Saturday, September 9, 2017


I've been getting into progressively bigger OCR weekends.  Back-to-back events.  It's a natural progression, maybe.  Either go longer, or go more.


Sunday, Aug 20:
The day after the Terrain Race, I decided to go for a trail run.  I ended up rolling my ankle worse than usual.  I might've heard a sound.  Usually, I can just run it off pretty much immediately.  This time, I had to stop for a few minutes. When it felt good enough to continue on, albeit with an effective stride, we did.  Made it back to the car, although I'd have to let it take its time recovering after that.

3.9 in 43:29, 11:08 ave.  380 feet elevation gain.

I think I need to get back into some of the exercises that I used to do up until a year ago... the hip strength exercises, which also hit some other stabilizers that would probably make my ankle stronger.  I had been neglecting them in favor of getting in more reps towards the Deez Nutz WOD, but staying healthy is more important, anyways.

The rest of the week, I fully rested.


I left Charlotte at around 3am, to make the 3hr 50 min trip up to Glen Jean, WV, for the inaugural trifecta weekend.  It was being held at Summit Bechel, a massive boyscout camp.  It reminds me of the whitewater center, minus the whitewater center, plus a skate park and gun-related activities.  It's bigger, though... massive.  It's another pretty setting for a Spartan race, with the ponds around the festival.

The elite women were scheduled for 7:45am, but there was a 30 min fog delay, so that the Youtube live coverage could let people see more of what's going on.

(We made it on Youtube, much bigger this time!)

I recently got my Legendbourne OCRWC jerseys in the mail, so today would be a good way to test drive.  I wore the 2016 version of the jersey.  It was neat standing around the elites at the beginning, before they got called up for the start.  

(I could see myself again here!)

We headed out in dense smoke, so thick that everyone stopped completely because we couldn't see a thing.  Then, we got moving again.  

The course started with the longest steep climb in memory.  Kept going up and up, with false summits along the way. At the top, Hurdles and Over-Under-Through.

Then, we started more climbing and descents through bushwhacked forest.  After last weekend's ankle roll, I KT taped it, and hoped for the best.  The main goal was to make it through the weekend without further injury.  I took it really carefully down the hills and on the uneven, cambered paths.   Slow, but safe.

Back down after our first traverse through the forest, we encountered a twist on the Slip Wall.  Instead of a full-length rope, there was only a short rope at the very top.  That meant giving it a good running start.  A bit daunting, for short people like me.  I didn't make it the first time, but I tried it again, and got it the second time.  You just have to let go of any hesitations and power up with everything you have.  Hesitate, and you won't make it all the way up.  Trust and power up.

Steep descents down the grassy knolls, then rolling mud and dunk wall, climb back up, then a really long and steep bucket brigade.  Looking back at the Youtube coverage, it looks sooo steep, like straight up and down. 

After the bucket, into the forest again, for more bushwhacking, steep climbs, and steep descents.  Brutal.  Maybe the riskiest thing for an already rolled ankle, but I somehow made it through unscathed.  In the midst of going through the forest, the pull lace loop on my Reebook All-terrains got hooked onto a tree branch that was on the ground as I stepped over the branch.  My body continued to move forward, but my leg was pulled back.  Fortunately, I was going slowly enough that I stayed upright although tilted forward and standing only on my non-hooked leg.  I felt like an animal caught in a trap.  Also fortunately, there was another racer behind me who kindly helped to get my shoelace off of the branch and free me.  I chuckled at myself for having a "Lindsay Webster" moment (she famously got her hair caught in barbed wire for a long time, and other racers helped to free her, at one of the US champion series races).
Z-wall near the top, Stairway to Sparta at the top (summit of the whole course) with great views to take in for a few seconds before going down, Bender, 6' wall, and back into the festival.
Bridge, a swim onto burpee island for 5 burpees, Tire Flip, Rope Climb, 7' wall, Sandbag, Inverted Wall.  No burpees so far!  Until Spear Throw... burpees.  Went out onto some plains...Vertical cargo, plate drag, barbed wire. Tyro - made it, for the 2nd time ever?  Atlas carry, Monkey bars NBD, 8' wall, Log carry wasn't that bad for me carrying it on the top of my upper back, A-frame cargo, Twister (2nd time on it ever - made it this time!  Used matching hand technique, not skipping any grips, straight arms because I can't do L's).  Herc hoist really hard but did it, stepping on the rope to give myself breaks.  Olympus fail, Multirig fail on the transition to the pipe that was much higher up than the rings, fire.  It was the hardest, longest-duration Beast that I've done, probably.
14.5 mi in 4:05:49, 20:29 average.

