Tough Mudder: Part 1

So 6 months ago I agreed to be part of a Tough Mudder team comprised of a bunch of folks from my gym. To put this into perspective, most of the people on the team are fitter, faster and stronger than me.

Those 6 months went by very fast. I should have done some extra things to prepare, like running hills or running, period. Thankfully my cardio wasn’t totally shot since we made ample use of the rowing machines at CrossFit during the winter. I also signed up for the O Course (again) 2 weeks prior to the Mudder Event to get some distance running in (8km) along with some practice with obstacles. I was surprised by how well I handled the run and I finished in the top third of people there.

This takes us to the few days before the event. I took a few days off of going to CrossFit to rest up. I also went to Mountain Equipment Co-Op and picked up some Merrell TrailGloves and snacks (gels) to consume while on the course. Stupidly, I also started watching YouTube videos of people doing the obstacles. Bad Idea!. I started worrying about getting electrocuted. There are tons of videos of people doing epic faceplants while getting zapped running through Electroshock Therapy… the last obstacle. I didn’t worry about the walls, water or mud.

My family was supposed to come with me but Cooper had a birthday party to go to on the same day and it had a cool murder mystery theme… so they stayed behind and I set out solo.

I drove out early… way earlier than needed since I thought the drive was going to be bad. It really wasn’t. We were directed to park in a huge field and then we’d get bussed to the final location. It was COLD and RAINY and my feet got soaked waiting for the bus. I didn’t see any of the team yet and didn’t expect to until a little later on. The bus ride was around 30 minutes long and there were lots of people making nervous jokes about the days upcoming events. I could have been the oldest guy on that specific bus.

We got to Mount St Louis Moonstone… a ski hill, where the event was staged. A SKI HILL… nice.. We filed out of the bus to the entry stalls where they checked our ID, made sure we signed our 4 page Death Waivers and then they put our bracelets on… one for entry to the beer tent at the end, one for my bag drop and one for entry to the starting gate. I’m guessing that the folks there to cheer people on got some other color.

Once inside the gates, the place teemed with energy. It had the feel of a very, very small Olympic Village… tons of port-a-potties, a huge tent with merchandise (where people went to get warm) and tents with vendors set up… who offered tons of free samples. They also had a closed off Beer Area set up along with a stage where some DJ was making announcements and playing music.

I walked around for around 2 hours trying to stay warm… I had time to kill. Our team’s start time was noon. We were in the second to last group to head up the mountain… did I mention we were on a SKI HILL? Anyways… I hung out around the Start/Finish line. I managed to catch several of the earlier teams head out and was eager to see someone come across the Finish line. There were some interesting costumes on display. Tons of teams got dressed up. Some like their favorite superheroes, some like bees and some like Chippendale’s Dancers. I was cold and I had leggings, shorts, a long sleeve moisture wicking shirt and a Dri-Fit T-Shirt over that. I couldn’t imagine how cold those folks were. I kept bouncing around between the Clif Bar Vendor Tent and the starting gate. Eventually I bumped into a bunch of my teammates and we stuck together until the start time.

We headed to the Starting Line and started stretching… last chance to warm up a little before the Big Show starts up. By then we started to see more and more people go through the finish line.. some faceplanting did occur. Also noticeable was that the mountain that was once green just a few hours before was now turning brown, as hundreds of people chew up the course.

As we readied ourselves and take a group “before” picture, Matt from our box comes by. He had done the run earlier in the day… around 8:30am or so and finished in 1 hour and 50 minutes… he also volunteered to run it again with us. Not a knock on Matt… who I now believe is some undercover superhero, but when someone tells you they ran it in under 2 hours and had enough energy to run it again, I start to think that this thing is actually not as hard as I thought it was.

So there we were.. Navin, Syd, Matt, Sarah, Karl, Michelle and myself heading to the Start Line, our numbers pinned to our shirts, not saying too much. We collectively scale a wall to get to the starting gate (yeah… an obstacle on the way to the starting gate) and the announcer starts his speech. As he does so… I can’t help but think that we’re on a freaking  SKI HILL! Click here to see the race announcer get everyone psyched up… same guy but different speech for us. He was awesome. Off we go!


Back Issue Reboot

So on March 14 (like a jinx) I messed up my back again. My son (5 years old) had a nightmare and my wife brought him into our room so he’d get to sleep. My wife took up 50% of the bed, my  year old starfishes and took up 45% of the bed and I managed to hang on to the edge… I held some really bad posture for hours and wrecked my back… missed work the next day and symptoms showed like either sciatica or piriformis syndrome… not sure which it is but leaning towards piriformis. Been doing the stretches for it daily, walking a lot to loosen it up and trying not to sit much as that causes pain over time.Good news is that its taken about 2 weeks to get to normal, last time it took a month, covered here.

This also means I’ve been away from the treadmill and yoga studio since the last post. But I go back tomorrow for the usual Tuesday Night Prep Yoga session… small class and lots of focus… looking forward to it.

