Friday, June 29, 2012

Farmer's Market Fridays - 6/29/12

Hi.  My name is Amanda.  And I'm a soapaholic.  (Add that to the dictionary, spell check!)  I just can't stop buying soap!!  Hey, there are worse things to be obsessed with than soap, right?  And showering?  And being clean?  And supporting super awesome local businesses?  Definitely.

So today I made my second trip this summer to the Dearborn Farmer's and Artisan Market.  The last time I went was the first day it opened and I wasn't going to buy any soap from Cellar Door Soap Co.  I bought 3 bars.  Today I definitely wasn't going to buy any soap.  I bought 4 bars.  In my defense, I filled up my punch card so I got one free.  And they're 3/$15 so it would be silly not to get 3 more.  Plus there were three new ones that I hadn't smelled yet and one - Orange Clove - that is a leftover seasonal soap and almost sold out.  (Although it turns out I actually bought this last time so now I have two - oops!)  So there ya go - 4 bars of soap.  sigh.  Like I said, people struggle with far worse addictions.

Two light refreshing summer scents.

Don't let the name fool you - there's no honey in Tupelo Honey.  All their soaps are vegan!  It has a nice subtle honey/vanilla/coconut smell.  mmmmm!

There was more produce today than last month, so that was definitely nice to see!  I saw some delicious-looking berries and cherries.  I even saw the first of the peaches today.  I am definitely buying some fruit next week! 

Red spinach
Blueberries and cherries

I visited a new vendor called The Granola Tree.  They sell natural peanut butter, almond butter, jam, granola, oatmeal, and coconut.  (Not all of their products are vegan so check the labels.)  I bought a carrot cake jam that is absolutely amazing.  You would not believe how much it tastes like carrot cake!  I can't wait to try it out on toast and maybe even to stir it into some oatmeal.  They have some other interesting flavors of jams and some unique peanut butter flavors, as well.  (Again, a few have milk so check.)



It was such a beautiful morning to stroll through the market and talk to vendors.  I was feeling pretty good after yoga and my Venti iced coffee and oatmeal from Starbucks.  I even stopped to get my blood pressure checked.  (The nurse looked rather lonely and seemed to want some company so I figured I'd pay her a visit.)  She was laughing at how excited I was to have it checked.  When she checked it she knew why - 100/76.  Wahoo!  Then I got a free tote bag.  Bonus!  You know how teachers love free tote bags!  

And here's the produce I bought today:

squash, kohlrabi, and asparagus
massive bunch of kale

So that's been my morning.  It's going to be another hot one so I better get outside now for a little yard work before it gets too much hotter.  After that I'll certainly need to take a shower.  Hmmm . . . which soap will I use today???

Are you as obsessed with handmade soap as I am?

 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

West African Vegetable Stew

This is not a recipe that I can claim as my own.  I repeat - I did not make up this recipe.  It's from Campbell's Kitchen and it's also floating all over the internet on pretty much any recipe site you search.  That's because it's so darn delicious!  I just had to share it with you in case you happen to NOT be familiar with it.  (And because it's everywhere I felt I could share it with you here.)

I've made hardly any changes to it.  Basically I increase the amount of raisins, cinnamon, and spinach and use a sweet onion instead of white onions.  Oh, and I use veg broth instead of chicken (duh).


West African Vegetable Stew

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil (or water for an oil-free version)
1 large sweet onion, sliced (about 2 cups)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4" half-slices 
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 can vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 bag baby spinach

Directions:

1. Preheat a large skillet.  Add oil and heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Add potatoes and tomato.  Cook 5 minutes.  Add raisins, cinnamon, red pepper, broth, and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Add chickpeas and spinach.  Heat through.  Serve over cooked rice, couscous, or quinoa, if desired. 

Makes 6 servings.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Green Dot Stables - Detroit, MI


A few weeks ago Brian and I went to Green Dot Stables, a horse and jockey-themed bar and restaurant in Corktown.  It has apparently been there for a long time but recently reopened under new management and with a different menu that features mainly gourmet sliders, along with a few sides, salads, and soups.  Each item on the menu is either $2 or $3.  That even includes drinks!  How can you go wrong?

