.

Approx 2:00: When we left the car it was hot and sunny. When we arrived at the course it was cooling down as a front was making its way toward us. The sky was BLACK. The wind was really kicking up and the sun was gone. Rain soaked clouds made up the sky. We ran for about half a mile or so to the first obstacle, The Artic Enemia, to be told that their was lightening within 5 miles and all the water obstacles were closed (13 of the 25) but we could still run. Still RUN? I didn't purchase a half marathon ticket, train for months, lose out on time with my family, spend my hard earned money, and drive 250 miles to just run in a farmers feild! We decided to wait at the obstacle to see if it would pass. (Obviously, I know that TM could do absolutely nothing about mother nature.)

Approx 2:15: It was down pouring, big, heavy, COLD rain. We are still at the first obstacle. Waiting. Another wave comes through. Most of the them have a look of bewilderment when they are told they can't jump into the freezing water. Some stay, some go. Someone in the crowd started chanting "WE SIGNED A WAIVER!" "WE SIGNED A WAIVER!" I might have signed a waiver, but there was no way in hell I was getting into that freezing water in the middle of a lightening storm. You can say I am not tough, but I say I am not stupid.

Approx 2:20: We were told the the obstacles would be closed for at least 45 minutes while the storm moves through. At this point I am STARVING. I planned on running by 11:00, so that is what I fueled for. Even if I was ok with just running the course, there was no way I could do 12 miles. I would have passed out at the 5 mile mark! So we decided to leave the course and get some food while we waited for the storm to pass.

Approx 2:25: By this time the storm was in full effect and I was on the verge of hypothermia. We took shelter under the stage and struck up conversation with some others that also took refuge there. I get my chicken sandwich and take some bananas from the finish line. I try to harness the heat from my foil wrapped sandwich, holding it close to my body. It's pointless. I could have turned a cup of fruit into a smoothie, I was shaking so hard.

Approx 2:40: We decided we needed more food and/or needed to get running. We left our refuge and as we were walking to the bag check tent...LIGHTENING!!! Right.Over.Head. Final.Straw. As it was storming overhead, they announced that the last corral would be at 2:45. Again, not running 12 miles in a lightening storm.

Approx 2:45: We headed back to the car in a state of shock, disappointment, and frustration. The only positive of not being able to actually drive and park at the event was the state of the farmers field turned parking lot turned Tow Mater's wet dream. 

For the next 5 hours we checked the TM FB page for updates, but all we found were angry messages from other participants such as ourselves.

Sunday
TM releases this statement and video message: http://toughmudder.com/events/mid-atlantic-2012/

This was on FredrickNewsPost. com: TM Officials Plan Refund

TM admits that they dropped the ball. I am getting a refund and a voucher for TM VB, June 2013. I'm glad they are trying to make things right and I hope to give them a more favorable review come June. My feelings of anger are dissipating, only to be replaced by disappointment. I am still amazed at the amount of blatant corporate greed that went down by selling that many spots for a venue that clearly could NOT accommodate that many people.

My concern that remains regardless if they figure out their traffic situation is: what if all those people were able to park and participate in the event how good of an event would it have been? I don't know about you, but jogging a mile or so to wait in line for an obstacle is not fun or challenging for me. I think they need to cap the race at a reasonable number per venue per day. Convenient parking is just one part of the race experience. Getting through the course without being slowed down by bottlenecks is another.

What is your worst race experience? Have you run a Tough Mudder? What was your experience? Should I forgive and forget?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rock n Roll Half Marathon Weekend Part 2: The Race and Beyond



Rock n Roll Half Marathon Weekend
and
Race Recap Part 2


Sunday-Race Day!



After finally falling asleep to a stinging feeling in my foot and having a horrible night’s sleep, I woke to warm temperatures and very high humidity (75*ish degrees and 95%ish humidity) and it was only 5am. :/ Good news though, after using my mad athletic training skills, a donut pad, and a little coban my foot was feeling pretty good.
I'll spare you the photo of my foot!

pre-race photo
We opted to take the shuttle to the race start, which got us there at about 5:30. Plenty of time to use the port-a-potty, take some pictures, use the port-a-potty, eat some food, use the port-a-potty, meet-up with my MRTT super moms, use the port-a-potty, and take some more pictures.


 
MRTT Super Moms


Because were running the relay, my sister-in-law was shuttled off to the relay point shortly after 6:00 and I got to pick which corral I wanted to start in. I was going to go elite, but since I haven't been training because of my ITB issues, I decided to go with corral 4.



