Saturday, January 24, 2015

How to win the HURT 100: A Theoretical Guide and an Actual Report!

How to win the HURT 100!

A theoretical guide and an Actual Report


Theory: Start training 6-months out. Integrate speed-work, strength training and dieting into your routine. Run multiple 100 mile weeks. Maintain your job, your spouse and your sanity. Pay no attention to your competitors “speak with your legs”.
100 pts. (+10 extra credit if you live in B.C.)

Actual: Started training 2-months out. Integrated speed-work, boot-camp, yoga, strength training, rock-climbing and hiking. Ran one 60 mile week. Half-assed work, neglected girlfriend once or twice, lost all sanity and felt consistently overwhelmed. Forget about competition until pre-race meeting, looked around and thought “o shit…” lost a night of sleep.
Loop 1:

Theory: Start conservative. Hold back. Race your own race, but not necessarily in first. Start hydrating and salt pills immediately. Start tried and true race nutrition strategy immediately, don’t deviate. Say hi to every runner possible. Finish the loop between 3hrs 45min’s to 4hrs.
100 pts.
Actual: Started conservative. Didn’t wear a watch, didn’t care to know position or pace, ended up in the front too soon. Started hydrating & salts immediately. Stuck with tried & true nutrition plan:
On the hour:
·         -24oz water
·        - 3 scoops Carbo Pro mixed into water
·         -2 Amino Acid pills
·         -3 Vo2 Max Pills
·         -2 MetaSalt Pills
·         -Oranges & Banana’s at aid stations
Every loop
·        -2 scoops interphase & 1 scoop carbo-pro (Nick-Slam)

Said hi to every runner possible. Finished the loop (unknown to me during the race) in 3hrs and 28min’s. 
Loop 2 

Theory: Stay consistent. Humidity and heat will increase, stay strong. Cramping may start, ignore it. Vital to stay on top of hydration, nutrition & salts. Keep smiling, stay positive. Expected time 3:45-4:00hrs. 
Actual: Stayed consistent. Started cramping badly, ignored it. Ate a bunch of oranges, fixed cramping. Kept smiling, stayed positive. Stuck to hydration and nutrition plan. 3:50hrs.
Loop 3 

Theory: Stay consistent. Humidity will continue to increase, climbs will seem endless, cramping may continue, don’t let it. Stick to nutrition & hydration plan. Don’t slip, just don’t. Start floating over tree roots. Don’t forget your headlamp for night. Don’t eat solid food with a high heart rate. Competition may intensify, don’t pay attention to it. 3hrs 50min’s to 4hrs and 10min’s. Keep smiling.
Actual: Started falling back in pace. Humidity & heat decreased. Climbs were manageable. Cramping stopped from the oranges. Didn’t slip. Tried floating over tree roots. Competition caught me at Paradise Center, it got to me. Forgot my headlamp. Deviated from my functioning nutrition plan and tried out solid foods. Couldn’t get enough solid food calories down. The first of my calorie deficit lows ensued. Kept smiling. Loop time unknown.
Photo Rob Lahoe. See still smiling!!

Loop 4 

Theory: Night time starts after you finish the first leg of this loop. Carry a super-strong headlamp (200+ lumens). Don’t slip. Float over roots. Cheer on other runners. Smile. Maintain same nutrition plan. Don’t eat food off the ground. Don’t eat the half-rotten strawberry guava’s all over the course. Smile. Prepare to race the 5th loop. Run a perfect 4hr loop.
Actual: Left Nature Center and almost immediately dipped into the worst low yet, stopped caring about position and walked slowly forward. Night fell, turned on headlamp that I borrowed from a volunteer. Discovered headlamp was maybe 40 lumens max, but was grateful to have a light. I think I was floating over roots? I couldn’t see them. Latched onto other runner and talked with him to help me out of my low while also secretly using them for their headlamp. Got direly hungry for solid food…Found some old cheetoh’s squished on the middle of the trail, devoured them. Found semi-rotten strawberry guava, devoured it. Continued to fight off bad lows. Got headlamp eventually. Fell back to 3rd place. Still smiled. Ran a less than 5hr loop! (I think…)
Loop 5 

Theory: Summon the power of rooty-jungle gods and consume all human souls left on the course!! Aka become Gary Robbin’s for that last loop. Don’t eat, don’t drink, don’t salt ain’t nobody got time for that. Who are you? YOU’RE GARY ROBBINS!! Don’t forget to smile either.
Actual: Summoned the power of a lethargic snail crawling through peanut butter. Fell asleep for 10 minutes atop the first climb. Wearily walked with another runner and fought off another nutritional low. Went back to original nutritional plan from loop 3. Everything went back to normal. No more lows. Realized 1st and 2nd were now roughly an hour ahead of me. Felt like an idiot for sabotaging my own race. Kept smiling. Finished 3rd. I’M NICKADEMUS HOLLON!!

