The Ain’t Noboby Got Time For That 5K (aka Tough Mudder Georgia)

For those of y’all that have followed my blog for a while, you know about my Warrior Dash debacle (which got me published in Obstacle Racing Magazine!). I let myself get Jedi mind-tricked into participating in Tough Mudder. What is Tough Mudder, you ask?  It’s a hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.  The Georgia course was around 10 miles and contained about 22 obstacles.

You’d have thought I’d have learned my lesson last year, right? Nope. See, Delusional Nikki thought she had enough time to train & prepare for this event since she registered a YEAR in advance. Why am I talking about myself in the 3rd person? That’s what delusional folks do, ok? Anyway, the months start ticking by and Delusional Nikki keeps eating Reese Cups & watching Scandal…like Olivia & Fitz were going to do this race with her. Next thing Delusional Nikki knows, 11 months have passed and it’s 2 weeks before the event. Sigh. So, at this point, Sane Nikki shows up and is like, “girl, stop. you know you can’t do this. save yourself.” Sane Nikki sends an email to her Tough Mudder team that basically said, “Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike…you’ll have to count me out.” (shout out to my New Edition fans!). But, the team knew Sane Nikki was weak & not making good decisions since Scandal was on a 3 week hiatus. So, she gets Jedi mind-tricked again with an email from the team captain saying, “It won’t be that bad! We haven’t trained either.” [Um, sidenote…they are lying liars who lie because clearly, they had trained. While I’m asking folks for rosary beads & prayers at obstacle 3, they are doing the electric slide through Obstacle 748.]

So, I suck it up and decide to go. A couple of days before the event, Tough Mudder sent an email with logistical details (parking, etc) and a video of one of the obstacles, Arctic Enema. As soon as I watched the clip, I was like, “NOPE!” That looked like a whole bunch of crazy that I couldn’t be a part of. My strategy was to skip the obstacles that looked dangerous/difficult. Don’t judge me. I’m coming out of a Reese Cups coma.

After driving a couple of hours we arrive at the race site.  We passed several obstacles on our way to park.  My first thought was “TURN THIS CAR AROUND NOW!”  But, I kept focused and started mentally hyping myself up…then we walk over to the starting area.  Um, how come I didn’t know you had to complete an obstacle to even START the freaking race?

What?  Why is this wall here?  OMG, I have to climb this? Does this count or is it "extra"?(source, Tough Mudder)

What? Why is this wall here? OMG, I have to climb this? Does this count or is it “extra”?(source, Tough Mudder)

Jesus take the wheel!  iCan’t.  But, my teammates were like,”LET’S DO THIS!!!” and I got caught up.  We climbed the wall, listened to the Tough Mudder inspirational guy (no, I don’t remember his name and I’m too lazy to go find it out), and finished it off by singing the Star Spangled Banner.  Then, we officially start the race.

The first obstacle was “Kiss of Mud”.  In the beginning, I thought it would be fine.  Because I’m still under mind-control.  What I didn’t count on was that the course would be extra muddy due to the week of rain we had before the race.  After running 1/4 of a mile, we come up to the first obstacle and have to crawl under the wire.  Seems pretty simple right?  WRONG!  It felt like there was cracked glass & empty syringes lying on the ground.  Seriously.

Kiss of Mud obstacle (source, Tough Mudder)

Kiss of Mud obstacle (source, Tough Mudder)

But, it wasn’t too bad (compared to the obstacles coming up).  After getting through Obstacle 1, we run through some more mud.  Now, we are still in what I will call the “regular” area…or as I started to think of it, “my safe zone”.  The early obstacles were close to the parking lot so you could keep running to your car if things got too “tough”.  But, I was lulled into a sense of “badassness” by the early obstacles.  Obstacle 2 looked like it would be difficult (I have the upper body strength of a mosquito so climbing up & over stuff is a challenge…might have helped if I had actually trained but hey, I ain’t about to judge myself, k?).  Turns out, Obstacle #2 (Bale Bonds) wasn’t that hard once you got into the swing of it. At this point, I’m like, “WHAT? DO YOU SEE ME?  I’M AWESOME!”  I should’ve known it was too good to last.

