Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's Tuesday and I like Dogs

Okay...I'm a dog person.  Cats are okay for the most part, but dogs are awesome.  So with that in mind I wanted to share some of my favorite dog photos.  I'll try to make this a semi-regular thing.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bleach Warrior Part 2!!

Check out Bleach Warrior Part 1!! before reading this. Otherwise you may get loster than Hansel and Gretel(er).

In the shouting and the fire and the mayhem, AB2020 and I were separated.  He started and finished ahead of me.  Kudos to him!  The race began with a looooong downhill slope.  I heard several of my heat-mates comment on how they appreciated such an easy start.  I knew we’d have to pay for it later.  And we did.  


We came to the bottom of the hill and then shortly after there was a small uphill.  Small, but mighty.  All ready I noticed several of my competitors beginning to walk and I heard phrases like, “Well, we tried.”  I kept up my steady, if slow, pace and trucked on.  It quickly became apparent that most of these folks would finish before me because many of them adopted a “run at a high rate, walk for a while” philosophy.  I was determined to jog the entire way, without walking.  It would be a first for me and I was going to do my best to accomplish it.  

By looking at the map, AB2020 and I knew the longest stretch of run without an obstacle was the first.  I reached the first .5 mile marker and met the couple that would be my running mates for the rest of the day.  I’m not sure of their names, but in my head they were Nancy and Drew.  They commented on my floaties and I told them it’s because I didn’t know how to swim.  Drew laughed and Nancy said, in a worried tone, that she didn’t know we had to swim.  Then Drew told Nancy that I had a nice “warrior’s beard” as well.  That was my hope, to win best beard of the Dash.  It was a prize, along with Most Ridiculous Costume, and I didn’t see many other beards there.  Thus, the hope.

After we rounded a pond, the group I assumed was a family passed me.  There was a man and two ladies which I named Green Shirt, Lady 1, and Lady 2.  Aren’t I clever?  We ran up the hill to the first obstacle together.  This was Storming Normandy.  Basically, there were lengths of barbed wire strung along a down slope that we had to crawl underneath.  As I had no shirt on, I was careful to get low to avoid puncturing my back.  When I reached the last few strands, I began a belly roll which made Green Shirt remark, “That’s how you do it!  I’m following him, he’s a smart guy.”  After which, he and his group promptly left me in the dust.  

A short while later we came to the next obstacle, The Trenches.  Imagine a rectangular prism carved out of the dirt where the top side is thick, wide boards and the other three sides are dirt.  My claustrophobia promptly screamed at me, but I sucker punched it and stuck it in a trunk as I dropped to my stomach and wriggled through the hole.  I made sure to follow the path of Drew as he was about the same width as me.  I made it through just fine and promptly started my mechanical jogging.

I came to a choke point soon and watched warily for an ambush, but when none was forthcoming, I waved at the cameraman they had posted there for “action shots.”  Then came the Tipsy Tightrope.  This was a large pit of water with two parallel lengths of rope stretched over it in several places.  I believe the idea was to stand on the bottom, grasp the top rope, and tightrope walk over to the other side.  By the time I got there, however, the preferred method was to jump in the water, grab the bottom rope and pull yourself along through the water.  Point to note about this obstacle:  The water reminded me of rotten silage.  It was rank and I did my best not to ingest any.  I think I succeeded.  

On the other side of the pit were two unofficial obstacles: a muddy ledge to get back on the path and then a small dried creek bed which was polished smooth with mud and the pounding feet of hundreds, nay, thousands of runners.  I briefly flirted with the idea of dropping to my rear and sliding down, butt-first, but I decided not to as I didn’t want a random stick or rock to...invade me.  At this point, I was wondering if were were anywhere near the mile marker, but my question was never answered because after (maybe) a quarter mile, we reached the Vertical Limit.  Chris O’Donnell was nowhere to be found as I scaled a wooden “rock wall” and slid down the fire pole on the other side.  My hands were quite wet at this point because between my sweat-slicked head and my mud-soaked swim trunks, I had no dry place.  So I slid down the pole at a very high rate and upon impact my torso tried to exit my body through my crotch.  Not the most pleasant feeling I had, but there was trucking on to do.

Not too much further past Lack-of-Robin wall, was the Chaotic Crossover.  For those of you who remember gym class, imagine a cargo net, only horizontal instead of vertical.  It was on a raised wooden frame and the object was to cross by crawling on the ropes.  Some folks used the wooden beams as support and quickly crossed on those, but I felt that violated the spirit of the obstacle, so I carefully crawled over the rope, destroying the skin on my knees in the process.  After I got off the net, I saw it: Payback Mountain.

