Getting Muddy at Tough Mudder

With mud from my toes to my nose and sloshing through my shoes, I waded through waist deep mud and over heaps of slippery dirt with only one thing on my mind, finishing. Exhaustion setting in and my knees splitting from an old injury…and falling on my face around mile 5, the cold mud for once in the course felt oddly and momentarily refreshing. “We are almost there,” I thought as I sludged my mud-caked Nikes out of the pit. But as two of my teammates pulled me out of the pond of goop and I hobbled (broken pirate style) around the last bend, there it was…the mountain of all obstacles – literally. Everest, a greased half-pipe, and Electroshock therapy, dangling electrified wires, were the last two obstacles that stood in my way. “Bring it on!”

Dubbed as one of the toughest obstacle course races, the Tough Mudder is an intense 11-mile, 25 obstacle race. Designed by British Special Forces to test your strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie, the course has you climbing walls, swimming through fields of mud, squirming under barbed (and sometimes electrified) wire, running almost a marathon and dunking your body into ice tanks, among other things. It’s a race that gives you the opportunity to prove yourself, not only to your teammates and the other competitors but also to yourself, that you truly are tough enough – or just crazy enough!

The highlights of the Tough Mudder, Las Vegas race for me were:

  • Kiss of mud – crawling under barbed wire through muddy water
  • Arctic Enema – a quick dip into ice-cold (and I mean ice-cold) water.
  • Funky Monkey – a monkey bar challenge that brought me back to the good old days on the play ground
  • The Wounded Warrior run – I hopped a free ride on a random dude’s back for half of it!
  • Berlin Walls – scaling 3 sets of wooden walls that progressively got taller
  • And of course, Everest. It took me four very painful attempts to grab my teammates’ hands, but I did successfully scale the half-pipe.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Check out all the obstacles here and our race day video here.

However, when they say that Tough Mudder is a race that you can’t finish alone – nor would you want to – they mean it. The best part about competing in this race was running it with my co-workers. The camaraderie, support and energy everyone brought to the course made the event. From running buddies to helpful boosts over the obstacles, my co-workers and all the other competitors are what got me through the race, up the walls, through the mud and across the finish line. (Plus it’s amazing what a little peer pressure and a bunch of stubbornness will get you through as well!)

Are you tough enough?

Worldwide Recess Day: #Take10

Who else agrees that recess was one of the best things about elementary school? From the monkey bars to tether ball, it was all about getting outside, burning off some excess energy and having fun!

Now that I work inside all day…plus some of the night, taking a ten minute break can be hard to come by – but even more important for staying healthy. So as part of Keen’s Recess is Back program, I challenge you to take a 10 minute break on September 14th to get outside! Whether you walk to the Starbucks ten blocks away instead of the one around the corner or you go for a short run – or you could even play office hopscotch – just do something, anything…come’on its RECESS!

So how about it? Who wants to play today?

Recess Day Keen

Getting My Hippie On at the Oregon Country Fair

The 90s may be alive and well in Portland but two hours south in Eugene, Oregon the 60s are flourishing like a flower child. From tie dye, tattooed and topless to forest fairies and free-spirit skippers, the hippie in everyone comes crawling out of the closet for three days each summer at the Oregon Country Fair.

Oregon Country Fair enterance

In as bohemian of garb as I could gather (and feel comfortable in), I wandered through the looping forest paths. Lined with moss-cover huts filled with vendors, delicious local foods and colorful crafts, the fair grounds unwound through the lush green fields just 15 minutes east of Eugene in a fantasy splendor like Narnia’s version of the red carpet.

Dandelion people

To my right a half-cheetah with devil horns growled by and then to the left a couple of bloomed dandelions strolled hand-in-hand. Hardly able to wipe the grin from my face out of pure joy, I dizzily walked the festival and simply enjoyed getting lost and people watching. Traveling the same route several times without even realizing the similarities, I’d zigzagged through the crowds pulled by my curiosity to view art tucked in nooks and crannies or to stop to listen to a rousing concert by a vagabond musical tribe.

Band

A phantasmagoria of sights, smells and smiles – I have never experienced such a varied festival – or a more welcoming one. Each character at the Oregon Country Fair strutted their stuff like a true individual and showed no fear to standing out.

Combining music, the arts and a whole lot of free-spirit, the Oregon Country Fair celebrates acceptance with endless free hugs. Its a place where anyone – and I mean anyone – can get there hippy on.

Pulling everyone together – the 100% daily hippies, families and even a Hurley clad bro –  the Oregon Country Fair offers free hugs to difference.

Running the Eugene Marathon Half

Last Sunday all of my hard training came together as I crossed the finish line at Hayward field for the Eugene Marathon half. After 13.1 miles I was exhilarated to have finished my first race in 02:27:48. My legs were a tad tired – my hips started hurting around mile 12 – but otherwise I felt good and I even finished a few minutes under my goal time. Surrounded by cheering crowds with cowbells, I couldn’t image a better way to finish my first half marathon then on the historic field in Eugene with my mom (this was her first half-marathon too) by my side!

My next goal is to run the Eugene Women’s Half Marathon on August 26, 2012 in under two hours.  Here’s to long summer evenings pounding the pavement!

Here are few photos from my race:

My Mom and I as we wait in the corral for the race to start.

Runners hit the street for the Eugene Marathon

Runners hit the street for the Eugene Marathon

Running the Eugene Marathon

Trudging on around mile 8

Almost to the finish line at Hayward Field

My mom & I with our half marathon medals after finishing!

