Saturday, May 14, 2011

The other thing that kept me away from blogging - Tough Mudder

This is how I spent last weekend (Mother's Day).  It's two posts combined into one, from my fitness blog, so if the tone is a little different than normal, I apologize.  :-)

UPDATE (got a little introspective after I published this the first time): 

I'm starting to feel a little bit like I'm in Fight Club. I've run into a few coworkers who have similar bruises and faint outlines of numbers on their foreheads and legs, and the response is always the same...a quick double take then a "wait...did you do Tough Mudder this weekend? Holy crap, so did I!" And then an hour or so reliving the experience with someone for whom you have a whole new respect, knowing they put themselves through the same hell you did. It's the mud that binds us, if you will. Anyone who walks in on the conversation responds with a vague "oh that's cool..." or "wait...why would you do that??" but without experiencing Tough Mudder, you simply...don't get it.   

I've been looking for other races/runs to do that would come close to what TM was, and nothing seems good enough. Too short, not enough obstacles, on flat roads, allow entrants under 18 (a sure sign that the course is meh...sorry Spartan)...and yet, the next VT TM is almost 14 months from now, and who knows where I'll be then?

Also, other coworkers have asked about doing TM and whether they should go the full Mudder or try something else "to see if they like it" first. I have a hard time with that...maybe it's elitist or something, I don't know, but I figure...if there's any doubt in your soul, you should not be doing Mudder as your first mud run.  But then again, I've always been a "go big or go home" kind of girl, so maybe that's just me. 

Holy moley you guys, today hurts. I'm actually using my arms to get myself out of my chair to walk to the kitchen. No bueno.

That said, I wanna do it again. I'm so hooked, and I can't wait until Tough Mudder comes back to town next year. I also just found out that a coworker ran it on Saturday, so I'm trying to convince him to run the one in NJ in November.  We'll see how that goes.

Until then, a few notes on the obstacles.

1. Braveheart Charge
This one was fun. Everyone was amped up and ready to go. We sang the national anthem and there was an awkward thing involving a picture of Bin Laden with an X through his face. Unnecessary, but whatever. The moment wasn't lost. The initial charge was downhill and everyone was smiling.

2. Death March
This was probably the first time we started questioning what we'd gotten ourselves into. It wasn't a little slope, guys...this was a red at best, which is more than I'll snowboard down, even on a good day. The mist is from the snow making machines they had blowing on us...not warm y'all, not warm.

3. The Killa Gorilla
Coming down the hill to see this, we were laughing. It was so absurd to look at. This was the first obstacle that I got to help someone else. There was a girl I was about to pass who was losing steam and fast, so I grabbed her hand and said "let's go" and pulled her up some. She sped up as soon as I grabbed her hand, and I felt faster too...that's just Tough Karma. :-)

4. Devil's Beard
This one wasn't so bad. It was annoying, but we all wound up giggling most of the time, especially since I got clotheslined more than once. I was the tallest one going through it at that point, so I earned that.

5. Boa Constrictor
I saw pictures of this Saturday afternoon and my heart sank.  They put them at an angle, into a large puddle that was probably knee-deep to stand in....which is roughly eye-level when you're in them. I have HUGE issues with small, dark spaces and with murky water, so I expected this one to be an issue.  However, right before this one we saw Nick, who then ran ahead to meet us here and cheer me on.  I love that boy. His cheers made me so happy I forgot to be nervous.  The tubes weren't completely dark either, which made it better.  However, there was a good chunk of it that I was under water completely (as far as breathing is concerned) so that was unsettling.

6. Tired Yet?
I think the website might have these slightly out of order, but I honestly can't remember. I remember laughing at the tires because they were right after an uphill trek. They weren't so bad, but they weren't great either.

7. Tree Hugger
Now I know these are out of order.  The Tree Hugger was definitely after the mud mile, and I'm pretty sure after the Ball Shrinker. But whatever, it was there. It was rough, but not impossible.  Fortunately, the ground was miraculously dry, so that helped a lot.

8. Ball Shrinker

The first of the water obstacles...all I can say is misery. The water was <40* and they had a snow making machine blowing on us for over half the way. In the description they make it sound like there was a choice about going in the water...there wasn't.  The top rope was maybe two feet above the water, which made the whole thing under water up to your neck. One guy fell here, since his hand started cramping up...he didn't look like the kind of guy who screams easily, and I've never heard genuine screams of agony before, so that was a little unsettling. I hope he's ok.

9. Mud Mile

Here we fell in sync with a group of maybe 6 guys in navy shirts who were hilarious and kept us laughing the whole way.  Stupid jokes that I'm told aren't funny out of the situation, but I'm still giggling.

Q: What's blue and smells like red paint?

Answer after the next obstacle.

10. Kiss of Mud
This one was almost disappointing...until the end when the mud got about 6 inches deep.  Then the girl in front of me laid down 100% and said she was taking a nap, right there.  Loves it.

A: blue paint.