After finishing, I had to quickly transition to get ready for my volunteering shift.  No time to go back to the car for my usual volunteering gear (backpack, change of clothes, hiking shoes), since the car was so far away.  I made do with the gear I had checked in, and it actually turned out for the best that I volunteered in my race shoes and shorts.  That's because my Course Sweep Shift entailed re-doing the whole course!!! Steep stuff and all... the only part I didn't have to redo were the obstacles.

I was teamed up with another volunteer.  Our job was to catch up to the last runners and stay somewhat behind them to call out obstacles as cleared, so that they could be prepped for the next day's races.  We also picked up trash along the way.  

The first part was intense, since the last runners left a while before we did.  We caught up to them, though.  It was cat and mouse the whole time.  It felt like Lord of the Rings when the Legolas and Gimli were chasing down the Orcs who had kidnapped the hobbits.  Running through all kinds of terrain trying to catch them.  

My dad chose to volunteer too, since he'd otherwise just be driving back and forth to the hotel, or else waiting in the car or festival the whole day.  He was at Bender, and I was excited to pass by him and say hello during my chase.  

We were chasing one couple during the first half-ish, then it switched to another guy who showed a lot of grit and determination.  We stayed with him for a good bit, before switching to another duo.  By the time we finished, it was dark, and we were using flashlights.  It was a little after 9pm.

Went to the hotel, to get a little rest before the second half of the weekend - the Super and the Sprint, to finish up my trifecta weekend.

I wore my first-edition Reebok All-terrains with normal laces for day 2.  This way, I wouldn't have to worry about having to stop periodically to re-tighten my pull-string lace loop the whole day.  I may need to just replace those default laces on the new models with traditional laces.  Not only would I save that re-tightening time, it would also be safer for my ankles, to have more secured, tight shoes on my feet.  

I had a 11:15 start time, but I met up with a friend with a farm in WV who came to watch, beforehand.  It's fun to introduce new people to the world of OCR.  We're a crazy bunch.  With such a late start time, I'd have to keep a reasonable pace, to make it back in time to start my Sprint before the last heat of the day.  

Same steep initial climb, third time that weekend.  Longer rope on the slip wall, since the Super and Sprint versions of the obstacles are sometimes made easier.  That's one variation of making things easier, with the other being the rig where the pipe can be exchanged with more rings.  Fortunately, the Bucket course was shorter today, too.  Yesterday was tough.

It was fun to see my friend during the festival obstacles. I got my closest ever on the Spear, with a 1) run-and-throw, and 2) arch technique.  Not enough force to make it stick, but at least it was on target, in the middle of the hay this time.  I made the Twister again!  And the difficult Herc Hoist!  Got a bit farther on the Olympus today vs. yesterday, but still failed.  Because my friend was there, I actually forgot to do my burpees after the Olympus, but I did double burpees after the Olympus after the Sprint to make up for it.  It would've nagged at me forever if I didn't make them up.

Made the pure ring rig, then fire jump!  8.5 in 2:44:13, 20:31 average.

Quick transition to drop off my medal and Super shirt, and put on my Sprint race chip, then head out for the Sprint!  My friend left right before the Sprint.

