Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On the Run: End of Summer/Early Fall Races

August 3rd: Allen Park Run - 10K

August 17th: Run For the Hills - 10K

August 25th: Merrell Down & Dirty - 10K (signed up but may not do it)

September 15th: Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo - 10K

September 22nd: Detroit Women's Half Marathon

September 29th: Brooksie Way Half Marathon

October 5th: Porcupine Mountains Trail Half Marathon

October 20th: Detroit Free Press Marathon

October 27th: Wicked Halloween Run - 10K

Phew!  I think that's all of them.  It may seem like a lot but I'm using them as training for my marathon.  For example, the day I have the Detroit Women's Half I'm scheduled to run 12 miles.  13 is close enough.  Same with the Porcupine Mountains half.  The day of the Brooksie Way I'm scheduled for 20.  After I cross the finish line I'll do an out-and-back down the the course to make up the last 7 miles.  People will still be racing so I'll have crowd support and other runners.  Not a bad way to get my 20 in for the day!

What upcoming races do you have on your calendar?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Detroit Marathon Countdown: 12 Weeks

12 weeks.  3 months.  We're getting closer.  I've sort of been sticking to the plan.  In my own way.  In my first countdown post I wrote about how I planned to change things up a lot - double up on cross-training and runs and eliminate the rest day.  Well, it wasn't long before my body told me otherwise!  (Imagine that, right?)

Instead of trying to keep my regularly-scheduled cycle and boot camp program (2x/week each), plus adhere to the training plan, I've made a few modifications.  Here's what my weeks looks like at this point in my training:

Monday: Cross training - Yoga (60 min), Cycle (55 min), Weight Machines (20 min)
Tuesday: Run (6 mile social run)
Wednesday: Run (minus 1-2 miles from plan), Boot Camp (75 min)
Thursday: Run (6 mile social run), Cycle (55 min)
Friday: Yoga (60 min)
Saturday: Run (group run at RUNdetroit or a race - plan mileage may be adjusted)
Sunday: Long run

I'm using the plan as a framework and so far it's working out really well for me.  I ran 14 miles on Sunday.  It should have only been 9 but I was feeling good so I skipped ahead to next Sunday's long run.  (I told you I cannot stick to a plan!)  Anyway, it was my longest distance and the only time I've run anywhere close to that was in a race.  In fact, I've never run more than 10 outside of a race and never more than 7 by myself.  So this was HUGE.  It was quite the mental test.  My average pace was 7:34.  Not race pace but for an easy training run I was quite pleased.  I know I'm only partway to 26.2 but I'm getting there.  

Next up - nutrition on the long run.  GU?  Shot Bloks?  Liquified banana in a flask?  (haha)

What is your on-the-go nutrition for long runs?

Read previous Detroit Marathon Countdown posts - 17 Weeks, 15 Weeks


Sunday, July 28, 2013

On the Run: Warrior Dash 2013

This weekend Warrior Dash came to Michigan and I participated in it for the first time.  Yes, I've done Tough Mudder twice, the Down and Dirty 10K but never Warrior Dash.  I was invited two years ago but promptly said no because - get this - I was going to get dirty!  Haha!  Clearly that is a non-issue with me now.  I LOVE to get dirty!  

I started my day with a 5-mile run and then picked up my sis-in-law Jaime to make the 1.5 hour drive to Mt. Morris, MI.  (I didn't quite realize how far away it was when I signed up!)  Thankfully it was mostly expressways and we didn't hit any traffic backups.  Parking was easy and we didn't have to wait in any lines for packet pick-up, gear check, or port-a-potties.

This was Jaime's first mud/obstacle race experience so it was exciting to be doing it together.  She was nervous, though!  I tried to calm her nerves by singing "Don't Stop Believing" when we were waiting at the start line.  I don't know if it helped at all but it may at least have been entertaining for the other people in our wave.  Or really annoying.  We were actually slotted for a 4:30 start but because no one checks we were able to get into the 1:15 wave.  Yay!  In fact, there were people who were clearly running for a second time.  Seems that anything goes at Warrior Dash!

