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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Challenge Yourself

Helping Hand

My wife and I ran in the Spartan Race, as some of you know. When we signed up for Warrior Dash last year, we were in much better shape. School and work did not afford us the time needed to properly train for the Spartan Race, but we decided to challenge ourselves and run it anyway. It inspired us to try harder to FIND the time for our fitness goals. I challenge you to do the same.

The race started with a 5ft wall and then a nice little run before any obstacles. I guess this gives the more intense racers a chance to get ahead of the rest of us. The rest of the obstacles are kind of a blur due to the mud, sweat, and tears in my eyes. However there is a list of what I do remember overcoming. (in no real order)

Barbed wire crawl: a crawl through mud under barbed wire. Participants must stay low to the ground as to not get injured by the wire. Crawls range from 20-100+ yards in length. The wire crawl has appeared in every Spartan Race to date. Our length was about 40 yards, if I had to guess (which I do).This was not as challenging to me as it seemed to be to some of the other racers.

Over-Under-Through: a series of obstacles in which runners must first climb over a wall, then under a wall, then through a tire or square hole placed in a wall. This obstacle is often repeated three or more times in a row and appears in almost every Spartan Race.This was not really an obstacle at all. We handled it easily without losing much pace. I think it was put there simply to break the monotony of mud, and I was thankful for the respite.

Spear throw: from a distance of 10-20 yards, athletes must throw a wooden spear into a target. If the spear does not stick, a penalty of 30 burpees is assigned. The spear throw is present at every Spartan Race with the exception of state parks that do not allow weapons. Typically, the spear throw is near the end of the race. First of all, Burpees suck BAD, especially at the end of a taxing race. Make sure you sink the spear throw or you will burn yourself out on the big bad burpees. My manliness (don’t laugh) did not like the fact that my spear did not stick and my muscles followed suit. In my defense, it was more like throwing a floundering gig than an actual spear but still…

Wall climb: as the name suggests, runners must climb over a wooden wall. Walls range from 4-8 feet and are often in sequence. This obstacle may be repeated throughout the course. There again, not really much to write about. It is a wall and you have to climb over it.

Object carry: A signature obstacle, the object carry is often the most challenging. In a Spartan Sprint, this obstacle typically appears once. In a Super Spartan, twice; in a Beast, three times or more. The object to be carried may be a tire, rock-filled bucket, or sandbag. Both the bucket and sandbag weight between 30 and 70 pounds. Men must carry heavier objects than women. We had to carry a sandbag which weighed about 30 lbs and we also had to carry a concrete wad that weighed about 70 lbs. The sandbag was not really a challenge, even though we had to carry it much farther than the heavier weight. The heavy concrete mass was awkward to grab and this was compounded by the massive amounts of mud caked all over our hands. This slowed us down a bit, but we powered through it.

Herculean Hoist: athletes must hoist a cement block or heavy bucket off the ground using a pulley system. This obstacle is similar to the “lat-pull” exercise machine, but is more difficult because the rope is often muddy and slippery. This obstacle seemed to be a challenge for some of the other racers, but I was able to get it quickly and without exhausting too much energy. I guess working in an asphalt plant has its advantages.

Traversal Wall: the traversal wall is similar to a bouldering wall. This obstacle was ridiculously unfair. All of the footholds and handholds were covered in mud. I imagine the first racers had a nice clean path, but by the time we ran it was crazy slick. Needless to say, we had burpees to do. My stamina wept.

Slippery Wall: a wall built at an incline (roughly 45 degrees) that is covered in soap or grease. Runners may try to sprint up the wall or use a rope for assistance. We had the luxury of a rope, so this was not very challenging.

Rope Climb: A rope is hung over a body of water/mud with a bell installed at the very top. Participants must “ring the bell” before climbing down. My wife had the great idea of holding the bottom of rope still while I climbed and this helped me ascend quickly and ring the bell. I will say, though, that a muddy rope will still burn your hands.

Fire jump: participants leap over flames. This obstacle is typically at the beginning or end of a race. The fire jump has appeared in nearly every Spartan Race, though certain venues do not allow fire. We had fire, but it was not very intense. Not that I expected an inferno or anything, but it was easy to jump over. This was right toward the end of the race and the finish line was in sight, so that probably inspired me to greater heights.

Gladiator Arena: before the finish line, athletes must pass through the “gladiators” who try to knock down runners using their pugil sticks. These guys were tired of hitting little pieces of crap like me, so they barely even tried… until I tried to put a spin move on them (summoned my inner AP). Then the guy got mad, or his steroids got angry for my attempted dodge and he swung at the back of my head. Glancing blow.

We had a really good time, and I highly suggest that you give it a shot. We were proud to finish, and most importantly we decided that we wanted to start back up on our running.

PS: get a fitbit, this little device has immediately become an integral part of my day to day. I will post a more detailed review at a later date.

Barbed

FITBIT

Fitbit

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Posted by on October 30, 2013 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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Bludgeoning Damage 1d6

I would love to enthrall and regale you with a wondrous tale about how I was battling orcs and driving them from my land and family. The truth is that I forgot to take the hammer off the top of my ladder before moving it. THUNK!!!

IMG_6711

The next character I create for a story will, no doubt, wield a mace or a hammer. Bludgeoning damage is no joke. Trust me, I felt the wrath of a tiny hammer falling a few feet.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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Costume Party

Trinh and I went to a costume party after the Spartan Race on Saturday. We were both crazy sore, but had a great time playing dress up.

Costumes

We are looking forward to taking our little man out on Halloween. He is dressing up as Robin, and it is super cute. What are your plans for Halloween? What great costumes do you have planned?

