Monday, November 14, 2011

I've been tenderized....

So here I am. I experienced the Tough Mudder and live to tell about it. I've got plenty of nasty bruises and possibly a burn mark on my back from the shock therapy but it was all worth it. Physically it was demanding, but there wasn't one second where I thought I couldn't do it. Don't get me wrong, the obstacles were tough, but... and not to sound like a broken record, if I hadn't been doing CrossFit this past year or so, I wouldn't have made it thru as well as I did. Today I feel fine with the exception of the bruises but I don't have any sore muscles or aching body parts. I've actually felt worse after a normal WOD. Funny how CrossFit raises your tolerance for the suck. As far as the mudder, endurance and upper body strength is key. If you don't have at least one of those, you will not make it. Ok, maybe you will, but you will need a lot of help from some friendly mudders.

The first obstacle was an ice bath. You jumped into a big box filled with ice (up to my neck) and had to swim under a wall in the middle. I think shear adrenaline got me thru that because when you went under it was hard to push thru all the ice. For a split second I thought there was another wall it was so thick. But I got out and moved on. Second was a rope swim across a river. Now that was cold. You think the ice bath would have been worse but the 'swim' across the water was longer. My body was numb and I actually thought I wouldn't be able to finish it I was so cold. I couldn't even get my body to move to climb up the rope ladder. I had to bail on that and crawl out on the side. The next one was the 20' platform jump back into the river to another rope swim across. When I got to the top and looked over my first reaction was no way, can't do it. Too high. Bob jumped immediately and I stood there, and stood there, even let another person go ahead of me. I think for me at that point I was just so cold and I didn't want to get back in the water. Had it been a summer day I would have done a cannonball off that thing. Finally I said fuck it and screamed all the way down. I got a nice nose full of water and I swear it took me 30 seconds to get to the top, but it was probably more like 4 or 5. All I remember is Bob yelling and the safety guy saying, you're ok, keep moving and I did. That was terrifying and probably the worst obstacle mentally for me. I've never jumped off of anything that high but I'm so glad I did it. I would have regretted not doing it afterwards.

After that it was a run to the shorter Berlin Walls, maybe some hay bail obstacle... can't remember. The 'Mud Mile' was interesting. It was literally a long trench filled with mud and water. The tricky part was that you couldn't see the holes and bumps under the water so if you hit one you slipped off  and you went down. The cargo nets were cool, if only other people were smart enough to just roll it would have been a breeze. Instead you had people trying to crawl on them and get stuck. There was a good few miles of plain ole running, up and down muddy hills. They weren't bad at all. There was one giant hill which looked daunting when you came upon it but as long as you got some speed and kept moving it wasn't bad either. I could see where some people wouldn't be able to get up because it is mud after all, but I didn't have a problem with that.

The belly crawl under the cargo net was a bit tougher than I thought it would be. As long as you had people in front of you, especially someone who was bigger than you, they would hold it up and clear a path. For me I got thru 3/4 of it pretty easily until the people in front of me got out. Then the net dropped and man, it was heavy. Heavier than I expected. The underground tunnels were challenging because of the whole claustrophobia issue. You had to crawl in the mud underground. At least it wasn't filled with water but it was completely dark, black, and there were turns and bends to screw up your sense of direction. I was happy I had a team mate behind me so I could hear his voice. If I was alone, there might have been a problem. The second set of tubes were filled with some water you had to crawl on your belly thru. And just incase you thought you would get up to avoid crawling thru on your belly, there was barb wire over it. Tricky bastards. That wasn't bad for me since I'm small. I was able to crawl on my hands and knees thru the last one that went a bit uphill... it was slippery but a friendly mudder helped me out.

There were another set of walls, higher this time. Probably 12'. I got over them with two guys giving me a shove up. It's the drop on the other side thats scary. I skipped the second one since my shoulder was starting to hurt. Dummy me hung on too long on the drop and tweaked my shoulder. After that was the 1/4 pipe. Think of the half pipe that snowboarders and skaters use, but obviously open on one side. It was about 20' high.. I think. Daunting to say the least. Bob ran up it like a monkey climbing a tree and got up on the first attempt. I think about 3-4 of the guys were up there to help the rest of us. I was the first girl to take off. I just ran my ass off got about 2 inches from they're hands, missed and slid on my stomach all the way back down. That was actually fun. I heard a lot of 'awwwwws' as I did which made it funnier. I let a few more people go then I took another run at it and actually was able to grab someone.... or they grabbed me. And then my biggest fear, they started pulling me up with my right arm, my bad shoulder before I was able to grab someone elses hand with my left. That really hurt. I almost passed out. After they pulled me up I was afraid my shoulder was going to be dislocated. I'm actually surprised it wasn't. But I will say this, when I first saw that thing I thought there would be no way in hell I would make it up and I think the satisfaction of doing it actually helped me ignore the pain. That was one of the funniest obstacles to watch. There were some big dudes that couldn't get halfway up. I think Bob and our other teammates were trying to pull one of the big guys up by his shirt for like 30 seconds. His ass was hanging out, it was a mess, then they had to let him go. Hilarious.

