Friday, October 27, 2017

Deep Thoughts

I've been mulling over my life's purpose. Ok, maybe not that. Maybe I've just had mortality on my mind a lot. Not like a morbid fascination with death, but just a growing appreciation for how short life is.

Part of me realizes I have all these ideas or constructs in my head about how I want to be in x years. And it's more than how I want to be, it's what I want to be good at. I have a lot of things I've dabbled in over the years, and that's made me happy how many varied things I've done rather than what I consider a typical lifestyle. I realize there are 1000's of people who've done more than I have. 1000's of lives lived harder than mine. But still, I want to die with scars and stories and as few regrets as possible.

But with this wide variety of things I've done, my personality counters that variety with competitiveness. I'm not really the type that wants to beat the world into a bloody pulp, but I want to do something, and then improve and beat that old personal record or whatever into a bloody pulp.

I assume I'm not alone in this, but getting people to talk about that seems difficult. People seem to me to be guarded. Maybe I'm just not good at eeking the gooey centers out of people.

One of the things I've always wanted to be good at, and which is antithetical to my quiet introverted self, is to be a great story teller. My Grandpa K is a great story teller. I always love hearing his stories, no matter the subject. One of the tenets of that talent is to be able to convey something that the listener may or may not be interested in, and to get them hooked and want to hear the end of it. The end of a great story is like a joke. Sometimes it's completely out of nowhere, but it ties everything before it together and is ultimately satisfying.

To circle back, I've been thinking about the things I want to be good at. Mostly it's things I want to be good at, rather than things I want to get, which is in juxtaposition to how most of us (guilty here) spend our time. Maybe it's because I've achieved at least in my mind, an overabundance of material success that I'm able to move up Maslow's hierarchy and think about self-actualization. I'm careful to place too much happiness into the thinginess of the world. Contentment perhaps, but never hanging my hat on that slippery coat hanger of one-upmanship that seems so prevalent in today's society.

Things I want to be good at (and future blog topics):

Mountain biking

Playing guitar


That's a short list. But to be good at both of those consumes an inordinate amount of time and the occasional cash outlay, so I have to be real about how much stuff I want to be really good at. I figure I could probably mountain bike another 20 years, and play guitar and woodwork another 40+ if I'm lucky.

There's a lot of stuff I still want to dabble in across the way too. More like shorter-term goals. Maybe that'll be yet another post. This one is getting too long and heavy and Duke is going bonkers and crying at me. I guess he wants to play, which is all any of us wants, right?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tough Mudder 2017 Done!! (3 of 3)

As we (I) wind our way through the conclusion of this epic spectacle of oddities known as "Tough Mudder", a few thoughts had crossed my mind up to this point.

Miles 0-2: Good lord, I should have ran more. This is hard. It's going to be a long race.

Miles 3-7: This is pretty fun. I wish I would have ran more but now it's more about either 1) hoping the migraine doesn't come on strong, 2) keeping the water down, or 3) praying my heart doesn't end up on the wrong side of my rib cage.

Miles 8+: I can't believe I've done this. It's been hard, but either I have more grit than even I thought or something has lined up to make this a bit easier than it should be.

Now that we know what's going through my mind, we're back to the play-by-play of the obstacles. Mile 8.5 yields another split obstacle, with the newbs getting Reach Around and the Legionnaires getting Stage 5 Clinger. Reach Around looked insanely hard, but I managed it pretty well. You pretty much scale a 2x4 ladder that is tilted back toward you, and then reach up and over this platform and pull yourself up. S5C is even tougher, as you can see in the video below. The obstacles are side by side, and RA is on the far side of S5C.

Hold Your Wood was nothing more than running around carrying a big piece of wood. I probably could have carried a bit more, but I wasn't sure how much more gas I had in me and I had some fairly intense obstacles coming up.

Just after mile 10, the obstacle I was more interested in seeing how I did loomed on the horizon, Funky Munky: The Revolution. It looks like something straight out of American Ninja Warrior, and I did way better than I would have thought on it. I almost had that last ring, but needed about another inch of finger around it to maintain my grip. Don't ask me what's in that water. I'm not sure I really want to know.

