Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tough Mudder...There and Back Again: A Mudder's Tale part 2 0f 2

Well here is the big one! So, what is Tough Mudder?...I think this video says it best...from toughmudder.com.


I slept really well saturday night...I think I fell asleep at 9PM? I was very happy about this and I woke up at 4AM with a 5AM departure time. After I got up and got dressed, (More on this later.) I made some scrambled eggs with shredded cheddar cheese, a banana, and a cup of coffee. On the beautiful drive up, I drank a liter of water, and ate a protein bar. When I arrived to the BLUE LOT lot again, I walked to the shuttle station along with a big group of participants and as soon as we got on site, the energy could be felt...a mix of anxiety, and excitement. I went up to the Check-in area and went through with no problems. I got my bib, participation bracelet, my Dos Equis over 21 bracelet, and a bag drop tag for my bag of clothes for after the event. I went to the body marking station where I got my bib number written on my forehead, and both arms, (Just because.)

Once I went through all the preparations, I dropped off my bag and other belongings. Since I had time before I met up with my PUG (Pick Up Group) team, I wondered around the site, got another bottle of water, donated some money to the Wounded Warrior Project, got my hair cut into a mohawk, (Just for the event, I mean I should have a wild and crazy hair cut for a wild and crazy event.) And I watched some people participate in some fitness challenges. At around 830AM I met up with my team, (We had a 920AM start time) and we talked, talked about the event, got some tips from our 2x veteran leader Matt.

At 9AM we started walking to the pre-start speech...

When the time came for our start wave to start assembling, we walked over to the ”Pre-Start/ Warm-Up” area where we took part in some basic stretches and warm up exercises, which I was grateful for because God knows how badly I would need it. After some warming up, we got the pre-start briefing, how to summon the medics if needed, who came from which state, who was pumped and excited, etc. 
    After this, we got to job about 100 yards to (as my team leader called it,) the “Real Start speech, which was done by none other than the infamous Sean Corvelle!

 But before we could get to him, we had to cross our first obstacle…a 6 foot wall. To prove that the entire obstacle course was in fact an obstacle course, we had to get over this one to get to the start line. I made it over without assistance. 

   Now Sean…this guy was one of the most motivating and inspirational people I have ever met. He just has a way of captivating the audience.  If you haven’t heard him speak, look him up on youtube! He went over some more basics and reiterated some points (like how to summon medics,) He warned those who can’t swim to avoid the deep water obstacles (Like “Walk the Plank”), warned those that have had seizures, or have a pacemaker or any other metal in their bodies against “Electroshock Therapy”. He gave huge thanks to the people that have volunteered for Tough Mudder in the past and he made us (former volunteers) feel like we actually make a difference. He thanked the military for keeping us safe, gave a shout out to one of the Tough Mudder sponsers, the Wounded Warrior Project, and thanked the Firefighters, Police, and Emergency Medical Service personnel for keeping the public safe. Then came the part that I remember the most vividly…He told us that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow…so make the most of today, to try and make everyday a “first time something.”…and finally, he gave a shout out to the Legionnaires, the ones who have endured “Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet” before, and told them to show the first-timers how to complete Tough Mudder…and show us they did. And then Sean welcomed the first-timers to Mudder Nation, and that IF we cross that finish line, we would officially become Tough Mudders and that he, the U.S. Army, a cold Dos Equis Beer, AND the coveted Tough Mudder Headband were waiting for us…and with that, Dropkick Murphey’s “Shipping Up to Boston” started playing and he counted us down from, 10, 9, 8 , 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! With every second, the crowd counted down with him, and we got lounder with each passing second, and at one, we gave a loud TOUGH MUDDER! And we were released onto the course. Sean was giving high-fives and hugs to those that wanted them as we passed…I went for the high-five and I got a loud Hoorah from Sean and the high-five…it was awesome.