It was all about survival now. 14.5 mile beast, 14 mileish course sweep, and 8.5 mile Super = 27 miles covered so far over the weekend.  4th time up the steep hill.  Slow-ish but steady.  Looking forward to a shorter course.  Similar to the Super, no Swim, took out the plains portion, but still lots of obstacles.  

Still failed the spear.  Got Twister a third time!  Could barely budget the Herc hoist this time.  Near total fail on the Olympus, where I did 30 + 30 makeup burpees from the Super.  Did the Rig!  

4.5 in 2:05:15, 31:18 average.  Trifecta accomplished!  Good prep with heavy mileage and obstacles for Iceland 24 Hour Ultra World Championships.  I ran into a fellow endurance junkie friend right in front of the giant billboard, and told my dad, "Surprise!  I'm going to Iceland for the 24 hour race", at the same time that I told my friend.  Should be epic.

Good Sierra Nevada beer afterwards.  I'm so glad that Spartan has finally embraced good beer.  It was a great venue, and I hope they're back in WV next year!!! 

Monday, September 4, 2017


I had planned on taking the day off, to go see the total solar eclipse from Columbia, SC.  However, project stars aligned so that I couldn't really get away.  Toooooo bad.  That meant that I'd be seeing a 98% eclipse, as opposed to a total eclipse.  I was hoping to get to experience the once-in-a-lifetime event with my dad, but that got scrapped.

I had been anticipating it for months.  I had purchased eclipse glasses on ebay months ago, although when the news reports came out of potentially fake glasses, I ended up making pinhole cameras, instead.  It would be a different take on the experience.   Still unique and cool in its own way. 

I woke up feeling lots of excitement about the day.  Even that morning, something seemed different about the sun.  I was excited the whole day.

Fortunately, we were at least allowed a break during our 1-3pm meeting to watch the 2:30pm eclipse for a few minutes.  I had almost given up hope of being able to see it at all. 

With 98% coverage, the sun still looked pretty much like it always does, to the eye (not that I really looked) or the iphone camera.

Looking around at ground level, you'd figure that it was just a cloudy day, for the most part.  It did get slightly more twilighty at one point, but probably nothing like what the total eclipse regions got to experience. 

People were nice and passed around hopefully legit shades. 

I didn't get to try out the pinhole cameras, since I was in a different part of campus than the rest of my friends.  I heard that they didn't really work, anyway, though... I probably make the holes too big.  However, some people shared a manila folder with a hole, which had the same effect.

(If you look at the folder on the ground, you'll see a little crescent - so cool!)


Asheville Spartan weekend had been an unprecedented big one, with the Elite Super, the HH, the Sprint, then volunteering.  4 things.  It was time to recover, before my next event.  I felt like I had a chance at the podium at Terrain, so I wanted to be in good form for it.


Thursday, Aug 3:
The previous day, I finally felt like I was starting to recover.  5.0 in 41:48, 8:21 average, 2 degrees of incline, at the gym.  It went better than expected.  I could've biked instead, but I wanted to run if I could handle it.  Splits> 8:35, 8:26, 8:26, 8:19, 8:00.

Saturday, Aug 5:
50 min strength session at the gym.  Still continuing work on the Deez Nutz WOD.
  • Sit-ups: 70 + 45 = 115
  • Squats: 145
  • Plank: 3 + 2 + 2 = 7 min
  • Flutter Kicks (4-count): 50 + 45 = 95
  • Pushups: 30 + 25 = 55
  • Adductor/Abductor = 60 / 100 - need to bring these back into the rotation, to keep my hips strong and therefore my knees happy
  • Lunges: 55
  • Mt Climbers: 100
  • Assorted dumbell rows
Sore the next day, especially in my hammies and glutes.  Ate a lot, feeling like it would help with my recovery.

Monday, Aug 7:
I was going to bike at first, but my legs were feeling good, so I decided to try a run.  I would've done long slow distance, but it seemed like it would be drudgery, so I decided to go for intervals.  I haven't done speedwork in so long (5 months!!!), but it ended up going super well.  Good prep for Terrain!

