T H E 6 T H F L O O R

Life in 6 Land

T H E  6 T H  F L O O R - Life in 6 Land

Tough Mudder 2014: T-Minus 7

toughmudderAfter participating in Tough Mudder for the first time last year in Lake Tahoe, I could not wait to get back to be even “more Mudder” in 2014. Otto’s Mudders will be in full force this year with nearly 30 team members ready to challenge the 11 mile course that will see a 2680 foot elevation change. Northstar Village is already at 6330 feet and over the course we will climb Mt Pluto at 8615′. The best part of TM14, 65% of the obstacles are new (including Legionnaires’ Loop)! This year there are many first timers participating and the goal of this event, to finish as a TEAM. Teamwork and camaraderie are stressed during every obstacles in shouts of encouragement and support from those you call teammates. Leave no man (or woman) behind. Hooorah!

Using the obstacle guide I wrote last year 55% of the obstacles return to Lake Tahoe; Glory Blade, Kiss of Mud, Arctic Enema, Lumberjacked, Berlin Walls, Funky Monkey, Mud Mile, Hold Your Wood, Walk the Plank, Warrior Carry, Everest and finishing the event with Electroshock Therapy. With that said, there are 7 new obstacles Otto’s Mudders will face including Devil’s Beard, Pitfall, Prairie Dog, Pole Dancer, Pyramid Scheme, Cliffhanger, Balls to the Wall, Ladder to Hell. Some of these looks very challenging, especially Pole Dancer, which is a set of parallel bars in a ‘v’ shape and Balls to the Wall, which require the Mudder to climb a 3.5 meter wall using a rope before descending the opposite side. Pyramid Scheme has the potential of being difficult, where you climb up a muddy diagonal wall using the bodies of your teammates.

ottos_muddersLast year the name of the game was team work, while leaving no teammate behind, injuries not withstanding. Eventually all of Otto’s Mudders gathered at the finish line to “run to glory” through Electroshock Therapy, locked arm in arm in a show of strength and for our beer. On the course some, Mudders (I was guilty) ran ahead of the other members, but always waited at the upcoming obstacle. Part of the enjoyment (for some, like me) of this event is the running between obstacles, which aren’t even 1 mile apart, while the terrain could be challenging and for the about 5.5 miles of the first 6 mile, uphill.

Things don’t get any easier after getting to the summit of Mt. Pluto, while it’s predominately downhill, fatigue will have started to set in. Looking at the organization of the course, the last 5 miles will be tougher based solely on the obstacles with 5 new ones to challenge Mudders. Even now, I don’t know if those of us who ran last year will be provided a green headband (and a special wristband) to access Legionnaires’ Loop. I would love an opportunity to take on the Leap of Faith.

lunasThis year I am still considering what footwear I am going to go with. I have seriously been thinking of running in my Luna Sandals. Yeah, call me crazy, but with very few problems last year with the Salomon Speedcross 3 I wore I might be willing to use them again for the added protection that the Luna Sandals won’t offer. One of the problems I suffered were sore toes. More recently during the Diablo Challenge 50K I nearly lost a few toenails from the continually pounding on my feet. Now that I have been trail running in sandals for nearly a year, I am not sure I want to go back to the Salmon’s this year. With all the mud and all the water, shoes were never dry and usually caked with mud. While I wasn’t unfortunate enough to lose a shoe in the mud, I did hear stories while on the course. We’ll see if I am “mas loco” enough to run like a monkey, yo with my Lunas. If not, I will tie on the Speedcross 3 and know what to expect.

As for the first timer, and we have many on Otto’s Mudders this year DON’T STRESS! This event is supposed to fun, yet challenging. You won’t be left behind, so don’t worry about that. Be safe, if you encounter an obstacle you are not quite sure of, bypass it. No one is going to think any less of your if you don’t do every obstacle. If you need help, ask! In fact you probably won’t even need to do that on many obstacles. Tough Mudder is about TEAMwork, there will be many lending you a hand to help you up and over an obstacle.

tm_team_01If you still have some doubts, I recommend you go back and read my previous articles from the 2013 Tough Mudder at Lake Tahoe. Curious what to wear? Read Tough Mudder What To Wear. Curious about 11 of the 20 obstacles you will face, including Electroshock Therapy and Arctic Enema? Read about the extreme conditions in Tough Mudder Obstacles. Finally if you want to read about what you may experience while running through the wild and up Mt. Pluto read Tough Mudder Experience. Personally, I am looking forward to rekindling friendships with some of the participants we met last year and running with many first time Mudders this year. The course looks exciting, especially for those returning from last year. All the best to those participating on Otto’s Mudders. Hooorah!


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45 at 45

justrunNever did I think running would be part of my life. I don’t enter many races, to date I have run a half marathon in 2013, my first ever race and this past April was a 50K. Both were goals I had set for myself to gauge how far I come on my journey since taking control of my health. It’s been amazing to say the least and I am always looking for that next challenge or goal to achieve.

