Friday, June 21, 2013

Hell & Back Apollo- It's all over.

From a slightly exaggerated and dramatic viewpoint... (Only slightly... Honest...) ;)

'Sniper Alley' or the more aptly named 'Turkey shoot'.   Photo courtesy of Hell & Back
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The light thudding beats of my feet pounding the soft soil is interrupted with the crackling leaves and twigs underfoot.   Warm earthy scents hang in the heavy humid air as we round the corner and the track ahead seems to open out slightly.  The world takes on an eerie aspect through the tinted yellow view and red smoke seems to hang in the air when suddenly a piercing scream slices through the air.  *pop, pop, pop*   
"Man down! Man down!" I roar as I hit the dirt, pain shooting in all directions on the backs of my legs.  The feeble thought, 'Just go on without me', darts through my mind as a look at my team mates not far ahead,  ducking and diving the pellets hurtling towards them.  That scene from the film Platoon flashes through my mind. 
"Contact right", my team mate, John roars as I pick myself up and sprint towards the fallen tree for some ..  "Go, go, go" shouts my other team mate and husband, Dave. 
*pop, pop, pop, pop*. More shrieking, more pain,... The end is in sight, I think?  Nope, not yet!  We seem to be running and trying to dodge bullets forever.  For some strange reason, I can't wipe the smile from my face.  My inner voice cheers, 'Shur, what else would you be doing on a Saturday afternoon?'.
The familiar distant screams of first contact as the people behind us enter 'Sniper Alley'... We round another corner and, yes, there's a marshal, grinning from ear to ear and holding a box for the used eye protection.  We are free! 
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I have to say, the day was absolutely amazing, from start to finish.  The set up, preparation, and planning put into the event must have been quite intense and months in the making because everything on the day was flawless,  From the easy parking, no queues in changing areas or valuables storage area (before and after) to the fabulous obstacles, marshals, entertainment and buses.  The atmosphere was electric and moods buzzing. 

The feeling experienced at Apollo (& Trojan & any Hell & back race, I imagine) is obviously very unique to each individual, but I think that a mutual one is that, warm and fuzzy 'feel good about humanity' one.  We are all brothers and sisters, slogging through this together, neck deep in, as my mom says, s-h-1-t.  The camaraderie and team spirit is at times overwhelming.  For me, it was just after the warm up.  Everyone was happy and bouncing their way through the gap in the wall towards the start line.  The group was bottle necking at the gap so I started looking at all of the different t-shirts people were wearing.  Fancy dress, Apollo shirts, Trojan shirts and Charities of all kinds.  You name it, they were there.  Directly in front of me were a group wearing blue shirts(i think they were Temple St children's hospital) with little speech bubbles and in each bubble, a name.  I glanced at each one bearing the same name until I reached the guy directly in front of me.  His said something along the lines of 'my little angel son'.  WELL... Whether it was the build up of all the excitement and adrenaline or not, this little moment pushed me over the edge and my eyes welled up faster than a burst dam.  Thankfully, the gopro camera on my head wasn't on so that moment wasn't immortalised. 

The race itself was amazing.  My previous blogpost details each challenge in detail & the camera I had on my head in live detail (watch this space) so I wont ramble on again here.  :). Every obstacle challenging and exhausting.  The marshals were hellishly motivating with their shouting taunts, yet always helpful where needed. The water stops positioned perfectly for that quick refuel and the Vit-Hit (Oh the glorious Vit-Hit) and banana at the end- such a perfect finish.  

We each signed up for Hell and Back for our own reasons: For ourselves, for charity, for weight loss, for health, for the memory of somebody, for fitness, for the craic, for the challenge... Whatever.  Each of us with our own powerful reason- pushing us onwards through the thick and thin.  I think it is this- the reason, though all so very different for all of us, that creates this magic atmosphere between everyone.  For me, this is the spirit of Hell and Back and the reason I will put myself through the pain, exhaustion and sheer fun of Trojan, Apollo and Titan again and again.  Bring on Titan on 3rd November! (That include YOU too... 5 months to train so no excuses: Dave, Kerri, Alan, John, Kara, Emma, Kate, Cora, Katriona, Oonagh, Jen, Aurin, Marie, Claire, Matt) 

A HUGE thank you to my Mudslinger team buddies, without whom, I was probably still be trying to get over the wall before the start line.  Thank you for putting up with my 8 weeks of training torment & whining.  Dave, John, Kerri (MIA due to injury- still recovering.  Boo) and Alan (for your hands on team training enthusiasm.  Put DOWN the tree... LOL)
 
The Mudslingers (Less injured Kerri... ) :)

 
Big massive thanks to the Hell & Back team and organisers.  Without you guys, where would we find the opportunity to go through such agonising torture and pain and sheer fun in the form of a race?  You guys and your sadistic tendencies rock.  :)

A BIG thank you to Kieran Ryan, King of my Hell & Back reason for blogging.   It's been a blast.  not sure what I am going to do now without my weekly Hell & Back blog.  *sobs* LOL.