1 mi warmup in 8:18, 3 x [0.75 mi in 5:00 (9mph), 0.25mi in 1:58 (7.5mph)].  Still got it!   4.0 in 29:16, 7:19 ave, 2 degrees of incline.

Wednesday, Aug 9:
75 min of biking, more than my usual 60 min.  Wouldn't have been able to run safely.  This was a good shakeout from the intervals.

Saturday, Aug 12:
Trail run to go for some distance while I can... not too much, but something a bit longer than the weekday runs.  8.5 mi in 1:22:48, 9:42 ave.  I hit the trails at Latta Plantaion, at 6pm.  Pretty hot.  Body felt fine, but the effort was much harder than it should've been, probably because of the heat.  My whole body, especially my legs, felt heavy.  508 feet elevation gain.  Got thirsty.  Had to work in the morning, felt bleh.  Getting out and getting in some movement makes me feel better on those bleh weekends, though.

Tuesday, Aug 15:
5.0 in 41:27, 8:18 ave, 2 degrees of incline.  Last run before the race.  Splits> 8:43, 8:21, 8:17, 8:06,

I had signed up for the competitive 10K, hoping that my endurance would be a strength, vs. signing up for the competitive 5K.  The course was a 5K course, so I'd be doing 2 loops.  Terrain is one of the race series that has mandatory obstacle completion, so that would be my primary focus. 

A unique thing about Terrain is that we start off in a pool of water, and have to get out of it at the gun.  We were off.  We ended up going onto the kids course early on.  Some realized it quicker than others.  I wasn't sure, so I did the obstacles anyway.  I didn't want to get DQed or anything, in case the people who felt like we were on the kids course were wrong.  The obstacles did seem oddly easy, but it was my first time doing this series, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

We got back on course, back to the big obstacles.  5 foot wall, tall wall with rope, tire flip was heavy with no differentiation in weights for men vs. women, short and light bucket brigade, cargo, tubes, wading, tire drag (really heavy, too, and no differentiation between mens and womens weights), light wreck bag, rope climb, tire golf, tire yolk, rig with balls and handles and foot rings, rig with alternate rope and arm rings, wading, monkey bars, monkey roll. 

A little before the last gauntlet, a guy said that I was fourth, and that third was not behind, and that I should try to chase.  As I was on the last obstacle, I heard the announcers say that 3rd place (not me) was nearing the finish line.  It was impossible to tell who was signed up for the 5K or the 10K, but if I was already 4th, and some of the top 3 were doing the 5K only, I was feeling pretty good.  I'd just have to survive the mandatory completions for the second lap.  But as I crossed the line, expecting to be directed right onto the second lap, I found out that they only gave awards based on placement after the first 5K.  I was sooooo disappointed.  I had been going very conservatively, thinking that I had twice the distance to do.  I felt like I could've gotten at least third, since they were just like 20s in front of me.  Why advertise it as a competetive 10K, if it's really only a competetive 5K with the option to run a second untimed lap afterwards?  Oh well... fuels my embers to come back with a vengeance next time.  And I'll be able to go even faster, now that I'm familiar with all of the obstacles and know that I can do them.  I did them all, twice.

The way I dealt with that disappointment was trying to keep the end game in mind.  I may have lost on prize money, but my big goal for this year is getting as far as I can at OCRWC.  Keeping my band there will be really hard, but this practice with obstacles and getting stronger and focusing on completion will help. 

Afterwards, volunteered!

Interesting race series.  Small, fun culture.  Unique twists on obstacles.  Lots of creative uses of tires.  Challenging rigs.  I'll be back!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Running and Rucking Training Philosophy

A friend asked me about how I approach running with a ruck and endurance training, and since my answer would be a bit lengthy anyways, I figured that I'd post it here.  I'm sure I'll continue to learn new things along the way, and my approach may evolve, so this will be a good snapshot for future reference, in any case, when I want to look back on such things many years from now.