In the meantime, the weight has been coming off nicely. Been eating responsibly… not feeling hungry… snacking on the right stuff throughout the day.

So current stats:

Height: 5’11″

Weight: 200lbs (down 5 from 2 weeks ago, target is 185 for now)

BMI: 27.9 (target is 25.8)

After Day 1

I’ll keep this short and sweet and state what most of you likely already suspect…

I’m in pain… the good pain is in the shoulders and calves… the bad pain is in the lower back. Not sure what happened there but my back stiffened up like a board the next day. I stretched the crap out of it every hour… downward dog and cobra pose at work… looks like I’ll be going back on Friday… hoping the back stuff works itself out a little between now and then. That’s 3 full days.

Monday: 210 lbs

Thursday: 208 lbs

Could be water… eating breakfast… mostly Kashi Go Lean at breakfast. No processed foods at lunch or dinner.

I’ve said this before of the Instructor… this guy is what gives Freddie Kruger nightmares.




Day 1: OMFG

So the day started off nice. I took the day off and slept in. In the afternoon, the family went out to see Tangled. Funny flick. Then 5PM rolled around and it was time to head out to Boot Camp. I purposely didn’t think too much about it all day… I didn’t want to psych myself out.

My wife and I got there early-ish… 5:25 or so… the class started at 5:45. We chatted with the instructor for a while. Nice guy but serious. He’s the kind of guy that could get someone who was bigger than him to back down. If you hit him, you’d hurt your hand. He said good things about my wife’s tenacity in the class. I was still pretty calm at this point. I… got… this!

Little by little more people started to show up. Hard to tell fitness level by just a look. Two of the students had awesome T-Shirts from the Boot Camp that read “Your Workout is my Warm Up”. I really liked them… this coming from a guy who thoroughly enjoys some trash talk. There was talk about doing some running. While more folks came in, the instructor started moving equipment around the room. It didn’t take a genius to understand that he was setting up 5 stations for a circuit. Heart rate starting to go up a little bit.

Class was underway and started off in a seemingly innocent way. Stretching with a partner. Wife and I were split up for the class… likely to keep us from colluding to make the hour an easy one.

The we started the warm up… OMFG… it was 20 minutes (I think… time seemed to stop). 20 minutes of intense burn, poor balance and lactic acid creation. The instructor called what we were doing Plyometrics… I have other names for it. I kept thinking back to the T-Shirts… I think the two women who wore them choose the shirts as a form of subconscious warning… I missed that sign.

Once the so-called warm up was done, we moved on to the circuits. There were 10 lb medicine balls, a 15 lb bar, kettle bells, 5lb hand weights and an evil wheel with handles. Simple objects to most people… now main characters in fitness themed nightmare. I got through the circuit. It wasn’t perfect. I need work on the form and endurance. The one thing that made me feel better is the fact that it was still hard for folks who have been coming to the class forever and sometimes come 2x per day. There were people WAY more fit than me… there were maybe 3-4 people less fit… so I got a lot of room to move.

When the never-ending circuit was finished we stretched some more… a repeat of some of the stuff we did at the start of the class. I’ve done lots of stretches back in the day (by the day I mean the period between 1980 and 1990 when I played a ton of soccer). I miss those days… I would characterize what we did as extreme stretching. How can stretching hurt… this guy found a way. Clearly, everything was going to be hard.

We ended with planks… there were 21 people in the class and we had to hold the plank position as we all counted off… if anyone messed up we started again… holding a plank for 21 seconds is pretty freaking hard (for me). It took 6 iterations before we got it all the way around. I have a funny feeling that the instructor would have found something wrong regardless and 6 iterations was the minimum.

I think the planks is where the class ended… the time between doing them and putting on my speakers is a blur. My wife drove us home… I was nauseous. I barely spoke. I had some meatloaf at 2PM… missed breakfast cause I slept in. Everything hurt. All my limbs weighed a ton. I popped to Robax as a preventative measure and still need to stretch some more. Chiropractor tomorrow to start off the day.

I ate after I got home and now I feel better. I’m looking at going on Wednesday. I think I can take it for the 60 minutes. Nothing could be harder than today. One down… not looking forward to Day 2.






The Chiropractor (Sequel to The Event and the Quest)

Not the best of sequels… much like Transformers 2 was to Transformers 1.

The next morning (7am) I went to see the Chiropractor. I ambled down my street, it wasn’t a pretty walk, took a right where it cuts Queen Street and walked 3 minutes. Three minutes shouldn’t be a long time… but it was.

I pre-assessed myself on [insert name of well-known medical website with built-in symptom checker]… and lo and behold, I either had a cold or spinal tumor. [insert name of well know medical website with built-in symptom checker] really does cover some landscape…some help that was…

I think I was the first appointment of the day and didn’t have to wait long to see the Doctor.

An assessment was done and it was determined that there was no issue with a nerve or disc or sciatic stuff. Phew…

What I did find out was that my left hip flexor was shorter and tighter than my right one. This is largely based on poor posture, terrible seating habits, long periods in a chair in front of a computer and no exercise. To be clear, I would rank the no exercise as the leading contributor.

