Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tough Mudder Utah 2012

What is a Tough Mudder?
A hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.  With the most innovative courses, half a million inspiring participants, and more than $3 million raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world. 

Why would anyone do a Tough Mudder?
Well, I think you either get it, or you don't.  If you have to ask too many questions, it isn't for you.  If you watch the video on the Tough Mudder homepage, it will either inspire you, or cause you to ask 1,000 'why would you want to do that' questions.  If you're inspired, you'll sign up, and become annoyed by those you don't get it.  Sign up.  Train.  Do it.  (and sign up again)
"There are only two options regarding commitment: you're either in or you're out. There's no such thing as life in between." - Unknown

Why did I register for Tough Mudder?
A few reasons immediately come to mind, and they are listed in order.
1.  This will be a good bonding experience for Zach and I.  We'll get to work towards a common goal, and help each other (or him help me) on the course.  What could be better than that?  The two of us will get to spend several hours together, focused on just one thing - finishing the course.  (Note:  I was the one who drug Zach into this, not the other way around.)
2.  Challenge yourself.  Every once in awhile, you need to do something to know you are alive.  When is the last time you felt truly alive?  Really, when is the last time you pushed yourself to the limits, and had an extreme sense of satisfaction and completion at the end of the goal?  Get out there and move it.  Its not that hard. 
3.  I've already done countless half marathons, 4 marathons, and am past running local 5K's and 10K's.  I've realized that anyone can do a marathon if they put their mind to it and dedicate time to training.  Its a long, slow, slog.  I've already met my lifetime goal of running a sub four-hour marathon, and I know I'd have to turn into a super-athlete to shave 25 more minutes off my best time to qualify for Boston.  That is not a goal of mine.  I'm ready to really challenge myself in a new way.
4.  I want to set an example for our kids.  Work hard, and see your hard work pay off for you.  Physical activity is fun and enjoyable, and I want them to be active as they grow up.

When did all of this come about?
A friend of mine, Angie, wanted me to sign up earlier this year for the TM in Colorado.  The timing didn't really work out.  But, because of her, I found out about the event.  In May, I visited with the trainer at our gym about setting up a plan for me to prepare me for Tough Mudder.  Then, for our anniversary in May, Zach and I signed up for the event in Utah, to be held October 2012.

What was the training like?
Intense and time consuming.  Steve challenged me every week.  I trained on my own, but he gave me a new set of plans and goals each month.  I've been training every week since June.  Some weeks, he would have be doing stuff six or seven days a week.  We worked on running and strength training.  I can honestly say I never took a week of rest during 4 1/2 months of training.  I never skipped a workout on the plan, with the exception of the two-week taper in October.  I needed a little extra rest during that time frame, and modified the plan.  I had numerous days where I was up at 4:30 in the morning so I could run, do a gym workout, and run again, before I needed to get home and get the kids to school and be to work by 8:00.  That was the only way I could do it at times.  In August, my load at work increased, and I could no longer justify using my wellness time during the week.  It forced me to get up early.  Some workouts were 2+ hours.  I did a lot of combination workouts that included a run, gym workout, followed by a run.  I ran hills, intervals, and long distances.  I got through it, knowing that every minute I invested would pay off during the event, and it did.  My co-worker joined me for some of my scheduled bike rides.  Doing that with someone else was a very nice change of pace.

Race Day
It was in the 50's during the race, windy at times, and cloudy most of the time.  It was not the beautiful fall day I had been hoping for.  It was cold.  I decided to wear my old shoes that got me through three marathons, socks, running shorts, and a t-shirt.  Last minute, I decided to wear my long-sleeved shirt on top.  We also wore fingerless gloves, and I'm glad that I did.  Don't plan to wear glasses or sunglasses - there is no way they would stay clean, and you will have nothing clean on you to wipe them off with.  The only thing I would do differently is wear some compression shorts under my running shorts.  The sun popped out about part way through the course, and I gave my long sleeved shirt to the family at obstacle 12.  By obstacle 19, I was frozen, and wished I had it on. 