 

Two notable features of the outside are the horse statue on the roof and the big parking lot.  The parking lot alone is almost reason enough to go there!  (ha ha!)  The inside is pretty cool - lots of wood paneling and brick, a big bar, and all sorts of horse-racing memorabilia.  I'm not into all that but it's got a neat vibe to it. (What should a vegan's stand on horse-racing be?  I'm not sure.  But I must admit, it was kind of fun when a bunch of people were betting on a horse race while we were there!)

Anyway, we sat at a little table near the bar and when our server came over I said, "I'm SO excited to be here!"  He was like, "Oh, okay then.  Well, I'm excited you're here too."  (He wasn't.)  Why was I so excited to be there?  Because they have a [VG] on their menu to indicate which items are vegan!  Wahoo!

There are two vegan sliders - the Black Bean and the PB&J.  Since they are relatively small, I ordered two black bean sliders.  (I can make a PB&J at home any day of the week.)  Were they the best black bean burgers I've ever had?  No, that title belongs to Woodbridge Pub.  But they were tasty, nonetheless, and came with fresh tomato and mixed greens.  No sauce, though, so I added ketchup and mustard.  The one disappointment was the bun.  I guess that's a slider for you but I would have preferred something more than just a plain white bun.

Black Bean Slider - $3

One of the most impressive menu items is their Kale Salad, which is kale, quinoa, lemon juice, and shallots.  Kale and quinoa at a slider joint?  Nice work, Green Dot!  It was really delicious, too.

Kale Salad - $3

Of their 7 different flavors of fries (you read that right - SEVEN), 5 of them are vegan.  As I mentioned in my last post, I rarely eat fries, but I was quite hungry and the Malt Vinegar fries sounded so tasty that I caved and ordered them.  Plus they have the little [VG] by them on the menu so I felt a lot better about ordering them here than at most places.  Brian ordered the Truffle & Herb flavor, which are also vegan.  Mine were good but by the end they were just a bit too salty.  His, on the other hand, were awesome down to the last fry.  I may have to rethink my fry philosophy if we start dining at Green Dot more often . . .

Truffle & Herb Fries (background) - $3, Malt Vinegar Fries (foreground) - $2

If you haven't been to Green Dot Stables, definitely check it out.  Most of the sliders are meat so the vegan options are limited but hey, there are actual vegan options on the menu.  And around these parts, we have to take what we can get! 

Green Dot Stables is located at 2200 West Lafayette, Detroit, 48216

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jazzy Veggie - Ann Arbor, MI

Back at the beginning of June when I ran the DX-A2 1/2 marathon, Brian and I stopped in at Jazzy Veggie for dinner after the race expo.  I'd been wanting to try out this casual vegan eatery since it opened in late 2010 but just hadn't made it there until now.  We were greeted by the owner, Ananth Pullela, who enthusiastically welcomed us to his restaurant, went over the menu, and made recommendations based on our tastes and preferences.  

I decided to go with the Heart Smart Fries, which are baked (wahoo!) sweet potato fries and the Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger.  Do I love sweet potatoes?  Why yes.  Yes I do.  Let me first say that I rarely order fries.  Ever.  Why?  A) they are unhealthy, B) they generally make me feel sick and C) I don't trust the other non-vegan items they are fried with (such as buttermilk battered chicken fingers and cream cheese jalapeno poppers) not to get on my fries.  But baked sweet potato fries at an all-vegan restaurant?  Bring 'em on!  Were they awesome?  Why yes.  Yes they were.  Especially dipped in the balsamic ketchup.  YUM!

Heart Smart Fries - $3.95

The Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger was amazing!  The texture and flavor was very unique - definitely not your typical black bean or veggie burger.  It was more soft than crisp but held it's shape when I ate it.  It was topped with a red curry dressing that added a nice subtle flavor.


Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger w/ Tuscan coleslaw and pickle - $7.50

For an appetizer, Brian ordered the crab cakes.  He loves real crab cakes and these turned out to be pretty comparable to the real thing.  They were crispy on the outside, flaky on the inside, and had a "fishy" flavor to them.  I just had a small bite since they were fried and I had plenty of other food to eat.  I did think they were tasty, though.

