Lahmucan (Turkish Pizza)

Ingredients:lahmucan
3 Eggplants, roasted
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon tamari (or light soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon kirmizi biber, or combination sweet paprika and cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Dough
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon agave nectar (or other sweetener)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 yeast packet

Directions:
Rinse and dry each eggplant and slice them in half. Score each half in a diamond, cross-hatch pattern. Place all 6 halves on wire roasting rack. Heat oven to 400 degrees and cook for 40 minutes.

While the oven is heating up combine all ingredients in order, in a mixing bowl. Using a mixer on a low setting mix dough until it forms a ball. Cover and set dough aside for 40 minutes while the eggplant roasts.

Let the eggplant cool for about 10 minutes. Add the onion and red pepper along with some water, curry powder and tamari and saute for about 10 minutes. Once the eggplant has cool scoop the inside and place in a food processor along with the tomato paste and kirmizi biber. Puree until ingredients are combined. Add the sauteed onion, red pepper and parsley and pulse to break down. The vegetables shouldn’t be completely broken down, but have some minor chucks.

Once the dough as risen, roll it out and divide into 4 separate pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough to resemble a single serving pizza. Top each piece of dough with the eggplant mixture. Cook each Lahmucan for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Serving Size: 4

Nutritional Facts: 1 Lahmucan
Calories: 463
Total Fat: 2.4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 588.9 mg
Potassium: 1287.8 mg
Total Carbs: 91.8 g
Protein: 16.5 g

Notes: This was also the second time I made Lahmucan, the first time time from Vegan Magic, which I think lacked flavor. I continued reading other sites and saw a pureed eggplant mixture using assorted spices. Not sure the tamari was needed when sauteing the onion and red pepper. If you are not a curry fan, you could probably do without the powder and not lose much flavor.

You can adjust the amounts of flours to your liking. I do want to try spelt and besan. Lahmucan can be eaten folded up, but with the dough recipe above it was not very pliable and the dough ended up tearing as I ate away.

Source: I pulled this recipe together referencing a few different website including Vegan Magic and Food Network. In the ended I combined what I read into my own recipe.

13.1

thirteen_point_oneIt’s been 14 weeks since I started running with 13.1 or a half marathon as a goal, something that before this year I didn’t like or wouldn’t do. I felt lifting weights was necessary after dropping 44 pounds in order to rebuild what was left on body frame. Thankfully Stronglifts provided me that opportunity to gain strength that was much needed. In addition to strength training I made the decision to start running, which was shunned by many in that same community as it would have a negative effect on my strength training. So be it I said and made running my priority.

Yesterday was my longest run to date as I finished a half marathon or 13.1 miles! This long run wasn’t on the initial ‘couch to half marathon‘ plan, but I had an extra week and decided to run it just to get some idea of what my time would be. Much like the marathon training I am involved in, my first half marathon goal is to finish. If it was like yesterday, finish is all I care about. Then again I don’t expect it to be 90+ in San Leandro the morning of the race.

Still running 13.1 is a BIG accomplishment, something I never thought I would achieve. I am feeling it this morning as my legs are still very fatigued. They don’t hurt and my muscles aren’t tight and overall I guess I feel pretty good given the conditions I ran in yesterday.

Unfortunately I started out too fast putting up a string of 10:30/mile (give or take 20 seconds) through the first 8 miles. I made a quick stop by my truck, covered my head in water and had a few slips before continuing on. Unfortunately I never regained that 10:30/mile losing another 2 minutes on each mile the rest of the way. As was expressed to me from another experienced runner, “lower your pace 10MM was probably a little too fast. 10.5 – 11 would help you have a stronger finish.” This was a prime example of hitting the wall and never recovering.

The biggest problem I am having is what to eat while running. From my reading I should be eating 200-400 calories per hour. The last few long runs have include a peanut butter sandwich and hummus. Yesterday in place of a sandwich I put peanut butter and honey in a bag to be used like a squeezable pouch when I needed a pick me up. That much needed energy never arrived and I was left running with no gas in the tank, so to speak. At mile 11 I sucked down my remaining water and wouldn’t be surprised if I had a the onset of a heat stroke.