And finally, thanks to fellow H&B bloggers, Neil & Sarah, Kevin Fox- videographer extradonaire, fellow H&B participants and you guys, the readers, without whom I may as well be screaming into space.  
Darren & Eamon- Legends whom helped more than their fare share.  Well done lads!

Toodleloo for now. 

Jen

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hell and Back, Apollo- hints and tips (ish)


The Mudslingers just after finishing.  Hurray!


A quick breakdown after today's race;

1)      “The Ditch of Doom” at 150m- A great big mucky ditch- get your leaping legs on!


2)      “Ski Jump” at 1km- Sit down and start sliding... Wheeeeee!!!


3)      “The Rock & Ice Baths of Siberia” at 1.5km- Complete submersion here, folks!  Hold your breath... 


4)      “Sniper Alley” at 2.2km-  OUCH!!!  Nobody gets through without getting hit, so be prepared and run like hell! ;)


5)      “Purgatory” at 3km-  Plenty of fabulous obstacles and sloppy slidy mud... Niceeee...


6)      “Boggy Hollow” at 3.7km- What seemed like an endless track of quite deep boggy mud.  take a deep breath and run straight through... No shortcuts here I'm afraid!

7)      “Slimy Swamp of Perdition” at 4.3km- This is disgusting.  Full stop.  Fabulously disgusting.  :).  Quit your whining and throw yourself in and when you get stuck, take help graciously- and when your out- GIVE a bit of help back.  Darren & Eamon excelled in this area. ;) 
Darren & Eamon- Superheros extraordinaire and Hell & Back Apollo survivors



8)      “Satan’s Sewer” at 4.7km- This is, in fact, quite sewer-like.  hold thy nose and crawl crawl crawl.  ;)


9)      “The River of Acheron” at 5.1km- Wading through 5ft waters, ropes, more water... Throw yourself in & keep moving along.  Quite a cooling pleasant experience. :)


10)   “Hurdles of Hell” at 5.35km- If I recall correctly- 3 double bale towers to clamber up and over.  Have fun. Hahahaha.


11)   The Abyss” at 6km- a snaking track of doom through the forest.  Keep the momentum up here and you will be out before you know it.  Kind of... Watch your ankles- lots of uneven ground.  OOH- cool pipe slide somewhere in all of this- go head first! :) 


12)   “Burn baby Burn” at 7.5km- Hill climb, descent. Pain & worth walking.  Don't kill yourself running here- you will just burn yourself out & won't really make much ground anyway.  Run downhill though... :)


13)   “Hades Horrors” at 8.8km-block carry, sandbag carry and thankfully the water... Ouch!


NIGHTMARE ON HELL STREET at 11.3km. (Yes, this is a spectator area...:) )


14)   “Log Carry”- Big enough bloody logs!  Crikey!


15)   “Barbed wire crawl”- Yes, Head and ass down, crawl crawl crawl.  Not too bad though given that the ground was good and dry.   


16)   Lucifer’s Log Jam”- A succession of Tree trunk obstacles.  Up, through, under... kinda tiring...


17)   “Crawl net”- Handy tip, head to the floor, ass up and crawl like a mofo. :):
18)   “Return to Siberia”- Yes, yes- these are giant freezing pools ensuring a good submersion before the finish...


19)   “Shock of Horrors”- A lengthy section of Electrical wire with, you guessed it, an obstacle of two hay bales in the middle of it.  If you can, run, throw yourself over the hay and keep moving- FAST, outta there.  They've upped the voltage since Trojan.  Not only do these zap you, they click!  Nasty!  (There was much screaming from my lung- and much laughter from the spectators...)
20)   “Ten Foot Tessie”- OMG.  Wall???  This is more like a skyscraper.  This is really really tough.  VERY high (over 10ft id say) and very smooth so there is nothing really to climb up with.  You really need the help of your fellow Hellraisers here, so be nice and whoosh a butt or two over before getting whooshed yourself.  :)  I luckily had my team there to torpedo me over.  Note- its also quite narrow so careful you don't get your foot stuck at the top on the way down and inadvertently do the boxer splits *whistles & looks around innocently*
21)   “Mount Olympus”- Far from Hay bales- this WAS and epic challenge.  This was a VERY high sloped wall that you had to run up and climb the final section.  They put out ropes after a while, but OMG, nasty tough.  You need a good run at this so stand back and take turns!  :) 


At 12km- Down the super steep and fast slide to a monumental FINISH! 

