April 28, 2013

JFW's 2013 Tough Mudder Experience

Tough Mudder .....CHECK!

That is officially off my list. Especially if the list is titled "Things I never want to do again!" or "Things that will prohibit me from walking the next day!". It was crazy tough and I am seriously paying for it today. I am so sore that I got up early today because it hurt to sleep. The good news however, is that after a long cold day in the mud and careful inspection, all frozen body parts have returned to their normal, unimpressive size. 

I figured I would walk you all thru how the day went point by point so buckle up. This is gonna be a long blog.

You start the event by having to get over a 7ft wall just to get on the course. Everyone in your heat starts at the same time so you have to wait for everyone to get over. I popped over this wall pretty easy and truthfully, it gave me a false sense of security for what the rest of the day would look like. You then spend 5-10 minutes getting pumped up by the MC and then you are off. This is the only part of my day that I look back on as a mistake. We were in the back of the group and if I could do it again, I would get out front. It was so packed it made the first run really slow and we could have cut off some serious time by getting early separation. In any event, it was still no big deal.

The entire course was a little over 10 miles and had 22 obstacles. The first run was one of the few sections you could actually run in without dragging your feet through mud that I can only compare to quicksand. We made the first run in decent time and got to the first obstacle without being winded in the least. 

Kiss of Mud #1 - This obstacle was basically crawling under barbed wire. I was shocked (even though I shouldn't have been) at how cold the mud was. I think the distance was probably 20-30 yards but it felt like forever. I wouldn't describe it as hard but it really set the tone for how muddy you would get. It also allowed me to immediately rate my equipment choice as my gloves were now useless and my shorts were falling off. My clothes felt like I now weighed 20 extra pounds. The upside however was that if any of the obstacles made me shit myself, who would know?

Arctic Enema - Simple concept here. Fill a dumpster with 20,000 pounds of ice & water, then jump in and come out the other side. I embraced this one and went for it. I personally didn't find this as cold as others and immediately gave myself an "A+" for wearing the 2 piece wetsuit. I did get stuck in there for about 15 seconds longer than I wanted because the person ahead of my running partner was slow getting out. I muscled out with no problem but my feet were tingling for sure. I was clean now so I would have to wait if I wanted to poop myself later.

Fire Walker - I honestly don't remember this one. I remember running around some fire pits and having a hard time breathing but I don't think I jumped over any. I may have still been hazy from the ice bath. 

Glory Blades - Here is where shit got real. You have to climb over two inclined walls that are angled back at you. You have to have teamwork here so me and my two running partners as well as a few others helped each other over. I think these walls were around 8 feet tall so it was no easy task. I felt good about my upper body strength on this one but I was glad there were only two. 

Mud Mile #1 - This was a fun one but really hard and required a lot of teamwork. It was basically deep trenches filled with water between high mud hills. They were almost impossible to scale without help and the trenches were 3-4 feet deep. You would have to wait for someone at the top of the mud to help pull you up or you would have to boost the guy next to you up and have him help you. We used a combination of those strategies the whole way through. There were 5 or 6 of these hills and it was pretty exhausting. I couple of big dudes helped me over the last two and I swear they launched me like a rocket when they pulled me out. 

Electric Eel - This one you slide on your belly chest deep in water while trying to navigate around (and avoiding) electric cords hanging down. I flew through this and only got zapped once in the back of my leg. I barely felt it. The others said the same thing so I was a little unimpressed with this other than the fear factor.

Trench Warfare - Hello claustrophobia! You have to crawl belly down thru tunnels underground. It was dark, smelly and wide. I suggested they rename it "Oprah's Va-jay-jay" but I don't think they will. Our tunnel had enough light that you could see but it took a lot of arm and leg strength to get out. The arm sleeves I wore at this point were seeming like an excellent idea.

Funky Monkey - You have to cross about 30 feet of monkey bars going up and coming back down over water. I watched my buddy Marty slip on the second rung and land flat on his back on this one. After I quit laughing I did an excellent cannonball into the water and swam across. The gloves we wore made this impossible but I made that swim my bitch.

Hold Your Wood - A 1/4 mile log carry that we chose to do as a group. That was a brilliant suggestion by Marty because Rigby and I are both about 2" taller than him. The weight was on our shoulders the whole way. To his credit, he made enough appropriate grunts and straining sounds to appear as if he were working hard here.

Just the Tip - This was my favorite obstacle. You're shimming across a board by your fingertips over water. If you've ever seen "Ninja Warrior" it's just like that. If you haven't then visualize holding onto a two by four by your fingertips with nothing under your feet for about 15-20 feet. I made it all the way, then missed my foothold at the end and fell in like a sack of potatoes. I was so close. I would love to get another shot at this someday.

