Exercise update: Alive and mostly intact

I survived! Worship me, I am a Colossus!

Obviously I’m not, but since I got over the line I’m going to at least pretend that I’m a physical god for the next 24 hours or so. Don’t worry, it’ll wear off.

I’ll be honest, it didn’t start well. Tall flatmate and broad flatmate were in charge of buying food for a big carb-loading dinner, and bought beef burritos instead, which was a ridiculous choice really and I’m going to call them out on it. They also decided to make a pasta salad, a la Nigella, to act as pre and post race fuel. I refused to touch it given that it was based on tuna and sweetcorn, two of the most inherently evil foods on the planet, but by all accounts it was almost inedible. We also had no proper means of transporting the 1kg of it we made, so broad flatmate had to lug it round the event site in a large mixing bowl, prompting odd looks and arm cramps. Poor form.

We met up with some workmates at the start line and it was heartening to find that they were bricking it as much as we were. Tall flatmate almost pulled out at the last minute due to a complete lack of training compounded by contracting what might actually be AIDS in the buildup to the race and spending all of Friday night vomiting. In his own words, “If my head goes below my heart it will fall off.”

As with the last event I did the warmup almost killed me, so 13 miles wasn’t entirely appealing in truth.

I think the course could be summed up in the following three words: Sadism, pain, distance. All three were to be found in abundance, but there was a good smattering of fun involved too.

Overall we ploughed through 15 zones. After a mile jog down to the opening one, our first instruction from the marshals was: “Pick a car. Now climb through it.” This rather set the tone for what was to come.

Didn't even steal it.

Didn’t even steal it.

In the next zone, we had to climb through a half inflated bouncy structure and then found a rugby team waiting the other side with pads to batter us. Light comic relief was provided by one rugby person who was too fat to chase us and had to politely ask for us to run at him. We then encountered a straight 10ft wall to navigate, which I effectively ran straight into and bounced off. One of the marshals had to give me a leg up. In my high heart rate delirium I told her I loved her, and meant it.

Tall flatmate was starting to struggle, understandably, by mile 3, and was being shepherded by broad flatmte. So I gallantly ditched them both and pushed on with a quicker group of friends. This really sums me up as a person.

The water zones were ridiculous. The first one was fine, through a reservoir about waist deep. The aptly named ‘Wipeout’ zone was a bit more of a slog. We had to wade through about half a mile of lake which was neck deep at the shallowest, through 2 or 3 feet of silt and other gunk, which was properly draining. Thankfully some of the big inflatables had blown over so we didn’t have to do them, otherwise I would have added my own hot tears to the lake’s plentiful water supply. Then we had to jump off a big platform about 15ft above the water – I executed this rather too well and almost didn’t surface. The final water zone about 11.5 miles in was a real struggle – by this point my body was no longer my friend so I had to rely on the kindness of strangers to grab me by the arse and chuck me over some of the higher obstacles to save me from flopping like a dying salmon.

By mile 10 broad flatmate had also gallantly ditched tall flatmate, caught us and overtaken us. He’s not human.

By mile 11 my legs were fucked. I’ve not run more than 10k ever, so it felt like running through treacle after so much punishment and I guess I was jogging at walking pace.

The last mile was dreamt up by somebody who should be in prison. They put the three toughest zones right next to each other at the finish. I stacked it on one of the sprint ramps (think that thing from Gladiators they have to do at the end) and received encouraging jeers from the watching crowd. Then there was the world records zone.

This included 110m of monkey bars – I managed 2 before slipping off, I blame wet hands as opposed to a chronic lack of strength. The forfeit was to climb over about 150 interlocked barriers shaped in a zig-zag, the kind they have at gigs and events where they close roads, each about 4ft high. After 12.5 miles that was a real killer. Then there was the world’s largest wall of hay bales, which was actually quite fun because I climbed it next to a man dressed as Thor, complete with hammer.

The last obstacle was monster – a big structure of half pipes and 6ft walls that you had to scale before hitting the finish line. A random Welsh bloke gave me a helping hand on those so I’m eternally grateful to him.

