Back from the Black

Once a year, a lot of people travel to the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, Germany, to enjoy everything the Gothic scene has to offer, and as usual, I went as well. Seeing that we are no longer twenty (at least that’s the excuse we use) we stay at a nice hotel from Friday to Monday, and pick some bands and parties from the long, long list of attractions of the festival. Sadly, while there were some real highlights (Amorphis and Rotthing Christ come to mind), and we of course missed some events because there is always something really great on Thursday or early Friday (Empusae in this case), or even Monday night (like Forndom), overall the concerts we attended were a little meh for us. Skinny Puppy comes to mind as especially disappointing: one of the old classic bands, if you will, and they just started of with a too long intro, getting lost in self-celebration, and overall not adhering to my personal number one rule for bands playing at a festival: play you best songs, not stuff from you new album – there will be a lot of people who know you, or even know of you, but are not rabid fans. Win them over. Also there will be competition: we left after four or five songs and went to a party instead, even though we had gone to that specific location just for Skinny Puppy. Ah well, I doubt they will listen to what I have to say.

On the journey back home from the festival this afternoon I was a little exhausted, and it certainly did not help that there was not one, but two groups of obnoxious older drinking people right in front of me. But when I got home, what made it all worthwhile was the message I got from my friend that he really enjoyed the trip and my company. Remember kids: it always helps to say what you feel!

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?

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.