The obstacles at were fun but not exactly challenging.  Well, with the exception of the Deadweight Drifter, maybe.  With that you had to pull yourself out of the water onto some blocks that were floating.  It was all upper body strength and I did it in the most awkward manner possible.  Jaime looked way cooler than I did!  There was another one that was a tube of cargo nets to crawl through that was a little tricky.  Other than that it was a lot of climbing up and down walls.  There were some tires to jump through, fire to jump over, some mud to wade and swim through, and a balance beam.  Like I said, fun but not challenging.

I have to give Warrior Dash huge props for the running portions.  The terrain was great!  After doing Tough Mudder at MIS in June and having nothing but flat grass and pavement, I didn't expect a whole lot out of this.  Instead, Warrior Dash was all sandy/dirt roads and trails in the woods.  It was beautiful!  There were actually hills to run up and down, trees to run around, and logs and branches to jump over.  I also heard that you mostly only ran the first mile but there was also another good stretch of running later in the race.  So even though it is still only 3.25 miles I got some decent running out of it after all.  

Silly us forgot to put our timing chips on our shoes so we don't have official times but unofficially it took us 45 minutes.  Not that we cared about time anyway.  How can you for this?  We had fun and that's all that matters!

At the end Jaime and I hosed off and donated our shoes.  She and I had both worn pairs that I'd taken to GLR and they were trashed even before the mud.  (What WAS that smell??)  We got into dry clothes and headed home.  The long drive home.  

I definitely had a lot of fun doing Warrior Dash and would think about it again next year.  It was great to do a non-competitive, down and dirty fun run.  I think we all need something like that every once in a while to level us out.

And LOOK!  I got my fuzzy warrior horns!  

Did you do Warrior Dash this weekend?  Tell me about it!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Grilled Chicken (vegan)

I'm not really big on "faux" meat products for something to eat on a regular basis.  I like to stick with tempeh and beans - sometimes veggie burgers - but I do like to try new products when I see them.  Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips caught my attention when Brian and I were at the Detroit Whole Foods a few weeks ago.  They come in grilled, lightly seasoned, and southwest style.  We got grilled because it sounded like a more versatile flavor than the other two.  The strips are easy to prepare - simply microwave or saute and add to your favorite recipe!

We had them last night for dinner in a salad.  We took spinach, fresh red pepper strips, avocado, strawberries, sunflower seeds, and topped it all with the prepared chicken strips.  Over that we drizzled some homemade balsamic vinaigrette (I cut the canola oil down to 1 tbsp and added a pinch of Xanthan gum to thicken it slightly).  OMG it was the most delicious salad I've had in a long time!  Brian loved it, too.  It was the perfect application for the chicken.  And the dressing was really good, too. I'd never made it before but it turned out well. 

We had a few strips left and I popped them in the microwave, which is the other way to prepare them.  I do not recommend this technique!  They were rubbery and cooled off much too quickly.  Take my advice and spend the extra few minutes to saute them in a pan!

I'm pretty sure I found my new favorite summer salad!

What's your favorite summer salad?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Farmer's Market Fridays - 7/26/13

Yes, it's almost August and this is my first Farmer's Market post of the summer.  Why the delay?  Let me explain.  I could say I've been out of town on Fridays this summer and haven't gone to the market.  Which is mostly true.  However, the real reason is that the Dearborn Farmer's and Artisan Market has been a real disappointment this year.  It is under new management and many of the vendors from previous years are not back.  I went about a month ago and there was only one produce vendor.  ONE.  If you ask me, a farmer's market needs to have more than bread, cookies, jams, soap, and crafty items.  Those things are fine to have (you know I LOVE my soap!) but they have to be in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables.  After that I didn't go back. 

Today I decided to give it another chance.  Well, mostly I wanted to buy soap (shocking, I know) but I figured I'd take a look around and see what else was there.  It was better than last month but still not good.  In total there were 5 produce vendors - 3 selling vegetables, 1 selling fruit, and 1 selling both vegetables and fruit.  The rest were artisans with bread and cookies, pies, plates, candles, jewelery, wooden boxes, jams, and wired art.  The Dearborn Animal Shelter had dog cookies and Oakwood Hospital was doing free blood pressure screening.  Binell Bros. were sharpening knives.  All that is fine and good but only 5 produce vendors?  Seriously?  And my favorite, Farmer Glen, didn't come back this year with his "no spray" carrots and parsnips.  He's been a stand-by since year one. 

