Saturday, March 31, 2012

ABF 10k Mudrun Race Report

Camp Ockanickon in Medford, NJ played host to Above and Beyond Fitness's 10k Mudrun this morning, and I was lucky enough to take part.  Mudruns have become extremely popular over the last few years, as they offer an alternative to what some perceive as the mundanity of regular footraces.  Unfortunately, popular mudruns such as the Warrior Dash and the Tough Mudder often sell out months in advance.  As ABF is just a small outfit, I was able to sign up at the last minute on Thursday night.

It was an overcast day with temps in the upper 40's.  The course was 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles, and featured obstacles such as these:

I have no idea how this race would compare to the more popular mudruns out there, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Nice and clean at the start

I started out in the 11:30 heat, but within a minute I had pulled ahead of everyone and spent the next fifteen minutes completely alone, zigzagging through the woods.  After leaving the woods, obstacles began appearing with more regularity and included dragging sandbags up and down Blueberry Hill 4 times, crawling under barbed wire, running through a field of tires, climbing and jumping over several walls, crossing the monkey bars, and this:

Swimming in March in the middle of a race

Needless to say, it was absurdly cold, and I couldn't feel certain body parts when I came out on the other side.  Thankfully Stevie was there to take pictures, which gives you, the reader, one of the better faces I've made during competition:

After over an hour of getting beat up on the trail, one more water obstacle:

And on to the grand finale:

It took me two tries to grab that bar.  Despite my size, I still have decent vertical leap, but the wood was slippery and my hands were wet and cold, so on the first try I couldn't grasp the bar.  It took me a minute to warm them up and dry them off, and I nailed it on the second try.

My time was 1:15:03, but technically it wasn't a race anyway.  Even with several heats throughout the day, it is still impossible to time everyone fairly when bottlenecking occurs at the various obstacles.  I was fortunate in that when I encountered a crowded obstacle, usually a team working to overcome it together, they didn't mind letting me pass since I was alone.  I overheard the following exchange at one obstacle as I crossed it with ease:

Woman 1: Is this guy with a team?
Woman 2: Look at him!  Does he need a team!?

Overall it was a great event that I would love to do again, despite certain drawbacks.  For one, it cost $105 to register.  Tack on's registration fee and mandatory insurance, and all together I shelled out $124.01 to run around in the woods and get soaked today.

All of these events are always touted as being designed to push your mental and physical abilities to the limit, and this one is no exception. Designed by a former Marine, the event "features difficult (and sometimes hostile) environments, and physical and mental challenges that will push even the most active fitness seeker." While I must stress that I enjoyed the event, I have to laugh when I read that description.  Where were the hostile environments?  Where was the mental challenge?

Sorry ABF, but your event is still pretty tame compared to the beast that is the marathon.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

An update on Boston

How is training for Boston going?  Glad you asked.

In a nutshell: not well.

The stress is creeping in and with it comes self doubt: with all that I am responsible for as a first-year teacher, am I actually being realistic when I set my sights on running 3:05 or better in my next marathon?  I nearly killed myself running a 3:09:45 in 2010, and I didn't have a fulltime job then. I find myself constantly exhausted, and despite that exhaustion, I still find it hard to fall asleep some nights because I just can't turn my brain off.

Regarding the exhaustion, I sometimes tell myself that I need to listen to my body and ease back on the training if I'm so exhausted.  Other days, though, I wonder if that isn't the point of training - to get used to running through exhaustion, because isn't that what the last 6 miles of the marathon are all about?  In the end, EVERY run is a mental battle, often started long before I actually make it out the door, and I don't always win.

Ultimately all I can do is keep plugging along, giving it the best I can, and just try not to be disappointed if it takes me a few attempts to make it again.  Some people, afterall, spend a lifetime chasing Boston.  I just hope I'm not one of them.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

17 miles

2:21:43 this morning; roughly 17 miles.  I had to stop three times to go to the bathroom throughout, but overall a good run.  Felt pretty strong throughout.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You know you're a marathoner when... watch the episode of How I Met Your Mother when Marshall trains for the marathon and then Barney runs in his place, and you can't help but think of all of the inaccuracies involved.

  • It's hard to just decide to run the New York City Marathon.  A lottery with thousands upon thousands of entrants ensures that only a fraction who want to run it will actually be able to do so.
  • Since when are liquid breakfasts considered "runner style?"
  • It's the day before the marathon.  Why is he running long enough to chafe his nipples? Why isn't he tapering?!
  • Who applies vaseline after running to relieve chaffing?  It's supposed to go on beforehand to prevent it.
  • And for that matter, who uses Vaseline anymore?  It's all about the Bodyglide...
  • Barney walks perfectly fine directly after the marathon, only to have his legs 100% shut down a few hours later while riding the subway.  Not likely.

And then you start to think, "Damn, I wish I could have been an extra in that episode."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Das Leben der Anderen

A popular question that runners get from non runners is: what do you think about when you're running for so long?  Recently, more often than not, the answer is this: I think about German. I describe the situations around me in German, I plan the trip to Germany I hope to take this summer, and I never stop wondering how I can get my students to get better at this language. With a new position this year comes questioning and self doubt, and I can't stop thinking about what I could be doing better.