In the end with a few minutes of walking I was able to accomplish 13.1, but was dehydrated and fatigued with I got back to my truck to drive home. All I wanted to do was lay down and go to bed. I did walk around for a few minutes before leaving and when I got home I did some simple stretches, as the calf muscles felt as if they were tightening up. I never did cramp, but I did notice I have a bad habit of clipping the inside of my left foot while running, especially as my form deteriorates from fatigue.

All in all I am still pleased with being able to finish and doing so in 2:29. This goes to show I do have what it takes inside me to run 13.1. I am still on track to make my first half marathon in 2 weeks, but all that work could be derailed by an impending strike at work and the possibility of a separated left shoulder. I should find out more on the shoulder when I head to the orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday.

Tough Mudder Obstacles

tm_obstacle_01While the focus of Tough Mudder is on teamwork, you also test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. Individually you must be ready to “dig deep” in order to overcome your fear as you step up to challenge the Tough Mudder obstacles. For some it’s narrow, dark places, others sub-zero water or even heights. For me, it was monkey bars, must be some childhood memory I have stashed, but I had never been very strong, which left me a few rungs short when playing on the monkey bars. Tough Mudder obstacles require a variety of strength and skills, as well as teamwork in order to accomplish them.

tm_startingpenwallWhile we didn’t experience all the obstacles in the Tough Mudder – 2013 Lake Tahoe event, we did challenge 19 obstacle and one big ass mountain; Mt. Pluto with a summit of 8,610 feet. Below are a summary of each obstacle. Prior to getting into the starting pen we experienced a small wall you must get over before you tackle the rest of the course. Listed below n order of appearance on the course map are the 19 obstacles we challenged in Lake Tahoe, not to mention the 10 miles of running and the 2000+ feet of altitude we climbed.

tm_gloryblades1. Glory Blades: These are 8′ wooden walls with a 25-30 degree slant toward the approach side. On the back side of the slated wall, is a smooth surface to slide down. With no foot aid to assist in grabbing the top of wall, this obstacles might require a teammate to give you a boost. This is just one of many obstacles that require a Mudder to pull themselves up in order to kick one leg over the wall before transitioning to the smooth, downside of the Glory Blades. Some of our team used the wooden braces on the edge of the obstacle to help them get a footing and get over the slanted wall.

Kiss of Mud2. Kiss of Mud: The first obstacle that lived up to it’s name as Mudders get down and dirty as they are required to belly crawl over about 20′ feet of mud. The catch, the barbwire that is just 8″ above the mud. It’s a must to keep the head and butt down, using forearms to pull you forward. With our early start time the obstacles wasn’t as muddy as expected (see image). Unlike some pictures I had seen, we were not pulling ourselves through a sea of brown water. In fact one lane had virtually no water in it and very little mud, as a results some Mudders decided to take the “easy” way out of this obstacle.

Arctic Enema3. Arctic Enema: After a quick mud bath and a short run it was time to face the sub-zero temperature of the Arctic Enema. Much had been made about this obstacle on how to pass it. Unlike the pretty green water I saw in You Tube videos and images, our pool looked like shit brown, as volunteers were madly pouring bags of ice into the pool. After a short climb to the top of the platform I decided to jump as far as possible before hitting the freezing water. A step or two forward and I felt for the bottom of the wooden wall that divided the pool and quickly submerged myself, coming up on the other side. Unfortunately, the individual in front of me stopped and I was delayed getting out of the pool on the opposite site. There is no step inside the pool to assist in getting out. This is also the first obstacle in which you could experience cramps due to the cold water. Once out of the pool, you climb off the structure and start to regain your body temperature.

Just the Tip4. Just the Tip: From my understanding there was a similar obstacle last year to Just the Tip. This year it seems they removed the lower strip of wood which Mudders used to cross a pool of cold, colored water. Using small, wooden steps Mudders climbed up onto the structure and took hold of a 2×4 that was attached to a plywood wall. You were then required to move your hands horizontally in order to cross the pool of water, while your legs serve as a pendulum in order to create a swing-like movement to assist you. Nothing too difficult about this obstacle, the most difficult part is having adequate grip strength. For taller Mudders being able to grab as far down the 2×4 as possible shortened the distance they were required to travel to make it safely to the other side.

Logjammin5. Logjammin: This obstacle was a series of logs and barbed wire that required you to go up and over or down and under in order to achieve the objective. The logs were about 4′ high, as you grab the log, you would pull yourself up and over and come down the other side. This was followed by strings of barbwire that required you to go under the following log. It was a series of 8-10 logs to complete before come out the far side of the obstacle. Some assistance might be required for teammates who struggle with upper body strength.

Limberjacked6. Lumberjacked: I was somewhat surprised to see a similar obstacle to that of Logjammin as the next obstacle. It was another log based obstacle, but unlike the previous challenge these logs were about 7′ high with no foothold to aid in boosting your over the log. I did see some Mudders with the upper body strength jump up, grab the log and pull themselves over, but the majority of Mudders used the team concept and boosted teammates up to the apex of the log, where they threw their legs over and came down on the far side. Running up to and jumping up was challenging. We saw Mudders able to jump and grab, but lacked the strength to pull themselves up. Another Mudder I saw jumped and grabbed the log and then fell onto the ground. Team concept worked well here.

Trench Warfare7. Trench Warfare: This was the first of a few obstacles that challenged those who might be claustrophobic. As you come up on the obstacle, all you could see was the entrance and exit, as the top was covered with plywood and earth on top it. Once you got to the entrance, it was a 3′ wide trench as I started into the darkness I realized it was not as bad as I thought it would be. There was light being let in by holes in the ceiling. As you enter the obstacle you cannot see the exit. Why? This trench jogs to the left and the right, requiring you to navigate the corners before seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Electric Eel8. Electric Eel: The Eel was the first of two obstacles that had high voltage associated with it. Much like the Kiss of Mud this obstacle required you to belly crawl through mud over a slippery surface while high voltage wires hung down from the 2′ high wooden structure. I heard the voltage zap a few Mudders while pulling myself though the Electric Eel. I saw the damage after the fact, when a Mudder too a jolt off the top of the forward, leaving him with blood streaming down his face. I was fortunate, I had no zaps, as I kept my head and slowly crawled my way through. As I neared the exit, I rolled onto my back and pulled myself out by grabbing onto the wooden structure.

Berlin Walls9. Berlin Walls: No other obstacle claimed more Mudders in our group than the Berlin Walls. This obstacle is a series of two 12′ high wooden walls. About 4′ up is a 2×4 that Mudders us as a foothold in order to boost you up in order to grab the top of the wall. At that point the wall is only half conquered. Upper body strength is required to pull yourself up in order to kick that leg over, as you pull your up. On the back side of the wall, it was necessary to get the second leg over and hold the top of the wall, letting your body swing down before dropping to the ground below. We had 3 Mudders come away with leg cramps, myself included after finishing the walls. Our toughest Mudder of the day required help getting onto the wall and assisting him to the top of the wall. Unfortunately he rolled his cajones and ended up losing his grip and slipping off the backside of the wall with a loud, “THUD!” With the exception of Everst, the Berlin Walls required a team effort to get everyone safely over the walls.

Kis of Mud #210. Kiss of Mud #2: Much like the second obstacle, it was another belly crawl through mud in Kiss of Mud #2. Much like the first mud crawl, this was a straight forward obstacle. Being able to keep your head and butt down and pull yourself forward with with forearms made accomplishing this obstacle straightforward and easy. Much like the first Kiss of Mud, they had a TM staff member constantly spraying water onto the obstacle. Still it was not as muddy as I expected it to be. That could have changed as the day wore on and more Mudders went through it. Stay low and crawl!

Boa Constrictor11. Boa Constrictor: Here was another obstacle that caused me a bit of pre-Mudder anxiety. I am not claustrophobic, but did have one incident in an MRI chamber once and these drainage tubes reminded me of incident. This is a series of 2 drainage pipes, the first descends into a pool of muddy water and the second ascends back uphill, where you exit the obstacle. Going in on your belly and sliding down the first portion of the obstacle was easy. The muddy water wasn’t deep and you could crawl on your knees to the next pipe. The problems were twofold. First, going into the pipe too soon required you to stop and wait in the pipe, probably not the most comforting feeling if you don’t like close spaces. Second starting into the second pipe you quickly found out you had very little traction and not much to grab onto in order to pull yourself up the pipe until you could reach the edge of the pipe and pull yourself out. Some Mudders required a hand to assist them up and out the pipe. Looking back, this obstacle was not as challenging as my mind made it out to be.

