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A few weeks ago, we took part in the Tough Mudder race in Wisconsin. I have to say that despite the electric shock and the constant lunges and bear crawls (which were not mandatory), I will be back next year. I just love a race where you have to conquer obstacles and not just run on the pavement for a set number of miles.
I recently saw a survey by Tough Mudder and participants said that Funky Monkey was the toughest obstacle for them. I have to say that it was one of the easiest for me; I guess it is because that is the one I trained for the most. The hardest obstacle for me was the Everest! Why do you think I want to come back next year….I didn’t make it. By the time we got to it, the event organizers made it a one shot deal so if you don’t make it on the first shot, you either go to the back of the line or you just walk around it. I walked and I’ll Be Back! Here is a short Tough Mudder video.
These challenges are being added worldwide so it would be fun to finish each one, though that might take years and a big portion of your income. Great race, awesome organization, nice orange headband and the t-shirts run small!
Here are some more photos from the race. Have you done the challenge? Let us know.
I think I found my new favorite running shoes – Merrell Mix Master Move. I was walking in my neighborhood by Runner’s High N Tri store in Arlington Heights and decided to check out what they have. As I walked closer to the back wall stacked with shoes I saw them. They were perfect, that color of red, the pattern, the shape, the sole, the style, everything looked perfect. Then, I picked them up… At that moment I did not understand if the whole world suddenly felt light or if my feet just broke away from the floor I was standing on. They were so light that I could barely feel their weight in my hand.
It was love from the first mile. Very comfortable, no blisters, rubbing me the right way on every run from 1 mile to 26.2 miles. Of course, socks play a huge role and I usually wear Dry Max running socks. The shoes are very light and have a thin sole compare to Asics DS trainer. These shoes are similar to Kinvara only not as soft. The sole is harder and it helps to feel the road better. These are great if you want to move close to minimal running but don’t want to run barefoot or in Vibram Five Finger.
The sizing runs a little big, about half size bigger than my Asics DS trainers. Since then I got 3 more pairs waiting for their turn to go out with me. Shouldn’t be too long…
One of my favorite places to run is right where I live. It is just too convenient, no parking to worry about, no hotels to book, mostly flat streets, nice people, and lots of trees. Furthermore, it feels great to wake up 30 minutes before a start of a race, walk a block, run, and when done walk home and enjoy breakfast with family.
Recently I ran Stampede 10k in Arlington Heights. It is only a block away from my house and I considered it my duty to run in that race. It is small but a very well run event. It goes through the streets of Arlington Heights but not thought the down town. Volunteers are great and some spectators were kind enough to turn on their water sprinklers to keep us cool.
At the end of the race there is plenty of food to choose from, such as: bananas, bagels, jamba juice, coconut water, watermelon and a few more. Also, the shower at the end of the finish line was a great idea.
I definitely recommend this run and plan to run it again next year!
“What ever your 100% looks like, give it.” – Lance Armstrong
Just finished reading Lance Armstrong’s “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life” on my Amazon Kindle which is way more convenient than carrying a book around. Was able to download the book using the WIFI feature, which was nice.
Picked that quote to summarize the book. To me it explains everything you need to know about Lance, his philosophy on life and how he inspires others to do great things. All you have to do in life is give 100%, no matter what it looks like. There is no prejudice in him, as long as you do the work then you have nothing to be ashamed of. Even if you don’t succeed, at least you will know that you gave it all.
The book itself is well written and is very interesting. It provides you with Lance Armstrong’s detailed history, from his childhood troubles, to his early start in triathlons, the cancer that taught him to live, and an improbable comeback to cycling that many people, including Lance, did not think was possible. Throughout the book you see the man that is now Lance Armstrong form piece by piece. There is also a very nice recap of Armstrong’s first two Tour de France wins. You get a little peek at what’s going on during the tour, between the teams, riders and the media.
The cancer that threatened to take away his life, taught him to live life to the fullest, to take care of himself, and take care of others. It seems that Armstrong was brought to this world to endure, be born again and live to tell others, encourage them and inspire.
Think what you want of Lance but when he was winning the Tour de France in the years of 1999-2005, I became a cycling fan and started cycling, which later brought me to triathlons. When I learned about the Armstrong foundation, I became aware and in my opinion that is why he is still here now, to spread the word and get people involved.
Ultra running? Maybe…
Just finished reading the Dean Karnazes book – Ultramarathon man: Confessions of an all-night runner. Very easy to read and is pretty interesting. At times, some people may think that Dean seems a little cocky but as you read the book you start to realize that it is just confidence in himself, his training and his goals/inspiration. He has great respect for the distance and the people who take up this or any other sport. You can see why many people would get into ultra running after reading something like this. It displays some of the joys but mostly the masochistic pain, both physical and mental, that you have to overcome. Ultra-marathons have their appeal, and some people love the pain and the ultra runners high associated with them. I am in awe of what some people are able to accomplish every day.
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes
I learned never to say never 7 years ago when I said that I would never participate in a marathon, and now here I am: a multiple marathon finisher with several long course triathlons and Ironman Wisconsin under my belt planning on when I will do another Iron distance race, an ultra or any other adventure that I can get myself into. I will never say no to an endurance event, if it comes my way, I will do it. I doubt that I will ever do a 100 mile race but I will not rule it out either. I will stick with triathlons for now and keep spreading the TriBug the best I can.
Any ultra’s on your schedule for 2013? Would you ever consider one?
“Three weeks later Chris’ legs are still numb. Four toenails have fallen out. He’s removed a large patch of skin from his severely-blistered foot. Another week later he is still having nightmares about his physical and psychological breakdown.”
- Chris Bergland and Scott Ludwig
This is the quote I thought would perfectly describe Scott Ludwig’s book, A Few Degrees from Hell: The 2003 Badwater Ultramarathon. Right away I have to tell you that I didn’t really have a desire to do Badwater before I read this book and after reading it and after my last long run training for a marathon in 80 degree weather, I still have no desire to put myself in the Death Valley. Badwater Ultramarathon is one of the toughest challenges a runner can face. Runners have to face temperatures that go to 130 degrees on a regular basis, melted shoes, sunburn, dust storms, blistered feet, hallucinations, exhaustion, scorpions, and anything else that you can imagine. There is a reason why every year so few people from the millions of runners even consider participating in this event. Even if you do decide on participating, you still go through a selection process and if you are selected you can try and conquer the 135 miles of pain that try and do their best to make you quit.
This book is composed of 26 different stories, different views of the same race. From ultra-marathon veterans like Pam Reed, Dean Karnazes, Marshall Ulrich who have completed Badwater multiple times, to first time Badwater participants like Scott Ludwig, the books author, who decided to brave the Death Valley and its dangers. The last story was written by a crew member and gives you an inside look at what the runner’s crew goes through. At some points all of the stories seem to be repetitive but each one has something that you can take away from it.
A very interesting read and if you ever considered participating in Badwater than this book has a lot of good information and insight that will be pretty useful for you. This book among a couple of others, made me want to consider getting into running ultras. Good luck!
I can now say that I am IRONMAN! After following my
brother’s training and his race at IMWI in 2010, I can finally join him. We are now the Ironmen, as one of our friends called us.
All I have to say about the whole year is that it has been tough, especially in the end where you can almost see the light but it is at the end of a 100 mile training bike ride or a 15 mile training run. Getting in those few last weeks of high volume training was really hard.Then came taper, a period where you let your body rest and by rest, I mean REST. Workouts are cut to a minimum. Instead of training 16-18 hours in your high volume weeks, you are down to 9-12 hours and lots of time to do nothing else but rest. You are going crazy waiting for race day to get here but on the positive side, you suddenly have the time to do things that you haven’t done since your Ironman training began. Now, I will go over almost everything that happened on that beautiful day in September. Almost everything, because there are some things that I just don’t remember.