11. Hold your Wood
Another man fell here...apparently he had a stye in his eye. Ouch. We got to the top of the hill and watched as a guy accidentally dropped his wood, which was a round log.  Guess what happens when gravity meets a round log on a steep hill?  Near disaster, that's what.  In the end, some guy ended up diving in front of the thing to save the village. It was epic and the whole world heard us all yelling about it. Good times.

12. Hey Bales
It was as advertised...hay bales in the middle of the course. Itchy, itchy hay bales. Hay + soaking wet clothes = mega itch.

13. Evil Knevil
This was actually a half pipe we had to run up the grab onto something (usually a hand) to pull ourselves over. It was kind of badass because it felt like you were about to flip over completely. I helped 2 people up, including one girl who we had to pull up one limb at a time. Boom.

14. Spider's Web
Shockingly painful, this one. It was a net that went straight up and straight down, and you had to climb over it.  Turns out, chicks can also suffer when metal wires are introduced to the tender areas. Just saying. I didn't even know Nick was there, which is why I don't even look up when he's cheering...and why I look like Frankenstein.

15. Mystery Obstacle (Fish n Chips)
Basically, you crawled through a vat of maple syrup and vinegar, then through wood chips.  Would have been dirtier but more painful the other way around, IMHO.  It wasn't that exciting since there really wasn't much maple in it.

16. Walk the Plank
I know for fact this came earlier, but I couldn't tell you where. I think before Spider Web though. Anyway, this was...mind blowing. This was the only obstacle that I really hesitated on.  I'd never jumped off a high dive before, and this was HIGH.  If I'd known how gawdawful cold the water was, I probably would have hesitated more.  Julie, god bless her, held my hand though and we jumped in together. The water was about 35 degrees, and I've never felt my body seize up so completely before.  It was terrifying. I could hardly swim to the side, and I'm a pretty strong swimmer.

No turning back now...
Scream started here (note open mouth).
Continued, but you can't see my mouth.  You can finally see Julie though, who, because she was gracious enough to hold my hand on this one, ended up being blocked by my massive pinkness.
Mouth still open, scream still happening.
Landing gear down, still screaming.
COLD! Quick gasp before we went under!

17. Underwater Tunnels
This was more like "hip deep muddy water that smelled like cow poop with really low pipes over it".  It was really damn cold, I got a brain freeze every time I came up, and I nearly lost my contacts.  The guy behind me pointed out that's what my goggles were for.  Oops.

18. Glacier
This was the first time I wish I'd brought gloves. Climbing up wasn't awful, but you ended up sliding down, which meant all that cold, icy snow rubbed your hands raw. No fun.

19. The Gauntlet
More hay bales and a guy in a mask with a fire hose. And some snow making machines. Translation: more cold. We decided to run to minimize exposure, and the guy took pity on us and didn't even hit us. Thank god.

20. Cliff hanger
Uummmm...I'm not sure which this one was. Maybe this was another snow one? Probably. There was no motocross slope though, so I'm going to go with snow bank of doom. Again.

21. Blood Bath
They shoveled ice cubes into this water, to make sure it stayed just barely above freezing.  Again, brain freeze.  Julie went over, I went under. Oh and our tank was green.

I'm not crying, I had a massive brain freeze from the icy water. Ouch.

22. Funky Monkey
Won't lie, I climbed over the top of these.  I had no upper body left at this point and  no real burning desire to swim it. So I cheated.  But really, if I'd fallen it would have hurt a lot more.  Just saying. And 80% of us were doing it that way, at that point.

23. Berlin Walls
We looked at this one...stared for a long time. Then decided broken limbs were not what we wanted, so we walked around.  That's right folks, technically I didn't finish.  I'm sorry.

24. Tower Hurdle
My shins are just now turning blue and purple from this one. Seriously, major damage points here. They were fun though. By the time we got to them, they were wicked slick with mud and the pits on either side were deep, so I think they were harder than, say, on Saturday. Just saying.

25. Fire Walker
Warmth! Oh, and smoke.  A lot of smoke.  Didn't stay here long, just wanted to finish.

26. Turd's Nest
This one was almost easy, comparatively. The fact that it was so late in the run is really what made it hard. Mentally, I just wanted to be done.

27. Greased lightening
Don't be fooled...this sucker hurt.  The water had had time to carve really deep, narrow ruts in the ice, forcing you down the bumpy ride at top speeds.  At the bottom, it made a few nasty turns, which meant bruises.  And for this girl, a busted  ankle.

28. Electroshock Therapy
Not as bad as anticipated, but mostly because I took it slow and avoided a lot of the wires. One got me good enough to know they meant business, so I kept out of it.

 Julie and I helped this girl get to the last obstacle. 
So what happened here is one of these guys (I think the one in blue shorts) came barreling around the corner and WIPED HER OUT.  Like, flat on her face, wiped out. So they took over and helped her to the finish while Julie and I tackled the wires on our own.

The finish!!! WOOOO!!!!

Overall, I have to say that this is the first run/race/whatever that I really truly regret nothing. I gave it everything I had and then some, but most of all I had FUN. I didn't quit and I didn't let my fears get the best of me.

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