A huge thanks to all of the Hell & Back organisers for a superb course.  The place looked fantastic and the facilities were amazing, for both racers and spectators.  Bravo.

I REALLY enjoyed this one to be honest.  Ill be back to blog again, but right now, (We are literally just home after the 3.5 drive  home from Bray) I must collapse in a heap on the ground and sleep.


Best of luck to everyone racing tomorrow.  You will LOVE it!  :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hell and Back training, Week 8! The Final week!

ARGH!!!

SIX days left until D-Day... At this point what more can one do?  I suppose carry on and pretend like Ireland's toughest 12K challenge is not merely days away now. 

This weeks theme tune was brought to you by a razor toothed fishy...A funny story which I will tell you in a sec.  Click below and read on...




My training last week was fairly haphazard.  I got afew decent walks in but no runs (eek...), though I did play Tag Rugby on Thursday night with fellow Mudslingers so that was a bit of running around and ankle confusion/strengthening.  ;) 
One surprising training session was with Hell & Back's videographer, Kevin Fox.  (Oh, didn't I mention?  Hell & Back sent him down to film me training...*cringesville*)

I was expecting to perhaps lightly jog past him once and maybe belt out one or two push ups but Nooooooooooooooooo.  I, quite possibly, did one of the toughest training sessions since day 1. 
It was a situation like this:

Kevin:  "Alright, can you do some push ups there"
Me:  "OK."
*20 push ups later*
Kevin:  "OK, you can stop.  That's great.  Right, can you do that again?"


This kind of repeated itself over afew hours, but in fairness, it was excellent and Kevin even joined in with some push ups and sit ups along the way. 



It was a great distraction to the looming race day and quite an enjoyable day too.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous so hopefully Kinsale will shine in all her glory (cant say the same about me though... LOL).  The funny Jaws theme coincidence... I had planned to use it for this week because that's what is going through my mind every time I think of the hours rushing away to race day, and while filming, Kevin mentioned that the place reminded him of the place that Jaws was filmed.  Perhaps Hell and Back will stick a shark in the Rock & Ice baths of Siberia.  LOL.

I imagine he was foreseeing my final collapse right about...there.  LOL


My training for this week is going to be relaxed enough I recon.  I will do afew million lengths in the pool (not... I'll be lucky if I don't drown on length two to be honest ;) )  And I will get out for afew long walks and maybe (just maybe) one run. 

So, COME ON, PEOPLE!  Final push.  Lets get out there and make the most of these last few days so we can plough our way through whatever Hell & Back throws at us! (or sniper shoots at us... eekkkk)

YAY!!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hell and Back training, Week 7!

Second last week- EEEEEKKKKK!!!! 

Panic stations, people.  I repeat, panic stations. 

For those of you who are only starting to look at training, panic not.  One way or another, you will make it through the delicious Hell & Back 10Km challenge.  Whether its you running/walking/crawling/being dragged through that finish line, you will do it.  We WILL make it.  But lets make the next 12 days count, shall we?  :)

Here is this weeks motivational song. :) 



Last weeks training had its highs and lows of powerwalks, sunburn, sit ups, push ups and pull ups- so, lets put 110% effort into this week, shall we? 

So, whats in store for this week, you ask?  Well, you know the regular daily sets by now, so lets shake it up a good bit.
Lets get our buttskis' out there and pound those pavements and hills.  Run run run (or walk walk walk, depends on how you're feeling and where you are at with your training).

Work those upper arms and back for strength, (who knows what those devilish creators of Hell & Back have in store for us...) 

Lunge and squat like there is no tomorrow.  Get those big muscles nicely working and toughened up.  Juicy bonus here is the additional calorie burn... work the big ones and (if you eat like me...) those pesky additional calories will look after themselves.  :) 

12 days till D-Day!!!  ARGHHHH!!!

*deep breaths*

Ill be on twitter if you want to chat, click here
or if you have preference to Facebook, here I am here

Bring it!  :)




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