Hog Wild Mud Run 2012, A Review

23 Jul

There’s something to be said about a race. And a challenge.  A couple of years ago, I heard about the mud runs and I thought, how fun to try it sometime. Sometime came around on July 21st. This year, I saw the billboards, I received notice of the Hog Wild Mud Run via Florida Race Place Magazine,  Living Social, http://www.active.com and the last note came from my friend’s brother. He was doing a surprise run for his wife and the invite was the Hog Wild Mud Run.  He went above and beyond though, creating a team (the CleanFreaks) and providing the uniforms: the men were all Mr. Clean and the women were all Molly Maids. He even fed us a hearty breakfast. Good man, good husband. Just like my dear Jimmy.

We started out so cute and clean!

So, how much more fun could this mud run be? A group of people, dressed as a team, celebrating a birthday? No need to twist my arm. My husband was even excited to join in and there wasn’t a promise of free beer at the end. Yaa-hoooo!

I didn’t know what to truly expect, so we logged onto the website and took a massive gulp as I read through the obstacles. Those were some serious obstacles!

Suddenly, we were in the Running of the Bulls

Suddenly, we were transported to Spain for the Running of the Bulls.

1 – Hog wild style mud crawl: This part was truly accurate, first part of the race was practically a straight dive into mud. It was quite a slippery experience at the end and I ended up toppling over nearly face first into the mud. The surprising element we found was the bull that was running towards us. Suddenly we were in the running of the bulls. Real bull. Not bulls*. Quite scary and intimidating.
2 – Scale the wall: What wall? It was so tiny, I don’t remember my super-hero leap over it. Something like that.
3 – Good ol’ creek run!: After being caked in thick mud, being defeated by the first obstacle, the creek run felt quite refreshing and invigorating… until my imagination thought of what ickiness, creatures and possible alligators could be lurking in the dark, muddy, water. It wasn’t easy to get through as there were pot holes, a current, tree roots, and branches slowing you down even more. Even so, the cool water was a relief because of the sun’s heat and the humidity were off the charts.
4 – Wall #2, but only an 8 footer: The second wall was more up my ally because it was a straight up and down wall, and there were small ledges (think of a rock climbing wall) that I was able to use to hoist myself up and over the wall.  What I lack for in upper body strength I make up with my lower body. Of course, my husband was stationed at the top of the wall to provide assistance as necessary.
5 – Spider webs in the dark!: Thankfully not real spider webs and not in the dark. Quite simple compared to the first two and the only thing that slowed me down here was the wonderfully feminine Molly Maid costume.
6 – Wicked twin walls–hey who painted that???: By the time we hit this part, it was apparently clear that you can’t really run this race for the mere fact that once you get to the obstacle you’re backed up and you really can’t scooch to the front, unless you want to be a rude brute and knock people off the ropes. I did love the fact that strangers were rooting each other on and providing support. We were all quite a civilized bunch. I failed to complete scaling the wall because I lack the upper body strength. It wasn’t a straight wall either; it was more of a reverse staircase you had to climb over.

Birthday girl and her hubby tackled this one…so did my husband. Me, not so much. Damn you, skinny arms!

