Monday, February 1, 2016

Our thoughts and experiences hosting "K", "I", and "S"

I just wanted to clarify a few things concerning “K” (9 YO girl), “I” (7 YO girl), and “S” (5 YO boy all as of Dec. 2015) as my wife and I hosted them through Project 143 in December of 2015 for four weeks. 

I appreciate the volunteers that give their time and resources to interview the children and I know they are given the impossible task of trying to gather information concerning children with almost no quality time with them.

In this case, these children were interviewed at their new orphanage so even the caregivers would have been lacking much time with them (the time stamp on their photo tells me they couldn’t have been there for even two weeks?). I wanted to clarify some things here as the profile on the Open Hearts and Homes listing is limited and contains some factual errors as well. 

My goal is to see these kids end up in the perfect family someday (if their parent’s rights are ever terminated) and more information can only help. 

A quick background on our family…

My wife and I have been married for 23 years and are adoptive parents to Anna (15 y.o.) and Victoria (12 y.o.) who we adopted in Jan 2011 after hosting them from Ukraine during the Summer of 2010. They were 7 and 9 when we hosted them so basically the same age as “K” and “I”. Our girls have family back home in Ukraine and we keep in close contact with their half-sister (age 19) and their Babushka (their birth mom’s mom). We have even had their Babushka here to visit twice and half-sister here on an F-1 visa for school one year. Through this, our girls have been well adjusted and Anna has been able to keep much of her verbal Ukrainian and Russian. We aren't experts in hosting, adoption, or child behavior but this wasn't our first rodeo either.

My thoughts and observations on “K”, “I”, and “S”…

“K” will capture your heart almost immediately.  She was the first to open up to us, was NEVER shy, and never had a problem expressing her feelings outside of the language barrier.  She is the oldest and the “mom” of the family when need be but really didn’t have a problem being a kid most of the time. She shifts into and out of “mom mode” quite easily and often. Honestly, she is pretty amazing with her younger siblings while in mom mode.  She knows how to deal with “S” when he has a meltdown and can quickly calm him down. Her tone of voice and mannerisms while in mom mode suggest a mom with experience!  And she knows how to deal with “I” and her fits (which is usually to walk away). 

She is a real sweetheart but full of drama as well. She can over-react and pout quite easily but she recovers quickly and this is probably typical for her age. All of the kids keep score and “K” is no exception. They all need to be assured they are getting the same treatment as the other. She loved to blame anything that went wrong on my girls (usually Anna) and “K” and Anna clashed a little bit. I called it a battle of queen bees. Anna, as the only person in the family that can speak Russian, had a lot on her shoulders and the kids went to her for EVERYTHING in the beginning which didn’t work well and overwhelmed Anna. In hindsight I wonder if things would have gone smoother if my daughter didn’t know Russian at all?

“K” really had no behavior issues outside of what I would call normal for her age. She had no problems following requests to pick up her plate after eating or to clean her room. She is probably a little ahead of her age as far as being able to take care of herself. She is a happy kid and one that is very compassionate. She quickly warmed up to all of us.  She has no problems relating to others and was truly sad when our Saint Bernard Bear had to be put down half way through hosting. She loves dogs and I think pets would be a great thing for her.  She is full of energy but my wife was able to give her tasks that she could focus on for decent lengths of time. The trampoline was a huge hit for all of them and she loved the trampoline park we took them to. In general she likes to be active and loves to do things outside.  Having said that, she isn’t tom-boyish and didn’t like to get dirty, wet, or stinky…things my girls have no problem with.  When taken to my family’s dairy farm, the kids spent a good bit of their time plugging their noses due to the smell. J She can read English quite well but has no idea what the words are. The Latvian alphabet is generally the same as ours so obviously that helps. She can count to 100 in English but stumbles in the transitions at every 10. “K” will eat just about anything and loves the same foods that American kids do…pizza, hot dogs, etc. “K” talked about her parents (whom they see and stay with every weekend) several times but is in denial about her past, even with Anna. Anna talked about her past and the alcoholism and physical abuse but “K” quickly denied she had ever experienced any of it herself. She broke down one day crying because she missed her parents (“S” then followed suit but “I” looked at them like they were crazy).

“K” appears healthy in every way. She is tall at 88th percentile in height and 56th in weight.  Her teeth are good and we were able to get her only two cavities filled while she was with us. “K” will do well in a new family if that opportunity happens for her.

“I” is the middle girl and the one with the most challenges to overcome.  We call her our wilted flower and it was amazing to see how far she came over the four weeks we had her.  We had some major issues (nothing compared to what some families dealt with though) in the beginning of hosting. These were behaviors we had heard of but never experienced before.  These issues included some fits of defiance and rage and this rage was directed towards anyone near her.  When “I” hits, she hits hard.  As she began to trust us, things improved greatly. “I” didn’t have a problem being a kid most of the time but she had her moments and these “moments” happened more often than the other two for sure. “I” finally came out of her shell and it was nice seeing a real personality out of her where she would laugh, joke, and act like a normal kid. It took roughly two weeks or so for her personality to show through. “I” kept score more than the others and her reactions would be a little stronger than the others but not by much towards the end. Like “K” she loved to blame anything that went wrong on my girls (usually Anna) but she didn’t really clash with my girls like “K”.

“I” can be very stubborn and defiant at times and it can come out of nowhere.  I really didn’t see a pattern outside of when she didn’t feel she was being treated equally. Let me define “equally”…If I gave “K” a ride on my shoulders “I” would get jealous unless I made sure to explain to her beforehand that she would get a turn next. She had to have an equal amount of time or this could set her off. Simple things like telling her to fold up her pants and put them in her drawer could and did set her off at times to where she had to sit in her room until she could calm down.  She always came around after a period of time (sometimes minutes sometimes hours) and when we explained that we wanted her to join the family for XXX after she did her task it would always work.

All the kids hit each other (and even us) but “I” hits with the highest frequency. To be blunt, she has some anger issues to work through and of course this comes from whatever it was that she has experienced to get where she is. If I were to guess, I would guess her stubbornness didn’t help her situation. I can’t say I ever observed compassion on her part and at least 3 out of 4 hugs I received from her were after “K” hugged me first. It always felt like something she just observed someone else do so she did it.  These latter points are the most worrisome to me, but again, I think they can worked through. Again, I am not an expert but the behavior is too serious to leave off a profile and ignore. I assume a professional can get these things figured out and can help “I” heal. I truly hope so as I believe she has a ton of potential.