We were nearly to the end of the race, and nearly fully exhausted when Arctic Enema was approaching.  A couple of the guys were clearly not looking forward to this, and knew it wasn't going to be like anything else. I've never done a polar plunge before, and I'm surprised anyone could do that after enduring the AE. That just knocked everything out of you, and your body had no idea what was going on other than screaming get the hell out of this water. On the side of the dumpster is an ice truck which is constantly throwing ice in the water to make sure it stays around 34 degrees. I'm not sure if it'd feel any better or worse if it were 50 degrees and raining out or a scorching 100 degree day. I think AE sucks regardless, but at least it's quick. All I could do was holler when I got out and start walking.

While the race was drawing to an end, the last obstacle (s) were still to come. Another duo of trickery, Electroshock Therapy for the newbs, and Kong for the Legionnaires. The newbs certainly got the short end of the stick. I'm pretty sure everyone on my team hated ET, and it sure was my least favorite. It didn't hurt when you got shocked, but you could hear it, feel the snap, lose your legs, and get pissed off all in 1/10th of a second. Kong is in the background of ET, and it's pretty much swinging between gymnast rings 20 feet over a big stunt balloon. LAME.

So there you go. That was Tough Mudder 2017 and these guys are already trying to get me to sign up for 2018. Anything is possible at this point, except me doing ET again. Maybe next time I'll train a little more!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tough Mudder 2017 done! (2 of 3)

It's been a few days, so I figured I'd better keep up with the rehash otherwise the memories will really start fading. Surprisingly, I'm feeling pretty good minus my traps which are still a bit sore. I'd say by tomorrow I'll be 98%, and that's a grade I can live with.

Back to the recap!

After summiting Everest, the next obstacle was one that most of us called our favorite. It was pretty fun, although the water was cold! The Block Ness Monster is as fun as it looks, and apparently is the highest rated obstacle in the Tough Mudder arsenal.

After running for a bit and warming our bodies back up, we hit Mud Mile 2.0. This obstacle really put your teamwork to the test, and is one of those obstacles I have no idea how someone could do it solo.

Pyramid Scheme came up next, and is as insane as it looked. I didn't time it, but I bet we got through it in about 15 minutes, maybe even more. It was one of those obstacles that was more about strategy rather than brute strength. We were all getting gassed at this point, so the wait to tackle this was welcome.

Quagmire was a lot like Mud Mile 2.0, but steeper and taller. Again, teamwork was key.

I don't have video of the next couple of obstacles since it was another area with no spectator access. Mineshafted was first up, and I don't remember what that was. I'm sure it was excruciating though. That was followed up by Six Feet Under, which was a lot like Quagmire except the bottom of the mud pit was super soft silt that was about halfway up your knees. Kind of a variation on a theme. I guess it is called the Tough Mudder after all.

At about the 7 1/2 mile marker we encountered Birth Canal. I was feeling pretty gassed at this point, and this obstacle was a fair bit more difficult than I thought it was going to be. Basically each of those sacks of water is about 100 pounds, and it wears ya down a good bit. Three of the obstacles had two paths, one for first-timers and the other for Legionnaires (previous TM finishers). This was one of those events, and the Legionnaire obstacle was called Black Hole. It is almost identical from what I could tell, except you crawled on a slippery tarp and the tarp holding the water is blackout, so you're crawling in the hot, muddy darkness.

As you can see in the video, I was so gassed I didn't know where I was going and tried to go in the exit of the Black Hole instead of continuing on. Whoo boy, ya gotta breathe!

The last obstacle before mile 8 was the Show Me State Slide. It was the worst slide ever. You basically shimmy down a drainage culvert with sticky mud in it, into a pit of mud, and then have a four foot hop out back to ground level. I bet as the day wore on and hundreds of people went through it that it got more slippery, but that wasn't the case for us.

I'll wrap this up tomorrow, and my phone is already going off with hooligans trying to get me to sign up for next year.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tough Mudder 2017 done! (1 of 3)

I have a lot of mixed feelings about yesterday, although they are mostly good. I'm typing this with a body that is angry at me and few sips of coffee, so any coherence will be solely achieved through luck.

We had an 8am start in Sedalia, so anyone who's know me at all knows that me and mornings don't see eye to eye typically, especially when I know there's going to be plenty of suffering coming up in the near future.

When we got there, it felt very similar to Warrior Dash, with probably the same size of crowds (700 participants or so and spectators, not a small crowd).  Speaking of spectators, I'd be remiss if I didn't call out my very dear friend Ryan Mulbery, who so graciously took all these great photos.