Now for the course, the terrain wasn’t too bad…mainly rolling hills, and old golfing trails. The first ¾ of a mile were a bit slow, because of all the people running…luckily, the really fast people ran on ahead, and the slower people fell behind which put us in the thinish middle group. (Now from this point on, I will describe the obstacle, put up a picture of it, and my personal difficulty rating of 1-10 and of course, the amount of mud we encountered there.)

At the ¾ of a mile mark we hit our first obstacle, “Kiss of Mud”…

Description: We had to low crawl about 50 feet through deep thick mud…overhead we had barbed wire going across the six avenues only 8 inches from the mud.


Personal rating: 5/10 It isn’t too hard, just low crawling, the worst part were the rocks hidden in the mud, so my elbows and knees got a little beat up…so next time, I plan on having some form of protection for my elbows and knees.

Mud level: Very muddy! The entire front side of my body was covered in mud, at the end, I could probably fill a large sand bucket full of mud after I wiped it from my body.

After our first obstacle, we noticed that half of our team was having trouble keeping up…our leader Matt elected to stay behind with the slower half because he ran the event twice on Saturday so he was already pretty worn out. The other half of us started jogging to the next obstacle…we soon passed the 1-MILE marker…which came and went pretty quickly for us…we weren’t tired yet so that was pretty thrilling. After another half mile after the 1-MILE marker, we hit out second obstacle…the slower half of the group nowhere to be seen.  So the fast group tackled the next obstacle…”Mud Mile”


DESCRIPTION: Walk and crawl your way through deep mud pits crawl your way over walls of mud for 100 feet.


Personal rating: 5/10 After the beginning, I slipped down and plopped into a pit of mud as deep as my chest. So I kinda had to swim/struggle my way out, then as a team we boosted each other over steep mud walls, back into another mud pit, this one wasn’t as deep…maybe waist deep? Then another wall, then another waist deep pit, and then the other slope at the end.

Mud Level: Very muddy! My entire lower body was covered and I got some on my face from the initial splash after I jumped in.

We waited for the slower group to catch up with us. After some discussing, we agreed to officially become two groups, the faster group comprising of Me, Kelly, and Jen; and the slower group, Matt, Alex, and Susan. Once we had that settled we waved good bye to our former team members and left. We passed the 2-MILE marker soon after and we ran through more rolling hills, mud pits and trails and we came to our third obstacle, Pit fall…


DESCRIPTION: As the name entails, there were pitfalls…basically, there was a large muddy pit where we had to wade through and cross to the other side. The catch? Beneath the murky surface there were giant 2ft deep holes scattered through out the obstacle.


Personal rating: 2/10 Definitely the easiest obstacle so far. You just have to be careful  not to hurt yourself, because once you step into one hole, you generally try to correct and balance yourself with the foot NOT in the hole, and usually there is another hole where you put THAT foot and you’ll topple over and get muddy and wet…lots of fun though.

Mud Level: Kinda muddy, You’ll definitely get wet, but the mud is more watered down, so you’ll get some mud.

After that obstacle, we jogged some more, not really tired yet, passed mile 3, saw our first injury…some guy had a hole in his knee. More hills and trails and of course lots of mud.

We came to our fourth obstacle soon after, Quagmire…


DESCRIPTION: As the name suggests, it was a quagmire…a deep pit filled with mud, it was probably waist deep. Not strenuous at all.


Personal rating: 1/10 All it is is walking through slightly thick mid.

Mud Level: Kinda muddy. Again, the mud was kinda watered down.

Mile 4 came and went and it was probably a quarter mile till we came to our next obstacle, “Pyramid Scheme” …the first real team focused obstacle so far.


DESCIPTION: Basically, you and your team must make it up a slippery half-pipe by making a human pyramid. One of the cool things about this obstacle is how every one gives a helping hand, regardless, of if they’re if on your team or not. I personally pulled up 4 or 5 people after my team got up.


Personal Rating: 8/10 This was definitely a hard one to complete, if you don’t have the people or strength…and this is an obstacle that you can’t really do on your own.  I got up pretty easily because I had a great team to get me up and a strong guy giving me a hand at the top. 