The course was at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City.  We planned to arrive about 2 hours before event, but it ended up being about 1 1/2 hours before.  The traffic was backed up as we headed to the complex, and we could only go about 2 mph.  But, once we got there, the event was very well organized and efficient.  The course was flat, but in a pasture.  So, the terrain consisted of constant bumps, dips, and holes.  You had to look at the ground the entire time so you didn't twist you ankle.  The course was modified from the map that was originally posted on the web.  Thursday before the event we were sent the new map, the course was now two miles longer, and featured different obstacles than we had been viewing for the past four months.  Now, there were 21 obstacles instead of 25, but many of them were different from the original.
We checked in, got our foreheads marked, pinned on our numbers, and waited.  We watched two groups start ahead of us.  At 10:45, we climbed the wall to enter the starting corral.  Several hundred people squeezed in.  As we stood in the starting corral, I had thoughts of being unprepared for the event.  Did I train enough?  I had tweaked my back at the gym a few days prior and it felt stiff.  I think that the freezing cold weather made it tense up even more.  I didn't want 4 1/2 months of training to come down to my back feeling out of place and stiff!  I was a little frustrated.

The guy starting the waves was amazing.  In a matter of 15 minutes, he built camaraderie, pumped everyone up, and had us take an pledge:
As a Tough Mudder I pledge that...
I understand the Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
I do not whine - kids whine.
I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.
I overcome all fears.

Before we knew it, we were off and running.  Once I started moving, my back felt better.  I was actually doing the TM, the moment I've been preparing for and thinking about for months is now here.

Obstacle 1 of 21 - Kiss of Mud
From the TM Website:  Eat dirt as you crawl commando-style under barbed wire set 8 inches from the ground. This obstacle is true to it’s name – Mudders must belly-crawl through mud in order to avoid getting snagged by the barbed wire above. On some courses, the Kiss of Mud is set on an uphill, increasing the level of difficulty. To prepare for this obstacle, start crawling in any mud you come across, or, do our Tough plank series (alternating low & high planks – fast!).
My Thoughts:  After a very short run, we arrived at Kiss of Mud.  This featured a muddy area with low-hanging barbed wire, as low as 8 inches off the ground.  At first I could crawl, but then, you really have to belly crawl, using just your arms.  This mud was cold.  As we got out of the barbed wire, you were in a muddy disaster.  This mud is like snot!  There were a lot of holes in that area and you could really sink down into it.  And now, we were up and running again.

Obstacle 2 of 21 - Arctic Enema
From the TM Website:  This obstacle is all about mental grit. Many athletes use ice baths for recovery, but you’ll have a difficult time relaxing your muscles in this frigid dumpster. First you must bravely jump into Big Mudder’s floating iceberg abyss. Once submerged, find the mental and physical strength to swim through the ice, under a wooden plank and pull yourself out on the other end before you become hypothermic.   
My Thoughts:  Getting in wasn't a problem.  I had prepared myself mentally for that.  I didn't realize how cold it was going to be.  This was the coldest I had ever been.  I had every intention to swim under that barrier, but I couldn't do it.  It was sooooo cold, I don't know what else to say!  It was so cold that you literally could not breathe or take a deep breath.  I wanted to take a breath to swim under, but I couldn't.  I had no breath to hold.  I didn't want to keep standing there, so I climbed around the barrier, and got back in the ice.  I got to the other end and climbed out.  My legs were frozen and I didn't think they could move.  I was frustrated, and told Zach I couldn't take a deep breath.  He told me it was the same for him, but he just went under.  Ok, now I feel stupid.  Maybe I should have done the same thing.  In watching some video of the event, I realized that I girl just seconds ahead of me did the same thing!  At least I wasn't the only one who climbed around.  I felt that was my only option.  Once we got out, I warmed up much quicker than I thought.  I guess when you are in ice, and step out into a balmy 50 degrees, it feels warm.  I'm glad that was obstacle #2.  In TM, they don't keep time.  You just aim to complete the course.  You can skip any obstacle you want, although I wasn't planning to skip any.  I can only give myself 1/2 credit for this obstacle.

