The Tough Mudder was undoubtedly one of the hardest physical (and mental) challenges I’ve ever completed.
As soon as we bolted out of the staggered entrance gate, our team took off in a relaxed jog, but at a pretty steady and swift pace too. It was hard not to feed off of all the surrounding adrenaline, and we started off running a bit faster than I wanted to, probably around a 9 minute mile pace.
I was definitely the slowest runner on our team, as I like to shuffle along at 11 minute mile pace. A few of my teammates regularly run sub 8 minute mile long runs! I knew from the beginning I would really have to pace myself if I wanted to finish.
I think we ran about 3/4 of a mile or so before we arrived at the Arctic Enema. This was the obstacle I was weirdly the most nervous about!
Note: please disregard the numbers in these pictures. They were from the preview of the course.
Click here to see a the official video of the Arctic Enema.
We previously decided that our team plan would be to hop in and out of the Arctic Enema and then start running to the next obstacle as soon as we each got out, and meet up at the next obstacle if we got separated. Mal heard that was the trick to not cramping up from having your muscles numbed from the icy water. We had to get moving to warm our bodies back up!
We ended up all sticking together anyway since there were two tubs and several entries into each of them. I was the first in and out of our group – I wanted to get out of there fast. The water felt like a thousand little pinpricks in your skin, and though it didn’t hurt, it kind of scared me because it was hard to move! Once I got out, I immediately stumbled along into a jog, but it felt so weird. It was almost as if my legs were asleep and weren’t listening to my brain.
The guys on the team didn’t like their wet t-shirts after emerging from the Arctic Enema and debated ditching them along the way. Only one of the guys ended up doing it – which I think he later regretted from his many rash burns he got throughout the course. It was pretty warm and sunny out at this point, so our shirts did quickly dry a bit.
After the Arctic Enema, we slammed into the next obstacle around the corner: Dirty Ballerina/Trench Warfare (not sure what it was actually called!)
This was one of my favorite obstacles! It was basically a small field of sturdy mud trenches with mud moats in between them that you had to jump across. But the muddy water was just long/wide enough that you really had to stretch your legs so you would make it over in one running leap. The first trench I tried to cross I fell into! But I made it the rest of the way by lengthening out my stride. I also liked it because it was the first obstacle where you needed your team in order to complete it.
You kind of had to jump into each others arms or risk sliding off each plateau. It was quite hilarious though – my teammate B-man face planted on one of the trenches and his face was literally covered in mud for the rest of the event.
We ran another mile or mile and a half before the next obstacle. I was already getting tired and we had only made it barely 2.5 miles!
Though I knew I could physically run 8 miles since I’d done it before, I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be to run the Tough Mudder, because I hadn’t factored in that you use a lot of energy on the obstacles. Not to mention running on the course itself was extremely difficult with it’s mud, hills, and fields that I wasn’t used to by training almost solely on the treadmill. If I could go back and redo my training, I would definitely ditch the treadmill and have done outdoor runs, with an emphasis on trail runs.
It didn’t help that a lot of the signs stated things like: “If you’re hurting now, just wait…” Thanks, for the encouragement guys.
The next obstacle was one of my least favorites: Kiss of Mud.
We actually did this same obstacle again about halfway through the event too. It was fun at first and not incredibly difficult. But it HURT! I don’t think it would have been as bad with long pants on, but my knees got ridiculously scraped up and bloodied from the rocks in the mud on this obstacle.
There were hundreds of those damn little rocks. I don’t think I army crawled under barbwire correctly either. After I got tired of getting scraped up in my shorty shorts, I rolled a bit on my side and just shoved myself down the rest of the way. I remember Mal laughing at me during it (I bet I looked ridiculous). My abs definitely got a workout though!
The first set of Berlin Walls turned up around mile 3.5. This was the first time we really started using the help of other Mudders who knew what they were doing. Even though there were little half inch ledges on the walls about a foot up from the ground, we all needed help getting over the walls with a boost from two of our teammates.
There was lots of booty shovin’ as well. I needed some help getting my bum up and over! This was the obstacle I was very glad to have my weight lifting gloves for – otherwise I think pulling yourself over the thin ledges would have been painful. It was also pretty high up when you’re straddling the top. Each set of the Berlin Walls contained 2 walls to get up and over.
The first time I jumped straight down, and even though I landed in a squat position, it still sent a shock through my ankles. The next wall (and for the second set of walls) I wised up and hugged the edge of the wall to dangle down and have a shorter drop.
By now my strength was already spent! We were only at mile 4 and 50 minutes into the course, but it felt like we had been out there forever.
At this point, I would hope and pray I would see an obstacle station around the corner, since my trot was already turning into a hobble.
I was so glad when we approached Hold your Wood because it meant we got to walk for a bit!
I had no shame in grabbing a small-ass piece of wood, and happily walked along next to Chutes and Collie. When we were walking back in our lumberjack route, we all looked up at the clouds in the distance and gasped.
It basically looked like Armageddon mixed with a tornado and some darkness on the side. We were screwed. And we weren’t even halfway done.
The temperature started to drop as we got to the second Kiss of Mud. I reluctantly flung myself under the barbed wire, knowing my poor knees were going to take another pounding. No sooner than I started saying, “ow, oww oww,” did the cold rain begin to pelt us in the eyes, catapulting the mud under our faces into my contacts.
