Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Go Commando! - Post Race Debriefing.

The lead up to my running the course was pretty long since I had arrived at the course around 6 AM and actually ran the course closer to 4 PM.  This does not mean that I hadn't been to almost every corner and nook (or pond or mud pit) of the course at least twice if not three times.  It did mean however that when the Volunteer and Staff Wave started that I probably had 10+ miles in that day not to mention plenty of crawling, crouching and standing to get the near 800 photos that were trimmed to 330 or so for the Team Ortho FB page HERE and HERE.  (Remember it is important to bracket your shots.) 

I started near the front (next to one of the guys from MarathonFoto) since there wasn't that many actually in the wave (40 or so).  The horn sounded and we took off, and I mean took off.  One of the staffers set out with a sub 7 minute mile which really pushed the pack.  Most of us were blissfully unaware of this accelerated pace until the first obstacle "Hay Fever Ridge".  My legs protested as I bounded up the small bale to get to the top of the larger round bales, but the jump down to the smaller bale section in the middle is the first time where I saw gravity over power my leg strength as I tried for some style points while in the air.  Recovery was easy with a quick roll and then climb to the next round bale section.  I did take more caution with stepping down at the end of the bales since there was fewer bales to land on. 

The path soon went through a shallow pond.  This is where the devilish side of me came out and an impromptu belly flop was performed near a pack of cautious wading commandos to be.  This seemed like a good idea until I realized that the cargo pockets in my shorts didn't have any means to drain out the water let alone the sand from the bottom that found its way in.  The hill that let  out of the pond had been turned to mud by the 3000+ runners that had traversed it before me while dripping wet. 

More running brought me to the 1st mile marker and then another obstacle.  It was some larger wooden spindles that had once contained some type of industrial wire stood up on end so runners would need to go under or over.  Due to my height the "over" option was the easiest and most logical.

More running to get to the hardest obstacle in my opinion, the cargo net climb.  The net was only secured around its edges and not to any other of the support structures in the center, so the entirety of the net would shift when the other participants went into another section of the net.  While challenging, it also allowed for more rolling and general flailing as I used the support structure to fling myself into the next sections.

The path the zigzagged its way up a hill and led us across some logs to the next major obstacle, hurdles.  That is correct, immediately before the 2 mile flag, they had set up hurdles of varying height.  I am not sure about you but my legs don't like jumping when they are used to pumping blood for running. (kinda like that feeling you get when you get off of a bike and try to start running.)  The lower ones were easy due to my size, but the taller ones did require gravity to yield to my leg muscles for a brief moment.

The "Mile 2" marker greeted us soon after as well as the only water stop.  Luckily the water stop volunteers hadn't gotten the memo about the staff wave and were still diligently on duty.  Although, I know that I had gotten photos of at least half of them on course earlier in the day.  A short run later there was a nasty steep down hill that I chose to walk down so I wouldn't loose my footing (it was muddy from people skidding down it earlier in the day).  Three built up dirt ramps awaited runners after the down hill.  (This is where most of the stylish jumping happened earlier in the day as well as a rumored front hand spring.)  I chose to run them with only a small jump before the crest to take them with the greatest efficiency (photographing here earlier allowed me to scout various techniques).

A sharp right then led to the next challenge.  Switch backs up and down a stand of pine trees on a hill.  This seemed like torture.  2 1/2 miles in your going to have us do sprints up and down a hill?!  It wasn't that bad because it spread the little pack I was in out enough for the slide that followed.
 Earlier in the day the bottom of this adult slip and slide had been grassy and green.  6 hrs worth of racers later it looked more like something you would expect to find a pig wallowing around in.  I decide to go for distance and laid down fully after grabbing the top of the tube to fling myself down.  Distance however I didn't get, but a hefty splash down and some "ooh's" from the crowd at the bottom were definitely in store.  I recovered quickly and ambled away now thoroughly caked in mud.

The next portion was a naturally sandy portion of hill.  Perfect for those who had just doused themselves in mud and were nice and receptive for sand to cling too.  I left this section looking like I had laid down on the beach sans a towel after swimming.   After rounding a corner a section of tires were waiting to be ran through. I mean what type of obstacle course would be complete with out car tires to run though.  They posed little challenge and were completed without any stumbling.

My legs were burning at this point as I was pushing myself the entire way wanting to beat my previous time of 34 minutes from the year before (not to mention carrying the added weight of water and mud that had collected on my shoes).  As well as possibly break 30 minutes for the first time in any time of 5k event.  They weren't the only thing burning as around the next corner was the fire jump.  A new standard in 5k adventure races.  It was only a single line of log and was burning only 6 or so inches off of ground level so the challenge wasn't that great, and I barely could feel the heat though the layers of sand and mud on my legs.

