Commando Series with my son

This year was the third year that I have taken part in Commando Series.  It has always been my season ender for OCR and I always feel like I end on a high as I genuinely love this event.  And this year I took part with my son so it made it extra special.  He has taken part in two obstacle runs before but it is not often so this was a lovely treat for me.  However, he was not happy with me as he had asked if he would get wet and muddy and I had said not really – this was a little white lie and he found that out pretty quickly and was not overly impressed though we did laugh about it.  I mean its a muddy obstacle run – I thought he was joking when he asked hence my answer.

Commando is set in the gorgeous Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, and gardens and its just stunning there and this run uses the grounds and streams and is something I love rather than an urban event.  I have done a previous write up you can read here.

This year there were some new obstacles and the route was slightly different so it was exciting to see the changes that had been implemented.  In previous years, following the warm up, we made our way to the start line and the run began.  This year instead we made our way to the end of the lake and all boarded a a landing craft that then took us across the end of the lake where the run began.  This was one of the new obstacles called ‘D-Day Landings,’ and is explained as follows:

‘a landing craft experience, based on ‘Operation Neptune’ from World War II – otherwise known as ‘D-Day’. Royal Marine Commandos were transferred ashore on similar vessels from much larger ships during the D-Day landings, whilst having to encounter many obstacles. Recruits will experience the combined thrill and terror of the ramp lowering under fire, having to take cover using hedgehogs, and finally neutralising the enemy. Keep your nerve as you step into the shoes of our WWII Commandos. ‘

Another one of the new obstacles required balance – I am always terrible at these sort of obstacles and as most people get over quickly I am usually teeny tiny steps whilst pleading with the person behind not to get on and wobble it – in this case my son.  I feel like I could be the first person to fall off!  It was called ‘The Mole’ and is explained as follows:

‘Testing Commandos’ speed, balance, team work and accuracy, recruits must balance on a ship’s gangway before launching onto the cargo net and climbing to the top of the mole. All done whilst carrying ‘grenades’, ‘The Mole’ is inspired by the daring 1918 Zeebrugge Raid, encouraging high level performance under pressure. Aiming to neutralise the enemy using ‘grenades’ upon their descent. Recruits must keep their nerve, show dexterity, and maintain a low profile.’

I was pleased to get to the slide – I remember this from the media event for this run and its surprising how much speed you can get on this.  I went first and could see my sons face as he zoomed down the wet tarpaulin, which was quite funny.  Not quite as funny as when he came out of the ‘leap of faith’ obstacle, which is a steep windy tube slide and he flew out of the end of it!

It wasn’t long before we had reached Peter’s Pool and I knew this was where we were about to get cold!  This is effectively a lake crossing and again I remembered from the media event a tree trunk about half way across to climb over.  The water was as cold as I thought it might be and it really takes your breathe away.  This probably wasn’t the best time to stop and get a photo together before we got out ha ha!

Sheep dip came around quicker than I thought and I knew that my son would be sitting this one out as he had recently had a tattoo and was trying not to fully submerge the top part of his arm in the muddy water along the course.  I was wearing my usual Mudd Queen kit, which is recognised by many who take part in these events and as he was wearing his Spartan top the marshal decided it would be fun for him to complete air squats as I did the obstacle and so I took my time (it was funny at the time I promise).

We finished with the 12 foot wall and as we crossed the finish line for the 1 lap course the first finisher for the 2 lap course finished – that was a tad embarrassing but kudos to him!

It was good to see more people at the event this year.  I feel like this event is not as known as the more mainstream OCR events but it really should be and those that have taken part would know why I say that.  I’ve noted in my previous post that you can decide the difficulty or your entry from just getting round (which was what we did) or to be treated as a commando so you see many doing additional exercises and carrying bergens and wooden rifles to mimic how a Commando would complete training like this.

It was nice to see the positive posts on social media that this event deserves and I hope to see it get bigger and bigger as years go on. Even nicer that as you finish you run past the castle itself and the poppies down the front of the building are gorgeous and with the event falling on remembrance weekend was a fitting tribute.

But don’t just take my word for it here is some feedback from a couple of others who took part in Commando Series at the weekend:

Claire Rosser from Team Elements

‘A great Sunday taking newbies around Commando Series – fab course and a good reminder of what OCR is all about – FUN!’

img_5450

Vince James founder of OCR Wrongens

‘Blown away at just how much year on year this event gets better and better.  Great work Commando Series this is a gem of a race.  The team loved it.’