Obstacle 3 of 21 - Berlin Walls #1
From the TM Website:  This obstacle relies on teamwork. Scale three 12′ wooden walls with the help of your teammates, strategically placed for when you are at your weakest during the event. While some Mudders have worked up the strength to ascend the walls alone, most need a boost from a fellow Mudder — they got your back, literally.
My Thoughts:  We knew that the first set of walls would not be 12'.  I'd guess around 8'?  It required teamwork with Zach.  My arms still felt frozen from the ice.  It would have been really easy if you just did this during training.  But, the ice made your arms feel fatigued.  Either way, we got over them easily and kept running.

Aid StationsHere we came across an aid station.  Basically, all aid stations have water and bananas.  I was hoping for Gatorade, but there wasn't any.  The aid stations are a muddy mess, but the large metal stands that hold the enormous coolers are an excellent spot to try and scrape the mud off your shoes and gloves.  We came across a total of five aid stations along the course.  I was thankful that we had family who could give us some GU during some of the obstacles.  There isn't an easy way to carry that with you during this type of event.  I think a race belt or something similar would be more of a hazard if you got caught on something climbing over walls, etc.  One station had some chewy energy bite things, but they were way to hard to chew.  Your body is tired, and it seems like your jaw doesn't even work to chew them up.  Plus, you have no way of scraping the sticky mess off your teeth with your hands, unless you want to eat mud. 

Obstacle 4 of 21 - Bale Bonds
My thoughts:  This was pretty easy.  We just had to crawl over some round hay bales.  I felt like a kid on a farm!

Obstacle 5 of 21 - Hold your Wood
From the TM Website:  Make like a lumberjack and carry a heavy log through a section of the Tough Mudder course. If the course is flat, expect to be lugging your log for at least 1/2 mile. If the area is hilly or mountainous, get friendly with your wood because you’ll be hauling it up a steep and challenging ascent.
My Thoughts:  We had to carry a chunk of wood for 1/4 mile through a hilly and curvy terrain.  At this point, Zach and I went solo with the wood.  A lot of people were carrying a long log as a team.  I think we had a major advantage.  I don't think a single person passed us during this portion.  The teams were struggling.  With everyone being a different height, there just wasn't a convenient way to carry it.  I thought we did really good on this obstacle.  During this course, they had a stinky, dead cow laying in the pasture.  I noticed a stench, but figured out what it was once we walked past the dead animal.  Gross.  I guess they were going for a olfactory challenge, knowing you needed two hands to carry your log and you couldn't plug your nose!  For me, this challenge was equivalent to carrying Mr. Brooks, my 40 pounder three year old, on a hike. 

Obstacle 6 of 21 - Kiss of Mud #2
My Thoughts:  We entered more mud and barbed wire.  It was a repeat of Kiss of Mud #1, our first obstacle.

Obstacle 7 of 21 - King of the Mountain
My Thoughts:  Here, they had square hay bales stacked into a pyramid.  Once again, I felt like a farm kid.  It was fun, and I was glad that I am tall.  I think it might be challenging for a person with short legs!  I came out of this obstacle thinking that I looked like a scarecrow.  The hay was sticking to my muddy legs.  Please note that you never dry out between obstacles.  The wind might cause the mud to dry onto your legs in certain areas, but you are always muddy.  Your shoes will always be muddy, and feel like they have 3 inches of mud caked to the bottom.  Your feet will feel like you're running on small pebbles that have worked their way into your shoes.  Whatever you do, don't take off your shoes, it would be hard to get them back on!

