Monday, October 1, 2012

Tough Mudder Recap

What an adventure I've had this weekend! If you remember, in addition to doing the Tough Mudder this weekend, I also did a night run Friday night. I will talk about this tomorrow, but it turned into quite the adventure!

I have been very nervous for the Tough Mudder race. I had numerous hesitations before and after registering, but I've never been one to back down from a physical challenge, so I knew I was going to always go through with it. My main concern was injury. Since the race was little more than a month before the NYC Marathon, I was worried. Especially after hearing numerous stories of sprained ankles or worse. Signing up on a team with a bunch of Crossfit trainers and devoted Crossfit fanatics had me even more apprehensive. Luckily the other two girls, my running buddies Beth and Jess, agreed that none of us needed to be heroes and if we were ever in a situation we didn't think we could get through, we would go around. I knew the running portion wasn't going to be hard, especially with all the trail running I've been doing, but those obstacles had my stomach in knots all week!

Enough about the apprehension!

I woke up bright and early Sunday morning to eat a little something and, most importantly, consume some coffee!! We all carpooled out to Black Diamond, WA. The race was on an old coal mine, which was an interesting experience.

After much inner debate about what to wear, I finally decided to wear as little clothing as possible.  Since I was just going to be getting wet and muddy, I figured the less I had to cart around on my body, the better. I'm still not sure this was the best decision, but I'll explain in a bit.

We arrived at Black Diamond right on time. It was cold. Very, very cold. I was excited when I woke up because it was about 50 degrees outside. By the time we got out to the site, though, it was about 43 degrees. We (well, the girls) were whining and shivering until we started! One of the guys on our team, Paul, got shirts made for us, so we had a bit of team unity to go on. They all said "Level IV Nooners" on the back, because our Crossfit gym is called Level IV and most of the team goes to the noon class. Haha, it works!
Taken after the race, so I was a shivering mess!
We all got our race bibs, and the volunteers tried to mark our heads with our bib #'s with sharpies! Um, no thank you! I told them to put it on my arm and that they could disqualify me if they wanted to! 

Interjection: Obviously, I couldn't bring a camera into the mire with me, so this post is going to be heavy on the wording!
Beth, Me, Paul, Scott, Jess, Matt and Torrin. Somehow we lost Jeff in this picture.

To even get inside our "corral" we had to get over a wooden wall. Our first bout of teamwork began before the race even started! Luckily we all got over fine, they played the national anthem and we took off. We kept our pace nice and slow and soon we were at our first obstacle. 

Basically we just had to "military crawl" through mud and under barbed wire. It was rough getting down on the ground in the first place, but with so many people crowding in behind you, there really wasn't an option to hesitate! This was the first good banging that my elbows and knees got. Crawling across rocks, with only your elbows and knees to push yourself was painful! Little did I know what was next.

The second obstacle was what they call the "Arctic Enema". Most of us were really worried about our muscles seizing up so soon in the race. I would like to say it wasn't that bad, but that would be a lie. 

You first crawl in on one side and then have to dunk under to get to the other side and crawl out. Getting in wasn't so bad. Going completely under the water was SHOCKING! It literally took my breath away. Trying to remember how awful I felt after that is slightly comical, because now I am downplaying how miserable this obstacle was in my head. This guy on the right feels the same way I did:

After the Arctic Enema, things were a bit of a blur for awhile. There was a little running, although I don't think the 12 miles they tout the race as is accurate. I felt like we did closer to 6 miles. They can't be off by that much, though, right?!

Anyway, we came across lots of other obstacles. Most of them were challenging, but forgettable. I was VERY lucky to have a great team with some super strong dudes who helped me over walls and up huge mud banks. I was pretty much soaking wet after the first obstacle until we finished, and when the obstacles were in the woods or in shaded areas, I was freezing! Luckily, we got out in some sunshine, too!

