Tough Mudder: Not As Much Like The Hunger Games As I’d Prefer

I ran the Tough Mudder last Saturday. It is billed as “The Toughest Event On The Planet”.

The Race

The Tough Mudder was 11.5 miles long and featured 25 (mostly) difficult obstacles. Around 5 of the miles ran were through mud of some depth. Obstacles included: climbing 12 foot high walls, jumping into ice water, climbing through plastic pipes, monkey bars, running up a quarter pipe, balance beams, crawling under barbed wire, and being electrocuted. Also, I didn’t wear a shirt.

Suns out; guns out.

What I Enjoyed

There are three main things that I got out of the race. 1. Most significantly, the race gave me a challenge to train for. Actually running it wasn’t necessary, but the training for the race helped me lose about twenty pounds. Awww yeah! 2. There were portions of the race that were extremely challenging. In addition to the mud really slowing me down, the 12 foot high walls were extremely difficult for me. Luckily, about half of the people that run the Tough Mudder are total beefcakes who easily just threw me over the wall. Also, crawling under the barbed wire with dangling live wires was really cool. They would randomly flip on the switches and then WHAT!? I’m suddenly slamming my face into the ground from the electricity; that was really interesting. 3. The sense of camaraderie and teamwork were just amazing. Everyone was working together to stay with their team and help them through the obstacles, even if it was slowing them down to a crawl. Tough Mudder isn’t an individual race, it’s a team challenge!

What I Hated

Actually, fuck that last point. The sense of camaraderie and teamwork were so frustrating. Everyone was working together to stay with their team and help them through the obstacles, even though it was slowing them down to a crawl. There were some serious bottlenecks that forced me to walk in the race, which is ridiculous because I came there to race. People came really unprepared to the race and were still able to walk through the whole thing and skip any difficult obstacles. This made it more difficult for me to run fast, and then diminished all my work when they got the exact same medal as me when I finished. I would much rather have a race that challenged me so hard that I could even finish, than a race where I felt that I could have ran faster, but the course didn’t allow me to because there were so many bottlenecks. There was seriously a point in the race where I had to wait 20 minutes to do an obstacle because the line was so long. That’s just dumb.

I totally nailed the quarter pipe once I had a chance though.

How To Make It Better

This is such an easy problem to solve. What’s the best way to get rid of troublesome teamwork? Hunger Games this race. I mean, just by making it more like the Hunger Games, it would give the finishers so much more pride. When I got to the finish line and I saw a giant sea of people all wearing their victory headbands, I felt kind unsatisfied. If only like 5% of the people had gotten them though, then there’s an incentive to actually run faster and work harder. But yeah, they have a bunch of obstacles and challenges, all they need to add is some competition and arrows. Also, those wasp things. Oh, and explosions somehow.


The Five Most Badass Characters In Cinematic History

After watching hundreds of movies which span the world and decades, I have complied a list of my favorite badasses in film.

5. Bryan Mills in Taken

What list of badasses can be complete without the protagonist and jack-of-all-awesome Bryan Mills? When faced with the kidnapping of his dear daughter, Mill’s (Liam Neeson) first reaction is to threaten the terrorists with death. Next step: make that threat a reality. Mills then spends the rest of the movie killing his way back to his daughter.

This could be from literally any scene in the movie.

That’s the whole movie. It’s just a series of fight scenes that separate Mills from his daughter. And those fight scenes are super badass. Whether on a boat, in a car, out on the town, in the kitchen, inside a mansion, having dinner, or at a sex slavery auction, Mills manages to find someone that he can either punch or shoot in the face in order to save his daughter.

4. John Ottway in The Grey

I’ve already described this movie in exact detail, but Ottway (Liam Neeson) still deserves his spot on the list. It’s pretty much the same thing as Taken, in that Ottway’s character only has one goal: kill all the things (in this case, the things are wolves). After a hellish plane crash, Ottway has to lead a bunch of gritty survivors in the cold winter to safety… though, not if the wolves have anything to say about it! But yeah, he shoots and punches wolves in this movie. I think any Liam Neeson movie that relies on punching will probably make it into this list.

3. Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins

Oh snap, more Neeson! Perfect! Well, I mean, certainly not that much punching, but there’s still sword-fighting on ice and having the audacity (of hope?) to try to destroy Gotham City.

You're waiting for a train...

