If you don't know what a Tough Mudder is, watch this video. (If the sound isn't working, visit the www.toughmudder.com website, and view the video on the home page.)
The man who starts the race is Sean Corvelle. The energy you feel in the video is exactly what this man creates in a matter of ten minutes when you are waiting for your wave to start. I like his quote, "You might have run a marathon, a triathlon, let me tell you all something, this ain't that."
2013 Tough Mudder Colorado Team: Anne & Zach from Wyoming, James & Megan from Nebraska, and Scott from Wyoming
This year, we had a greater purpose. We carried a Wounded Warrior Project flag in honor of Cpl. David M. Sonka, USMC, from Parker, Colorado. He was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in May 2013, along with his K-9, Flex, and a fellow Marine. David's mother, Donna, took care of our twins, Brooks and Adlyn, while they were in the NICU in Colorado when they were born. We got to know Donna as she took excellent care of our children on every one of her night shifts. I will be sending her the flag this week so that she can have it in honor of her son. We shared David's story with so many people along the course.
Course: Above is a photo of the course. The course was 11 miles long this year, and as you can see, the route snakes through the ski resort. I felt like we were going up hill about 90% of the time. I'm still not for sure when we ever really came down the mountain! The venue was excellent and was great for spectators. The kids enjoyed riding the ski lifts with all of the relatives during the event.
Start: We were a little late getting to the starting corral. I'm not for sure why, I think they were about ten minutes ahead of schedule. Either way, they let us squeeze in towards the back. Sean Corvelle was there to start the event, and he did a great job. We got to give him a high-five as we ran past him. Trying to run out of the start corral was difficult. There were a lot of people, and the pathway was narrow. We did a lot of walking/running until the people spread out.
Obstacle 1 - Kiss of Mud: The first obstacle we encountered was Kiss of Mud. You simply crawl under the barbwire, in the mud. Zach and I went to a lane towards the middle so we could get some mud. It was more like sharp rocks, but I guess that is why they call them the Rocky Mountains. Utah was very, very muddy. In general, Colorado was dry, and rocky. Other than snagging my hair in the barbwire towards the beginning, we all completed the task without any issues. We (I really mean four of our five team members) continued our speed hike to the next obstacle. The terrain at this TM was intense! On the uphills, I think James on our team was the only one who was actually running. James would run up, and back down to check on us, and back up again. At one point during the event on one of the trail sections, the guy in front of me said some comment about that guy who keeps running up and down. I told him, yeah, he's on our team. It would have been great if he could have given us an ounce of his running power!
Obstacle 2 - Electric Eel: We came up on this obstacle without any warning, which was probably a good thing. The more you think about getting zapped, the worse it is to force yourself to get zapped. These electric wires dangle over a water pit that you have to crawl through. The water was freezing cold. I got out of that obstacle, and I'm not even for sure if I got shocked. I think I was more shocked by the cold water that I didn't even notice that I was getting zapped. As I went through the course last weekend, I think I've pin-pointed my weakness - cold water. Ugh. The thought of it freaks me out. Last year, a lot of the obstacles had that freezing cold water, and it was so cold, you couldn't take a breath. I'd rather get zapped, climb Everest, crawl through trench warfare, anything, than go into that cold water.
Obstacle 3 - Glory Blades: This obstacle was new from last year. It is essentially like Berlin Walls, but the are tilted towards you. I have to say I liked it! Plus, there was Masonite on the back side, so you could just slide down. Of course, I needed Zach's help to boost me up, but overall, it was easy-cheesy, as my kids would say!
Obstacle 4 - Wounded Warrior Carry: We also had this obstacle last year. This year, it was really nice that they had a man there to actually show you how to carry a wounded warrior. It was a really nice touch, and I hope TM does this at all of their events now. I'd say you have to carry a person about 20 yards, and then you switch. Last year, Zach carried me all but about two steps. This year, I carried Zach and then we switched! Of course, I couldn't carry him the proper way, but I did it! I was very excited about that. I mark this as progress from last fall.
