How to prepare for the Tough Mudder – Gear

I am two months away from running my third Tough Mudder, and started writing a gear guide to send to my team, but decided it may as well live on my new (old and reborn?) blog.  These are my opinions on what has worked for me so far, and what I plan on wearing this year.  I followed a top down approach.

  • Head

I don’t really recommend wearing any sort of hat.  If you have long hair you will probably want some sort of headband or elastic to keep it out of your face, other than that it’s just going to get in the way and weigh you down once it’s soaked in water.  I wore a headband last year, purely as a fashion statement, it didn’t help me in any way and was eventually tossed.

  • Upper Body

What you wear up top will depend a lot on the weather.  You are going to get soaked, so whatever you wear, it should be wicking.  Do not wear cotton!  If it’s going to be very cold I’d recommend a compression base layer, possibly with a wicking shirt over it.  Otherwise, just a light wicking shirt, or no shirt at all if you don’t mind getting cut up a bit more.  In warm weather the shirt is only going to protect you from the sun and from getting beat up by the obstacles.  It will weigh you down.

  • Hands

Tough Mudder Gloves

You may want to wear gloves, but it’s not really necessary.  I wore gloves the last 2 times, and might wear them again.  They added some grip for some of the obstacles, and allowed me to move barbed wire out of the way to help teammates get past it.  They do get kind of heavy and disgusting, so it’s really up to you.  If you do wear gloves I recommend getting the Mad Grip Pro Palms, which I actually bought right at the event the first time.  I have since cut off the finger which definitely counters some of the negatives of wearing gloves.

  • Lower Body

More or less the same rule as for the upper body.  Wicking underwear, tight compression pants if it’s cold temperatures, and then shorts that won’t absorb water.  Instead of normal wicking/workout gear I usually go for hiking shorts, which will hold up a little better against all the obstacles, but still won’t retain water.  Again, you really want to be minimal here.  You will get hot and go through water a lot.  The less weight, the better.

  • Feet

Vibram FiveFingers Spyridon MR

Do not wear crappy old sneakers that you want to throw out at the end, and do not wear anything that you will have to duct tape to keep on in all the mud.  Seriously, the entire race will be a slippery muddy mess, don’t make it harder on yourself by wearing the wrong shoes, or even worse having duct tape.  You will have no traction, and you will wipe out.  A lot.  I’m a minimalist runner, so I wear Vibram FiveFingers, and love every minute of it.  I wore KSO Treksports the last 2 years, but upgraded to some Vibram FineFinger Spyridon LSs, it looks like they might be discontinuing those, in which case the Spyridon MRs are basically the same thing.  If minimalist shoes aren’t for you I recommend looking at Salomon Speedcross 3s.  If you don’t have to wear socks, don’t.  Otherwise get thin light socks that won’t retain water.  And if you’re getting new shoes make sure you break them in, and run in them beforehand for at least a month or two.

  • Accessories

So many possibilities here.  The last 2 years I ran with a small CamelBak.  They have a lot of stations with water and energy snacks, so this probably isn’t necessary unless you really need to drink every mile or two.  I don’t plan on carrying one this year.  Other than that, anything else you might bring is probably more for fun than function.  Sunglasses, tutus, hats, capes?  They’re not going to help, but the might make you look more badass once they’re completely coated in mud.  Have fun!

The team after completing the 2013 Boston Tough Mudder.

The team after completing the 2013 Boston Tough Mudder.

Phoenix Tattoo

Oh hey!  I have a new blog and needed some content, so how about a post of my new (and first) tattoo.  More actual content coming soon, hopefully…

First sitting for my first tattoo.  About 4 hours of work.

First sitting for my first tattoo. About 4 hours of work.

And the finished product…

Second sitting - another 6 hours.

Second sitting – another 6 hours.

Warrior Dash New England 2011

Last weekend, on June 26th, I ran my first Warrior Dash.  I’ve been wanting to do a run like this for a while.  I signed up a little late, so I ended up having to run the 3:00 wave on Sunday, which is the last wave.  I didn’t think this would make a big difference, but it turned out that there was a ton of parking traffic near the course, so I got there a little late.  They had to make one extra wave at 3:30 for all of us stuck in traffic.
Quickly checked in and took a before picture, to document the race:
It turns out that running on the 2nd day means the course will be a lot muddier.  The trails were in bad shape, and it was muddier than the mud run I had done earlier in the year.  It was a tough run, and I broke my Vibrams right in the beginning of the race.  I still finished the 3.02 miles of mud and obstacles with a time of 43 minutes, which I am happy with, for now.
The plan is to run the NY Warrior Dash and climb Mt. Marcy in one weekend in August, time to start training to improve my time, on the slightly longer course.

High Points – Memorial Day Weekend 2011

Guess I haven’t been good at keeping this site up to date, but on Memorial Day weekend I got my 8th through 11th state high points.  Drove down Thursday after work to snag Mount Davis in Pennsylvania and Backbone Mountain in Maryland on Friday.
Mount Davis Backbone Mountain
Then did the long hike up Spruce Knob in West Virginia on Saturday.  Also got the Delaware “high point” on the way back north, this really only involved crossing a street, which was a nice relief after how long WV is to actually hike.  :-)
Spruce KnobEbright Azimuth


Review: VFF KSO Treksports

It was some time in August that I decided I would try a drastic change in my footwear.  My hiking shoes (LL Bean Trail Runners) were starting to fall apart through no fault of their own.  I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted, but I knew I wanted something light and unobtrusive.  After much research and deliberation I finally decided I would try some Vibram Five Fingers.  I tried to convince myself otherwise, since they’re definitely odd-looking, but in the end they made the most sense.  I went with the VFF KSO Treksports.