Theory: Stick around watch other runners finish. Attend the HURT 100 banquet. Get made fun of by Jeff and John. Receive a sweet custom-made Ukulele as your prize. Get swollen ankles. Struggle to walk from security to your gate at the airport.
Actual: Stuck around to watch others finish. Attended the HURT 100 banquet. Got made fun of by Jeff and John. Received a sweet custom-made Ukulele as my prize. Got swollen ankles. Struggled to make it from security to my gate at the airport. (+10 extra points if your girlfriend dressed up as a Limo Driver and picked you up from the airport). 


 Alright and thus my % error calculation:
700 (total theoretical points) – 575 (total actual points) = 125 ÷ 700 = 0.178 x 100 = 17.8%
My race was 17.8% error, totaling 82.2%  a B- for this year’s HURT 100. 

and of course some random photo's from the trip because Hawaii is amazing!


Monday, January 12, 2015

2015: Jungles, Deserts, Mountains and OCR

2015: Jungles, Deserts, Mountains and OCR

2015 is all about that bass, 'bout that bass...Not so much actually...That was 2014...2015 is however, all about them deserts, jungles, mountains and OCR races. I'm stoked, I'm nervous and finally out of that damned post DNF slump from WTM! Let's rumble 2015! And a huge thank you in advance to Carbo Pro, Grivel, Injinji, Inov-8 and Ink n' Burn to continue to support my dream! So without further ado...dun dun dun...the races!

RACE #1 The H.U.R.T. 100 Hawaii (January)
Jason Loutitt (2012 Winner) and Myself just afer finishing the HURT 100.

Opening up my season will be one of my favorite 100 milers in the USA. The HURT 100! This will be my third time at this race, I'm looking forward to slipping and sliding my way across Oahu's sweet rooty trails! I'm pulling for Team Inov-8 to conquer the podium ;) Let's go Yassine!

mmmm Cholla
RACE #2 Rabbit Peak Trail Race CA (February)
22 miles and 8,000ft of gain. One of San Diego's most wicked mountains. I finished in 4hrs and 57min's last year and that's the CR by over 20 min's if that gives you any idea as to how difficult this thing is. Don't be fooled by word "trail" in the title of the race it's nothing but rocks, cholla cactus, teddy bear cactus, cat's claw and yucca. Gotta' defend my title this year!

RACE #3 Atlas OCR Race, San Diego, CA (March)
The race is about a thirty minute drive from my house in San Diego. Do I know anything about actually racing a 7-9 obstacle race? Hell no. Am I willing to give it a shot? Why not. Climb something, roll through something, jump over some fire or something..Sounds like my daily run!

RACE #4 Island Cruise & Spartan Sprint (March)
I'm in over my head on this one. I was invited out to this on someone's mad opinion that I'm experienced enough to be considered a professional, professionally crazy perhaps. Long story short, it's a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas! With a spartan 5km race thrown in the middle! Do I know anything about racing a normal 5km? Absolutely not, I get thoroughly beaten my middle school kids most of the time. Do I know anything about racing a 5km obstacle race? We'll I just hope there won't be as many middle school kids beating me...

RACE #5 Georgia Death Race (March)
68 miles and 20,000ft of gain! In Georgia? Yup, apparently they found it! A lot like Tennessee and Barkley's 60,000ft of gain, Apparently it's out there! That being said, this is the first Sky Race of my life. The field looks super stacked, but with 20,000ft of gain (and hopefully some wicked, nasty terrain) I think I've got a fighting chance. If things go well, I'll be adding a few more SkyRunning races to my calendar. 