If you want to get involved next year then tickets are available here!

My race entry was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

CrossFit

What do you know of CrossFit?  To me it was this thing I watched on TV and was amazed at these people who appeared to be super human.  I had the pleasure of seeing it up close and personal earlier in the year when I was at training camp at Club La Santa Lanzarote with my triathlon club, Havering Tri, as there were some CrossFit Games athletes there training.  Yes, I was the person who asked for a photo and I was the person who walked past and ended up standing staring in amazement at what these people can do.

I was so intrigued with what was involved and when I found that there was a CrossFit box close to home I knew I wanted to give it a try and that is how I started with Iron Phoenix CrossFit.  That was over a month ago now and I’ve had several people ask me about it – what is it like, what do we do, that were exactly the same sort of questions that I had.

iron phoenix

What is CrossFit? CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.

I first of all took part in a free taster session so I could join in and see what it was all about and I dragged my husband along so I would at least know one other person.  I left a sweaty mess but loved it.  The worst bit was listening to my husband moan about his abs for the rest of the week.

To attend regular sessions you have to attend a fundamentals class.  The fundamentals is necessary to complete prior to attending sessions to teach you how to move safely and effectively.  Once this was complete I was good to go.

I had heard that CrossFit is like a community and the people in the box are all super friendly and they were right.  I attend the 6am sessions and so see the same faces and that actually makes me feel more comfortable.  The sessions are different every day and one of the ladies I’ve met, Jules, has been at this box for 18 months and said she’s never done the same WOD twice.

And I realise I’ve said WOD, which some people will read and be like yeah I know what you are saying or if you are like I was when I first started I would nod my head and wonder what all these weird acronyms were so here are some:

  • WOD – workout of the day.  I found a definition of this once which described it as tortuous, makes you want to cry, feel like a rock star after, workout – which is pretty damn accurate!
  • AMRAP – as many rounds/reps as possible.  You might be asked to record the reps so you can track progress.
  • EMOM – every minute on the minute.  You might be set a list of exercises and every minute on the minute you do them in a certain order.
  • Box – this is the name for the gym.  Why is it called a box?  A box is usually a box shaped space – no posters or mirrors that you would get in an everyday gym.  Think less bells and whistles but everything you need to get your workout done.
  • RX – this refers to a WOD as prescribed ie with no scaling done so using weights etc as listed.
  • HSPU – hand stand push up.  I don’t need to worry about this for now.

There are a ton more but to be honest I am only a month in and I am still learning this myself.

img_5163

What happens if you can’t do something?  I tend not to look in advance at the workouts as I am sure I would talk myself out of going but there would be no need as literally everything can be scaled.  For example handstand push ups you could do that or a scaled version where you kneel on a box and simulate the same movement doing the push up part on the floor or you can do a push up with hands on the box.  In short there is always an alternative to give you just as good a workout and still push you based on your ability.

Does other training help do CrossFit?  I run (terribly) and do obstacle runs (again not brilliantly) and cycle and so thought I am sure that will translate in some way for example on the assault bike.  The assault bike is not an ordinary bike, you use both your arms and legs on it – you need to pump the handle bars with your arms while also cycling with your legs to give more of a full body exercise.  It’s not the same as cycling or even being on a turbo trainer so I am not sure much of my cycling ability helps at all!

What if you are the slowest or get the least amount of reps?  At the end of some of the WODs you put your score on the board – this might be the number of reps you completed or the time you took to complete a set workout.  This terrified me to begin with – the thought of putting up what I assumed would be an embarrassing number compared to other peoples.  BUT I can honestly say no one cares!  Not once have I worried about putting a score on the board.  There is a variation of exercises being done for example in the WOD on Monday one activity had the following scaling options:

  • Muscle up or chest to bar or pull ups or ring rows or dips

So in short the number completed is completely personal to you and not comparable.  The idea is to put in max effort for you and that is all.

