That’s been a common question I’m asked when people see the bruises and scrapes I received from completing Tough Mudder this weekend. I mostly laugh it off because I feel that trying to explain it to them would serve no purpose. They will still just see it as a pointless activity that does harm to my body. Little do they know the rewards that come with each and every bruise, sore muscle, swollen joint, and multiple scrapes far outweighs the visible damage they see.
I will be the first to admit that I was in no shape to run the Tough Mudder event. So much has been going on in my life lately that my health routine got tossed to the wayside and I just recently decided to get back on track with it. I had planned on skipping this event altogether because I was embarrassed by my lack of commitment to train for what is called “The Toughest Event on the Planet.” I would surely be a joke and I had no business competing with the people who actually prepared. But that’s just it…TM is not a competition. It is a test of courage, strength, and camaraderie. Remembering that and receiving encouraging texts to still go from my buddy Dave, I decided I would not give up before I even started.
I knew my performance would not be nearly as good as I had originally hoped when I signed up several months earlier but I decided that I would have to be okay with that. My goal was to finish and to at least attempt every obstacle. I decided not to worry about my performance as much as just getting through it. Little did I know my calves would decide to continually cramp and seize up on me starting just before mile 5. The event was 12.5 miles long. Not even half way through and my legs were not cooperating. Great. How would I be able to complete the course with legs that kept locking up? Slow and steadily that’s how. I was not going to quit. I would never have lived with myself had I given up. I would have to continue on and do my best despite the struggles I was enduring.
I had planned on putting all fears aside and using my mind power to force me to do all that I am afraid of. Well, that’s a little easier said than done, haha. I DID do a couple things I’m afraid of but I also chickened out on some others. I’m okay with that though. I thought I’d be more disappointed than I am but I’m not. Individually, none of the obstacles were so difficult they couldn’t be done but put them all together and each one became that much harder. Wait, I take it back…the Berlin Walls were nasty. I cleared one and decided not to even attempt any of the other ones. At 12 feet high, muddy, wet, and slippery with no help up but a little slab of wood about 3 feet up and fellow Mudders straddling the top to help pull people up, this was not my obstacle. My fear of falling and lack of upper body strength kept me from completing the 4 sets of two or three through-out the course.
The most challenging event for me (besides those ugly walls) was the high jump into the 12 ft of water below. The climb to get up to the jumping platform was hard enough but once I looked over the edge fear came over me and I was petrified to jump. This really surprised me. I’m not afraid of heights but falling and water are not my friends. I stood up there probably 40 minutes (yes, you read that correctly) trying to convince myself to jump from 15 feet in the air. But my fear won and I ended up going back down. I was pretty disappointed but proud of myself for staying up there that long and not giving up right away.
The obstacle I surprised myself the most on was probably the one called Arctic Enema. Yep. You had to jump into ice water, swim underneath a board and come up the other side in even more ice. Sounds easy enough right? Well again, I have a fear of water and was really dreading this obstacle. Surprisingly I did it with no issues. I tend to get disoriented in water very easily but didn’t this time despite how cold and scared I was.
There were several obstacles I did modified versions of. For instance, jumping from mud platform to mud platform… Instead I jumped down in the ditch and pulled myself up the other side (with assistance most of the time). I think that was the more tiring way to go but I didn’t trust my jumping abilities. I enjoyed the obstacles that had us crawling or squeezing in and out of pipes or underground trenches. I thought those ones were fun and much nicer to my comfort zone.
And then there was my least favorite and most favorite obstacle. These obstacles were actually the same one if you can believe that- Electroshock Therapy. I loved and hated it for different reasons. I actually enjoyed getting shocked! I mean that shit hurt but it was such a different feeling. I have never been shocked before and it was surprising to me to experience what it does to your body! These were 10,000 volt shocks and when you got hit by one it would knock you down! I loved seeing big, strong me get thrown to the mud like sacks of potatoes! The obstacle was set up to where there was a few feet of mud water that you could either go belly down and scoot along or try to run through. The crowd could see when the operator of the obstacle would turn off the electricity and they would yell at everyone to get up and run! That was fine until it got turned back on and you were shocked repeatedly knocking you back down into the mud! The reason I hated this obstacle is because it was the only one that people weren’t polite about. When the crowd yelled “run!” participants didn’t care who was in the way, they stood up and trampled those of us on the ground. That I could have done without. But the experience of something new I liked. It definitely hurt though!
Overall the event was put together well and all the participants were very nice, helpful, and encouraging. It was great to see so many people come together and focus more on helping to assure everyone finished rather than making the best individual time. Everyone waited their turn and no one made fun of anyone for being scared to do any of the obstacles. I felt very comfortable and encouraged. I also had an amazing teammate who was held back because of me but never complained about it. He was very supportive and stuck by me the entire time. I definitely know the things I want to train for—jumping across things, pulling myself up things, and jumping into water from high up. I also need to work on my overall strength and endurance. This event put some motivation in me and made me realize that you really can do anything you set your mind to.
So why do I do these types of events? To remind myself that I am stronger than I think I am. To remind myself that mind really does win over matter. And to be a part of something that donates to a great cause and teaches you the importance of overcoming your fears and doing your personal best. I might barely be able to move today but at least I’m alive and able. Thank you to all the wounded warriors out there who allow me to live freely. It’s because of you that this weekend I became a Tough Mudder.