Mud factor: None, other than the ankle deep pit at the base of the half pipe.

The distance between Pyramid Scheme and the next obstacle was probably another quarter of a mile…this time it was all through the woods…and then we came to a clearing with “Trench Warfare”, our next obstacle.


DESCIPTION: Basically, you’re crawling through a hole in the ground…like a gopher. It goes straight, left, straight, right and the straight to the end.


Personal Rating: 7/10 It was somewhat difficult, due to how close the walls were and lack of room and the first three quarters of it were dark.  Also, there was a bunch of rocks toward the ends. So I got some more scrapes and scratches.

Again, we started jogging again and before we knew it, we were at “Walk the Plank” It was like a quarter mile to the obstacle, and we were happy to have it so close to Quagmire…it meant another break.


DESCRIPTION: You climb up some planks and then…YOU WALK THE PLANK, I think it’s a 20 ft. drop into 12 ft. deep water. Then you swim to the shore and pull yourself up with cargo nets. LOTS of FUN…if you’re afraid of heights, you might have some trouble on this one.


Personal Rating: 1/10 Not hard at all, its LOTS of FUN. Again, the hardest part is actually doing the jump. It can be a little nerve wracking especially since you’re wearing clothes.

Mud Level: None really. It’s more of a chance to get rinsed off of all the mud that you’ve accumulated thus far…you feel like a new person after…but that feeling is short lived as you go right back into the mud. ;-)

After "Walk the Plank", we started jogging yet again...(lots of jogging here) and we hit mile 5...and to welcome us...the "Berlin Walls"


DESCRIPTION: Like it sounds like, this obstacle is a couple of very tall walls that you have to get over. Definitely not doable on your own unless you are crazy strong and tall as the walls are like 12ft. tall.


Personal Rating: 7/10 Definitely a tough one. For one, you're high in the air at the top and then you have to reply on self control and others to help you up and down...there are two walls. So once you do one...you turn around and do another. Lots of fun though.

Mud level: None really...besides the residual mud from peoples clothes.

Shortly after the "Berlin Walls" came the obstacle that I enjoyed the least...in fact there wasn't much like there at all...this obstacle? The "Funky Monkey"


DESCRIPTION: Remember the monkey bars at school when you were a kid? Well its that...but worse you start on an incline and depending on the course you could dip down, back up then down again...or in my case incline halfway, decline halfway.


Personal Rating: 10/10 This one I failed miserably...I only made it in 3 rungs before I fell to the nasty waters below...and after I slipped and fell and cut my arm...so yeah Funky Monkey? I hate you.

Mud Factor: None

Once I nursed my pride a little, we continued on and came to our next obstacle..."Glory Blades".


DESCRIPTION: Kinda like the Berlin Walls...except Glory Blades are at an angle towards you, so it's harder and its not quite so tall.


Personal Rating: 7/10 Another challenging one to do by yourself...teamwork is a much better option here.

Mud Level: None

I left that obstacle feeling better about myself...at least I did it. We came and passed by Mile 6 and we came to another of my least favorite obstacles..."Pole Dancer" (Don't you love these names? lol)


DESCRIPTION: You try to carry yourself along two metal poles that are sloped using ONLY your arms and hands. In some cases there is water beneath you, for me it was thick nasty mud...


Personal Rating: 10/10 the only other one that I failed to do...I maybe went 5 inches before I fell into the mud...quite depressing.

Mud Level: Kinda muddy...only because I fell in. If you're strong enough, you can bypass the mud.

So after that learning experience, we started walking because hey, we're past mile 6 now...we're getting tired. we came to our next obstacle...a personal favorite because it pays tribute to our Wounded Warriors...this obstacle? The "Warrior Carry".


DESCRIPTION: You carry someone for 50 meters...and then you switch positions and they you get carried for 50 meters.


Personal Rating: 8/10 I had a lighter girl to carry...but said girl had to carry me...so it all depends on who you're with...