This was the hill that repaid the generosity of the starting downhill.  A long, long, uphill slope that was long.  My pistonesque legs went to work, though, and after what felt like several minutes, but was probably only a couple, I reached the summit and faced the Teetering Traverse.  This is a wooden frame in which you go up an inclined board, down a slightly narrower board, cross on an even smaller width board, then up a slightly wider board, before going down the other side on a board the width of the original.  I was somewhat nervous when I first stepped foot on the board, as I heard what sounded alarmingly like wood cracking.  Nevertheless, I crossed at a decent rate of speed for, despite my weight, I have decent balance.  Must be my low center of gravity.

Then we got to a steep down slope at the bottom of which lay Road Rage...or a version of it.  If you check the KC Warrior Dash website for the course layout, you see that Road Rage had cars involved, this was just a mass of tires for, perhaps, 40 yards.  There were two “walls” made of tractor tires that some felt the need to go around, but I powerclimbed up and then jumped off the other side.  One could also call this the Snake Pit as the safety guard at this obstacle (there was one at every obstacle) nonchalantly called out that he had seen some snakes among the tires.  


However, by this point, I was too far in to care.  This Dash was mine.  So I rounded the corner and saw the Giant Cliffhanger.  This was a wooden, inverted V that was probably 20 feet high.  There were six ropes on the incline.  The middle two had wooden beams to assist climbers with them.  Well, at this point, I saw one of the skinny guys who was actually running and who had passed me just moments before, struggling on one of the outer four ropes.  These had no beams to assist.  Just a length of rope and a smooth wall.  I watched his difficulty and resolved to do what he had just done, only better.  How perfectly...male of me.

And I did.  I dominated that wall.  Tweren’t no thang!

Then a short jog away was the second hardest obstacle:  Barricade Breakdown.  There were 8 walls and we had to alternate going over one and under the next until we were past them.  Over.  Under.  Over.  Under.  It was rough.  Nancy and Drew were right in front of me and I could hear a pack of alpha males closing the distance behind me.  But I blocked their testosterone-laden grunts from my mind and concentrated on getting over these blasted walls.  My low center of gravity almost betrayed me at that point.  It results from being vertically challenged so my short legs needed me to give them a short hop before they could climb over the barricades.  Ugh.

But then I was done!  I slapped the last barricade, said some unkind things about its parentage, and I was off up the last hill.  By this time, I could hear the crowd and the finish line emcee.  My spirits were bolstered as I topped the hill and saw the finish line in the distance.  Only four obstacles between me and glory.  Unbeknownst to me, but knownst to God, my nemesis was about to rear its ugly head.

The Great Warrior Wall.

This was a wooden wall with lengths of board every three feet or so.  The object was to use the provided ropes in conjunction with the thin strips of board to climb the wall and descend the other side.  Nancy and Drew both took a rope and I took one next to Drew.  I made it about halfway up before my feet slipped and the rope wriggled free from my hands and I was deposited on the ground.  Drew and Nancy both asked if I was okay, as did the safety dude, and I told them I was fine.  My pride was stung a little, but that is good for me.  I hear, anyway.

So I chose a different rope and adopted a new strategy.  I wrapped the rope around my left arm and used my right to grasp the board supports and kept wrapping the slack rope around my left.  At one point I almost wrapped it around my neck but decided that was a Very Bad Idea should I fall.  But once I got to the top, Nancy cheered me saying, “Way to go Water Wings!”  I smiled at her, flexed my biceps (which didn’t show through the floaties) and then made more unkind comments at the expense of the wall.  Then I got down quickly before it could retaliate.

(As melodramatic as it sounds, at the moment I reached the top of the wall, there was a clap of thunder)

Then came the Cargo Climb.  It was another inverted V, but instead of a strand of rope, we had two cargo nets, one for the up, and one for the down.  I cautiously went through both sides, not wanting to trip and end up suspended by my feet because this obstacle was broadcast via camera to a large screen near the stage where most folks gathered.  But I made it just fine and then were were only two before the finish line.  So I set off down the small hill towards the fire.

Yes, fire.

About the time I rounded the last corner, I heard AB2020 and DD shouting my name along with encouragement.  I also detected several voices I didn’t recognize shouting my name.  I guess DD and AB2020 had talked me up to some of the bystanders so I had a small crowd shouting for me as I put on a burst of speed for the finish.  That’s what high school cross country taught me, regardless the outcome, finish strong.  So I poured it on and leapt over one, then two fire pits.  I almost landed in the second one because I misjudged the length of my first jump and had to stutter-step to miss the second.  The Warrior Roast had been conquered.  The last obstacle was Muddy Mayhem.  Another water pit, this one much more shallow, with barbed wire strung just over our heads.  I approached the pit at speed and did my best cannonball into the murky depths.  My mouth immediately informed me that there was dark, rank water in it.  Wonderful.

