Friday, 5 February 2010
Tough Guy 2010 (Year Of The Original Heroes)
Hey everyone, wow!!!
it feels like a lifetime since I last posted on here. Big apologies for not writing sooner but my old lap top finally gave up the ghost last week and I simply haven't been online since. I now have a brand new one and I'm dying to tell my ToughGuy tale to you guys, so here goes.
On Sunday, I took part in the 2010 Tough Guy Challenge up in Wolverhampton, UK. For those of you who aren't too sure what this is then let me shed some light on the matter for you.
Tough Guy is a mixture between a 10k muddy cross country run and an army assualt course. It's a true test of fitness, strength and mental determination. Challengers have to endure sub zero lakes, underwater tunnels and fire walking to have the title of being a "Tough Guy".
Myself and some of my Evolution Bootcamp clients arrived in a freezing cold Wolverhampton on the Saturday evening. We figured that we didn't want to travel up on a Sunday morning. Sitting in a car for 3 hours is not exactly great preparation for an event like this so we went up the evening before.
I'd been training real hard for this challenge and I was feeling very confident about proceedings,as was everyone else. Part of the course involved several steep hills, (I say hills, they were more like muddy banks!!)I'd been doing plenty of hill running in training so I was actually looking forward to them!
The race started at 11am. Our start position wasn't great. We were almost right at the back which usually means it's hard to run at the pace you want due to slower runners infront but once that gun went off I went for it!
I decided that I would try and hit the run as hard as I could. This was to prevent me from cueing up at the obstacles towards the end of the race.
Eveything was going fine. I was steadily making my way through the pack. It was very hard to do this on occassions as the course was very narrow which would cause bottle necking, but I did everything I could to get through as many runners as possible and start chasing down the front squad.
I REALLY didn't want to be cueing for any of those obstacles at the end freezing my ass off!
Next up were the hills and this is where my progress was haulted slightly. Everyone was pretty much walking them which was fine! I don't blame 'em but this stopped me from moving ahead. I was disappointed with this as I had put so much effort into hill running in my training but I didn't let it bother me too much and after they were done, the cross country run continued.
I was happy. I'd finished the main bulk of the running and I was onto the obstacles and it was here when things started to change - for the worse.
Alot of the obstacles involved running in and out of freezing cold water. Sounds easy right?
At first, it's great, wading through muddy water up to your waist is loads of fun but the novelty soon started to wear off when the cold started kicking in.
I cannot describe to you how cold the water was. You would have to do it yourself to appreciate what I'm talking about.
I think someone said that the water was -7 degrees, the coldest Tough Guy on record.
The water was SOOOO cold that the ice was still there, unmelted!
The front squad had to break the ice with their elbows as they waded through the water.
The cold was starting to get to me, it was creeping up on me, my legs were completely numb and all I was focused on now was finishing the course without getting hypothermia.
All I could hear was the constant sound of the ambulance siren in the background. Everywhere I looked, runners were dropping out, stopping due to cramp or being pulled out by marshalls for hypothermia.
I needed to finish...and quick!
I had achieved my goal. The obstacles were clear when I did them. Hitting the run hard had paid off but the cold was REALLY kicking in. I was starting to feel real lonely out there aswell.
I had to finish. Another 20 minutes of this water and I knew I would be in big trouble.
Hypothermia is a huge factor in Tough Guy and if you're not prepared for it then you will fail. I had undertaken some cold water survival training (daily cold showers) in the months building up to it but in all honestly this didn't help me in the slightest with the cold.
Only a few more water obstacles to go and I was fading fast, I had come to the dreaded underwater tunnels. This is where you have to immerse yourself completely under water 4 times.
This was hell, as I swam out of the lake and climbed up the muddy bank I started to feel dizzy and had a severe case of "brain freeze". This wasn't good. Brain freeze is the feeling you get when you've eaten a cold ice cream, but this was like a thousand times worse. My condition was starting to deteriate.
I knew it wouldn't be long before hypothermia kicked.
Needed to finish...
As I entered the final part of the course, I heard from a spectator that there wasn't long to go. Only a few minutes until the finish. This was like a shot in the arm for me and actually gave me a new surge of energy.
Just one more plunge into a freezing cold lake and I was there. Every cell in my body was telling me NOT to go in there but I just carried on.I was in survival mode now. I waded through as fast as I could. I was starting to shiver violently. I was in a bad way.
One final sprint to the line, I had made it but I wasn't great! I was starting to hallucinate which I knew wasn't good, and I was experiencing the symptoms of stage 1 hypothermia. Uncontrollable shivering, unable to pay attention, confusion, feeling afraid, memory loss, drowsiness, slurred speech, slow shallow breathing...yep, I had them all.
I had to get out of my wet clothes and start warming up and fast.
After 2 hours of sipping hot chocolate in my clients car with the heater on full blast I had started to warm up. Hypothermia had kicked in.
At one point I was so bad I thought I was going to have to grab a paramedic to sort me out but I got myself through it- just!
I did it! I earnt my Tough Guy title and didn't let hypothermia beat me. My time was 2 hours and 7 minutes which was in the top 800 out of the 3,500 that finished. 6,000 had started.
My goal is to finish in the top 200 for the next one which I know I will with the right preparation, tactics and determination.
So what have I learnt from my Tough Guy experience?
Well, I have learnt that if I can do do Tough Guy then I can overcome ANY obstacle in my life. Tough Guy isn't really a test of fitness, it's more about mental toughness, it's about the will do go on, it's about how hard you get knocked but keep moving forwards. It's a test of inner strength.
Whenever you're feeling down, or if you're struggling to achieve a goal in your life, whenever you're feeling like giving up, whether it be professionally, personally or spiritually then think back to this story and have the inner strength to keep moving forwards no matter what happens, just like I did.
Rocky says it best in this video:
I loved that little motivational speech : )
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the full account of my Tough Guy experience and who knows, maybe I'll see you at the next one! (if you're crazy enough!)
Peace out : )
PS - if you're interested in seeing some of the horrors I had to endure on Sunday then check out this Tough Guy link to the BBC's website.
Out of the 6,000 runners that started the 2010 Tough Guy Challenge, only 3,500 finished. 600 suffered from Hypothermia and the rest pulled out due to injury or lack of fitness.