What should you expect from the sessions?  To be sweaty, tired but feel great after – much like the definition of the term WOD that I put earlier.  I am not worried any longer about working on a piece of equipment with sweat literally dripping off me.  I am not worried about finishing a WOD and just laying on the floor – I didn’t even care when I left a sweaty arse mark on the floor – I was too tired from the WOD itself to care and to be honest there were several of us laying on the floor spent! Towards the end of a WOD earlier in the week I fully thought my wall ball was on point but was tired and clearly not enough effort – ended up completely missing the target and the ball went across the box – yep I’m that girl!

img_9052

What are the coaches like?  I can only go by the coaches at Iron Phoenix but so far I have had Ashley, Alina, Ian, Omar, and Lucy and they’ve all been great.  Really patient even with all my stupid questions especially after the briefing of what we will be doing when they say everyone understand what they are doing and everyone nods and I laugh and say I don’t understand all of it but will follow someone else or ask again what something means.  Always on hand with loads of tips and advice.  Constantly watching that form is correct, monitoring progress and amending scaling as necessary – on Monday I was doing my box jumps standing on two 20kg plates rather than the floor (box jumps are something I need more confidence with as I am never sure I will actually jump high enough to land on the box and sure I will just whack my shin on the corners) and Omar noticed I was jumping high enough to remove one of the plates whilst putting my mind at rest that I am jumping high enough to do so – and I didn’t whack my shins either so bonus!

Do you need to stretch?  There is always a dynamic warm up session before any workout so you are completely ready and stretching after, in my opinion, is a must.  You are doing so many different exercises and utilising muscles you might not usually use that without stretching you will become sore and stiff pretty quickly!  I have started doing yoga at home following my sessions and it definitely helps me.

And who knew skipping was so bloody hard? It’s like when you try monkey bars as an adult and think yeah did that as a kid, going to nail it. Ha think again! Skipping is exhausting and double unders? Basically the skipping rope going round twice per jump – wowsers that’s going to take some work!

So why should you try it?  Well why not?  I find myself explaining it to people as so hard but so good and it is just that.

If you are local to me as well there is an awesome offer on at Iron Phoenix CrossFit that includes a free taster session, fundamentals and then 12 sessions after that for £60.

Go Bites – I am a fan!

I have written a previous post on fuelling for events and make no excuses for the fact that I am a total food snob and like to know exactly what I am eating especially when fuelling for events.  I won’t preach that one way is better than another as I think it is a completely personal thing and what works for one very easily could not work for someone else.  I have found, for me, this has been very trial and error.  In the post, that can be read here, I talk about Go Faster Food.

I first met with Kate and Sophie from Go Bites on a Skype call where they found out more about me and vice versa.  It was nice to talk to two inspiring ladies who were passionate about the product and keen to understand more of what my goals were and how I could use their product to help.

A little more about these ladies – Sophie is a personal trainer, registered nutritionist and has a masters in sport and exercise nutrition and is also an amazing sportswoman too.  Kate is the face of the brand and one of the founders.  Both of these ladies are extremely active and their passion is evident as they are working on a product and brand that they use themselves.

Earlier in the year I attending a training camp in Lanzarote and went armed with my go bites for fuel for cycling and running.  I also took spare and dished them out to many people within my triathlon club and they were well received!  I have also used these balls when participating in two half marathons with a friend who subsequently used them herself when she took part in another half marathon.

The book they have has also provided some staple recipes that now form part of my event routine such as the overnight oats, porridge and there is always a jar of granola in my kitchen now too.  If you check out their website you can find some free recipes that could interest you.

I was excited to learn that there would be three new flavours added to the range and of course didn’t pass up on the opportunity to try these and give some feedback.  The flavours available now are:

  • Date and coconut boost balls
  • Raspberry and cacao boost balls (NEW)
  • Apricot and seed refuel balls
  • Strawberry and cashew refuel balls (NEW)
  • Hazlenut and cacao recover balls
  • Blackcurrant and blueberry recover balls (NEW)

What are they like? I really like them.  They fit perfectly into a running belt, cycle jersey pocket or bike bag and also my handbag as a snack!  I have also been adding them cut up to my porridge of a morning.

So in short the new flavours get a thumbs up from me, with the raspberry and cacao balls being my favourite, and I look forward to using them more in the future as my training continues through the winter.

These go bites are all gluten, wheat, dairy free with no added sugar free and are also vegan. Using 100% natural ingredients is certainly something that appeals to me to ensure I am more conscious about what I am fuelling myself with.

If you would like to try the Go Bites you can use code TASTER20 for 20% off your first order over £9.99.