And that was that! Over the finish line, pouring with rain, legs no longer working.

13 miles, 150 obstacles, all done.

Overall time was officially 3:46 but we probably lost about half hour to bottlenecking and queuing for obstacles.

This morning, after 14 hours sleep and a steak, I feel moderately ok, but haven’t got out of bed yet. I tested one leg a few minutes ago and it wasn’t pretty. I do get the feeling ingesting so much lake water might not have been good for me.

Never thought I’d say this but it was brilliant fun. I encourage everyone to get involved in this kind of thing because it’s just such a unique experience.

I’ll try and get some photos up in due course so you can laugh at me falling over things.

Going for another nap now…

P.S. I hope literally everybody else in the world had fun at the Rugby Sevens yesterday, you luck, luck bastards.

 

Help! I’ve taken exercise!

Dear Doctor,

I took a heavy dose of exercise yesterday and am presenting symptoms of extreme pain, reduced movement and a mild sense of pride and self-fulfilment. I admit to dabbling with exercise in my teens, and I have to say that it was widely available at school, but my past experiences indicate that I might well be dangerously allergic to it.

Am I going to die?

Best regards,

Mark

That may sound melodramatic, largely because it is, but allow me to elaborate slightly. Shortly before Christmas an email went round at work asking people to sign up for an ‘adventure race’ in May. Not really bothering to read the details I immediately put my name down. Great outdoors, bunch of mates, camping, bit of larking about, how hard could it be?

Some weeks later I read some of the informational blurb about the event. If you want a really good, soul-cleansing laugh at my expense then have a look here. Maybe watch the little video at the start. They use encouraging phrases like ‘world’s biggest assault course’ and ‘totally apocalyptic’ and ‘certainly more than a marathon’. For the more concise version, this sheep sums up the event quite nicely.

In short, I’m fucked. Those of you who know me personally will understand how much I am not built for strength or endurance events. Those that don’t should understand that I am NOT BUILT FOR STRENGTH OR ENDURANCE EVENTS.

My diet consists largely of cheese and mini kievs, interspersed with crisps. My daily routine involves sitting on a tube, sitting at a desk, sitting on another tube, lounging on the sofa and then having a well-deserved lay down. I’m a horizontal person. The vertical is foreign to me.

This is pretty much as active as I get.

This is pretty much as active as I get.

I’m also skinny. My arms are like thin wisps of cloud. I’ve seen dead cats with bigger biceps than me. If I try to run I become light-headed shortly after I start thinking about running and have to sit down with a large camembert to bring myself around. The only bulky area of my entire torso is currently my stomach, as a direct result of every single one of my lifestyle choices. I’m a skinny fat person. Everybody knows one.

So, in an effort to avoid certain death in May, I have enlisted my friend and colleague Deepak as my personal trainer. We had our first session yesterday. Deepak’s a great guy, but one of the things I have recently learnt about him is that he is criminally insane and possibly fundamentally evil. As I lay in a crumpled, weeping heap on the gym floor trying to work out if all my limbs were still attached he appraised me with a cool gaze and remarked that I’d done well because I’d pushed myself to failure.

I pushed myself to nothing. He pushed me to failure. I would have been happy doing one chest press. Not 10. Certainly not 3 sets of 10. Definitely not 3 sets of 10 interspersed with arm rows. Absolutely not the aforementioned plus about 4 other weird and wonderful torture methods. And some boxing.

Deepak has put me through one 45 minute session. Today I can barely fucking move. I’m typing this with my teeth. I’m going to bed and it’s 9pm. My muscles have gone on strike and been replaced by fire. I’m still wearing a t-shirt because my arms won’t go above my head.

He’s trying to kill me. I thank him for it.

Oddly, I’ve agreed that this can occur twice a week for at least 5 months, plus some running and cycling and swimming and badminton and dodgeball and climbing. I will keep you all updated with doubtless hilarious tales of my own ineptitude and physical agony. All I ask is that you eat a large tub of ice cream every time you read these posts, so that at least one of us is enjoying ourselves.

I’m scared.