Friday: Athlete Check-In & Thai
The day we left for Madison, WI was here before I knew it and we were off on our 140 mile drive to Madison. What a great city and what great support they have for the race and triathletes who come there from around the world to do their best on the course. We arrived to Madison Friday around 4 pm and I was dreading standing in line at athlete check-in for a couple of hours, at least that’s what I heard it can be toward the end of the last day. Surprisingly it went by pretty quickly. Got my weight recorded, signed some waivers and picked up the race packet. I was very excited to finally get all of this stuff, it meant that the race itself was not far away at all. Soon I was done with the check-in and decided to go through the Ironman store with my wife, Julia. After the store, we decided to take a stroll through downtown Madison and then headed to the hotel to check-in. Friday was the evening for me to load up on carbs for the race. Anything in the downtown Madison area pretty much guaranteed that we would be standing in line since all of the athletes needed to carbo-load, so we picked Sa-Bai Thong, a Thai place just outside of Madison, which ended up being a pretty good idea. After dinner we went downtown once again to walk around and then headed home to get some sleep.
Saturday: Bike Check-In & Italian
Saturday was a pretty uneventful day except for bike check-in and transition bag drop off. After dropping off the bike and making sure everything was OK, I dropped off the run and bike transition bags and headed to the Ironman store once again. I was eying some things that I would get after finishing the race. After bike drop-off we decided to get some lunch at a place downtown where me and my brother ate when in Madison for training, Francesca’s Al Lago. It seemed like they were a little understaffed for that busy weekend but the food was good and we were not in a hurry. After lunch we headed back to the hotel where I passed out on the bed for a couple of hours, even though I was trying hard to stay awake so I can get a good night’s sleep before the race.
Around 8:00 pm, my brother Konstantin, his wife Anna and their daughter Gabrielle drove up. They came for mental support for me and to take photos of the race for www.tribug.com. While waiting for them to drive up from Chicago, heavy rain started coming down in Madison and all of my thoughts were concentrated on them getting to us safely and my bike not getting washed out into lake Monona. We chatted for a couple of hours and soon it was time to say good night. Julia and Konstantin would drive up with me at 5 am and would be there the whole day, Anna and Gabrielle would join us later.
That night I did not go to sleep till about 1:00 am. My alarm was going to go off at 3:30 am. I knew sleeping earlier during the day was not going to be of any help.
Sunday: Max…You are an Ironman
My alarm rang at 3:30 am. I was already too nervous and excited to go back to sleep so no snooze this time. I got up, ate breakfast, drank some coffee and went to take a shower to warm up and wake up myself even more. Before I knew it, my brother was knocking on our door, he was all ready to go.
We packed our things into the car and headed to the race site. It was about a 10 minute drive and soon we were parking and walking down toward the Monona Terrace. The town was still asleep by the terrace was filled with athletes, support crews, relatives, race organizers and pets.
I went to the bike transition area and dropped off water bottles filled with Gatorade and water, then I went to get my number marked on me and at the end, dropped off a few things that I forgot to put into the transition bags. Then I met up with Julia and Konstantin and we just hung out until about 30 minutes before the start.
Body Glide is a lifesaver and if not for it then a lot of athletes would be in a lot of pain. Soon my wetsuit was on and we were heading down the parking lot helix to the swim start. That nervous feeling was beginning to creep up again. I said “Bye” to my wife and brother and got in line to get into the water. As soon as I hit the water, the nervous feeling was gone and I started making my way further away from the shore. After wading for a few minutes, the canon went off and the race was on.
First 20 minutes of the swim is pretty much like swimming in a washing machine. You are hitting the people ahead of you with your arms and the people behind you with your feet. For the most part, I swam the first 20 minutes with my head out of the water so that I see who is in front of me and so that I don’t get hit in the face. After the first 2 left turns, the crowd thinned out and I was able to get into a nice pace. My left shoulder started to hurt a lot, not sure why. Other than the shoulder hurting, the rest of the swim went great.
Transition from the swim to bike was 9:39 minutes and I thought I was moving fast. The volunteer tossed everything out of my transition bag and helped me put everything on. It was a bit chilly so I decided to put on my arm warmers and kept them on until the run.