Crab Cakes - $5.75

Brian also ordered the Pesto Pasta, which had huge artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, yellow squash, and zucchini.  I'm not a fan of pesto (too much garlic) but this had more of a lemony flavor and wasn't overly garlicky.  I'm still not sure if I could have handled a whole dish but I liked the bite or two that I tried.  Brian really enjoyed it.

Pesto Pasta - $8.95

On our way out I grabbed a piece of carrot cake to take home for dessert later.  I love carrot cake so I was pretty stoked to try it.  Unfortunately it was just "eh."  It was kind of dry and didn't really have a lot of flavor.  Some frosting would have helped combat the dryness.  They also had chocolate cake.  Maybe that's a better choice. 


Carrot Cake (sorry, I lost my receipt but I think it was around $4)

All in all, we were really happy with our meal at Jazzy Veggie.  I think it would be a great place to take anyone for lunch or dinner because even though it's all-vegan, the dishes are flavorful, appealing, and there is enough variety that no one (veg or otherwise) should miss the meat and cheese.

Jazzy Veggie is located at 108 S.Main St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Have you eaten at Jazzy Veggie?


Monday, June 25, 2012

More Tough Mudder Pictures

Here are a few more pics from Tough Mudder.  In my official post, I promised you some muddy ones and that's exactly what you're getting.  The quality isn't all that great because they were taken with an old-fashioned water-proof camera that we took along the way.  Ya know, one of those that you have to wind to advance?  ha ha!  Anyway, the pictures turned out kind of grainy so I thought I'd play around with them in Instagram.  I like how they turned out.  The 6th one down is my favorite!










 


*Also note that there are a few bonus pictures on the VRR Facebook page that you won't find on the blog.  Be sure to check out my Tough Mudder album and while you're there, please "like" my Facebook page if you haven't already! 

Vegan Eats in Denver

On Friday, Brian and I packed our bags and headed to Denver for the weekend to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary.  Why Denver?  We went for a special 2-night Wilco show at Red Rocks AmphitheaterIt was a package deal that included a hotel room, tickets to both shows, posters, tee shirts, shuttle rides to and from the show, and a "VERY (i.e. FREE) Happy Hour" before the show on Saturday.  

Now, the question you're asking is why Wilco?  Well, Brian is a huge fan and they're a band that have pretty much been with us throughout our relationship.  Unlike Ben Folds, however, this is not a band we both already loved - Brian introduced me to Wilco very shortly after we met when he handed me Summerteeth and held his breath while I gave it a listen.  I loved every song (huge sigh of relief from Brian).  Their subsequent albums haven't always kept me quite as awake as that one, however, and I have a tendency to get, um, sleepy at their shows.  It's a running joke that I fall asleep at every other Wilco show we go to.  (Sad but true.)  So although they are definitely more Brian's band than mine, they put on a great show and I was excited to spend the weekend in Denver with Brian.  So off we went.

First off, let me say that this isn't going to be one of my typical "Vegan Eats" posts because it was such a short stay in Denver.  We were just there for the weekend.  Plus we had weird timing issues with meals so really only ate at one actual restaurant.  But it was a good one.

1201 16th Street (16th Street Mall)

On Friday we ate a late lunch at The Mellow Mushroom. I was excited to find this place because they have a lot of salads, including a build your own option.  They also have tempeh, a variety of different tofu flavors, and gluten-free pizza.  I'm not sure if their crust is vegan -  I was going to ask but then ended up not getting pizza so I didn't find out.  Brian was just excited because they had pizza.  Period.

 

So, like I said I went with the Build Your Own salad option.  Oh, this is funny.  When our server came over to the table I said, "I'm so excited to be here because you have lots of salads!"  He was a little taken aback and just sort of laughed.  I think my enthusiasm about salads was not something he sees everyday.  I think it's to be commended.  He turned out to be funny and a pretty guy cool.  His name was Mike and he just completed Tough Mudder two weeks ago in Colorado.  Now that's a SERIOUS event, what with the snow and the altitude!  So we traded a few stories and he promised to check out my blog.  I promised to put up his picture and let it be known that he's the best server ever.  So hopefully he checks this out. 