The product I received was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Tracking your fitness goals

Are you on a weight loss or fitness journey? Do you track your food and fitness progress?  I do.  I am a sucker for stationery anyway and I like taking note of what workouts I have done and what weights I used.  I also like to note when I have had a good workout and it gives me an easy reference to see what I ate or did if I had a good or bad workout so I can see if I can determine the cause.  I also use this method to add in certain events/goals and can work backwards to determine what training I should be doing in the lead up.  Don’t get me wrong I know this is not for everyone but for me I have found it super useful.

The NHS quotes that ‘digital technology is transforming the way you can manage and improve your health.  Apps and other digital tools are effective ways to share your goals, get advice and support, or talk to other people who can inspire you with their experiences.’

There are a number of fitness tracking mechanisms in the market now though all encourage an increase in fitness and physical activities for the users and some can assist with making your activities feel more like a game or fun activity with many offering challenges for example on Strava.  It also helps with personal accountability.  Although the Smart Fitness Planner is neither an app nor technology as such it works on the same basis.

smart fitness planner

I  recently agreed to trial and review The Smart Fitness Planner.  This sounded exactly like something I would get good use of and given the above I fit the demographic perfectly!  The format was an e-book and came with an intro explaining that the author was in competition with no one but herself and acknowledged the fact that she was not perfect.  She is someone who has been on a journey herself and is using what she has found useful to create this resource to share with others.

The e-book comes with a disclaimer explaining that it is intended as a planning tool to support you in your fitness makeover journey. It is not meant as a substitute for a comprehensive fitness and nutrition program, nor it is meant to replace the expertise and guidance of a fitness professional.

Before you start using the planner there is an invitation to some exercises which should encourage more mindfulness around what you are trying to achieve and by writing down intentions and your ‘why’ (why you are on this journey and doing what you are doing) you can remind yourself of this and refocus.

The planner follows the logic that is seen a lot, which is that the scale does not define you and so it is not centred around weekly weigh ins and instead gives space to update other metrics such as:

  • measurements once per fortnight
  • hunger and cravings
  • energy and mood
  • sleep

The planner can also be used for goal setting and works similar to the process I follow by setting goals in advance and then working backwards so you have a logical plan as to how you will work your way up to those achievements.

This is a great resource, if like me, you are into logging what you are doing and how you are feeling and being in electronic format means you can print off and reuse.  For a lot of people, myself included, having a visual can be a powerful reminder to understand and remember and also refocus if necessary.

How did I find the planner?  As I mentioned before this is something that I currently do on my own and I do see a benefit for myself though completely understand that some may find it a somewhat cumbersome exercise.  If I wasn’t already doing this I would be the exact person that would buy this and at £5.97 if this is something that interests you I would definitely check it out – I think I spent more on the diary I currently use.  I do, however, think that once you are doing this sort of thing you can easily do by yourself.  An additional benefit with this is inclusion in a Facebook group and sometimes being part of a community like that to exchange hints and tips can be invaluable.

I was given a copy of The Smart Fitness Planner, but all opinions are my own.

Beachy Head Marathon

Friends don’t let friends do stupid things alone do they?  So when a group of Mudd Queens mentioned signing up for Beachy Head marathon I suggested to my friend Emma we should do the same and so just like that we did.  It was months ago and seemed like we had an eternity to train and get prepared for it.  But my god did it come around quickly!

I am still being treated for an injury and so is Emma and I think both of us were thinking this would not happen and the closer it got the more we tried to ignore it.  We knew it was a tough course and we knew from others that there is a lot of the course most people walk, mostly because of the climbs and so we decided we would give it a go and see how we got on.  I was terrified if I am honest – this was ambitious.

img_5185

The game plan was to walk the uphills, jog the downhills and to jog/walk the flat sections.  I had seen the pictures of the start and new it was uphill almost immediately but until you get there and start that uphill you don’t realise it goes uphill and then round the corner uphill some more and then still there is more to come, just up and up.  So within the first mile I was really rethinking my life choices and wondering if this was the one stupid idea I’d had that was a step too far.

img_5186

It started really congested and took quite some time to spread out.  The run is all trails and takes on grass, mud, woodland, rocky paths, chalky paths and stairs – as if it was not hard enough there were a number of sets of stairs.  One set of stairs was called stairway to heaven – I would have called it stairway to hell only it was definitely going up and up and up.