It was at this point that I realized this was miserable and we were frickin’ crazy. After we wiggled out from the mud/rock pit of hell came the one moment I severely doubted I could finish the thing.
I started being a stubborn brat and grumpily walking behind my team a few paces after seeing mile marker 5. Instead of being encouraged that I was halfway done, I was pissed that we still had half of the stupid thing to finish.
If there were carts with someone driving quitters back to the spectator station, I most definitely would have taken a seat to dryness and warmth. Too bad there was only one way out – to keep going.
We rounded a small lake and tried to make out what soaking wet Mudders were saying to each other about the next obstacle. It was one that a few of my teammates were apprehensive about: Walk the Plank.
The thunder and slits of lighting had begun a few moments earlier, and we quickly figured out that some of the obstacles were being closed, including Walk the Plank. Just like a kid at the pool, we were told we could wait 20 minutes after the last lighting and thunder if we wanted to walk the plank.
I don’t even think we looked at each other through the pouring rain to see if we wanted to skip it, we just kept running.
We ran right into big ole’ logs on sticks as high as our heads.
This obstacle was OK – not my favorite, but not the worst. It was just kind of awkward because you had to wrap your whole body around these wet logs and swivel around to plop down on the other side. It hurt my boobs.
I kept pouting along at the tail of our team with the encouragement of my prodding (in a good way) teammates.
We got to the second and higher King of the Mountain.
I liked climbing over the hay bales because it meant I didn’t have to run for a few seconds.
Same thing with the second set of Berlin Walls.
These emerged after we had to hike up a very steep, very muddy hill. I was glad to catch my breath for a moment before being hoisted over these babies.
It was still raining steadily, and since sun was no longer around to dry the mud and rain from our clothes, it was starting to get pretty chilly.
The path was no longer a dirt path – it was a mud path. We were at mile 7.5 with 3 more miles to literally slip and gingerly slide through to the finish.
We originally thought the course was 12 miles, but luckily the Tough Mudder gods took pity on me and had originally shortened the course to 10.5 miles without my knowledge. What a pleasant surprise.
Next on the To-Do List was the Mud Mile.
I was surprised at HOW MUCH MUD there was. This obstacle was kind of like Dirty Ballerina/Trench Warfare except the nice plateaus that were at the beginning of the course were now five foot high sopping piles of goopy mud.
Grisly guys from other teams took pity on us here and literally dragged me up the hills on my stomach by my arms. It was like we were swimming in a pool of mud. No joke.
Once we got over the last hill we all looked kind of like deranged swamp people in pain.
I limped behind my team to the next torture event, the Boa Constrictor, my least favorite obstacle.
Sliding down into the water was slightly pleasant because we got a bath of sorts. We had to make sure not to stand up too tall in the pool of muddy water for fear our heads would get ripped off by more barbed wire. As I stood up, I tried to remember when my last tetanus shot was. Don’t worry, I got one last year.
The bad part came when you had to crawl up the ribbed plastic tunnels on your knees with nothing to grasp on to. Maybe it wouldn’t have been extremely painful if your knees weren’t ripped to shreds and bruised from the damn Mud Kisses, like mine were. I shoved my ponytail against the top of the tunnel and grimaced in pain, trying to wiggle my way up the tunnel. If Collie hadn’t stuck her leg down into the pipe to pull me out, I probably would have chilled in there for the rest of the day.
We came to the last water station and shoved some bananas down our throats before arriving at Funky Monkey at mile 10.
A girl on the team that went before me promptly dropped into the water and pulled out a toad. She cheered and carried it to the other side.
It was nice of her to get the toad out of there for me.
I was so fatigued by the time we got to Funky Monkey that I held on for dear life to the first monkey bar before losing my grip and dropping into the muddy water. Props to Chutes, our only teammate who successfully completed the monkey bars!
We were finally at the spectator station, where several obstacles were clumped together at the end of the course.
I could see the end! I was going to make it through alive!
If I could just get over Everest.
This picture does not do Everest justice. Everest was HUGE.
More grisly guys (I think I saw the Hulk and the Terminator, too) from other teams parked themselves at the top of Everest and leaned over to grab the brave attempts of the measly human beings throwing themselves at them.
We saw a few people go before us that reached out only to smack down hard onto the pipe and slide back down into the mud.
The tricky part was getting enough speed without slipping in the mud in order to make it up high enough so the Hulk and co. could grab you and lift you to safety. I was too tired to care that I was putting my life in the hands of the Hulk. I just wanted to get up and over the thing.
Without thinking, I ran as fast I could without face planting and leaped high enough to latch on to the grislies!
I think they wanted me to pull myself up, but I was too exhausted for that shit. Instead, I flung my right leg up as high as I could and kicked the Terminator in the face. Luckily, he blinked for a split second before grabbing my leg and dragging me to safety.
We were almost there – it was still raining and I was absolutely freezing. The only thing that sounded better than not running anymore was getting warm. We only had one more obstacle to get through: Electroshock Therapy.
I shrieked and ran through the wires with my hands over my chest, and was jolted with a shock at my core! It didn’t hurt, but just felt like a sharp surprising tickle. But I had a smile on my face because…we did it.
We were done. We finished. I finished!
My aching smirk/smile says it all: relief.
Well, that’s what I thought that Saturday afternoon.
The next day, I was too proud of myself to remember how much it sucked.
A few days later, I was looking up entries to the Warrior Dash.