The main question had been about running with a ruck, and I'll get more into the ruck-specific aspects later, but I'll focus on the running part first, because as the second part of the question highlighted, the biggest factor to me is general running or hiking endurance.  If your legs are strong and your aerobic engine is strong, it'll take you a long way.


1. Don't get injured / listen to your body / strong hips/quads are a girl's best friend

When I first got "more serious" about running while in college (far too slow to make any team, so it was just running on my own, 6 mi, 2x/week, on average), I thought "no pain, no gain".  I wanted to be able to show improvement on each run, so I tried to PR on every training run.  I was really enthusiastic, and would fall asleep listening to running podcasts like old-school Phedippidations.  However, I ended up developing knee pain that limited how much I could run.  I had the heart, but my body wasn't cooperating.

After college, a PT friend helped determine that I had really week hips, and once I started strengthening my quads with body weight lower leg extensions (placing a pillow or foam roller under my quads, and just raising my lower legs), and body weight hip abductions and adductions while lying on my side, and doing single-leg squats, my knee issues went away.  I later read that knee issues can be common, especially among women, and that the hip exercises could be magic.  I still do some of those exercises, and as little as one set of each exercise once or twice/week made a lot of difference.

Everyone may have different imbalances, but that was mine.  Once I addressed it, I've been able to stay pretty much injury-free for the past 8 years.  There are still small nagging issues every now and then, with my knees, or my plantar fascia, or the occasional mild ankle roll, but nothing that takes me out of training... I tend to rest 1-3 days between workouts anyways, so by the time I'm going to do another workout, it's usually better, or at least good enough to continue with, anyway.

That leads to the topic of rest.  I do less mileage, and take more "off days" than most, probably.  I feel like my body just needs more time to recover.  If my legs feel "used" or "swollen", I could push it, but usually don't.  Sometimes, it's merely a matter of getting blood flowing, and they're really ok to run on.  But other times, if I'm just not feeling it, I'll make it a rest day.  A couple times, I've tried pushing through and working out anyways, but it typically ends up in having one of those nagging issues pop up.

Mileage-wise, I do far less than most who do races in the times/distances that I do them, but it works, and it's what I feel like I can safely handle.  I'll get more into my typical workout week in the next section.  But the key is, I try to listen to my body, and am not afraid to take rest days.

I've had long periods of being inured in high school and in college, not only with the knee pain, but also with ankle rolls that would take me out for about 3 months each time.  Being injured is no fun.  The physical pain is nothing, compared to the mental struggle of not having exercise as an outlet and races to look forward to.  You find ways to cope.  When I'd be out for 3 months after an ankle roll, I'd replace my usual run workouts with body weight strength exercises... lots of core work.

In racing, being 10% under-trained is far better than being 1% over-trained.... that's the old adage.  In training, it's something similar... if you run yourself to injury, and you end up being out for X weeks, your fitness will drop.  If you temper your buildup and listen to your body, give it time to adapt to small incremental increases in training stress, you may not meet your full potential in the shorter run, but perhaps in the longer run, you'll have far more months and years of cumulative training.  Endurance built up over many years is for real.  There are others I've heard of, who can ramp down their mileage a bunch, but their performance doesn't drop much at all, because of cumulative endurance.  Also, as people get older, they should be getting slower, but I'm still getting faster, for the most part... very incrementally, but I do think I am getting faster still, because of the continued accumulation of endurance.  There are so many adaptations that take place, many of them undetectable (like capillaries growing, to better deliver blood to muscles)... it all adds up over time.

So, don't get injured, so that you can get more training in the long run, listen to your body.

2. My typical training week

Most of my runs are 5-6 miles, medium effort.  I'll have a longer run once every 1-2 weekends, ranging from 8-20 miles, depending on whether I'm training for a marathon, or in maintenance mode.  Every now and then, when I am training for a specific road race (anything from a 5K to a marathon), I'll do intervals.  My bread-and-butter inteval session is a 1 mi warmup, and then 3 x [0.75mi or 0.5mi fast, then jog 0.25mi]... where "fast" is about 5K race pace.