Not only is Ra’s al Guhl’s (Liam Neeson) hallucination fight with Batman totally awesome, but he also gave Batman his most important training while organizing a plot to destroy a major city. Ra’s earns loads of badass points for being great at time management, defeating Batman while dueling on a frozen lake, and for attempting to crash a train into Wayne Towers.

2. Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe

Mixing it up a bit with an animal character! Bet you didn’t see that coming! Is there any animal that even comes close to the masculinity and Jesus-allegory…ing that Aslan… does? No way!

Aslan finally runs out of orcs to attack. Or is it goblins? Well, whatever it is that's evil in that movie.

First, Aslan (Liam Neeson) creates the whole world in which the Penvensie children get to have amazing adventures in, then he goes ahead and scarifies himself to save the children from the dreaded White Witch. Then, he Christs the crap out of Narnia by resurrecting himself so he can  personally maul the White Witch. And don’t forget humbleness as a key trait of the true badass. Once everyone starts partying and celebrating themselves for all the work that Aslan singlehandedly did, he just slips out and moves onto other things. Badasses don’t gloat.

1. Daniel in Love Actually

As you can tell by looking at the DVD collection of any male college student, Love Actually is essentially a cinematic love letter to our culture’s worship of manliness. Once he tragically loses his wife, Daniel (Liam Neeson) deals with raising his stepson as a single parent. What takes more courage and determination than that?

Liam Neeson effortlessly defining badassery for an entire generation.

Daniel manages to help both himself and his stepson heal the wife-shaped-holes in their hearts and get their lives back on track. He gives his son useful advice and they both end up with wondrously happy experiences by the end of the film. Daniel has the forethought and boldness to give his son the advice to follow after the girl he lusts for (even though he must run past post-9/11 security; surely the point that the director intended to convey was that absolutely nothing could stop even the protege of Daniel). Daniel’s palpable masculinity finally manifests when he fulfills his late wife’s final request that he find a nice woman to spend his life with, like Claudia Schiffer. He, of course, follows these instructions precisely when the film ends with him meeting (and then probably boning off camera) Claudia Schiffer.

Unaired Excerpts From “Teen Demon Hunters”

I’ve tried to keep this under wraps until recently, but I was filmed as part of reality show pilot over the winter. It follows the lives of three teen exorcists in Arizona and I was lucky enough to be featured on it! It looks like the series is not going to be picked up, so I’ve put a transcript of the scenes with me in it. Enjoy!

Michael: Hi, I’m Michael. I’ve been having sleeping problems and medication isn’t really helping, so I’m taking my problems to the real pros: Exorcists. While my “doctor” insists that I’m having trouble sleeping because I drink caffeine all day and never exercise, my family thinks we should put a pin in this science stuff and give demon chasing a shot. Pretty much, I wanted a free trip to Arizona to get out of the super crappy Midwest winter. Also, have you seen the exorcists?!

"Exorcism? More like... what?! Two of them are seventeen? Nevermind."

Brynne: You must be Michael! It’s nice to meet you.
Michael: That’s me! Thanks so much for agreeing to help me out with this. Also, holy crap! It’s 80 degrees! This is awesome!
Tess: No problem, it’s what we do.
Michael: So… what’s the first step in this? Do you all just start yelling at me with crosses now, or should we go somewhere more private?
Brynne: Haha, not quite yet. We need to get to know you better first, to learn about the demons inside you.
Michael: Oh yeah of course, you gotta do that first. Should we grab a drink and chat then? Is there a good bar around here?
Savannah: Hahaha, of course not! That must the demons in you talking. We can’t drink; Tess and Brynne are only seventeen…
Michael: *gasp*
Savannah: But I’m twenty, so… almost there!
Michael: Oh thank God. Ha! So… yeah. Should we go to like an Abercrombie or something? I don’t really know where kids hang out to talk. Isn’t Dubstep a restaurant? Twitter?
Brynne: Well, our interviews are usually done at the church, unless the demons are somehow trying to prevent you to go to one.
Michael: Yup! That’s the ticket. How about something more…

