2016 SISU Iron - My Summary

By Ryan Tworek (3x SISU Iron Finisher).

Here’s my experience of the SISU Iron. I want to give you an idea of what it’s like to do an event that lasts for 38 + hours. For the Iron, 108 paid for registration, 67 showed up and 15 finished. Here’s my experience as a 3x finisher of the Iron.

The first thing you do is register. As soon as registration was open after the 2015 Iron, I signed up and put it on the calendar. Registration for 2017 came out yesterday and I am registered. In our family, if it’s not on the calendar, you’re not doing it. For events that will take 3 days, that’s especially true! It’s a time commitment for me and it’s a time commitment of my wife as she’ll be watching our son the whole time I’m gone. After you register, there’s a new Facebook Group usually for the Iron. People who’ve never done one will be added and they usually have questions on nutrition, gear and what to expect. There’s typically not a lot of chatter until you are 1-3 months out.

When you are 1-2 months out, you might start getting cryptic messages from the race directors. There was a Media Challenge:

Media Challenge –

Get yourself in an article discussing your journey to the IRON and earn a bonus. Post your article on the SISU Facebook page for consideration.

For the media challenge, I wrote an article and submitted it to a local news outlet. They graded the media challenges based on how well they were written and which media outlet they were published to. At one of the challenges, this meant you got a head start of 5-15 minutes, depending on how good the article was you submitted.

Then there was an email that said:
Be Prepared

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOlbkSbbaSc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11-A8UVXYpo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ib_hH49p6g

The three videos above are on learning the US President, learning morse code and making a PVC bow. About 3-4 weeks out, you’ll get a required gear list:

Racers must bring the following: 
- Axe 
- Saw 
- 5-gal Bucket 
- Fluorescent work vest (you must sew your number on the front and your last name on back BEFORE the race starts) 
- Sewing kit 
- Headlamp 
- Snorkel (mask optional) 
- Glowstick (affixed to side of snorkel tube) 
- Hydration pack and water bladder 
- Scout Neckerchief Slide or Paracord Woggle* 
- Scout Neckerchief or Red and White Checkered Bandana or Scarf 
- Money (at least $5) 
- 20” Jewelry cording 
- Pack of Diapers - 30 pack or more (in waterproof wrapping) 
- Box of GOLD Screws 2 in x 8 ga #2 Phillips (1 lb. box or 150+ screws) 
- Laminated 3”x5” card with a hole-punch in the corner and your 
“Commitment and Burden” name written on it (i.e., think about someone in your life for whom you would do anything; someone whose BURDEN you wish you could help them carry; someone to whom you are COMMITTED / would like to COMMIT) 
- Pre-made PVC archer’s bow (with name on it)* 
- Baby doll, similar to this one, is required: http://www.walmart.com/…/12.5-My-Cuddly-Baby-Doll-…/47715312 
- Pen to write with 
- Printed and signed waiver (there’s one at the end of this document).

* See YouTube videos (we recommend the ones below): 
_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOlbkSbbaSc 
_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REANOmz-Glk

In addition, there is some optional recommended gear: 
- Morse code decryption sheet (hint: check Wikipedia) 
- Sleeping bag and pillow 
- Plastic garbage bag 
- Screwdriver 
- Bucket lid 
- Roll of duct tape 
- Safety glasses / eye protection 
- Glowsticks for wearing on your pack at night (for visibility) 
- If you would like to bring any of the below items, they will be donated directly to Foothill Unity Center which serves those impacted by poverty:

Tooth Paste, Deodorant, Dish Soap, Shampoo, Detergent, Bar(s) of Soap, Coffee.

Updated Gear List

A baby doll, similar to this one, is required: http://www.walmart.com/…/12.5-My-Cuddly-Baby-Doll-…/47715312

And a roll of duct tape is also recommended.