I used my fingers to dig into the muddy bottom and pulled myself through the water.  I saw Nancy just ahead of me doing the same and then I emerged, covered in mud for the last few steps to the finish.  These were slick with mud and sloppy with water.  I stumbled several times on my way to the line, but I made it without falling.  I gratefully bent my head as the red-clad volunteer placed a participant medal around my neck.  It was no piece of junk, it was a hefty medal.  I looked up to see AB2020 approaching me, similarly clad in mud and the two of us promptly hugged as DD captured the moments on digital film.  We began our march up to the festival grounds as we compared notes.  AB2020’s long legs helped him in several locations so we had different experiences on the different obstacles.  Overall, we both enjoyed ourselves immensely though.

We reached the line where folks were gathering for pictures.  There was a large Warrior Dash display that you could take your picture with, provided you had a camera.  There was no official photographer at this point.  Upon hearing this, the line emptied considerably and the group behind us asked DD if she would take their picture and email it to them.  I said DD would for 3000 dollars, but DD (being nicer than I) agreed to do it for free, as long as they kept it a secret.  So we got to the display and I struck my best Sexy Model pose after which we promptly went looking for our free beer.  Our time-tracker chip warranted us a free large can of Miller Lite which I drank and then went in search of the delicious turkey legs I had seen so many folks carrying.

With drink and meat in hand, I asked a kind lady if she would take a picture of DD, AB2020, and I as we wolfed down our meat.  She was nice enough to agree and that moment was immortalized.  Moment of note, though, took place at the ticket counter.  Instead of paying cash for the food, you paid tickets which you purchased from the booth with the armed guard.  As I paid for my tickets, I heard a loud chorus of “FLOATIES! You made it!” come from behind me.  I turned with a smile and saw my friends Green Shirt, Lady 1, and Lady 2 standing there beaming at me.  They asked if the floaties helped and I told them those pink polka-dotted devices saved my life twice.  

The festival was nearing its end and the results were about to be announced.  After listening to the emcee announce the winners of each age group, male and female, and the overall winners, it was time for the costume contest.  At this point, there was a light sprinkle coming down and the grounds were emptying quickly.  The costume contest was won by three guys who were clad in dresses, wigs, tutus, and V for Vendetta masks.  Then it was time for the beard contest!  

Alas, alack, and oh noes!  It didn’t happen.  I’m not sure whether the emcee forgot it or whether they pick from pictures, but it didn’t take place at the end.  I’m hoping the latter but suspect the former.  It’s cool though, I ate a turkey leg and completed my first ever 5K!  We hopped on some buses back to the parking lot, I cleaned my feet to prevent foot rot, and we headed back to the apartment where I showered and changed.  My shower resulted in a blackened bathtub, so much dirt came off me.  It was nuts.

In conclusion, I had an absolute blast at the Dash.  I’m considering doing the Rugged Maniac 5K in October, which is the same concept as the Warrior Dash, but with MORE obstacles.  Fun, fun.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and just and overall feeling of worth when I was done.  I set out to achieve a goal and I did.  I did.  It was and is a great feeling.  

I hope you enjoyed my recounting of the Warrior Dash 2012.  I’m going to do my best to increase my posting frequency. Please leave a comment either here or on Facebook telling me what you would like to read me ramble on about. Until then, keep on with your birthday party!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bleach Warrior Part 1!!

Wow, has it been a long time since I’ve posted something or what?  Don’t answer that!  I know it has.  So please consider this a consolation post.  I know some of you are waiting for the end of the Sitcomoff, but this, I felt, was more interesting to more folks.  Therefore, I interrupt your irregularly scheduled post for this:

A Manly Warrior Post!!

As some of you may know, the last couple months I’ve started jogging.  The purpose of this is twofold: to get healthier and to prepare myself for the zombie apocalypse.  The zombie-fighting knowledge in my brain should not be lost to something as simple as loss of breath after a couple stairs.  Zombies don’t lose their breath.  So I needed to find mine.

With that in mind, I decided to start looking at 5Ks in the area that I might “enjoy.”  My roommate, AB2020*, told me about a race his brother competed it called the Warrior Dash.  Part 5K, part obstacle course, free beer, turkey legs, costumes, music, beards...what else could I ask from my initial race?  “Dragons” feels like a selfish answer.  So AB2020 and I decided to sign up for the Kansas City, MO, race.  There were two days, the 5th and 6th of May, but yours truly needed to budget for it and by the time the funds were available (ty tax refund), the first day was full up.  So we grabbed two spots in the 12.30 wave on the 6th.  The idea is that each half hour from 10-2 there would be a wave of about 600 folks starting the course.  To my knowledge, there was no upper limit on the time, you just had to complete all the obstacles to get a participant medal.