Lately I've been focusing on this film:

"The Lives of Others," the German film that won the 2006 Oscar for foreign language film, about the East German State Security that spied on its own citizens for decades.  It's a brilliant, moody, haunting film, filled with subtlety, history, redemption, and dynamic characters.  My AP class has spent a lot of time discussing the Cold War and the relationship between East and West Germany, and this film fits perfectly into that discussion.  Why then, was I so reluctant to show this film to my class?

My love for this film is a result of a built in background going into it.  I used to live in the former East Berlin.  I've taken college classes on East and West German relations.  I've been to countless museum exhibits, seen countless other films on the subject, and talked to countless East Germans about their former lives.  There is an appreciation and understanding for the subject matter that my teenage students simply don't possess.  The film is long and slow moving, and I was afraid of the epic eye rolling that would occur when their parents asked what they did in German class that day.

So what made me decide to show the film this week?  Believe it or not, it all comes back to Boston: it's about the expectations.  There was a time I was positive that I could never qualify for Boston. Instead of giving in to this, I merely set my expectations higher and decided to meet them.  This is what should be done as an educator as well.  If I set my expectations high, my students will, in theory, rise to meet them. If I give in to the stereotype that teenagers are lazy and dumb and not capable of mature emotions and thought, I'm doing everyone involved a disservice.  If I believe, on the other hand, that teenagers are capable of deep and powerful thought but just lack the power of articulation that one acquires with age, then I am headed in the right direction.  My expectations may not always be met, but the effort will be there, just like the road to Boston.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday funday

Day off of school today for a professional development seminar for foreign language instructors. Brought some chai along in my favorite traveling mug.  A student of mine gave it to me a few years ago as a Christmas present.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Went skating last night at the Virtua Flyer's Skate Zone.  A friend from the theater was apparently taking a stand against St. Patrick's Day and scheduled a skate night when we should have been out drinking green beer somewhere.  At least I got a good workout by skating for an hour.  I also ran into one of my students who made me speak to her friend on her cell phone in German.  For this my friends dubbed me "world's coolest teacher."

Overall, it was a night of good, wholesome fun.

So we ruined it by taking up residence in a local bar directly afterwards.  By 10 o'clock we had finally made it to the Main Street Pub, and by 11 o'clock we saw the first car bomb of the evening.

Abby, me, Stevie

Later in the night we met up with my two couchsurfers at the Irish Mile where I made the pleasant discovery that drinks were on the house all night.  Apparently the Haddonfield Running Co. was giving out bracelets earlier in the day that gave access to an open bar between 8pm and closing. Though I hadn't gotten a bracelet, the owner of the store, who was guest bartending, recognized me and came over to drink two rounds with us.  He told me the store's tab that night was over $5,000, but it was his way of celebrating the Haddonfield Running Co.'s 15th anniversary as well as thanking all of his customers.  I was duly impressed by this act of gratitude, and needless to say, I will be shopping there even more often in the future.

Despite having an excuse to drink my face off all night (when else will I be rewarded with booze for being a runner?!), I didn't indulge too much.  Marathon training continues...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k

7:30am on a Saturday morning.

Stevie: How are you awake this early?
Me: It's race day!  I've got adrenaline pumping through me!

The race in question was the aptly named Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k.  My third or fourth time doing it.  Click here for last year's race report.  As I noted last year, this is not your average neighborhood 5k.  The race is capped at 1,000 people, and there are decent cash prizes to take home, which bring local amateur elites out of the woodwork.

It was a beautiful day for a run today.  Not a cloud in the sky and temps around 50.  Starting at the high school, we ran down Kings Highway (main street with all the shops and restaurants), through the neighborhoods, back onto Kings Highway and finished back at the high school.  This is typically the first race of the year for me.  I ran it in 19:43 last year, and this year I came in at 19:14, 133rd place out of 922 finishers.

My dad, my stepmom Debbie and Stevie all came out to watch me race.

And new this year: all finishers got a medal, which doubles as a bottle opener.

Well done, Haddonfield Running Co, and happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone.

Post race lunch and beers

Friday, March 16, 2012


Thought I'd add some new questions to the FAQ section.

1. Are you still alive?
Yes.  Just busy.

2. Still running?

3. Still teaching German?

4. Still going for Boston?
I have my doubts, mostly due to the difficulty of training around a full-time job, but yes, Boston is still the plan.

5. You haven't done a race since last October.  Any new ones coming up?
Running the Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k tomorrow.

6. What is the dumbest show ever to grace television airwaves?
Xena: Princess Warrior.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Movie Monday XXXII

Here's an addition to the recent internet meme, runner style.  How many of these are you guilty of?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Long run Sunday

Drinking chocolate milk because Runner's World told me to.

Ran roughly 15 miles this afternoon.  By the time I enjoyed some chocolate milk, did my pushups and situps, showered, rehydrated and started to feel like myself again, it was already 4:30.  I need to start my long run much earlier in the day.  But at least I got it in today.  Marathon training stays on track.
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