The lowest to highest trail is basically the trail version of the Badwater 135. Starting at Badwater (-282ft below sea level) up and over the Panamints, through the Argus range and up into the Sierra's finishing off on Mt. Whitney. Check the site out for more details. There really isn't an "ideal" time frame for this attempt. You go in summer you face 120+ degree temperatures and endless miles  alone, dry streams ect...You go in Winter, storms on Whitney, Panamints, Argus ect...You go in April flowers all the way with streams everywhere! Probably not...It's probably going to be really hot with snow everywhere...Join me? Beat me to me it? Let's talk!

RACE #7 U.K. Fell Running Rounds FKT Attempt (June/ July)
The project is in development still. But the idea is basically this: the UK has three INSANE "rounds" they call them. Bob Graham round (~60 miles and 40,000+ft of gain), Charlie Ramsay Round (~60 miles and 40,000ft+ gain) and the Lake District Round (~60 miles and 40,000ft+ gain). These rounds are like peak bagging if peak bagging took two snorts of coke and drank five cans of Red-Bull. I heard about the rounds for the first time when I was at Ronda del Cims this last summer. I asked my friend who was talking about them, "Has anyone ever done them consecutively? Each under 24hrs?" He fell silent to my question. 180 miles and 120,000ft of gain? Why the hell not. That's more vert. than Kilian runs in month!

RACE #8 Cameco Cowboy Tough Adventure Race Wyoming (July)
My entry into this race is contigent upon me finalizing a solid team and sponsors. But if that gets done, this will be my first ever adventure race and I figure why not start big! That's always been my idea. Do the hardest thing first and then the stuff after will be easier. Do I know anything about Adventure Racing? I canz run far...

Race #9 FAT DOG 120 B.C. CANADA (August)
This is for all those years you guys have won the HURT! I'm coming out for revenge on Canadian terrain! Shhh don't let Gary, Jason, Ferg, Adam or any other Canadian runners read this...They'll come after and beat me..Anyways, my girlfriend says this is the best time for wildflowers and wildlife in the Okanagan (which I can pronounce 3/10 times). So I figure what better way to view the local bears and flowers than by running 120 miles through them? I'm stoked, I've been wanting to do this race since it's inception in 2012. 

Race #10 Burning Man 50km Nevada (August)
What happens when you throw a 50km race in the middle of the world's most massive counter cultural festival? Madness. Absolute madness. I ran the race in 2012 thinking it would be an easy win, I mean who wants to run 31 miles in the middle of the desert at Burning Man? A lot of people I discovered. A lot of fast competitive people. Long story short, I discovered that after clocking sub 6 minute miles on the first 7 mile loop...and barely holding onto 5th, this was a competitive race. I eeked my way into 2nd but only because 3rd stopped to make out with a girl on the course...I expect an equally crazy experience this year. 


RACE #11 Team Death Race (September)
My participation is still semi-tentative. I did the Death Race in 2011. I barely survived it. It's scarred my memory and ever since I've had a irrational fear of chopping wood. Not to mention the nightmares of wading through frozen creeks at 2:00am. I'm part of a team that's returning to this thing..They are mostly either Navy SEALS or ex-military guys...I list comic books and enjoy sometimes eat snickers at 2:00am. Why me?

RACE #12 The Jungle Marathon Brazil (October)
People have written it up on my Facebook wall too many damn times...Whenever I ask, look or google world's  toughest races this thing almost always pops up...I'm able to check off Barkley, TDG ect...ect...But this one! It's about time. So as long as funding can come through, I'm in for this year. What to expect? I don't know. Something like a 250km version of the Fuego y Agua 100km? And some Anaconda's and other jungle critters? Hurray!

RACE #13 World's Toughest Mudder Nevada (November)
The last race of my year, one word-revenge.

  • 4/11-4/20 Tierra Viva Adventure Race Costa Rica (if I win the lottery or Bill Gates decides to sponsor my 2015 season)
  • 4/1-4/30 San Diego 100 Peaks record. Bag all the peaks in San Diego in the least amount of time possible
  • Dragon's Back (June 22nd-26th) epic stage race with 45,000ft of gain in the Wales district, UK
  • 9/26 Spartan Ultra-Beast at the Sun Peaks Resort BC, Canada
  • 10/3-10/5 Spartan World Championship(if I qualify)
  • 10/3-10/5 Sky Running National Championship (if I do well at the Georgia Death Race)
  • 10/17-10/18 OCR World Championship (if I qualify)
  • 11/15 Adventure Racing World Championship (if my Team can qualify)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Burn Out: A runner's tale from the World's Toughest Mudder 2014

Burn Out

A runner's tale from the World's Toughest Mudder 2014

My bib alongside the best shoes ever.
I was wobbling up the stairs to my hotel room alongside my girlfriend after having just finished all 205 miles and 80,000ft of gain from Italys Tor des Geants. My eyes drooped and I lowly uttered to her Im totally not doing Worlds Toughest Mudder, Im spent my season is over!I collapsed into bed that night and for  the following weeks reduced my training to bedroom to fridge walks. It felt great for a moment not to have anything on my race schedule. 