Mike - our server and fellow Tough Mudder

Anyway, back to the Build Your Own salad.  Here's how it works, vegan-style: 
  1. Choose a base, either romaine, spinach, spring mix, or salad mix - or you can mix any two. 
  2. Load up on veggies
  3. Choose your cheese - they do have Daiya, if you're down with that
  4. Add protein - avocado, tempeh, tofu, or BBQ tofu
  5. Dressing - balsamic vinaigrette, oil and vinegar, herb vinaigrette
Here's a picture of my super awesome salad:

My Build Your Own Salad came out to be $12.25

My salad included the following romaine and spring mix, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, Roma tomatoes, portabello mushrooms, avocado, tempeh, and plain balsamic vinegar - no oil.  (Mike was kind enough to hunt down the balsamic for me and joked that he painstakingly separated the vinegar from the oil, just for me.  That's how awesome they are at the Mellow Mushroom.)  Even though it was pricey, it was an absolutely delicious salad with really fresh, flavorful ingredients.  And it was super filling with the mushroom, avocado, and tempeh.

Brian had the Magical Mystery Tour pizza, which was vegetarian but not vegan (it had cheese).  He loved it and I have to say that it looked and smelled amazing!  I would definitely recommend checking out the Mellow Mushroom if you're in Denver.  And be sure to ask for Mike!  He'd love to separate out some balsamic for you.  (But it is a chain so there are multiple locations across the U.S. - check the website for other cities/states.)

Like I said, our eating schedule was off so we didn't really check out any other "new" and exciting vegan places to write about.  Pretty much everything we ate is your typical "fast food" vegan fare - a Veggie Delite sandwich from Subway, oatmeal from Starbucks, a fruit bowl from Corner Bakery, and fruit and oatmeal at a restaurant at the airport (though I have a sneaking suspicion the "Irish" oats was actually from a packet and may not have been exactly vegan . . .)

Fresh fruit bowl from Corner Bakery

Despite the heat, we actually spent a lot of time outside and got in a good deal of walking up and down 16th Street Mall, which is a popular shopping area in Downtown Denver.  We didn't do much actual shopping - mostly just walked up and down and checked out the area, people-watched, etc.   


There were a lot of cool pianos on 16th Street, which were usually being used by street performers, but Brian found one unoccupied and sat down to play a tune.  He didn't play long enough for anyone to give him any money, but I think if he'd remembered to wear a hat and put that down on the ground, someone might have tossed in some change.


I mentioned that part of the Wilco package included a "VERY Happy Hour" at Rock Bottom Brewery.  We hung out with some really cool people whom we'd met at the show the night before.  Well, despite having already eaten and being what I thought was properly hydrated, I learned the hard way what drinking wine at a higher altitude can do to you when I took advantage of free drinks.  SO, upon arriving at Red Rocks, I was in desperate need of some food.  Brian quickly found a sourdough soft pretzel for me.  It was totally plain - no butter or sugar like most people order them so the girl who sold it to us thought we were a little nuts - and I just hoped to God the dough itself was vegan.  (Please don't tell me if you know otherwise.)  I really needed to eat that pretzel.  And then another one.  Damn that altitude!

Mmmmm, pretzel!

Back to Wilco.  Both shows were amazing.  The first night probably more so for me because A) we were center stage, row 2, B) the opening band - The Punch Brothers - were fantastic, and C) I stayed awake.  More than the second night at least.  Obviously, C was a huge factor in my enjoyment of the show.  Ah well.  I should most definitely stay awake the next time I see them!  Maybe even the next two times.  I don't know, though.  That just might be pushing it . . .

 View from our seats (not zoomed in) - we were actually this close!