When I'm in maintenance mode, I may do only 10-15 miles/week (2 x 5 mi run, or 1 x 5 mi and 1 x 8 mi).  When I'm training for a marathon, I max out at 25-30 miles/week.  This is far less than most, but it's what I feel like I can handle, and I've gotten away with it.  Some people are able to handle more mileage better starting to risk injury, than others.

The #1 thing that people can do to improve their marathon times is supposedly more mileage.  I often tell myself "next training cycle, I'm going to try to up my mileage by adding in more slow runs to safely add volume".  But I haven't actually mustered the energy to really try it yet.  The more risk, the more reward.  So if I really want to get past my plateau (I've been running similar marathon and 5K times for the past like 6 years), I should try something different... but then you have to make sure you're doing it safely.  Work can make me tired, too... so I haven't tried it yet.  I don't know how people with families to take care of do it all.  What they're able to achieve while juggling it all is incredible.  I feel like I'm barely capable of taking care of myself sometimes, between cleaning the house, dishes, laundry, etc. 

During marathon training, the long run is the key, but I still periodize that, taking a big cut in mileage once every 3-4 weeks.  Becoming stronger doesn't come during the time you're exercising.  That's when you're actually damaging your body and therefore getting weaker.  It's during the resting time that your body makes its adaptations and gets stronger.

During the long run itself, and for building endurance, going longer is more important than going fast.  I'll intentionally go super slow at the beginning of my long runs, because it guarantees that I'll make it through the full distance that I'm planning.   Negative splits (gradually increasing your pace during the entire run, by starting slow and tempering your effort so that you don't burn out in the beginning or mid-way) are how I approach all of my medium- and long- runs.  Finish feeling good.  For short and fast runs like intervals, I keep the pedal to the metal the whole time, still not killing myself the first rep, but the reps naturally get harder as you go on, even for the same pace.

Once per week, on average, I also do a 1-hr body weight strength session.  Some push-ups (my upper body is far weaker than the rest of my body), lots of planks, lots of sit-ups, lots of hip-related exercises, squats, started adding lunges (it's supposed to simulate hiking up a steep mountain, and I agree... but my knees need to feel 100% strong to pull them off), and some 10-lb dumbell exercises.  It feels really good to do the body weight strength session.  It fixes imbalances that might've emerged from the repetitive and linear motions of running, and from sitting all day at work.  It gets blood flowing and helps with recovery.  Afterwards, it always feel like I've given my body a "reset" that will make it good to go and injury-free for another week.  I can feel it when I go more than 2 weeks without it.

I'll sometimes substitute a run with, or supplement running with a day of stationary biking per week.  It gets blood flowing through my body, helping with recovery.  It gets in a little training effort, with minimal impact.  I do go to the point where my hips get tired/sore, which may not be ideal for the run I do the next day or the day after, but I still through it in once every 1-2 weeks.


1. The Hip Belt 

There's debate in the community about the use of hip belts.  Those from a military background are pro-shoulder carrying without the hip belt.  Those from a hiking/backpacking background are pro hip belt.  I totally get the hip belt.  Your legs are going to carry the weight anyways, regardless of whether it sits on your waist or your shoulders.  By putting it on your waist, though, you get to bypass putting any stress on your shoulders/upper body.  Maybe it's just because I don't have a strong upper body, but having the weight go directly to my lower body, instead of sitting on both the upper body and transferring to the lower body, has felt more comfortable.

I was curious about why some prefer the shoulder carry.  I tried to google it, and this is the only answer I've found so far (see minute 4:45):

Disclaimer: I'm not a big backpacker, and have only done 1 week of backpacking, but the time I did to it, and the times I've worn rucks (GORUCK Tough, HH12HR, BEL), having a waist belt cinched tight around my body has made me feel much better.  It could be the design of my particular ruck / my particular body, but it's worked for me. 