The tire run around the race track wasn't too hard, then I think we were back on the mud hills for a few miles, over a rope fence and thru some deep mud trail in the woods. The fire mud pit was just nasty. You didn't have to run on hot coals or anything like that. It was just hay bails on fire and you ran in the middle of them thru the mud. It was hard to breath and see obviously. Not my favorite with the exception of it being really warm in there which was a blessing. There were some balance beams over water which I did no problem. I had to yell at some big guy who wanted to get on the beam with me. I think I said 'hey man get off!' I don't remember. I just remember thinking I am not going for a swim because of that guy, I'm almost to the end! He was shaking that thing all over the place! I didn't want to get wet again, it was just starting to get warm. Bob ended up falling off like a foot from the end because too many people were on the same beam. I didn't even try the monkey bar challenge with my bad shoulder. I would just hurt it more. I knew that going in if there was one I couldn't do, it would be that. Bob almost got to the end and slipped off with 2 more to go. I thought for sure he would make it. But of course you landed in water, or if you chose to skip it, you still had to wade thru waist high water and pull yourself out on to the landing. The next one was swimming under barrels in the lake. I chickened out. I'm woman enough to admit I was scared. It was freezing and I just didn't think I could swim under them without panicking.

After another mile or so we came up to the last obstacle. Electric shock therapy. Funny thing about this was when I saw the videos, I thought wow, that would be scary but cool and blew it off as eh, I'm not worried about that. Wow, talk about karma. It was by far the most painful experience for me next to giving birth. There were beams over head with dangling shock wires but you couldn't just run thru them like in the videos I saw. They put hay bails under neath so you had to crawl over them which meant you were going to touch the wires no mater what. And if that didn't suck enough, the hay bails were wired with shocks too. Tricky sons of bitches. It wasn't very big and there were a few people stuck in there afraid to move (now I understand why) so only a few could go at a time. Bob took off, Mike took off after him. Once they moved up past the first set of hay I just dove in. Fuck it. Didn't even think about it. I immediately got a small shock on my back or arm, then I crawled over a barrel that shocked me so bad my whole body twitched. I actually heard the buzzing sound. Then I completely freaked out and jumped over the next bail which caused me not only to get shocked really bad again across my whole body, but I hit the dangling wires on top at the same time. The second shocked me so hard it caused my mouth to snap shut. With one final leap I was finally out hitting a few danglers as I crawled on my hands and knees. I was in so much pain for about 10 seconds I collapsed on the ground after muttering something incoherent, and probably dropped a few f bombs too. Bob actually blacked out in there two times. He said it was weird he didn't feel the shock but it was like he couldn't move. It was definitely scary. Seeing the other girls faces after I got out, I could tell they were scared. They even told me when they were done that when they saw me drop to the ground they were thinking oh no. But we all made it, hooked arms and crossed the finish line together.

It was such a surreal experience. While I was doing it I wasn't thinking. It was ok, what do we have to do, ok, do it, help the others, move on. Just like a 'chipper'. You know its probably going to suck, but you suck it up do it and keep going. Endurance wise, I felt great. Doing the obstacles, I was usually the first one to try it out of the women. The mental game is tough. You can't over think anything otherwise you would be too scared to do any of it. There were always ways around the obstacles. You technically didn't have to do anything. But why would you do that? What's the point? I was proud after all 30 or so obstacles I only wussed out on 1. And according to everyone that did that one, they said I made a good choice.

If I learned anything its that I'm more capable that I thought. I will never forget jumping off that platform. For me that was huge. I've never been so scared. But sometimes you just have to say fuck it and jump in.

Rest day

12 mile mudder.

Active Rest day - cleaning the 10lbs of mud out of our clothes and shoes.


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  2. "But sometimes you just have to say fuck it and jump in."


    Hon, you OWNED that course. Still can't believe the jump you got on the 1/4 pipe.

  3. Karen, amazing! I think I would have had a panic attack at each obstacle. I'm just cracking up about the shock treatment obstacle -- how is that legal??? Anyway, great work! -Erin

  4. Oh my god Erin, it hurt so bad. They either really jacked up the voltage or I made a poor decision on the path I chose. I should have taken my time to see where people were getting hit hard but I was afraid the more I thought about it the more it would scare me so I just went without thinking. Probably not one of my best decisions but it will certainly something I will never forget.