I'd love to go back to Colorado and spend more time checking out other cities, doing some hiking, seeing some mountains, and trying to run.  Although I have to say that even just walking there nearly killed me!  Okay, slight exaggeration but when the temperature on Saturday reached 102 degrees even stepping outside you could almost feel the life get sucked out of you.  Maybe we'll go back in the spring or fall.  Anyway, I'd definitely love to return to Red Rocks for another concert and also to run the stairs there.  It would be one hell of a workout!

There are 69 rows of benches at Red Rocks - that's a lot of stairs!

Although it was just a quick weekend trip and the heat and altitude kicked our asses (mine more than Brian's thanks my wine at the Wilco party), we had a fabulous time.  We'll add Colorado to our ever-growing list of states to visit again!


Have you been to Denver or Red Rocks?


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tough Mudder, Indiana - All the Muddy Details


Tough Mudder was early Saturday morning so we set out Friday night in our rented mini-van, heading to our first hotel in Lafayette, IN.  Andy graciously volunteered to drive but seemed to be regretting that decision about 45 minutes into the 4-hour drive.  (Not entirely without good reason but we do have to stop and use the bathroom at some point!)  Luckily we found a "Disco Divas" CD at the gas station and that really seemed to lighten the mood.  At least for the duration of the CD.  

Eventually we made it the Super 8, where we met an extremely frazzled concierge.  Knowing there were a lot of people staying at that and surrounding hotels for TM, we innocently asked if there was some event happening.  She said, "Something called Tough Mudder?"  In a very disgusted tone, she started going on and on about how you pay all this money just to get dirty, it's so stupid, you don't even get a shirt (which you do, although it turned out to be a crappy cotton one), blah, blah, blah.  She went on for like 5 minutes.  We were laughing so hard!  Especially because Haikel was going along with it, acting even more incredulous than she was.  She had no clue that we were there for TM ourselves and we thought it was best not to tell her.  Maybe you had to be there but it was hilarious! 

Anyway, then we pretty much just finalized plans for the morning, made sure we had our uniforms set and ready, and went to bed.  I think it was maybe around midnight by that time.  

Erica, Christie, and I set three alarms for 6:00, 6:03, and 6:08, got dressed, and were at the van promptly at 6:30.  Everyone was kind enough to make it a Starbucks breakfast for my sake so I could have oatmeal.  Erica, Scott, and Cristie had oatmeal, as well.  Haikel had one of the sweet breads and Andy had already eaten some homemade chia gel.  I also ate a banana.  No coffee, though.  I think that would have put me over the edge.  And then we were off to Attica, Indiana.  


Me, Erica, Haikel, Christie in the van

Our wave time wasn't until 10:40 but we were hoping to get there early and jump into an earlier wave.  It was already hot (temps were in the mid-80's) and the later we started the hotter it was going to be.  Everything was easy when we got there - parking, packet pick-up, bag-drop-off.  They wrote our bib numbers on our forehead and arm or leg.  (You can wear your bib if you want but most of us opted not to do so since most people lose them anyway.)  


Andy, Erica, Christie, and me after the registration tent
Scott is ready to go!

We were able to sneak into the 9:00 a.m. wave.  To get in you have to climb a wall, but that was super easy compared to the Berlin Walls that were to come later.  Once in you listen to a motivational pump-up speech about how hard the course is, mental grit, and helping out your fellow Mudder.  You sing the "National Anthem".  And of course there's some Eminem.

Then you just start running.  Through the sand and gravel and dirt.  Over rocks.  Up hills and down.  We ran for almost a mile, I think, before we came to the first obstacle, which was the first set of Berlin Walls.  Honestly, I can't remember the order of the rest of the obstacles - it's all sort of a blur right now - but these are the obstacles we faced on Saturday:

THE OBSTACLES

Berlin Walls #1 (wooden 8' walls) - The first set of walls wasn't so bad.  Of course, for me, none of them were too bad because I just put each of my feet in a guy's hand and they launched me up to the top.  Then I pulled myself up and over and dropped off the other side.  The guys basically got themselves up and over on their own.  There were 2 walls right in a row.  

Swamp Stomp (run through a swampy area) - This was our first taste of mud.  Literally.  Scott made sure to splash us all with mud when we ran through and I got some in my mouth.