I haven't been able to justify paying $45 for a GORUCK hip belt with my GORUCK GR1, so what I use instead is a $2 strap with clips that I bought at Walmart (it's not meant to be a waist/hip belt... it's just an all-purpose strap with a buckle, that I found in the camping section).  I attached it to the MOLLE on my ruck.  It's around my waist rather than my hips, technically, but it still allows the weight to go more directly to my lower body.  It's not equivalent, I'm sure.  It's a thin strap, and is not padded at all.  I don't chafe, though, and it feels much better than having nothing at all.  Worth a try, for $2, at least to see what having one would be like.  That $2 strap has survived 3 endurance events so far, plus the mini training, which I'll get into next.

When I say "mini training" with the ruck, it's mini, because it's mostly just me walking to and from the fitness room (0.5-0.9 mi 1-way, depending on whether I want to add extra distance to get a Pokestop).  I'll also wear it when I go hiking with my dad, which is about once every 2 months.  I tend to get pretty tired of having that weight on my back (in spite of the hip belt) after about 6 miles.  Maybe that says something about the limitations of my $2 hip belt... would a $45 padded hip belt be better?  Or is the shoulder carry the way to go?  Does a hip belt and shoulder carry need to be mutually exclusive?  No.  I think hikers also recommend having the heaviest objects high in the pack, and closest to the body, along with having the hip belt.  Or, it could be that I'm just not strong enough yet.  Or a mixture... point is, I get tired after about 6 miles of hiking with a ruck.

2. Running with a Ruck

The big secret is that I don't train running with a ruck.  I only walk / fast walk with the ruck, a couple times a week.  Running entails leaving the ground, bouncing up and down.  That's a lot of stress on your knees.  Using 20LB like I do, it's an extra 20LB slamming down on your knees with every step.  
I save running with a ruck for the actual event.  I have no issues with suddenly being capable of doing that on the day of the event, because of the running endurance and being at least moderately used to wearing the ruck during the short walks a couple of times per week.

When I do move, whether it's while walking or running, I try to minimize my vertical oscillation (minimize bounce).  I feel like that's another area where the hip belt helps.  It keeps the ruck tight against your body, so that it moves with your body, rather than bouncing all around.  Even without a hip belt, making your shoulder straps as tight as you can against your body also helps to reduce bounce.  Minimizing bounce means doing something more reminiscent of a shuffle.  Not only do you avoid the bounce... you also avoid the extra work of having to raise and re-raise the weight with each step / mini-jump that running entails. 

Disclaimer: I don't ruck that often, and not for that long of a distance, but what I mentioned above has been good enough strategies for helping me survive what I've set out to do so far.  If I were to take on longer events, multi-day events, heavier events then maybe I'd need another strategy or different gear... who knows.  But for the 12hr events, it's worked well enough for me. Also, I've only ever tried one brand... GORUCK.  Perhaps there are other brands that would completely change my view if I tried them... but I can only speak for what I have tried.  I had invested in a GORUCK (during a big sale), because of its durability and reliability, and haven't been disappointed.  Again, other brands may be just as good, and have their own features and merits that make it even better than GORUCK in some ways.  I might try a different brand one day... my GORUCK is bright red, which isn't the best, when you're trying to be stealthy ;)  It could be a good excuse to get another rucksack from a different brand and branch out.

Most girls have a large collection of purses... I have a large collection of backpacks.

Most girls have a large collections of heels... I have a large collection of running shoes. ;)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

RACE REPORT: Spartan Asheville Southeast Showdown Super, HH-117, Sprint, Vol

Another epic OCR weekend!  Last weekend was 12 hours of driving, a big race, a bit of touring, and volunteering.  This weekend was Spartaned up.


Tue, Jul 25: 5.0 in 39:49, 7:58 ave.  Getting in a bit of training between OCR weekends.  Right outer tibialis anterior still iffy in the early miles.


By itself, Asheville's Black Mountain is such a beautiful race venue.  It's surrounded by mountains covered in richly green trees, with smokey clouds blanketing some of it. On top of that, Spartan chose this race as one of the US Championship Series races, with NBCSN and live youtube coverage.  The big names come to this race.

