10.2 miles, 20 obstacles, 4 hours, lots of mud, and numerous cuts and bruises later I AM A TOUGH MUDDER!!! There are really no words to explain how awesome my first Tough Mudder (TM) experience was. But I’ll try! I was really nervous the entire week leading up the event. I kept psyching myself out with stupid thoughts. Finally, when I saw Robin on Saturday, we decided that from that point forward we would only say positive things about the TM. I did my best to adhere to our rule. I ate a bowl of pasta for dinner on Saturday night and went to bed around 11 pm. I woke up at 6:15, shot out of bed, took a shower, made a protein shake, and headed down to Robin and Andy’s at 7:15. We ended up leaving the apartment around 7:45 and made it to our destination around 9:45. And by destination, I mean the Everglades. Yes, our TM event was smack dab in the middle of swamp country. After checking in, we met up with the rest of our team. I actually didn’t know anyone else besides Robin and Andy, as they were all friends of Andy’s from PA school. But can I just say that our team was so kickass. Not only did every single one of us finish the race and all of the obstacles, we were each other’s support system. I could not have done this without my seven teammates. We made each other laugh, we cheered each other on, and we were there to say “you can do it” when things got tough. Amazing amazing people! We started with the 10:30 wave. As we lined up, we were instructed to jump around and loosen up by an announcer guy (who was so hilarious). He cracked jokes, told us were were crazy, and even made us sing. We took a TM pledge and sang the National Anthem before starting. THE RUNNING/COURSE I was mentally prepared to run, but when the first mile was pretty much all sand running, I found myself panicking a little bit. But I was relieved to learn that the terrain would just vary throughout (we were in the middle of the Everglades after all). Sometimes we were running through mud, sometimes through a forest (or what felt like a forest), and sometimes more even road. I would say 95% of the course was uneven in nature, and I can’t tell you how many times I almost tripped and fell because of that. And as far as the course setup was concerned, I felt that water and food (bananas, protein bars, and electrolyte gummies) appeared at the perfect time! And the obstacles were spread out nicely as well. While nothing about the TM was easy, I think organizers created the best course possible. Kudos to them! THE WEATHER Florida weather is as unpredictable as it comes. One minute you’re soaking up the sunshine and the next minute your scrambling to find shelter from hurricane type rain (that lasts about 10 minutes max). And that is exactly what we experienced this weekend. It was fairly cloudy most of the morning, and then out of no where the rain started falling…and falling hard. We were trudging through mud in sideways rain. I am so thankful my contacts didn’t fall out! Other than that one “I can’t see two feet in front of me” moment, we were ok for the most part. It rained on and off, but towards the end, the sun was peaking out. In all honestly, we could not have asked for better weather. I can’t imagine having to run 10.2 miles and doing 20 obstacles in Florida heat. The rain actually did us a huge favor! THE OBSTACLES Oh boy! I am not going to go through all of the obstacles here but do want to highlight some of the more memorable ones. Funky monkey – This obstacle was essentially money bars that inclined up and then down with water down below. I made it about three bars before falling straight into the water. Haha. The event photographer got two great shots of me as I was falling! Needless to say, my upper body strength could use some work! Arctic enema – Imagine a ~9×7 foot box that’s four feet deep and filled with ice cubes. Now imagine jumping in, making your way to the middle, ducking under a wooden plank, and finding your way out again. It was pure torture! This was my least favorite obstacle. I got to the middle, looked at Andy, and said, “I can’t breathe!!” He coached me through it and told me I would be fine. Somehow I made it out ok! Balls to the wall – With this obstacle, you basically have a long rope with knots in it and a huge (~10-15 foot wall). The goal is to climb the wall using the rope and then climb down on the other side. I went into this obstacle thinking it would be hard but doable. I asked Robin to do this one with me, and about five seconds into it, I looked at her and said, “I’m going to get down and skip this one.” She tried to convince me to keep going but I was done (or so I thought). As I was walking around to the other side, Andy found me, told me I was going to do this obstacle, and then proceeded to do it with me. Robin spotted on one side while the rest of the team cheered me on from the other side. These people are the BEST! Everest – I think this obstacle is a permanent fixture in all TM events. Basically it’s a giant half pipe ramp that participants sprint up with the hopes that their team members up top will grab them and pull them over. So the first time I sprinted up, I failed. And instead of being caught by the team, I slid back down and hit my right hip pretty hard on the pipe. I almost gave up, but Robin’s encouragement to try one more time kept me going. I went for it again and…success! Phew! I don’t know if I could I have tried again! Electroshock therapy – This was the final obstacle of the event, and it was a b****. Basically, you had to run through dangling live wires that may or may not shock you as you make your way through. I was SO nervous about this one. Our team wanted to run through it together, so we lined up and made a mad dash for the finish line…kind of. I got shocked and fell to the ground face first, cutting up knees and elbows in the process. And instead of getting back up and risking all of that again, I crawled out…alas, I was a Tough Mudder! THE AFTERMATH Needless to say, my body hates me right now. Not only am I super sore, but I have bruises and cuts all over my legs and parts of my arms. I’m guessing it will take quite a few days to recover fully. Mentally, I’m still so excited and shocked about actually going through with the TM AND completing all of the obstacles. MY OVERALL THOUGHTS All of the above was 100% worth the Tough Mudder experience. I overcame so much self-doubt and fear in the span of four hours. With that being said, I think this will be my last TM event. One is enough for me! Overall, we came to conclusion that the TM is 60% endurance, 30% mental strength, and 10% muscular strength. I really do believe that anyone can complete this event successfully – there were so many people of all different fitness levels rocking the course! Truly inspirational! You just have to know what you’re getting into! WHAT’S NEXT! With the Tough Mudder behind me now, I plan to begin Shaun T’s FocusT25 program next Monday! 🙂 I’ll share more about what this entails in Friday’s post.