The final obstacle was a water pit with rope strung over the top.  It was meant to make people actually dip and crawl through the water, but most people just lifted it up and waded through the last little pit.  Not me though, upon entry I immediately dove in and started to crawl.  I wanted to use the opportunity to get the uncomfortable sand off of my legs, and I wanted to stay true to the intent.  A quick few steps after the water pit the finish line greeted the now Commandos. Dog tag finisher medals, a free cup of beer and some chow also greeted the finishers.  I also opted for the quickest way to get clean, the fire hose.  That is right.  They had the local firefighters come out with one of their hose trucks to hose down finishers to wash off the mud.  The water was freezing cold, but it did the trick.   The best part though was a new personal best of 31 minutes for the course.  I lounged around the finish area watching others finish their slogs and grab their finisher swag.  I gave away some of the extra beer and chow tickets that I had collected throughout the day from people trying to bribe the course photographer to make their photos look better.

It was a long operation, but it was well worth it.  Both participants and volunteers had great times, and I, for one, cannot wait to do it again next year!  Who knows.  If I am still blogging at that point,  I might have to have a Give-away for a comp entry so one of my bloggy pack can experience it as well.

Reader Participation:
Have you done any type of race like this?  What did you like or dislike about it?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Long March Home - Volunteer report

The Go Commando Adventure 5k that I was looking Forward to ALL. FREAKING. WEEK (Might steal this every once and a while from EMZ) was today.  It did not disappoint.  The early morning sucked.  Seriously, who knew that they also made 4 in the AM variety and not just the PM.  BUT I was soon reminded that I was not the only one that sacrificed cozy bed for the sake of a sport that I love.

The dedicated volunteers at 6 AM.
We went to the race site on buses since there was little parking available at the site.
The morning was cool and the dew on the grass soaked through my shoes early on and that was the last time my feet would be dry the rest of the day.  This gave me free reign though to go ANYWHERE my little shutter bug heart desired though. (I mean my feet were already wet, so what would standing in that pond hurt?)
Volunteers work in the background to get the participant swag bags set up.

The morning went on, and I started to chat with various volunteers that I knew from previous races.  Most asked about my missing better half, but were understanding when they found out she was in her home town.  (Later found out to be taking 2nd in her age group at a 5k in her home town. Congrats babe!) She is also the one that suggested that I post a few of my favorite photos here.  So, I will follow that advice and let the photos tell the story (with the help of captions).
Teams were encouraged and could garner a discount if large enough.
Individuals were also welcomed though (as well as creative costume)
Two participants navigate the Hayfever Ridge (The first of many obstacle, especially for those with asthma or allergies)
This pond was the 2nd obstacle (2 1/2 mile left in soaked shoes.) Style points for good entry though.
The next obstacle I didn't get a photo of (mainly because I forgot about it), but it involve climbing over large spools that once held heavy cabling.
This obstacle proved hard than it looked, but also allowed for some artistic flair if you were trusting of the participants footing.
After a winding run up a tubing hill (the race site was a local cross country skiing area and tubing hill), they came to the next obstacle.
They weren't terribly high, but after nearly two miles they seemed like they were!
Sand dunes came shortly after as the final mile was packed with obstacles.  Style points can shave of time right?
Pine trees and rope formed a hilly switchback.
This next obstacle deserves multiple photos.
This obstacle increased everyone's pace!

Yep there is a person causing that.

This one too!
A sandy ascent.
No adventure course is complete without running through tires.
Or the jumping of fire.
Then the final challenge.

 Remember time doesn't matter when you run.  It is most important that you are out there!

Let your imagination run wild with what this one made people look like.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Final prep before Going Commando.

Just shaved, picked up some protection and something for a little refreshment.  I want to have some 5 o'clock shadow tomorrow when photographing Team Ortho's Go Commando! Adventure 5K tomorrow.  Also, judging from my friends that were out there setting things up today sunscreen is a must.  And we all know that proper hydration is the key to good performance, so I am the proud owner of a  2 liter camel back now. (that will need to be filled a couple of times tomorrow)  My camera batteries are charging and soon I will be off to bed so the 4AM revelry tomorrow will seem more "normal".

I will probably have a race report and photos (none of myself since I am the photographer for most of the day) coming in the following days.  Also be sure to check out the Go Commando FB page HERE as photos are sure to be posted there as well.