Mud Level: None

We passed miles 7 and 8...this was a looong stretch. and we came to probably my favorite and most hated obstacle (Sorry Funky Monkey) at the same time...the one and only "Arctic Enema"...


DESCRIPTION: You jump into a dumpster full of water and ice where you have to duck under a barricade and emerge on the other side and climb out. Did I mention that it's 35 degrees?


Yeah, this guy felt about right...It sucked.

Personal Rating: 9/10 The hard part about it is once you jump in, all your muscles just freeze and don't want to work...this obstacle SUCKS, It's beyond freaking cold. It SUCKS IT SUCKS IT SUCKS. But I would gladly do it again...I see your ALS Ice bucket challenge and I raise you an Arctic Enema. Beat that.

Mud Level: None...but you get kinda clean again.

One we got out of frozen hell, and running around so we could attempt to warm up again...all the while asking each other why we let each other do that to ourselves we slowly started on towards our next obstacle..."Devil's Beard" Why it's called that, I have no idea.


DESCRIPTION: You have to crawl/walk through mud while going under a cargo net...which is pretty heavy.


Personal Rating: 6/10 It wasn't too bad...Keeping the net up was a pain. But if you have a tall guy keep him in the middle of the group so he can keep the net off everyone else.

Mud Level: Kinda muddy if you opt to crawl...don't know why you would though.

So after that small obstacle we started going up a very steep hill with ropes and the ground was VERY SLICK with mud...once we got up to the top then down the other steep side did we find out that we just did..."Cliff Hanger"


DESCRIPTION: You have to make it up a very steep slick hill, and then safely make it to the bottom on the other side. Ropes may or may not be there.


Personal Rating: 8/10 I didn't have the proper shoes for this obstacle so I was slipping and sliding everywhere and having a hard time of it...but I had a great team and Kelly, who had proper shoes acted as an anchor so I could pull myself up to her and then move to the top with some big guy.

Mud Level: Lots of mud if you fall.

Mile 9 finally came. we were greeted with our fifth and final water station where we had a restroom break and enjoyed some water...and then we moved on to......"Balls to the Wall".


DESCRIPTION: Basically you have a 15 ft. wall with a plank of wood as a toe hold every 4-5 feet and a top to help pull us up.


Personal Rating: 9/10 This is the only obstacle I hurt myself on really...I pulled a calf muscle on my way up. You have to hang on real tight and NOT let go...or else you may have to visit the friendly medics...

Mud Level: None

after we went up and over and down, we started on to our next obstacle...I slowed the group down due to my leg...but we were still jogging/walking. Our next obstacle is another favorite of mine...and it's called "Everest".


DESCRIPTION: Its another half-pipe where you have to run up it and hopefully make it to the top or grab a hand from a fellow mudder.


Personal Rating: 6/10 I didn't find it that hard. I was lucky enough to make it up without a hand...so I was quite happy with that especially after my leg incident.

Mud Level: None besides the residual mud left from other mudders.

At this point I was too sore from my leg to continue jogging so I told my team mates to go and wait for me at the finish line...they did so, so I hobbled and limped from Everest to the last but certainly not least obstacle..."Electroshock Therapy"...


DESCRIPTION: You run through a muddy area with hay bales in the way and electric wires coursing with 10,000 volts of electricity dangling from the ceiling. 


Personal Rating: 8/10 This was another favorite of mine...though I don't recall too much...I remember getting zapped a few times in the arm, then a guy fell across where I was running causing me to slip and fall...and as I was getting up I got hit in the head by 3-4 wires...which caused my to go limp for a second lol...but it was still lots of fun.

Mud Level: Very muddy! Making for lots of slipping and falling.

After this famous obstacle was the glorious finish line...we were greeted my Army personnel and volunteers giving high-fives and hugs and crowning us with the coveted Tough Mudder headband...and from then, we got our beer, celebrated and said our thanks and good byes...over all it was an AMAZING experience and one that I want to do again soon...I would high encourage everyone to give it a try...

In the end, I can now call myself a Tough Mudder...

Now I am going to work on getting the status of Legionnaire.

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