Thursday, August 25, 2016

2016 Chicago Terrain Race

Daaaaayuummmm!  What a race this was.  I made the 5+ hour trip into the Southwest side of the Chicago area for the Terrain Race at the Chicagoland Speedway.  As luck would have it the rain came down immediately after I filled out my waiver and grabbed my timing chip, go figure, but I got warmed up, changed, and headed for the start of my 10K Competitive wave. 

Image result for Terrain race start pool
An example of a Terrain Race Start!

The start of this race was all new to me and actually kinda cool both in literal terms and its uniqueness.  Start line was ahead of two large pools maybe 3 feet deep you had to hop out of prior to crossing the start line....I snagged a great spot in the front and out the water quickly I went.  Rain wasn't issue here as it would come down extremely hard at times making things slow a bit.

The rest of course had some great obstacles and the best part of the whole damn thing was there was no penalties for non completion of an obstacle you just keep trying till either you get it or you give up your band and out of the running for any awards.  That all aside, I rolled into the first obstacle sitting inside the top 10 pretty easily as the pack separated shortly after the first crawl under some bungees inches of the surface of the water in which I did drink some and not at all impressed with the flavor, but after clearing out my lungs a bit things seemed to come back on track through some mud pits and a culvert crawl which proved to hold me up a bit as not all could squeeze through easily and I picked the wrong lane for sure, but oh well, that's racing.  The separation point of the race came pretty early on where a cargo net went into a wreck bag carry.  I climbed the cargo net to the top reached down the other side and managed the flip but held on and really wrenched the shoulder....didn't think that technique through in regard to the shoulder, but I got it done anyway and seemed like the wreck bag run went fine, but slow as I was more focused on the status of the shoulder and it took a bit to shake off what just happened.  Turned out to be sore, but completely fine to use.

2nd and clean attempt at the rig

From there it would be some 4', walls and then the breaking point of the race.....THE RIG.  So here's how this went down.  There were shapes of all sorts hanging from lanyards of some sort in which you could not use...had to use the ball or cone or skull shaped grip to get across without touching the ground.  I really worried about my shoulder and it showed the first time through and had to start over.  The second time I just really slowed it down and just focused on having a good grip and my swing to the next one and nailed it, but lost a spot....honestly with my one fail I actually made up more than I lost as many struggled here, but who still has their band?  Me!!!!  Onto the next one......

There's our section of bleachers, Sara Palin swears she can see Russia from the top..

I made up ground to another dude who I had been swapping spots with all morning and we charged through the rope climb, did some tire flips, and we talked a bit about who we are where we were from etc while heading into the Speedway for the entire bleachers full of running steps.  I would struggle with one 8' wall due to a poor technique and over analyzing the damn shoulder but this guy ahead waited for me which was pretty damn cool. 

When we left the stadium we grabbed sandbags and headed into the speedway again for some additional steps but this time with a complaints from me considering I've been hauling some weight around in my training so it should have been nothing and it was.  We were told we were in 3rd and 4th....I was stoked to say the least.

Tire drag was a drag

At this point we were on the last stretch and I just kept pace with him only increasing my tempo little by little but that would be a mistake as he was stronger on the obstacles like the tire drag as in pull a huge ass tire with a rope and return it back to it's home and sprint to the last two obstacles.  

This kicked my butt mostly cause of technique which is poorly documented in this picture....CAN'T USE THE STRUCTURE PEOPLE!

The last real difficult obstacle was the monkey balls (I think this is the name...well look at the pic above) which I believe is a series of climbing grips over a pool and you cant use the beams to advance and I didn't care much for the layout and that cost me big the first attempt as I couldn't see my next move and resorted to grabbing the top and so I dropped into the water and reset....second try I simply swung to wildly and lost it toward the end.  The last time I nailed it and the grip felt pretty solid, but the damage was done as there was one small obstacle left and after sliding down the pole I crossed the line in a hard fought 4th place just out of the cash money, but I would rather take 4th in a stacked field which this truly was vs 1st with nobody to compete against although don't get me wrong, I do like cash!!!  It was great to finally meet some of guys I've been running against at these Spartan Races and I definitely look forward to going after them very soon if I can. 

The last obstacle, I was relieved to say the least.  Unfortunately this structure would get it's armband taken away, but that OSB wasn't going to keep up with the rain and moisture anyway....I am sure they've already worked on this issue.