Lights Out!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Go Commando! - Pre-race pomp

Not often do I get this excited about a week before a race, but this race is different.  This year I will be volunteering as a photographer and then running.  (made possible by a volunteer wave at the end to let those who sacrificed prime running time to do the dirty work)  This race is Team Ortho's Go Commando (note the links are separate sites).  At the ass crack of dawn, I will be loaded onto a volunteer bus and shipped off to the race site where packets, gear (hat and t-shirt) and goodies (face paint) will be doled out to this years participants before a 5k jaunt through obstacles ensues.  My challenge is to photograph for 12 hrs and then run.

Now, you might be saying, "how hard could it be?"  To which my response is, "how many good race photos have you had take of you?"  Then again, I am not your average photographer.  Most race photogs that I have passed are silent sentinel poised with camera at the ready to collect a pay check.  I will be doing this as a volunteer, why, because I love this sport.  This is a race where the kid in you gets to hijack your adult hobby.  Climb over that wall, sure it was put there for that purpose.  Those cones lead me through that pond; yep, you bet.  Wait are things burning in the path; um yeah, might want to run quickly through that because singed leg hair smells.  Hell one of the obstacles is even reminiscent of a slip and slide.  If you find a way to run this race and not get caked in mud, you should be made to do it over again, so you can get it right.

To those who might actually be reading this and running this event: smile at the big goon with the camera!

Otherwise, what could a photographer do to make you smile while on the course?  Suggestions are welcome and would be mandatory if I could figure out how to do that.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Catching the running bug.

I have heard this phrase a few times now and would like to list its effects.

  • Possible rapid weight loss
  • Often accompanied by blogging
  • Likely contagious to close friends and family
  • Increased sales of ice packs and spandex
  • Redefining of what one will or won't do (I remember telling a friend once that they would never see me run 5 miles for "fun".  My 25k last year was a blast.)
  • Desire to travel to see more places on foot.
This is not a completed list but just a random morning musing.  If you can think of more, post them in the comments.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The brick

So, in my life I have experienced many bricks, I have lifted brick to help with masonry (well block technically, but in practice just large bricks).  I have shit a brick (cafeteria food in high school can be brutal).  I have dove for a brick in lifeguard training.  Shot a brick (free throws are hard). I have used a brick as a mascot (high school track). I have even had a brick smashed on my chest while laying on a bed of nails (physics demonstration).  But, today, I experienced a new type of brick.  A nice little bike followed by a nice little run... well depending on what you consider little.  Tonight I did a nice little 10 mile ride followed by a 3 mile run.

My ten mile ride went smoothly.  I grabbed my bike after getting home from work and rolled down the road at a moderate pace.  I was able to maintain a moderate pace of 16 mph, so the bike went quickly (about 40 minutes).  Then with a quick change of shorts (needed a different pair of compression shorts since my bike shorts don't quite agree with running),  I was back out the door before my roommates even realized that I had left. 

I quickly realized why these workouts are called bricks.  My legs still wanted to use the cycling muscles even when I wanted to be using the running muscles that I have been abusing training.  My feet felt sluggish and my legs were heavy.  I did notice that I was not over striding and was getting a nice mid-foot strike (didn't realize that this might help my form).  One of my roommates said he saw me on the way to get his dinner and said it looked like I was able to maintain a steady clip, but my legs still felt like rubber for the first mile.  I got back in about half and hour.

All in all, I think that my first Du is going to be interesting.  I still need to about double the bike distance and throw in another run before hand of 5k.  I am still looking for pointers on how to train and etiquette during a Du.  I know runners have their code and I am assuming that it still holds during the run part, but the biking etiquette (other than the basics) is still a mystery.  Any suggestions on where to look aside from the good ol' Google?

Congrats to my fiance (hint: she is the most frequent commenter) who placed second in her age group at the ALARC Legends 10k this last Saturday in Deephaven, MN. 

Also Congrats to Steve in a Speedo for being a new father of a new little boy.  For full report go HERE

Well that is all for now folks.  Happy Monday!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cooling off

Well after an impromptu 15 mile bike ride Tuesday evening combing the neighborhood for my roommate's dog in 80+ degree heat (better than the 103 it reached earlier though), I never did post like I wanted to.  BUT luckily today after checking in on some blogs that I follow mentioning pets, I was inspired to make a quick post.  It took me a little less than an hour, so I must have been keeping a decent pace.

Random thing:
Monday - I went to Chateau St. Croix Winery with the future Wifey for engagement photos.  You can read all about that HERE.

Well, I said it would be short, so good night everybody (or morning/afternoon/evening whenever you are reading this)