The first check point came quicker than we realised and Emma and I found ourselves high-fiving for getting to 4.4 miles (yeah I know 4.4 into 26.2 was nothing but it felt like a small victory).  The second checkpoint at 8.8 miles and we stopped shortly after the 10 mile mark in a pub to use the toilets.  I was surprised that up until this point there had not been a single portaloo and I’m not too posh to pee in a bush if I need to but this was quite open so not many places to hide!

At the 10.6 mile mark Emma told me not to look up.  I looked up.  I wish I hadn’t.  It was of course another hill and the marshal at the foot of it said we were doing great and wished us good luck.  Emma and I looked at each other and I think it was then that we both realised this was hard and we had 16 miles left.  We went up that hill in silence after we had eaten some more mars bar from the check point and laughed at Emma’s now very large swollen hand (just the one hand always swells – and no that is no a mini mars bar that is just how big her hand had gotten).

img_5188

The next check point was 12.2 and we knew we were almost at the halfway point.  That should have made me feel better but it didn’t as I was thinking wow I have to do all that again.  What I didn’t realise was that the second half was harder.

Checkpoint 16.7 came and as we approached we could hear music and this was definitely the fun check point – a live band, sausage rolls, soup and porta loos – never have I been so pleased to see a porta loo!  This was also the stop we saw two ladies who were supposed to be doing the 10k but started with the marathon wave and just followed.  I am not quite sure how they didn’t hear the announcements at the start or how they missed the sign where it splits or how you get to 16.7 miles and only then realise you are on the wrong route.  Fair play to those ladies who carried on and I really hope finished!

img_5191

Emma and I had decided that we would hit a high and get our second wind once we hit the 20 mile mark.  The 20 mile mark was part way up yet another giant hill but it was still 20 miles in and still cause for a celebration in between catching breaths.  Another check point and hot cross buns and tea and coffee on offer too!  We were on the final stretch but my god did they make us work to get to that finish line.  The last 6 miles seemed to go on forever.  These were where we met the seven sisters or how I now call them the seven bitches.

The views were spectacular especially along the coastal part.  It stayed dry and although it was bright the cold wind was savage.

The hills absolutely sapped all energy and life from my legs – the plan of walk/jog the flats soon turned to walk on legs that were getting more and more stiff.  I couldn’t have made myself jog some parts even if I wanted and accepted that on some of the climbs even on a good day there would have been no way I would have been running them.  It was the first running event I had been to that was more a walking event for the majority of the field of participants.  We managed lots of laughs and smiles though – Emma is a much stronger runner than me and I am very grateful that she stayed with me for this event!

We must have spent several miles discussing in detail what we were going to eat that night.  It was going to be an Indian and this was what was keeping us going too.  I should note there was only one Indian within hobbling distance of our hotel Saturday night and they had no tables!  I am pleased I didn’t know this whilst on the event as I may have given up all hope.

I think I lost part of my soul somewhere on the seven bitches and when a fellow participant announce at 23 miles that we had 6 miles left I almost cried.  The final 1.2 miles saw us try and get a jog on.  My calves and quads had almost fully seized up by now and although my jog was probably as quick as most peoples walk I was surprised I made myself do it until I could hear the tannoy and as we started the descent I could see the finish.  Whilst I’m on the subject of walking – some of the participants out there with the walking sticks, man they are quick! I came to hate the sound of those sticks though as it meant I was being overtaken by a power walker or some of them used them like skis and I was scared of being whacked by one! I was going to finish this!  I did not appreciate with 100m or so to go the spectator telling me to sprint finish – I was pleased at this point I was still walking, there was absolutely no chance of a sprint!

img_5197

This was my longest distance I have ever covered, first marathon, first experience of Beachy Head and I can safely say never again. Ever.  It was absolutely not quick and it was in no way pretty but we got it done.  We completed Beachy Head Marathon.  Shortly after the event Emma tagged me in a post that said ‘there is nothing more beautiful than when you prove to yourself just how strong you are’ and although initially disappointed with how much this course took it out of me and my finish time, I am proud of what I achieved, what we achieved together.  This was not about a time, this was to complete it.