Two weeks later a text from a friend read,
Hey you signed up for WTM yet??Id told my girlfriend and family that it was a 90% noand that I wasnt going to do the race. I didnt respond to the text for several days, and found myself training just in case.
Id spent the month of October half-recovery from Tor des Geants and half-training for WTM and somehow in the mix of it all convinced myself and my sponsors that I could competitively race WTM. And maybe even go for the win and the $10,000 prize. Id already been dreaming about paying off loans and bills with the spare cash. 

Itll be an easy win Nick, these folks at OCR racing, you got em in a 24hr race. One friend said. 

First place no problem Nick said another friend. With encouragement like that it was easy for me to let their aspirations get to my head and two weeks out from the race I officially signed up.

November 15th my crew and I drove past the Las Vegas strip, through suburbs, strip malls and gas station casinos, through a luxury townhome site about twenty minutes outside of the strip, to the northwest edge of Lake Las Vegas. The man made waterfall and bright green golf course was a stark contrast to the bleak and empty desert landscape bordering the townhomes. We crested over a hill and I caught my first glimpse of the course. Dust devils whipped and whirled across the dry dirt mounds. I was stoked to see all the little hills and knew I could use those to my advantage. But as we passed through the gate my heart sank as I stared off left at a thirty foot square wooden structure,
Are those swings? I asked my friend, he looked back at and me and raised his shoulders cluelessly.
1,200 of us corralled around the start line of the race. I was head to toe in foreign feeling compression gear and glanced around at intimidatingly buff and strong looking men and women. These OCR racers comprised a much more daunting look than the semi-homeless looking mountain folk I am used to gathering around at the start line of ultras. A man ran into the middle of crowd and told everyone to get down on one knee, 

Do yall have guts? OOO RAH The crowd boomed. 

Do yall have MENTAL GRIT? OOO RAH the ground beneath quaked and dust rose above us all.

Let me get three HUGE OO RAHs from all yall then well start this thing!! OOO RAH OOO RAH OOO RAH
I choked down sulphurous orange smoke as it rose up from high way flares lining the course. I squirmed in and out of dozens of people as we all tip toed around the mud piles. The first lap was a sprint lap with no obstacles designed to spread out the 1,200 person crowd. Incentivized by a fastest first lap award, which I had no intention of gunning for. I was minding my form and checking my pace when I read the bib number of the next guy ahead of me 0001 ATKINS Already? I questioned myself.
Orange smoke of death

Hey man, Im Nick, nice to finally meet you! I said. 

Ryan, nice to finally meet you too He said back to me in a clean tone, it was easy to tell that the both of us were holding back.  

I ran into the PIT crew area and downed 100 calories of Carbo Pros Hydra C5 and grabbed a small bite of a luna bar to go as I headed out for my first real lap, obstacles and all. 

It was only just nearing the first hour of the race and I was already trading between 1st and 2nd with the guy ahead of me, far too soon for my personal comfort. The first obstacle was a cargo net thrown over truck tires. I sloppily made my way through as I caught face, hand or foot in the net with every other step. The other guy blazed through and disappeared around the corner, so much for moving effectively and efficiently like I had hoped for.  

I caught up to the guy again and we were neck and neck going into the Mud Mile, a series of mud mounds and water troughs we had to navigate through. I sank my fingers as deep as I could into the dirt and gripped hard enough to pull myself over and roll down into the water. I could hear the guy next to me WRAGHH Hed found a large rock and was stabbing into the mud pile gripping in and out. He pulled out of the last mud slough way before and started running off. I could hear other competitors now right behind me closing in. I was far from an expert at obstacles. 