One important note, do not consider the optional items optional. Everything should just be required because there’s a good chance you’ll need it. For the gear list, this can cause a lot of chatter on the page and people will have problems finding some of the things. One was the screws. Evidently in the South, they don’t have this model. Here in CA, they are abundant and no problem. Luckily for me, I have the majority of these things from doing quite a few of these races. You learn what works best and keep a bin of racing gear. My wife would say I have 3-4 race bins, which is probably true. One is all different types of wet suits. The gear probably costs $50 - $100. If you don’t have an axe and a saw, you’ll add more. Those two items are required at a lot of these types of events.

As it comes time to race, you gather everything up and double check to make sure you have everything on the list. You don’t want to be caught without something on the list as it will undoubtedly cause you some time of hardship during the event.

There was a pre-registration on Thursday night. I didn’t go because that would have been too much time away from the family. You did get a small advantage from being there, but not enough of an advantage for me to need to go. On Friday, all I wanted to do was sleep! I was trying to sleep as long as possible knowing what I was heading into! That didn’t really happen! Basically, Jax got up at 6:30, I was up for a bit, finalized packing and tried to take a nap. Your mind is running thinking of every little detail to make sure you have everything before you take off.

At about 2:30, I started heading up to Monrovia. It was a Friday afternoon and traffic wasn’t too bad! I stopped and got some food on the way. We were not supposed to arrive until 5:00. I rolled in at probably 4:45 because I knew where I wanted to park. I had the minivan and the I am in love with minivans! I had a suitcase for 5 pairs of shoes and socks. A suitcase for clothing. A suitcase for food and a cooler for food. I also had a sleeping bag, gear bucket, and extra gear spread throughout. I had also brought a wagon in case I had to lug anything and a 5-person tent. Never used the tent. Did I say I had a lounge chair and other chair set-up for any breaks we had? You would have thought I was packing for a two-week journey into the forest!

It was fun hanging in the parking lot seeing people come in. I offered the wagon to anyone who needed it. I also gave the screws to people I had brought screws for and the bows I had made out to people who needed PVC bows. One lesson from this for me. No one asked for the help with the bows and the screws. Well, some people may have asked for bow help. Well, I bought 5 extra pounds of screws and made 4 extra bows. Only two people got the screws and one the extra bow. If someone needs something, I’m always there to help. In the future, I may just help when there is a need for help and not just offer out my services. The people who did get screws and the bow were very thankful! For me, that did make it all worth it!

Day of Event Registration/Get Your Pack in the Fort

So let’s get registered! When you register, you have to have all of your gear! Then, you’re told you have to get your gear in the fort! You can either wear it with you the whole time or you can get it over the fort wall which is probably 15 feet tall. Being me, I just wanted to chuck my bag up and over the wall. Other people wanted to make a chain, have people stand on shoulders and pass it over the wall. We took this route! Registration was a breeze and well organized. For the people who pre-registered, they went directly into the fort. There, they did some PT (physical training). For those of us who were on the outside, we started in a plank, then did a traverse wall, crawled through a pipe that went under a bridge and walked through the pond. When we got out of the pond, frog hops back to plank. The pond will be mentioned many times! At its deepest, it’s about chest deep. It also is not that warm this time of year!

Rope Hike

This was not a hike; it was a run to downtown Monrovia. We were broken into teams of 8 and our left wrist was zip tied to a rope that was probably 10 ft. long. We had to run as a team and encouraged not to be last. The run is mostly downhill and flat! That always means you are going to go gently uphill until the last mile which is a hill of switchbacks! You are only as strong as your weakest link. These runs are good and challenging. Soo, on our team, we weren’t going that fast. Of course, someone has to tie their shoe. When you are trying to finish faster than the teams behind you, this is not good news and we are only on our 1st event of the Iron. I always double knot my laces so I don’t waste time doing this. I can see the other side though. I could be the one where my laces fail me and I need to make the team stop. It happens, so you just smile and move on. Once we were downtown, we did some PT (physical training) including making a tunnel of 67 people and crawling under the whole tunnel on a sidewalk while the downtown Monrovia street festival and lots of people are watching. Not too bad! After about a ½ hour, we were told to go back to the fort. This time, we were not zip tied and could run at any pace. I figured a good pace is worth is it as I can get back and rest knowing there will be a little time for rest.