I did pick up some cherries, a bunch of kale, and one cucumber.  And my Cellar Door Soaps, of course.  Today's selections were Patchouli Bergamot, Cherries Jubilee, and Jaguar Fever

The Dearborn Farmer's Market has always been small but it had been growing from year to year.  Until this year.  Now there are significantly fewer vendors and with that you inevitably have fewer customers.  There are extended market hours - until 3pm instead of 1pm - but it doesn't sound like that's helping to swell the crowds.  Or bring in the vendors.

I'm not sure what's going to happen to our market next year.  Unless they can get more produce vendors, I don't see how they will be sustainable as a farmer's market.  I'd love to see Dearborn turn it around and make a go of it.  Sadly, I think they may have lost this season but my hope is that next season will be better.  

What do you love about your local farmers market? 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

On the Run: Great Lakes Relay 2013

This weekend I had the honor of running with The World's Most Interesting Team for The Great Lakes Relay (GLR).  (You can read more about GLR and how I got on the team in my last post.)  When I say I had the honor, I truly mean that.  I couldn't have asked for a better team.  And captain.  We all got along well together, were fiercely competitive, laughed a lot, and above all had fun.  And to see my teammates racing as hard as they do is something that I strive to do.  I was among the elite.  

There are two categories for GLR - open and mixed.  The World's Most Interesting Team was a mixed team, made up of 6 men - Brad, Derek, Scot, Brian, Dave, John - and 4 women - Mikelle, Mary Beth, Kim, and myself.  We also had Mike along for support, which was super helpful, especially when one of our vehicles broke down!

GLR certainly isn't for everyone.  Hell, I can hardly believe I did it!  6 races in 3 days.  6 HARD races.  Up at 4 a.m.  Rain, sun, bugs, dirt, mud.  Pooping in the woods.  Although, pooping in the woods is way better than many port-a-potty situations I've been in!  haha!

I'll do my best to recap my experience at GLR.  I can't share everything with you, however, because what happens at GLR stays at GLR!  (wink wink)


Breakfast - Quaker oatmeal cups

Snacks - bananas (3/day), Clif Mojo Bars (1/day), Clif Builder Bars (1/day), apples (1/day)

Dinner - quinoa salad, garden salad, Larabar (Thursday), Subway veggie sub, Baked Lays, Larabar (Friday and Saturday), Black Bean and Portabella Burger, fries (Sunday at North Point Brewing Co. in Traverse City)

Day 1

My first leg of the relay almost started out very badly.  We got to my leg, I got ready, warmed up, and then we were just hanging out.  We had an ETA on Kim coming in but then I sort of lost track of time.  I should have been at the exchange waiting but I wasn't.  All a sudden, Mary Beth saw Kim coming down the way.  OMG!  I ran!  I ran to the exchange, turned my Garmin on to find satellites, and turned around just as Kim got there.  And I was off!  Phew, that was way too close!  Rookie mistake.

My first leg was straightforward and relatively easy until the the last mile or so.  That's when I hit a gravel road with some steep grades.  It was a good challenge, though, and a great leg to start the day.

I first ran at 7:15 a.m.  It was already hot and humid and only getting worse.  It started to storm on and off later in the day and the humidity was unbearable.  Steam was rising off the roads.  Temps were in the 80's.  The sun came back out and baked us some more.  Everyone was miserable.  At no point was it good running weather by any stretch of the imagination.

My second leg of the day was around 1:00.  The heat and humidity definitely slowed me down.  As did the muddy roads after all the rain.  And some hills.  I'm not gonna lie.  It was rough.  Thankfully I had vehicle support on this leg, which meant that one of our SUVs could drive the leg with me.  My teammates would stop every 1/2 mile or so to offer water and cheer me on.  At the end I couldn't stomach anything but having water poured over my back felt great!  (My time and pace are estimates on Leg A-12 because I forgot to stop my Garmin and had to estimate based on my mile splits.  I think I was delirious from the heat!)

Leg A-4
  • Distance - 5.1 miles
  • Time - 37:01
  • Pace - 7:10 min/mile

Leg A-12
  • Distance - 4.45 miles
  • Time - 32:30 (est.)
  • Pace - 7:18 min/mile (est.)

Day 2

Almost all the legs on Day 2 were on the Shore to Shore Trail.  This was the hardest and most stressful day of the GLR.  At least for me.  I woke up with knots in my stomach and was more anxious for my legs than for any race I'd ever run.  Maybe by now I'd finally realized what I'd gotten myself into!

Staying on the trail isn't as easy as it sounds.  It is marked with blue dots that you need to constantly look for.  If you go too long without seeing a blue dot, you better back up and find one.  Even though you run with your directions, there are lots of places where it looks like the trail splits.  Sometimes there's a blue arrow pointing you in the right direction.  Usually there isn't. 

Aside from the "blue dot" mantra going through your brain, there's the trail itself.  It's narrow as all get-up.  Basically a mountain bike trail that at some places would be too tight to place both feet side by side.  Not that I could even see my feet during my first run of the day.  The trail was overgrown with brush so I was running blind (and of course I wasn't wearing my glasses so I was doubly blind!).  I could feel rocks and branches underfoot.  Sometimes I had to jump over branches.  At one point I had to climb a log that was blocking my path.  I got a wicked nasty cut on my thigh from a raspberry bramble and lots of little scratches on my ankles and shins.  The woods are brutal!

So on Day 2, I had to slow down and run smart, figuring it was better to have a slower pace than end up with a twisted ankle and be out for the rest of the race.  Or go tearing though the woods and get lost.  I did well on my first leg.  I didn't fall or get lost.  I hesitated in the clearing before seeing the trail-head, but I didn't lose too much time.

On my second leg I thought I got off the trail.  I was running really well when I came to a road.  My directions didn't say I would come to a road so I panicked.  I backtracked 0.1 mile to check for a blue dot to confirm I was on track.  Then I retraced my steps, crossed the road, and saw a blue dot.  I was so mad for doubting myself and costing my team an extra 0.2 mile.  Plus it shook my confidence for the remainder of that leg.  And you can see it in my pace.  I didn't get lost but I still felt like I screwed up.  And this was one of the easy legs!  I was relieved to be done running for the day, especially since it meant the end of the trails.  I love trail running for the beauty and adventure but the stress was killing me!

Leg B-5
  • Distance - 5.7 miles
  • Time - 47:15
  • Pace - 8:04 min/mile

Leg B-15
  • Distance - 3.6 miles
  • Time - 32:53
  • Pace - 8:22 min/mile

Day 3

I was happy to have shorter legs on Day 3; however, I knew that shorter didn't mean easier.  Not in the GLR.  I was going to have to give it my all, down to my very last race.

My last two legs were both on the road but not like any roads I'm used to running.  They were sandy, dusty, rocky, and bumpy.  It was a challenge to find good footing.  I had cars driving by dusting me even more.  Hardly pleasant.  But on the upside, both routes were straight shots so there was no chance of getting lost!

I ran my ass off on those last two legs.  Straight up sprints to the finish.  The last one in particular.  I was exhausted.  I was starving.  I couldn't breath.  But I pushed to the end.  And it felt amazing to have finished GLR!

Leg C-8
  • Distance - 2.9 miles
  • Time -20:53
  • Pace - 7:12 min/mile

Leg C-16
  • Distance - 2.5 miles
  • Time - 17:59
  • Pace - 7:08 min/mile 

The BIG Finish and Results

The race ended at Empire Beach near Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.  The whole team was there to see Scot finish the Glory Leg and some of the team ran him in.  I took a picture and cheered him on.  It was incredible to be a part of it all! 

Our team came in 4th, just 13 seconds ahead of the 5th place team.  Talk about close!  But we did it!  And we all got sweet ceramic steins because we placed in the top 5.  

Everybody partied on the beach with pizza and drinks.  Some people went in the lake but it was too cold for me.  We took a lot of great pics and just hung out with our teammates and the other teams that we'd seen along the way at all the exchanges.  We went to the awards ceremony and then before I knew it, it was time to say out good-byes.  Just days before, these 9 people were complete strangers to me.  After 3 straight days of living and running together, we were leaving as friends.  I had so many mixed feelings going into GLR but it turned out to be the best racing experience of my life.  I would do it again in a heartbeat, especially with this team.  Run thirsty, my friends!

The World's Most Interesting Team

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gearing up for GLR

Up until a month ago, I had never even heard of the Great Lakes Relay (GLR) and 2 days from now I'll be running in it!  I sort of fell into it because a friend knew some people who needed a woman for their mixed team.  I didn't know anything about the relay, nor did I know anyone on the team but was assured they were fast and fun.  I Googled the race and figured it sounded like a fun opportunity.  So without too much thought other than I was free that weekend, I said said yes.  What the hell, right?

After I said yes and started to really think about what a relay race in the middle of the woods might entail - bugs, pooping in the woods, eating vegan up north, 2 runs a day, little sleep, the possibility of getting lost.  And I'm doing this with 9 people whom I've never met??  What the hell, right?!!

When I met with some of my team members I started to feel a little better.  They were great!  Seriously.  And they've all done GLR before so they explained it well and offered helpful advice.  But wow, are they FAST!  (I'm talking Martian Marathon-winning fast.  I'm talking 15-minute 5K fast.  YEAH.)  So I am a little intimidated!  haha.  But it's good because I need to be running with fast runners to help me push my pace.  

The way the relay works, each team member has to run 24 miles over the course of the three days.  I have 2 legs each day.  Each leg has a map and turn by turn directions that we will hang onto as we run.  Thankfully my legs are pretty straightforward without too many confusing twists and turns (my biggest fear is getting lost and going miles out of my way!  Ask people.  It's happened.). 

Just to be safe, however, I figured this was a great excuse to buy myself a Garmin!  I've always used a Polar heart rate monitor and Nike+ on my iPod for pace and distance; however, the distance on Nike+ isn't very accurate.  And I never look at my iPod while I'm running anyway.  I just look at the end to see how my overall run went.  This way I can gauge my pace as I'm running.  So not only will it be useful for the race this weekend in terms of GPS, it will be very useful for my training purposes as work toward my BQ in October.

Also for this weekend I picked up a new hat, some running sunglasses, a couple more of my favorite Under Armour tank tops, and some new shoes.  Okay, so the new shoes aren't for the race.  They're for after the race.  And I didn't actually need them.  (wink wink)

You're probably wondering what I'm going to be eating this weekend.  I'm hoping I'll be able to eat my Quaker oatmeal cups for breakfast (peach almond and apple walnut are vegan) because they'll be easy to take along in the car.  For pre- and post-run snacks and lunch, I'll have ALT Bars, Clif Builder bars (not my usual thing but they are vegan and I'll need the protein), Clif MOJO bars, apples and bananas.  The team plans on doing dinner at a local burger joint but if there's nothing vegan there (very likely) I found there's a Subway close to the hotel.  I'll do a veggie sub Friday and Saturday.

To hydrate?  Just lots of water.  I usually can't do Gatorate (my stomach doesn't handle it too well) but I did buy some Coco Hydro packets that are each the equivalent of 2 coconuts.  Maybe I'll have these after each of my runs.

All my clothes are laid out but I still have some packing to do.  Expect a full GLR report next week!

Have you done or are you doing GLR?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Soaps from Cellar Door Soap & Skin

Seriously, where is the summer going?!  I know I've been delinquent in general here on the blog, but this post specifically is one that I've been wanting to do since May.  Yes, MAY.  So yeah, it's a little late and some of these soaps might be gone.  But if so, worry not because they have so many to choose from!  I honestly cannot keep up with all the soaps that Cellar Door has been putting out.  Every time I turn around there's another amazing new scent.  And you know how I have a hard time exercising restraint when it comes to soap!  Especially new soap.  And limited edition soap?  Uh oh.

Here are a few really great ones from the summer collection (that I haven't used and/or given away yet):

And this is obviously my FAVORITE from the summer collection.  But I didn't have to tell you that, did I?  (wink, wink)

I also really liked Grass Stain and Tomato Vine.  Both were fresh, clean outdoorsy scents.

