Tough Mudder: Success!

I did something this last weekend that I would not have believed you if you told me I would do it some years ago: I ran a Tough Mudder. Also not a new Half Tough Mudder, but the Real Deal™. And to make matters worse, the event I participated in (in Arnsberg, Germany) is supposedly the hardest one in Germany because of the elevation changes – I think someone mentioned it is around 1940m over the whole course of around 18km. Yeah.

For the last months I actually trained running. I never did that before in my life, and it didn’t really start well. I am very grateful for my friends and colleagues who helped me train, and also that we did not stick to roads and other flat asphalt running, but did indeed move to woody and hilly terrain. It actually helped a lot, and it should not be underestimated to actually do that as preparation.

But that is not the only thing I took from this with regards to preparation. And both for whoever reads this and for my next run (and yes, I am pretty sure there will be a next run!), I want to share some personal insights.

  1. Shoes. Get special shoes for obstacle courses. This was the single best piece of equipment/clothing I got, and all people in my groupwho had also bought special shoes agreed. We had shoes from Merrell, but other brands will do just fine, I guess. Do not use your regular running shoes – we saw many people who did just that, and they all had really bad grip on the muddy terrain, and the shoes got really soaked with water and became heavy. The shoes designed for obstacle running have a much better sole design for additional grip, and they are very leaky – water just runs straight out again.
  2. Get fast drying clothes, don’t run in anything made from regular wool or cotton (maybe Merino wool, didn’t try it). That includes underwear and socks. It will soak up a lot of water, become really heavy, and cool you down in a bad way.
  3. Long sleeves and legs or short sleeves? A matter of preference. I had long clothes, because I read tipps that it helps prevent getting bruised by little stones while crawling through the mud. That is true, but that was (in our case) maybe three or four minutes of the multi-hour run… the people in our group with short sleeves and legs did not complain, so whatever you want probably works fine.
  4. Go with a group of three or more people. Some obstacles are really hard to do with just one or two persons. This is not mandatory, though, because people were really open and helpful. After all, you are in it together anyway.
  5. It really is not that bad. Really. Most obstacles are fun. Even the Arctic Enema (where you basically slide into ice water through a pipe) was not as bad as I expected. You can do it. If you can run half the length of the run in training without breaks, and can do some chin-ups and push-ups, you are in good shape for this. I boulder a lot and didn’t do any additional strength training, only added running once or twice a week for around 10 weeks, and it was fine.

Overall it was huge fun, even if I am down with a slight cold, and my muscles still ache some days later. Will I do it again? Yes, I am pretty sure I will! It was a fun experience, and now that I know it is doable, why not go for more Finisher tshirts and headbands?

Jupiter Ascending

I watched Jupiter Ascending last weekend. Yes, despite all the extremely low ratings and the warnings to avoid this movie, I went to see it. And what can I say… it was a nice movie. Really.

Don’t get me wrong – it definitely had its faults. Jupiter (played by Mila Kunis) is portrayed as overly naive, much more than she needs to be. She falls for people who want to use her twice, and both times it was clear as daylight what was going to happen.

The pacing and structure was also a little off, especially in the first quarter or so. The introduction of the different parties looking for Jupiter was weird, and it took me a while to understand who was supposed to be the good guys and who was the bad guys. I don’t mean that in the sense of plot twists or deception – that is fine if it fools the audience, even expected. But in this case I think the presentation of the different groups just was not executed well.

But apart from these issues, I did not really think there was something outright terrible about Jupiter Ascending. The dialog was sometimes wooden, but I didn’t expect something that would be winning any Pulitzer Prize soon. The overall plot was not the kind where you later walk out of the cinema and just think that this was the best story, it was just a generic action flick, but that’s what I expected from the trailers.

And what a lot of people really found laughable, the “dog people”… have you never seen fantasy movies before? In this case they even try to explain it semi-scientifically with spliced genes, etc. Sure, that is basically technobabble, but still, for a fantasy action movie that was pretty normal.

To be honest, I enjoyed Jupiter Ascending much more than Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness. Those had gaping plot holes as well all over the place, and a huge legacy to live up to, and in my opinion they failed that spectacularly. Jupiter Ascending is just a random fantasy action movie without any baggage like that.

And: it is gorgeous. It was the best 3D movie I saw, period. Take it for what it is, just don’t expect the next Matrix, and enjoy the ride.

Passionate Programming

I just read the latest entry in Jeff Atwoods Coding Horror blog, detailing how he went from a very small reading list to the famous blog he now has… and immediately thought, “Yep, you wanted to start writing more often as well…” But then I always either am just too lazy, or find that I do not have anything to write about, neither about my work or something personal… How ironic that the last real physical book was The Passionate Programmer – and I haven’t even started it. Seems I lack the passion right now…

And even that might be something worth writing about. That seems to be a real problem. My last (and sadly, also current) projects at work both kind of burned out the flame I had due to mismanagement, mismatched skills, a bad framework, budget problems, you name it… but I want to rekindle the flames now. I just need to find something to start with. Maybe doing new and fun things in my personal life help, so this week I will get a regular license plate for my motorbike (a 2010 Suzuki Gladius) instead of a seasonal one and start driving again.