I don't know what happens regarding OCR Worlds, but even if I qualify I may back off a year and make sure my shoulder is truly 100% not just 100% functional.  I also need to work on a lot of skills to get me speed ready for the next one.  So for now just hammer out hard workouts and get ready for whatever happens next.

looking for the finishing obstacle and happy with the outcome

Takeaways from this race.  1. I need to get a lot of practice on rigs.  2. $20 is not enough money for tolls.  3. My running ability bailed me out today. 4. I love mandatory obstacle completion....I love doing the whole course.  5.  The OCR community is incredible....everybody is out there pushing each and we are each others cheerleaders out there on the course..  And finally 5+ plus hours in a car = some heavy legs at the beginning of a race...I felt horrible for most of that race till the speedway some 4 or 5 miles into it.....yikes.

I have lots to write about following this race and the demise of Battlefrog, but I'll fight off the carpel tunnel syndrome for now till after I get my workout in.  Mile repeats and some deadlifts and legs today should get the creative writing juices going for the time being.....

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Leggionaire "Big House" Mud Challenge

Video Evidence:

Pyramid o' Bales

Last Saturday the Crandon International Off-Road Raceway hosted it's first ever obstacle course race on the same track that legends like Ivan "Ironman" Stewart, Walker Evans, and many other Off-Road Champions walked away as World Off-Road royalty.  The course featured slimy, slippery, and tacky clay that claimed many trying to find grip once things began to get wet, some fun off road terrain made specifically for jeep rock climbing, deep water pits and some fun additions like a pyramid of hay bales, multiple mud crawls, log hurdles, and a wall of tires as well as a slip and slide.  The one obstacle that wasn't pleasing was the heat, but with the race starting on time early on in the morning, it was manageable to keep it together. 

Warmup went well with doing some upper body dips, pullups, and pushups along with top-down stretching and some jogging after downing some beetelite.  I was ready for battle and felt comfortable with the shoulder which would be very important.  Off to the start I go.

The starter fired a shot and we were off into a drag race into the first obstacle.  This was a large cylinder with 2x4s attached and chain link fence to grab onto and pull up to the top, I got there first and blasted as high as I could and let the Innov8s do the most of the work and flew off the other side to the next obstacle.

This would be a set of bleachers...yup, the first 4 feet were missing so it was basically the corral wall at your local Spartan race but then you keep running the bleachers up and down the other side which I thought was kind of unique yet I moved through with ease and even managed to lengthen my lead over the field of 5k and 10k runners at this point.  Moving on to the next obstacle was the first of a section of rock crawling obstacles you would see long travel jeeps attempt not us silly humans....but here we were running up and over these closely spaced boulders going up and down left and right through those rocks and even a series of concrete culverts laying every which way leading me to bound hop, balance, and leap through it all and down the backside into a steep wooden wall.  This wall was all of 40% and had a rope you could use to traverse the spaced pieces of 2x12s leading to the top and I just bounded up without the rope with a bit of speed and luck. 

The course would spin you right around and down into a long mud bog that would just suck your legs in the mud and water which claimed many a shoe that day, but I ran through as light as I could imagine in my brain in hopes to be out quickly.  I would like to think it worked and it must have cause I could no longer hear anyone behind me.

The next chunk of the course would be a series of rolling double track off road trails some were singletrack some were steep pitches of loose sand which would just zap the energy and speed straight out of your legs and into another section of boulders to navigate yourself up and through. 

The next part of the course would bring you into the grandstand area through some large timbers to hurdle, a set of tires to run through as well as wall to climb over in which there would be no dislocating of a shoulder this time around.

Also in this area of the course I would encounter a large wall of tires to climb up, over, and down heading to a series of crawls under wires, crawls in tubes, but the crawling would be broken up by a water slide, and a large pyramid of hay bales in which I actually enjoyed the most as it was more of an agility test for me and I really enjoyed it.  there would be another crawl under a snow fence before crossing the finish line after making another lap around the course.

The finish of the race was confusing but completed in a way that I was happy with the outcome, but left me wanting more.  So what would any self-respecting person on Team Strength and Speed do????? Simple, do another lap, so with permission I would lace up the muddy shoes and head back out to the start and just go do some obstacle training, but I would be surprised to see another team of 11 called "The Chix From the Stix" literally just starting and asked if I wanted to run with them and I did so I walked them through the course and would pick up my pace to get to the obstacle so I didn't hold them back from enjoying the course as a group without me in the way and they seemed to enjoy it so I kept going on with them till the end completing both my laps and theirs for a total of 20K of OCR for the day.  Waiting for me at the finish was a crisp $100 for my days effort and the title of the first ever champion. 

It was a fantastic race with unlimited venue opportunities.  I will be glad to help them out from a design stand point going forward and it benefits the American Cancer Society, which I am very much in support of.  What, no mention of the hot weather.....well it was that fun out there I kinda forgot about it, it was a solid 85 as I left the venue....ahhh well sometimes it's about the experience not the conditions.


No issues with shoulders and felt great going that far, but I still need to get my grip stronger, I think that is a never ending battle just watching how gassed even world class climbers get on Ninja Warrior lol.  We continue on though.....

Here's the next couple of adventures

8/6 - Hank Aaron 5K - Milwaukee
8/20 - Chicago Terrain Race
9/3 - Manitowish Bad Dash OCR
9/17 - Mississippi Mud Run OCR
10/16 - Either OCR Worlds or Whistlestop Half Marathon
Others I am eying up.
UW-EauClaire Blugold 8K Invite (College XC Race)
Nutty Trail Run 5K hilly as hell 5k
Buck Rut 5K Trail Run also hilly as hell
Cyclocross Bicycle Racing either in Minnesota or Northcentral Wisconsin
If I am feeling good before training starts up again I many do some snowshoe racing and/or the frostbite 8k, fatbiking....I don't know, we'll see how the season progresses.

Till then just keep "pushing so hard till your veins pump battery acid and then push some more" -

Friday, July 22, 2016

Here it comes another post about OCR.  (Obstacle Course Racing). Well the painful road of healing up this shoulder is getting closer to wrapping up as we keep working on building stability and strength back into it.  I managed to do a 1 hour long kayak jaunt up and down the river with very little  discomfort so I think we should be good to go if the doc agrees on Saturday.  I had a few options to choose from.  I could either go with the warrior dash near Mankato, the Alpine Adventure Challenge about an hour and a half from me, or go just a bit northeast to Crandon. The decision was more simplified and I chose not to chase a World Championship slot at least not this weekend and stay local on a course that on paper shouldn't create an issue with the shoulder.  Looks like the has another heat wave approaching us which really it's not the end of the world considering the Spartan race was no different not less than a month ago.  I'm ready though, I have my beetelite and Jet Fuel ready to go.  I think after this OCR I am waiting till the Chicago Terrain Race to see if I can avenge that awful placing at the Minnesota Sprint.

In the meantime I have been busy planning.  A fun opportunity to bring OCR to some high school athletes had me building some obstacles in the garage.  So there will be a short course race up at cross country camp in the next month.  A video will follow for sure.

Other than that the other thing setting up shop in my brain is maybe adding a cyclocross race or two to the schedule this year.  I've always been intrigued but these races tend to stay to the southern part of the state.

Until then I want to shoot some workout videos and such but that will have to wait till after this weekend's race.

Here's to some great racing this weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Profiles in Badassary

Being named "Badass of the Week" is far better than any trophy I've ever won - Justin Lund

A very fun interview by the guys at

"My first OCR race was the last real moment of accomplishment that my step dad and I shared before he passed away late last summer of esophageal cancer. He was so interested in how this OCR stuff worked and he being a baseball and football guy for him to really take to an endurance sport with such interest made it that much more special."

Introducing Justin Lund, our profiled badass of the week. Read more about him.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

First OCR of 2016

.....Better late than never, but it didn't come and go without incident unfortunately. 

Well I got my first taste of the Spartan Elite field at the Minnesota Sprint this past weekend and boy do I have a lot to say about this experience.
Apex Predator Attacking

First of all, I am not sure where people stand on this, but I do my best to plan out my nutritional needs so I don't bonk at the end and timing of ingestion is crucial and it's relation to start time so imagine my discomfort when the race was delayed some 45 minutes cause the EMS crew wasn't there yet......I can understand the importance of that crew and I would come to need their assistance after it was all said and done, but we'll get back to that later, but DUDE!!!!!! you're messing with my program here and I was restless to say the least.

Secondly, If you clicked the box that says "elite" you should certainly be expected to compete like one or start at the back of field. Now I learned my lesson as well as it is my fault that I didn't make my way around to start at the front or second row, but if your intent from the front is to get your picture on the local newspaper or walk the starting hill, get to the back there are people really looking to accomplish something out there.
No Double Sandbag :)

Once we finally got started I wasted a lot of energy passing the herds of walkers in the "elite" field, but I would come to find out that this would not matter, not in the least based upon my finish. My goal was to make that chase pack hoping to keep tabs on the leaders and pick up on their lines and techniques but the start fiasco ruined that so I grinded it through the mud pits, over/under/through, monkey bars, and the 6 and 7 foot walls blah blah blah a lot of obstacles between the first and 24th.

