As promised, FINALLY here is the story of How I Earned My Orange Headband and officially became a Tough Mudder.
I “swam” through waist-deep mud, crawled through dark tunnels, and was electrocuted in the head. With a smile on my face!
So let’s back up. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I have been training for TM. Well, Sunday the 24th of August was the big day! It was the second day of “Tough Mudder Great Northeast” (TM events are huge and usually take place over the course of an entire weekend) and my friend Tom and I drove up with my family for the race challenge.
Still clean pre-race!
Full of nervous excitement at the start line!
The New England Mudder this year was held in Westbrook, ME. Oddly enough, part of it took place on a doctored-up golf course (and by doctored-up I meant post-apocalyptic). Tom said it was significantly less hilly as a result (most other TM’s are held on ski slopes and the like), but the footing was actually much worse. He was right there – the hills were not too extreme (though my hill workouts DEFINITELY paid off in this endurance event!) but a good part of the course was actually a series of hiking trails (used for snowmobiling in the winter, I believe). Those parts of the course were very steep, rocky, and irregular – definitely not very conducive to running. We hiked those parts of the course, as did most people. A few ran past us, but the possibility of easy injury dissuaded us from following suit. That said, the first half or so of the race was definitely more suited for running. Out of the total course, about 10.3 miles (TM events are between 10 and 10.3 miles), we estimated that we ran about 6 or so. The rest we hiked or were, of course, on one of TM’s infamous obstacles.
Trying not to think about the thick mud coating the inside of my compression shorts D:
The obstacles. Oh, the obstacles. There were over 20 of them, and certainly none of them were a piece of cake. The ones that I found most challenging were, predictably, the ones that required the most upper body strength. Though I did my best to work my upper body during my training, I think that there was realistically only so much I could do as a female and also in a limited time frame. Obstacles like Glory Blades – walls angled towards you that you had to scale – and Pole Dancer – parallel bars that you had to shimmy across with your hands over a mud pit – really challenged me. Pole Dancer and Funky Monkey – ascending monkey bars over a pool of cold, muddy water – were, frankly, more difficult than I had anticipated. I simply didn’t have the arm strength for them. Though I ultimately fell off both, isn’t that kind of the point? Despite the fact that I wasn’t able to “ace” them, so to speak, I am very proud to say that I did complete every obstacle, even if it was knee-deep in mud.
Candid shots from the course.
Most of the race, though, was about endurance, lower body, and core strength – which are luckily strengths of mine! I am very much slow and steady, which is exactly what is needed for this kind of event. That said, Tom and I still managed to finish in 3 ½ hours – an hour less than his time at his last TM! And 3 ½ hours also accounts for time spent waiting for obstacles, including traffic at one accidental mud pit that had become essentially impossible to cross without emergency volunteers and rope installations.
It’s an unpopular opinion, but I actually really enjoyed the obstacles that tested mental game the most. Yeah, the infamous Arctic Enema (a giant ice bath and you have to plunge into – and, yes, swim under a barrier in) wasn’t comfy. But I left it feeling oddly great. Yes, I probably am the only one, but it felt awesome to have done this physically and mentally challenging thing, this CRAZY thing, and did it with a smile on my face. That kind of endurance, that grit that Tough Mudder is notorious for testing, is really what I love.
Cheering Tom on as he did the “alums only” supplementary obstacles.
At the end of that crazy 3 ½ hour, 10+ mile and 20+ obstacle challenge, I felt like I had 130% earned that Dos Equis! My darling family was there to cheer me throughout the whole race, and of course I couldn’t have done it without my dear teammate. Neither of us can wait to do it next year, and this time with a big team, we hope! I collected my swaggy technical Under Armor finisher shirt with a giant goofy grin on my face.
Muddy and scraped up, but grinning ear to ear!
Immediately after the event, TM sent out an optional survey that would allow participants to earn a heavy discount on a new TM ticket…
…So now I am already signed up for a 2015 event!
Peace, sweat and love,