“I” has some major tooth decay that needs to be addressed. Most of her teeth are actually missing but the dentist says most of her adult teeth are not yet in so that is good.  “I” and “S” hate brushing their teeth as they hurt so bad and my wife got them some soft foam type toothbrushes and mouth rinse which they liked a lot better.  All told, they are looking at a dozen extractions, a half dozen root canals, and another handful of crowns that need to be done between the two of them. One of “I”’s top front teeth started to come in while she was with us and she was very excited about that as she admitted to getting teased about her teeth sometimes.  We are currently trying to get things fixed in Latvia through a competent dentist and as of today (Feb. 1, 2016) “I” and “S” are scheduled to go to a good dentist in Riga this month and they are to come up with a treatment plan which we intend to fund.  Anyone that is considering hosting these kids should ask for a current status so that they can continue whatever treatment plan they may be on.  We wished we had been told of their teeth issues so that we could line up proper care. Unfortunately, “I” and “S” were in need of an oral surgeon and lining one up at the last minute was impossible around Christmas.

“I” is a tall girl for her age, at the 78th percentile in height and 43rd in weight. “I” is a physically healthy and active. Like the other two, she will eat just about anything without complaint but she is a very slow eater (like “S”) perhaps because of her teeth. She actually lost weight while she was with us. They all did.

I believe “I” will do well in a family that can help her work through her past with the long term guidance of a professional that understands these things. I do not understand them other than a lot of proactive reading before adopting my girls years ago. In our limited experience with her I think she would do best in a family without other children (besides her siblings of course) and/or a family that can perhaps homeschool her to limit her world. Give her the right environment and she is going to do great things. My wife worked with the kids and really believes she is a smart girl that wants to prove herself.  In our experience she is not a “special needs” child outside of her behavior issues and we are hopeful that in her new environment she will be able to go to a normal school.  I don’t think it is fair to her to categorize her as “special needs” without some clarification.  It wouldn't surprise me if she was misdiagnosed as special needs just so the school didn't have to deal with her behavior issues. We were told that she doesn’t currently attend school, in her words, because she can’t read, but this was as of her previous orphanage (they were moved when they returned to Latvia after being hosted).

“S” is a funny little kid that loves to joke around. His favorite activities seem to be farting, making funny noises, and touching or otherwise getting into EVERYTHING! He had a hard time settling down for more than a few minutes although Cammie claims she could get him to do so. He likes to wrestle around and get tickled and loves to do anything that burns energy. He loved to ride bikes even when the others didn’t but I couldn’t get him to try a bigger bike without training wheels. He seems to lack the attention span for things like Legos. “S” did like to get hugs and cuddle, especially with Anna and my wife. He is ALL boy though. He is very animate about what toys a boy plays with and which toys a girl plays with. In all honesty, I think he is likely to slap you if you suggest he should or ever has played with dolls.

As far as behavior goes, he was usually a good kid, defiant quite often, but not an angry defiance like “I”. Probably more of a testing boundaries type of thing with him which I would categorize as normal for his age. He really bonded with Anna and I know Anna admitted that he reminds her of her younger brothers who are still in Ukraine so that may have driven some of it.

“S” also has some major tooth decay as well that needs to be addressed (10 teeth that need extraction for starters).  “S” also is a tall kid, at the 81st percentile in height and 66th in weight.  These numbers suggest he is thin but he actually looks to be a little overweight. He lost over two pounds when he was with us and he tells us that he eats lots of candy when they visit their parents on the weekend.  L Other than that, “S” is generally a healthy, active, and happy boy. Like the other two, he will eat just about anything without complaint but like “I”, is a very slow eater.

A few more details that may be helpful to a potential host family.  The children all speak Russian as their first language, not Latvian. They have two older siblings that they claim live in England and are from a different mother.  I don’t see this as a potential complication in the future and the kids don’t even know their siblings’ names. They do, according to them, stay with their parents every weekend and we were told by the previous hosting organization that the parental rights have not been terminated. Also, they have two living grandmothers, one that lives with their parents and the other that in their words is too sick to see them anymore. We are not aware of, and the children wouldn’t share, the reason these children have been removed from the home other than what I already stated but it is clear that something “broke” within the family sometime after “K” was born. “I” and “S” are clearly impacted by severe neglect while “K” is essentially unscathed.

I hope this is helpful and we are happy to answer any additional questions any potential host family may have. We aren’t experts but we believe strongly that more information is always better than less and we hope the above will help any future potential host family make a more informed decision.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Outback In the Ozarks 2014- It's Only Fun if it Sucks

“Daddy I am so proud of you! You worked so hard to get ready for your race and you did it!”

Words from my daughter Anna after arriving home on a sunny Saturday afternoon. My team and I had just completed something that a few years ago I wouldn't have even considered being a part of; something that I would have said only crazy people do; something that may have given me a heart attack. 

Early on a Friday morning myself and six friends loaded up and headed out to Eureka Springs, AR to run a 200 mile, 6-man relay race through the Ozark mountains. Thirty one and a half hours later not only did we finish, but we somehow managed to win the Ultra Division of Outback in the Ozarks!

The Race Course

Notice the red path near the top center. That is the overnight "Death March" we did a year ago. That thing sure does seem "nice" compared to what we just did!

I first heard of this race last year. As it typically happens, I saw someone else's post on Facebook about this thing called "Outback in the Ozarks".  It is a twelve person relay, patterned after the Ragnar series of relay races that are quite popular all over the country.  Only this one was local as it started twenty minutes from my cabin and ended 20 minutes from my home.  I texted a link to the race to a good friend who I was pretty sure was crazy enough to try it. The exchange was something along the lines of: 

Me: We should do this race.
Cary: Which one? The 12 man or 6 man?
Me: 6 man. 12 man is for girls. It's only fun if it sucks.
Cary: Ok. Let me check my calendar and I am in.

He is so easy!

From there it took a little more time to pull together the entire team. My brother was another easy sell. Again, it was a matter of fitting it into his calendar. Another friend and neighbor, an awesome athlete and Ironman surprisingly joined us as well (I say surprisingly because I thought this might be too easy for him). So that made four. The other two joined us last minute (or at least last minute considering how tough this thing was going to be) really only committing in the last few weeks before the big day. Overall, we ranged in experience from newbies like myself to a couple seasoned pros whom we were able to rely on for some really sound advice.


Like any other big event that I had no experience in, this took some planning. Planning included training, nutrition, recovery between runs, and logistics.  