Some of the obstacles I remember:

Monkey bars/Rings: Both of these obstacles you had to do over a big pit of water. Most of us fell in and had to swim to the other side. Luckily, the water was not nearly as cold as the Arctic Enema, which I was so thankful for. On another note, how the heck did I do the monkey bars for hours when I was little?! Those are hard! 

Piggyback: This one was fun because we got to give eachother piggy back rides. My partner had me jump on his back first and took off. At the midpoint when we switched and I had to carry him, everyone passed us as I struggled to keep up! By the end, I was laughing so hard I could barely breath!

Spiderweb: Just what it sounds like. It was a giant spiderweb of ropes that we had to climb up, over and down. We had to work as a team to hold down the web or else you couldn't climb it. The only really scary part of this one was when you got to the top and looked down. It was so high!

Wood Carry: This was so bizarre. It wasn't really an obstacle, more of a challenge. We just had to pick up a big piece of wood each, and carry it down the course for awhile. It was hard, but nothing we Crossfitters couldn't handle!

Halfpipe: Near the end, we were faced with a huge wall that had a running start on the bottom. Luckily, one of our guys got up there and we all made it up with his help afterwards. One of the "helpers" at the top told me we were one of 4 other girls who had managed to get over! Beth, Jess and I were worried about this one, but it really wasn't hard at all with the boys' help.

Military Crawls: There was so much crawling on rocks and gravel during the race. My knees and elbows took a severe beating, and this was the only time I wished that I had worn pants and long sleeves.

Electroshock Therapy: This obstacle was utterly ridiculous and, in my opinion, completely unnecessary. The first time we encountered the shocks, which were basically dangling wires, we had to military crawl on our elbows and knees under barbed wire through them. I can't begin to explain how it felt getting shocked. It's awful. It kind of hits you and reverberates throughout your whole body. Getting through it once was enough. The final obstacle, however, was another bout with the shocks. As a team, we had to run through muddy water with the shocks dangling down from above. 
Again, so painful. After I got through it (thank goodness), I turned around and Beth was on the ground! She had apparently passed out from a shock and was so disoriented. We got her up and we all finished, but it was scary and definitely made my heart skip a beat! Thankfully she was fine, if not a little shaken up. This is why I think the shocks were either unnecessary or the voltage needed to be turned down. There were other people who had fallen and had trouble getting through. Of course, while they were laying there unconscious, they keep getting shocked because they are laying in muddy water that other people are charging through. Not safe.

We all finished in good spirits, minus Beth's scary spill on the last obstacle. Yay Level IV Nooners!

Beth and I. Total bad-ass's.
This was definitely a fun bonding event and I am so glad I did it! I got to hang out with a great bunch of people in a fun, supportive atmosphere. Expect for the ice water plunge and the electroshock therapy, I enjoyed a lot of the obstacles and they were a nice break from just running.

I'm not sure I ever need to do it again, however!

Jess, Beth and I afterwards. My favorite running buddies!
They call this race "The Toughest Event on the Planet". I'm not so sure about that as my marathon last year was much tougher, but this was certainly the most stressful event! We were talking in the car ride back about how tired we were and figured it was because of the stress of the morning; not knowing which obstacle was going to be next!

I'm sporting all sorts of cuts and bruises, especially around my knees and elbows. You're welcome for the picture! Thank goodness I didn't come away with any injuries! I consider that a win! And now, I am an official Tough Mudder! Grrrr!!!


  1. We're doing Tough Mudder this year in Black Diamond, WA and i'm so glad I found your recap because I'm totally nervous about it, even though it isn't until October. The Arctic enema and the shocks freak me out the most also. Can you bypass the arctic enema? And if you can, is there some kind of penalty? I heard in Spartan Race, if you bypass you have to do a ton of burpees.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Good luck! I'm sure you'll have a blast this year!You can bypass any of the obstacles and I don't think there is a penalty. Some of them are harder to go around than others but I had a friend who didn't want to do the high jump into water and she just went around and waited on the other side. The arctic enema is definitely pass-able, but it is the second obstacle and everyone was so amped up around me, that I didn't even think of passing. Let me know if you have any other questions!