Speeches

The Race Directors are not normal people. They have done the Death Race, have done other races, are running a groups called SISU and Weeple Army with 1,000’s of people following. They are guys who aren’t just directing this event. They participate in these type of things as well. They just get this and get the people involved. They truly put their hearts into these events and for that I am thankful. They are not your friends during the event. They want to see you finish, but just because you are friends, they are not going to give you any special treatment. In fact, sometimes it’s the opposite. This was a great introduction and this year’s theme was “Commitment and Burden”. Without this theme, I may not have finished.

Snorkel

We knew this was coming. You were supposed to bring a snorkel with a glow stick attached to it. I had also brought neoprene shorts, a neoprene hood and neoprene gloves. I threw these on quickly and we all had to get in the pond. When they said put your heads down, we put them down for 15 minutes. This was probably around midnight. It was dark and cold. They had some lights on the pond for safety. Some people were out pretty quickly. It pays to have a good snorkel and mask. To pass the time, some of us sang songs. I figured each song was a couple of minutes, so the time went by quickly. By the end, I was shaking a little bit, but nothing out of control.

Smoke Session/Meet Your Staff

We were broken into teams of 10 or so and got to spend 15 minutes with each Race Director or groups of race directors. Each one had us do varying levels of PT or carrying big logs down a hill for us to chop latter on.

Waterfall Hike

This is where it pays to be a winner. If your media challenge got you an A of B, you could take off right away. It was about a mile hike downhill and then about a mile and a half to the waterfall. The hike to the waterfall was through a creek that is overgrown. You basically have your headlamp and and are following the water coming downstream. Since I was in the first group, no one was really ahead of me and you were alone in the woods a little bit. You might catch up to someone or someone would catch up to you, but we didn’t stay together that long. Once you got to the waterfall, you’d fill your 5-gallon bucket, they would put food coloring in it and you had to hike back. A gallon of water weighs 8.345 pounds, so 5 puts you at 40 pounds, plus your pack which probably already weighed 20 lbs. Last year, I didn’t have a lid and had the worst experience carrying it back trying not to spill water. This year, I had a lid and straps. I strapped that bucket on and hiked back. There was a 3-hour time hack and people were cut who were 5 minutes late. Sucks to DNF (Did Not Finish), but sometimes, people learn the most from those experiences.

Boot Camp 1

This one is a little foggy, I think we did some variations of PT for a while.

Wood Chopping

This is my favorite activity. Of course, I thought I was being smart by grapping my axe and throwing it in the grass so I could get started right away. A race director found the axe and I knew it was mine. He told Don that someone had left an axe in the grass and this was of course one of those times to get the spotlight on you. Don saw a tree way up a steep hill. I’m talking the kind of hill that doesn’t have trails because it is too steep to hike. Don said a tree that was about 20 feet tall was blocking his view and to chop it down. I started hiking up this hill thinking, I’m going to slide my ass down this hill using my axe like a pick axe to stop me. I finally got to the tree and cut it down. Don made it most of the way up to me. He told me I didn’t have to bring the tree down. Thank you Don! I have no idea how I would have got it down. Gravity may have helped me and I could have just ridden the the damm thing down the hill! I also got to learn more about a new adventure Don is creating which is a challenge a little like the Iron, but with different levels and learning for all ages. When I finally got down, I got to start chopping wood. I used a rubber bungee cord and chain around the log. Once I got one split in it, it was like butter splitting the rest. My new favorite chopping tool. With the split wood, it had to fit in the diameter of a 2-liter bottle. Then it had to to be stacked 6 feet high. If one piece was too big, they would check it and you’d have to start building again. I really enjoy this activity every year! After we’re done, we stack all of the wood and the camp has a lot of wood for the Boy Scouts to enjoy!

Community Service

The Iron is held at Trask Boy Scout Camp. We do community service every year. This is typically clearing all the weeds around the pond and removing debris. This year was no different. We chopped down a tree, raked the bottom of the pond and made a huge debris pile. We cleaned up weeds and it really makes the camp look nice. This gives you a good feeling and is a welcome break from carrying heavy things.