For training I really didn't change a whole lot from when I got ready for World's Toughest Mudder in Dec. 2012. My normal fitness "routine" for a couple of years now has been 4 days of Crossfit during the week and either a 7.5 mile run with a 22 lb weight vest or an 8.75 mile hilly run from our cabin to the lake and back. Ramping up really just meant adding two additional runs during the week and increasing the distance of my weekend runs slightly. A month before the event I did the Hogeye Marathon just because I figured I needed to be able to do it by that point.Plus, it has a reputation as a "hilly" marathon. Haha.  Cary joined me as well to knock out his first marathon.  And finally, the last few weeks before the race, I did two runs separated by five hours of rest just to try to simulate the race conditions.


I went with the same Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem product I used for World's Toughest and the Hogeye. At this point I trust this product even though it doesn't taste all that great. I know myself enough to know that I start getting sick to my stomach after several hours of pushing myself and don't have an appetite. I can always force down liquids though.  Olive Garden provided food at exchange point 12 which was awesome but it caused some stomach pain for me on leg #15. I probably should have skipped it. By the way, my GPS says I burned over 6200 calories during my 6 legs.


After every leg I took in my nutrition almost immediately as I wanted my body to be able to process it before my next leg. I took in 900 calories after my first three legs and fewer after my final three legs which were shorter and easier. Scott provided some excellent advice concerning recovery as well; I put on thigh high medical tights immediately after my runs (Nathan and Scott did as well) and kept them on until right before my next leg. They made a HUGE difference as my legs really felt refreshed and ready to go all the way through the first four legs. I still don't understand how something tight helps with blood flow.


Nothing profound here. Just a lot of details and contingencies that needed to be addressed.  We looked at the legs and Nathan came up with a way of ranking the total miles by difficulty. Scott, our Ironman, got the most difficult position as runner #1 (somewhere around 38 miles and over a mile of elevation gain...ouch!). I got the second hardest grouping followed by my brother and so on.  The course was very well marked, we had detailed driving directions from one exchange point to the next, and we had been told very clearly that if we go over a half mile and don't see a marker we are lost.  Other than spotty cell service, which we expected, there really weren't any issues. As we understand it though, at least one team did get lost and it forced them out of the race due to a time cutoff.

The Race

Team "Misery Loves Company"!
From Left: Chris Hudgens, Scott Hamilton, Dave Castronova, Nathan Marti, Cary Stokes, Loren Marti (me)

There were two start times and those start times were based off of our submitted 10k times. Roughly half of the 18 total teams started at 7:00. We started at 8:00 a.m. I guess that meant were were supposed to be fast. Unfortunately, we didn't have any idea until much later what times which teams started. This made it difficult for us to figure out where we stood during the race. Early on though it didn't really matter as we just needed to get out there and run!

Leg #3- (My first leg)

The first few rotations included legs that were generally longer than the final legs.  My first leg ended up being 6.8 miles of dirt roads with 639 feet of elevation gain (88 ft. net). This was pretty similar to my typical weekend run, just a little shorter with an extra 100 feet of gain.  We all put down our goals for each leg. This was mainly for planning purposes but I suppose it also helped hold ourselves accountable (although none of us ever worried about what each other put down).  My goal for this one was a 9:30 average pace which was slightly faster than I would normally do a training run at home. I figured the extra elevation change and running on dirt would slow me down but the excitement of the race would speed me up.  Scott and Nathan both knocked out their legs like champions and as Nathan slapped the runner's bracelet on my wrist he told me "I just passed someone, don't screw it up". Thanks. No pressure little brother. I took off running and a few minutes into the run I made the mistake of looking back. Of course there was some woman right behind me! I knew immediately it was going to be a miserable run because my brother would never let me hear the end of it if I got "chicked". And I knew as they drove past me to the next exchange point that he was laughing at me. Of course Scott confirmed later that he was in fact laughing at me! Just for the record, I have been "chicked" many times in other races and don't really have a problem with it. No offense to any ladies out there.  I learned in my first distance event that you can't judge the speed of anyone by size or gender. It did motivate me though. So anyway, the first leg was pretty much spent in panic mode, running faster than I wanted to. Too scared to look back but too scared to not look back. I finished maybe a couple of minutes ahead of her, passing no one and not getting passed either with an average pace of 9:13. Crisis averted!

Leg #9- (My second leg)

This one started at War Eagle and ended on Clifty Hwy just southeast of where we started. The distance was 8.13 miles with 805 feet of elevation gain (55 ft. net). The first two miles were a gradual climb out of War Eagle. Other than slightly tight legs in the beginning I felt fine and of course made the mistake of looking back. Another woman right behind me! And of course, odds are that this is her first run of the day (if she was on a 12 person team). More panic (yes I know that is stupid) for the next 20 minutes or so until I can no longer see her behind me. Finally I can relax a little bit. I get to the first measurable straight distance and I can see someone a few minutes ahead of me. Now I have the stress of trying to catch him! Eventually the pavement turns to dirt and I get my first "kill" of the day. I caught him and passed him. That was fun, now to stress out over him catching me! This leg was kind of frustrating because I went into it thinking it was going to be just over 7 miles. I got to mile seven and instead of getting to the next exchange point I got to a couple of pretty big hills. The bad thing about big hills, other than they are big hills and you have to go up them, is that people behind you appear to catch up to you as they run the flat or downhill section leading up to them. I looked back down the last big one and saw both runners right behind me. In reality they were at least a couple minutes behind. So for this leg, one kill and another crisis averted. Goal was another 9:30 pace and I averaged 9:21.

Leg #15- (My third leg)

By now it was well into the evening, about 9:30 p.m. We were a couple miles south of Huntsville in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. While waiting for Nathan to finish we noticed the four man ultra team waiting at the same exchange point. Up until this point, we didn't really know for sure how we were doing. After the first full rotation I believe we were second from the last through the exchange point and we thought we were 40 minutes behind the leading ultra team already. It was a little discouraging although I honestly hadn't given much thought to actually winning this thing. But this was cool because we actually had gained significant ground.  For the life of me, I can't remember if their runner got to this exchange point before us or not. What I do remember is how absolutely horrible this leg was.