Bike started out great. I felt rested and nothing hurt for the first 40 miles. At mile 60 I started to have doubts whether I can run a marathon after biking for 52 miles more. I saw my wife and brother on the first loop and saw them with Anna and Gabrielle on the second loop. It was great seeing familiar faces and knowing that they were out there tired and hungry but still waiting to see and support me. At mile 90, I could not wait to get off the bike and the last 22 miles seemed to go on forever. Soon though, I saw the Monona Terrace, was
riding up the parking lot helix and was handing my bike to a volunteer. I took my cycling shoes off and tried to run into the transition area on my wobbly two legs. That was an interesting experiment.
Transition to the run was much faster but it could still be improved. It took me 5:06 minutes to get all of the bike gear out of my jersey, take the arm warmers off, put gels and a 5 hour energy shot in my pockets and get in a quick bathroom break.
The first 3 miles were more of a shuffle then a run. I had to walk a few times to get my Another 6.5 miles of running and we are back in downtown Madison, so close to the finish line and yet we still have 13 miles left. I asked for my special needs bag, looked into it, dropped off a small body glide that I was carrying with me and left. I was happy that my feet were not rubbing and nothing was hurting. The next 6 miles included more of the same, some running but mostly walking, especially on the Observatory Hill. I get to the second loop turnaround and once again see my wife and my brother which, with a ton of other people and volunteers, helped me run through that portion of the course.feetready for the 26 mile trek. After the first few miles I got into a rhythm and would walk only the aid stations. I would alternate and take in water at one aid station and take in Gatorade at the next. The cramps that showed some sign of life on the bike never appeared and I was very happy. Mile markers for the first and second loop were placed close together and all through that first loop I was imagining what it will be like running the second loop and wishing it was the second loop already. After walking/running the Observatory hill, I was finally at the turnaround and that is where I got to see my family and friends. I ran through the whole portion, hugged my wife, high fived my brother and felt great. 18 miles to go.
The next 6.5 miles were the toughest and the best for me. I knew that this day would be over soon but it was coming to an end much faster than I thought. The Observation Hill seemed much longer this time around and seeing my family seemed to help a lot more. The miles kept going by and soon I was at the State St. heading toward the finish. I was trying to push it at the end but a slight uphill took it out of me and I had to walk a bit. Once that hill was over I regained some strength and started running towards the finish line.The finish line chute was amazing. I was pumped up on the energy of all the spectators and volunteers, high-fiving the families and kids who came out to see their athlete finish this amazing journey. When I stepped over the finish line, I knew it was over. I cannot say that I wanted to do it all over again that minute but I knew that this wasn’t my last Ironman triathlon. A little later I got my medal, my Ironman hat and t-shirt and some water. I made sure that the volunteer who helped me walk everywhere knew that I was ok and that I didn’t need any medical attention. I made my way to the exit, saw my wife and gave her a big hug. Everything felt great!
Total: Swim – 1:07:10 + Bike – 6:12:04 + Run – 4:46:32 + (T1 – 9:39, T2 – 5:06) = 12:20:31
We met up with my brother, his wife and their daughter after the race, got my bike and transition bags and went to the hotel. I took a long hot shower and then we ordered a couple of pizzas as an additional prize for finishing the race. We wanted to go back and watch the athletes who would come in closer to the cut off time but everyone was a little tired so we didn’t, which I still regret. We will definitely do it next time.
I was worried about what I would wear for the race but at the end I decided to go with the De Soto TriBib shorts, which worked out great. It has side pockets that I used to hold my gels on the run and bike and it has the bib part that held it nicely in place for the duration of the race.
After completing this race, all I have to say is “I WILL BE BACK!”.
I went on a run this morning. I woke up at 5:23am and decided that I can get four miles in before the day starts.
As I walked out the door, I saw my neighbor. He was chilling in the 40F degree weather and smoking. He told me he couldn’t sleep and that he should be doing what I’m doing.
Usually, when I go on the run that early, I only see an occasional skunk that is coming home after a long night. This time I met face-to-face with eight different runners on the way. I felt like there is a race and I missed it, and I hate missing races close to home.
Then I realized, after all, it is the marathon season and Chicago marathon is just around the corner. It will go back to normal in a couple months; it will only be me, my smoking neighbor, and my little stinky friends.
*Image taken from http://www.fanpop.com/spots/skunk-fu/images/5456114/title/running-skunk-photo