Obstacle 8 of 21 - Trench Warfare
From the TM Website:  This military-style obstacle requires Mudders to crawl through narrow, dark, muddy trenches. Watch out for rocks, obstructions, and the occasional splash of muddy water from the Mudder crawling ahead. We advise all Mudders to move quickly through this obstacle to reduce the risk of contracting gangrene or trench foot. These trenches will test the stamina and mental grit of all Mudders, especially those who fear dark, confined spaces.
My Thoughts:  This was a very small tunnel.  Luckily, it wasn't in the mud.  It was dark and wasn't a straight shot.  It had an angle to it to keep it even darker.  I'm glad I was a small person, as this would be tight for anyone with wide shoulders and a big body.  Before the event, this was one of the two obstacles I was concerned about.  But, Zach went in first and I followed.  I just kept on breathing and silently singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, and made it through!  Why did I sing that song?  Well, I thought that mentally it would make me think of happy thoughts since I sing this to A&B at night time, in their nearly dark room.  This technique worked for me, and I hope the guy behind me didn't hear me and think I was a weirdo.

Obstacle 9 of 21 - Dirty Ballerina
From the TM Website:  Leap with the grace of a black swan muddily over our 4-foot-wide mud pits. 4 feet may not sound challenging at first, but the tracks of leaping Mudders will erode the mud pits into wide, jagged-edged muddy gaps. Should your inner ballerina stumble, as she often can, you’ll find yourself submerged in a mud pit and calling your teammates for an assist.
My Thoughts:  This was, by far, my favorite obstacle!!!  This was an absolute muddy mess, and a lot of fun!  These were not even close to 4' wide mud pits, I'm thinking more like 8'.  It was a mud mound, followed by a mud pit, then a mud mound, followed by a mud pit, and it never seemed to end.  Teamwork was necessary here because the mud was so slick.  Typically, a person had to make a foot hold for you with their hand, and someone would assist you by pulling on your arm.  Once again, the mud was like snot.  Sometimes you'd make it to the top of the mound, only to slide down the other side when you really wanted to try to help the next person get up.  It was at this point in the race that I started to realize the reluctance of guys to accept help from a girl.  It almost seemed like there was a few seconds of hesitation before they would grab your hand so you could help pull them up.  Everyone was very helpful during this obstacles, and it was necessary.  I think that both Zach and I had just as much fun helping other people as we did doing the actual obstacles.  It was rewarding to know that you helped someone through the race.  All of the participants were very kind and helpful.    

Mile Markers
Each mile was marked, and it was between these obstacles that we ran past mile marker number six.

Obstacle 10 of 21 - Lumber Jacked
My Thoughts:  I couldn't have done this without Zach's help.  Here we faced a series of four horizontal logs - some about chest high, and the last one was a little taller.  Zach helped boost me up on the horizontal log, and then I could get down on the other side.  Zach was able to jump up and get himself over the logs without any help.  At this point in the race, it seemed to warm up a little bit.  The sun popped out of the clouds for awhile.

Obstacle 11 of 21 - Electric Eel
From the TM Website:  Mudders frequently forget about this obstacle since they’re so focused on Electroshock Therapy - but they shouldn’t. Slide on your belly through frigid water or, even worse, a layer of ice and beware of the shocks overhead. Should you try to crawl on your knees, you’ll be smacked with live wires and your body will compulsively contort. Be sure to protect your head, otherwise you might experience what Big Mudder calls a brain reboot.
My Thoughts:  I had read that the level of electricity was a little lower in Electric Eel as compared to Electroshock Therapy.  We belly crawled through muddy water with dangling wires.  I got shocked about three times.  It hurt, but I guess I was prepared for worse.  As I tried to crawl out of the Electric Eel area, I discovered I couldn't!  I keep getting zapped, even though I wasn't touching a wire.  It felt like I was laying on top of a horizontal wire, but I'm sure it wasn't there.  Zach had just got out of the obstacle, so I yelled to him, "Zach, get me out of here."  The shocks were constant, and it makes you not able to move forward or back.  I was stuck!  The only thing I can think of is that the electricity must travel through the other people, and into the muddy water.  My thought was that since I was on the exterior perimeter, the electricity was traveling outward, and exiting through my body.  It was a weird experience.