Obstacle #2, "Bale Bonds" (source, Tough Mudder)

Obstacle #2, “Bale Bonds” (source, Tough Mudder)

After that obstacle, the course takes you into the woods.  Seriously…there is no trail.  Just some red ribbon that they attached to the trees earlier that week.  Good luck with that!  The mud combined with no actual trail proved to be the toughest “obstacle”.  And one that I wasn’t really ready for.  It was difficult to keep upright because it was so slick.  Trail shoes wouldn’t have made a difference because the mud cakes the soles until it was like you were running on ice.  Folks loved it though…screaming WOOHOO as they slipped & slid all the way to Grandma’s house.

Once we come out of the woods, we are at Obstacle 3 “Arctic Enema”.  Now, I had already seen the video (provided below) and my initial reaction was…

AW, HECKS NAW!  Nuh uh.  Keep that.  But when I actually arrived at the obstacle, I was feeling solid…the previous obstacles had me feeling like I could do this!  Even when a couple of spectators told me that a man had went unconscious in the pool about 10 minutes before me, I was like, “So what?  He’s weak!”

So, my crazy self jumps into the dumpster filled with 80 pounds of ice & water…and I can’t quite tell you what happened next.  I remember having to swim down to the bottom so I could go under the partition to get to the other side to exit…then, as I surfaced, I think I saw Jesus sitting on the side of the dumpster reaching His hand out to me saying, “What kind of fool are you?”  My response? “I don’t know, Jesus…but I’m pretty sure it’s the biggest kind of fool there is.”  After getting out of the dumpster, my body locks up and I just stand there for a minute.  No idea what was going on.

Then, it’s back to the woods.  I hate the woods, y’all.  Nothing good happens there!  Next obstacle was hauling some wood around.  Lord Jesus…WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS AND NOT TRAIN?  Luckily, my teammates carried the log and I pretended that I was helping to carry it but that was all for appearances.

"Hold Your Wood" obstacle...what is wrong with me? (source, Tough Mudder)

“Hold Your Wood” obstacle…what is wrong with me? (source, Tough Mudder)

Then we get to the next obstacle, “Boa Constrictor”…the pictures make this look so easy.  Like all you have to do is crawl through a tube.  I should’ve known that was too easy.  You have just enough room to crawl into the tube…on your stomach.  The only people who can crawl through on their needs are “little people” and toddlers.  Half way into the tube, I got stuck.  Sigh.  After scooting as much as I could, they lowered a guy down to pull me the rest of the way out.  Which I noticed was pretty common.

I don't even know what number I'm on...just read to be done.  I think this is called the "Boa Constrictor" (source, Tough Mudder)

I don’t even know what number I’m on…just read to be done. I think this is called the “Boa Constrictor” (source, Tough Mudder)

After that obstacle…I was done.  I pulled a back muscle in the tube and hadn’t been able to catch my breath since Arctic Enema.  So, I tapped out and wished my team good luck.  Which ended up being the smartest decision I made.  I never was able to breathe properly until I went to the doctor a couple of days later and had to be put on an inhaler because my lung capacity was at 60%.  All in all, I completed 3.5 miles of the course so I just say I did a 5K 🙂  I want credit for this, y’all.

To prove I’m not making this up (well, my review may be slightly embellished), see the 3 minute video below.

First, where was the cutie at the beginning of the video when I was doing this race???  Did you see those arms & that chest?  *grabbing smelling salts*  If I had raced with him, I might have found a bit more inspiration 🙂  Second, y’all saw those obstacles right?  And folks were smiling!  Like the Tough Mudder folks had laced the mud pits with a meth, bath salts, crack cocktail!  No, ma’am/sir.

