So, here's the tally:
|Dirt? Bruises? Dirty bruises!|
Scrapes: Multiple, including a roughed-up shoulder and the aforementioned shin
Sore muscles: All of them. All the muscles.
Exhaustion: Complete and all-encompassing
Triumph: Like nothing I've ever felt before!
You guys, Tough Mudder was awesome.
My three roommates and I awoke in darkness at 4:30am after a late night of anxious packing and fitful sleeping. I could hardly eat -- I think I managed to choke down a hardboiled egg, some of a banana, and a protein drink, but it was tough to fit any food in a stomach full of angry butterflies. Our house was the meeting point for most of our team, and by the time 5am rolled around we had a caravan ready to depart . . . until the minivan carrying 7 people got a flat tire. (At least it was at our house!) After shuffling into new vehicles, we were finally underway.
We spent the next few hours discussing the order of the obstacles and our various strategies and concerns, peppered with the occasional "oh my god you guys, what are we doing" and "hey look! lightning!" We pulled in early around 6:30am and were suddenly swept up in throngs of spandex-clad (or cutoff jean shorts, for one team) people of all shapes and sizes looking tough and excited.
Our numbers drawn on and wristbands attached, we stopped by the free "mohawks for charity" tent (no, I did not get one -- maybe next year) and then climbed our first obstacle: a 6- or 7-foot wall that would corral us into the starting pen.
After a pumped up intro by the MC, the massive cannon sounded and we were off! Since we were in the first wave, we had a nice pristine field ahead and only a few early morning spectators as we jogged the first mile or so to obstacle #1!
|I think "delicate slither" accurately describes what I'm doing back there.|
|Our faster teammates had a few flames left, at least!|
|This was a fun one, actually - not as claustrophobic as I feared.|
Once again, I didn't stop to think or agonize when I got up on the platform. This was one of the most unusual (and best!) parts of the Mudder for me -- I like to overanalyze and stress about things and I definitely stall when I'm nervous. Not here. When it was my turn at each of the obstacles, I went. I seemed to be stuck in this great "The only way out is through" mentality, and despite physical aches and pains, I never mentally "lost it." It was a really cool state of mind to experience for me, and one I hope I can tap into again.
|Not me, but I shared her sentiment -- plus, it was still raining when I went through!|
|These were much more fun this first time, pre-rain!|
We waited for the rest of our group at the next hydration station, idly noticing the golf-cart-ambulance light flashing a short distance away and hoping everyone was alright. But as the rest of our group arrived, we recognized a bandana on someone standing out there with whoever was down -- it was one of our teammates. Worried, my boyfriend and I took off again. Even though the cart was a short distance away "as the crow flies," the course's path wound around quite a bit, and we must have had nearly a mile to go. One obstacle, a high jump down into a water pit, was closed because of lightning, and we didn't wait, instead running on ahead through heavy mud.
We caught up to the "middle" group and checked on our teammate, who had bad muscle cramping and a sore leg that he was struggling to walk on. Fortunately there was no damage, but he was done for the day and got a ride back to the finish line to cheer us on. The amazing part of Tough Mudder, though, is that it isn't a race at all -- and all of us, my teammate included, were still proud and excited for how far he had made it. 9 miles is still quite the accomplishment!
There were now only a few obstacles and a few miles left. My boyfriend and I joined up with two other guys who had been the "middle" group of our team, just in time for the partner carry -- and luckily, one of those guys was the second-lightest on the team after me. I stumbled through a piggy-back ride with him halfway, and then we switched and he took off! The rain was letting up and we were starting to taste victory as we passed the 10 and 11 mile marks and closed in on one of the final obstacles: the "Funky Monkey."
|Some of those monkey bars are greased, too!|
|Hopefully this will be me next year!|
|Instead of being claustrophobic, this was kind of relaxing to drift through.|
|Many people struggle to make it up this one, but the enthusiasm and assistance of those at the top is just fantastic.|
And suddenly I was grabbing his hand.
I have absolutely no idea how I made it high enough. We came back to watch our final teammates' endeavors later and so many people failed over and over, sometimes connecting fingertips but inexorably sliding back again and again. I wish I could see a video of me getting up there. I can still hardly believe I did it.
I dangled awkwardly after grabbing on, too exhausted to try to pull myself over the top. Someone grabbed my other hand and my boyfriend hooked me by the shoulders, and the three of them hoisted me, grateful and gasping, over the edge. I made it.
There was only one obstacle and perhaps 50 feet between us and the finish line now . . . and definitely the most feared. We had to run through mud (and over mud hills) amidst countless dangling electric wires. Faceplants were commonplace here. Honestly, I was more afraid of falling than the pain of getting shocked -- I am terrified of falling in an irrational way. (I'm barely over five feet tall, it's not like I'd have far to go.) In solidarity, my teammates linked arms with me and we marched forward, facing it together.
|I don't know that I had the courage to pick through -- or charge through -- on my own this time. Yikes!|
I shakingly and triumphantly remarked that I felt as though I had just done 15 espresso shots. A mix of exhaustion, exhilaration, electricity (literally), and triumph were coursing through me. I have never done anything like this before in my entire life. And yet somehow, here we were in the finally sunny noon heat, getting orange headbands, t-shirts, beer (I sadly skipped mine in favor of water) and cheers from family and the teammates who had finished before us. WE DID IT!
I have definitely never been so sore in my entire life as I was on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. (Maybe even Tuesday, too.) But I can say -- without a doubt and only a tinge of nervous anticipation -- that our team, and several more friends convinced by our crazy pictures and stories, will be at it again next year.
|I would add, "I will not wear cotton" and "I will have a blast!!"|