Funky Monkey12. Funky Monkey: Strangely enough the monkey bars were my biggest fear headed into Tough Mudder. I felt I did not have enough strength to carry myself 20′ over monkey bars set in an ‘A’ frame. I fully expected to find the drink and swim out the other side. There were rumors that the rungs moved in your hands when you grabbed them. That was not the case during Tough Mudder. I stepped up and grabbed as far forward as possible (3rd rung I believe) and started off. I felt good and was surprised when I got to the apex and was half way home. What helped me was the support of a teammate just to the right on another set of monkey bars. I did wear gloves for the obstacle and a few of us had experienced our gloves starting to slip off our hands as we came to the finish. After completely Funky Monkey I had a new found confidence for the remaining obstacles. The only help your team can help with are words of encouragement, this obstacle is up to you and your grip strength.

Mud Mile13. Mud Mile: After coming away from another aid station we were confronted with the Mud Mile. Watching from the aid station, this looked to be a very slow obstacle, having no idea how soft the mud was or how rough the terrain was under the water. Berms divided the course into separate areas requiring Mudders to climb the berms in order to move through each section of the Mud Mile. The muddy water was cold, but not so soft I had to concern myself with losing a shoe. At no point did I get stuck in the mud. The biggest problem was the lips on either side of the berm that seemed to drop off into the muddy water, making the obstacle slow going. Words of encouragement and helping hands were available for those who needed an added advantage.

Hold Your Wood14. Hold Your Wood: This obstacle tested your stamina and strength as you were required to carry a log or stump of wood 1/4 of a mile. This course was circular in nature and started on downhill on a fairly smooth path, but as you made the turn at the bottom, the climb got a bit technical. We did see many Mudders sitting along the side of the pathway taking momentary breaks. It didn’t matter how you carried the wood, some throw it over their shoulder, others above their head or holding it tight against their chest. For me it was a combination of all three ways with no resting. After the technical climb it was back to the wood pile and the completion of the obstacle.

Walk the Plank15. Walk the Plank: My last fear to overcome, jumping off a 20′ platform into a muddy pool of water. I guess my only concern was brought to light when my sister told me a Mudder drown during the West Virginia event. It was repeated over and over that should be a strong swimmer to challenge this obstacle. TMHQ had plenty of personnel ready to jump into action if required. This obstacle was slow going because of the climb to the plank and then waiting a short period of time before the water beneath you was clear. At the top of the structure it was “show no fear” and don’t think about the height, just jump. When the water was clear it was quick run and leap into the air. Once in the water it was a short 1-2 stroke swim and grabbed the cargo net to climb out of the pool.

Cage Crawl16. Cage Crawl: This obstacle looked to be simple and should not have caused any problems. Looks can be deceiving this obstacle was a bit more challenging than I expected. Two reasons why this obstacle was tough, the first the number of people in the water made for very slow going. Second there were portions of cage that hung very low to the water. What made that worse the cage hung even lower, sometimes in the water when you grabbed it to pull yourself forward. This became a problem when the people in front of you stopped, which was usually at the exit of the obstacle. It also felt as if the water got deeper the further you moved yourself though Cage Crawl. I did suck in quite of bit of water because of the slow going and had to favor the side of the cage to prevent me from staying submerged in water.

Warrior Carry17. Warrior Carry: This was the home stretch as we descended Mt. Pluto. From this obstacle you could see the remaining course ahead of you. This obstacle required you to pick up and carry your teammate about 30 yards before coming to a change point, which required teammates to switch positions. The only difficulty with the Warrior Carry was the fatigued that had started to set up. Tired legs, being out in the warm weather, but still driving by that cold Dos Equis waiting for you at the finish line. I made sure I teamed up with a partner was was close to my weight and we cruised through the obstacles under control and maintained our balance and got through the Warrior Carry without falling.