I stuck around to watch a couple of other obstacles.  Overall, I’d say Tough Mudder really is a race for those who actually train (not like the 5K mud races where you can fake your way through it).  The obstacles & course are very difficult.  The week after the Georgia TM, Tough Mudder had an event in West Virginia where a man died during the “Walk the Plank” obstacle.  While this isn’t the norm, it does emphasize that you should be careful.  I have never quit in the middle of a race…but I do not regret quitting this one.  And, it was my own fault for not being prepared.  I will say this…the great thing about this race is the spirit of camaraderie and other “mudders” helping their comrades along the way.  They have a “no man left behind” mindset (of course, I was like, “leave me, y’all).  If you have survived Tough Mudder…my hat is off to you as you are better than me 🙂

Interested in what the rest of the obstacles were?

The French Riviera: Day 3 “Yes We Cannes”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJanuary 4, 2010

Bonjour!  It’s day 3 and today was cold and overcast. We woke up this morning and went to our favorite cafe, Grand Cafe de Lyon, for our croissants & cafe au lait.  How am I going to live my life without this cafe near my home?  Clearly they need an Atlanta location [makes note to self to speak with manager about this].

We head out to see the Russian Cathedral before taking the train to Cannes (which is about 30 minutes from Nice).  As we are walking, I notice that almost every dog has on a designer outfit!  Seriously.  Let me ask you a question.  What dog do you know in the U.S. that is rocking a leather jacket????  Not Riley.  He wrote a blog post about dogs dressing up.  These dogs don’t wear plain little coats…they have designs and ruffles.  Like they are about to go on the runway at a Stella McCartney fashion show.  There is even a dog & cat clothing store.  I kid you not.  And, the dogs have the nerve to get attitudes if you stare a little too long…like they think you are about to steal their designer duds.  There is a dog in the apartment building we are staying in who barks as soon as you come into his line of sight.  But, I think that’s because he may be the poor relations around town since he didn’t havean outfit on.

Anyway, the train station is in the opposite direction from the promenade and the markets which we saw yesterday.  As we are walking to the cathedral, the “element” (you know who I am talking about) seems to be more prominent.  Maybe they don’t let them visit the nice part of Nice???  Anyway, it’s cold & rainy so I am focused on following the map to get to the cathedral.  I then start to notice that the area isn’t as pretty as other parts of the city but it has “character”.  However, my Mom stops me and asks, “Is this the ghetto? Why is dog crap all over the sidewalks?”  It was too much for her and I knew she was ready to hightail it back to the bourgeoisie part of town.  But I was determined to see the cathedral so she was going to have to talk to New Brenda and tell her to come on. LOL.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe finally find the Russian Cathedral and it’s nice…but not exactly what I expected.  I guess because it was in the ghetto?  I expected something a bit grander (and in a nicer area of town).  Kind of like expecting St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and getting St. Mary’s Hold My Mule So Help Me God Church of Christ AME on Bankhead Highway.  But, it was still pretty.

My Mom and I start walking to the Nice Ville train station.  Now, I don’t know why I think things in Europe are different.  In the states, the Greyhound is always in a seedy part of town.  But, I thought that since the train I took from London to Bath was in the nice Piccadilly area, maybe that’s how they roll across the pond.  I guess they didn’t share the memo with Nice. 

Then it happens.  We are waiting at a stoplight and suddenly some man almost knocks down a woman who is standing next to us waiting to cross at an intersection.  The lady was very dramatic about the whole scene and I recognized crazy instantly.  And, let me tell you…Nice has a whole new brand of crazy I ain’t never seen before (and yes, I had to use a grammatically incorrect sentence to highlight this fact).  My Mom was a beat behind since she thought it was just an ugly woman (he was a tad large and had man-breasts) but he had a buzz cut so I don’t know what she was thinking.  Being in the ghetto had her shook, I guess.