I had no idea that the stuff on the inside could get so out of kilter… it’s not like that with the outside stuff. I’m right-handed and it’s not like one hand is freakishly smaller than the other one.I guess maybe that’s the way it works with eyes… but are eyes considered inside stuff or outside stuff… or maybe they’re a hybrid.

Back to the back. So why all the pain and the locking of the back? Well when the flexor shortens, the lower back tends to straighten to compensate. Like a domino effect, other things that shouldn’t happen, start to… and some major nerve somewhere gets messed up, making movement near impossible. Slamming down the car hood sprained the lower back and there was inflammation somewhere around L5… you can refer to the diagram here:

Yellow and Green make ouch

The way Doc explained it, there was that not one single massive event that really triggered the issue… it would have happened doing something else (like tying my shoes or taking my laptop out of its docking station).  It was a case of drops in a bucket eventually overflowing. It kind of reminds me of century club (the drinking contest)… it’s not the first 10 or 20 shots that get you… it’s shot 46.  I’ve grown to resent that you only use that saying (drops in a bucket) when bad things happen. I also hate “Death by 1000 paper cuts”… after 17 paper, I’d likely want to be put out of my misery. Why is the gold standard for paper cut death 1000?

Anywhoo…Doc prescribed some rest and other stuff to manage the inflammation. I ended up working from home. I went back every day that week. Three times the following week and now I’m down to twice a week. Doc gave me a sheet of stretches I have to do as homework. Back is better… still a little stiff. I could likely stop here… continue the stretches and assume that the flexor could get to a desired state. If that were the case, the blog would be called “DumoGoesToChiropractor” and would not be that interesting to write about. It might be tweet-worthy but definitely not blog-worthy. There is madness and a rant behind my reasoning and I’ll post it next time.

The Event and the Quest

[The Event]

It was February 7, 2011… coming off a Month End and heading to work pondering the drive ahead of me. Not so much the semi-short drive to work… but rather the longer 90 minute drive to Buffalo (for business meetings). I volunteered to drive myself and 3 others for meetings and expected to be back later in the day. I rolled into the parking lot feeling pretty good about the day ahead. It was all sunshine and roses.

PowerPoint done the day before… check. Car filled with gas… check. Blackberry charged… check.

Weather not so great so I better be proactive and fill up the wiper fluid.

Nothing sucks more than driving on a highway with the mix of salt and grime spraying onto your windshield. Luckily, it being winter, I had a full container of wiper fluid in the car.

I grab it and I pop the hood. Will the guys mind if we listen to the all 80s channel on Sirius? Cutting Crew… Behind the music comes on at 9:30am.

I fill up the wiper fluid receptacle. Why is it always blue? Who made that decision?

I grab the car hood. They should have a button for closing the hood, they have buttons for everything else. Maybe I’ll invent one. Maybe they never invented one cause it’s hard to mess up closing the hood.

I slam it shut. Hmm… that was odd. DOH! I think I messed up closing the hood.

Something felt wrong… real wrong… the kind of wrong that will hurt more later…the kind of wrong that you know will take a while to go away. The same wrong feeling you get after eating suicide chicken wings on a dare… the feeling that you did something dumb, that it’s bad now… but also that it’s about to get much worse.

Since I was the sole driver, I decided to soldier on. The guys piled in and we got to Buffalo on time. Ninety minutes later we got out of the car and made our way to reception… and my lower back was pissed at me. So pissed that it decided to make walking difficult. So pissed that leaning to one side shot pain through my back and legs that threatened to force my needs to buckle. So pissed that it made me mess up the name of my host 3 times… even though I’ve known her for 4 years. Not cool Mr. Back!

We didn’t wait too long until our gracious host came down and escorted us up to our meeting room. I must have looked like I was 105 going up those stairs. Nothing against 105 year-olds. I just don’t picture them doing awesome with stairs.

Someone found some pain killers and anti-inflammatories and I popped them like Tic-Tacs. Sitting wasn’t good, standing was a challenge and lying down would have looked funny. During a break, I emailed a chiropractor that is a 6 minute walk from my place. The office was easy to Google and I knew I’d need to see him.

[The Quest]

The meetings went well and we’re now off to dinner. Our host noticed the pain I was in and volunteered to escort us to a drug store where I could find something with a little more punch. If I could get my hands on some Robax Platinum, I would be the happiest person in the world… but I was to be denied… seems as if the FDA rules in the US are different than in Canada and Robax is not available without a prescription. Up until this moment every buying experience I’ve had in the US was one full of glee and wonderment… hours spent in Target, Wegman’s, Khol’s, Macy’s, all of them happy, wiped out at the RiteAid.

My Holy Grail

Dinner was nice but my back was having none of it. It was dark by the time we left and I was eager to get home. I still had to drop off the crew. Home was where Robax was.  Home was where I could get horizontal. Home.

To be continued…