Everest18. Everest: This obstacle is essentially a quarter pipe that requires you to get a running start in order to reach the top lip of the structure. From there you must pull yourself up in order to accomplish the climb. The best part of this obstacle are the people who are at the top to lend a hand in order to help pull people to the top of the quarter pipe. What this obstacle lacked was the “grease” or mud that was advertised to be all over the fiberglass pipe on the front of the structure. I saw many people making it to the top of the obstacle with no problems, both men and women. I was tired by this point and didn’t get a good running start and needed some help to get my leg up on the top of the platform to finish the obstacle.

Electroshock Therapy19. Electroshock Therapy: The quintessential Tough Mudder obstacle you must go through in order to earn your headband and Dos Equis. One of the few obstacles you can compete as a team in order to feel a sense of accomplishment. Our team locked arms, two separate groups and went charging through the mud and electrical wires. The uneven terrain was tough to navigate while getting shock after shock from the wires. This obstacle was played up a bit more than I expected. The shocks were not all that painful, but you got a good jolt when struck. It was over quickly as we came out the other side and crossed the finish line to be rewarded with our orange Tough Mudder headband. This was a great way to finish off the day, as a team completing Tough Mudder 2013 – Lake Tahoe.

Let me also mention the amount of running that could potentially be involved. If you haven’t run much, you better get out your kicks and start putting the miles in. I read another comment before this event saying something to the effect of being able to run 3-4 miles with requiring water. Fair enough, since none of the aid stations are spaced that far apart on the course.

Tough Mudder TeammatesEven with all the ascents, especially in Lake Tahoe, I would look to push your to run a few times a week, but include a long run on weekend as you build up to your Tough Mudder. I could not tell you how many people were walking the course. I know because I was one of them for various reasons. Initially I stayed back with my team through about 3 obstacles and then broke out with another team member as we wanted to put in a few miles running.

Then there were the steep ascents up Mt. Pluto, especially the final haul to the summit, which was steep! The rule of thumb goes, if you can’t see the top of the mountain, walk. That is what many participants did. For me, it felt great to run between obstacles, as it appeared I was pushing myself, considering all the running I did leading up to my first Tough Mudder. You will be the judge when you climb over the wall into the starting pen how you will approach the trails between obstacles.

Tough Mudder TeammatesHopefully these brief descriptions of what our team experienced in Lake Tahoe will help, in preparation for an upcoming Tough Mudder event. I now have a much earned respect for the obstacles and have a better understand of how to approach them in order to be successful. I do believe all obstacles can be accomplished without aid from team members, especially if you carry the upper body strength to pull yourself up (get to those pull ups!). With that said, there is no shame in approaching obstacles with the “TEAM” concept in mind. Our team accomplished every obstacle as one, even though our group was divided between obstacles. Continue “digging deep” and pushing yourself for reward awaits once you cross that finish line.

Tough Mudder What To Wear?

toughmudderWhen it comes to clothing and how to outfit yourself for first Tough Mudder, you could spend countless hours watching YouTube videos and reading many varied opinions on what works and what doesn’t. I know, I was one of those fools scouring the Internet looking for feasible possibility prior to “race day.” We all know that Tough Mudder is a challenge rather than a race. So just what should you bring? I don’t believe there is one answer that is right or wrong when it comes to how you prep yourself for Tough Mudder. I will however pass on my advice and what I wore for the event and what changes I would consider for my next run at my second orange headband.

For me he most important decision I had to make was what to wear for shoes. Many varying opinions when it comes to footwear. Some swear by Vibram Five Fingers, while others will tell you not to wear anything you don’t want to keep as your shoes will be wasted by the time you cross the finish line. On our 15 person team we saw a wide array of shoes, most were running type shoes, some new, some old. For many it seemed they did not go out and buy a new pair of running or trail shoes just for Tough Mudder. I might be an exception, I did. But these shoes were also going to be used for future trail running as well. Would they hold up and be usable?

speedcross3This is where the Internet came through and I was very pleased with some of the reviews I saw about the Salomon Speedcross 3. I purchased mine from Roadrunner Sports (with my MVP discount) a few months prior to Tough Mudder 2013 – Lake Tahoe in order to break them in, see how they fit and felt while running on local trails. I had a very difficult time finding this shoe in a number of stores, including Roadrunner Sports, REI and Any Mountain, locally in Northern California. Thankfully both REI and Roadrunner Sports sold the shoe online, as well as various outlets on Amazon.com.