Michael: Boom! This is what I’m talkin’ bout! Enjoying your bottomless chip?
Tess: Yeah, I guess.
Michael: Sweet! Awesome. So, how are you all doing? What do you guys do other than exorcisms? Music? Uhhh…?
Brynne: We’re good. We also enjoy horseback riding and karate.
Michael: Oh yeah, of course. Me too. Totally…
Savannah: Let’s get down to business. When did you get possessed?
Michael: Well, my sleeping problems started just about a year ago. But, I’ve had sleeping problems on and off throughout childhood. So maybe I previously had a demon inside me and it left. But about a year ago I was… repossessed.
Tess: *cough*
Michael: So, a year.
Brynne: Alright, have you heard any voices? Experienced any demonic dreams? Felt a presence of some sort?
Michael: Not really, no… But sleeping problems! Demon related, right?
Savannah: Almost certainly. Are you a firm believer? Do you really wish God to help you free your body?
Michael: Yup! Well, kinda. Maybe. I was confirmed? Is that good enough?
Brynne: I suppose. Well I can feel the presence of evil within you, and we’ll try our best to rid you of it.
Michael: Sweet! So how does this work? Do I get strapped down? I have a phobia about not being able to move my arms…
Brynne: That shouldn’t be necessary, hopefully. We’ll simply use the power of God to get the demon from your body. It can be done through prayer, crosses, and holy water.
Michael: Sounds kickass! Are you going to do some kind of test to figure out if I’m actually just faking or schizophrenic?
Tess: Nope! We can feel the demon from your presence. Let’s get to the chapel and do this!

Brynne: Are you alright? Is the demon making you feel uncomfortable because you’re in a church?
Michael: Yeah, that’s totally it. It’s definately not because I’m about to have three teenage girls get all up on me and yell at me until I have a seizure.
Savannah: Great. we’ll begin then. Lie down on this table. Say this prayer with us.
All: Dear Lord, we ask you for help in the expulsion of this horrible demon from this kind, innocent being.
Michael: Aw, thanks guys!
Michael: Oh boy, we’re starting.
Michael: Uh… what?
Savannah: Do you hear that fear? The demon is obviously concerned.
Michael: Er.. Je suis timide.
Tess: I recognize that! The demon is speaking Aramaic. He’s saying something about ‘being sent from the Devil Himself!’
Michael: Quoi? Quoi?
Tess: More Aramaic… He’s saying ‘Sin! Sin!’
Michael: Jesus Christ…
Brynne: Yes Michael! Come back to us! Use the power of the Lord to break free!
Savannah: I’ll get him with the holy water!
Michael: Ouch, please stop hitting me in the chest.
Michael: I think I’m done with this…
Savannah: It’s almost done with his body! LEAVE DEMON!
Michael: Yeah totally. Oh man, this demon is so leaving my body right now.
Brynne: Yes! Pray harder!
Michael: Yup, it’s gone. Awesome, I’m absolutely demon free.

: Well, that didn’t work at all. But Chili’s was great and the weather was amazing!

Do people even care about my exercising and stuff?

Well I do at least! So, my big race is just about 10 days away. Time to start tapering soon, right? (That means shorter, faster milage so I don’t get injured before the race and I stay in peak(?) physical condition). Oh well, I’ll wait until Saturday to do that.

I’ve been doing great with training, and I’m really happy about it. Milage has been great, with a big Saturday run every week for the last month (~10-13 miles), and at least 3-4 miles every other day. Also, I’ve thrown in a lot of sit ups on the half ball and the plate lifts that Brian taught me (those are the only things I know how to do other than running and swimming). Pace is getting a lot better too. I did a 4 miler at 6:55 pace without dying today. I mean, it was super tough, but I held out.

I think that my biggest vice in training right now is diet. I did so well for the first month, but it’s so hard to eat right when I’m at home (I can eat nachos like anytime I want to!). I’ll try to do better once I’m at school, but realistically I’ll be eating shitty all break. Weight wise, my gains are certainly not doing that great. I’ve been hovering around 160 for the last week or so and that seems to be unwilling to drop lower. Maybe I should be less concerned about my weight though and just worry about my overall stamina and health? Yeah, I’ll do that.

The Cheat: The Ultimate Deus Ex Machina

There’s an agreement that the audience makes with a storyteller: the plot is important. When characters make decisions, those decisions will have consequences. This is something that the audience needs in order to stay connected and interested in the characters. This rule is actually difficult to break, it actually needs to be done consciously. What I’d like to discuss is when the story is undermined in the finale, when it turns out that the previous actions of a character did not matter at all. I call this “The Cheat”.

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