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Tough Guy 2015

Tough Guy

Photo credit: quantumlars / flickr

My multiple and frequent mid-life crises normally manifest themselves as car purchases – maybe like the last supercharged V8 purchase. This time, it’s a run with some relatives. How card could it be? After all I ran a marathon once and did a variety of kickboxing and boxing training in the last decade.

How did I train for Tough Guy 2015?

I retired from kickboxing about 18 months ago as I had been training after neglecting so many injuries that I was like the Black Knight – fighting with mangled limbs at best, bloody stumps at worst. Not that I was kicking so hard I snapped my own leg like Anderson Silva, I just have shoulder issues and hip issues. After that I went to physiotherapists for many months. I did lots of exercises, but had to lay off any serious training. I had long since given up running, and gradually I descended into a world of cake and apathy. A far cry from the six-pack I almost thought I might have had once.

So about 3 months ago, I started running again. I did the couch to 10k in 2 months – you know – any random training plan from the internet where you start at pizza and end up at 10k. I did it, and realized that I was running before I could even stand – having spent too long driving and writing sat down at a desk, my posture was so horrible that I wasn’t even strong enough in the right places to stand up. Let alone walk. Or run. So after developing crippling shin splints, I then followed this with a 10k to couch for a month. I stopped running, instead researching all the ridiculous methods suggested by Dr. Internet for halting the pain in my shin whenever I started to run. I bought new shoes, stopped running altogether, and went back to the physio.

Now instead of running 10k in mud, up hills, and doing cross training, I was back to the abs classes at the local gym frequented by the over 65 year olds. I was humbled by their strength and a little despondent. Three  weeks ago I started another couch to 10k program that involves mostly walking. But then I realized that I couldn’t get to the target of 15k if I didn’t skip some weeks, so I fast forwarded a bit.

I also ate lots of cake, crisps and bars of Dairy Milk.

After reading some race reports, it looks like a pretty brutal experience. That people train hard for. Experienced, healthy people. I did a race in November with my brother – the Wolf Run and found it chilly but not cold, dirty and fun. I remember being surprised as I was halfway around the 10k mud course, and saying out loud, “I think I’m enjoying this.” The only obstacle I couldn’t hack was the monkey bars – my hands weren’t too slippy – the rings were covered in mud and I wasn’t strong enough to keep my hand gripped around the muddy metal.

Things that I have done a bit of:

  • ending a shower with cold water – I can’t face a cold shower yet.
  • being outside in the English winter – wearing less when I do run outside
  • read about hypothermia
  • wake up in a cold sweat worrying about it
  • worrying about what to wear

Things I have done none of:

  • running around carrying a giant crucifix. Yes, 100 people do this on the day.
  • jumping in icy lakes

What are my excuses?

Like a Formula 1 driver, I want to have my excuses ready. Mine are that my hips are still weak, my shoulder is still impinged, and I’m generally 25% bodyfat unfit. It’s not like I didn’t know the event was in February 2015, and indeed I have known this for some time. I think I’ve been plagued by injury that has stopped me training hard. Also, having just moved back to the UK from the land of the Hershey process (a cheap process that makes foul tasting chocolate) and having been inundated with Mr. Kipling and his sultry wench Madame Cadbury, I have been eating my weight in sugar and fat on a weekly basis.

So as usual, I’m avoiding the sense of “train hard, fight easy.”

What to wear at Tough Guy?

I’ve read all sorts of reports. Less is more. More is more. Cold is bad.

The fundamental principles I’m following are that anything that can stop scratches, heat loss and provide protection are good and anything heavy or soggy is bad. This is my current gear plan:

  • Hat. probably a cheap wooly hat. Maybe a swim cap in my pocket.
  • Trail running shoes – the ones I train in. Not the Enduro 1000000 Mud Splayers that everyone rants about, just ones that are a good fit for my terrible running style of over pronation
  • Runners tights – anything to stop the abrasion and ones that will dry quickly
  • glove-socks – ones that stop the toes chafing and dry fast
  • gloves – I’m torn between wetsuit gloves and cycle gloves
  • Compression calf socks
  • shorts to hide my junk and to keep the bottom abrasion down
  • A compression under garment
  • Either a wetsuit vest or a running top – depending on what I can find

What is the Tough Guy race like?