Scavenger Hunt (Victoria’s Challenge)

Last year, we had to run to Dave and Busters, win 3,000 tickets and run back which was 14 miles in 4 ½ hours. This year, if you went to pre-registration, you had the map. I didn’t, so I plotted as well as I could with an iPhone and asking locals. This was probably around 1:00. We had to bring 30 diapers in a waterproof container. I had vacuum sealed them and we were to drop them off at a shelter. Pretty cool community service! Then we had to go places like 24 Hour Fitness and do a 6-minute fitness challenge, a bar and play blackjack against the bartender, Starbucks and get a cup with SISU Iron written on it and so on. At one, you had to stop at a bike shop, change a bike tire and then take it back off which was kind of cool. There was a hard cut-off of 4:30. You had to be back by then. I think there were 8 challenges and the camp is about 2 ½ miles from downtown. You had to decide how many challenges you were going do to do as you accumulated points for challenges. I completed 7 of 8 and decided to head back. When you got back, you had to take a test with questions based on the challenges.

Hunting Skills

This was a where you used the PVC bow that you were to make before you came. I had made four extra as some people needed them and had quite a little assembly line going and a fine white plastic shaving coating from the Dremel. This was a turning point in the challenge. Throughout the whole thing, I was all smiles and having fun. At this point, I started questioning why I was there. Did I need a third spike? Why am I doing this? If I quit, it doesn’t really matter… This went on for about 15 minutes waiting in line to shoot my bow. Then, someone talked about the theme, “Commitment and Burden”. My commitment I had written down was to my wife. I decided I was committed to her and that I would not quit. So, let’s get back to hunting skills! You had 3 arrows and had to make 2 of them within the red and yellow section of the target. For a PVC bow, maybe I should have taken it to the range and practiced. I only saw one person hit 2 out of 3 in the area required. All three of mine hit the target and they were grouped within a triangle of about 8 inches of each other. This grouping was just left of the target area. If you failed, you had to do 50 jump squat turn arounds. Think of being in a squat and jumping to face 180.

After that was completed, it was onto challenge two which was shooting a BB gun rifle at a target. You had to hit 3 out of 5 on the target. There was a boy scout and scout leader helping. Unfortunately, for one person, every gun they tried with her stopped working. It seemed like voodoo. Finally, I was up to shoot. I had no problem and hit 5 out of 5 in a pretty close to the bullseye.

Morse Code

It was recommended to bring a morse code decoder. While I was waiting to to morse code, I had to do 50 overhead squats and a wall sit with weight on my lap. This seemed to be because too many people were doing morse code at the same time. This was just some extra PT. So, morse code was pretty cool. It was 8 letters and numbers that were played on repeat. They gave us one of the letters, so once I had that one, it wasn’t that difficult to decode. By being not that difficult, I probably listened to the sequence 30 times and had to correct one number after getting it checked.

US President’s Test

They gave us a song to remember on the gear list of US Presidents. I tried watching the song on YouTube on my drive to Monrovia and though maybe I could memorize them. That didn’t happen. At least I had a list of them with me. So for this challenge, you had to breathe through your snorkel and run about a ¼ mile uphill. There, one by one, you would go and they asked you a trivia question on the presidents. Mine was, they wanted you to name eight Presidents who had one syllable last names. I got about two. My strategy was simple, I jogged back, studied the list, had two sets of four and was ready to go back. My hope was that they only had one question. If they had more than one, I had planned on running back and forth until I got the question on the eight presidents. Luckily, it was the same question and I was off after two!

Boot Camp 2

For this one, we were broken into teams of four. Then, we stood by the edge of the pond and team by team, we were given four line poems. We had to swim to the other end of the pond and recite the poem. We had numbered off on our team. I was one, next two, next three, next four. The lines of the poem were 5-6 words like, “My pig is big in the barn”. When we got to the other side and it was time to recite, I went, then the person next to me recited line three and said they thought they were three. I hadn’t thought to memorize the whole thing, but would have been worthwhile. Since we missed the poem challenge, we had extra hard PT versus the easy. This is another situation where it is just an experience in patience and you can’t get mad. I may have said WTF and then put a smile on my face. After some bear crawls while waiting for the other teams to finish, we were on to picnic table presses. As teams of six, we’d lift the picnic table up and do five picnic table presses, take a break while the next two teams went and then do it again.