Obstacle 5 - Funky Monkey: Everyone on our team made it across, except me. I was especially impressed by Megan's strength on this obstacle! This girl rocked the course! I had been practicing monkey bars at the park, and I had really hoped to get across them this year. Last year I just jumped in the water. The bars were all twisty this year, and I really didn't want to fall into the water part-way through. So, after debating it for awhile, I just jumped in the water and went to the other side. Way to go team! I was really excited to seem them all do this, especially Megan. I haven't seen too many girls accomplish this task.
Obstacle 6 - The Gauntlet: I don't think we actually had this obstacle. Instead, during this part, we had these piles of snow that we had to climb up, and get down. This snow felt more like a sand-snow mix. You wouldn't think it would be bad, but it was. This obstacle beat me up in the worse way possible! It was more like ice, and sometimes you get going down so fast that you fall, and slide on your butt, and there isn't anything to stop you. The sides of my hips were really scraped up from this, and it looked like they had road rash. By that evening, it was really swollen, then, it bruised horribly. A week later, and the scrapes are still healing! As we approached this snow obstacle, the inserts in my shoes kept wrinkling up. Luckily, Zach's step-dad was there, so I took of my shoes and handed him the liners. I didn't have any shoe problems after that!
Obstacle 7 - Arctic Enema: We came up on this obstacle without much warning. I wasn't looking forward to it. Last year, I jumped in, and climbed over the barrier, and back into the ice. I had intentions of doing the same thing this year. Everyone else jumped in and dove under. I didn't, couldn't. Did I mention how much I dislike cold water? Zach came back and tried convincing me to jump in. He actually did it again. I'll say he did it for me, or maybe he just really liked that obstacle? I'm not for sure. Either way, the flag went with him both times. I went around, I didn't want to waste any more time thinking about it. Looking back, I should have just jumped in. I don't know if it is worse, or better, to face that obstacle a second time. On our way to the next obstacle, we passed two guys were competed in the World's Toughest Mudder. They were wearing their WTM bibs, and were carrying a tire through the course. Wow. Impressive. Way to go guys!
Obstacle 8 - Hold Your Wood: I think we actually did the underwater tunnels next, but the map says this was the order. I'm not really for sure, now that I look back! Either way, this obstacle was easy. It was even easier than last year. The logs were small, and the path to carry the logs was quite short. In Utah, the path was really far, the logs were larger, and we had to walk past these dead animals that were really stinky. We all completed this without any issues.
Obstacle 9 - Underwater Tunnels: These tunnels were placed in a pond. The water was...you guessed it, freezing! Megan and I walked up to the tunnels, and then decided to take the Walk of Shame around the obstacle. I was sick of being in cold water. The guys on our team all completed this task. They told us that the pond had a lot of sharp rocks in it, and when you dove under, you had to navigate around the rocks and boulders. After hearing that, I was glad I didn't do it. I think a few team members got some cuts from these rocks.
Obstacle 10 - Lumberjacked: These logs were fairly high, but Zach simply gave me a boost and I made it over the obstacles without any problems. The team did very good here as well.
Obstacle 11 - Ladder to Hell: I liked this obstacle. It was easy, and I could do it by myself. Always a plus! Being tall helped, it made it a lot easier to reach the rungs. The team did great on this one! After this obstacle, we continued on a trail run for a good distance that was absolutely beautiful. The trees were pretty and the river along the trail was flowing swiftly. We were even running slightly downhill, so all the better! Then, we got to the end of the trees and the route made a 90 degree turn to the left. What did we see in front of us? A huge incline that was steeper than anything we had faced thus far! Everyone around us seemed to stop, and look at each other. Seriously? This route is straight up! Megan and I did some speed hiking to the top. It seemed un-runnable to me, except for James. Scott and Zach were up ahead of us, and they waited for us at the top. At the top of the hill, we faced our next obstacle.
Obstacle 12 - Boa Constrictor: We had this obstacle last year, and there was water at the end of the tube. The water was cold, but overall, this obstacle was pretty simple. I think everyone had a good time with this one. When we exited this obstacle, we ran down the huge hillside we just hiked up. I was glad the uphill hike over!
Obstacle 13 - Berlin Walls: At the bottom of the hillside, we faced the Berlin Walls. We worked together and got it done. It wasn't too bad. We had this obstacle last year, and it was just as I had remembered.