Here's the team (L to R): Ryan Schimmel, John Thong, Jarrett Marshall, Denny Rader, Wallace, Peter Colpitts, The Bearded Wonder). Jarrett drove in from St Louis to take Ryan's spot after he had to bail after his old man hips gave out on him.

Just a quick recap, TM is 11 miles long with 20 obstacles that vary in size and skill required to traverse. None were exceptionally easy, but some were clearly harder than others.

So at our start time at 8:00 I came busting out of the $hitter to see a group of guys leaving and my team starting to take off. Not an auspicious start. Fortunately, 8:00 was a soft start time as they would let groups of 350 off every 15 minutes, so we were at the start of the 8:15 group. The only thing worse than being late is being early. So we were hopping around waiting for 8:15, and when that finally hits we go to another staging area, and then we are treated to music at probably 130db. I'm thinking they were trying to numb our brains with sonic waves. Then the announcer/MC comes up and gives a little rah rah speech and gets us pumped up. Until the audio cuts out. Again, not an auspicious start but I'm here for adventure, albeit I figured it would be out on the course not in the warm up area.

No cannon shot, we just start running. And running, and then the first obstacle. Run up the stairs at the fairgrounds 4 times. Not pleased with my training already, and now you're going to cook my legs before mile 1? This is going to be a beaut, Clark. Once we're done with the stairs, we run halfway around the track (I think that was 80 miles) to the next obstacle, which was the partner carry. Shimmel and I partner off, he starts by carrying me with the fireman's carry, and then halfway we switch and I carry him with a piggyback method. That wasn't too bad, but again, it was all legs. More running (see a pattern here?), and then it was Pitfall. Basically a giant muddy pit filled with muddy water and hidden holes dug out of the floor of the "pond". Not too bad, and it felt good to cool the legs off a bit. Next was Slick Rick (think adult-sized muddy slip and slides) and Skidmarked. I had to look the latter up, as my brain was anoxic and I have no memory of it. This was a slanted-towards-you wall that you had to scale, and it was one of the first obstacles that really showed how important teamwork is to this event. We don't have pics for awhile as there were no spectators' areas back here.

Next up was a mystery obstacle, but I have no idea what it was. I must have done it though. It probably involved mud. (Edit: It didn't. It was hurdling cow fences about 40 times. It wasn't bad until you rammed your knee/shin into the top of one, and then that slowed you down since you weren't as eager to go hopping them.)

Probably our easiest obstacle was up next, Devil's Beard which was climbing under heavy cargo nets, although our team figured out a really kick ass way to do it that took us only about 10 seconds. Next up was Berlin Walls, just more walls to giddy up over and then Bail Bonds:

This got us to mile 4 of 11. Next up was a more visually impressive obstacle, Everest 2.0. A video is worth a 1000 pics, so they say.

Friday, October 13, 2017

This will be my last post for awhile.

I'm kidding. But I'm going to have to try to not die tomorrow during the Tough Mudder. I'm already having deep regrets about not training more. I know it'll be a hoot, but it's definitely going to be a one foot after the other affair, especially as the event drags on. At least I'll be with friends and the weather should be nice.

Monday, October 2, 2017

A tale of two Toms

There are few places on earth I hate as much as Costco. Something about the giant carts, too much to look at, and food samples create a less than optimal shopping experience for me with people leaving their capitalist barges in the middle of the aisle creating a traffic jam to go eat some cheese puffs. It takes everything I have to not scream "does anyone in here have any courtesy at all?!?!?".

I realize the irony of that. But it probably still needs to be said. Even the parking lot is a disaster with driver's with their heads safely tucked up their arses. It's unreal.

There was a saving grace though during this latest excursion to Costco, and it wasn't the fact my family of four ate some average food for lunch for a paltry $15. As I'm sitting there enjoying my greasy turkey sandwich, who do I see walk by but one of the greatest golfers of all time, Tom Watson. He had a lot of toothpaste and was on his way out. I don't think he had any Kirkland golf balls either, but I'm not even sure if they still sell those. I figure if Tom Watson has to go to Costco, even after winning the Open nearly every year since 1887 and even winning those silly tournaments at Augusta and the "US" Open, then maybe I can suffer through it occasionally.

The other Tom I'm referring to is Mr. Petty. May you rest in peace, and may your music play on for many decades to come.