MegaMarsch Munich, here we go again
There I was alone in the dark, whistling different melodies about my various pains. The joy of ecstatically suffering in darkness with my poor whistling harmony and effortlessly passing by other participants was my movement forward. Being in perfect harmony with my body and sense of movement meant that the only thing that could destroy me was some demotivating thought, and that was what, in the end, dropped me.
Starting with wrong state of mind
Six days till event day, and here I am dealing with symptoms from over training syndrome. The mood is depressive, the joints and muscles ache, and it feels like anything I touch instantly becomes a subcutaneous bruise; one day the knuckles hurt, the other day the knees. Neither of them were ever in the slightest collision with any object.
Pondering with what ruck weight I should attempt the challenge. Trained with various weights up to 45# dry. The original plan was to take it on with 10#, but as judgment day was ever-nearing and the aches weren't subduing, the dry weight turned into wet weight. The starting (wet) ruck weight was 12kg (or a bit more than 26#).
On judgment day, May 13, my state of being was almost equivalent to that when I started the Malerweg1 a month ago: aches and pains throughout the body, plus a depressive mood. I was hoping that, as a result, they would subdue within a couple hours of rucking. This is a very typical strategy that I have used in the past, and usually it takes a good 2-4 hours until the negative mood dissipates.
On the way to the starting point, I was surprised by the rest of the team (totaling nine members), which I really didn't need at that point in time. All I wanted at that time was to be void of any potential energy-draining leeches with their cheerful mood. I just wanted to be left alone in my depressive sorrow of nothingness.
At the starting point, we picked up our packages, and then I continued setting up my phone to be ready to contribute to OpenStreetMap. From the past hike, I realized that I should have multiple profiles to ease the number of quests to focus on. Thus, the one I was missing was one focused on highways. In the end, I didn't map as much as I dreamed I would, and for the brief times I did compare the data, it was quite high in quality. The only thing was that the surface decision on lots of highways felt lazy and chose compacted over some more concrete materials.
There are two strategies that I employ when dealing with the abrasive avoidance of the fellow individual to charge my social battery and become more ingrained in social activities. The first one was mentioned with rucking 2-4 hours. Though who has the time to deal with my expressionless demeanor, especially when traveling with a team? Thus the OpenStreetMap addition comes into play, which shortens the time to about 15-30 minutes.
The hypothetical reasoning is that with OpenStreetMap, one focuses on what is around, thereby shifting the focus from something intangible to a more concrete matter. Once you realize the beauty of the quantity and later the quality of the data, there is no need for the rest of your body to continue with the gloomy feeling. Even the frustration of the ignorance of previous contributors is a joyful event. Why should one get mad at someone for not knowing better, which in itself is a childish reaction?
Sheeple speed against tortoise wisdom
Now that the mood is up and the initial pains and aches have diminished, there is little to persuade the potential grim journey. At about this time, we were slowly separating into packs of 2-3, and at the same time, our last man was drifting further and further back. The buddy system was almost perfectly in play with the additional freedom of a buddy at visual sight. This was all good until we came into the woodlands, which had many switchbacks, and sight was gone within a couple of instances.
I remembered this portion from a couple weeks ago, when I did a night ruck with two members of the team. We had our breakfast rest at the Georgenstein2 on the Isar. So I was familiar with the terrain and upcoming path, plus I double-checked the route on the map, but I was perplexed when the left arrow was missing to guide us onto a single trail. I thought about it for a second, then ignored it and hoped the guiding chunk of participants knew where they were going.
Well, we were all surprised with annoyance when, 10 minutes down the road, that same chunk of individuals came back towards us with the expression that we had left the planned route. Fun.
With no time to lose, I turned into the navigator while our team lead called the last man to tell them to be careful with following the path and to check the route so they did not deviate from it as we did.
The route I chose was 1 kilometer longer. This could have been avoided if we had known that the original route was overflooded and not deviate back to it, since if we went with the optimal route to the first refueling station, the only thing we would have gained is altitude.
A venting comment that triggered me was one of the members saying, "What the fuck, MegaMarsch, how in the world were you not able to update the route with the consideration of flooding, and why aren't your way marks top notch?" I just thought to myself, "It is not MegaMarsch's fault that we deviated from the path, especially since most participants had the route with them. It is our fault that we put so much trust in MegaMarsch and the previous chunk of participants.
At the first refueling station, we saw our last man just chilling and waiting for us to arrive, and we received the wisdom, "Slow and steady wins the race."
The lone wolf
After leaving the second refueling station the team split into two larger convoys, the first having six members, and the second with the final three. It was also just before nightfall, so we suited up with our reflection gear and headlamps.
For the first part of the next section, the rear pack was playing a catching up game, since the forward pack put in quite a quick pace. They told their journey in hope of catching up to us and said that the hunter orange cap was their lighthouse of hope. It was easily spotted to any onlooker that they asked where did I get the cap from.
Now that the convoy was together again, we mixed and mingled until our Speedy Gonzales took the lead and was just pulling the rest of us up the slight incline. This occurrence quickly predefined the final packing order. The trail3 quickly distinguished itself and split off with two members. I tried to keep up with the head and took upon their role as soon as the route flattened out. The final draw happened once it started raining and the convoy body decided to cover up. I still heard the command from the team lead and couldn't take it serious just because of a couple of rain drops.
The weather forecast for the day predicated only minute rainfall. I was betting on it and although my pants did get somewhat wet, the rainfall stopped just as quickly as it started. It didn't even soak my long sleeve. For me it was no justification to stop for an event that was so insignificant, thus I rucked further constantly passing other participants.
There I was the lone wolf marching on. In the beginning with the headlamp on to complete the lighthouse look, though as soon as out of the misty rain and woods the light was turned off.
I had my annoyance moments of people jumping over backwards to not step in mud with their sneakers and thereby me completely halting to see their tactical maneuvers. Plus funny moments of being part a "peanut butter jelly toast" game, where each individual says one of the words. They were only three so I took on the fourth role. It seemed like an attempt to keep their team members awake. Also had my helping hands moments of giving another participant a salt tablet to help combat delirium.
Although I was alone with my thoughts, technically mostly my whistling and calling out each pain as it came through melody, all was good until the lower back aches started. The left pinky toe hotspot was manageable with airing feet when possible and diminished throughout the event. Right hip pain was maintainable, if I held onto the area with a pinching hold between fingers and thumbs, basically using the practice of accupressure. My long lost friend, the left should ache returned to annoy me throughout this stretch to the third refueling station. I haven't dealt with it this intensely since the 2019 star course in Normandy4. Tried massaging the area while singing through the pain. These were all maneuvers in some form or another, but the lower back had no feasible option at the time.
I took a break to deal with it with some stretches like cat and cow pose. This definitely felt all well and dandy as long as I was sitting, though as soon as I was back on the feet, it was as if the stretches were redundant. I can't be definitive to what told me to throw in the towel, but I feel the pain was a leading cause. After struggling more than two hours with it and also dropping the pace to let the convoy body catch up, I feel like it was an acceptable reason to drop out with back thought of being able to fight for another day.
The trembling break
The last meters to the third refueling station were a struggle. It felt like everyone I passed in the last three hours was finally having their revenge and passing me. After I had made the final conclusion that I was done with the challenge and finished feeling sorry for myself, I dug deep for a surge of energy and kept pace with the team that just passed me. It surprised me that the lower back aches subsided a bit, and I concluded that the aches might be due to poor posture from rucking slowly. This in turn started me to analyze the rest of my training in a more critical light, plus later a team member mentioned, "What did we expect would happen if we didn't train for it?"
But before that could start, the goal for the time period was to find a resting spot with a backrest. In no time, one was free, I elevated my legs on my ruck, and the post-exhaustion trembling started. I wasn't cold per se and was, weirdly enough, quite hot. I have been wondering throughout the event if I was rocking a low-grade fever since I constantly got hot flashes. Covering up with extra layers did help with the shivering and put me in heat retention mode.
After action report
Although it is sad that I didn't achieve the challenge the second time around, I do feel like I learned a new aspect of myself. First, let me share what I tried before getting to the lessons.
To deal with the initial body and joint aches and pains, I took 1 gram of powdered turmeric every 10 kilometers. I feel like this caused the cottonmouth I was experiencing in the final stretch, which made drinking water weird since my thirst was not satiated with each gulp.
Further, I experimented with energy drinks and only had one that contained 80mg of caffeine. I originally planned to take one every three hours, though after just one, I was more than wide awake for the next seven hours. It should be mentioned that I abstained from any form of caffeine for a good week. In the past, I have had adverse effects from caffeine during the night portion, though it was a much higher dose and the temperatures were much cooler.
The worst initial injury is the heat rash on my feet, with the left one being much worse than the right one. This means I need to look into my footwear setup in more detail.
Most of the aches caused by the march were gone within 48 hours, which has always been a desired goal to be able to bounce back quickly.
The realization from the one member questioning our training method put me in a pondering state about what I could do better next time. Considering that two of the aches stem from my posture while rucking, I definitely need to fix it. Although I trained 40 days for the hike, with the last 5 days being complete rest days, I didn't even consider having a focal point on posture. I was hoping that the posture was correct from the get-go, though it looks like I will be incorporating more neck, shoulder, back, and core routines into the training.
For the areas I did focus on during the training, although I was sore during the event, the bounce back was less than 24 hours.
Final thoughts: given the circumstances, I feel like I did better than my original expectation, which was to at least show up and withstand at least 2 hours of pain.
What happened to the others
In the beginning, it was rumored that there was a 40% success rate. From the nine members of the team, four people completed the distance: the complete body of the first convoy and the beloved last man with their tortoise wisdom.
Data for the nerds
- 18.8 km
- 36.3 km
- 59.5 km
- 67.8 km
- 89.4 km
Remarks to tracked route
The time includes the breaks.
This is the training plan I followed for preparations.
|Day of Week||Activity||Ruck weight||Starting distance||Distance increase per week|
|1||barefoot walk no ruck||NONE||1 km||1 km|
|2||long distance ruck||MID||5 km||5 km|
|3||hill ruck||MID||1 km||0.5 km|
|4||long distance ruck||MID||5 km||5 km|
|5||heavy ruck||HEAVY||1 km||1 km|
|6||long distance ruck||TARGET||5 km||5 km|
- MID = 2 times TARGET weight
- HEAVY = 2 times MID weight