Kiss of Mud (crawl under barbed wire) - The website billed this as 8" barbed wire so I anticipated having to belly crawl through this part.  It wasn't that low, however, because I was able to go through on my hands and knees, which was good because instead of mud it was gravel and very rough on the elbows.  This one was easy.

Arctic Enema (plunge into icy water) - What shocked me most about this one wasn't the temperature of the water.  It was the fact that A) it came earlier in the course than I was anticipating and B) the water was disgustingly dirty and I had to dunk myself under it.  That I was not anticipating.  I guess I should have watched a video of this one beforehand to know what to expect.  Anyway, poor Andy was standing in the ice bath, quite literally freezing his balls off, trying first to coax me into the water and then convince me to take a deep breath and swim under the water.  When I finally did I emerged for air with a muddy ice cube in each eye socket.  Sweet.

Greased Lightning (giant Slip 'N Slide down a hill) - I sat down, slid a couple of feet, and then just stopped.  I had no momentum!  Just as I was about to push myself to get going, Andy came flying from behind, scissored me, and we both went down the hill together.  It was hilarious!

Mud Mile (run over a series of muddy trenches) - I was pretty dainty on the mud hills here, choosing to run down instead of slide.  I could have saved some time if I had slid - and probably had more fun!

Log-Jammin' (crawl under and over logs) - This was one of my favorite obstacles.  It was just logs stacked 2-3 high that you alternated going over and under.  Only once did I need help going over.  Usually I was able to find some footing to help myself up.  It was a fun challenge.   

Berlin Walls #2 (wooden 9' walls) - A little higher, a little more challenging.  Again there were two walls.  I cursed loudly upon seeing the second wall.

Walk the Plank (jump off a 15' platform) - I was a little nervous at this but not as nervous as I thought I'd be.  I didn't linger long thinking about it.  We all just went for it.  Scott and I jumped on the count of 3.  I held my nose.  At the last second I remembered my head band but it was too late and I lost it.  That was the worst part about this obstacle.

Creek Crusade (run up a riverbed) - We didn't run here because there were a lot of rocks and logs to trip on, plus the depth of the water kept changing so you never knew when you'd suddenly be in a hole.  It felt a lot safer to walk. 

Devils Beard (crawl under a stretched cargo net) - Just like it sounds.  Not at all difficult.

Killa Gorilla (run up and down steep hills) - These seemed to be all throughout.  You had to just go for it and keep running so you didn't backslide on the sandy hills.  Going down was often harder than going up.

Trench Warfare (belly-crawl through earthen tunnels) - Like the barbed wire, these were high enough to go through on hands and knees.  They were also filled with gravel so hands and knees were a better option than belly-crawling. 

Firewalker (run through burning hay bales) - This one wasn't nearly as bad as I feared but only because it was so quick.  It was over before we knew it. Thankfully - because inhaling that smoke for any longer would have been brutal!

Boa Constrictor (crawl through sections of 3' pipe) - Initially I'd been worried about this one but it turned out to be one of my favorites.  Like the other crawling obstacles, these were tall enough to go on my hands and knees.  After going through the first set of tubes you emerge into a little pool of muddy water under some barbed wire before going back into another set of tubes.  It was like being in "Shawshank Redemption."  Very cool.

Just the Tip (shimmy along narrow board) - This turned out to be impossible for all of us, especially with wet hands.  I "attempted" it but it was a pretty lackluster effort.  I thought it was a dumb obstacle.

Hay Bale Pyramid (stack of hay bales to climb) - Just like it sounds.  It was fun and a good leg workout.

Berlin Walls #3 (wooden 11' walls) - These were obviously the most challenging, since they were the tallest and we were the most tired.  Even with the guys launching me up it took two tries because I had trouble reaching the top of the wall and getting a grip.  We were all relieved to get over the wall and see that there was only one this time. 

Spider's Web (crawl up cargo nets over a shipping container) - This one was fun.  It was just a huge web to crawl up one side and down the other.  When you were waiting to climb you had to help your fellow Mudders by holding the net steady otherwise it was really difficult.