Obstacle 12 of 21 - Balls to the Wall
My Thoughts:  This was a brand new obstacle that was premiered at our event.  We scoured the internet two days before the event, and we couldn't find a thing about it.  Once we got there, we realized it was new and that is why we couldn't find out anything about it.  You'll see a picture of the obstacle below.  This was the first obstacle we came to where we had to wait about five minutes for our turn.  The rest was welcomed and since it was still warm, I shedded my long sleeve shirt and stuck to the short sleeved shirt.  Several spectators were at this obstacle, and we had the great opportunity to see our kiddos here!  Zach and I took turns holding our place in line and walking over to say hi to the munchkins.  We also grabbed some energy gels from Zach's mom and step dad.  I was ready for an extra boost!  The obstacle was a tall, wooden wall, with a rope draped on each side.  You had to walk up the wall, one at a time, and down the other side.  Zach gave me some tips on technique, and I thought I did well.  Some people were struggling with their form, or lack there of.  The tricky part was that the rope was threaded through a board at the top, with a knot on either side.  So, when one person pulled on the rope on the opposite side, or let go, the person on the opposite side felt the effect!  I lost my footing about 8 feet from the bottom, and was just hanging and managed to drop down.  This was a fun obstacle!

Obstacle 13 of 21 - Mud Mile
From the TM Website:  Slosh through up to a mile of waist-deep sludge as you try not to lose your shoes in the mud. Balance and coordination are required if you want to make it through this obstacle without face-planting… but what’s the fun in that? Real Mudders eat mud for breakfast. On some courses, Mudders will encounter obstructions throughout Mud Mile that require them to fully submerge in the mud to slosh onward.
My Thoughts:  For some reason, I don't remember a lot about this obstacle.  I asked Zach about it, and he remembered a lot of undulating, muddy terrain, but it wasn't a mile long.  I'm guessing that I didn't remember this clearly because you are always running in and out of the mud along the TM course.  I do remember hearing someone yell, "Hey LVHS people!".  It was on this obstacle that we ran into two other people from our town!  How weird is that?  They were in a different starting wave then us, and we caught up to them.  We chatted for awhile as we made it up this sloshy, muddy hill.  This required the help of others to get to the top. 

Obstacle 14 of 21 - Boa Constrictor
From the TM Website:  If you don’t like small spaces, this obstacle will be a challenge for you. Crawl through a series of pipes that force you on a downhill into some freezing mud, then a slippery uphill to the other side. Your legs will be useless in the narrow confines of the Boa, so use your arms to pull yourself through this obstacle. There really is light at the end of the tunnel.
My Thoughts:  This obstacle is exactly as it is described above.  This, along with Trench Warfare, were my two biggest concerns going in.  But, I did it.  I had prepared myself mentally for worse.  You crawl downhill through a plastic pipe.  Then, you start to notice muddy water starting to fill the pipe.  Then, you exit the pipe, but you can't stand up or get on your knees.  You're in muddy water with barbed wire overhead.  Then, you crawl up the next tunnel to exit the obstacle.  The mud water here was cold, and I followed Zach through the pipes.  I'm glad he took the lead on a lot of this!  I liked knowing that he was in front of me.  There is a lot of gravel and rocks, so having gloves to help you crawl is nice.
Obstacle 15 of 21 - Berlin Walls #2
See description above.
My Thoughts:  These walls were higher than the first set.  I'd guess around 10'.  Zach was able to boost me up and I could crawl over and drop down the other side.  Zach could get up and over on his own.  We ran into another couple at this obstacle and Zach helped that guy get the girl over the top.  I think the guy could have used some help, but he was determined to do it on his own.  So, we watched him attempt a few times to get up and over.  By this point, the walls were starting to get muddy and it was a little harder to get a grip.