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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This is Sparta

Spartan Race

My wife and I ran in the Spartan Race in MS on Saturday. We had a wonderful time crawling through the mud together. Running the race as a team was the right choice; we needed one another to get through certain obstacles. The Spartan Race was set up better than the Warrior Dash, in my opinion. The obstacles were harder, and utilized different skill sets such as a spear throw. I was surprised at how easily I handled the strength events. Working in my asphalt plant for so many years has made me strong, apparently.

I am ready for an obstacle run that doesn’t rely so heavily on the element of mud. I have been looking at this run, the alpha warrior http://www.alphawarrior.com/. The Alpha Warrior is next on my list.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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Analysis of Poetry Paper

Naphtha1

by

Frank O’Hara

 

Ah Jean Dubuffet2

when you think of him

doing his military service in the Eiffel Tower3

as a meteorologist

in 1922

you know how wonderful the 20th century

can be

and the gaited Iroquois4 on the girders

fierce and unflinching-footed

nude as they should be

slightly empty

like Sonia Delaunay5

there is a parable of speed

somewhere behind the Indians’ eyes

they invented the century with their horses

and their fragile backs

which are dark

 

we owe a debt to the Iroquois

and to Duke Ellington6

for playing in the buildings when they are built

we don’t do much ourselves

but fuck and think

of the haunting Metro7

and the one who didn’t show up there

while we were waiting to become part of our century

just as you can’t make a hat out of steel

and still wear it

who wears hats anyway

it is our tribe’s custom

to beguile8

 

how are you feeling in ancient September

I am feeling like a truck on a wet highway9

how can you

you were made in the image of god

I was not

I was made in the image of a sissy truck-driver10

and Jean Dubuffet painting his cows

“with a likeness burst in the memory”11

apart from love (don’t say it)

I am ashamed of my century

for being so entertaining

but I have to smile12

1Naphtha is petroleum based chemical, and is one of the lightest and most volatile of the petroleum based fractions. Frank O’Hara uses this as the title for his poem which could easy be seen as volatile in the way that it makes us take a look at the things which we contribute to society. O’Hara starts the poem by asking us to think of Jean Dubuffet and to consider the simple art for which he became famous. This immediately allows us to feel comfortable in whatever sort of art we can offer, for this is the beauty offered by “art brut”. O’Hara then continues to show us the heights we can achieve, if only we have the courage to climb. Certainly, the natives were not familiar with the tools and fundamental architecture needed to create the wondrous skyscrapers; however, they had bravery and were open-minded enough to learn the craft. After this, O’Hara brings us back to another artist, Sonia Delaunay, who was famous for creating Orphism. Neither Delaunay nor Dubuffet seemed to be particularly masterful in their art. I believe that O’Hara used these two artists for that very reason. He wanted to show us that anyone can contribute to the status of our age. Then, O’Hara pulls the trigger on his message. He references, once again, the native people but this time adds Duke Ellington to the list of contributors. No longer are we dealing with artists without skill. Ellington raises the bar, and then O’Hara lets us know how grossly we have underachieved. He shows us the trifling things that distract us from giving something more to society as a whole. We are so wrapped up in our temporal relations and the grind of the day to day that we miss out on so many opportunities to become something greater. No, we do not have much desire to contribute or become something more; for it has become our destiny to lead others through our deceit. O’Hara understands that we have become something that can contribute little more than simple entertainment. Then, just after he has made us feel like uneducated and unmotivated sloths, O’Hara lets us off the hook. Even though he is disappointed in us and with himself, he has to smile at the entertainment we bring.

 

2Jean Dubuffet was a French artist who coined the phrase art brut, which translates “raw art”. It is no surprising, then, that O’Hara would reference this particular artist who was basically unprofessional in his work to help drive home the point of his shame in our century. Dubuffet’s art is often regarded as primitive or child-like.

 

3The first regular radio broadcasts of the “spoken news” began transmission from the tower in 1922.

 

4During the Industrial Revolution, it was discovered that the Native Americans were natural born bridge men. They had no fear of heights and were sure-footed as goats on the lofty beams overlooking the city.

 

5Sonia Delaunay, with the help of her husband, created a style of art called Orphism. This art used bold colors and simple geometric shapes.

 

6Duke Ellington was a jazz composer and leader of big band music. His musical career spanned over 50 years. He was awarded The Pulitzer Prize posthumously in 1999. Ellington, with his talent and charisma, was believed to be the reason for the drastic growth in popularity of jazz.

 

7The Metro in Paris, France is the second largest in Europe. Certainly, there would be crowds and a world-wide disdain for this sort of public transportation.

 

8According to Merriam Webster, beguile can be defined, to lead by deception. These are very powerful words given the text.

 

9O’Hara uses a simile here to show how unsure of his path he has become. The next few lines follow on this line of reasoning, showing Frank’s loss of identity and seeming jealousy of those who know themselves.

 

10O’Hara uses this line to poke a little fun at himself and at his poetry. He intends for the reader to have a little laugh before the final lines of his poetry. There is a comical contrast of a truck-driver and a sissy that should not be missed by the reader. This is a sort of opening up by Frank about his homosexuality.

 

11”with a likeness burst in the memory” was used by Hattie Smith to describe a piece by Dubuffet in a catalog for his 1939 show at the Museum of Modern Art.

 

12O’Hara may be ashamed of his century, but entertainment seems to have a way of making people smile. Perhaps that is our greatest contribution: entertainment.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in From the Desk of the Author

 

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