It looks physically challenging – for me running 15k over muddy hills would be difficult enough with today’s level of fitness – I can run for maybe 7 minutes without reverting to a walk in my current slowly, slowly, catchy no injury plan.

So there’s that. It’s also mind-blowingly cold. The water you wade through is covered in ice. Sharp, heavy, mud covered ice that slices at your limbs. And of course, you have to completely submerse yourself in the water, not just chest deep but completely over your head deep. So the ice slices at your face too.

The challenge then isn’t just physical fitness and to become stubborn enough to finish. It’s about keeping moving fast enough that you don’t succumb to hypothermia. A very real danger.

So why do it?

Because it’s there. It may be some attempt at defining masculinity. It might be about bonding with my future brother-in-law and my brother. It might be about learning more about myself and getting out of the cocoon of comfort in which I typically reside. Twenty years ago I was riding a motorbike across the Sahara. Ten years ago I was trying to climb mountains. Five years ago, after my first child was born, I was running a marathon – the adventure you can do without leaving the country. Now my challenges are necessarily shorter and more intense.

My fears are that I’m going to grow more decrepit as I age, that I’ll never recover the use of my left hip and right shoulder. I plan on challenging those fears.

Statistically there’s a fair chance I’ll fail as a first timer at Tough Guy. It’s good to fail.


Mark’s Taxi for sale in Utah

So if you’re looking for a vintage London Black Cab in the US, you probably already know that I really enjoyed my 1967 FX4. I had to sell it, and now Mark has dropped me a line about his taxi for sale in Utah. I must say it sounds like it’s in far better shape than mine was when I sold it, and I also think that the asking price is very, very, very reasonable – $4750. Most people ask closer to $10k for a car in perfect condition, and this one has so many things in the “good” column – it looks stunning. In the other column there’s a loud knock to the engine. I definitely spent more time posing for photos than driving mine, so this wouldn’t necessarily put me off if I was in the market for another one.

Check it out in Mark’s own words:

“Why do it, if you’re not going to do it right”  Peter ..  Paul Newman’s personal race team head tech and my taxi project leader.  Peter has restored many vintage cars and worked with an employee of Rolls Royce to do this Taxi. Right now I am pulled too many different ways to see this project through completion.  And if I cant do it right.. I want to make it available to someone that can bring it to completion and enjoy the ride.

This  is not a museum quality restoration, but definitely a head turner, and a classic.  I have restored 2 FX3’s a 1957, and ’58 and a few other non British cars.  It is now located in Heber, Utah within a carport, or garaged in Park City depending on timing.

First the Good..  All lights work, including the interior, TAXI light sign, driving, interior, etc.  I have a video showing it starting and idling.  No idea how to post it, so I can email it directly to you.    The tires are fair, they passed state safety inspection, but at completion you will want to replace.    The wheel hub caps are authentic, and the Mickey Mouse turn signal lights work well.  One is faded, but 2 nice spares come with the car.

The headliner is great, rear seat good but a couple of small cracks turned rips in the leather about 1″ in length, drop down seats nice, interior overall very nice, (5 out of 10)  with the exception of a rip in the drivers seat  needing repair.  Door panels redone and windows, door handles, etc all work done.

I am mid project with a recent  $1,500 a new fuel injector pump installed by G&R Diesel in Salt Lake City.   Next  it was delivered to  diesel  specialist Andrew Hererra in Riverton, Utah.

First step:  Open up and perform a thorough engine cleaning with a complete and total flush.  Removed the oil pan and heads, and totally cleaned everything so now she’s clean and we can get to work for a final tune.

Second step:  It drives, shifts and idles just fine, but there is still more to diagnose.  It is a diesel but it knocks more than should.  Did I say more than it should?  Good just want that noted because the Andrew suspects a ring, or a rod, but again she still drives.

Overall, it is a great classic that is a head turner vehicle that gets huge thumbs up, and smiles, waves and quite simply a London taxi with the right hand drive, is unique and upon final engine work is ready for you to have fun!    I just purchased a BMW motorcycle and the road is calling.  I am not of the mind set to see this across the goal line… it is almost there and I am hoping someone will want to complete and enjoy.

If you would like an English Phone booth to call for your taxi …I have one of those too and will be listing shortly.
Additional info:

  • The car:
  • Spare, Jack, on Line Manual printed
  • Brakes alone $600 in Austin Healey parts
  • New Wheel Cylinders
  • Some bondo, no rust anymore.
  • Sat for 9 years prior, in lein sale.
  • Sanded all the way down with an apprentice for Rolls Royce.
  • Brought to US in 1977 probably 500,000-1,000,000 miles on her
  • named Winston-can be changed :)
  • wipers work-needs blades
  • 32 to 1 compression
  • new glow plug.  just hold down, usually turn key left for glow plug then right to start.  no need now.
  • Temp gauge does not work.
  • Has original wiring.
  • took 8-10 months in restoration.  Finished Oct 2010.
  • 4 black primer coats, 6 black paint coats, 3 Clear coats – all with sanding in between
  • From Santa Barbara, CA

If you want more details, please get in touch with Mark directly, or comment here if you would like to be kept in touch with every new taxi that comes up for sale.

Mark is on 435-714-1370


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Did Dog The Bounty Hunter Kill Someone?


I have a friend who has stopped drinking, hopefully for the rest of her life. She still calls herself an alcoholic.

So is Dog The Bounty Hunter a murderer?

Does it matter if he’s given up murdering, if he once has murdered, and did he have a non-murdering sponsor who gave him a coin for every year he didn’t kill someone?

Well it turns out that Dog The Bounty Hunter has a few things in his past. I mean he’s got nine years of that TV show to answer for. The one in which he courts his larger than life wife with his larger than life hair, while hunting down criminicals with his henchmen who look like they’ve chosen their clothes on the run from the fetish club to the paintballing meetup group.

On the show, he is portrayed as a physically imposing man with a heart of gold – who acts as judge, jury and psychotherapist to the people he chases in Hawaii who have forgotten to go back to jail while out on bail. He hunts them down, and rather than treating them with the violence that you might expect from his bulbous biceps and his gay-biker leather getup. He sees that the fugitives are troubled people who have to go to prison to sort them out.

And what gives Dog this weighty insight? Is it the fact that he himself was banged up in 1976 for 18 months when a friend of his shot a drug dealer? That’s what happened.

In Texas of all sweaty hellholes, Dog was waiting by a car when his friend went inside to buy weed, and ended up shooting a dealer. By association Dog was guilty too – which sounds a lot more like modern legislation speaking historically. I’m sure murderers in the 1970s don’t get out after 18 months, even if they are chairman of the prison library book club, and personally arrange the warden’s wife’s flowers every day.

So perhaps Dog isn’t a murderer in the same way that my friend is an alcoholic, allbeit a reformed one. Perhaps he was an accessory to a murder (sounds like a manslaughter to me at best from the limited information I have), in the same way as the murderer’s Timex watch was. And maybe he’s spent his life doing good since then.

Still, we have over 240 episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter to forgive him for, and the very fact that he wanted to appear on UK Celebrity Big Brother (he was denied entrance due to him being a reformed murderer in Texas) should preclude him from being on Celebrity Big Brother. In the same way that any one who wants to be in politics should be banned from politics.

Verdict: Dog is a murderer, but a friendly one.