Obstacle 16 of 21 - Cliffhanger
From the TM Website:  Cliff Hanger is an obstacle all about teamwork and camaraderie: a 40+ foot cliff of slippery mud angled at 45-degrees. The Cliff always begins with good intentions: a muddy sprint up onto the slope and transitions into a crawl with handholds and footholds in short supply. Beware if you attempt this obstacle alone, your futile vertical scramble will likely turn into an uncontrolled slide back down into the mud pit below. Successful Mudders will form a chain link of fellow participants slowly inching up the slope. If you want to train for Cliff Hanger you should find the biggest hill near your house, measure it, then drive until you get to a hill twice as steep.
My Thoughts:  We got a glimpse of this obstacle as we had to run up the side of this hill after the King of the Mountain on our way to Trench Warfare.  We both looked at each other and said, "Whoah."  Earlier, we saw some people work their way up this hill, and it was steep.  This was probably my second favorite obstacle.  There wasn't an opportunity for a sprint like it mentioned above.  Instead, you waited in a short line, to then submerge yourself into a cold, muddy pit.  Then, you moved forward to begin your ascent up the big hill.  They had a rope cargo-like net staked into the side of the hill, but a lot of it was buried in the mud, and not totally reliable.  Some people did make a human chain, but we just scrambled our way up.  It was a lot of fun, and very muddy.  The view from the top was great!

Obstacle 17 of 21 - Funky Monkey
From the TM Website:  Sure monkey bars were easy when you were 5 years old, but you’ll need to hold on extra tight to these. Some have been greased with our finest mixture of mud and butter and if you slip you’ll fall into an icy pond below. Bars are spaced 1.5 feet apart and you will be on an incline upward for the first half of the Monkey and then descending downward for the second portion. Seasoned Mudders keep their arms bent at a 90-degree angle and bicycle-kick their legs to gain momentum.
My Thoughts:  This might have been possible to attempt early on in the race, but by this time, there isn't much left of your arms.  I succumbed to the obstacle.  I had been practicing the monkey bars at the park with the kids, and had even observed some techniques from girls at TM who back crawl across the bars and use their feet and hands.  I opted to jump in the icy water and work my way across.  Zach made it to the peak of the monkey bars, and dropped in the water below.  I did see one guy make it across while we were at this obstacle.  To leave this obstacle, there was a muddy mound you had to get up.  This was just as big as a challenge as Funky Monkey!  We utilized some teamwork here with our fellow Mudders and made it to the top.

Obstacle 18 of 21 - Just the Tip
My Thoughts:  This must also be a newer obstacle.  It isn't featured on their website, but two days prior, we found some YouTube videos of this obstacle.  Essentially, you have these plywood walls with a 2x4 mounted to it a foot level and shoulder level.  You are supposed to shimmy across with little grip, and then in the middle section, it is reduced to a 1x4 at your foot and shoulder level.  The space to grab on or to grip your feet is so minimal.  Not to mention, your shoes are caked in mud.  I think it might be possible with clean shoes, dry hands, and a wall that isn't coated with mud from fellow Mudders.  I didn't observe anyone make it across in the line that I was in.  Zach said he saw one guy make it across on a wall next to where I was.  Zach mentioned that he was able to make it to the 1x4 before he fell in.  Honestly, this water was as cold as Arctic Enema.  It was so, so, cold.  Once again, it was that deep cold that causes you to not be able to take a breath.  I exited the other side, and once again, we faced a muddy mound that was bigger than the last one to fully exit the obstacle.  I had a guy help me up to the top.  Then, someone held my feet as I hung down to extend a hand to someone at the bottom.  Then, they used me like a rope to scramble up to the top.  I did this for a few people, and then was able to help Zach get up in that same manner.  We stayed and helped quite a few people during this obstacle, and had a lot of fun doing that.

Next, we came across an unofficial obstacle - the Wounded Warrior Carry.  We were instructed to carry a fellow Mudder for 100 yards, and then switch.  When they said 100 yards, I have no doubt that it was exactly that length.  I hopped on Zach's back and he carried me.  Then, at the switching point, he kept carrying me.  I told him I'd try to carry him for the last 5 feet.  I failed!  Ugh!  At least I tried.  Once again, I think if this was done when you weren't exhausted, I might have been able to carry him 5, or 10 feet...