7 – You just got sandbagged!: Completed this one as well, but the bags were full of pebbles and quite heavy. Arms felt like jello, but no biggie.
8 – Tube slide–get in that pond!: I’m so glad there was a woman that warned us as we walked up to the tube about the depth of the pond. “Grab a tube or a noodle!” she suggested. She looked at me and said, “You may want to take off your dress.” I’m a team player so the dress removal was not an option, I contemplated removing my sneakers, but didn’t know at this point how treacherous the rest of the course would be. And if you know me through this blog, then you know I’m not the strongest swimmer, so I went ahead and grabbed a big, fat, inner tube and down I went through the slide and into the murky water below. It was deep, dark, and scary. Swimming wasn’t a real option because my dress and shoes weighed me down. I’m so glad there was a rope and I used that to pull myself through the pond. At this point I’m thinking about bacteria and germs and taking off my dress. I instead ditched the tube kept kicking and pulling and made it to the other end. So glad to be on land again!
9 – Barrel Cross. An easy glide over the barrel to the other side of the pond… Oh wait, maybe not. You have to do this in the water!
10 – Farmer’s surprise!!! – This is where the spectators get to have their fun. Watch for flying objects!: We didn’t get slammed by spectators and I’m not even quite sure where this one came in…unless it was the part were we had a bull on one side and a cow on the other and we forged ahead praying neither one would decided to charge.
11 – Slippery slope – Trying to get out of the creek is not easy task here.: Small slope. Again, the only difficulty was the extra weight I had on me with the dress. Accomplished without much of a hassle.
12 – “The trash compactor” – Climbing this is the start of a 4-in-1 obstacle that will test your limits.: Pretty simple on the women’s side. Plenty of men were just using the women’s side and one fellow in line behind me said, “I’m dyslexic, it says NEW to me.” The men’s side only had the rope and no ledges.  I made it to the top without a problem, but was little intimidated to jump to the hay bale below. I really didn’t want to end up with a broken ankle. I did it though!
13 – Cargo climb – Maneuver these nets and keep going.: What can I say…not a problem. It’s exactly what you think it is.
14 – That funky monkey – Monkey bar your way out of this one!: This one on the other hand, NOT! As I mentioned earlier, I have no upper body strength and I had already mentioned to my husband that I most likely won’t complete this obstacle. When we got to the monkey bars it was clearly apparent I wasn’t even going to try this bad boy. The monkey bars were a set up like a triangle, so you had to pull yourself up and over to the point on one side and then bring yourself down on the other. From what I saw, it looked like 98% of the people bypassed this one.
15 – Ice crawl – The finale to the 4-in-1 will chill you to the bone, but you will heat up with what’s to come.: This one didn’t make it or it melted all away before we got there. From what I understand, the ice melted before we got there and our team decided to hop into the pit for a pig-nified photo opportunity.

Better known as the Pig Pen

This was the menacing ‘ice pit’ melted and defeated by the Florida Sun.

16 – Mogul run – “How many hills are there?” Asks your legs!: Tough and slippery but completed.
17 – Car climb – Over the cars and through the woods to the finale we go!: I was expecting actual cars, but what we sadly found were tires that weren’t even laid out properly and other tires hanging down from the ropes. Sorry excuse for an obstacle.

17.5 The NASTIEST MUD PIT OF ALL: This one wasn’t even mentioned on the website, perhaps it was an accidental obstacle. It was thick, and menacing, and it sucked down my foot, my husbands knee brace and several other objects. I kept thinking, “The Pit of Despair,” from the Princess Bride movie.
18 – Giant water slide! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Plop, plop, plop!: Ahhhh, water! Done!
19 – Kiss of death! – Kiss the mud and stay low… barbed wire and live electric wires will hover your body through this entire mud crawl to the finish!
20 – The BBQ – Run through fire and try not to become the farmer’s lunch!: This must of been a figment of someone’s imagination because there was no fire. Granted, I was quite concerned about this one so I had put my hair up in pigtails in preparation. No fire, so all good.

21 – Barbed-wire crawl: We had to do the military crawl under the barb wire towards the end. My hair got stuck in the barbwire, but thankfully my hubby was there to save me and set me free and we got through the crawl unscathed.

