I don’t know what possessed me in January of this year, when I turned to the BF and said “let’s do Tough Mudder this year, it will be fun” – he had done one previously in Toronto several years ago and at the time said never again, once is enough.
We must have let the couple cocktails get to our heads that night, because an hour later, we were both registered to race on August 6, 2016 in Drumheller. I then recruited my friend Meghan to come join us.
With good intentions of training hard and working a lot on upper body strength beginning in January, the months quickly passed by and before I knew it, it was August 5 and the race was the next day. It’s not like I spent the prior 8 months sitting on the couch, I did my BBG workouts and a variety of fitness classes, but never get to the whole “work on a pull up” plan I had in mind.
Already feeling a bit nervous, I foolishly opened my email that contained the course preview:
18 obstacles. 16 km (10 miles). Most of these obstacles had not been listed on the website and I had no idea what I was going into. Insert fear here.
Saturday morning came, we picked up Meghan and headed the 1.5 hours to Drumheller. Once we got to the event and into the start area, the adrenaline kicked in. We were ready! We were clean!
Right out the gate was a 2km run to the first obstacle. The intent we went in with was to jog some, but do a lot of walking. Instead, they decided nah, let’s run the whole way to obstacle 1! Can’t say I loved that part – my cardio skills are lacking and I am a terrible runner. But with some pushing, I lightly jogged 90% of it, grumbling the whole time.
Obstacle 1 was a 6 ft jump into a muddy pit of water and who knows what else. We made the BF go first…and that didn’t end well. He landed wrong, and his ankle immediately swelled up and he had instant searing pain – we later found out he had second degree sprain and had pulled the ligaments on both sides of his left ankle. At this point, he told Meghan and I to finish the race and the medics carted him off to the tent where he would have to wait for us to finish.
With 17 obstacles to go, we trucked on. We jogged, we walked, we climbed both 9′ and 16′ walls, used a rope to scale down a cliff, carried each other, slid into a dumpster filled with 10 tons of ice, climbed up muddy walls, pushed and pulled people up and over obstacles, jumped into puddles of mud, slipped, fell, climbed over one another to get up a pyramid, ran up a 15′ tall half pipe, went across monkey bars (well, Meghan did, I fell into the pit of water), carried logs, pushed and pulled and climbed over blocks in muddy water and ended by running through a field of dangling wires carrying 10,000 volts. It’s called the toughest event on the planet for a reason…it’s HARD.
The reason I wanted to do Tough Mudder, over the many other obstacle races, is because this one is about TEAMWORK. It is not about the fastest time, beating others, and it is NOT a competition. The goal of Tough Mudder is to COMPLETE it. Period.
At the beginning, you are hyped up and told that the people in your race wave are now your family – you start together, you end together. While we fell behind due to the injury, we did find another wave and joined with them and made 2 new friends who helped us through the last half of the race.
Could I climb those walls alone? Could I get to the top of a 15′ half pipe and pull myself up? Could I climb under a weighted net without someone holding it up to release tension? No. I couldn’t do any of these things, but I didn’t HAVE to. No matter where you turn, there was someone there to help you – to give you a boost, to pull you up, to encourage you, and remind you YES YOU CAN.
After we crossed that finish line 3 hours and 47 minutes later, we successfully completed every obstacle (my goal going in was to not skip a single one), ran/walked 22,000 steps/16km, climbed the equivalent of 71 flights of stairs, burnt 2,200 calories, and I got that finisher headband placed on my head. Oh – and we were dirty…very dirty.
The sense of accomplishment I had after this race is hard to describe; I did things I didn’t know my body could do, let alone get myself in the mind space to believe that I could. I wanted to challenge myself this year, and I did. I wish I had a little more upper body strength and could have stood to run a little more than we walked, but I had an absolute blast and still can’t believe I was able to do some of those obstacles. I could hardly walk for a few days, and the bruises I got were mildly frightening, but I did it…and I would do it all over again. 2017, I’m coming for you.