Sunday, December 3, 2006

The Sand Challenge

Ren and Traci (my someday-to-be-ex-in-laws) have often raved about The Sand Challenge, down in Long Beach. I'd always meant to give it a shot, but for me, simply doing anything the first time, is a challenge in itself. Shy and lazy, printing off the directions and figuring out what time that meant getting up was almost enough for me to quit. In fact, The Sand Challenge has been on my calendar for months, if not years. But, today, I was strong. I went.

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Ren, knocking out the pushups years before I ever
got off my lazy ass to do any myself.

I thought I was going to be late, but I got there just in time. Justin Rudd, our leader, welcomed me in and made me feel right at home before starting the ass kicking.

I'll be honest. I had preconceived notions and I figured this to be a one-time thing. That, I'd never go back. I thought it would be a lot of long, long runs and useless ab work. Instead, it was a lot of short and medium runs, with lots of breaks (more like pauses). But, the running was surrounded by plenty of other activities, making the whole experience a blast. I don't like to jog, I don't like to "go running." If I'm not weightlifting, I want to be sprinting, running hills, climbing, doing calisthenics, etc. This was all that.

It all started with the warmup jog, some pushups and light leg stretching. I don't really stretch much, except after lifting, but when in Rome. I was actually surprised that my hamstrings were as good as they were. I'd given up my hamstring stretching to focus on the hip mobility work. I haven't stretched my hamstrings in a year. I was able to do far better than I could have a year ago, with my almost daily stretching. Thanks, Bill Hartman! Bill's advice on getting my hip flexors better to lower my squat seems to have really helped in a lot of areas. Enough about Bill.

After our little warmup, the running started. Running on soft and dry sand is really hard. I've run down by the water, which is hard enough. This sucked. I watched the others from cues, but everyone had their own style. So, I lumbered along. I found myself near the front of the pack, which had me worried that I was going to fast. My first time, while all the others had done it before. But, it didn't feel too fast, so I kept it up.

I won't go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that each leg of the run was tough. Sand running isn't so easy. I'd say each spurt of running was 1/4 to 1/2 mile long. Not too bad. We ran from destination to destination. Run to the wall for some stretching. Run to the stairs for stair running. Run to the drinking fountain (that was a popular one). Run to up and over the sand dunes.

Once we were at the dunes, it got really fun. Paired in teams, we did relay runs down one dune, climb to the top of another, come back and tag your partner, breath really hard while your partner does his/her turn, repeat. Five rounds of this was really tough. I fell down during this 'event." In fact, it was one of those falls where you can feel yourself falling in slow motion.

It took a long time to actually fall. For that long time, it almost seemed that I might not really fall. In my mind, there was still a chance that it was a mere stumble. My legs went faster to try to get under my body. Faster. Faster. Then, down into the sand. Ear full of sand and everything. It felt dramatic. I was the only one to fall, but Justin assured me that everyone does it (sure...).

More running to new dunes, more relays, water fountain, body weight squats and split squats. Then the longest run was back to our base camp for a finisher of abs, pushups, and stretching. Ab work sucks. I do plenty of ab work, but never crunches and bicycles, so this was by far the worst part for me. Ouch.

this was just the tip of the iceberg
Not my shoe, but a fair representation, never-the-less.

Justin was nice and friendly.
The other victims were nice and all very supportive. All levels of fitness, so no one was out of place.
I got to see two bulldogs (never seen one except in cartoons). I thought they'd look mean, but they were more alien looking. Kinda cute.
It was a beautiful day at the beach. Sunny, cool, breazy.
I got a great workout. No equipment, either. Shows what can be done using the world around you.

You may or may not know, but in May, I'm planning to do the Mountain Warfare Training Challenge, so I figured that I'd better do something other than lifting, here and there. Whenever I mention the MWTC, people ask me how much I run. Now I don't have to say zero anymore.

In the end, I had a blast. I plan on doing the Challenge again, in two weeks, when I'm kid-less for the weekend, again.

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