Some other great soaps I want to hoard in my closet are Yuzu (grapefruit), Patchouli Bergamot (smells more bergamot than patchouli), and Lemon Verbena.  Just to name a few, of course!

Check out Cellar Door on Facebook to find your favorite soap!  You can also order online.  But I recommend going to the market and getting your nose right up to the soap.  That's what I do!

What is your favorite summer scent?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Detroit Marathon Countdown: 15 Weeks

I'm a few weeks into my plan and I'm finding the hardest part of following a training plan is following a training plan.  As I've said many times before, I've never trained for a race.  I just run.  (Not that I was running when I did my first half but that's beside the point.)

So when I say I'm not following my plan, it's not as if I'm not running almost every day.  It's just that I'm not following the mileage as it's laid out.  Take this week, for example.  I  swapped my Saturday and Sunday mileage because I did a 6-mile group run at RUNdetroit on Saturday.  My 5-mile Sunday run didn't happen because of some (ahem) unforeseen circumstances Saturday night involving red wine.  Rest day.

Because I rested on Sunday I needed to get my 5 miles in on Monday, which is generally a cross-training day.  I did both.  Can't miss my cycle!  Tuesday I was supposed to do 3 but now that my running buddy Julie is recovered from a hamstring injury, we're back to doing our 6-mile run.  Wednesday was supposed to be 6 but because I would also be running in Boot Camp, I only did 4.  Today was supposed to be 3 but again I ran 6 with Julie. 

So in general, it isn't that I'm running less than I'm supposed to be running.  I'm actually running more.  But not so much that I'm overdoing it.  I think it's okay during the week if I'm not super disciplined about the exact number of miles but on the weekend I have to be sure I get in the long runs.  This weekend I have 11, which will be my longest training run.  Ever.  Since, ya know, I've never trained before.  Anyone know a good 1/2 marathon I can just sign up for on Sunday instead?

Read previous Detroit Marathon Countdown posts - 17 Weeks

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Beefless Tips & Broccoli

We've been using Gardein Beefless Tips at home for a little while but never really had a favorite recipe for them.  I once cooked them with chick peas but we usually just saute them and toss them with a little BBQ sauce.  

One evening during cycle, I was trying to figure out what to go home and cook for dinner.  I was feeling lazy so it wasn't going to be anything complex.  That's when I remembered the Beefless Tips sitting in the freezer next to a bag of frozen broccoli cuts.  I'd just saute the two together with some Trader Joe's Island Soyaki sauce.  Voila!  Dinner.  I also ended up having some leftover chickpeas so I tossed those in, as well.  We served this over cooked quinoa because that was quick but it would also be delicious with brown rice. 

Brian loves this meal!  It's his new favorite way to have Beefless Tips.  And since it takes about 15 minutes to make with no prep work, it's my new favorite, too!

Beefless Tips & Broccoli
(printable recipe)


1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Olive oil
1 package Gardein Beefless Tips
1 package frozen broccoli cuts
1/4 cup Trader Joe's Island Soyaki (or favorite teriyaki sauce)
1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed


1. Rinse quinoa and prepare according to package directions.

2. While quinoa is cooking, heat oil in large skillet.  Add Beefless Tips and saute evenly over high heat, 3-4 minutes per side.

3. Reduce heat to medium.  Add frozen broccoli.  Stir to combine, cover, and steam for 2-3 minutes (adding 2 tbsp of water if the Beefless Tips are sticking).  

4. Reduce heat to simmer.  Uncover and add sauce and chickpeas.  Stir and cook until heated through, about 3-4 minutes.  Serve over cooked quinoa. 