The best price I received (with free shipping and a 20% discount) was through Roadrunner Sports. What made this deal even sweeter was I had 90 days to run in the shoe and if I didn’t like them I could return them for a full refund or exchange them for another pair of shoes. Initially I ordered a size 11, without having the ability to try the shoe on before purchasing. I made one 5 mile run on trails and realized they were too tight and returned them for a size 11.5. It was a wise choice and 3 days later I had my new Salomon Speedcross 3 on my feet ready to run again.

speedcross3_treadWhile not a light shoe they are put together to deal with rugged terrain, which is what Tough Mudder features. It has a very solid lower with a protective guard around the base of the shoe. The upper is lightweight and breathable with abrasion resistant material, which helps dry the shoe and feel your foot comfortable. Inside the shoe is a removable Ortholite sock liner that combines Ortholite foam and an EVA heel cup (providing cushioning and stability). This allowed the shoe to breath, making it cooler, drier and better cushioned given the rough terrain.

The top of the shoe was also lined with an anti-debris mesh, which helped to keep foreign debris out of your shoe. The Speedcross 3 also used a quicklace system with one-pull tightening for easy-on and easy off. In order to protect the lace system there is a small lace pocket on the top of the shoe tongue. The tread is very aggressive, which wrapped up onto the toe. I was more worried about getting through the deep, thick mud, but also having the the stability to get up and down the rock slopes of Mt. Pluto. The shoes also worked very well on the soft, fine sand that seemed to line nearly every trail that was thrown at us.

Through out the day, I put the shoes through the grueling Tough Mudder course and they never failed. At no point during the challenge did I find questioning my shoe selection. In the water, through the mud and on the rocks and sand these shoes allowed me to do it all. After water obstacles, the shoes drained quickly and dried within the hour. I only needed to take each shoe off once to remove debris from the shoe. Best of all, I didn’t donate or throw these shoes away when I returned home. I hosed them off and when they dried I wiped them down and they are as good as new!

If you are into trail running or have an extra $125 to throw at a pair of shoes for Tough Mudder, I highly recommend these kicks. I saw many competitors wearing different versions of the Speedcross as I made way through the obstacles.

team_tm_2013Clothing much like shoes is a personal choice. One of the features of Tough Mudder is being unique in your appearance. At Lake Tahoe it was as minimal as a pair of skimpy shorts to full blown military fatigues and everything in between. Outside of the costumes that some runners opted for shorts and shirt were the standard garb for the event.

In the months leading up to the event I read and read, but really never got an answer that I was satisfied with. When I finally found a pair of mountain bike shorts there were 2 problems. First, they were $80 and second they didn’t have my size. I figured I didn’t need them. As I continued to look I wanted two things in shorts I settled on. First pockets with zippers. This is prevent gobs of mud from collecting inside your shorts. Second fabric that would wick away moisture.

me_tm_2013I purchased a black, 5 pocket, 7″ short from Roadrunner Sports and included an inner brief liner and drawstring. I wanted to find a pair that included compression shorts, but I opted for a separate pair to allow me an additional layer, just in case I tore my shorts. I had a few options when it came to a shirt. I figured it was going to be warm, which it was. At start time the temperature was already approaching 70 degrees, but wanted to protect my shoulders from direct sun. Instead of a singlet or sleeveless I decided on standard short sleeve shirt in firecracker orange to go along with the Tough Mudder color scheme.

What I found myself doing through most of the challenge was removing my shirt after each obstacle and running without. When I got to the obstacle I put my shirt back on and attempted the obstacle. This worked well and the shirt remained quite dry after finding the drink as we navigated the mountain. One word of warning, beware of nipple chaffing. It’s uncomfortable and sore. At home I have the habit running without a shirt and didn’t think anything about chaffing until the event ended my nipples were raw! If you are concerned, you might have a look at your options.

gorilla_gripsThe next item of business while outfitting yourself you need to answer; Gloves or no gloves? There are two sides to every coin and this topic seemed to draw much debate in my research. I decided to look for a pair of Mad Grip Pro Palm Knuckler Glove 100, which Home Depot claimed to carry. Unfortunately after 3 different stops I gave up and purchased Grease Monkey Max Fit Gorilla Grip Glove for $4.97. They weren’t exactly what I wanted but I had run out of time and failed to find the Mad Grips in stock.