 The race was fun and disgusting as we felt that we were trudging through mud and manure, most of the time. I saw a couple of people getting sick on the sidelines.
What are the cons? Some obstacles were dangerous and there were no apparent safety measures or race volunteers/workers to provide aid or safety precautions. If you run this race on your own you may find yourself hurt. My husband saw a girl being driven away with a splint on her arm, apparently broken or fractured.  In addition, there were no cold water stations. We came across one only that served us cups of hot water. I kid you not, hot water. The second we came across was towards the end and it was abandoned and had no available water.
The lines were long for participants who waited to pick up their bag and numbers. I read on the Facebook page how someone complained about getting a sunburn while waiting on line and another one complained about missing the heat because of the length of time waiting on line. Listen here participants: WE LIVE IN FLORIDA! Wear sunscreen. And though I agree the organizers needed more organization and volunteers, most would have circumvented the 2-hour lines if they would have picked up their packets at The Running Store the day before.
Another disappointment, was making it through all the challenges then having to receive an IOU for our participant medals. I want my medal. Seriously, how could an organization pre-sell 2,000+ spots to the race and then not have enough medals, or cold water? OK, I’m really irritated about the lack of water.
The race was $79 unless you bought the Living Social deal at $39. In any case the race was ill-equipped of water, volunteers, and safety measures. The “Swine Bag” consisted only of a race shirt, flyers, coupons, and one drink ticket. ONE drink ticket. Too much money for what we got.
I like that the funds, exactly how much is unclear, goes to benefit the Tampa Police Mounted Patrol. I like to support our boys in blue be it on horse, car, bike, or Segway.
This is a race that needs to be run with a group, for back-up, support and safety reasons and you have to stick together. Do it for the challenge, the memory, the experience and  not the fastest time completion. If you plan to run this race in the future, be prepared: weight gloves, goggles, light sneakers, bring a cooler with ice water, and bring cash for the food trucks and definitely bring a friend or two to spectate so they can hold your cash!

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If you don’t have a strong stomach, skip it. My husband and I enjoyed it thoroughly and would do it again,  maybe not this one exactly but another mud run. We like to challenge each other. I need to do another one to feel satisfied.  Yeah, I’m looking at those two obstacles I didn’t complete.

Oldsmar Beer Run 2012- My Review

29 Jun

Everyone knows I was so excited to do the Oldsmar 5k Beer run again. I was well aware the host was now the House of Brews, but didn’t really expect that to affect the race.

It poured something awful, but there was a group of hardcore believers in completing the race that ran it. In the rain. I was one of them.

I drove out there and gosh darn it a little, ok, a LOT of rain wasn’t going to deter me. I read a comment from a woman who opted not to run and called those that did crazy for risking their lives. Apparently there was lighting, but honestly I only saw it once during the run and not at all before I took to the sloshy street.

Also, I’m halfway to dead already so if my time card was going to be punched in the big clock in the sky then so be it. At least I would go out enjoying myself.

Let me get the bad out of the way. House of Brews didn’t seem as friendly a host to the event as the Oldsmar Taphouse was last year. They cancelled all their drink specials and the atmosphere in there just wasn’t as friendly and jovial as it was last year. Far fewer people hung out in there vs last year, so we ended spending our time meeting new friends. Outside. In the rain.

Granted the organizers have no control over mother nature and the downpour that ensued thus requiring the official cancellation of the race, but I feel that some consideration should have been provided to those that accepted the cancellation and left; I mean they should have provided a credit of some type for next year. I heard complaints from runners that it was a complete financial loss to them. I don’t know if that’s changed.

There were a lot of people that didn’t show up and I wonder if the shirts that were suddenly on sale belonged to the no shows?

Another thing that bothered me is that those who ran and met the criteria for winning das boot should have gotten it. The organizers decided to save them for next year. Seemed a little inconsiderate.

These are points that were discussed with other runners throughout the evening, so I’m just sharing our thoughts and feedback.

Let me clarify though, this was still an extremely fun run, even with the little negative marks this year. We made some new friends, and still had our Sierra beer and our Tijuana Flats. Most vendors seemed to shut down with cancellation announcement or soon thereafter, so I didn’t get to shop the booths.

The race shirt this year was much nicer and comfortable for running. I love the ” If you tap it, they will come” quote on the shirt. Though I admit, I ran in my Night Sight Apparel shirt because I love that it glows in the dark. I’m saving my Oldsmar Beer Run shirt for one of my weekly runs. I will wear it proudly.

Continuing the tradition we started last year, we were about the last ones to leave because we were enjoying the company of the participants. You really can’t beat the group of people you’ll meet at this race. There are some characters straight out of a sitcom you’ll meet. There was a lot of laughter, photo bombing, athletic prowess ( push up competition) and even keg stands this year. Seriously, what’s there not to love?