Log Carry

Throughout this adventure, heavy shit is carried around. This time, we were broken into two teams. Each team had to carry a telephone pole about a mile and ¼. Once we picked it up, we never set it down. We were constantly rotating. I had a good system with another guy named Ryan. During this time, we’d each say our commitment and burden out loud. You learn a lot during this part, although it is hard to hear when a log is next to your head and 15 people are on the pole. Each team probably had 25 people carrying the pole.

Saw Your Wood

We set the poles on the side of the road and everyone has to saw a section. This made it so everyone ended up with about a one-foot section of telephone pole. There were all kinds of saws. Two-person hand chain saws, wood saws, tree saws and so on. I had bought an $8.49 Harbor Freight saw and it was awesome! I finished my section and then helped 2-3 other people finish their sections with it. That was pretty fun! Then of course, we hiked the 1 ¼ miles back with our section of log. Hiking back was almost uphill. I don’t know how many times I’ve traveled that road, but it is a windy bitch! It’s pretty steep and one direction is up, one is down.

Screw Your Name

I had done this a couple of years back and had brought a cordless drill. Unfortunately, you had to use a screwdriver. Everyone had to bring 1 lb. of 2” gold screws. They had everyone dump them in a garbage can and filled it with ice water. You had to screw your name with exactly 50 screws. You could reach in the garbage can for a handful of screws, if you went over 50, you had to go to the back of the line and reach in again. Therefore, you were probably going to make a few trips. The telephone poles are not the easiest wood to screw into. The challenge was how deep? You could get it verified and then fix whatever wasn’t deep enough or if they couldn’t read your name. Once you completed this, you could go on to the night hike.

Night Hike

Night hike my ass! Last year, there was a ½ marathon in the middle of the day and you only had to wear your hydration pack. It was a run to Dave and Busters, win 3,000 tickets and run back. Unfortunately, last year, I didn’t know there was a barbed wire fence separating me from the mall and that there was a place to go under it. I sucked it up and went over. I guess I’m ready for my role in Prison Break! This year, it was 14 miles up and down a mountain. Literally, 7 miles up, 7 miles down. We had to take our pack with water and some basics with the telephone pole section we had just screwed up with us. I’m guessing my pack was 40 lbs. I started at 1:00 AM and there was a hard cut-off of 5:30 AM. I had a good pace going up the mountain and passed a few people on the way. No one was talking too much on the way up. This hill was grueling! Every time you went around a bend, the mountain was still there. The views of LA got better at every turn! It seemed like no matter how high you went, the top was still the same distance away. My pace slowed a little bit towards the top. I was looking at my watch, looking at the distance and calculating times to get back down. I do CrossFit and it’s what you do in WODS. You start looking at rep schemes that will get you through. You look at your motivation! You start setting short term goals. Once I get to the next turn, I’ll stop for 15 seconds or 10 breaths or whatever it is. I wanted to stop and enjoy the view, but with the time cap, I knew I didn’t have that luxury. Once I was at the top, we told Ella and Patrick our Commitment, Burden and Why. I also had to take off one shoes and put more Vaseline on my feet as I could feel blisters coming. Luckily, the blisters never came with the foot care. We were supposed to tie our commitment and burden which was written on a laminated card to a tree on our way down.

