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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tough Mudder Run Part 1, The Cold

I. Am. So. Sore. I could tell even before I moved out of bed this morning that this was going to be a difficult day. Just about every part of my body hurts. I am bruised, scraped and mentally fatigued but it was all completely worth it. I wanted to chronicle my experience while it was still fresh in my mind, so I am going to be going through my experiences of the entire course yesterday complete with an obstacle list for anyone who is curious. Warning, this may get lengthy.

This course certainly lives up to its name; I have never attempted something so physically and mentally challenging in my life. I trained hard for fourteen weeks and during the course I kept thinking I wish I had trained harder. I built up my endurance to run eleven miles without stopping, but it probably should have been fifteen. Fortunately I was able to keep my good humor during the event, so at least I was having fun.

Look at all these happy people!
The day started with parking and registration and obtaining your wrist bands. The green one was for participants and if you were over 21 they give you an orange one for your "free" beer at the end of the course. Not being a beer person myself I just left the orange one off, but in retrospect I probably should have worn it and given my beer to someone else who just finished. We were cutting it a little close on time so I only had a couple of minutes to stretch before I was sent over the start chute wall into what can only be described as a corral. This was a small seven foot wall that was just a warm-up and no biggie. In the corral there was a very lively MC who was describing that this was not a race, but an event to be accomplished. Everyone was to look out for everyone else and help out as much as possible. (This is one of the reasons I chose Tough Mudder, because we all weren't competing against each other, we were all working together to finish instead). I had originally signed up with a team but no one else made the commitment so I was going solo. This turned out not to be a problem. The MC then had us recite the Tough Mudder pledge:

 As a Tough Mudder I Pledge that...
I understand that Tough Mudder is not a Race but a Challenge
I put Teamwork and Camaraderie before my course time
I do not whine - kids whine
I help my fellow Mudders complete the Course
I overcome all Fears

And then we were off! Through the starting gate, I hung back a little to allow a lot of the other people to go ahead of me as one of my big concerns was injury and I didn't want to get caught up in a tangle somewhere. Plus, it isn't about the time, right?


Arctic Enema

I am in a lot of pain here.
The first obstacle we came to was called Arctic Enema. Basically this is just a dumpster full of ice-cold water that you have to swim through. I had read about this obstacle ahead of time and how much trouble people had with it and I couldn't understand the big deal. I had jumped into cold water plenty of times so I wasn't really worried about it. What I failed to grasp was that this water was somewhere in the range of 20-25 degrees as they kept dumping ice into it. And 25 degrees is a lot different than 50 (what I assume I am used to). I waited for the person ahead of me to go and I jumped right in. There was a barrier about halfway through the tank so you had to duck underwater to get past it. The person ahead of me was having difficulty getting out so I had to tread water for about 15 seconds longer than I wanted to. It may not sound like a lot, but it was excruciatingly painful. Once I finally got out of the water and back on ground my entire body hurt. I don't even know how to explain it; but the shock of such cold water made my body want to shut down. I had to walk around for a few minutes just to get feeling back in my body, I certainly didn't feel like running 10+ miles at that point. But that's what you have to do so I moved on.

Kiss of Mud #1

The next obstacle almost directly after the last was called Kiss of Mud. Here you have to belly crawl through mud underneath low hanging barbed wire. This wasn't too bad as the muddy water helped warm me up some although I did sit up a little early and snagged my back on the wire a bit. But at that point I was full of adrenaline from Arctic Enema so I didn't even really feel it.

Spider's Web

Next up was Spider's Web. This was a cargo net suspended in the air that you had to traverse. One of the coolest things about this obstacle was that other people were on both sides of the net pulling it taught so it would be easier for other participants to climb over. Everyone took turns doing this, one person would hold it, then climb over while someone else held it for them. It completely embodied the essence of Tough Mudder and it was very refreshing to see people helping everyone else out rather than being concerned with only themselves.

I'm having fun! You can tell by the look on my face!
At this point the length of the running was really starting to become apparent. I passed the first mile marker sign thinking "How can I do ten more of these?" but still I pressed on.

End of Part 1.

Click here for Part 2.
Click here to go back to the Prologue.

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