My experience with the 2013 Tough Mudder obstacle course (just a light 11+ miles)

by Melody on October 10, 2013

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Let me tell you a little story about myself.

Before really getting into working out a few years ago, the longest distance I had ever run was probably the length of a basketball court in high school.  I disliked running in a major way and played sports that required no distance, just short sprints.  I never ran any races, barely even walked much farther than the mailbox.  “I WOULD NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS RUN IN ANY RACE EVER UNLESS I WAS BEING CHASED BY FLESH-EATING ZOMBIES” was approximately my feelings towards running.

Fast forward a few  years.  My husband and I had been working out at home and somehow talked each other into signing up for a 5K mud run (translation: 3.2 miles).  He has always been in the same boat as me, although I’m not even sure he would run from flesh-eating zombies.  He’d probably just give in and accept his fate.  Even though I made myself sick with anxiety and worry, we ran that race (okay, walked some) and we finished and we felt accomplished.

Then we joined CrossFit.

Comfort zones were blasted every day.  We ran a 5K on an average Tuesday.  We struggled and failed and tried new things and fell down and put our fears on display every time we walked into the gym.  I rediscovered my competitive streak.  Also known as a competitive rage.

Then somebody was all “You should totally sign up for this 11-mile Tough Mudder run in October with ginormous obstacles and death-defying stunts. It’s super fun”.  I went from neverinmylifetime to justmaybe and then “Damn it, I can DO THIS”.  I passive-aggressively guilted my husband into signing up with me about four months ahead of time and then we waited.

I was fine for the first three months or so and then the week leading up to the race I started getting major anxiety.  I couldn’t sleep, I had weird dreams about where the race would be, what the obstacles were, what they would feed us at water stops (string cheese with wrappers written only in Spanish???).

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The day before the race, I baked three batches of muffins and a batch of cookies to try and ease my fears (these are things I do).  The night before, I woke up in cold, clammy sweats from dreams about wearing the wrong shoes to missing the start time to forgetting to drop the kids off.  At that point, all I wanted to do was get the darn thing started and if I died or failed miserably or had to gorge myself on Mexican string cheese, so be it.

The one thing that made me feel better was that we were running with a great group of athletes from our gym.  We had some really strong dudes in our group and I figured one of them could throw me over a wall if I couldn’t get up myself or just carry me on their back for the last few miles.

What I didn’t anticipate was actually having fun.  I was so focused on not dying that the idea of enjoying myself never crossed my mind.

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We scaled walls, scaled cliffs, soared through monkey bars, climbed under barbed wire, jumped off a 15-foot platform.

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I carried a giant log through the woods, ran trails for miles, dove into a giant container full of ice, carried my husband on my back, got shocked by live electric wires (true story).  We helped each other, we supported each other, we cheered people on that we had never met.  We saw our friends and teammates accomplish things they never thought they could.  We accomplished things for ourselves that seemed impossible.

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It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns and roses.  It was hard work.  My body tried really hard to give out at about mile 8.  But it was empowering to see what I was capable of, what I could push myself through, especially in the worst times.

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Having a few days to think about and reflect on the race, I would no doubt do it again.  There was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment, of teamwork, of camaraderie, of shared experiences.  I’m not sure there is much else I’ve done in my life that can compare with the feeling of running across that finish line, utterly wasted and utterly euphoric.

Plus, I got to eat 7,543 pounds of food afterward and it was AMAZING.

Questions:

Have you ever done something you just swore you could NEVER do?

What is your biggest fitness accomplishment to date?

What do you do when you’re nervous or anxious? Do you bake like me?

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