Serves 2.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tough Mudder, Michigan - 2013

Last Sunday I completed my second Tough Mudder event.  (You can read about my first here.)  For anyone who is unfamiliar with Tough Mudder, it's a 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces.  There are 20 obstacles on the course that challenge you mentally and physically.  Many of them cannot be done alone and therefore you need a team or at least a partner to help you complete the course.  Meet my team - the Iron Eagles:

Iron Eagles (from left to right): Brian, me, and Andy

We were ready to take on Big Mudder and all he had to throw at us.  This was Andy's 3rd TM.  He and I did Indiana together last year and he also recently did one in Chicago. As I said, this was my 2nd.  Although this was Brian's 1st, he's been training for over a year so he was good and ready.  Time to put all our running and monkeying around at the park to the test.  Were we ready?  HELL YEAH!

This was the first year that Michigan hosted Tough Mudder so people showed up to Michigan International Speedway (MIS) for the event in record numbers.  We signed up for Sunday, which turned out to be a slower day than Saturday.  Everything went smoothly - parking, registration, and bag drop.  No lines for port-a-potties even!  We hopped the wall just in time for the opening ceremony for our 9:20 start time.  And we were off! 


We ran the entire course, only slowing down when it was really slippery with mud.  But we didn't walk.  The terrain wasn't challenging because it was basically flat with only a few small hills.  There was some gravel and one part that was a wooded trail but the majority of it was muddy grass.  Anyone who is a good runner shouldn't have difficulty with the running component of the event, at least not here at MIS.  Plus, the longest distance between obstacles was only about a mile, so you get a lot of breaks in your running. 


Glory Blades (8' angled wooden walls) - The Glory Blades aren't particularly challenging but they certainly aren't meant to be completed on your own.  Because the walls are angled, there is no foothold to get you started.  (Although I think Brian may have gotten over on his own!)  With a boost from Andy, I could grab the top, push myself up, and swing my legs over the top and slide down the other side.

Kiss of Mud #1 (crawl through mud under barbed wire) - The barbed wire wasn't all that low on this so I was mostly able to stay on my hands and knees.  There were a few parts where it hit my head or back and I had to dip to my elbows but I emerged from this obstacle unscathed.

Firewalker (leap over fire pit into water) - I really enjoyed this obstacle, however, I was completely unprepared for it because it's been changed since I last did Tough Mudder.  While we used to run around burning hay bales that emitted thick black plumes of smoke, you now simply vault over a fire pit and plunge into a pool of muddy water.  As I ran to the flames I came to a slippery halt because I was surprised to see the water on the other side.  In the end this was much more fun - and better for my lungs!

Arctic Enema (plunge into icy water) - Ah, the Arctic Enema.  Unlike last year, I at least knew I would have to swim under the ice cube-filled water.  But knowing it didn't make it any easier.  There's still that sense of panic as you're standing in that frigid water, like "You want me to go WHERE?!" because you have to swim from one side of the icy trailer to the other.  And the only way to get there is to go under the wooden board that divides the trailer in two.  But then you do it and you're done.  The feeling comes back to your extremities.  Eventually.

Underwater Tunnels (swim under rows of floating barrels) - This was a new obstacle for me.  There were three rows of barrels tied together and all your did was swim under each row when the lifeguard told you to go.  Only a problem if you can't swim, in which case you shouldn't attempt the obstacle.  Duh.

Mud Mile (climb over a series of muddy trenches) - Because thousands of people went before us on Saturday, the mud hills had so many footprints to step in that climbing up and down wasn't hard.  Not much slipping and sliding here.  And it isn't an actual mile of mud.  The name is quite deceiving.

Logjammin' (crawl under and over logs) - This was a little bit tricky in spots because some of the logs were slippery from the rain and from muddy feet. 

Hold Your Wood (carry heavy log around a track as a team) - Last year we each carried our own piece of wood, which was easy enough.  This time we carried a team log.  Brian took the front, Andy the back, and I went in the middle.  Brian shouldered the bulk of the log's weight because he's shorter than Andy and it sloped downward.  The whole thing was quite awkward, especially on a slippery, muddy track. 

Walk the Plank (jump off a 15' platform) - I have a fear of heights so I had to psych myself up a bit for this one once I was at the top.  Then I held my nose and went for it.  Do true Mudders hold their nose?  Yes.  Yes they do.

Boa Constrictor (crawl through sections of 3' pipe) - I did this one last year but for some reason this time it freaked me out!  I had a total moment of panic as the water level was rising and I had to turn my face to the side to keep it from going under.  Before going into the second pipe I actually had to put my face under because there wasn't enough air space in the pipe and again, I had that panic moment.  I was glad to be past this obstacle!