My dad came to spectate for an OCR for the first time.  It was nice to finally show him what I've been doing the past few years, outside of normal running.  I think he liked it.  It's interesting to watch, to me.

The race started about 45 min late, because they had issues getting the wifi started up to support the live coverage.  That's cool, though... more time to enjoy the pre-race atmosphere.  They announced the top contenders one by one.  The men left.  Next, the women.  

We started off with double track, followed by the river run from last year.  I had banged my shin against an underwater rock last year, so I was more careful with my steps this year.  Lots of hidden rocks.  At least it was cooling in the water.  The wide river also eases congestion.

Next, over walls, single hurdle, cliff climb, sandbag not bad.

z-wall not bad, spear fail, herc hoist challenging but got through, barbed wire long and low but rollable, rolling mud and dunk wall.

Slip wall, atlas carry, cargo climb, 7' wall, 8' wall no issues, 3 hill bucket carry was the longest and hardest I can remember, bender not hard if you start with toes to bars and use your legs, log carry fine, vert cargo, Devil's staircase at the top of the quarry, inverted wall, rope doable with the feet technique, olympus fail 1/3 of the way, twister fail 1/3 of the way transitioning from the first truss, 200lb tire struggle but got it.

Bridge, rig fail 1/2 way through the pipe, fire jump.  

It was nice to have my dad there.  I was happy with how it went.  125 burpees total (failed the rig, olympus, spear, and twister), but I was glad to be able to do the rope, herc hoist, walls, bucket.

(8.2 miles)

We hung around the festival, watching the rolling mud obstacle and drinking Catawba Brewing (yay, no macro beer!!!).  Then, we went to check in at the hotel. 


I headed back out to the venue, for the Hurricane Heat.  The start time is 5pm, but apparently, if you're not there by 4pm, you're late and need to do burpees.  

We started off with some PT that included our homemade slosh pipes that were full and not really sloshy.

(photo credit Jack Goras)

 (photo credit Jack Goras)

As usual during team events, we start with some dysfunction.  Late people like me, people who can't count, struggling with the PT.  There were a few b-day people among our group of 125-ish, and they had a special task of carrying a cupcake with them the whole time.  Not much cupcake ended up surviving, in the end.

(photo credit Jack Goras)

The main task was 3 teams of 43-ish, carrying big logs along a main road, looking for flags that indicate where we should go into the forest to look for Spartan Endurance Flags.

(photo credit Jack Goras)

Once we found the flag, we'd have some PT task or other kind of task to do.  The activity took us to some really gorgeous hidden places in the rock quarry.  Simply beautiful.

After that, low crawls with our pipes, going through rolling mud and dunk wall, then slip wall.

We made it through!

Did laundry that night, and got like 6 hrs of sleep before getting up for the...


I was part of the 8:30 volunteer wave.  The previous night, I was afraid that at most, I'd be able to walk it, if my rolled ankle could handle the race at all.  I had limped through much of the Hurricane Heat, and used my pipe as a cane, almost.  Over the course of the morning, my ankle loosened up some, and I was able to manage a reasonable run, though, thankfully.

They make the Sprint a bit more approachable, so along with a shorter distance, the obstacles are slightly less difficult.  For example, no 8' wall, only a 7' wall.  Shorter bucket (just up and down the first hill... still tough, but not nearly as bad as yesterday).  Rig is all rings, no pipe.  No less fun, though!  Maybe even more enjoyable.

I still failed the spear, only got through 3 rungs of twister (vs. a full third of the obstacle), only got a couple feet into Olympus.  But I exceeded my expectations in that I was still able to handle herc hoist and rope climb and run at all.  Tire was a little easier, maybe because the ground was a bit drier, and maybe because I was more familiar with the technique after yesterday.

(5.1-ish miles?)

 After the race, volunteering!  Trash & some tear down.  Love Spartan days.