Obstacle 19 of 21 - Walk the Plank
From the TM Website:  Test your fear of heights and cold all in one with our 15+ feet high jump into freezing water. Mudders like to display their fancy diving skills (or belly-flops) at this obstacle. Don’t spend too much time pondering your leap – Marines at the top of the platform will chew you out, or worse, push you into the freezing depths below.
My Thoughts:  I'm pretty sure it was at least 15+ feet high.  Luckily, we didn't have Marines at the top to chew us out.  But, there were about ten lifeguards in wetsuits, ready to save you if you didn't come back up!  By this point, I was so freezing cold.  The thought of getting in the water again was not exciting.  I walked to the other side of the obstacle to ask a guy who had just got out how cold the water was.  He said it was cold, but not ice cold like the last obstacle.  That plank was high.  The fellow residents from our town had caught up with us, and we all climbed to the top.  I couldn't jump.  I debated about forcing myself to do it, but I couldn't.  I figured I'd regret not jumping later, but I guess I was too stubborn to just jump.  Zach tried to talk me into it, but it didn't work.  I climbed back down.  By the time I got down, I missed watching Zach jump.  He got out, and we kept on running.  I'm going to have to work on jumping off the high dive at the pool to get ready for this the next time around.  I failed a total of 1.5 obstacles.  Ugh.
Fatigue makes cowards of us all. ~ Vince Lombardi
Obstacle 20 of 21 - Everest
From the TM Website:  Snowboarders and skate boarders have the half-pipe. Mudders have a real obstacle: Everest. A quarter-pipe that you’ll have to sprint up and enlist the help of other Mudders to hurl you over this beastly summit. Everest is coated in mud and grease, a combination which will likely send you right back from where you came. Call upon other Mudders to catch you as you run up the quarter-pipe or work together to form a human chain so that you can scale someone’s shoulders to finally summit Everest.
My Thoughts:  Everest was one of my favorite obstacles.  Going into the TM, I wasn't for sure if I'd be able to make it up the 1/4 pipe.  But, I made it on the second attempt!  Zach told me to go for speed, and that worked.  I also think it helped to have some long arms.  Some nice guys grabbed me and pulled me up.  I'm very thankful for their help!  The 1/4 pipe is slick, and add muddy shoes to the mix and you'll notice a lot of people that run up and slide back down.  I waited for Zach on the top of the wall.  I knew that I wouldn't be much help by hanging over the wall (I'd be pulled down with them), so, instead I helped once the guys would grab somebody.  Then, I could help pull them up, or hold onto the legs of those hanging over the wall.  I asked some nice guys to help Zach up, and they did.  Then, they went down the backside and Zach and I stayed to help for awhile.  It was really cold on top of the wall because it was windy at the time.  After helping several people, we climbed down the backside.  It was a short run to the last obstacle.

