Sunday, September 26, 2010

USMC Mud Run Report aka Obligatory Long Post

1- Leatherneck Welcome
5' Wall (x3) - each team member must navigate over
I remember thinking as I hit the wall, "I hope my foot doesn't come apart on my landing." Thankfully everything held the together.  The walls looked really high, but I was able to explode over them pretty easily.  I do remember getting over the last wall and thinking, "holy shit, I better save something for the other thirty plus obstacles."

2- The Perfume River
Wall Climb with Rope - each team member must navigate creek and use ropes provided to exit creek
This was more of a fun obstacle than a challenging one, although it was the beginning of the heavy wet shoes.  The climb out wasn't high, so the rope was more of just an assist.

3, 4, and 5- Funchilin Pass
#3 Under Bar Slide (15' length, 8' high) - each team member jumps up and grabs the bar and slides down the bar feet first; 
I was afraid the bar would be hard to hold onto, but it wasn't too bad.  Good thing we got our legs wet on the obstacle before, as this allowed me to slide my legs and just use my hands to push myself along without excess abrasion.

#4 Mud Hole (under logs - each team member crawls under the logs through the mud;
I think this was the low bastard that fucked up my contacts.  The water was thick with mud and sand and it was too low for me to keep both eyes above the water, so I had to dip one side of my head under to clear the logs.  I came out half blind but still able to jog to the next obstacle while waiting for my tear ducts to kick in so I could unclench my eye.

#5 Culverts - each team member crawls through the tunnel on hands and knees
The sewage pipes were more of an annoyance due to the abrasion factor and the mud kicked up by the person in front of you.  I had to be careful about how closely I followed people on obstacles to protect my contacts. 
6, 7 and 8- The Ho Chi Minh Trail
#6 Rope Swing - each team member runs up jumps to grab a rope and swings across the water to the other side
I realize now that I should have come running at full speed and jumped onto the rope and used my momentum to carry me across, but instead, I did like everyone else and ran into the ditch grabbed the rope, ran back up the hill and then swung across.  I think we were all wanting to do our Tarzan impressions.

#7 Low Crawl under cammie net - each team member crawls on their chest underneath camouflage netting
This obstacle sucked for the wrong reasons.  The problem was under the net they had laid down tarps and poured sand on top of them, but the sand was mostly dry and the tarps were much too low to bear crawl, so you couldn't help but tear up your knees and elbows.

#8 Wall Climb (15' height) - each team member climbs to the top of the wall and up and over then down the other side 
This wall was my first realization that a lot of people could get seriously hurt doing this course.  The wall has no safety nets and the ground on both sides was pretty firm.  It's just a big wall of wooden slats cover in wet, slippery mud.  I had to be super careful not to get too close while surveying the wall and to not look up once I started climbing due to the amount of dirt falling off of everyone.  I used to love to climb stuff when I was younger and I think it really showed on some of these obstacles, as I could clear them very quickly for someone with no practice.

9, 10, and 11- Bunker Hill
#9 Log Crossing - each team member walks the length of the log across the top of the pit to the other side without falling
I had actually thought about balance obstacle training and had made a point to walk along the wooden beams edging the gravel path by the parking lot we use on the ATT.  It's alot harder with regular shoes covered in slippery mud, but I made it across on my first try with only one or two close calls.

#10 Mud Hole (over under logs) - each team member crawls through the logs alternating between going over and under the logs
This one is kind of awkward to complete, as you leap over one log and then drop onto your back or stomach to go under the next log.  I would drop onto my back, as it allowed me to keep my eyes better protected and I could negotiate the log with my hands.  I believe going under on my back is the quickest way due to my height, as I would have to get much flatter than most people if I tried to go under on my knees.

#11 Rope Bridge - each team member crosses the pit by walking across the steel cable and not falling in
The rope bridge was a true team work obstacle, as the rope you hold with your hands has a ton of slack in it, so they have long pieces hanging down on both ends for your team members to grab and pull tight while each member crosses the steel cable with their feet.  I was the last of my team to go, as I think we all used the same one and I had a few close calls as no one on the next team held the rope for me on the starting side.  I remember one instance in which the slack caused me to go over, such that I was almost parallel to the ground but my team mates pulled the slack out of the rope, which righted me.  Once across, I held the rope for the next team's first member to complete.  We made sure to pay it forward for every obstacle, not all teams were as courteous.

12- Mud Hole (over under logs)
Each team member crawls through the logs alternating between going over and under the logs 
This was another over/under obstacle.  I think there was more space between the water and the logs on this one.  Some of these obstacles ran together a bit, so it's hard for me to remember any particulars about this one.