So I started on my way down. I knew it was a little over 7 miles and I think it was 3:45 AM when I started. I was not going that fast too start. I am not a fan of running downhill, so I was light jogging/fast walking. I kept looking at my watch and trying to figure out what pace I needed to go. I passed quite a few people still going up. I felt bad as I knew there was no way some of them could make it back down in time. But, there were surprises! I was amazed at how fast some people blew by me on the way down. I started picking up the pace on the way down. My commitment was my wife, but I also included Jax! It was very emotional on the way down. I said DNFQ, Do Not Fucking Quit. I said show Andrea and Jax you are committed to them. Show them you don’t quit and you can make it. This was hard! Running downhill with a 40 lb. pack is not easy. I kept hearing a coyote running in the bushes next to me. Of course this was my pack rubbing on my back! I kept looking and I think I was about 3.5 miles out and knew I had to pick up my pace. I knew it was only another 30-40 minutes of pain, but I had to go now. I started running. I kept talking to myself. Andi was coming down the mountain and passed me. I decided I needed to go faster and passed back and took off. The Iron is not a race, but an individual challenge. There are team events, but in the end, it is about you finishing. The people on the way up and the way down can give you motivation! People give you support. The race directors were about ½ way down the mountain and gave me a drink of water that I needed as well as words of encouragement. Those words may seem small, but they mean a lot! As I got closer, I could start to see the lights of camp. I could also see it was about 5:25 AM. I literally started sprinting as fast as I could. It didn’t matter how my body felt, I was going to finish! I rounded the corner and came into the parking lot. I don’t know who the volunteer was, but he started running with me and encouraging me. He knew how close I was to the cut-off. Whoever you were, thank you! To all the race directors and participants, thank you for just being you, being on the course and doing it for your own commitment and burden. You never know what difference you will make by just being you! I made it in right at the cutoff of 5:30 AM! I was soo happy to finish! I just sat down and someone handed me a water!

At this point, I figured we were done! I was pretty stoked that we were done! A few more people came in which was great! So after a little bit, they told us to head down to the theater area. I was thinking this is great, let’s get our spikes and beer! Oh contraire mon frère!

Summersault Test

We were broken into teams and started doing things like summersaults, 5-person wheel barrows and leap frog. Throughout the whole challenge, I kept a smile on my face and really enjoyed it. I did not enjoy this. I was like seriously? We’re not done? I’m used to these challenges being long, but this was not on my radar. After running 14 miles with that weight, it was hard to walk, let alone backwards summersaults. I was done and ready to be done. This of course went on for about an hour.

Viking Boat Regatta

So, as if we weren’t in the pond enough times, it was time to get into groups of three and take the canoes out on the pond. Whenever Don said dump them, we all had to flip the canoes over, end up in the water and flip it back over. We were paddling back and forth across the pond and our arms were our paddles. This wasn’t too bad as the cold water was soothing on the body!

Tire Hike

Next, we headed into the fort. I was like, where are the spikes and beer? I was sure it was over and time for the awards ceremony. I was wrong, again. Expect the unexpected? Time for a tire hike. I had some chaffing going on, so I pulled out the Vaseline, lubed up and was ready to go! This is where our team of 7-8 had to wear our packs and take a hike pushing a truck tire up the mountain. It was 3-4 miles each way. I pulled out my cell phone and called my wife as I thought we would be done by now and had to let her know I’d be home later. By this time, my legs were working again and worked with a couple of other guys to push the tire and get it done. There was no way I would come this far and not finish. Luckily, they ended it early and it was only a mile and a half hike. When we came back, the volunteers were cheering us on. When people are cheering you on at a finish line, it’s an awesome feeling!

Awards Ceremony

We went up to the chapel and had the awards ceremony! I can’t reiterate how awesome the people involved with the Iron are! If people treated and supported each other like they do at the Iron, the world would be a better place! Everyone is there to support each other. There were speeches by the race directors and then by anyone who wanted to say anything. People come into this event from all over the US. Some of the volunteers flew in on their own dime to help support the Iron and thank you for your support! Every Finisher received the coveted spike and a special beer brewed just for the Iron. They also gave out the Iron Man and Woman as well as one other award. The race directors and volunteers really make this an awesome event! One individual who stands out is Wesley Kerr. This was his first Iron and he crushed it. He’s training for some Ultra’s and other long events and this is a good training ground. He earned the Iron Man award. Amber’s daughter is 12 or 13 and the youngest participant ever in the Iron. She hurt her ankle and was out. Wesley was impressed that she participated and gave her his finisher’s spike! That is a one of a kind act and a totally classy move! Well done sir!