Obstacle 14 - Just the Tip: We continued to run down the hill and then we came up on this obstacle. This was in Utah last year, and I just jumped in the cold water. This year, I did it! (It helped that the wooden board to grip was much bigger than it was in Utah last year. Last year, the board got really skinny in the middle, like a 2x1 strip of lumber!) It was scary, but it felt like a great accomplishment! The obstacle is simply walls made out of plywood with a wood strip across it that you hang on to with your fingertips, and shimmy along. If you fall, you plunge into, what I'm guessing is, cold water! The guys made it across, and then I went next. Megan gave me some great encouragement! About half way across, I just started to close my eyes. I couldn't look. That water seemed like a long way down. I really didn't want to fall in. So, I kept going and eventually Zach could reach out a hand to relieve some weight by holding on to my foot. That was very, very helpful, and I really appreciated that! I was so happy to make it across! Megan went next and she did great. I offered her some assistance at the end, just as Zach did for me. Completing that one obstacle was the best part of the event for me. We continued to run a fairly long distance until we reached out next obstacle. For the most part, it was downhill. We ran through a mister (snow maker) during this stretch. At about this point, I was about ready to be done. I was getting a little bit light headed, and was in need of some food or energy gel. Megan and I ran together during this stretch. She was a great person to have on our team! I enjoyed having another girl to talk to. I was pleased to see Zach's step-dad along this part. Megan and I grabbed something to eat from him, and continued to run. Next, we came up to base of the ski resort where all of the spectators were. We went under two bridges that they set up to allow the spectators and the participants to cross paths. During this part, we saw an amazing feat! A wounded warrior was being supported by a team of about twenty people. He was in a wheelchair and several team members were pushing him, and more team members pushing behind that. It was a spectacular feeling coming up on this team. All you can think about is how no one should ever complain. Get out there, and do it. Anything is possible, and your mind is the only thing that can set limits. I came across the following photo on Facebook, and it appears that it was taken at about the same time we came up to him along the course.
This moment was truly inspiring. This is what Tough Mudder is all about. What was even more amazing was that he would even jump out of his wheel chair, and traverse the route on his fists. He must be so strong, and I wish I could have seen him complete the obstacles. This is why we run Tough Mudder. This is what makes me thankful everyday that I am able, and that I do this because there are others who can't. We carried the Wounded Warrior flag for David, who couldn't do the event that day.
The route continued uphill, for about the last time. It was a long stretch before we reached the next obstacle.
Obstacle 15 - Kiss of Mud #2: Here, we had Kiss of Mud again. A gal up ahead of us was using a rolling technique. I gave it a try, and I liked it! It prevented you from getting scraped by all the rocks in the mud. I yelled up ahead to Megan and she gave it a try as well. Zach was right behind me, carrying the flag. All of our relatives were at this obstacle, so we stopped to take a photo before we continued on.
|Megan and Anne roll under the barbwire.|
|James, Scott, and Megan after Kiss of Mud.|
|Scott and Zach after Kiss of Mud.|
|James, Zach, Scott, Anne, and Megan after Kiss of Mud.|
|Scott walks off the plank.|
|Zach goes in with the flag!|
|James leaps in.|
Megan did jump in, but I don't have a picture of her doing it. Zach is working on editing the video for the event that Ava captured for us. I'll post that video clip when it is ready.
|Zach goes across the rings. Scott waits for his turn.|
|James makes it across the rings.|
|Megan makes a good attempt. I think I'm noticing she is about to fall in!|
|Anne makes an attempt, before she back tracks and jumps in.|
Obstacle 18 - Glacier: This obstacle was minor compared to the snow piles we had to climb over earlier in the race. It was another very short run to the next obstacle.