This leg came in at 8.51 miles with 1,429 feet of elevation gain (713 ft. net gain!). The leg started with about a mile of rolling hills which allowed a person to get warmed up and loose. A half mile into the leg there was a point where I was supposed to hop in our vehicle instead of running the highway. Problem was we didn't realize where the ferry portion was so my ride was still back at the exchange point...I just kept running. It couldn't have been a tenth of a mile or so anyway.  Just over a mile into the run it was basically all uphill except for a few quick downhill sections that were too steep to enjoy. As I started the hill section I could see a runner ahead of me (of course another woman) and it seemed like I was gaining on her. Just more stress. I ended up passing her and getting my second "kill" and then of course my anxiety level shot up as I again felt like I was being chased. Around mile four I rolled my ankle and came really close to actually injuring it and taking a nice fall. For some reason I had forgotten to take my flashlight out of my pocket until then. Kind of dumb running in that terrain with just a headlamp. Around mile six some guy flew by me like I was standing still running with a nice smooth stride and a stupid smile on his face...the only time I got passed throughout the race. I am glad I didn't even see him coming because I would have had even more anxiety. Finally I finished, killing one and being killed by someone else. Target pace was 11:00 and I came in at 10:19. I was pretty happy as I never would have thought I could have done that leg at that pace even on fresh legs. When I compare this leg to the Hogeye Marathon, which people call a hilly marathon, the leg had the same elevation gain over only 1/3 the distance (and the Hogeye is a net negative course). As Dave said earlier in the day, "these things will recalibrate your sense of what a hilly course is". Um, yep. I was so excited to be done with this leg as the rest of mine were going to much much shorter!

After each of my legs, since I was the final runner from our vehicle, we had a nice break before we needed to be ready for Scott's next run. The runner from the four man team was waiting for his runner so we chatted with him for a while. They came up from Memphis (I think) with a three man, one woman team. Pretty interesting guy and it sounded like they all had some pretty good experience in things like 50 and 100 mile races. It was funny hearing him tell us how they basically drew straws as to which legs they would get and he felt like he got the worst of the legs and he was the oldest (60 years old). He looked more like 45. He also mentioned how this type of race was different for them because they can run all day long at slower paces but it is different when you run hard and then take a break.  I have so much respect for their team. Running 50 miles of this terrain, running HARD, is pretty crazy.  Unfortunately, it sounds like they ended up getting lost at some point and missed a time cutoff. They had to drop out of the race.

Somewhere around this point we realized or were told that we were actually the first place ultra team! How did that happen!?!

Leg #21- (My fourth leg)

This one started at 4:00 a.m. and was easy. 3.48 miles of mostly rolling hills, only one significant hill about midway. Only bad thing about this leg was that I had forgotten to put on my correct shoes and ended up running the entire leg (paved the whole way) in my zero drop, heavily lugged, Tough Mudder shoes.  It beat up my ankles a good bit as by now my calves were trashed and my running form was getting bad. I got one more kill on this run and it was nice to have an easy run for once. Target time was a 9:00 pace and I came in at 8:50. Elevation gain was 228 feet (net 4 ft. gain). If I could have run this leg every time, I too could have been one of those annoying smiley, happy people I saw throughout the race!

Leg #27- (My fifth leg)

By now it was 8:15 a.m. and we were all pretty tired. Nathan and I both had issues keeping our heart rates down. He mentioned his heart rate never coming back under 100 beats / min. well after he stopped running. Mine just seemed to skyrocket and I would lose my breathing as soon as I started running. This leg was a long steady climb of just over 600 feet in the first mile and a half. From there it was pretty much all down hill the rest of the 4.82 miles. My target pace was 9:15 which meant the plan was to struggle up the hills and fly down the backside. Didn't work out that way (well the struggle up the hill part did).  I ended up with a 10:16 pace instead and had a hard time at that! Total elevation gain was 654 feet (like I said, all of it in the first 1.5 miles) with 393 feet net.

We headed to Devil's Den State Park to wait for our runner and the start of the final legs for all of us. While waiting we checked with the Ham radio operator for the status of the other ultra team. They were three legs behind us and we believed they had started an hour earlier than us (they had not). Thinking we were a good 3 1/2 hour ahead of the nearest ultra team took away much of the stress. At least for me.

While waiting, we noticed a dog running up and down the hill into and out of the park. It looked like she was having a good time. By the time we headed up to the next exchange point to wait on Scott, the dog was there relaxing in the shade. She apparently liked one of the runners enough to follow them up the ridiculous climb out of that park for the entire 6 miles or so!

Running Dog!

Scott killed this run like all the others. Totally amazed me. I had mentioned earlier in our vehicle that my sister's van's brakes had overheated going down those hills when we visited a while back. They are that steep. Scott ran up those hills, after 32 miles of previous running, faster than I could do a flat course on fresh legs! Way to go Scott!

Scott after his final leg

Leg #33- (My sixth leg)

By now it was 1:00 p.m. and I have to admit I was pretty tired. We knew we had the race in the bag at this point so it was just a matter of not dying.  This leg was 3.58 miles with 151 feet of elevation gain and a net change of -70 feet, my first and only leg that ended lower than it started. Who got all the downhill runs!?! This was rolling hills all the way and most of it on a highway. I just wanted to get done. I wanted to just run nice and slow and consistent but I had apparently forgotten how. I ended up running around a 9:00 pace, having my heart rate and breathing skyrocket at that rate, and then walk up the hills (which were laughably small compared to the earlier ones). Target pace was 9:15. I didn't even come close although I think if this was still a race and I had someone chasing me I might have been able to come close. I ended up at 10:25. I can't tell you how relieved I was to be done. I was tired, it was getting hot, and I was in no mood to do any more running!

Done...and Tired!

From there it was off to the finish line at Prarie Grove Battlefield State Park to wait on our final three runners complete their legs. At approximately 3:39 p.m. after over 31.5 hours of running, Misery Loves Company crossed the finish line as the first place ultra team!


This race was an amazing experience and I couldn't have asked for a better team. We all came together and had a great time even though we were certainly miserable much of the time.  The majority of us had never attempted anything like this at all but yet we sucked it up and somehow managed to pull out a win! In fact, we actually held our own quite well with the 12 man teams as well, placing 5th overall out of 14 teams that finished. We logged just over 201 miles with an elevation gain (we think) of approximately 5 miles and an average pace of 9:25 per mile.

My totals were 35.5 miles, 3906 feet of elevation gain, 1183 feet of net gain at an average pace of 9:46 per mile. As I mentioned earlier I burned over 6200 calories during my runs. Let's just say the BBQ waiting for us at the end of the race was especially delicious!