Hold Your Wood (1/4 mile log carry) - The logs came in various sizes so you could find a good fit for you.  We walked but I guess we could have picked up the pace by running.

Electric Eel (slide over water getting shocked) - I have a funny story about Electric Eel.  This one is basically a flat, muddy Slip 'N Slide that you crawl across but it has live wires hanging down.  When they touch you you feel a shock.  Andy and I started crawling through and after a few seconds I said to him, "I haven't been shocked yet, have you?"  He said, "Yes, about 6 or 7 times."  Then I felt a little twitch in my leg and it registered that I, too, had been shocked about 6 times, as well.  I just didn't realize that's what it was!  So clearly, it wasn't that bad to be shocked.  I got hit quite a few more times before reaching the end.  No biggie. 

Twinkle Toes (balance beams over water pit) - I made it all the way across!  The beams were pretty wobbly and there were a couple of points where I wasn't sure I was going to make it but I did.  I think half of us made it.  The others just jumped/fell in the water and swam to the end.

Funky Monkey (monkey bars over water pit) - I was ready for the Funky Monkey.  We'd been practicing monkey bars for weeks so I was ready.  When we got to them my hands were really wet so I used the dusty ground to dry them off.  In fact, I even put on a little show for the crowd and did a Lebron James chalk toss imitation.  Then one of the spectators said, "We've even seen a few girls make it across."  After that I HAD to make it across.  And I did.  Hoo-rah!

Everest (greased up 1/4 pipe) - Ugh, Everest.  This one sucked.  BIG TIME.  I put this up there with the third Berlin Wall in terms of how challenging it was.  Not only is it hard enough to run up a 1/4 pipe but it's a greased 1/4 pipe with a mud puddle in front of it so your feet are very slippery.  Plus this is the second to last obstacle so you're pretty tired at this point.  Anyway, you basically just run up it and there are people hanging out at the top to grab hold of your hands or arms and pull you up.  My attempt wasn't very good but it was good enough for the guys at the top to grab my hands and pull.  Still it was pretty hard for me to swing my legs up and over the top because I was so low down and sort of pushing away from the pipe.  I almost couldn't do it.  I was so relieved to climb down the back and be done with that one! 

Electroshock Therapy (run through electrified wires) - Ah, electrocution.  The final obstacle.  I'd definitely built this one up to be much worse than it was.  I only got electrocuted three times, all in the arm, and it was basically just like a really strong shock.  I screamed each time but just kept running.  I think some wires had higher voltage than others, though, because Christie swears she saw a flash of white light.  Thankfully I didn't experience that! 

Mud Pits - All these obstacles were interspersed with countless mud pits to wade through.  The consistency of the mud varied greatly, from silky smooth to thick clam chowder to wet clay.  Sometimes the suction was so strong that I physically had to pick up my leg to with both hands to move it.  Or have someone else pick up my leg for me.  At one point I was so stuck that I had Andy pulling both my hands and two guys I didn't know lifting each of my legs to get me pulled up and out of the mud.  Those mud pits really slowed me down!  Poor Erica had to take off her shoes in two of the pits!


Check out the "Tough Mudder Indiana 2012 Official Video" below to really get a good idea of what we went through with some of the obstacles!



THE RUNNING

What was the hardest part about TM?  The mud sucked, but that wasn't the worst.  It kills me to say this but for me, the hardest part was the running.  And you know I'm a runner.  I thought that's where I would breeze through.  But I'm not used to trail running.  And even though I knew it would be trail running it was still even harder than I imagined.  It wasn't just dirt, which I could have dealt with.  I ran on that last week and did pretty well.  This was sand, gravel, and rocks.  This was lots of up and down.  This was running with water-logged and mud-caked shoes.  This was running with an elevated heart rate after completing an obstacle.  This was running like I have never run before.  And I was slow.  At least I'd already acclimated myself to running in heat and humidity, so that was something I could deal with.  But the terrain was completely foreign to me.  And it was killing me.  Mentally more than anything, I guess.  