I do believe gloves are good for Tough Mudder. If not just to avoid the hazards of piercing your skin or drawing blood. Early on, I guess it kept my hands warm but that warmth was quick extinguished when we hit Arctic Enema within the first mile of the course. When it came to obstacles like Just the Tip (wood) and Funky Monkey (metal) I felt I had a better grip than if I did not wear them. One point of contention was the fact my glove started to slip off, as well as another teammates just prior to getting across Funky Monkey. There were many Mudders who were successful without gloves and equally as many with and without gloves ending up in the water. I would still recommend gloves just to give your hands and fingers an added layer of protection.

With aid stations scattered over the course, I debated about humping my 70 oz. Camelbak around, but teammates talked me out of it on Facebook. Never did I feel dehydrated on the course. When I was getting to the point needing a drink we seemed to come across an aid station offering a selection of water and bananas or water and Clif Bars and Clif Shot Bloks. It would have been nice to have some additional energy items at different points on the course. The same could be said with water, if not for me then my teammates. I am sure some of them could have used some hydration to help them to the next obstacle or aid station. I could see employing the Camelbak for the next Tough Mudder. Be forewarned, it could interfere with some obstacles, which will require you to remove it or wear it on your chest.

otto_tm_2013I was surprised however at the number of Tough Mudders wearing sunglasses, carrying a GoPro or mobile device while running. The GoPro is built for such an event as Tough Mudder. In fact we had our team leader wearing on his head the entire course. After the fact it’s pretty damn cool to see some of the obstacles that challenged us. LifeProof makes a line of water-proof, snow-proof, dust-proof and shock-proof cases for an iPhone. This allowed for some pretty breathing team photos while running the course. I would recommend with camera (if you want to carry it) in order to help preserve your experience. There were many photographers on the course, but as of this writing, I have not seem the majority of the photos, which are searchable by last name and bib number.

Your bib, which can end up being a memento or souvenir of your first or most current Mudder. I pinned mine to my chest with 4 safety pins provided by the volunteers at registration. I proceeded to lose my bib on obstacle #2, Glory Blades, when I pulled myself over the top and slide down on my stomach. I saw it come off, but decided (for some stupid reason) to leave it behind. Next time I will attach it to my shorts or the back of my shirt in order not to lose it. All was not lost as volunteers also write your number on your body a few times, including the arms, legs and head.

tm_2013_kiss_if_mudI skipped wearing any sort of arm or calf sleeves, as I didn’t feel I would benefit from it. I had consider it however. There are obstacles such as Kiss of Mud #1 & #2, Electric Eel and Trench Warfare the arm sleeves could come in handy for to prevent some scraps and scratches. Then again, you couldn’t show off your battle scars. If you are prone to cramping or possibly shin splints, then the calf compression sleeves might be worth it.

In the end there are no fast and hard rules when it comes to what to wear. I still believe a good pair of shoes is are a necessity. It’s not a fashion show, but I don’t believe you need to throw your clothes away or donate your shoes once you have crossed the finish line. Dress for the conditions in your area on the day of your event. Most of all take in the Tough Mudder experience, have fun and stay safe. Hoooorah!

Tough Mudder Experience

toughmudderTough Mudder is not a race, it’s a challenge. This is seen on their website and many signs when you arrive at the venue. As a Mudder you compete with a team, but you are really challenging yourself. Teamwork and camaraderie are just two of the strengths you must have to compete, but more imporantly to complete Tough Mudder in order to earn your headband and cold Dos Equis. These just aren’t given out to anyone. As the starter, Sean Corvelle said, “you must learn to dig deep” as you face your fears and push yourself harder than you have probably pushed before in order to accomplish Tough Mudder.