It was also my first experience of running with a hydration vest/backpack, which I got from Decathlon and it was awesome – didn’t even think about it being on and was so comfortable.  I also used my Craft Fuseknit top I was given to review and it was perfect, super comfy, and I didn’t feel too cold or hot – if it ticked the boxes for this event I think it will tick all the boxes for any events I have in future!

img_5214

Emma and I have now made an agreement that in future when one of us says shall we….. that we just interject with no.  We have silly ideas and each of us always says yes sure lets do it.

Getting up on Sunday was interesting as my ankles didn’t seem to want to bend so getting out of bed and to the loo was a monumental effort and on the way back it was easier to just faceplant the bed than try and lift my legs and climb up.  Think of the lyrics from the Ed Sheeran song ‘when your legs don’t work like they used to before’ well that’s me.  Today was no different, please send help – my legs hate me and I would like to say sorry to them but assure them I will never do this again!  Kudos to all those who run marathons and hike miles.  If you’ve not done it before and my post doesn’t totally put you off the entries for next year are now open and you can sign up here.

Spartan Trifecta Tribe

Slightly later than usual for me but it took longer than usual to defrost following the Spartan Beast at Windsor on Saturday!  Man was it cold! Wet and cold, for almost 15 miles and this made it tougher than usual.  The word I have seen across social media repeated over and over is brutal, and it was!

I set out at the beginning of 2018 with my best friend and PT, Emma, to complete my second trifecta and her first.  We had done the Sprint and Super earlier in the year in Kent over one weekend and Beast was the last of the set to complete.

Emma and I do almost all of the OCR events together and we are at different abilities but together it works – she is a better runner and walls and monkey bars are her thing, whereas I am more comfortable with the carries and weight obstacles.

Spartan have some standard obstacles you expect and there will always be one stand out that people end up talking about.  At the super earlier in the year it was the tyre carry which seemed to go on forever and this year was the second sandbag carry.  1.2 miles! 1.2 miles with a pancake shaped sandbag, it seemed there was no end in sight as we passed sandbags that had been discarded, but this was my thing and I got it done. The first and second sandbag, bucket carry, log carry and atlas ball was my domain and all five saw me smiling as I completed them.

Unfortunately for us the rope traverse was closed by the time we got there due to the bad weather for safety but I saw earlier in the day that some got to complete it and better to be safe so totally understandable.

The route had the usual hills that you would expect from a Spartan race – especially those switchbacks going up and down the same steep hill, if you’ve done a Spartan you will know what I am talking about – those hills we all love.

This years Beast at Windsor was longer than last years by almost five miles, which I think was a tad confusing for those who took it on last year to go from just under 10 miles to just under 15 miles but this is what you should expect from these events – they are made to test you and it does say 12 plus miles and just under 15 is over the advertised 12.  The race did become the race of 2 miles left for us though as from just over 8 miles everyone around us kept saying 2 miles left – for almost 7 miles in the wind and rain this went from being frustrating to being funny.  How long left? 2 miles ha ha.  2 miles is a long way when you are cold, wet, tired, have heavy legs and are running on what looks like wet and muddy ground but as I found is actually a waist deep bog (yep that was a surprise that got everyone behind me laughing and subsequently taking a more sensible route).

I am so pleased to have earned my second trifecta and even more pleased that Emma got her trifecta too – couldn’t think of anyone else I would have rather done that with!

It was also so good as usual to see the many familiar faces during the race including finally getting to meet the fab Fitcetera the UK Mudd Queens, Mudd Kings, friends from The PT Barn and many more!  Always super helpful marshals that I cannot fault and the skinny beer at the end was very welcome too – drank that when I got home and would never have been able to tell it wasn’t normal lager!

It was also great to see and hear from two of the competition winners from my blog who won two Super tickets, Cassie and Paul.  Seeing their finish photo was an awesome feeling to know that they got to experience something that I love.  Did they love it?  Different to what they have done before, which is generally road racing, duathlon, triathlon and cross country running. However, the awesome Cassie managed all bar three obstacles (rope climb, twister and monkey bars), which is amazing. Her favourite obstacle was the inverted walls – there were three in a row and after help from her boyfriend Paul she completed the last two on her own! Least favourite for Cassie was Olympus – it’s a hand killer so I totally get that but teamwork makes dream work and as Emma sat on my shoulders for this Cassie did the same with Paul (great minds). Cassie said ‘it was fun, but nothing like I thought it’d be – absolutely loved it though’ and I love that!