The first of my issues would begin at the z wall where I got much further this time but still did my burpees...all of them...and good form. Thought for sure I made a decent push towards the top 10 if not for sure the top 20, but lost a few spots there for sure as I kept hearing that bell as I did my penalty burpees. I would gain some of that back on the trail, but then the wheels came off starting with the 8' walls. Came down the hill doing my thing, minding my own business and take a run at the wall, grab the top and begin to pull up to get my leg over, but somewhere in that process I rotated my left shoulder funny and felt a pop and then numbness before I could swing the leg over and bailed off the wall. I reacted by popping it back to where it belonged but the damage was done. I did a 2nd attempt at the wall and actually made it without any issue as well as the 8 footer that came later on, soooooo I continued on and did some good work on the Herc Hoist, Sandbag carry, hurdles, some more walls of varying nature all up until the multi-rig where I had issue #3 for the day and the 2nd dislocation of the same shoulder (for those keeping track of this at home that's two of them on the same shoulder eeeeek) swinging from the baseball to the next device which I believe was a vertical short length of a wooden dowel or something. This time it took a little bit longer to get it back in but did so and went straight into more burpees in which I think I was up to 65 at this point including the atlas carry. The weakest portion of the day was definitely the bucket carry lots of stops on the way up and down, just favored the weak arm too much and at that point it was very much in my head what has just occurred not once but twice now on this 5 mile course I was definitely not strong here as I would see in the results the top 30 had now passed me by and even more would go by after a good but not good enough spear throw that gave me 30 more burpees to think about whether or not this rope climb was going to happen or not. So I have every expectation that I will be finishing up this race failing my last obstacle, but as luck would have it, this did not affect my shoulder and as a bonus I decide to no leg the rope climb up as a way to spite my misfortunes of the day. I would jump the fire, get my fitaid, medal, finisher shirt and some snacks and proceed to the medical tent in which I would teach them how I wanted my shoulder wrapped in Ice.

Results....Well not horrible considering, but a far cry from what I was trying to accomplish 44th overall in the Elite Field, but way too much time back from the leader and not easy to make up over a course that carried around 1400 feet of elevation gain in just over 5 miles.

Here's the key takeaways. ONE! If you really think you can race up front start there or you wont see the leaders until after they already rinsed off post race. TWO! (and this is a big one) Warmup for your event....if you plan on climbing, pulling, pushing, etc warmup by doing the same. I truly believe if I had done some pushups, pullups, and dips before the race this would not have happened. THREE! I can do this, I knew where I was in the field after the initial start log jam going up the hill, I know where I was strong and weak which were things I really didn't know from last years race.
I had a great time with some great friends and even met a couple of new friends and teammates Josh Rundquist and Kevin A. Hill. Congrats to Strength & Speed Dev Team on your results and resolve. Congrats to my roadtrip team of Dani Whiting for taking 2nd in competitive female overall with a time placing her 10 if she ran elite female and Talyn Jones for going competitive for a first time Spartan Racer placing 13th overall in competitive female....must be their coach lol.

I will be back this year just not sure what race, but this is far from over. I have a lot of business to take care of in OCR and I'm just getting started. Congrats to all the racers OCR and non. Rest up and get ready for the next one.

Always Fun To Race With Good Friends

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Time To Start Writing About My MISadventures Again

Let's take some time to look back on what's been happening since I've since left the MTB racing scene for the most part.

To address one thing, I will never completely leave Mountain Bike Racing completely.  If there is a race I can squeeze into my training I will via a WEMS race I will as I still love riding my bike as time would allow, mainly in the fall after my season wraps up.

Well shit, this is what's been going on for the say....oh I don't know....2 or 3 years.

Kidding....short story....I have a great family, great job, have coached some outstanding runners that I now compete against (Connor).  We've purchased a home and our daughter started 4K and is now been around the sun cinco years.  There's been some bad (lost my step dad a man I looked up to my young adult life as well as his father and also a nephew of his as well all in 2015 so forgive me if I give that year a big large middle finger and even larger F-U to last year from that aspect.

All of that aside, I've been riddled by the injury bug and healed in time to still have a good race year at least it was in October when I realized a dream of running college cross at the UWEC Blugold Invite and cruised to a PR in the 8K distance (28:55) *which was eclipsed already in 2016 Now it stands at 28:29 from an 11th place finish at this years Point Bock Run.

I also ran my first college indoor track meet on an indoor 5k at the UWSP Big Dawg Invite which wasn't horrible at 17:11.

2016 started off with a bang at the USATF WI Indoor Championships going under 10 minutes in the 3K at 9:54 which was good enough for a state championship at my age but just steps behind the overall winner at 9:51.

