Tough Mudder: Why Do We Pay To Do These Things?

I'm going to attempt to post about my experience in Tough Mudder yesterday, but it'll probably take a couple posts because: A. A lot happened; and B. It's difficult to type given no comfortable position exists for my body any longer.

I'm trying to rest my elbows on the table, but they are both scratched. I prop my feet up and rub the cut on the back of my ankle from where pebbles got stuck in my sock the whole race. I try to cross my legs, but I have bruises on the side and backs of them and scratches down the front. And every now and then, I accidentally graze the bruise on my hip and fondly remember torso-planting on the side of a muddy bank.

In other words - the race was Awesome.

I stand corrected. In the words of Tough Mudder, it is not a race, but a "challenge." And it's a good thing it's not a race, considering it took my team just shy of four hours to go a little over 10 miles. Granted, we took our time, stopped for photos, lost each other at one point, etc. but it adds to the "challenge" because that's four hours of being wet and caked with mud, four hours of squinting in the dust and sun running around farmland, and four hours of waiting in nervous anticipation of this:



That's Everest. And for whatever reason, that was one of the obstacles I feared most and it's the second to last thing you are asked to do by Big Mudder. Please don't focus like the camera on the nice spectators sitting under their proper umbrellas. But look under the arrow - yes, at all those silly humans running up a wet half pipe, then launching their bodies towards the hands of strangers, hoping they are caught and held.

And believe me, soooo many were not. But more on that later.

So that was on my tired, mud-filled mind the whole four hours. You know what else was on my mind? Congestion. Because not only will I pay to endure torture, but I'll do it when I'm sicker than I've been all year. And let me tell you, besides not being able to breathe normally, it's not easy going through a race where everything is muddy and you need to blow your nose.

I used a banana peel at one point, people. Not cute.

But let's back up to the beginning. Per usual, I start psyching myself out by reading reviews and looking through photos online of the race beforehand. Reviews like "The worst that those wires will do is shut down your body and make you poop yourself. Otherwise, you're all good." And photos like this:
http://www.facebook.com/toughmudder
So I was good and terrified excited by the time yesterday rolled around. I layed out my clothes the night before and think "remember, the gloves you bought are in your car - don't forget them in the morning." (mechanix -- pink of course.)

5:00 am: I wake up and take my 4th dose of Airborne in 24 hours and get ready to meet my team.

6:30 am: Riding down the interstate in my teammate's car, I realize -- I forgot my gloves. Awesome.

8:30 am-ish: we finally get through heinous traffic, get parked, and head to registration before our 9:20 start time.

9:00 am: One teammate is still stuck in a registration snafoo.

9:20 am: We watch our heat start the race. Without us.

It's fine. We'll just go with the next heat. Some of the girls on our team start people watching and see racers like this:


That bonnet is sooo not staying on through the race
Then we watch as people do warm up exercise, make comments to each other that we'll be doing that next, then the rest of our team joins us and - we all start running.

Like, right then. Towards the start line. Wha?? We look at each other like "that's it? No warm up? No gun going off? Guess we're starting!"

It was like de ja vu from when I tucked and rolled out of a car to sprint to my marathon start two years ago. We make comments about how anti-climatic it was when we realize we were running to the start line, where a large group of other runners already were receiving final words (that means more when you've literally just signed a death waiver) from our race MC. Good thing someone on our team was paying attention!

9:40am: We get the best pep talk I've ever had before a race that included compliments about our braveness, and praised the Wounded Warrior Project for which the race raises money for. We have several rounds of yelling "Hoorah" at various statements and at one point we are waving our hands collectively, Hip Hop Hooray style, and chanting things. The MC calls out different folks as examples of what Tough Mudder is all about, like this guy who was behind us:

Those horns are sooo not staying on through the race
And at one point, we're told to "take a knee" and the motivational speech continues. But intermixed with all the pump-you-up accolades from our MC are his buzz-kill warnings:

"be careful out there - we've already had people hurt."

"Already seen sprained ankles, dislocated knees..."

"If you can't swim - SKIP THE WATER OBSTACLES. you all laugh but there'll be someone who does it anyway- and you will need to pull that person out."

"We write your number on your forehead and arm so that people can identify your body later"

"enjoy this time now- cuz pain's coming!"

Um, I think I've had enough motivation now, sir. Can we just start now, please? Before we change our minds?

And with a flume of orange smoke rushing at us -- that's exactly what we did.

More in the next post.