Atkins and Pak it turns out were right on my heels and passed me on the way to the next obstacle. I let out a sigh of relief and finally started to settle into my own pace as the two of them flew up and over the Hit the Wall obstacle and then disappeared out of sight. For only the second hour of the race, I felt like the pace was wickedly fast.

I could see Atkins, Pak and a few of the other competitors top out of Everest (a tall wall run) ahead of me and I could feel my nerves getting worse as I approached the obstacle. It was one of the few that I actually really practiced in training, but nonetheless I was uneasy about it.

I slowed for a second and then sprinted towards the plastic ramp. The sticky rubber soles of my inov8 x-talon 212s nearly propelled me to the top without my hands. These were definitely the choice shoe for this race. 

I quickly discovered that the second half of the course was far more obstacle dense than the first. There was hardly room to breathe between one obstacle and the next. I swam roughly 50 meters towards Hump Chuck a slanted plastic sheet with a 2x4 at the top to jump and grab out. It was easy and fun the first time through.

I was nearing mile 3 of the course and knew some of the most notorious obstacles were ahead of me. I ran down a short hill and right to The Gamble where if I rolled a 1-3 I would be given safe passage. But if I rolled a 4-6 it was the electroshock or penalty. Pak rolled a 2 in front of me and took the safe passage. My hands trembled as I rolled the dice, 1! Thank god! I exclaimed to the volunteer.
I trailed behind the other competitors towards Swingers. And climbed up the ten foot platform.

Okay just jump out, grab the bar and ring the bell the volunteer said simply. 

Sure thing I nodded hesitantly. I jumped out wrapped my hands around the bar swung and barely managed to touch the bell just as I let go. Unfortunately, Id been so focused on hitting the bell I forgot entirely about the fifteen foot drop into water afterwards and enjoyed the nice painful sting as I back flopped into the water. I swam out and crawled up the cargo net and slowly returned to jog. It was going to be a rough 24-hrs.

I was finally making my way through the last two obstacles of the loop, Sewage Outlet and then the CliffWhich I really didnt want to think about. I rolled under the barbed wire towards the upward facing corrugated plastic pipes of the Sewage Outlet and pulled myself through the tight pipe on a fixed rope. I couldnt figure out a way to turn my body around and exit feet first into the water and another competitor was already crawling up my tube. And so nervously I let go dropping six-feet backwards and head first into the water. I latched onto the cargo net like an angry wet cat, never again.

I ran hard uphill towards The Cliff and tried hard to forgot the fact that I was about to have to do all those obstacles over and over and over again. As I neared the top of the cliff, I yelled out to the volunteers standing at the edge,
Lane one clear?
Yup! I immediately went straight from my run, without a seconds hesitation and jumped off the cliff.
Holy crap!! I said in my mind. It really was 35 feet, they werent joking. Smack! I hit the water and felt my backpack burst and whack me in the face. I struggled for air and started swimming upwards. Damn the surface is further than I thought! I said to myself.

I burst through the water gasping for air and swam to the other side grabbing the vertical ropes of a cargo net strung over a small cliff. My arms stinging and heart racing, I reached the top of the net and stumbled back into a jog, it was going to be a rough 24hrs. 

I downed 200 calories of Carbo Pro mixed with Interphase and took a small bite of pumpkin pie, all of maybe two minutes were spent in transition. 

Pak was gone way before and Atkins was some far distance ahead of me, I didnt wear a watch on purpose I didnt want to know who or what was when or anything. I wanted to race my own race and just stay out there. 

As the loops and hours progressed I kept what I felt was a steady pace and found short subtle ways to get better at each obstacle as I went. And every time I went through the Pit, someone would tell me the exact minutes Ryan and Pak were in relation to me. The pressure, the pace and the obstacles were unyielding.

Id made it to the 9th loop just seconds ahead of Pak, I was getting pretty smoked and was hoping Pak, Atkins or the other competitors would slow down soon. I knew the other runners would be coming through at any second and didnt want to lose my position, so I scooped my hand right into the middle of my pumpkin pie and started running off towards the next loop. And after the first mud pile, it became really difficult to tell the pie from the mud.
Somehow I managed to take my mind off of the competition and started zoning out when I heard a voice say, 

Hey Nick. I read the back of his bib Matt 0004.
You on your 9th?" I muttered over to him.

