I know my report is a little long!
The Tough Mudder (TM) is a 12-mile, hardcore obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.
Last year a bunch of people at my office signed up and participated. They had a blast doing it and talked about it for weeks. My good friend, Suellen, decided that she and her husband Todd would participate this year on the same team. I flat out said NO, there is no way and stop asking me! One day in January, I was thinking about reaching goals and leaving my comfort zone and I decided maybe I should do it. Suellen said it was a good year to participate; she and Todd would be there and who knows if they would ever do it again. I am so happy that I signed up, participated and finished!
About two weeks ago, our team captain set up a training practice on an Army obstacle course. Some of the obstacles would mirror what we would encounter. I was pretty nervous about having to scale a wall. Who was going to help me get over? We practiced this and I found out that it was not as bad as I thought. The guys made a human ladder and I literally climbed up them stepping on thighs and shoulders. Pulled myself over and jumped down. I was pleased I could do this and felt much better about the event.
The Mid Atlantic TM was held in West Virginia on a huge property, owned by a rifle training facility. We saw many shell casings and discs lying around. The property was huge and extremely hilly! Suellen, Todd and I left on Friday and stayed in the hotel with the rest of the team. There were about 40 on our team. Alarms went off at 5am and we were up dressed and heading out by 6am. Our team was in the first heat at 8am. The weather was cold and very windy. I was wearing capri length pants, a long sleeve compression shirt and our orange team shirt over it-- and I had gloves.
After we walked a ½ mile to the start, we registered and made our way to the starting line. You have to scale a small wall before you can ever reach the starting line. There is a guy at the beginning of the race that pumps you up, gives you confidence and gets you going. It’s an amazing feeling. (I should have him at all my races). I was feeling so excited and nervous all at the same time. I still wasn’t sure what to expect. We were off running as a team to the first obstacle.
Obstacles (I am only going to give you the highlights of the ones that really meant something to me)
1. Kiss of Mud
This was a great one to start off with, not difficult, just muddy. You have to crawl on your belly under barbed wire.
After we left this obstacle as a team it was about a mile run to the next obstacle. It was very hilly and I fell behind. I was worried that I would not see my team again and wasn’t sure how I would get thru some of the obstacles alone. There was a group of girls jogging my pace and I figured, if anything, I would ask if I could stick with them. But then my team mate Lloyd appeared. Honestly, I have never been so happy to see him. He said that he and Phil were right behind me and there were still a few more behind them. Lloyd and Phil became my buddies for the day.
2. Mud Mile #1
We arrived at this obstacle and it looked like team orange had taken over. The team was there, all working together. There were 5 or 6 walls of mud that you must climb over and land in water. The water was about to my knees and cold. They were pretty high up and you need help to get over them. After a lot of pushing, shoving and pulling, my team got me over; it may not have been pretty but we got it done.
3. King of the Mountain – Climb up Bales of Hay
4. Walk the Plank
Here, you have to scale up a wall and jump off a 13ft plank into muddy water. I got to the edge and I got scared. It took me about 3 times to finally get up my courage. There was a Marine at the top that said you have to go. My team was all chanting for me to jump. One of my team members was behind me and said I am not going until you do! Suellen came around to the side and said you can do this; I was starting to get upset. She said sit on your butt and push yourself off. The Marine actually gave me a kick to get me going.
5. Electric Eel
After this obstacle Lloyd, Phil and I really ended up by ourselves. We were jogging/walking and eventually all walking. Lloyd’s wife, Nancy, was walking the course with us. She was not racing because she had foot surgery in January. It was great to have her along with us. Sometimes she would cut through and meet us at other obstacles so she did not have to do all the hills. We also had a teammate that was the photographer. John would be all around, moving from obstacles and getting pictures of everyone. I loved having him out there.
6. Lumberjacked – Climb over huge logs
7. Arctic Enema (perfect name)
Jump into a bath of ice water, swim under a plank and get out. I was told to jump as far as I could and swim under the wood so I was not in the water so long. Well I jumped far, hit my head on the plank and popped up. I still had to go under the plank and get out the other side. I felt like I could not breathe and I was in the water forever. It was probably under a minute. That does take your breath away.
8. Trench Warfare- crawl through tunnels of dirt under the ground
9. Log Jammin- climb up huge logs and under barbed wire
10. Glory Blades - slanted walls to scale
11. Hold Your Wood- carry a piece of wood up and down a hill
12. Mud Mile #2- same as Mud Mile #1.
13. Boa Constrictor
I had heard about this obstacle. You go through a huge tunnel that slopes down into water, then it straightens out and you have to sliver on your belly so you do not hit the barbed wire that is above you. Then you have to sliver back up the tunnel out of the water. This takes a ton of upper body strength. Lloyd told me to just take my time. I was behind him and he was taking it slow. I was actually able to crawl on my hands and knees and had no problems. Lloyd said he could not believe how fast I did it. Nancy was on the other end cheering us on!
14. Berlin Walls - Huge walls to scale- but with the practice I was a pro!
15. Wounded Warrior Carry – Lloyd gave me a piggy back ride!
16. Firewalker- jump fire and land in a big muddy pool of water
17. Cage Crawl- lay on your back in water and you try to keep your head above it. Pull yourself on the cage that is covering you. (Cleaned off all the mud)
18. Pirate’s Booty
You have to swim about 25 yards in a huge muddy pool of water. There is a rope that you can pull yourself with. You have to then climb up a huge cargo net and this was tough. I started and could feel my quads shaking. I made it to about the third one and I decided to come down. I didn’t think I could make it over the top and climb down. So I had to climb up another mud hill to get out of the water. I watched Phil and Lloyd go over. Phil said it was one of the toughest obstacles for him.
19. Greased Lightning –huge slide down a hill and I went on my belly. It was kinda fun!
Everest is a half-pipe that is greased. You have to run up the wall and see how far you get up it. I watched the girl next to me attempt and I she hit her head on the wall, bit her tongue and was bleeding. I decided not to even try this and was happy about that. I had no problem admitting my limitations and glad I walked around!
21. Funky Monkey- Monkey Bars that are greased and turn. I made it to the second one and back in the water!
22. Electroshock Therapy!
Last obstacle! We finally made it. I was so happy to almost be done. You can see the finish. There is a man from TM welcoming you back! You have to run as fast as you can through mud and hope to not get shocked. But there is no way around it…you will get shocked and it hurts but I made it through without falling in the mud one last time!
After five hours, I reached the finish line, ran through and actually started to cry! Someone put an orange Tough Mudder headband on your head. I hugged Lloyd and Phil and could not stop thanking them. They actually made this race extremely special for me. Without them, I could not have made it through. It was cold and windy and I was never dry the entire day- you are either muddy or wet!
I learned that I am much stronger than I think I am and if I put my mind to something I can do it. This was the hardest race, mentally and physically that I have ever done. I came home badly bruised, sore and cut up, but I also came home with a lot of pride. I look forward to doing it again next year!