VFF KSO Treksports
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Mauna Kea, HI

This post has definitely taken longer to post, and is not as complete as I would like it to be, but on November 8th I summited my 7th U.S. high point.

It was definitely the most amazing one yet, I was in Hawaii visiting my sister so I took the opportunity to climb Mauna Kea. At 13,796 it was by far the highest, and it was also the first mountain I climbed alone. I woke up at about 4 AM so I could drive to the visitor’s information center to view the sunrise above the clouds.
The sun rising on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i The sun rising on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i
The hike to the summit is about 5 miles, and also starts from the visitor’s center, which is where it’s recommended to spend at least a half hour before summiting to become acclimated to the oxygen at those elevations. It worked out well that I could watch the sunrise while acclimating, and then begin my hike by 6:45. The hike gets steep at times, but it is just a hike, not really any scrambling required.
Mauna Kea, Hawai'i Mauna Kea, Hawai'i
I summited by 11:45; not a bad time considering how often I stopped to admire the views, catch my breath, and just relieve the pain in my knee that’s become standard for long hikes. The temperatures at the summit were in the low 40s, and the wind was at least 14 mph. I never could have imagined standing in Hawaii and being as bundled up as I was.
PB080203 PB080259 PB080250
Since my knee was hurting I decided to walk down the road so I could hitch if my knee got too bad. I got about 3 miles down (the road is 8 miles) before someone stopped and volunteered a drive tot he visitor’s center, at that point I was more than happy to take it.
I can honestly say Mauna Kea is one of the most amazing places on earth, I drove back the next day to view the sunset from the summit and then to view the stars. At night they setup telescopes at the visitor’s center, and give a guided tour of the stars. It’s above the clouds and clear 340 days out of the year. Everything about the mountain is awe inspiring, second only possibly to hiking up to the lava flowing into the ocean. Ascent Log

Jerimoth Hill, RI

I was driving through Rhode Island to visit Connecticut, so it was the perfect opportunity to snag the Rhode Island “high point.”  At a whopping 812 feet Jerimoth Hill is not much of a peak, but it’s the highest point in Rhode Island so it makes the list.  It’s actually on private property, but the current owners are kind enough to open the property to high pointers every day from 8 to 4.  There’s parking across the street from a short, but nicely maintained trail.  It wasn’t much of a hike, but it was nice to knock number 6 off my list.

Hiking weekend pt 2 – Mt Mansfield

We drove straight from Katahdin to Stowe VT, stopping only briefly for food and gas.  We made it to town barely before 11 and quickly looked for a hotel since most of the front desks seem to close at 11.  We ended up staying at the very nice Town & Country Resort.

In standard fashion we chose the steepest trail for the ascent.  We took the Hell Brook trail (which was 1.3 miles straight down according to the sign).  It was an amazing trail, it was very steep and slick, but getting to hike up the mountain through the woods was a nice contrast to Katahdin from the day before.

Mt Mansfield summit

My love of the trail definitely subsided as we neared the top.  We were in the clouds so there was no visibility, and with the windchill it felt well below freezing.  We chatted briefly with the other group that decided to brave the summit on that day and then made our way down the Long Trail.  The total hike, including the road hike between the Long Trail and Hell Brook parking lots, was probably about 5 1/2 miles.

Once again it’s a mountain I’d love to go back to, but only if the views are further than 10 feet this time.  :)

Yay! for climbing my 4th and 5th state high point in one weekend!

Hiking weekend pt 1 – Mt Katahdin

This weekend Finelli, Steve, and I had an ambitious goal of 2 mountain summits.

So Friday we drove from Boston to Millinocket Maine to stay the night and hike Mt Katahdin in the morning.

The initial goal was to hike the Knife Edge trail, but it turns out you have to reserve parking spaces and get there around 3 AM to accomplish that, so we decided on the steepest trail instead; Abol Trail.

Mt Katahdin Summit

We took Abol Trail both directions for a total of about 7.6 miles.  The views from the top were amazing, and I would love to go back and hike the Knife Edge trail (you can view it in the 2nd panoramic picture below).

Katahdin panorama 1

Katahdin panorama 2

We started around 8 and got out of the park around 2 to start our long drive to Vermont.

I was testing out the OruxMaps Android app so that I could have maps saved to my phone next time I’m hiking without cell reception.  I finally figured out the program, and I think it’ll be very useful in the future.  But in the app I also found information that led me to  Everytrail will allow me to plot an entire trip to the map, and then have the photos play in a slideshow along the trail.  I haven’t used my Droid to plot any trails yet, but since my photos are all geocoded I was able to import the photos into a map slideshow.  Pretty cool:
Mt Washington – Lion Head Trail to Huntington Ravine Trail

Everytrail also has an android app I’m going to have to try out next time.

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