Final finishing times for Competitive* teams:

Start TimeTeam NameFinishing
8:00Team eNeRGy29:04:06
8:00The Mud Hogs30:19:20
8:00Lake Area Runners30:28:15
8:00Misery Loves Company31:39:25
7:00501 Years of Experience31:58:20
7:00Soul Runners32:11:15
7:00Zen-E-Thang But32:26:30
8:00Running Rednecks32:30:15
7:00On the Run33:02:14
7:00GBP Final Cut33:05:12
7:00White River Roadrunners33:25:15
7:00Between a Walk and a Hard Pace35:19:49
7:00Blazing Saddles35:39:20

The race itself was very well organized, the trail was clearly marked at all times. That by itself is a big accomplishment. 200 miles is a lot of road to mark. I really can't think of a thing that we could complain about. Well, except sleep. Sleep would have been nice. The race director and her husband worked their butts off to put this together and their work paid off. Thank you Kimberlee and Todd for such an amazing experience!!

On a personal level, this thing was pretty tough. I have never run so hard for so long in my life. Getting chased, the pressure of brotherly harassment I would get if I got chicked, and the nature of the race all combined to somehow push myself harder than I would have thought I would have run. I swear I was running in a panic almost the entire first three legs. Comparing this to World's Toughest Mudder is really an apples to oranges comparison. WTM was a very slow continuous slog. We walked a majority of the 50 miles we covered during WTM.  This thing was very intense for short (generally an hour or so) periods of time. My body was more beat up after WTM but my energy level was completely wiped out during Outback in the Ozarks! Oddly, my legs are actually less sore than they were after my latest marathon. I guess the rests between legs and the varying terrain which drove varying muscle movements were the key. Now I just need to figure out why my heart felt like it was going to explode during the last two legs!

Anyone looking for an awesome challenge and a fun time should check this thing out! Seriously! It is something you will always remember. If the ultra version scares you, do the 12 person and have a blast!

As to next year, who knows. It makes me sick to think of pushing myself this hard again but as we say, it's only fun if it sucks!

One by one, our legs got crossed off!

Scott handing off to Nathan after his fifth run.
Team photo after the race. Loved the shirts we got.

Cary wiping down after one of his legs. He is so sexy when he is sweaty!

Chris handing off to Dave during their first legs.

Dave handing off to Scott for his second run.

Another blog writeup on the same race from one of the other ultra teams: 

Monday, December 17, 2012

World’s Toughest Mudder- Part 3- The Race

The Battlefield

I have to admit I had bigger expectations concerning the course than what I saw. No doubt, this course was more difficult than a traditional Tough Mudder. There were 50% more obstacles than normal over a slightly shorter (at 10 miles) course than I have normally seen. And yes, some of the obstacles were made slightly to significantly harder than normal. But it seems like compared to last year’s WTM, they scaled things back a little bit even though they added 1.5 miles?

The race was held at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ. It is simply a drag strip race park with some motocross tracks off to one side. We seemed to make use of the entire facility including a couple of loops into the woods. The same site was home to a traditional Tough Mudder about a month earlier, so Tough Mudder is able to reuse many of the obstacles.

I did wear my GoPro for the first lap so I could capture all of the obstacles on film. Lucky for me, someone else did the same and did all of the work of editing. Here is a video of all of the obstacles and where they were located on the course.

There were two types of obstacles on the course, obstacles that you must complete or you would face disqualification (or so they say) and those that you must attempt or face a penalty obstacle. The penalties consisted of either an additional 200 meter run or an extra Artic Enema obstacle. Both of the penalties were a joke and ended up being easier than the obstacle itself.

Pre Race

So after getting a decent amount of sleep, all things considered, my brother and I got to the course around 8 a.m. or so. There was still frost on the tents from the night before but it was sunny out and warming up quickly. They announced that we all needed to be at the start by 9:30 for the safety meeting which was annoyingly early. The weather forecast was for low 50s as a high and 36 for the low overnight.  I debated with myself for quite a while as to what gear to wear for lap 1 and finally made my decision. By 9 or so, we were alll dressed and hanging out in the pit area, just waiting for the show to begin.  We went to the staging area a few minutes early when I noticed a couple of areas on my wetsuit where the seams were coming apart. Not good. I knew if my wetsuit failed me, it wasn't going to be pretty. My brother had brought some wetsuit glue and duct tape so we ran to our tent to try to make an emergency repair. There wasn't much else we could do at that point.

The pre-race stuff was pretty typical with the addition of the race rules and safety concerns that were never really followed anyway. The only notable differences were the lack of out of shape people and the fact that all but a few people had full wetsuits on. I noticed a guy dressed as Spiderman in Spidey tights. We saw him in the medical tent half way through the first lap. I supposed the other big difference is that by the time it was time to start, there were puddles of pee everywhere as people generally decided against waiting for the first water obstacle to take a leak. 

Lap 1

At 10:00 a.m. on a cold sunny morning,after countless hours of training and 100s of miles of running over almost a year,the race began.  As is typical for long races, most people started out way too fast and way faster than they said they would. We didn't. We did a very slow jog just to get ourselves moving and took in the scenary. It was actually kind of cool seeing the mass of people twisting and turning through the hilly motorcycle section of the raceway because I knew I was going to pass most of them eventually.  Lap 1 was pretty uneventful. I typically start to get a feeling of dread halfway through the course as I realize that I am about to go face to face with Electric Eel and Electroshock Therapy. This time, I didn't give it much thought until a couple of hundred yards before we got there (other than the lap where my brother chose to bring it up much earlier). 

I hate the Electric Eel. I have always hated it and I the more I do this obstacle, the more I hate it.  Getting shocked and possibly knocked out sucks.  One would think that in a race filled with veteran hardened racers that have likely all been through this numerous times, that we would all just face the obstacle and do it.  The reality is that I saw more people hesitate at Electric Eel the first lap than at any Tough Mudder I have ever completed. Most people don't have a clue as to how much it sucks until they have been hit with it.  We came up to the obstacle (around mile 8 or so) and started to look for a route through.  The wires that hang down all have a varying amount of curl to them so there is always a chance of getting through untouched.  I did notice one athlete walk right up to the obstacle and just start crawling...three seconds later I heard someone screaming like a least it WAS a girl so I guess it was okay. Nothing like hearing the screams of a fellow competitor right before I face the same suffering.  I paced back and forth several times and chose a route that looked like it might work. A few deep breaths and here we go! I have a problem with staying calm once I take the first hit as I seem to go into fight mode so I figured I would slowly wind my way through until I take the first hit and then crawl as fast as I could once I took the first shock. My brother and I both started our low crawl. We would lower our head underwater while going under the wire then lift it once past a row of wires. That way we could see where we were going.

