Mud on the Tires /// Ruckus Edition

Thought I’d take a second and share my recent experience in the Ruckus.  While I’ve done 5 & 10-K’s, half and full marathon’s, this was my very first obstacle race.

photo courtesy of


If I had to use one one word to describe the Ruckus it would be muddy! The days leading up to the race we had extreme rain storms which didn’t help AT ALL because everything between the obstacles, mud-related or not, was muddy too. It made the running portions in the grass very treacherous. I had expected there to be some sort of mud-pit obstacle, but what I didn’t expect was there to be 5+ mud-pit obstacles. In a row. Getting a “little” dirty was simply not an option.

Anyway I thought I’d share some tips for anyone who might want to participate in an obstacle course race:
1. Make sure your shoes are tied tight! Once they’re water logged with mud they weigh about 7lbs a piece and you don’t want your shoe to fall off mid race.
2. Gloves are a good idea but certainly not mandatory. I didn’t have them, I saw others who did. There wasn’t any obstacle in which I thought “gee this is killing my hands I wish I had gloves,” but had there been a different set of obstacles then perhaps I would’ve. It’s a crap shoot.
3. Don’t choose the last race heat of the day. My thinking was it’d be better on my husband and kids if I went later in the day. However the champions heat started before my heat finished (basically making it an impossibility for anyone in my heat to participate in it if we qualified) and by the last heat the queues before some obstacles were CRAZY long. I mean I stood at certain obstacles over 10 minutes waiting my turn behind people from previous heats who showed up and walked through the course. It negatively impacted my time and it killed my momentum. That was disappointing.
4. Bring a towel to sit on in your car. They had garden hoses you could use to knock some of the bigger mud chunks off yourself with,  which felt very Woodstock-y to me, but even that doesn’t clean you enough to go anywhere until you can get to a real shower.
5. Pants past the knees is a must. All that crawling in mud and sand would be tough on an exposed knee!
6. Wear old shoes. They get trashed in all the mud and there’s no avoiding it! There were donation spots set up all over the place so once you change into your post-race flip flops you can then give your old shoes away. Good stuff.


Aside from the multiple mud pits and slides, there were also 20′ high nets (shaped like giant tee-pees) to climb over, there were wooden walls with ropes to climb up one side and jump down the other, there were ropes with loops hanging over a giant mud pit and  you had to “swing” from rope to rope to get across, giant hay bales (5′ tall) to climb over, and various other walls and things to army crawl over, under and through – making it a total of 4 miles of obstacle challenges.

Overall I’d definitely do another obstacle course race. I was nervous as most participants appeared to be in teams and were helping one another through the obstacles and all I had was me, but it turned out ok. Nothing was so difficult that I couldn’t handle it on my own.  “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” [Phil 4:13]

Let me know of you ever try or have done an obstacle race!  Would you do one again?  Is there a particular type besides the Ruckus you would recommend?

Run by faith,

Here Without You

Part of marathon training is getting my weekly distance run up to 20 miles.  Some distance days when I knew I had to run 15 or more miles (according to my running plan) I’d just go out and run till I either ran out of time or ran out of gas.  Then I’d come home, map it, and see how far I went.  I was really enjoying that process and thought of it as an “organic” approach to running, as the sport is lending itself to more and more gadgetry (GPS shoe chips, ipods, etc) — until I noticed that I kept finishing at 18.5 miles.  Realizing that I was falling just short of my 20 mile goal, which is kind of the pre-marathon max distance one conquers to prepare for 26.2, was starting to play mental games with me.  In an effort to stay as low-tech and high-fun as possible I found myself 1.5 miles too short 3 times in a row… and I began to doubt myself.   I firmly believe distance running is 90% mental and if I didn’t hit the 20-mile mark I was beginning to fear I wouldn’t be mentally prepared to go the distance in May.

So last week I broke down and bought a Garmin GPS watch.

And let me tell you… it ROCKS!!!  I took it for 2 runs last week, a 9-mile loop and a 20-mile out & back, and it’s really hard to not be obsessed with your pace!  I found it actually pushed me to run the 9-miler really strong and was almost like the running coach or partner I’ve never had and I loved it.  I thought it was a bit of a distraction for the longer run but it helped me get the job done, which was really all that mattered.

As I often find in life I think my distance running escapade made for a good metaphor when it comes to our relationship with Christ.  We go to church (our *distance* (or commitment) run of the week) and we hope that’s enough to help us stay in the race and cross the finish line – with the result a “gold medal” into Heaven.  But just going to church isn’t enough.  Look at my situation:  I was doing my weekly distance run.   Keeping things basic and uncomplicated.  And my running fell flat and I began to doubt myself.  I hadn’t done the homework to pre-plan my runs to make sure I was hitting 20 miles.  And I should have.  Also I’ve had a TON going on in my personal life and it’s cut into my cross-training time, which has hurt my running quite a bit.  Just going to church isn’t going to keep you on track and with God Monday through Saturday.  You’ve got to do your prep-work and spiritual cross-training.  Start with studying the Bible.  It’ll help you make better decisions when faced with things of this world.  And it’ll remind you that wordly things, such as lust, money & greed, aren’t important and help you appreciate your life exactly as it is and the many gifts God has already given you.

1 Tim 4:7-10 says, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

Put God in your daily GPS. His is a race we should all strive to win.

Run by faith,

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