After months of build up to Tough Mudder 2013 – Lake Tahoe I was thrilled to be in the car heading up to Incline Village last Saturday with a group of my teammates. We were all filled with anticipation and excitement as first time Mudders, along with some anxiety and questions about the course, which we learned about the night before in an email from TMHQ when they released the course map.

tm_team_01Our team totaled 15 participants, many of use who had never met,most first time Mudders, from all walks of life but we came together as one, as a team for the next 7 hours to challenge Tough Mudder. While we moved through the course together in different groups we all challenged the obstacles as a team. While I had some hesitation about leaving my teammates behind, I would end up running a majority of the time between obstacles. After spending 8 months training, including 3 months of running I was out to challenging myself. I did however return from the summit to provide a smiling face and some encouraging words to a struggling Mudder who you could see had his shovel out and was digging as deep as he could go.

At Incline Village, the altitude tipped 6,350 feet. After the gondola ride to the Lodge of Big Springs, where Tough Mudder was staged we still could not see the top of Mt. Pluto, which come to find out was the midpoint of the race. It was also at 8,610 feet high! If the obstacles didn’t get you the altitude and thin air could. If you were able to sustain those, then the warm temperature and sun beating down on you constantly would wear you down. Through out the entire experience faces were filled with smiles, even from those on our team who were struggling. It just required you to dig deeper to find out just how much you had.

tm_team_02The successes and failures were part of the Tough Mudder course. Cheers, excitement and high fives went around when a teammates accomplished an obstacle, yet there was always a helping hand or two to assist a teammate out of the water. There was absolutely no share in not attempting an obstacle you did not feel comfortable with. This was made clear before we got to the start and reiterated by the stater. No one on the team looked at their teammates any differently. We were one and in it together to the end.

Unfortunately, injuries are part of Tough Mudder, even the most trained athlete competing could slip, catch an ankle or experience leg craps. Even worse you could break bones or tear ligaments, muscles and tendons. We heard rumors through out the day of other Mudders being carted off with severe injuries. Our team hit the injury bug after Arctic Enema, as one Mudder caught severe leg craps. She had a teammate work out the craps in an attempt to continue, but they were just too much and medical was called. It was recommended she not continue. We still carried her spirit with us through the remainder of the course.

tm_team_03The Berlin Walls seemed to hit our team the hardest, with 3 Mudders going down to injury. In fact as I pulled myself up the first 9′ wall and threw my right leg over I felt a crap come on quickly in my right calf. Thankfully I was able to work the pain down to a minimum and it was not much of a problem the rest of the way. My running partner suffered more severe cramps in his legs, but continued to keep pace as we ran between obstacles. While many other Mudders worked through leg pains, we all continue on with one goal in mind. An orange headband and a cold Dos Equis.

The team effort culminated with the final two obstacles, Everest and Electroshock Therapy. After nearly 7 hours of mud, sweat, blood and tears you were tired. Legs and arms fatigued, skin burned and lips chapped and hands sore. Everest looked challenging, but with reassuring teammates providing support on the top of Everest we were able to pull those requiring a bit of help up onto the apex of the obstacle. Yet another testament to the strength of the team concept behind Tough Mudder.

tm_team_04As we approached the final “hoooorah!” that being Electroshock Therapy we planned on finishing much like we started, as a team. We broke the team into two groups, locked arms and went charging through the mud and electric-shock only to come on the other side as winners. Crossing the finish line gave you a true sense of accomplishment as a TM volunteer crowned you with an orange headband and another handed you the best tasting Dos Equis you ever had.

Would I do this event again? Oh hell yes! If you have ever thought about doing an event like this, I say so for it. If you want to push yourself and see just what you are made of, by all means dig deep and give it your all. It might not be easy for some and you will face adversity and fears. Seeing smiling faces, hearing cheers as we ran the course, lending a helping hand to ANY Mudder who needed it while on the course. That is what Tough Mudder is all about. It was one of the best experiences in my life, having the opportunity to participate in this event. I look forward to 2014 and running with the same group of people, strengthening the bonds we made this year.

On a personal level, I accomplished more than I ever could imagine. While I won’t call Tough Mudder easy, it wasn’t as difficult as I had made it out to be. I had fears to face out on the course, which only strengthened my resolve and increased my confidence when I accomplished certain obstacles. Still there would have been no way I could have accomplished this by myself, as the saying goes, “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” I will set higher goals for next year and push myself even more to challenge Tough Mudder. Hoooooorah!