Dirty Ballerina - You jump over trenches onto dirt mounds. Each jump was probably 3 feet or so and at my height was not too bad. There were several people really hesitating here but I got thru this pretty fast. 

Hanging Tough - Similar to the monkey bars you have to swing over water but this time with rings. Again, I did a brilliant cannonball. My form was pretty impressive at this point since I was getting good practice. I'd like to try this sometime without my gloves but there was nowhere to dry my hands and I knew it would be a waste of time to wait around.

Berlin Walls - Of all the obstacles I'd rate this one a 10 for hardness. It was two 9 foot wooden walls that you have to get over. At this point we were around mile seven and starting to get tired. Our buddy Rigby used some super human strength and boosted Marty and myself over like it was nothing. Rigby's a dentist so I can only imagine what your jaw must feel like when he hulks out on your teeth....

Island Hopping - You have to jump onto floating platforms to cross pool of water. I completed this one. I have pretty good balance and just took them one at a time. Marty took the approach of staying on all fours like a cat that didn't want a bath. It was an impressive display to be sure and one I wish I had on video...

Wounded Warrior Carry - We partnered up and Marty & I carried Rigby, then they carried me. Marty and I nearly split Rigby in two as we carried him. Also my hand got dangerously close to his junk at one point and having a pretty good idea where that's been, I was afraid there wouldn't be enough antiseptic around to make me clean again. Fortunately, we all made it thru unscathed. I can't speak for Rigby's junk however.

Ladder to Hell - You have to climb up a vertical ladder of logs that I estimate were about 12 feet high. This was more a fear factor obstacle than anything else and I moved thru it quick. For the record, I am pretty scared of heights but at this point I just wanted to be done and put it behind me.

Kiss of Mud #2 - More crawling under barbed wire. They could eliminate this obstacle since it seemed a bit repetitive. I also blame this obstacle for my knees looking like an cheerleader after prom.

Walk the Plank - 15ft drop into 14ft of water. I just went for it on this one and jumped without hesitation. My mistake on this one was kicking off the bottom too soon and I ran out of air before I came up. I made it however and swam out without issue. I did see a lifeguard jump in a pull someone out and since somebody drowned on this obstacle a few weeks ago I'm sure they were taking extra precautions.

Boa Constrictor - You crawl through plastic piping down into a mud pit and then back up. In order to get back up you have to submerge yourself for a couple of feet. It was a little scary and by "scary" I mean I nearly pooped myself. This one felt borderline dangerous. All I could think was "I really wish I had wiped my browser history before doing this"....

Mud Mile #2 - More trenches and hills. My legs were cramping so bad I think I got my first period. Ahhh the joys of womanhood. These felt endless but they were a little easier than the first time we did it. On the bright side, I knew my legs weren't pregnant...

Everest - You have to scale a greased 1/4 pipe wall. It was too tall for me so I needed someone to grab me and pull me over. I missed on my attempt and after watching Marty miss twice we bailed on it.

Electroshock Therapy - The final obstacle! (Thank God) You run about 40-50 feet through electrified wires. I ran in under the theory that it would be like the electric eel. I was wrong, ohhhh so wrong. I got hit on the right shoulder, immediately dove to the mud without looking and shouted "Don't taze me bro!" I assumed that anything below me couldn't hurt as much as the wires above me. I shimmied my way out without getting hit again. I was immediately freezing, all of my joints hurt, and my hands shook for about 10 minutes. That obstacle was no joke. We completed Tough Mudder in about 3 hours & 20 minutes. I collected my orange headband, T-shirt and beer with pride.

The only other "obstacle" was the unrelenting mud. There were hills, drop-offs, and mid calf deep mud through most of the course. It made it almost impossible to run a significant portion of the course and really taxed your energy. I would estimate we ran probably 2/3rd of the course and were forced to walk the rest. We all started cramping pretty good by mile eight and I saw a lot of people stopping to stretch or rest. Also I had two huge ripped blisters on my heels that were killing me and I think I ran the last 2-3 miles on my tiptoes. If I did this over (which I won't) or if I could offer advice, I would tape my feet and not wear gloves. Other than that, I feel good about the training I put in and the gear that I wore.

Last, I would like to give a big shout out to all of my teammates. Without Marty & Rigby this course would have been almost impossible to complete. Also it was impressive to see everyone on our team finish and I am proud to have run it with them.

Also...I'm wearing my headband to work on Monday.

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