Hi everyone! Thanks for bearing with me while I had the week from hell and worked some crazy hours last week. I now bring to you – the Tough Mudder Recap you’ve been waiting for!
Also, it’s my one year blog-o-versary today! One year ago today, Bubbles and Booyah was born. In that time, I’ve run:
- 4 Half Marathons
- 2 Trail Races
- 1 10K
- 5 5Ks
- 1 Tough Mudder
Basically, I have really grown into my own as the High Priestess of Booyah. I’m proud to say, I’VE KICKED MAJOR ASS in the past year!!! There will be more thorough reflection on all things Booyah and a stroll down memory lane later this week. For now, I’ve promised a Tough Mudder recap, and I will bring you a TM recap!
I have to admit: I was more nervous for the Tough Mudder than I was for my half marathons. Running is so mental, and I’ve done wonders to build up my mental game over the past year. For running races, I have a routine, I know what works for me, and I stick to it – I know once I start running I’ll be okay. But Tough Mudders are different: these are mental and physical challenges, and your whole team is watching you perform. You don’t want to let anyone down! Ten days before the race I had a text message exchange with my friend and gym buddy D (who was the unofficial captain of our team, and organized the whole Tough Mudder experience) which really captures how nervous I was:
L: I’m getting excited and nervous at the same time! I just don’t want anyone to yell at me or make me feel bad if there’s a really high thing/enclosed space thing that I really don’t want to do because I’m scared of heights and claustrophobic af. I’m not afraid to push myself and try hard but don’t want people pushing me to do stuff I’m not really down with.
(…I was basically sh*tting my pants, guys. I was so nervous! All I could picture in my head was me standing up on a really high platform and everyone yelling for me to jump off and me frozen in place out of my fear of heights. Or not being able to reach someone’s hand to pull myself up over a wall. Or somehow screwing up an obstacle so my entire team had to do it over. Or basically looking like a complete wimp and my team like secretly annoyed with my lack of athletic ability. Lots of anxiety over here.)
D said something that really stuck with me:
D: You see people of all sizes killing it and you’re like “Sh*t, they did it. I have to try!” But obviously if you don’t want to, no one will make you feel bad at all.
L: I will def try!! I’m sure I’ll have so much adrenaline pumping it will make it easier to get over my hesitation. I guess my biggest fear is being embarrassed if I like don’t want to do an obstacle/freak out at an obstacle and people are like pissed at me or something.
D: No one will care. I promise you that.
Spoiler alert: no one cared. D went on to say more nice things about the emphasis on teamwork and cheering each other on that did wonders to assuage my fears of failing the team and made me feel a little calmer before the Mudder. But underneath it all, I was still wicked nervous.
On the morning of the Mudder, I put my pre-planned outfit on: my $3.88 clearance rack workout t-shirt from Target, old Nike running capris, a Lululemon all sport bra, CEP compression socks, my Nike trail running shoes I got from the outlet for $49.99, and a Lulu fringe fighter headband to keep the wispies out of my face that I bought on clearance (in case it was lost/damaged, I saved my no-longer-in-production and highly coveted Lulu Bang Buster headbands from harm). I lubed myself up with Body Glide, counted my Mocha Clif Energy Gels, double checked that my inhaler was working properly, chugged water, made a protein smoothie, braided my hair into a low braid, brushed my teeth and then anxiously waited for Sarah to come get me.
Sarah came and picked me up at 5:45 am and we headed up north to Westbrook, Maine where the TM took place. It would be an understatement to say that I brought a lot of stuff. Sarah was dying laughing when I exited my house with two huge tote bags, two reusable shopping bags, my purse and a precariously balanced cup of coffee for the car ride. I packed bananas, apples, enough water for before and after, 2 PB&J sandwiches, a bowl of overnight oats for my second breakfast that I never ate, paper towels, 2 beach towels, garbage bags, face wipes, baby wipes, 4 gym towels, a change of clothes (sweatpants, T-shirt, etc), one hoodie, arm sleeves, kayaking gloves, flip flops, my purse (with wallet/phone/keys/etc), Advil, New Skin, band-aids, Neosporin, sterile alcohol wipes and a cup of coffee. Yeah, I was basically ready for a week long camping adventure, and/or a zombie apocalypse.
We arrived at the parking lot, met up with our team and took the bus to the abandoned golf course where the mudder was to take place. Our heat started at 9 am, so we checked our bags, hit the port-a-potties, wrote our bib numbers on our foreheads and upper arms, pinned our bibs on and headed to the warm up area to prepare for our heat. Being with the team helped quiet my fears – I was lucky enough to be with a team full of awesome, kind and fun individuals. We were in it together, and full of team spirit. We recited the Tough Mudder pledge, sang the national anthem, smiled for the cameras and we were off!
The first obstacle is about a mile way, so you trudge through the woods on a trail for about a mile, up and over hills, through creek beds and mud puddles. I did the best to keep my feet dry (rule #1 in running long distances), which was kind of pointless because you rounded the corner and the first obstacle we encountered was the Kiss of Mud – basically crawling through a mud pit under barbed wire. My hair got caught and I sliced my elbow on the barbed wire trying to free myself. One of my team members freed the fro from the barbed wire (I still don’t know who came to my rescue, but thank you!) and another team member pulled me out of the mud pit. This is when it became apparent why you do this as a team – you help each other get through each obstacle.