Yup, you too? he looked over to me as I nodded. I couldnt recognize him in the dark but his voice sounded familiar. I talked to him briefly as we hiked up to the top of the first climb together towards Tight Fit

We should stick together for this loop, you know so long as I dont slow you down. He nodded, laughed and told me about how hed followed me throughout Barkley. We chit-chatted and rolled through obstacle after obstacle, both happy that it was finally night time and The Cliff was shut down.

At the Hump Chuck, he pulled out of the water and over the obstacle much faster than me. I fought over the obstacle with the assistance of a few other mudders pulled my cramping body up and over the plastic wall. Matt pulled further away as I stayed back to help the guy up whod helped me. We were only on the 9th loop after all and mudder karma was far more important than my position at this point. 

I caught him again in the last quarter of the lap and nailed Swinger perfectly, Matt missed the bell and had to take the penalty. At which point, we separated and I got pretty far ahead. At the next obstacle, the song Im gonna be by the proclaimers was blasting out of the speakers. I grabbed my cement brick and started running off through the quarter mile loop. I started singing outloud bah dat dah bah dat dah and I would walk 500 miles. The other contenders got a laugh out of me and smiled, while others even started to sing along with me. The energy, the excitement, the camaraderie was amazing. I pulled myself through the Sewage Outlet and leapt into the water, born again!!!
Nick dude, your like only 12 mins behind Atkins! My friend Von told me first thing as I arrived in the Pit. I felt great, I was finally on a high and really enjoying the course.
I scarfed down half of a burrito and started heading out 

Nick you want to put on anything warmer? Von yelled out to me.

 Nah Im cool man, catch you next lap! Never trust yourself when you are on a high. 

Within minutes my high started fading and fast. I failed the Weigh Too Tough obstacle twice in a row. I slipped off the top of the Water Mocassin and hit my hip hard as I fell sideways into the cold water. I started to shiver but knew that as long as I kept eating and moving I could fight off the cold, at least for this loop. I nearly missed Everest, failed the SwingerThis was a miserable failure of a loop and rolling a SIX at the Gambler for the first time and cramping all the way through the uphill penalty low crawl was not helping things. I was falling apart mentally and constantly comparing my progress in this loop to my last loop. 

At the top of the low-crawl I went to stand and immediately both my hamstrings cramped and I fell to my hands which then also cramped and I fell face flat in the dirt and just laid there. This race was destroying me. These obstacles were killing me. And I was sure some sort of permanent injury was lurking around one of these corners. 

I barely nailed the bell on swinger and was stoked to avoid the penalty. Some things, were still okay. I mustered up a light run, but wasnt happy about it. I was moving much slower than the previous loop and I was sure Atkins was infinitely far ahead of me and was surprised Pak, Matt and several others hadnt looped me yet. 

I made it through the Sewage Outlet and was soaking wet and shivering. Atkins, was proably hours ahead of me now and I expected Matt, Pak and several others to pass me at any moment. I feebly ran towards the pit. 

Von lets throw on the wet suit! Id never ran before with it in my life, but I couldnt take the cold and the wind again.

It sucked. I felt like I was being choked to death. I could barely breathe and the first mile of the course was almost entirely running. I could feel myself sweating under the suit and starting to overheat. I needed to get the thing off, but I knew it would pay off to have it on in the second half of the course. I stuck through it. Somehow, things were going even slower than the 10th loop. Getting even lonelier. The course, the participants were thinning out and very few of us, including me, were able to smile at one another any longer, much less make any sort of keep going! It was more just mutual looks of pain, mutual looks of dear god what have we gotten ourselves into…”

I failed obstacle after obstacle on this loop and cramped severely on the stretches in between.  There was no staying warm, even with the wetsuit, fighting the cold, fighting hypothermia was just going to be another obstacle in this race. And at the same time, I couldnt help but think that every second I wasnt running someone was reeling me in and Atkins was getting further and further away. My confidence cracked with each new step forward.  

I was dragging ass through the obstacles now. My run was a slow restricted jog at most. My upper back cramped as I pulled myself up to the top of the platform of  Swingers and I stood just staring at the bare metal bars which seemed like an infinity away. 

Ready to jump? the volunteer patted me on the back. 

Huh? Uh Sssuure I jumped and grabbed the slippery, mud covered trapeze bar, let go and smack! My face whacked right into the bell and I fell fifteen feet face first into the water, my headlamp whipping up into my nose as the rest of my body carelessly sunk into the frigid water. That was the final straw. 