Anyway, Beat’em Up Bertrand (hereinafter known as “BUB”) dang near assaults a woman trying to rush to make the bus…and ends up missing it.  This is wear the C.R.A.Z.Y. comes out.  BUB decides he’s gonna cuss out the bus driver (or maybe just the bus because it was rolling down the street without poor BUB).  Then, once the bus is out of site…he decides to cuss out everybody else.  We are walking behind him and it’s like a bad car accident you just can’t stop looking at.  This fool takes his bottle of whatever (probably whiskey…you know crazy likes to stay bourre).  Oh, now “bourre” is my new favorite French word. It means “drunk” and is pronounced “boo-ray”.  You know I use it in sentences like, “I think he’s bourre’d” (because I don’t know how to conjugate in French so work with me).  That’s just how we do in Atlanta.  Anyway, Bourre Bertrand takes his bottle of spirits and THROWS it at a car that is pulling up to the intersection.  People are looking around at BUB but nobody says anything.  Not even the driver of the car.  They recognize he is bourre’d.  My Mom and I cross the street because that’s what my Grandmama told me to do when you see crazy.  He was out of control crazy. I don’t know what he was saying as it was in French but I have a pretty good idea because crazy people usually use the same 4 key phrases.  Maybe he should’ve walked over to the cathedral and talked to someone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter witnessing the Battle of Bourre, we finally make it to the train station and are on our way to Cannes.  As I stated above, Cannes is about 30 minutes by train from Nice.  This city’s focus is on big money and shopping.  You won’t find a lot of museums.  But, the shopping and hotels are phenomenal if you can afford it (and sadly, I could not).  We went inside the Hotel Carlton (which I believe was the hotel used during the Cannes episode of “Entourage” but I need to double-check) and is the most famous address on the boulevard de la Croisette.  Rooms start at 750 Euro and go up to 5300 Euro. They embroider your name on the bathrobe and everything.  It really is a beautiful hotel.

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After leaving the Hotel Carlton, we went to see the Film Festival Hall where they show the movies during the annual Cannes Film Festival.

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Afterwards, we ate at LaMocca restaurant which is across the street. I had the Tandoori Chicken & Coconut Mashed Potatoes.  I wasn’t sure how the mashed potatoes would taste with coconut but I’m always game to try something new.  It was delicious! My Mom had the antipasta dish which was tasty as well.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At this point, it’s getting dark so we head back to the train station.  The train back to Nice was delayed by 30 minutes so I felt at home since this is a normal occurrence on MARTA 🙂  After we finally get on the train…next thing I know, the metro police are rushing through the train.  Some guy is looking guilty…like he may be trying to get his 13 virgins or something.  At this point, I’m like, “Are you there, God? It’s me, Nikki. Tell Margaret to hold on because she’s been tying up the line for dang near 40 years! Please save me from crazy and the Taliban. Amen.”  I guess he heard my prayers because the final 20 minutes were peaceful.

We leave Nice tomorrow morning and head over to Monte Carlo so I can win big money at the blackjack and roulette tables (cross your fingers!).  Au revoir!!!

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Nikki’s Notes: Project Effie

Sigh.  I don’t think the Executive Assistant of my group likes me.  I know.  Who can’t like me?  Apparently Linda.  I can’t stand when people don’t like me (except if it’s my nemises…he can suck it).  It all started last week.  I got promoted to a new position within a business segment which meant I had to move to a new floor.  That move required leaving my wonderful office and relocating to a cube.  A CUBICLE!  Where I have to use keys to lock desk drawers before Burglar Billy comes to steal my purse because I don’t have a door.  I now suffer from OSA…Office Separation Anxiety.  But, I am trying to work thru it.  So, last week, I am trying to sneak out of my cube and go to the gym so I can stop looking like the light-skinned Precious.  But, before I can make it to the door, someone needs something so I go back to my desk and lay my keys down.  I am not quite sure what happened next.  OSA causes temporary memory loss.  

After I finish responding to emails (3 hours later), it’s time to leave the “office” for the day.  So, I try to open the desk drawer (assuming that’s where I put my keys) and it’s locked.  Instantly, I thought “BILLY GOT ME!”  I looked everywhere around my small cube.  It takes me 3 minutes.  *sobs*  I try opening the desk drawer again and it’s not budging.  Now, I’m sounding the alarms and freaking out.  I just knew I would get robbed being out in the element (that’s what I call cube living).  I go to see Linda (and interrupt her gossip session) to let her know that I had been ROBBED!  How am I supposed to get home?  Has someone stolen my car from the parking garage?  What is going on?  She checks to see if someone sent an email to her saying they had my keys.  I knew Billy wasn’t going to do that.  Billy was driving my car down I-75 screaming out “GOTCHA CUBER!” 