The next obstacle was the Beached Whale: a huge inflatable slick with mud that you had to get your team up and over. Not too bad – lots of teamwork involved. Then we faced the most dreaded obstacle: the Arctic Enema 2.0. You shoot down a slide that has chain link fence over it (so you have to lay down flat, and in essence go faster down the slide) into a 36 degree muddy ice bath in a dumpster, head up and over a wall, swim-ish to the other side and get down a ladder. This one I was not looking forward to because a) it’s cold, and you were about to get completely soaked; b) I was not a fan of that chain link fence because of my claustrophobia and c) I did not want to feel as if an ice cube got shoved up my you-know-what. I sucked it up and did it, sliding into the ice bath in between my teammates Nikki and Chris, and it was not nearly as bad as I expected. My face says otherwise though.
After the Arctic Enema, there are a lot more obstacles. Seventeen more, to be exact. So I’ll just fast forward and give you the highlights of my favorite ones.
Funky Monkey 2.0: Monkey bars angled upwards (so you climb at an incline as you move forward), a trapeze bar and a pipe that you go hand over hand to the end. I was really proud of this one: I made it all the way onto the trapeze bar, but hesitated before jumping onto the pipe to shimmy to the finish. I touched it with my fingertips though! I almost made it – I’m looking forward to dominating it next year. I was really proud of myself for how far I got in that obstacle. I was nervous and second-guessing myself but I did it! That’s what happens when you try. You might surprise yourself in what you can accomplish. Also, what are those concentration faces I’m making. LOL.
There were a lot of walls, mud pits, ropes, slippery slopes to get up and over. My team cheered myself and our entire team on for each challenge – individual or team obstacle, it didn’t matter. We stuck together and encouraged one another, which is what made it so fun. They didn’t even care that I chickened out on one of the obstacles: King of the Swingers.
Now if you’ve read B&B before, you’d know that I only have two major fears in life: I’m wildly claustrophobic and totally scared sh*tless of heights. I climbed up onto the 15 foot platform, got to the very edge to get ready to jump and did something dumb: I looked down. My hands started sweating. My heart started racing. And all of my team members had already gone. I had no one to tell me I could do it, and all I could think about is if I hurt myself somehow, I would miss the next three races on my fall roster. I slowly backed away, and climbed down the platform. Sarah predicted the future the best, “You’re gonna regret it.” She was right: I did regret it. But I knew in that moment it wasn’t in me to hurl myself off that platform without some outside encouragement. Am I worried about it or still beating myself up? Nope. I will do better next time.
Everest 2.0: A curved ramp about 15 feet or so in height that you have to sprint toward and jump to the top, it’s one of the most team oriented obstacles, as your team has to catch you and haul you up and over.
I was worried about this one. It’s the second to last obstacle, and by now you’re covered in mud, tired, hungry, thirsty and ready for that post-mudder beer. You can see the finish from here, so I think that helps to propel you forward. I was afraid it would be hard to pull myself to the top, so I backed up as far as I could and sprinted full force toward the wall, and jumped as high as I could right as it started to curve. My teammates told me after they thought I was going to smack right into the wall because I was hauling ass, and that I compressed the curved wall as I pushed down to jump up towards them (which means these legs = power). They helped haul me up and I helped them pull myself with no problem, I was so relieved afterwards. So DAMN FUN.
Electroshock Therapy 2.0
I think this obstacle is tied with the Arctic Enema for the most-feared obstacle. Live wires, crackling with 10,000 volts, hang down over a watery mud pit, and are mixed in with dummy wires. When second-time Tough Mudder D was asked what it felt like, she replied “Like you’re getting punched.” Great. Just how you wanted to end 4-ish hours of obstacles, isn’t it?
Before the Tough Mudder, I was hell bent on skipping this obstacle. It just didn’t sound all that safe. But after doing all of the 19 obstacles before it (minus skipping out on King of the Swingers) I figured I would give this one a shot. Also, I was armed with the fact that redheads (aka MC1R.3 mutants) are less sensitive to electrical pain. (I’ve electrocuted myself by accident a few times by doing dumb things like trying to plug my phone charger in the dark and getting my hand in between the charger and the wall, and it’s really not that bad). Booyah, betches. Ahead of me, my own team members and other randoms were running full force through the wires with the forearms blocking their face. There was a lot of yelling, shouting and swearing as they got zapped (it’s not funny but it’s hard not to laugh because it seemed like we were in a cartoon). I casually strolled through the wires, avoiding them if I could, and didn’t get hit once. I think someone was looking out for me, because I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that happened to.
And I DID IT!! We all ran across the finish line holding hands as a team. So, so, SO ridiculously fun! It’s a pretty amazing feeling not to just complete but actually excel at something that you weren’t too sure you could do. I felt incredibly strong and empowered as I crossed that finish line, knowing that I did something pretty friggin’ amazing. BOOYAH! And I could never do it without my team: an amazing group of individuals, who supported, encouraged and cheered me on throughout the entire process. Down N’ Dirty: you guys rock my world. ❤ So my take away message is this: you can do this. You can do something that you think is impossible, if you have an amazing group by your side and work together to push through each and every obstacle. I feel that the immense popularity of the Tough Mudder is due to the fact that it is such a good allegory for life: you may get beat up, fall down, feel defeated, zapped – whatever, but if you keep pushing forward and believe in yourself, you can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And if you approach each obstacle with some serious mental toughness and belief in yourself, AND have an amazing team of people supporting you and helping you through, it will seem like a cake walk.
Stay tuned for my Tough Mudder Essentials post tomorrow, outlining everything you need to succeed in your first Tough Mudder.
I hope this past week was fantastic, and I hope everyone is having a happy Monday!