Have you ever run a long distance race? What is your best tip for new runners?

Zwicklemania: Eugene Brewery Tour

Trading in my hiking shoe for the day, I took to a different kind of trail in Eugene, Oregon – the Ale Trail for Zwicklemania.

Featuring dozens of Oregon breweries and brewpubs across the state, Zwicklemania is a sudsy celebration of craft brew. In its fourth year, Zwicklemania is a free event hosted by the Oregon Brewers Guild on President’s Day weekend. Organized by regions throughout the state, visitors have a chance to meet the brewers and sample their favorite beers for a unique day of pint-filled fun.

Named after the small sampling value that can be attached to fermentation tank, this event is made for Zwicklemanics, homebrews, craft brewlovers…but most importantly anyone interested in drinking great Oregon craft beer!

In Eugene, five breweries and pubs opened there doors for the event and a bus sponsored by Rogue ran on a loop around town to shutter visitors.

Oakshire

Known for their super rare, single-batch medleys, Oakshire crafts high quality brews with creativity and spunk. Located along the railroad tracks in the industrial part of Eugene, Oakshire produces three year round ales: Amber, Watershed IPA and Espresso stout.

Oakshire Brewery Company beer samplesFor Zwicklemania, I ordered up their tasting board which featured their three year-round brews plus a tasting of the Spring Seasonal, O’Dark 30.

Like an overly-honest friend, The O’Dark 30 with a dark malty flavor was upfront and awesome. With its richness and weight that ignited your taste buds without killing them with zing, the O’Dark 30 was by far my favorite sample from this brewery stop.

Oakshire’s tasting room is open every Saturday from noon – 5 p.m. with brewery tours occurring at 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. Additional hours include: 3 – 6 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 3 – 7 p.m. on Fridays.

1055 Madera St., Eugene, OR 97402 – ( 541) 688-4555

Ninkasi Brewing Company

Located in the heart of the Whiteaker Neighborhood, Ninkasi serves up tingling-good craft brews. From their Total Domination IPA, which has taken the craft brew market by storm in the Pacific Northwest, to the brewery’s popular seasonal flavors like Renewal and Spring Reign Ale, Ninkasi’s beers offer delicious variety for every beer-lovers’ tastes.

For the event I stated with a sample of their always-awesome IPA with a beef slider on their outdoor patio and then moved indoors to taste their Pilsner.

Ninkasi is open Sunday – Wednesday, noon – 9 p.m. and Thursday – Saturday, noon – 10 p.m.

272 Van Buren Street, Eugene, Oregon 97402 – (541) 344-2739

Falling Sky Brewery tour and tastingFalling Sky Brewery

Eugene’s newest brewpub, Falling Sky Brewery joins the pouring club and in style for its first Zwicklemania. With a full house of regular customers this saturday, the brewery and pub is a lively spot located between downtown and the University district. Serving a selection of hand craft beers from around the state along with recently released in-house creations, Falling Sky specializes in rainy day pints – when it pours outside, Falling Sky pours for 25 cents off. (Lucky for us Eugenians because it rains an awful lot!)

Complimenting their beers, Falling Sky Brewery also offers a lunch and dinner menu featuring food items that are bigger and better than your average brew-pubs such as Pork Rillette and Beer Poached Chicken, but still at a great value.

Falling Sky Brewery is open Sunday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. – midnight and Thursday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.

1334 Oak Alley, Eugene, OR 97401 – (541) 505-7096

McMenamins High Street Brewery & Cafe

From classic Ruby bubbles to zingy IPAs and the most delicious Cajun tots around the McMenamins on High Street showcases brews that go down like old friends. Located in a historic, renovated 1900s house styled with dark wood tables & booths (kind of like what I imagine the Three Broom Sticks -Harry Potter pub- would look like), this McMenamins has all the pub charm needed plus fantastic beer and food to tops – plus it was the first microbrewery in Eugene since Prohibition.

The Brewer, Charlton Fulton, who creates specialty batches of his own recipes from the basement of the house along with the chain favorites, produces craft beers for both the High Street and North Bank locations. For Zwicklemania, Fulton took visitors on tours of the basement brewery, which features its painted steel cask.

In September visit for the annual Mid-Valley Brewfest.

High Street Brewery & Café is open Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. and Sunday, noon – midnight.

1243 High Street, Eugene, OR 97401 – (541) 345-4905

Rogue Beer SampleRogue Public House

The home of Track Town Ales, the Eugene Rogue Public House knows how to serve its customers and keep them running back for more with in-house favorites and tried & true brews.

Based from the original historic Eugene City Brewery, Rogue keeps a laid back pub style that is cozy and comfortable for sharing a couple of pints with friends. Crafting artisan varietals, the pub has 35 beers on tap including the infamous Track Town Ales: 100 Meter, 200 Meter and Triple Jump. Along with their wide variety of brews, Rogue also serves a full lunch and dinner menu and during the week hosts fun trivia and bingo nights.

Rogue Public House is open Monday, noon – 10 p.m., Tuesday – Thursday, noon – 11 p.m., Friday & Saturday, noon – midnight, and Sunday, noon – 9 p.m. and offers brewery tours weekdays at 4:30 p.m.

844 Olive Street, Eugene, OR 97401 – 541-345-4155

More Eugene Area Breweries & Bottle Shops: