|Before the start line - Seriou|
FULL DISCLOSUREI just want to put this on record and be done with it. Coming out of the Death March/Roller Coaster Run section (which really, really, sucked btw) - I missed part of the course that included the Log Carry. From reading the accounts of others, I think this happened right near a water station in that area. I think I was supposed to take a right turn (I took a left) and loop back around back to the station but I honestly can't recall the details. They changed the course map (apparently late in the week) so that was no help in discovering my error. I can only say that I did not do this intentionally. In the spirit of the sportsmanship and the Tough Mudder ethos, I will never ever claim to be a true Tough Mudder (i.e. completing the whole course) out of respect to the others did.
While I would like to be able to say that I completed the whole thing, I have decided that I am not going to beat myself up over it. Upon much reflection, I have decided that I didn't run this race solely to be a "Tough Mudder". Rather, I ran this race to test myself and my willingness/ability to do things that I would normally never think to do. The race ending up being more self-discovery and I easily accomplished that goal throughout the race.
As we drove down to the race site (which was in the middle of the boonies btw), I really had no idea what to expect but this was intentional on my part. Obviously, I had the general idea that the race was going to push my limits and suck at times but that was the extent of my pre-race knowledge. I had decided weeks ago that I was going to race with no worrying and no chest thumping hubris either - I just wanted to experience it all for what it was. I didn't allow myself to go digging deep for info on what to do and not to do. I guess I thought that this would violate the true "tough" spirit of the race and my desire to test my limits.
|Fully Clothed & Numbered Up!|
Let the Butt Stomp Begin...The first obstacle was about 200-300 yards down the course from the start and consisted of chest deep water to wade through. As I mentioned already, the staff had been dumping ice into the water! The resulting adrenaline rush was incredibly intense and I knew immediately that I was in for a long haul.
The next obstacle, a tube crawl named Boa Constrictor, featured more ice and our first taste of the mud bogs placed throughout the course. This was not your ordinary mud either - it had a ton of clay in it, making it really sticky and heavy. After two obstacles, this crap made my clothes weigh a ton and caused the thought of ditching my shorts to first cross my mind - after less than a 1/2 mile!
While these obstacles weren't particularly challenging, the icy water literally blasted you awake and amped you up in an almost primal way for the rest of the race. The rush of "alive-ness" that I felt after this area is not something I can adequately describe here - it really was something you had to experience for yourself.
The Motocross Track...The next series of obstacles were installed around a motocross track that was a main feature of the race area. A big highlight of this part of the race was the mud - there was a ton of it all along this section. Even though it was physically challenging, it was pretty fun nonetheless. In this section you had to navigate the muddy fun of the Cliffhanger (a giant and steep slope of sticky goo), the Kiss of Mud (belly crawling under barb wire), the Devil's Beard #1 (a cargo net going up a big ol hill), the Devil's Beard #2 (a cargo net strung low in a mud bog), and the Texas Smokehouse (a house with ice water, mud and circulating fog).
I thought all of these obstacles were awesome - challenging enough that you couldn't breeze through them but not so hard as to be demoralizing. It was in this section that I decided to 1) ditch my shorts that must have weighed at least 10lbs and 2) ditch my shirt shortly thereafter that must have weighed another 5lbs. Not only did I feel like a new man after this, but it made for a much better picture at the end as well.
The Hell of the Death March/Roller Coaster Run...This area of the course really was pure hell - at least 4 miles of switch backs and elevation changes over and around of several "hills" using old hiking/mountain bike trails (I think). Just when thought you might be done with non-stop vertical climbing, you would be taken down a switch back and right back up in a different way. There were also some super steep grades here that made your legs burn like crazy - it felt more like climbing steps than anything else. This area required some serious inner mountain goat and was the worst part of my race experience by far. It wasn't so much the physical aspect of it (I had done alot of hills and stepper in my training -thank goodness) but the mental aspect of it. To continually go up and down and around the same hills over and over again was a total and epic MIND SCREW! This section literally felt like it would never end.
|He would have loved it!|
And Here Is Where It Gets Confusing...After the 3-4 miles of twists, turns, and mental mind screwing from the hilly area, the details get a bit fuzzy for me. I think the next obstacle was the Turd's Nest, which would not have been passable without help from others. You had to scale a near vertical wall using only a rope after slogging through a mud bog that eliminated any traction. Even with the help of others, it was hard to get up that wall! It was probably the single toughest obstacle that I did that day in that I wouldn't have been able to do it solo.
|Hardest Obstacle By Far!|
My mis-direction aside, I headed to the Berlin Walls #1 and was able to climb the two 12 foot walls solo without a problem. I was pretty pumped about that since I pride myself on being a big dude with good relative bodyweight strength. This was one of the "tests" I really wanted to pass and I smoked it! A big pre-race goal accomplished...
|I climbed 4 of these that day!|
As for the obstacle itself, I got about 10 feet out and promptly fell in. Of all the obstacles in the race, this one didn't seem to "fit" the mentality of the race. It struck me as something that was just kind of thrown in there to keep us busy. I think the race organizers could have come up with something better here - I just don't think I would have felt any real sense of accomplishment even if I had gotten across cleanly.
|Only "eh" obstacle here...|
|Playground on Steroids!|
The Miserable Back Third (Quarter?)...Although I missed part of the course, the back part of the race was pretty miserable for all those involved from what I could tell. You had to run through the Fire Walker obstacle (a big gauntlet of burning hay bales) before heading back through part of the motocross track. The Fire Walker thing wasn't a big deal and wasn't really that cool in retrospect. It was not nearly as triumphant as I imagined it would be.
|Not nearly as cool as I thought...|
My Biggest Fears AheadAs you came out of the second lap of the motocross track, you had to climb another two walls (which I did easily enough again) before you came to the final two obstacles, Walk the Plank and Electro-Shock Therapy. To be honest, I had been psyched out by Electro-Shock Therapy for the whole time leading up to it. Of all the obstacles I dreaded, this one was freaking me out the most. However, nothing prepared me for the total fear that gripped when I saw the Walk The Plank obstacle up close! That sucker was 30 feet up overlooking a giant mud puddle. You had to jump off this thing and swim about 50 yards or so in icy water before you could get out and finish with Electro-Shock. Did I mention that I hate heights?
|Scared out of my mind|
|Look at how excited I am!|
I think the following pictures sums up pretty well how I felt towards the end and what you go through in a mud run like this...
|Sexy right? Haha|
|Safe to say I threw these out...|
A ton of people have been asking me the race...What it was like? Were you glad you did it? Would I do it again?
My first response is always that it was just as tough/crazy as advertised. The race organizers said they were going to hand your butt to you and they definitely succeeded. I can only imagine how I might have looked above with an extra 3 miles on my face!
My second response is that I am glad that I did it. I was able to find out so much more about myself through running this race - mainly what I was capable of doing in adverse situations. Overcoming all of those crazy obstacles alone was worth the price of admission in the end. After having done it once, I really recommend that you put yourself in those types of situations from time to time - they can teach you some amazing lessons in the process.
My third responses is that, while I was glad I ran the tough mudder, I don't plan to do it again. In the end, I didn't really enjoy the prep training enough (i.e. all the distance I ran) to make me want to do it again. You really need to get into good shape for something like this or you will definitely suffer - ALOT! You will suffer anyway but I can't imagine how I would have felt if I hadn't trained like I did. That being said, I might re-think doing something like this again if I had a team of people that were trying to raise some money for the Wounded Warrior Project. However, solo tough mudders are not going to be in my future anytime soon.
Overall, I would recommend the tough mudder to anyone who wants to push themselves and their limits but be ready for some pain and suffering along the way!