I leave her and go see Security.  That’s right.  I talk to our Director of Security.  He’s former FBI and I am asking him to put together a profile on Billy.  What motivates him to steal from cubes?  Maybe they need to dust for prints?  Check surveillance tapes…do we have those?  He looks at me…and I look right back at him asking if he needs to take notes or just plans on remembering all the information I’m giving him.  OSA is serious, y’all…it has PTSD symptoms.  I’ve got the folks in Security calling down to the front guard and checking on my car.  Then, I head back upstairs to wait on the maintenance man from Facilities (who Linda had called).  This was back when Linda liked me…before “it” happened.  She was so concerned.  I mean, I had no keys and my car had been jacked. 

I’m on the phone with a friend arranging transportation home when Leroy the Maintenance Guy shows up.  As I am pouring out my woes of being a victim of a cube Ponzi scheme, Leroy takes his keys and opens my desk drawer…and there were my keys.  Leroy and Linda both look at me like I’m a child that tells stories for attention.  I’m like, “Leroy, you just unlocked that drawer so you know it was locked.”  He just rolled his eyes.  You know what, Leroy?  Crabs in a barrel, buddy.

At this point, Linda has sighed and walked away…disappointed.  I send her an email to apologize and she’s like, “okay.”  DON’T BE THAT WAY, LINDA!  HOW DID I KNOW?  BILLY IS A FREAKING MAGICIAN (I haven’t given up on my Billy the Burglar accusation).  I just can’t break thru the ice wall Linda has erected.  She treats me like Celie did Mister.  If there are treats in the break room, she will tell my neighbor and look at me like, “STARVE MADEA!”  When I asked for her help in ordering new business cards…she told me to go on the internet in a voice that made me think she feels I am special needs.  I can’t stand it.

So, now I have come up with Project Effie.  You know Effie…from Dreamgirls?  Jennifer Holiday/Hudson’s character?  Looks like I’m gonna have to make my famous gorilla bread, bring in a boombox and start singing, “And I am telling you…I’m not going…AND YOU, AND YOU, AND YOU….YOU’RE GONNA LOVE ME, LINDA!”  If that doesn’t work, I will start on Project Obi Wan Kenobi…Jedi mind tricks always work.  Ha!

Race Series: Firefly Illuminated 5K Night Run

sourced from Firefly websiteWant to run with glow sticks and covered in LED lights?  Check out the Firefly Illuminated 5K/10K Night Run.   Currently, this race is offered in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, Chicago and San Jose.  But keep checking the website as they may add new cities.

Atlanta only offered the 5K run starting & finishing at Piedmont Park.  There were about 4 hills so the run was actually a little tough!  I didn’t die of water cancer or think about pushing a kid off a scooter so all in all, I’d say it’s a win 🙂

I formed a team named The Glitterati.  We had an awesome time!  There was plenty of music, bananas, water and great people!  Between the neon glowing wigs to lighted fairy wings, there was a bit of everything.  Running inspires camaraderie and it’s amazing how you will strike up a conversation with complete strangers over the common theme of racing.

Want more information on what to expect?  Check out the video below!

So if you are looking for a great night race to try, check out the Firefly Illuminated 5K/10K Night Run.  You will have a BLAST!

Team Glitterati

race swag

Now, I’m looking for my next race.  What do you recommend?  What’s your favorite race(s)?

Peach Lavender Honey Ice Cream

Summer…the perfect time for ice cream!  My obsession with Pinterest has finally paid off (and really, I had to step back and stop pinning decorating ideas for my non-existent multi-million dollar mansion).  I found a wonderful recipe that combines my 2 favorite things…eating & travel.  Living in Atlanta, you can find deliciously ripe peaches all summer and I had bought lavender during my visit to the Provence region of France.  The recipe is super simple and very light.  Instead of 2 cups of sugar, the ice cream is sweetened with only 1/3 cup of honey!  So I tell myself that it’s healthy for me (even though it calls for heavy cream, whole milk and coconut milk).