If you’re not willing to take a loss next year then just wait to sign up on race day. I still enjoyed my time and will definitely be back next year. Hope to meet you there!


Tropical Storm Debby

24 Jun

Last day of vacation and Debby crashed the party all over Tampa Bay, specifically here at Sand Key and Clearwater beaches.

Howling winds, sheets of rain, and plenty of flooding. Looks like we’re stuck for another day.

The car wouldn’t start too. Looks like I may need to swim my way out if here.

Let’s let the pictures do the talking.











My Love-Hate Relationship

21 Jun

Our vacation week at the condo in Sand Key seems to be my only real solid week of learning how to swim.

At this rate, I’ll be 80 before I can complete a 400. Something’s got to change.

Bottom-line, I need more time that I can devote to attending the Y and getting my proper coaching. Ok, so that may be at retirement age not 80.

On the bright side I am a teensy bit better. I still, for the life of me can’t seem to get the breathing right.

I feel very disappointed in myself, but I try not to dwell on that. My swimming is a work in progress.

I need to remind myself that I did go from basically no exercise, after having my children, to successfully running 5k races like Gasparilla and the Oldsmar run and my first 8k at Gasparilla last February 2012 and consistently running 3 to 9 miles at a time. That should count for something.

I’m even eating so much better. I used to be a victim to last minute lunches and giving in to a quickie drive through visits at McDonalds or Burger King. Now, I always keep a snack, like granola bars around and if I need to stop for quickie lunch I opt for good old Subway.

I have the taste buds of a 2 year old, so I do need to find some other healthy snacks that can be thrown in my purse. I do pack carrots, or grapes or apples for a mid-morning snack at work. This also is a huge improvement over say, chips or a Snickers bar. I do love me my chocolate!

A step at a time!

All in all I think I’m more fit and healthier now then I was a couple of years ago. Let’s see if my doctor agrees when I go in for my annual exam.




Oldsmar 5K Beer Run

15 May

Oldsmar 5K Beer Run Last year I accidentally discovered how much fun an evening run could be. I discovered the Oldsmar 5K Beer Run, formerly known as the Oldmar Taphouse 5K.  This year, I can’t wait to do it all again!

So how much do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1. THE COURSE: Last year, I was deathly afraid, I was going to get lost or trip in the dark. Thankfully, the course is flat and has only one turn and it’s clearly marked. For someone who’s directionally challenged, that really had my stomach in knots.

2. THE RACING STRATEGY: Oh the website says it best, “Run for 30 minutes and drink for 2 1/2 hours.”  The strategy itself, was the only reason, I was able to get my dear husband to (mostly) run his first 5k. In addition, I truly love that the first 50 females and 50 males win das boot. Such a cool a little touch.

3. BONDING: Spending time with my hubs, friends and meeting a group of new people was great. This race fueled all our passions for running and there was a large group of us that talked and laughed and drank straight through to  midnight.

What sucks? The parking. According to the website, park in the areas below:

  1. Oldsmar Library 300 ST Petersburg Drive East Oldsmar, FL 34677
  2. Oldsmar City Hall 100 State St W Oldsmar FL 34677
    (Several lots available)
  3. Parking east on Washington and Lee streets

What we did and suggest, is to carpool and set the rule: Last one to the finish line is the Designated Driver! Makes for some great trash-talking in the beginning and motivation during the race.

So, I cordially invite you to run and drink with me on June 8, 2012 at 7pm. See you at the House of Brews, the start and end point of the Oldsmar 5K Beer Run.


Bang, Bang, Spring

13 Mar

Oh, if I could have enjoyed the high of the Gasparilla 5k + 3 a little longer. Sigh.  Aside from still feeling sick, on Saturday, March 10th I got into a three-car accident. Bang! Bang!

Commence the headache…straight through Tuesday, as I sit here and write this post. I went to  the doctor and got a prescription for an apparent sinus infection and a recommendation for Claritin-D for the allergies that have apparently aggravated my state of well being. Bang! Bang! Knocking out two problems at once.

I also went to the chiropractor and found that the head banging in the car caused a little jam at the base of my skull, hence the headache. As per doctor’s orders, I am not to run for four-weeks. Four. Freaking. Weeks. Bang! Bang! Squared.

The weather’s getting so pretty and I was hoping this never-ending cold would dissapate and I could get back on track to increasing my distance and improving my pace. I’m really eager to get myself ready for a half-marathon. I find it kind of intimidating and frightening. Nonetheless, I know if I don’t follow doctor’s orders then my chances are definitely going to dwindle in my accomplishing this particular New Year’s Resolution.

I was hoping to stay away from taking any medication. I was working all the natural solutions: honey, lemon, ginger tea and rest. OK, I lie about the rest because I’ve been suffering from insomnia. What other natural solutions are out there? I even tried the white vinegar gargle for the throat ache. Let me tell you how extremely foul that is: it’s like an army of teenage boys wearing AXE pulling all your tastebuds out and putting them in their armpits. With that being said,  I do think it helped clear up some of the throat issues.

Now that we’ve sprung foward and I can’t take advantage of the extra light at night to run, it had me thinking. A spontaneous idea sprung. Why not take the kids to see the sunset this evening? I texted my husband…pick up Little Cesar’s Pizza and drinks and I’ll meet you with the kids. My kids are 14 and 7. Time is going so fast and soon my teenager will be gone and out of the house. 

I feel like there won’t be much more family-time, so I need to capture our moments and help facilitate some childhood memories these sisters can look back on. I feel we’re always on such a rush and a limited time-line that we rarely get to appreciate the natural beauty that exist in the Tampa Bay area.

Tonight was my hop off the train tracks night. My stop and smell the roses.

Take the time to step out of your own life and explore and find something new to love and appreciate. Today we discovered Cypress Point Beach & Park. I loved it. I’m wondering what else I can discover this spring?

Cypress Point Beach & Park is at the end of Cypress Blvd. It’s definitely a hidden gem. You actually drive through an office complex to get to it. You’ll find shelters, grills, restrooms, a small trail you can jog on (it’s less than a mile)and they even have a canoe launch. Of course, you can also jump into the ocean and swim.

We enjoyed our pizza, made a sandcastle pyramid and took photos of the sunset. There were no plans or timeframe to abide by. We just….existed. We lived in the right now. What a surprising and sweet little discovery.

Tonight, with the beautiful sunset and a breezy night, I am content that the rest of my Spring definitely start off with a bang and a burst of color, and yet more discoveries.

Enjoy the photos.


Gasparilla 5k+3 Review

4 Mar

My first ever Gasparilla 5k+3 was quite an adventure.


Earlier in the week, I awoke with a scratchy throat. That tickle and cough. The tightening of the chest. All signs I was heading for a cold. I did my best eating right and downing vitamins in hopes of being 100% for Gasparilla Sunday, March 4th. Well, that didn’t quite pan out. See yesterday’s post, Twas the Night Before Gasparilla.

I even had a great dinner of multi-grain pasta and vegetables. It was absolutely delicious and I had no idea eating healthy could taste this good.

As a good little runner, I should have gone to bed, but nooooo. I was sneezing and coughing and reports of a major rainstorm to hit during the race was making me nervous. Anyway, I ended up writing yesterday’s post because I was inspired by the scratch in my throat and the cough.

Then I went to bed.

And had the worst night of sleep. Ever.

Maybe it was the fact that my husband was off being a great daddy and chaperoning a Girl Scout camp with our 7-year-old daughter.

Maybe it was that I had to get up and blow my nose.


The first time I awoke was at three in the morning. First thought: Damn, it’s time to get up.

First sound: The leaves of the trees whipping and the rain pounding on the windows. Second thought: It’s here, maybe it’ll be done by the start of the race.

I continued to wake up every 45 minutes to an hour feeling progressively sicker each time I opened my eyes. The last time was at 6:06am. I was seeing lighting, hearing the howling of the wind, chimes going crazy, contiuous taps on the windows from the pellets of rain slamming again them. “Crap,” I thought, “I’m going to get soaking wet and end up with pnemonia.” Then, “My mom is going to kill me.” Anyone with a Hispanic mother, knows what I’m talking about.

I didn’t go back to bed at that point.

By the time I walked out the door, the clouds were there, but the rain had ceased for the moment. Maybe, just maybe I thought the weatherman was wrong. Don’t they tend to be wrong 80% of the time?

I met up with one of my best friends, Ann, who flew down from D.C. to run Gasparilla with me. She in turned convinced her boyfriend, Dre to run as well. Heading downtown, we were making our plans. The clouds looked menacing and ominous. We had all packed extra clothes to change into after the race. We were prepared to take on the weather.

One of the funny moments of the morning was Dre deciding wheter to wear his rainjacket or not. He put it on. Took it off. Put it on. Ultimately he decided to keep it off. Rain be damned!

We checked in our bags, which is a great service provided. I love that they use your running bib number to identify your bag for pick up. There’s no way anyone was going to loose their bibs.  Then off we went to find the start.

As we walked towards the start we saw the last of the Half-Marathoners coming in. How triumphant. Soon. I’ll be there soon.

What did I say about the weatherman? 80% wrong, right?  We’re feeling the wind and watching the clouds and what do we see? The sun trying to peek out! Yes! Come on baby, just burn through those clouds and keep us dry. I just had to say a little prayer to keep that rain away. Between the cooler air and gusts of winds, I don’t know if I would have survived a rainstorm.

With the rain problem moving to the backburner, we spotted the pace runners holding their little white signs. My objective, as I shared with Ann and Dre, was to stay with the 10:30 for as long as possible and definitely don’t let the 11:00 pass us by!  Thank goodness these guys are there, but wouldn’t it be a pain to have to run with one of those signs the whole time?

Three minutes to start and I send out my tweet. I have my phone and my ziplock bag, just in case it rains. And we’re off! If I were calling a horse race between us, it would have been…”Arlene shoots out of the gate and is in the lead keeping the 10:30 sign in sight well into the second mile. Dre sneaking up in the rear, and what is this? He darts ahead, now Arlene is trailing and Ann somewhere close behind. Will they do it? Can they finish this race in under an hour ladies and gentleman? The turn just up ahead and Dre is still in the lead, with Arlene right behind and Ann is closing in. Just past the fake 4-mile marker (which help me boost up my run somewhat) Ann closes in. Arlene and Ann are Nike knee to knee. Soon Arlene is falling behind. It’s Dre in first, Ann in second and Arlene in third…”

And that’s the way it stayed until the finish line. I’m so grateful for the lack of rain, the volunteers with water and Gatorade, the spectators that cheered us on and especially my friends for doing this with me.

We all finished in under an hour: Dre with 52.22, Ann with 53.13 and 54:16 for me. With my tight chest and cough, I was still feeling good about coming in under an hour.

I love that the race is so well organized. I love the sponsors that participate. Big shout out to Columbia Restaurant for offering those black beans. They were delicious and I swear I’m coming in for a dinner soon. I took a sample of the 5-hour Energy. I’ve never had it before and want to give it a try to see how it works for me. I may become a new consumer.

I skipped the bagel, but had the fruit and some more Gatorade. I was really looking forward to having my Mich Ultra, but alas, the truck wouldn’t serve until 11am. That was my only disappointment. We didn’t have the time to really wait until 11am, so boo on that one.

The Gasparilla 5k+3 shirt by Nike is beyond awesome. Kudos on the design, the feel and the quality of the shirt. I’ll be wearing this shirt alot.

Great job to the producers and volunteers of Gasparilla. A job well done and we’re already planning on coming back next year. Dre wants to cut 2-minutes off his time. I want to be 100% healthy and like Ann, maybe we can do the 5K and the 5K+3 next year? Of course, we’d all have to cut some time, so keep an eyeout for the Triple A Team.