Starting line.
I got to run with my friend Randi and thank goodness for that. It was HOT and HUMID and I haven't been training. She is very good at keeping me going. I went in with the mindset to just enjoy the race, use it as an opportunity to practice my new running form,  and if I needed to walk then I would walk, but I felt GREAT!
I always start out too fast, but this time I was actually able to keep it under control and somehow managed a 8:20ish pace most of the race. The crowd seemed thin but there were some cleaver signs that made me laugh and the local high schools cheerleaders were fun. I made it a point to run down the line and high-five them! I wanted to show them I appreciated them being out so early on such a hot day.
The first couple of miles were HOT and then when we reached the Rudee Inlet Bridge I just kind of got into my groove and the heat wasn’t an issue for me anymore. We made our way down General Booth Blvd and passed the VA Aquarium. I took water and Gatorade at every water stop, something I usually don’t do either, but I knew I had to today. Prior to race day I drank a couple of glasses of water with Nuun. With it being so hot and humid I knew that water alone wouldn’t cut it and I would end up with major stomach issues or worse.
I carried this for 7.9 miles.
Anyway, back to the race. At mile 6 I pulled out my phone and called my sister-in-law and told her to expect me in about 20 minutes. I was way ahead of schedule and was panting into the phone, this was another first for me, not the panting part, the making a call in the middle of a race part. Randi and I decided to take mile 6 easy and then give it all we had at mile 7. Well, the take it easy part was doable, the kick it into high gear at 7, not so much! I tried, I really did. Randi was off and with all my might I tried to dig deep but my tank was close to E. I managed to keep it under a 9 min/mile and even dropped closer to 8 at certain points, but there was no way I was sprinting to the end.  At about the 7.6 mile point, with the relay zone in sight, I started to hyperventilate and had to walk.  I quickly got my breathing under control and “sprinted” to the relay zone. This was interesting as my race bib slide behind me so they couldn’t announce me coming,  regardless Jill was ready for the baton hand off.  I swear I am face blind and didn’t see her in the crowd, but she saw me and popped out from the mass of people, grabbed the drum stick and was off. And I was done. I made it.

 
I met back up with Randi, she finished about a minute or so ahead of me and we were able to see our partners come back around to General Booth once they made it through Camp Pendleton. We caught the shuttle back to the start and met-up with my husband and father-in-law. I felt great. My ITB was fine, my legs felt fresh, I had energy, and my stomach wasn't in knots! I am finally getting somewhere with my new running form. Chi Running claims you will feel more energized when using their technique and I am now a believer. I never feel this good after racing. If I wasn’t hurting, I was exhausted, but not this time! Yay me!

Gene, Jill, and Me
Randi and Me
We had some post race beers and took more pictures. Traded stories and headed home. After a brief nap and a sometime in the pool we headed out to the American Music Festival down at the beach and enjoyed some more drinks and Train.

Mike and Me at Train


I had a great time and a great race. I know some people were not as lucky.  I passed one women, at mile 7, who was being treated by EMS and there were reports of others. I hope they are all ok. I also heard complaints of not enough water or cups and something about race medals. Big thanks to all the volunteers and spectators for coming out on such a hot day.
Train the band not the machine
I am looking forward to Tough Mudder this weekend and hope I can continue to improve on my running form. Oh and Jill and I came in 10th out of 91 women's teams! Not too shabby!









Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rock n Roll Half Marathon Weekend Part 1

Rock n Roll Half Marathon Weekend
 and
Race Recap

I was back and forth about signing up for this race. I have signed up for it three times in the past and only did it once. One time I was pregnant and didn’t want to train in the heat. The other time I had to drop out for an injury. The one I did manage to run, I was 5 months post partum and it was my first half marathon ever. When I finally finished, I told my husband to never let me sign up for another again! It was so hot and I was in no shape to run that far.  I have since run other half marathons, but I am in much better shape than I was back then. Regardless,  I was still in doubt about this race until I saw that they added a relay option! Perfect! I get the shirt, the medal, and access to the American Music Festival! Plus I didn’t have to train nearly as hard in the heat and humidity that a summer in Virginia Beach can bring.  So I recruited my sister-in-law, Jill to run the second leg of the race with me.  Here is how the weekend went down….


Friday-Packet Pick-up

Important to do's around the house.

I decided to hit up the expo on Friday in hopes to avoid crowds and buy an American Music Festival pin for my husband so we could see O.A.R that night. I did miss the crowds but we didn’t get to see O.A.R., too much to do around the house.










Add caption
The expo was one of the nicer ones I’ve been to, including Disney. I don’t like crowds or being crowed. I think they spread out the booths a little more than some other expo’s I have been to or maybe I am imagining that, not sure…I am still a little dehydrated. The official race gear was Brooks and very nice but I opted to spend my money on a storage belt contraption by The Hippie Runner. I didn’t want to wear my fuel belt, Garmin, and iPhone holder. This held everything and came with reusable clips for my race bib. The only thing it didn’t hold was water and from what I’ve heard, I am grateful for being in an earlier corral, as water and cups were scarce towards the end of the race!


Saturday-kind of Rest Day!

I ran some errands with my boys in the morning, including buying a new toilet seat and getting their hair cut. It was an awesome morning. (Insert eye roll here.) My in-laws arrived and after lunch we hung by the pool. Which, should have been a nice relaxing day except, we got locked out of the house and into the back yard. The only way in was through the front and all that stood between me and my air conditioning was a 6 foot wood privacy fence. Great. Good thing I got that toilet seat because I was up s@$t’s creek and needed a floatation device!

Now, you have to get a visual to truly appreciate this story. I am in my bare feet and my swim suit and cover-up. No one else is agile enough to get over the fence, except maybe my 2 year old, but he would be useless once over. So I scaled that thing like a spider monkey. At the top I realized I had to propel myself up and over to avoid catching my cover-up on the fence and end up in an America's Funniest Home Video segment, with total strangers laughing at my idiocy. I stepped onto the top of the fence, jumped up and over, and landed gracefully on the other side….with a nice big cut on the bottom of my
foot…SH$T!!! 8 miles in less than 24 hours with a nice big gaping wound on my foot. Fan-fricting-tastic! As if I wasn't already ill-prepared.



PART 2: The Race and Beyond....coming soon!