Every once in a while, I could hear a sizzling sound of electricity when I had my head under the water and every once in a while I could heard screaming (and a couple of cuss words...this WAS New Jersey) as others were getting hit. Slowly but surely I got to the other side with NO SHOCKS!!! My brother took one to the leg at the very end but I made it shock free. I crawled out of the obstacle, raised my arms in victory and shouted "NO SHOCKS"!!! Unless you have been in this torture chamber and knocked out in it you probably don't understand but this was a huge morale booster. I knew if I could beat it once, it could be beaten every time.

The rest of lap one was where the bigger water obstacles were. None of them were of any issue early in the race. We also had to drag some tires for 1/3 of a mile near the end. On the first lap, I just grabbed a set without looking at them. Big mistake as they were bigger than most and had a very short rope. Lesson learned.  The last obstacle was electroshock therapy which was a joke this time because the wires were so high you could just crawl under. From there, it was maybe a half mile jog on pavement back to the stadium area for the finish of lap 1.

Time: 3 hours 31 minutes.
Position: 1022 of 1097 that fnished lap 1.


Wetsuit: I had a 3/2 and a 5/4 wetsuit with me. The 3/2 was a cheapo that I bought off of Ebay for $20. It was a little looser and my testing showed it let in much more water than my 5/4. I really hoped to be able to wear it for a couple of laps but given the cold temperatures in the morning and since we were going to go slow from the start I wasn't worried about overheating with the 5/4. I ended up putting the 5/4 on right from the beginning and never took it off until 26 hours later. Under the wetsuit I made the last minute decision to wear my off brand long sleeve shirt that I wore in Houston (the one my girls decorated). The reason for the shirt was because my 5/4 fit so tight that it took forever to get situated around my shoulders and comfortable. The shirt helped the wetsuit slide. I also had Bodyglide smeared all over myself to try to prevent any rashes. I also smeared plenty of Vaseline around my crotch area to prevent urine burns (thanks to a recommendation from a previous years' competitor).  I have to say, other than some missing skin behind my knees, I came away 50 miles later completely unscathed.

Headwear: Neoprene swim cap.

Shoes: I brought two pairs of shoes....Innov-8 Roclite 318s and Innov-8 X-talon 190s. I love the 190s but only brought them as a backup since I had never done anything close to 24 hours in a minimalist shoe. The 318s are a very light shoe but still offer full support. I did end up drilling some small holes around the perimeter of the shoe to allow them to drain water better. My pool testing showed me that they didn't drain well unmodified. I wore the 318s the entire time.

Socks: One pair of drymax calf length socks. I also smeared a paste of Goldbond foot powder / Vaseline on my feet before the start of this and every lap. Again, this was an awesome tip from a fellow competitor. I never got a blister, never got a hot spot, and my feet never even wrinkled up even though they were wet for 24 hours.

Gloves: Mechanix gloves.

Jacket: One cheapo windbreaker. I mainly wore it on this lap because it was bright orange and stood out among everyone else's black wetsuits. This made it easier for our cheering section to find us. I wore this windbreaker the entire time and had a letter my daughter wrote to me before the race tucked inside a zippered pocket.

I also wore an armband with "Neeve" and "Tatum's" photo inside. The intent was to replace the photo every lap. I ended up wearing it for two laps before abandoning the idea as it kept getting hung up on the obstacles.

Pitstop #1

I wore my GPS watch for the first two laps so I could measure how long the laps were, capture the layout of the course for later, and most importantly, to get a feel for how many calories we were burning.  The course came in just over 10 miles and said I burned 1,004 calories. I figured we burned a couple hundred extra through the obstacles and I decided to take in 1,000 calories per lap. My fuel of choice was Hammer Nutrition's Perpetuem powder.  It is geared towards ultra endurance events and like I mentioned in my previous post, it seemed to work for me.  Even between laps 4 and 5, I was still able to take this in without feeling sick.  Between laps we also pulled off our shoes, wiped down our feet, checked for any issues (blisters, hot spots), reapplied Vaseline/Gold Bond powder, then put on dry socks. We never had a pit stop where we didn't do this.

Total time: 35  minutes.

Lap 2

At roughly 2:00 p.m. we head out for lap #2.  I made two slight gear changes for this lap...I added my 2mm neoprene vest over my wetsuit. I did this simply to try to protect my failing wetsuit from further damage. I also added some windbreaker pants. I did this because of the "Skid Marks" obstacle which was basically the Everest obstacle but we climbed up the back of the obstacle on a tactical ladder and then slid down the obstacle. The obstacle was pretty dry on lap 1 and I thought I was going to tear the butt out of my wetsuit and thought the pants would be good protection. Big mistake as the pants ended up being a constant drag when wet. By lap 2, skid marks was muddy and slippery anyway.

Going down "Skid Marked"

Lap two was uneventful. I got through Electric Eel again without getting hit and I found a much lighter set of tires to drag towards the end of the lap.  By the end of lap two I was starting to realize that any tiredness I felt around mile 8 disappeared once we went through the two long water crossings (roughly 300 feet). The cold water, while unpleasant, was doing a great job of rejuvenating my legs! My feet were pretty cold after this lap though. Time to try out the neoprene socks!

No problems with ripped pec muscles at Everest this time!

Total Time after two laps: 7 hours 32 minutes.

Position: 834 of 1097.


Wetsuit:5/4 wetsuit with 2mm neoprene vest over the top

Headwear: Neoprene swim cap.

Shoes: Roclite 318s

Socks: One pair of drymax calf length socks.  Goldbond foot powder / Vaseline on my feet.

Gloves: Mechanix gloves.

Jacket: One cheapo windbreaker.

Pants: Windbreaker pants

Pitstop #2

Same as the first pit stop but this one took us a few more minutes as it took almost 45 minutes. We were wasting valueable time. By now you could see a few people here and there that were limping. Several tents in the pit area were already missing. People were calling it a day.

We took in the same nutrition, checked our feet, and made some significant gear changes because we could already feel it getting cooler and knew it would be dark by the time we returned. I added a second windbreaker, changed into 5mm neoprene gloves, added my 2mm neoprene socks, and put on my neoprene hood.

Total time: 45 minutes.

Lap 3

At roughly 6:15 p.m. we head out for lap #3. It was now dark and the course was pretty empty already. By now, the conversation between my brother and I was becoming even much more limited than it already was.  You can't really hear much with a full neoprene hood on. One conversation I remember vividly was at the midpoint of lap three when we saw the mile 5 marker and commented that it kind of looked like there was frost on the sign. was only supposed to get down to 36 degrees overnight, why would there be frost on the sign? This was going to suck a little worse than we thought. By lap three, I could feel water leaking into my wetsuit through the hole I noticed early in the day. Not fun.

Within another hour we could see ice forming on the obstacles. By this point I felt fine physically. In fact, I was pretty excited about how good I felt. The misery level was probably what I expected, nothing too bad really but the ice forming so early in the evening just told me it was going to be a long night.  The colder the better was our thought as we always thought we would be able to handle it better than most.  I will say it felt good knowing that my brother and I were out there and most people were not.  Every step taken was another step gained on probably a couple hundred people.  We heard several competitors comment that this was their last lap and no one was going to talk them into another one.  Good. Go home!

Total Time after three laps: 12 hours 12 minutes.

Position: 473 of 1097.


Wetsuit:5/4 wetsuit with 2mm neoprene vest over the top

Headwear: Neoprene hood.

Shoes: Roclite 318s

Socks: Injinji toe socks. 2mm neoprene socks. Goldbond foot powder / Vaseline on my feet.

Gloves: 5mm neoprene gloves.

Jacket: Two cheapo windbreakers.

Pants: None

Headlamp: Black Diamond Storm

Pitstop #3

When we got to the pits after lap 3, it was obvious that most people were done. I talked briefly with a neighbor who told me he was too old for this (41) and that he was going to take a nap and see what he felt like in a couple of hours...he never returned to the course.  Many others had taken their wetsuits off and were walking around the pit area or climbing into their tents. We knew the tents were where you go to die and it appears that this is what happened to most of them.  I pulled off my 5mm gloves and could barely get my 7mm gloves back on.  By now, all of the climbing and / or the cold was taking a toll on my hands as they were starting to swell up. Thanks to a volunteer in the pits, we were able to wrestle my gloves back on.  It was freezing out so I added my third and last remaining wind breaker.  We did the normal routine and headed back out for lap #4. Where is everyone?

Lap 4

By now, I won't admit I was tired but things were no longer fun. It was freezing out, the festive astmosphere of earlier hours was long gone, and I knew things were only getting started.  At roughly 11:00 p.m. we went out for lap #4. The course was really thin now and I was really glad my brother was out there with me. Shared suffering is the best suffering. It was pretty cold by now and it was very obviously below freezing as every obstacle was frozen over and slippery.  We had been smart enough to save our energy in the beginning so running was no more of a problem than it was in the beginning although it wasn't enjoyable either. When we were cold, we ran until we were warm. By lap four, they had shut down the top rung of the "Ladder to Hell" obstacle so that if we fell, we wouldn't fall as far. The only thing I really remember about lap 4 (they all kind of run together) was how quiet everything was other than the same old music they were playing over and over and over again through some cheap crackling speakers. Crossing the long water obstacle "Pirate's Booty" was now becoming interesting.

It was a 300 foot (roughly) swim and after crossing the pond we had to crawl up a twenty foot(?) cargo net that was hanging into the water. My hands were freezing cold during lap four and I wasn't all that enthused about climbing it again in the dark for sure since all of the rescue workers had decided it was so cold out that they were going to go sit in vehicles or elsewhere much further away from the action than they should have been. The good thing is that the water was shallow enough the whole way that I could walk the entire distance and hold my hands out of the water. It slowed me down some but seemed to make the most sense.

Pirate's Booty- Lap 1

By this time, "Balls to the Wall" was pretty dangerous. This obstacle was a "simple" rope climb against a wall followed by a climb down the other side. The transition from one side to the other was very oddly / poorly designed and it just seemed to be designed to capture limbs and snap them off.  I have read numerous posts and comments about people that fell off this obstacle and I witnessed three people that couldn't make the obstacle walk right around the obstacle in front of a Tough Mudder official. So much for enforcing any kind of rules on a "must complete" obstacle. I did hear one woman cry out with tears in her eyes on lap two with "won't anyone help me?" as she couldn't make it up. Myself and another guy gave her a boost and she was fine but I was surprised how difficult this obstacle was for so many people.

"Balls to the Wall"

We crossed the finish line for the fourth time and wondered where we were in the standings but confident that we had to be in a pretty respectable position.

Total Time after four laps: 17 hours 12 minutes.

Position: 192 of 1097.


Wetsuit:5/4 wetsuit with 2mm neoprene vest over the top

Headwear: Neoprene hood.

Shoes: Roclite 318s

Socks: One pair of drymax calf length socks. 2mm neoprene socks. Goldbond foot powder / Vaseline on my feet.

Gloves: 7mm neoprene gloves.

Jacket: Three windbreakers.

Pants: none

Pitstop #4
By now it was 3:15 a.m. All this time, I had been checking in on Facebook between laps. Amazingly, there were a ton of people that were actually still up and keeping tabs of us. This is where we learned that we were in 192nd position and I was 18th in my age group. A volunteer told me most of the tents were empty but still here because people were dropping but didn't have the energy to pack up their stuff. By this point we knew several things.  A lot of people were paying attention and were cheering us on. Very few people were out on the course. One more lap was going to move us up significantly in the standings.  My brother and I did the usual routine in the pits and got up to do it again. We never discussed quitting. We didn't have any more clothes to put on so we were stuck with the gear we had. I did, however, have a quaterback hand warmer tube that I brought along for lap five. It made all the difference in the world.  It was well below freezing now as the ground was freezing hard as well. Having grown up in MN we estimated it must by mid to high 20s. The ground doesn't freeze up when it is 32 degrees out.  My brother did lose his headlamp somewhere on lap 4. Being the cheapo that he is, he didn't want to take out his spare as he planned on returning it unopened. So he went without one. A Tough Mudder official told him to make sure he put it one as we left the pit area. He pretended to pull it out of his pocket and we sped off. It was too cold and the rules were too slack for them to disqualify him for lack of a headlamp.

Lap 5

This lap sucked. We started it around 4:00 or 4:30 a.m. (I don't really know) with the knowledge that the sun would be up before we finished it and it wasn't going to get any colder than it was when we started it.  I have to say that there was nothing fun about this lap. Nothing. We walked up to almost every obstacle and commented on how stupid, how lame, or how dumb it was. Then we overcame it. By now the simplest obstacle like "Kiss of Mud" (low crawl or roll under barb wire) was dreadful. As I rolled and rolled and rolled, I would stop every thirty feet or so to try to get my bearings. By the end of the obstacle I was so dizzy I was ready to puke. 

I am SO dizzy right now!

My brother's feet were freezing on this lap (and the previous one) so our strategy was to move from medical tent to medical tent and warm his feet for a few minutes each time. It turns out he wore the exact same model neoprene socks but his had a leak while mine were water tight. That seems to have made a difference even though water (or pee) would get in from the top. There were a half dozen zombies in each of the medical tents. Normally, I would get a good laugh out of other people's suffering but even that wasn't funny anymore. Nothing was funny.  We would spend maybe 5 or 10 minutes in the tent, long enough to get some warmth on our feet but not so long that our body furnaces would shut down too much. We knew the heated tents were a bad idea but we needed feet to walk on so I guess there wasn't much we could do at that point.

So we continued. We complained.  We made fun of our selves and our situation. We might have even talked about how stupid we were as we continued to press forward and overcome obstacles. In the medical tent before the rings obstacle, we saw the men's leader and eventual winner walk into the tent as we walked out. He was on lap #8 and he looked pretty rough. I say that, but he still ended up passing us a few minutes later. By then, it was getting lighter out and we spotted our sister who had just returned to continue watching her idiot brothers suffer. It was really cool having her out there watching us.

Midway through lap 5, right after my sister Cheryl found us. We reminded ourselves numerous times while out on the course to put something on our face to prevent windburn but never remembered to actually do it.

Soon we came up to Electric Eel again. By now it wasn't working because ice had built up enough on the wires to pull them down and into the water so it shorted itself out. Bummer. We continued to trudge through the remaining obstacles.

Crossing the pond in front of "Pirate's Booty" on lap five.

By the time we got to the tire drag obstacle, we saw the woman's leader (Amelia Boone) catching up to us.

She appeared to be in much better shape than the men's leader but at the time was maybe 30 minutes behind him? She almost ended up catching him though. Next up was the mud mile, a series of mud trenches that tend to take a good bit of energy to get through. Luckily, they weren't that bad for this course and even after five laps they were weren't that bad.

Finally, after 22 hours and 24 minutes, we crossed the finish line for the fifth and final time!

Total Time after five laps: 22 hours 24 minutes.

Position: 61 and 62 of 1097.


Wetsuit:5/4 wetsuit with 2mm neoprene vest over the top

Headwear: Neoprene hood.

Shoes: Roclite 318s

Socks: One pair of drymax calf length socks. 2mm neoprene socks. Goldbond foot powder / Vaseline on my feet.

Gloves: 7mm neoprene gloves.

Jacket: Three windbreakers.

Pants: None

Other: Quarterback hand warmer and headlamp.


So that was it. We were done.  We decided not to go out to attempt another.  While I am 90% confident we could have made it through another lap in time, we were done. We had proven what we needed to prove.  We decided being able to walk away unscathed was more important than an extra 20 or so places in the final standings and risking anything.  Besides that, I was tired and I am lazy. There were certainly people there to encourage us to continue...of course none of them had actually even completed one Tough Mudder lap in their life so I guess we kind of ignored them. :-)

I have had plenty of time to reflect on this whole thing. One thing I have to say is that the event was poorly organized. As one volunteer that worked through the whole thing said, "it is run by a bunch of kids, what do you expect?".  I won't go on about everything that was done poorly. It really doesn't matter at this point and Tough Mudder isn't known for their customer service so I wouldn't expect many changes anyway. Having said that, I had a great experience, I accomplished what I hoped to accomplish, and I am content. Have I looked back and asked myself if I should have gone for another lap? Of course! But I have no regrets. I went much further than I have ever travelled in my life on foot and I did it in some pretty harsh conditions. While I firmly believe almost anyone could do what I just did if they put their mind to it and put in the proper training, very few people can actually say they did. I am 43 years old and have never been in better shape in my life. Ever. Not even close. And the fact that I was able to walk away in great shape proves that. 

As to the future, at this point I don't know. I suppose I would consider doing the event again someday but only if I thought the event was going to be improved and only if I could assemble a team that had an honest chance at winning the team title (first place team did six laps in 23:15). It wouldn't have been much of a stretch to do even seven laps with a better strategy althoug I recognize it is nothing but talk unless one actually does it. Mentally, it would have been brutal.

As to what I would do differently if I were to do this again, the biggest change would be in our pit strategy. Like I said, we spent way too much time in the pits. Those 35-45 minute pit stops added up into enough time for an additional lap. Other than that, it seemed like we were, as my brother put it, one lap behind on our gear choices, meaning we didn't add the warmer gear fast enough. We never really got to the shivering stages though except while we were in the pits.

Training wise, I think the two days after the event tell the story. My body was almost entirely unscathed. I had some stiffness pretty much everywhere but nothing more than I have after any good crossfit workout...just pretty much all over. I had zero joint pain besides my hands. My hands were slightly swollen for two or three days. I should have spent some time strengthening my hands. Outside of my hands, I had some skin missing from behind my knees but I never noticed any rubbing during the entire race. I also had some mild chemical burns down my legs from peeing on myself for 24 hours but I was expecting that. From numerous Facebook posts and blog posts, it is obvious that many people weren't so lucky. Tons of people fell from Pirate's Booty and Balls to the Wall. One guy suffered Rhabdomyolysis and was hospitalized for three days after completing seven laps. One guy tore the exact same muscle in his chest as I did in Dallas and just had surgery.  And of course plenty of people were taken out by the cold.

Gear wise, I was 100% prepared. The weather got down to almost 10 degrees below what was forecast but our gear was good. As I mentioned, we should have put on more layers earlier but that is about it. My brother should have made sure his neoprene socks were watertight and I should have had some larger sized gloves to allow for my hands to swell. I put an enormous amount of effort into getting my gloves back on and between lap four and five I thought for a while that I was going to have to go out with just my mechanix gloves as they just wouldn't go back on.

I also want to thank all of the donors for "Debra and Ray's" adoption fund. I won't post how much we raised but I will say it was a significant amount of money and I was totally blown away at several people's generosity!

Finally, I have had three dreams about the event since then. Strange, uneventful dreams where I am just back in the race and dreading every step. Nothing scary, nothing worth mentioning really except that this stuff is still on my mind.  During the dream I realize I am dreaming and that I have other bigger things to do some day. Then I wake up. 

Time to buy an axe.