What I Learned

Your body can go faster, farther and harder, you just have to tell it to go. It won’t do it on its own. You have to push it. Having a reason to push it will get you farther! For this event, the Commitment and Burden was really good for me. I am committed to my wife and family and persevered for them. It is always awesome to see people overcome challenges. Something that is easy for you may be very hard for someone else. And what’s easy for them, may be your challenge. My challenge was definitely the 14-mile hike/run. By completing this Iron, I’m setting some new goals in my life. At the age of 40, I’m doing things 20 year olds don’t. I know that I won’t be able to do this forever, but I’ll sure try! Life is about living and doing what you enjoy! However torturous this experience may sound, I love being part of it and part of the community!

Race Tips and Anecdotes

What do you do for nutrition? Whatever you want. You would think it would be apples, power bars, gus and protein shakes… Well, there was some of that. I stopped at the donut shop and got three cinnamon rolls. These were for times that I needed a boost. I also had four bags of sour patch kids. On my way up, I stopped at Carl’s Jr for my last meal before racing. Really, you need want makes you comfortable or feel good. Don’t get me wrong, I had Tailwind in my hydration pack, Gatorade, gel blocks, Protein shakes with chia seeds, apples and more, but it is always good to have some comfort food when you need a boost.

For clothing. I had 5 pairs of shoes and probably 6 outfits. I would change into dry clothing and new shoes and socks whenever we had a chance. Next time, I may find one outfit that will work the whole time. I will smell bad either way, but it makes it easier not to change. I will still change my shoes and socks out more often. I always put Vaseline on my feet, around my toes and heel before I put my socks on. I haven’t had a blister doing OCR for a few years now thanks to this simple trick! I also use chamois butter as my anti-chafing choice for my other parts. Vaseline works well to. Don’t forget to reapply! Make a schedule and say you are going to reapply every 12 hours or every pit. I don’t know if you can ever have too much.

Don’t bring too much shit. Yes, I had a minivan, a tent, sleeping bag, two chairs (for one person), a wagon, a lot of food, a lot of gear. Plan more on the minimalist side like you are taking a flight and can only bring two bags. Yes, it is nice to have all of that stuff with you, but you really don’t need it all.

If you can get a support crew, you will have a distinct advantage. I have only had one and that was at World’s Toughest Mudder. Dave Lokey had assembled the team and I am grateful for how much they helped me! It made me look forward to going to the pits every time. It was an amazing experience. If someone is willing to make the sacrifice, they are either a good spouse or good friend. You should thank them profusely and appreciate all they do! I know I still appreciate my WTM pit crew!

At an event like this, neoprene is great! I had a hood, gloves and shorts that were awesome! The only problem was, you couldn’t always predict when you were going in the pond and you can’t just wear this stuff the whole race. Therefore, it has to be readily accessible in your bag and you have to feel out when you’re going to use it. It soo paid off during the 15 minutes of snorkeling as I didn’t get that cold.

Training. You would think I train 5-6 days a week. In truth, I used to. With a kid, a remodel, a big event and a kid on the way, all I do is CrossFit. I probably make it in 3-4 times per week. I am about 15 lbs. from where I ideally want to be. Next year, I will be where I want to be. I know it will make a difference on the run. I will be training harder this year, and most of it will be CrossFit and more rowing as I have a rower at home. CrossFit is very functional training and keeps me injury free at these events. Even though we went 50 miles, I don’t run to prepare for these. You don’t have to run 50 miles/week to be able to do 50 miles.

Finally, have fun and get to know people at the race! A smile always helps! Enjoy it and have fun not matter how shitty or how heavy something you are doing is. Complaining is for people who shouldn’t be there! Everyone is going through the same thing as you are. You paid to be here and if you read anything, you have an idea of what to expect at the event. The only thing you should do is encourage others to do their best. Everyone you are working with can appreciate your smile and it will make you feel better too! Smile, have fun, finish!

Posted On: 05/18/2016

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