Well, AB2020 and I enlisted the help of of Dagger Dame* as our fertergrafer.  Then last night, night before the race mind you, we get an email saying that the weather forecast has hail and high winds listed for the area of our race in the afternoon so they moved up all the start times of the waves.  That’s fine.  Until...ours went from 12.30 to 9.40.  So instead of leaving the apartment at 10, we left at 7.  In the morning.  On a Sunday.  Yeesh.

We get to the parking site.  Parking was in an old airport complex that had a very intimidating “Secure Area: No Access!” sign that threw me off enough that I turned and tried to park at some Air Shuttle business.  They told me I had the wrong place and that the super secure area was where I needed to go.  So we went over there and saw folks parking.  Lots of folks.  Lots of FIT folks.  I immediately hated them.  So I got out my outfit and my ziploc bag of essentials and then AB2020 and DD and I hopped aboard a school bus and headed up I29 to Platte City.  Actually, to a park not far north of Platte City.

The problem with this trip, though, is that the bus driver didn’t really know where she was going and overshot the entrance to the park by, oh, at least three miles.  She actually got pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy that explained to her where we needed to go.  The officer was then nice enough to block the road so we could turn around in a driveway.  Next problem was that the bus was just a smidge too long to really make a great u-turn on this road.  The first time we almost backed into some power lines.  The second attempt ended up with one of our back wheels off the road, well into the shoulder and almost the ditch.  After another shot, the driver successfully got our carriage back in the right direction and we gave her a round of applause.

When we arrived at the course, it was nuts.  There were people everywhere.  First priority, though, was to find restroom facilities.  We found a very helpful row of port-a-johns so we looked for a couple that had green (for unoccupied) on their door.  The first one I opened was green but occupied.  I apologized to the man for interrupting his alone time and quickly hopped in another one down the row.  This one had no occupant.  DD watched it happen and did her best to ignore the man as to not make awkward eye contact when he exited the john.  Silly dude.

Then AB2020 and I found the packet pick-up area and grabbed our race supplies.  We got a numbered bib, a time-tracker chip, a shirt, and a warrior hat.  It was pretty sweet.  Then it was time to don our outfits.  AB2020 chose a very tight shirt (from his days as a hardcore kid), swim trunks, and an eye patch.  He was fierce.  For my part, I went shirtless, with swim trunks, and a pair of pink polka-dotted water wings (floaties).  I did not expect them to be the hit they were.  Almost as soon as I put them on I saw appreciative stares from other dashers. I suppose it could have been my pasty white belly drawing glares though.  After our group figured out where to go, we marched up a hill where we found the race start, a merch store, and several other booths including two for beer but only one for food.  Hmmm.

As DD and AB2020 perused the Warrior Dash store, I stood around gazing at the course, which I could only see a part of, and the other folks gathered there.  Suddenly I heard a voice behind me say, “My floatie lovin’ friend!  I’ve got to get a pic with you!”  I turned to see a man coming toward me with a large smile.  His lady companion snapped a quick picture with her intelligent phone in which I did my best to give my normal smile.  Those who know me, know the smile.

By this time, DD had noticed the ongoings and gave me a motion that said, “Ah shucks!  Look at you making friends and all!”  This picture-taking comrade was perhaps the fourth or fifth to comment on my wings and by this time I had also received several compliments on my beard.  All in all, I was impressed with how happy everyone seemed.  At this point, AB2020 and I decided we needed to stretch and warm up a bit, our heat started in ten minutes.  So we worked our legs a bit then headed to the start.  

The start was basically a pair of railings forming a corridor all leading up to an archway with WARRIOR DASH emblazoned on it as well as the WD logo.  There was some sort of emcee up there as well trying to get us pumped.  I didn’t listen much to what he had to say, I was concentrating on NOT DYING.  Well, we said our good-byes, hopefully not permanently, to DD and then the emcee lead us in a countdown from 10.  At one...we slowly started moving towards the arch.  The sweet part here was that the arch would occasionally shoot fireballs into the air.  They were so massive, we could feel the heat from over a dozen yards away.  It was intense.

Unfortunately, that's all I'm going to post for tonight! There is more to come. Pain! Triumph! Friendship and love! Beer! Smoked Flesh! The fury of Nature and much more! Stay tuned folks!!

*Code names aren't necessary, but they make me feel secretive and spy-like.