Recently I join a Trailing and Ultra Running (TAUR) group on Facebook. After completing the Diablo Challenge 50K I was on a “runner’s high” for about 4 weeks. All I wanted to do was run, run longer distances and push my body to its limits. Next April I will have that opportunity as I will register for American Rive 50 Mile Endurance Run, which will require me to finish the course in 14 hours. That event is still months away and I will have time to train and ready myself physically and mentally to finish the race before the time limit expires.

Reading another thread on the TAUR group, a 36 year old, male runner named Mark Rowland embarked on his challenge to run your age on your birthday. You can read his results on his birthday run here. That got me thinking. I will be 45 this year and in the best shape of my life. What is preventing me from taking a day and running 45 miles? Depending on the amount of training leading up to November, 12-13 hours would not be out of the question.

I see this as a learning experience, how I will feel after all this running, what sort of mental state will I be in and can I actually finish all 45 miles? Running 31.7 miles was long, but was amazing as I crossed the finish line, arms raised. In some respect this challenge could be easier because of a simple and flat loop I plan on running. No point to point on this run. I would set up my own aid station and use it every 8 miles or so. Currently I am looking at a few options for the course. With any luck I will be able to put together a 2 mile trail loop, but more recently I have been looking at running at one of the local schools, even though the loop would only be .67 miles long (about twice as long as running around a track).

This challenge would set me up for the 50 mile attempt in April. It would allow me to gauge where I am physically and what I need to accomplish mentally in order to prepare myself for a 50 miles or distances beyond.

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Shoulder Hell

shoulder_painFirst I turned 40, then I had my first knee surgery to replace a torn ACL after landing wrong my right foot and hyper-extending the knee during an indoor soccer game. Three years later, almost to the day, I had my second knee surgery, after another soccer incident, tearing my meniscus in my left knee. Last year at age 44 it was my left shoulder. Why the cause of the shredded bicep tendon is still unknown to to point, I can only assume it was from lifting weights. That soreness I experienced in my shoulder that was mistaken as “tightness” was probably tendonitis and stretching the shoulder out and continuing to lift only aggravated the injury. I feel as if I have been in shoulder hell the last year or so.

On Tuesday I returned to physical therapy to receive treatment for my left shoulder. The pain I had prior to surgery has return with no decrease of intensity (7-8 on pain scale of 10) on a daily basis. I know I did too much, too soon last year after the initial surgery in October and caused added pain at times, but I don’t believe that accounts for the pain I am experiencing now.

The physician assistant I met a few weeks back opened with, “So what do you want me to do?” That statement allowed cause frustration and concern that I was just going through the motions. She offered up Cortisone, which I refuse to have injected into my shoulder a second time. While it can relieve the inflammation, I don’t believe it had any positive results on relieving the pain I have been in. She countered with ultrasound and while not as involved as an MRI, it did give her a look inside my shoulder to see if there was anything going on. It did reveal some tendonitis, in the shoulder joint, as well as inflammation of the shoulder capsule.

She provided a single exercise and nothing more for my $15 office visit and “call our office again, if the pain persists.” Wow! It wasn’t but 2 days later I was frustrated and called and requested a referral for physical therapy. The othropedic’s office still believes there is nothing going on in my shoulder. They believe the original problem was the only problem, a shredded bicep tendon, which has been reattched and is now problem free. The ongoing pain they cannot account for.

Talking to the therapist, a gal I had for my first knee surgery sees the shoulder pain in a completely different light than the orthopedic’s office. After the initial session, she was not going to rule out a tear in the labrum, which could result in surgery. In the meantime, she is giving me 3 weeks (6 therapy session) to see if the pain and inflammation can be reduced. Motion of the left arm is very limited, not being able to scratch my back bring it across my chest.

While I had been lifting weights training for Tough Mudder, moving a barbell has been put on hold. No weight training until further notice. I can however do some modified rows, in order to strengthen back muscles to relieve some of the pain in the shoulder. I am still able to run, so there were no restrictions on staying active. Even if I am not lifting weights, working around the house is still a challenge. Lifting, pushing, pulling and moving things in my daily life cause varying levels of pain. One thing is for certain, I won’t miss Tough Mudder. It might mean I won’t be able to compete in all the obstacles, but I will be participating and supporting my team.

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The US Bandwagon

USABandwagon*honk! honk!* Move over, where comes the US Soccer bandwagon. I make no apologies over my anti-American sentiment as it relates to the US Men’s National Team. Even with their 1-1-1 record in Group G of the 2014 World Cup, losing to Germany 1-0 in the final group stage match, the US backed into the second round. The US didn’t play very well against Germany, but went into the game knowing the pressure was on Portugal to win their match versus Ghana and overcome a 4 goal differential. So even with Portugal defeating Ghana, 2-1 and the US losing, goal difference favored the US, who end up facing the winner of Group H, Belgium.