Obstacle 21 of 21 - Electroshock Therapy
From the TM Website:  Sprint through a field of live wires — some carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock. Watch out for hay bales and deep mud, or you will face-plant into some electrifying mud. Some Mudders try to stealthily wind their way through the wires without getting shocked, while others barrel forward to get through as quickly as possible. Either way, you are guaranteed to get zapped with as much as 10,000 volts of electricity and it does NOT tickle. This is typically the last obstacle Mudders must overcome before they cross the finish line.
My Thoughts:  The finish line is now in view, but first you have to get through this obstacle.  The Utah event featured mud and hay bales.  The wires were everywhere, and it was clear that you are not going to avoid getting shocked.  We had a mud pit, hay bales, mud pit, hay bales, and a mud pit.  I belly crawled through the first mud pit and didn't get shocked too bad.  It was bearable.  Then, going up and over the hay bale made it challenging.  You were bound to get zapped.  This next mud pit had lower hanging wires, so you couldn't avoid them.  I got zapped, bad.  My mind had a flashback of images, and then went black.  I woke up and had to gather my thoughts to figure out which way to go.  I had been crawling, but I was now on my back, looking towards the start of the obstacle.  I flipped over to my stomach, and I knew I had to keep going.  I was at another row of hay bales.  I could crawl again, or run for it.  I really just wanted to lay in the mud, but the finish line was so close, and Zach was waiting for me at the end of the obstacle.  After I gathered my thoughts for a little while, and had a girl near me tell me that I could do it, I stood up and went for it.  I got zapped on my arm, and although it didn't knock me down, it stung for about 30 seconds.  Later on, I had a bruise on my arm in this area, and I wonder if it was caused by the electricity.  Zach took the approach of just running through this obstacle.  He got zapped in the middle and face planted it in the mud (see photo below).  I was glad to get out of this obstacle and to the finish line!

Finish LineWe got our orange headbands!  I was thankful for the space blanket and an energy bar.  It was sooooo cold outside.  The blankets work really well.  We made our way to the outdoor showers.  I was hoping for warm, or even hot, water, but that didn't exist.  The water was freezing cold.  I needed to get some of the mud off of me to get back into the car, but the water was so cold.  I sprayed off my lower half and called it good.  I don't think anybody stuck around for the party.  It was just too cold outside, and there was nowhere to go except for a car with a heater.  I was ready to head to the hotel for a really, really, hot shower.  It took us just under four hours to complete the course.  I'm guessing this was average for Utah's course and for the conditions of the day.  We could have done it faster, but we spent a lot of time helping people.  I know I enjoyed helping others along the course as much as I enjoying doing the event. 

After TM
My lower back was really sore after the race.  I had tweaked it a few days before the event, and I don't think that aided in my recovery.  It took about a week and a half after the race for my back to feel back to normal.  My hips were also sore from the crawling during the event.  I felt almost back to normal about five days after the event.  Both Zach and I were bruised.  I had bruises on my arm and both of my legs.  Although my stomach wasn't bruised, it felt as though it was.  I think this came from pulling/dragging yourself over so many obstacles.  I didn't do any workouts for five days after the event.  On day five, I did a short workout at the gym, and on day seven, I took the kids out for a run in the stroller.  I'm now easing back into a regular workouts that I'll continue for the rest of the year.  We brought our muddy shoes home, even though they collect muddy shoes at TM for a good cause.  I cleaned them up and they are ready for at TM in 2013.

What's Next?
We'll be signing up for TM in 2013.  This has been a great challenge, and I look forward to doing it again.  I'm just waiting for registration to open up!  TM has been a great experience and it was a well organized event. 

TM Utah Official Video
This video shows footage from the Utah TM Event.  I agree with some of the comments that the temperature was much lower than stated.  I was hoping it would show all of the obstacles, but it just shows a few of them.

What did A&B think?
Well, I think the kiddos enjoyed watching the event.  Adlyn wasn't excited about me getting all muddy.  Now, when they are at the park, they cross the monkey bars and pretend there is muddy or icy water underneath.  They play at the park an make references to our race, and pretend they are doing it as well.  They are looking forward to another trip in 2013 with the grandparents to watch.  In addition to Curious George, A&B love to watch the show "Wipeout" on ABC.  This is as close to Wipeout as one can get!
Anne at Everest - Obstacle 20 of 21

Zach at Everest - Obstacle 20 of 21

Zach runs through Electroshock Therapy - Obstacle 21 of 21

My new favorite pic of Zach.  Photo captured after Electroshock Therapy.

We've been waiting for the Orange!  Finish Line

Done!  I'm freezing cold!

Family Pic after the Tough Mudder

Getting pumped up at the start.

Group huddle at the start.

Balls to the Wall - Obstacle 12 of 21

Course Map

Getting our numbers on.

Back to Work on Monday with my TM Shirt

No comments:

Post a Comment