I walked towards the penalty loop, the wind whipped and whorled up a giant dust storm and I felt like I was running through the apocalypse. I tried peering out to my right to look for anybody else running trying to find Pak or Matts bib number in the darkness. Nothing though, one mudder was almost impossible to tell from the next at this point, we were all covered in wetsuits, all soaking wet and all covered in another layer of dust. 

After cramping in the Sewage Oulet, I mustered up a labored jog and ran towards the pit where the wind was by far at its worst. The finish line arch, the boundary fencing, the signs and about every single tent had been blown to smithereens by the intense gusts. I checked in at the medical tent,
Your name
Your number
You good to go ahead?
uhm sure I said weakly as I turned over towards my friend.
VonVonFman I knew that last loop was slow. Miserably slow. I didnt want to know my time. I knew that Atkins was now probably a good hour or so ahead of me and catching him at this point would mean giving it my all. But I was only 12hrs and 30mins into the race. Things were just getting started in that sense. 

I was cold, I was cramping, I was hungry. I wasIm sure just as equally miserable as every single other person out there on that course. I certainly was not unique. 

Von man, I need to take a seat, I need to sit and try to warm up I fell over into the dreaded chair and demolished a bag of Doritos and nearly swallowed an entire bean and rice burrito. Up until then, my nutrition had been spot on. 

Atkins is about an hour ahead of you man, if you turn around quick you still got it he said to me. My mind raced back to Tor des Geants though and I thought of the hours Id spent chasing 3rd and 4th place through the Alps and how much pressure Id been under, how much pressure I dealt with throughout TDG. 

I stared blankly at the crinkled red package of Doritos and looked upwards from the dust covered table, across blown over tents and the apocalyptic hell that this course had becomeAnd I just stared blankly and watched. Watched as through it all, competitor after competitor dressed from head to toe in hoods and wetsuits marched boldly back out for another round.
I went to stand up, and my leg locked and I fell to the ground. Id been worse before I told myself as I crawled towards my chair. I couldnt remember where or when but somewhere, sometime in my life, Id been worse off than I was now.

WRAGHHHHH I yelled to myself pulling myself back into the chair. Pak and twenty others have probably passed me and Atkins is…” I was doing quitters math at a thousand numbers per second and losing my drive quickly.  

And just like that I lost it. 

I sat shivering in that chair for five hours watching the Dorito bag flutter in the wind.

Too afraid to go and tell the officials that I was dropping. 

Too weak in my mind to continue with another loop. 
"...yet our flag was still there..." about the only thing that could handle the wind out there...

I knew what was out there, uncertainty, with every obstacle, with every challenge, uncertainty. I justified my indecision with the fact that I could potentially injure myself, that Id lock up and go hypothermic, that Id actually potentially ruin my 2015 season with this race. The excuses satisfied me for a few seconds, but the truth of the matter, was that I was burned out. Too many races, too much competition, too much self-pressure this year. I needed an off-season and badly. It just sucked that I had to take it this far to discover that.
Among the continual cramping, aching and pains on the car ride home, I concluded that I failed at WTM for these three reasons:

  1. Tor des Geants requires a MINIMUM of two months (for my body at least) to recover from. I gave it two weeks plus some of early October. 
  2.  Worlds Toughest Mudder DEMANDS some respect. In terms of training, it is very much its own beast and not an easy race by any means whatsoever. I severely underestimated it and figured that one-month of half-assed training would be enough. It wasn't. 
  3. Stay out of the chair. Dont do quitters math. And if youre 12hrs into a 24hr race, know that everything can change still. The people ahead and behind you are only as strong as you let them be and I let them be much stronger than myself.
Ryan Atkins and Myself, the only time I was actually able to catch up to this guy...
All in all, this was a great event and despite the outcome, Im still very happy to have come out and experienced this great race with everyone. The Tough Mudder/ OCR community is an amazingly tough and inspiring network of people that I am proud to now know, thank you for welcoming me into the your community and letting me play around while I could. And Ryan, congratulations on your win and I hope to see you again soon at the start line of some other crazy event! And a huge congratulations to everyone that stuck out the full twenty-four hours at the event, yall are some tough-ass mudders!!!
Congratulations guys!