Portugal sealed their own fate in the previous two games versus Germany losing big, 4-0. This put Portugal in a must win situation for games against the US and Ghana. More importantly they would need to score and score some more. As it played out, Portugal didn’t take the US serious enough and came up short on a few big opportunities in front of the net and the US went on to grab a 3-2 victory on a late header.

So while fans across the United States took the day off and suddenly “BELIEVE,” the fact remains this hype will subside before the end of the World Cup on July 13. Much like I have seen while living in the Bay Area, the number of people who suddenly become “fans” when the team is winning is short lived. No stronger case than that of the NoCal Battery Chuck (Jim Rome reset from back in the day, see Battery Chuck) a.k.a. San Francisco Giants. It was amazing, like Muslims pilgrimage to Mecca, suddenly AT&T Park is selling out and EVERYONE is a Giants fan (not to insult a few of my friends who are Giants fans, I have a few specific individuals in mind).

In 2012 over 3 million kids were involved in youth soccer in the US, granted that figure has been on the decline since 2008, but soccer is still one of the most popular youth sports. Yet in a county of nearly 314 million, the sport can’t hold the interest of individuals based on a Harris Poll taken in January, 2014. It comes as no surprise that the NFL dominates America, which is has for the past 30 years. “One in ten Americans (10%) says soccer (men’s and/or women’s) is a sport they follow, putting it on the same ground as men’s tennis (with 10% following that as well). This is relatively small when compared to the half of Americans who follow pro football (51%), the nearly four in ten following baseball (37%) or the three in ten who follow men’s college football (30%)” (source).

Yet every 4 years when the World Cup rolls around a combined third of those polled (34%) pointed to at least one of a variety of social influences (such as friends or a significant other wanting to watch), putting it on even footing with supporting Team USA (35%)” (source). That screams bandwagon in my opinion, while others will say it’s patriotism.

I choose not to watch American soccer, because it’s not good caliber of soccer (others will argue with that point). I prefer professional league in England, Spain and Italy, where talent is superior and the games/leagues are more competitive. Sure, the US has a few stars; Tim Howard of Everton and to some degree Clint Dempsey, formerly of Fulham and Tottenham. Beyond that, I don’t put much into the make up of the national team. I had a chance to watch Michael Bradley for parts of 2 years at AS Roma and his play was not on par with players in his position; Daniele De Rossi, Miralem Pjanić, Radja Nainggolan, Kevan Strootman and Alessandro Florenzi.

So America, enjoy your run in the 2014 World Cup! It, like the competition will come to an end. Luckily it only rolls around every 4 years. Thankfully for many it’s a slow time for sports. No NBA. No NHL. No NFL. Only the MLB and NASCAR to fill the void left by your favorite American sports. For true football fans, we just need to wait until early August before English football returns to the pitch, but Serie A is getting a late start this year. Football will return to the world stage in Russia for 2018, by that time I don’t believe much will change in the US. No one will pay attention the qualification, the US will make the tournament and sentiment towards the team will increase again for 30 days.

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The 6th Thought: Laughable Landon

“And as someone who has been in that locker room and has sat next to the players, we agree with the supporter group American Outlaws: We believe that we will win.”

-Landon Donovan (source)

Wow! What happens when you get cut and don’t get to travel to Brazil to participate in the 2014 World Cup? You speak up and disagree with the manager who believe they can’t win the World Cup because they are not at that level. I have never been a Landon Donovan supporter, in fact never saw him as a very prolific footballer, outside of the US. I am sure he, like the US Men’s Soccer Team have fans, but I am not one of them. Yet for him to take a position with ESPN on the eve of kickoff for the World Cup is laughable.

How many times are we going to have to hear about his sob story about he should be on the pitch with teammates instead of “breaking it down” as most former US (men and women) end up doing in the studio when the World Cup rolls around.

Even as an American, I don’t believe in the US winning ANY games. Yet Donovan says, “We believe that we will win…I think that’s the way Americans think and I think that’s the sentiment.” No, I disagree it’s not how I think. Taking a realistic approach, how does the US have the talent or skill to compete on the world stage? They don’t and history has proved this, as prior to 1986 the last time the US qualified for the World Cup was 1950. Since 1986 the US has only progressed to the quarterfinals once, in 2002. Based on past results, the US won’t move out of the group stage and have never won a World Cup, but many teams can claim that.

So Landon, have a slice of humble pie and keep your biased opinions off my World Cup broadcast. It’s the American “has-beens” who attempt to provide insight to the world game that cause a lot of head shaking when it comes to their opinions of how the world game is played. At age 32, your best playing days are behind you, time to face up to that fact. Oh and by the way, the US won’t win the World Cup this year in Brazil. Let’s set the record straight before kickoff.

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