13- Parallel Bars (8' high)
Each team member grabs the bottom bar, pulls themselves up to the top bar must go over the top bar and lower themselves back down to the ground (Marines will direct maneuvering) 
I remember these bars, not for the difficulty, but for my confusion about which way to go over.  In retrospect, it didn't matter, as long as I got over the top bar and back down in one piece. 
14- Monkey Bars
Each team member grabs each bar in their hands and swings from bar to bar without falling in the pit. 
These bars weren't too bad for me.  They looked pretty formidable as many teams were struggling with the incline and the distance between bars.  I was afraid they would be too slick to hold onto, but I guess I got lucky with where I gripped.  My long arms helped too.

15- Rice Paddy With Logs
Each team member crawls under the logs from one end to the other
I don't remember if this one was another contact killer or not.  Some of these low logs didn't give you enough room to keep your eyes above water.  I got better about picking which spots to cross as the race went on.

16- Parris Island Grinder
Each team member must pass over the top of each log 
These logs were a real pain.  I remember my teammate in front of me leaping onto the first log and sliding off due to the slick surface and the height.  It took a good amount of explosion to get onto the high ones and trying to control your dismount was an exercise in pain, as the harder you clenched the log, the more the sand and dirt ground away your skin as you slid down the other side.  I had some hard landings on my bad foot from these.

17- Parallel logs (3' high x 5)
Each team member must pass over the top of each log 
I think these were lower than the last set of logs, which alternated between high and low.  I don't have a specific memory of these being too bad. 
18- Hamburger Hill
Triple Hills (10', 15', 20') - each team member runs over the top of each hill
These hills were a pretty big cluster f... as you had a large number of people trying to run up and down these steep, sandy hills all at the same time.  It was nearly impossible to control your descent and you couldn't see what was on the other side until you hit the top.  I had a scary moment coming down the back side of the second or third one, as I was coming down the middle and the hill dropped off halfway down and there was just a giant pit.  I had girls on either side of me and I didn't want to take anyone out, so I leapt, flying into the air and I landed in a full squat, parkour style.  The thought of a knee, ankle or my foot blowing apart flashed through my mind on the landing, but I sprung back up and shot up the next one.   I bet it made a spectacular photo, if someone got it.

19- Chosen Reservoir
Water Hole (10' deep, 48' long) - each team member jumps in to the water and swims to the opposite end and exits the pit (if you can't swim you may take a penalty of 1 min and walk around)
I remember my teammate jumping in before me and he completely disappeared.  I made sure to do so in a more controlled manner to protect my contacts.  This was actually a ton of fun, as the water breaks were stacked at the beginning of the course and we were getting super parched by this point in the 95+ degree heat, plus the trails between had become clouds of dust.  I remember being surprised at how light my feet felt, in water logged shoes.  I started on a side stroke and quickly switched to my back, which I've always been pretty fast at and it allowed me to protect my contacts.  I was able to pass some people on the swim, which felt good as I don't recall the last time I went swimming.  The submersion revived me, as the heat was brutal.

Enter Belleau Woods
20 and 21- Pusan Perimeter
#20 LAV Trench low crawl - each team member crawls under the LAV from one end to the other
I guess we crawled under a vehicle, I think I was having eye trouble here, as I don't even remember the vehicle.  I would have bouts of eye problems on the whole course due to the constant drying and wetting of my eyes and face causing stuff to periodically fall into them. 

#21 Z trench (2 lanes of mud) - each team member runs through the trench from one end to the other and climbs the hill at the end of the trench
This was another fun one.  You had to be a little careful as the trench floor was uneven and would drop off unexpectedly, but the water helped keep us from overheating.  I remember the hill being very slippery on the exit.

22,23 and 24- Hellfire Valley
#22 Parallel logs (5' high x 5) - each team member must pass over the top of each log 
This was another crotch grinder.  I did my best to keep from landing too hard but that meant sacrificing my inner thighs and calves to more abrasions. 

#23 Cargo Net - ( 12') each team member must climb the net to the top and over climbing back down the other side.
The cargo net was kind of a mess as certain section had ripped away and it seemed quite a few people were struggling, so I had to wait awhile just to get a spot to climb over.  The climbs were easy, I was always a little freaked out on the transitions as it was a long way down and my muddy shoes didn't have the best traction.
#24 Mud hole (waist deep) - each team member must run through the pit
I think this was the sewage pit.  It looked like a narrow hog lagoon.  I remember coming up to this HUGE crowd of people just waiting to go in and the mud was so deep and thick it nearly pulled my shoes off several times.  The Volunteers told us we could go around the channel with no penalty.  I think people were just hanging out in it as it was only wide enough for 2 people side by side.  What was inside looked like raw sewage, but I guess it was just thick, thick mud.  Walking around it wasn't any better as the mud was so deep and thick every step you risked losing a shoe.  We all went around. If we had waited to go through, it probably would have cost us another 20 minutes.