I would revisit the UWSP Indoor Big Dawg invite and challenge the mile and came out way ahead of where I thought I was with a 4:53 and I even beat a couple of college kids in the several strides of the race which felt awesome.

The breakthrough moment of the base building phase of this young season didn't come till this past weekend as I previously mentioned that PR I got at the Bock Run in Point.  I had a plan to stick to my pace in that 5:40/mi pace for the first 3 and turn it up with a mile to go and it was the right move for time but not for placing.  I was with a couple of guys for the first 3 miles of the race and somewhere around mile 3 I began to do something I thought couldn't happen, I tested my competition with surges going from 5:40ish to somewhere around 5:10 to see if they could respond and if so how quickly.  This would go on for the 3rd mile and these guys would fight hard and with such grit, but it was too much at mile 4 when I made a big surge and that busted up the pack, but then I had a job to do by holding on to that surge till I crossed the line.  I was always capable of running that pace, but I turned myself inside out doing it.  That day I played a lot with those surges in which was something I would normally have died trying such a confident strategy it's almost scary.  Wast it the right move?  Sure at the time it was cause I got a two place move up, but had I just went around them and made chase, the top 10 was just ahead of me some 30 seconds up....damn, but it's early on in the season, I'm still in base phase and the only form of speed work has come in some fartlek runs.

"So what's all this shit for?"  "Is that your best?" "How do you know when you've done all that you can do?" is something I asked at times, and well it goes like this.

This shit is for me, I love the competition and I get to be in great shape and set a healthy example for my 5 year old daughter who is just starting to take interest in running and soccer along with other activities such as dance.

An eye opener was last year when I did a Spartan Race and let me tell you that it is the true test of what a real athlete is....don't believe me ask Hunter McIntyre a pro who destroys just about anything he trains for.  Hell ask any OCR (Obstacle Course Racer) athlete and they will talk your ear off with all of the work and how fun it is to do these races while getting completely thrashed, or simply do one yourself.  My mission after the Minnesota Spartan last year was to come back in a year and enter as an elite.  This means becoming a complete athlete not just a runner cause you will get burned on the heavy lifts and carries, not just a lifter or crossfitter cause you gotta have endurance speed and agility to do this stuff in addition to incredible grip strength.

So in my one year transition to becoming an OCR Elite (hopefully elite) I've changed a lot about what being an athlete meant to me.  I lift heavy, I can do muscle ups, I can bang out 30+ pullups just cause, thrusters, squats, deadlifts, kettlebells, agility ladders, rope climbs, jump rope, incline treadmills, crossfit have all become welcomed additions to my madness and so that meaning of the word Athlete means being the best all around complete animal predatory in nature that doesn't rest till the kill is done.

I'm getting there though, but I have learned so much about myself and I feel pretty damn good about it.

So yeah at any given moment a workout or race sure as hell was my best....for that day, but don't mistake that for settling for it being the best I can do.  I don't think I can get to that point cause everyday I discover another level I wasn't at the day before and it's a great feeling.  There will be a day where I get to the end of a race and I will know that I did everything I could as an athlete and it will be nothing short of euphoric.

Not sure how I got here, I guess I loved doing so many things.  I love mountain biking, but I love running, I get quirky from there cause I love grunting in the weight room like some of these body builder types and crossfit armies.  I got to play on the crossfit equipment and climbed ropes like a spider monkey and was hooked.  Can't wait to see what happens next, can't wait to share what happens next.  I have more running races to do, but come June 25th the gloves are off and I will not be denied my dream.....being on the Spartan Podium.

Cool things

1. Hunter McIntyre -  Destroying Stone Cold Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge.  This dude is one a few I am following due to his confidence and ability as well as his shear "tear you apart" attitude.

2. Beet Elite - I've just started using this as a race day formula.  The science is there and it works for me.  Check them out.

3. Spartan Race - This event is legit, I can't say enough about the course designers, organizers, and volunteers.  It's a community of badassery and I love being in the middle of its macho madness

4.  Crossfit - Especially thrusters.  Think this stuff is for pussies?????  Do Fran unbroken then we can talk.  I've never experienced anything like it.  Hardest workouts on the planet in my opinion but you feel like a barbarian after you're done.  #worthit

5.  Epsom Salt -  I've had some issues with my leg over the last couple of years.  A bath in this stuff sure loosens things up a bit, don't knock it till you try it.

6.  Garmin Forerunner 235 - Wrist heart rate gives you all sorts of new data, plus tracks sleep movement steps and running cadence.  Perfect my A.D.D (I have it therefore I can joke about it so basck off) has something else to look at.

Till next time, don't be motivated, just get out and do it.