You can find the recipe (and many more delicious concoctions) at Tartelette.  The recipe also includes lemon shortbread cookies to eat along with the ice cream.  Delish!

IMG_1929While I mostly followed the recipe, I did make a few tweaks.  First, I found that not all peaches are created equally.  I tried to buy mostly firm peaches but it was hit or miss on the halves staying firm or being squishy when I cut them open.  I used a combination of white flesh & yellow flesh peaches.  And second, while I stayed true to the recipe and only drizzled 1 tbsp of honey, I used a bit more lavender (just sprinkling freely) in the hopes of having a stronger lavender flavor (as I couldn’t taste any lavender from my first attempt at this recipe).  I roasted the peaches for approximately 35 minutes (instead of 30) which made it easier to remove the skins.  I suggest playing around with the timing to see what works best for you based on your climate and stove type.

While the peaches were roasting (and the smell is wonderful), I started on the base.  I stayed true to the recipe.  The aroma from the base is heavenly too.  Once the base had come to a boil, I set it aside to cool prior to pouring into an airtight container for refrigeration.

After the peaches were done roasting, I removed the skins and pits, then used a potato masher to mash them up for use in the ice cream maker.

Once the base has been chilled (either overnight or by chilling in the freezer for a couple of hours), I started churning the base first…then added the mashed peaches.  The total churn process took about 30 minutes.  The result was a whole lot of deliciousness!

For those of you on Weight Watchers, 1 serving (1/2 cup) is 4 points.  Bon appétit!

I See Dead People (Oakland Cemetery – Atlanta, GA)

Well, not really but I did spend the afternoon at Oakland Cemetery.  “This garden cemetery, founded in 1850, is the final resting place of many of Atlanta’s settlers, builders, and most noted citizens like Bobby Jones, Margaret Mitchell, and Maynard Jackson. It is also a showplace of sculpture and architecture, and a botanical preserve with ancient oaks and magnolias. Here in this peaceful place the full scope of the city’s rich and fascinating history unfolds before you.  From a hilltop in Oakland Cemetery, General John B. Hood watched the Battle of Atlanta, and nearby lie soldiers from both sides who died in it.” (source, www.oaklandcemetery.com)

I decided to check it out as I’d heard so much about this cemetery from professional photographers.  It was recently selected by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as Atlanta’s Best Picnic Spot.  Now, while I find cemeteries peaceful and like to try to figure out the family ties of those buried within, I don’t have any interest in having a picnic next to Dearly Departed Darryl.  It did afford me the opportunity to practice my photography tho!

“Oakland’s acres of Victorian gardens offer a variety of spectacular locations for your special occasion.  Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African American mayor, and Ivan Allen, Jr. became the 26th and 27th mayors of the city to be buried at Oakland, joining six Georgia governors. Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With The Wind, is also buried here. So are golf great Robert T. (Bobby) Jones; Joel Hurt, one of the city’s leading developers and entrepreneurs; Atlanta historian Franklin Garrett, Bishop Wesley John Gaines, founder of Morris Brown College; Carrie Steele Logan, 19th Century founder of Atlanta’s first orphanage for black children which continues today as the Carrie Steel Pitts Home, and others who played a role in Atlanta’s evolution.” (source, www.oaklandcemetery.com).  I’m pretty sure I’m related to Carrie Steel Pitts (or at least that is the story I plan to circulate…see what kind of ancestry you can make up by hanging out at the cemetery?).

 

 

Grave of Maynard Jackson, first black mayor of Atlanta, GA

 

Funky Little 5 Points (Atlanta, GA)

My friend, Haskell, and I decided to spend a few hours taking pictures in Little 5 Points and Oakland Cemetery.  Little 5 Points (a/k/a “L5P”) is a funky bohemian neighborhood east of downtown Atlanta.  Known for unique clothing boutiques (Junkman’s Daughter, Envy, etc.), hookah bars and cafes…it’s a fabulous place to spend a Saturday afternoon!