Lastly kudos to those who took on the extra challenge of completing the course with a plank of wood, repeating obstacles and completing burpees prior to doing the obstacles – epic!

So who is up for a Spartan race in 2019 and earning your trifecta?

My race entry was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Tough Mudder

At the weekend I flew back from Italy, packed my kit bag and then the following morning got up bright and early to head to Tough Mudder to take on the full.

I had previously done the new 5k event with The PT Barn, which you can read more about here.  I had also completed the Tough Mudder Half, which you can read more about here.  So now it was time for the full!

img_4610

I was signed up with my bestie, Emma, and her boyfriend Dan.  Emma and I do all of our obstacle events together but this was the first obstacle run that Dan would be taking part in and between us we were excited!  The signs you see as you enter the event village always make me laugh and you see similar whilst on the course too.

img_4615

We were starting as a team and we were finishing as a team.  The run was as usual very up and down though didn’t feel as hilly as the course used for the half that Emma and I had completed.  Here we are before and after:

I will repeat what I have said several times before but the thing I love about OCR is the teamwork and everyone helping everyone else out and with Tough Mudder not being chip timed this is one of the areas mentioned in their pledge that ‘Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge’, that ‘teamwork and camaraderie before course time’ plus ‘help my fellow mudders complete the course’ whilst having fun!

As we made our way to the start line we found we were in the same way as a man who was completing his 100th Tough Mudder event that day – and was running with a backpack full of all the headbands he has earned over those events.  This was pretty awesome and he actually helped us on the underwater tunnels obstacle giving a little helping hand push under the tubes.

img_4624

There were some obstacles that I had not done before as they were not on the 5k or half courses.  These included:

  • arctic enema – the name gives it away and I was that stupid person that came out of the end and said ‘my god that’s cold’ to which the marshal said ‘the clue is in the name’.  You climb up to a platform, slide through a tube into a container of icy water, the submerge fully under a partition and then climb out the container on the other side.
  • electroshock therapy – I don’t know why I was disappointed not to have done this on the previous events, because now I have done it I can say that it hurt!  A weird pain that is exactly what it says, a shock, but left my two teammates on the floor whilst I froze not knowing whether to help or carry on.  As they started crawling I ran on and got shocked twice more – man that smarts!
  • funky monkey – I can’t do this, enough said!  but kudos to those that did especially those that made it look super easy.
  • underwater tunnels – a large container of cold water with tubes to submerge yourself under and come out the other side then repeat three times.
  • cage crawl – I’d done a very similar obstacle at Nuclear Races and so whilst people were wondering how you tackle this I was straight in there and knew the drill, quite like this one!
  • walk the plank – now I will happily admit I didn’t even try this one.  I knew there was no way I would be able to make myself jump from a height but stood watching people who did it over and over again – maybe one day I could muster the courage?

There were a number of obstacles that I was hoping to be on the course that weren’t including Just The Tip, Prairie Dog, Kong and Kong Infinity but most of all was disappointed that Shawshank was not on the full course as it was my favourite on the half and I was looking forward to doing that one again.  But this just means I have to go back in 2019 for these ones!  You can see more about the obstacles on the Tough Mudder page here.

When doing events such as Tough Mudder people often wonder how you train and think its the craziest thing to do but I am sure the same people would surprise themselves if they gave it a go and most would thoroughly enjoy it as it is heaps of fun!  Tough Mudder also post videos with training ideas on their social media and have a whole section on their website regarding training for one of their events that you can find here.

I had a blast on Sunday and so did my team – I am by far the weakest runner and yet didn’t feel like I was holding anyone back at all and we all worked well together.  It was also great to learn more from Dan about Runarchy that he is part of.  Runarchy have a mission to inspire everyone on the planet to boost their mental fitness through exercise.  They quote:

As a brand our mission is to inspire you to create mental fitness through running & exercise.

To achieve our mission, we promote a rebellious attitude to fitness & life. We want you to run, exercise and keep fit your way.

We value individuality, uniqueness and nonconformity. We want you to be bold, strong, fearless and free.

They are also very much centred around teamwork and so having Dan as part of the team with Emma and I was great and for a first timer he did awesome and smashed Everest too!

4255a083-d996-4d21-b0f6-8f6506b99012

I have been so pleased to be part of the Mudder Women group this year and hope to get more of those headbands in 2019!

img_0466

My race entry was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.