25, 26, and 27- DI'S DELIGHT
#25 Weaver- each team member crawls through the logs alternating between going over and under the logs without touching the ground
This one was a real bitch, the logs were pretty high above the ground and they were slippery.  I know most people were falling off or using a teammate to assist them.  I made it across without any help, but it took some strategy and a lot of strength.  The logs were ascending and then descending and there was a groove in the structure between them.  I would go over the one and throw my leg around the next log while I dropped down and grabbed with both hands, this seemed to be a good way to do it.  Then I would throw my leading arm over the top of the next and use the grooved structure holding the logs to post up and over to the next one.  I think at least one of us had a fall.  This one would really tear the skin up on your legs and under your arms.

#26 10' Wall- each team member must get all members over the top of the wall and down the other side
This was another real killer.  The wall was on a hill, so it felt even higher than it was.  I still think it was more like 12 feet.  The whole wall was completely slick and there was nothing to hold onto or post off of.  I was the last to go, as you needed someone at the bottom to boost you up and one or two people at the top to pull you over, as they had done away with the grab slots from last year.  A guy from the team behind us tried to boost me up, but I fell flat on my ass.  I'm not sure if he gave out or I just slipped off of him or what.  Then he and his teammate gave me a boost and my teammates grabbed me and pulled me up.  I made sure to hang out and help pull up one of their team members before we moved on.

#27 Mud Hole (under logs) - each team member crawls under the logs from one end to the other
I think this one was a super low crawl.  I believe I had to go flat and float under using my hands to pull myself along.  I remember the last log was so low I wondered if my big ass would get stuck.  I remarked I felt like Winnie the Pooh trying to get out of his honey hole and one of the DI's barking at the side of the obstacle made some rather hilarious off color remarks in relation to my comment.  It added some nice levity to the situation and got a few of us chuckling.

28- Mt. Suribachi
Stairway to Heaven (15') - each team member climbs to the top of the wall, over, then down the other side
I remember there being another scary high and slippery wall climb, but I can't remember if it was boards or steel poles or what.

29, 30, and 31- Heartbreak Ridge
#29 Tire Flip - each team must move the tire by flipping it end over end the length of the obstacles
This tire wasn't nearly as big or as heavy as I was expecting.  It went flying over on the first flip, but I missed my grip on the second and had to regrip.  It was pretty easy and we moved on quickly.
#30 Arm Walk - each team member must walk the length of the obstacle on their hands without falling or touching the ground
I'm still pissed at myself about this one.  I started to do it on my own, but I slipped on one of the transitions to the higher bars, so I did a partner assist, where we shoulder carried each other.  I think my lifting partner actually got across without an assist on his second try.  I wish I had gone again, and done it, but I guess it was better for our time to do it the way we did.  Makes me want to drive all the way back down there just so I can do the damn bars again.
#31 Switch Backs - each team member must run the length of the obstacle back and forth across the top of the hill
These were brutal and there were a lot of them (maybe 5?).  The downhills were controlled chaos.  I do pretty good running short, very steep hills.  I think this is because I always make a point of running up stairs two or three at a time when I encounter them.  I was afraid for my knees and feet on the descents, as you can only control but so much.

32- Sandy Run
Stretcher Carry - (100 yards) 3 team members carry the 4th team member on stretcher across the finish line. 
The stretcher carry wasn't too bad.  There were two of us holding the back side and the only sucky part was the uneven load this put on my back.  I tried to compensate by switching hands a few times during the carry, but I think I would do better to just take both handles of whichever end I get next time.  It didn't help that our entire team is made up of fatasses. 

The run to the finish was longer than you would think, as was the run to get to the stretcher carry.  There were also some brutal incline runs in between some of the obstacles, but I can't really remember which spots.  We got a nice sprint to the finish and made sure to cross as a group, in case anyone was taking photos.

What would I do differently?
I would wear some lighter shoes with a thinner sole, but just as much traction, like a cross country shoe.  The trail shoes felt very heavy and I wasn't used to such a high, slanted platform after running in the Vibrams for so long.  I would also make sure my foot was healthy before doing another one.  If it was another mud run, I would want to get Lasik first.  I would also make sure to drink more on the water breaks early in the race.

Would you train differently? 
I want to start adding in anaerobic activities before and after my runs or in between sprints and tempo work.  I could also see running with ankle weights to simulate wet, muddy shoes.  Basically I just need to get faster and run more hills and uneven terrain.  Maybe do some more crossfit type workouts to get that full body burn.  I felt like my strength and explosiveness were good, I just need to become a better runner, up my fatigue threshold and improve my ability to recover from burst of explosion.

I hope this was long enough for the plus one :-) 

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