Oh, did I mention I also bruised my tailbone on the Slip 'N Slide around mile 2?  Yeah, so that slowed me down and made running for 10 miles pretty painful, as well.  So I suppose I could give myself a bit of a break on the running.  Christie injured her foot on the Slip N' Slide, so that slowed her down substantially for the remaining 10 miles, as well.  Seriously, we both got injured on the stupid Slip 'N Slide?!?  Go figure . . .

But we kept running.  Man, did we keep running.  It might have been slow but we ran the whole way baby.  From one obstacle to the next.  And let me tell you, there were so many people who were walking.  We'd get people cheering us on for running but it seemed silly to walk.  We weren't that tired and we just wanted to finish. 

THE FINISH 

The estimated completion time for the course was 3 hours but it took our team 4 hours.  Given the the heat, that was actually OUR estimated completion time so we were right on track.  Were we tired when we finished?  Yes.  But it was more like we felt like we'd just been out in the sun all day and needed a nap.  None of us felt like we'd just worked our asses off slogging through a 12-mile course of mud and obstacles.  I think that's where our training and already being in good shape really paid off.  

Were we muddy when we finished?  YES!  Throughout the course whenever I got into some really silky mud - spa mud - I'd rub it all over my arms to make "mud sleeves" for myself.  I figured it would help protect me from the sun and also give me a good spa treatment at the same time.  Plus it felt so refreshing and cooling! 

So after we were done, we got our stupid cotton tee shirts (seriously, this thing is sponsored by Under Armour and we got cotton tee shirts?!?) celebrated with our free beer (I donated mine to Haikel and Scott and ate a banana instead) and then went straight to the camp showers.  Haikel and I helped hose each other off.  I needed a LOT of work!  We we singing, "We're workin' at the car wash!" and hogging the sprayers for some time but it was so much fun!  And there was SO MUCH MUD!! 

There were also feats of strength afterwards like push-up contests, pull-up contests, a Jacob's ladder, and a keg toss.  Scott tried out the keg toss and came awfully close to taking down the cardboard cutout of Fabio.  So close . . .


 
A lot of people donated their shoes at the end.  I saved mine since I already have two more mud runs coming up in August and September.



We all had a change of clothes in the car so we just stripped down in the parking lot.  Even though we still weren't exactly clean it felt good to be in fresh, dry clothes.  We drove to our next hotel in Indianapolis where we all took long showers, used lots of Q-tips, got something to eat, and then all met up for drinks to celebrate.  

Then on Sunday we drove home.  Surprisingly, I didn't feel very sore.  Other than my tailbone - which will take some time to heal - I felt about as sore as I'd feel from a hard boot camp class.  I resumed my normal workouts on Monday without any trouble.  (Although I did get an extra good night's sleep on Sunday!)  

I've definitely got some scrapes and bruises but not much more than I got from our training sessions.  So all in all it was not nearly as bad as I'd feared.  Our training sessions definitely paid off and I would highly recommend them to anyone doing a TM event.  If nothing else, they took away my fear of getting bruised and scraped up, gave me the confidence to tackle the obstacles at hand, and helped us get comfortable working together as a team.

Would I do another Tough Mudder?  Hell yeah!  I already plan on doing the one next summer in Michigan (June 29th-30th, Ann Arbor area).  This time I'll be ready with the trail running, be more careful on the Slip 'N Slide, and hopefully be able to move through the obstacles more quickly.  For my first time, though, I just didn't know what to expect.  

But hey, we made it.  We are Tough Mudders! 

The Rhodes Scholars Team - Thanks for the capturing this moment, Degree Men!  Winking smile

*Once I get the photos from the camera Scott took on the course I'll post them.  Those will be the muddy pictures!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tough Mudder, IN - Conquered!


I promised a blog post today but this isn't the full detailed report you're hoping for.  Sorry.  That's taking longer than I'd expected.  I want to be sure not leave anything out with my descriptions of the obstacles - plus I'm waiting on some pictures - so you'll have to hang on a bit longer.  I'll get it done and posted just as soon as I am able.  Just know that when I do you will not be disappointed!  

Until then you can have this slightly creepy photo of me leering at you with my Tough Mudder headband.  If you look closely you can still slightly see my bib number written on my forehead.  Hoo-rah!