Obstacle 19 - Everest: I loved this obstacle last year. I think it was easier this year, perhaps the pipe was less muddy this year. I made it up on the first try, and so did everyone else. Next year, my goal is to make it up all by myself. Zach and James each grabbed my hand and pulled me up (and dropped me onto the edge on my stomach and slightly knocked the wind out of me). I didn't care at that point! I really like this obstacle.
|James makes it up on his own.|
|Zach makes it up on his own.|
|Megan makes a run for it, Scott looks on.|
|Zach grabs Megan.|
|Scott makes it up on his own. Zach helps a random girl.|
|Anne takes a run for it.|
|Anne gets help from Zach (and James, kind of).|
|Anne, Zach, and James crawl down the backside of Everest.|
Obstacle 20 - Electroshock Therapy: I had previewed this obstacle prior to us starting. I wasn't noticing anyone blacking out, so that was a plus. Last year, Zach and I both blacked out. We took a team approach this year. They had an announcer there to encourage people to run through. We linked arms and ran through as a team on the count of three. If the announcer wasn't counting, I'm not for sure we would have all gotten up the nerve at the same time! The shocks were constant in my arms, but it wasn't horrible. It was just getting unbearable the last few feet. The team fell apart towards the end, but I didn't end up in the mud! I was happy to be done with that. Like I said, I'd rather get shocked then go into that cold water.
|Our team links arms before we go!|
|We are getting to the end, and our links are falling apart!|
|Our links fail, and Scott and James fall into the mud and hay.|
|This picture makes me laugh. I feel like we are all going a different direction! We just got done getting shocked, and I think we are all in shock, trying to re-gather ourselves. DONE!|
Finish: It was a short run to the finish line, and we finished as a team. What a great feeling! We were done. We took some team pictures, talked to the other finishers, and enjoyed our orange headbands! It took us four hours to complete. It was a little cold at this point, but we still hosed off in the outdoor showers. Zach and James did the Under Armor Man of Steel competition, Scott had already completed it. It was pretty fun to watch, and Zach was less than a second from making it on to the leader board! I think he would have been on it if he completed the challenge before doing a Tough Mudder. Then, we went to find our family, who were playing mini-golf. We hung out for a short while, and then we loaded on to the bus to go back to the parking lot. What a great day. Colorado was beautiful.
|We are finished!|
|Just hanging out with the team!|
|Part 2 of the challenge.|
|Part 1 of the challenge.|
|Part 3 of the challenge.|
|Adlyn plays mini-golf for the first time.|
Evening: After we headed back to the house, we all enjoyed a nice dinner. We sat in the hot tub, and it was needed! I think I sat in there for two hours. Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep that night. My body was sore and I couldn't get comfortable. After playing on the iPad for a few hours, I went to bed at 5:30 AM, and woke up at 7 AM. I wasn't well rested the next day.
Looking Back: Overall, I'm happy about the event. I was honored to carry the flag in honor of David. I had a lot of fun spending time with Zach, Megan, James, and Scott. I liked working with the team. I was really happy with two things that I didn't do the previous year - carrying Zach in the Wounded Warrior carry and making it across Just the Tip. I'm not proud of not attempting Arctic Enema and Walk the Plank.
Goals for 2014: My goal for TM for 2014 is to complete Everest without assistance. I also want to make it across the monkey bars and the rings. Lastly, I want to walk the plank.
Training for 2013: To train, I spent several months running about three days a week, and lifting weights about two days a week. I thought this was sufficient for me. Although I spent a lot of time running hills, it didn't compare to the hills we encountered in this event.
I can't wait to experience something like this with our kids one day. Brooks and Adlyn both say they want to do a mud race. I like making them proud! Prior to the event, I asked them what they wanted to see. Brooks wanted to watch us run up Everest (he remember that from last fall), it is his favorite obstacle. Adlyn said she wanted to see me get my orange headband.
Team - thanks for all of the positive support and great memories! I can't wait to do two more with you guys next year. Thanks to all of the family that came to watch and took care of the kids while we were doing the event. Zach - thanks for all of your help an encouragement. I love tackling these challenges with you. I couldn't have done it without you!
|Adlyn, Ava, Lydia, and Brooks in their PJ's.|
|Adlyn, Anne, Zach, and Brooks before TM.|
|Lydia and Adlyn riding the ski lift.|
|James before the event!|
|Megan showing off her number tattoo!|
|James & Megan|
|Nice mud line, James!|
|Anne & Megan|
|Brooks & Ava ride the ski lift.|
|Megan strikes a pose!|
|Zach and Anne before the race. Yes, Anne is flexing, don't be scared.|