Trench Warfare (crawl through earthen tunnels) - These weren't very shallow so we could crawl through on hands and knees.  Not scary or challenging.  No moments of panic.  (Probably because I've seen Titanic more times than movies about people being buried alive.)

Funky Monkey (monkey bars over water pit) - The Funky Monkey has nothing on me!  While it is a challenging set of bars, I'd gotten my practice in at the local park and DO eat a lot of bananas, so I was confident I would make it all the way across.  I was a little nervous about my hands being wet but was able to dry them off on the wooden boards of the monkey bar structure.  Easy peasy!  The other Iron Eagles need to eat more bananas.

Cage Crawl (pull yourself along a cage while lying on your back in the water) - Basically this was an assisted back float.  Quite refreshing and relaxing.

Electric Eel (swim/slide over water getting shocked) - Okay, so the Electric Eel sucks.  I'll give you that.  Luckily I was able to find a good path so I only got hit a few times.  Andy and Brian each got about 10 shocks but even they didn't think it was brutal.  We did, however, hear some horror stories but I think those are people who hung out in the water for too long.  The longer you're in the water the worse it is. 

Warrior Carry (carry a fellow Mudder on your back) - Since we had an odd number, this is how we worked it out: Brian carried me to the halfway exchange point while Andy hopped on one foot.  I thought I might be able to carry Brian.  Uhhh, NO.  So then Andy carried Brian while I hopped the rest of the way on one foot.  Did I look and feel ridiculous?  Yes.  Is hopping on one foot through the mud a killer calf workout?  Yes it is!

Kiss of Mud #2 (crawl through mud under barbed wire) - Same as Kiss of Mud #1, but a bit bumpier and the paths weren't as straight.

Bale Bonds (jump/climb over hay bales) - This is where I got most of my scrapes.  These were huge rolls of hay in various sizes, some as tall as 6'.  Mostly I was able to boost myself up on my own, or pull myself up with the rope that held the roll together.  Andy definitely helped me on one of them.  He and Brian were good on their own.

Berlin Walls (scale two 12' wooded walls) - To get over these, Andy and Brian boosted my feet in their hands so I could grab the top of the wall.  Then I pulled myself up to sit on the wall, and gently dropped down the other side.  Brian helped Andy.  On the first wall, Brian somehow managed to climb it all by himself!  When I dropped down from the second wall I held up my arms like a gymnast.  Some nearby EMT's gave me a 9.5 (they knocked off points because I didn't stick my landing).

Everest (greased up 1/4 pipe) - The obstacle I was least looking forward to was not 10,000 volts of electricity, not icy water, and not burning flames.  No, it was Everest - a slippery 1/4 pipe to run up.  In the end, it wasn't really so slippery.  But it still sucked.  When I was hanging there, it was my left leg that needed to go up and over.  In training, I always favored my right and 99% of the time ignored Andy's advice to practice using my left leg to swing up and over walls.  Yet here I was, faced with needing to use my left leg.  A woman I didn't know was helping to pull me over and I think she physically grabbed my foot as I shouted at her, "I don't have good mobility in my left hip!"  She just rolled her eyes. 

Electroshock Therapy (run through electrified wires) - I said this before and I'll say it again: knowing you're about to get hit with 10,000 volts of electricity is worse than actually getting hit with 10,000 volts of electricity.  Just put your head down and go for it!


And we were done!  We finished the 12-mile course in 2.5 hours.  HooRAH!  Considering I can run a half marathon road race in about an hour less than that without any mud or obstacles, I'd say that's pretty damn good.  

We hung out for a while after and did some people-watching at Electroshock Therapy.  Andy drank his free beer and mine while Brian got as many deodorants and razors as he could stuff into his free Advil bag.  Then we showered up and headed home.  

Did I love doing Tough Mudder?  Absolutely!  It was a blast, thanks to these guys right here.  Will I do another one?  I don't think I will.  But more on that in another post. 

Did you do Michigan Tough Mudder?  What did you think of it?