Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tough Mudder recap (part 2)

Check our part 1 of the recap here!
Tough Mudder outfit essentials
Tough Mudder outfit essentials: dri fit tank, sports bra, bike gloves, Adidas trail runners, Garmin Forerunner, socks, spandex capris, energy snacks

TM Outfit
There really isn't anything I would change about what I wore for the Tough Mudder, and I consider that a HUGE WIN.  My Garmin held up fantastically.  It was often so covered in mud that I couldn't read the screen so I repeatedly spit on it (I had no clean hands or clothing to wipe it with!) to make sure the seconds were still ticking away on it. I wore the heart rate monitor and it was super comfortable.  I always wear my HR monitor under my bra and in this case tucked some energy snacks in my bra, so the HR monitor acted like a little shelf (#smallboobsforthewin).  I was pretty proud of myself and my team certainly appreciated it when I pulled out treats from my bra!

This C9 bra was a last minute purchase from Target and I'm now obsessed with it.  It is super comfortable and the front comes up really high which I actually liked a lot.  I will warm you though - the band isn't that firm so it may not provide enough support for some of my chestier friends.  But for you similarly small chested ladies out there, I highly recommend it!

As a team, we wore matching Nike dri fit tanks that we had printed with a rocket logo on the front and nicknames on the back.  I went with a medium and I'm glad I didn't go any smaller. I can't find the tank online but we got it from Academy last week.  The capris I wore are from Sugoi and I've had them for a hundred years. They've got a drawstring in the waist and are vented behind the knees. I was originally conflicted about wearing them because they are seriously some of my favorite workout gear and I didn't want them ruined, but I eventually went with them because I wanted to make sure I was comfortable. Plus, if they had gotten ruined (which they didn't!) then I already had a few good years of use out of them.

I bought my Adidas shoes a few years ago but only recently started running in them. They've got some good tread on the bottom so I chose to wear those and it turns out they are trail running shoes - I had no idea! They held up great. I had a ton of mud in my shoes and at one point took them off to dump them, but it was a problem most people had.  I noticed that some people wrapped duct tape around their shoes/ankles so maybe that helped keep things out of their shoes.

Finally, my fingerless bike gloves were a huge bonus to have on the course. They provided grip and traction in situations were I normally would have had none while also protecting my hands. I have a few superficial blisters but I am sure they would be much worse if I had gone without gloves.  I did take them off for the Funky Monkey but it didn't help - I still fell!

Tough Mudder
The race started off with an obstacle before the start line! You have to scale a wall that's about 8 feet tall. We tackled the center segment, which was even a bit taller and without footholds, so I felt pretty good after that! Once everyone is over the wall, this awesome emcee holds a pep talk for all the Tough Mudders and the race is off.  

For safety reasons they closed down some of the obstacles which is why my Garmin map (r) looks different from the course map (l). It also cut about 4 miles off of the course.
The mileage below correlates with my Garmin map.
Mile 1
We started with a 3/4 mile run on the drag race track which was HOT. My Garmin claims it was 82 degrees and felt like 89 degrees, but with the heat reflecting off the pavement it was more like 95 degrees.  Thankfully, we were in the grass and mud for most of the race after that.

Mile 2
Our first official obstacle was the Kiss of Mud, followed shortly by Bale Bonds. Kiss of Mud consists of belly crawling through mud underneath barbed wire.  I was terrified that my booty would catch on the barbed wire and snag my pants, leaving me to finish the course with a big hole showing off my bum. Somehow I managed to keep my badonkadonk low enough to avoid this happening.  And the mud felt great because at this point, we were dying of heat.

All the pictures of Bale Bonds that I had seen were nothing compared to what we faced.  These huge hay bales were coated in thick, wet mud that made them nearly impossible to scale.  This is when I knew teamwork would be a huge part of the course!

Mile 3
The third mile brought us to the Arctic Enema and I had never been happier to see a dumpster full of ice water.  Had I given myself a moment to think, I might not have done it. But I was so hot that I dove right in.  The set up is this: huge dumpster full of ice water with a wooden partition across the middle that dips about 6 inches below the surface of the water. The only way to get to the other side to get out is to swim under the partition.  Now, it isn't thick - only about 2". But the key is you have to completely submerge yourself in the water to get past it. Oh, and that ice water? Completely brown from all the mudders that have already trekked through it. So not only are you so cold that you think your body will shut down, but you can't see anything.

Once I was out, I was ready to go back in.  It felt that good in the Texas heat. We even joked that there should be an Arctic Enema obstacle every 3 miles on the course!  Bonus: we were free of mud (for a few minutes).

Mile 4
The next mile presented us with 3 obstacles: Mud Trap, the first Glory Blades, and Mud Mile. The Mud Trap was just what it sounded like - a huge muddy area to wade through.  We saw quite a few people lose their shoes so the key was to go slow.  Glory Blades required some serious teamwork as there was no way we were scaling these 8-foot walls that were angled toward us.  One of my teammates, Rakel, was a cheerleader in a former life and introduced us to some sweet moves to help boost each other over.  The Mud Mile was like the Mud Trap on steroids. Though not quite a mile long, it was a serious mud trek and there were holes hidden in it.  One second I was navigating the mud fine, up to my shins, and the next thing I knew I was chest-deep in mud and my teammates had to help me out.

Mile 5
Shortly after coming out of the Mud Mile, we encountered Glory Blades #2.  Same drill as the first, except much muddier which made the whole thing much harder to get over. Then we came to the Electric Eel, quite possibly the event I dreaded the most.  In the Electric Eel, you must army crawl through mud and water underneath a low cage outfitted with hanging live wires that will shock you.  I saw so many people go through this and get shocks terrible enough to stock them in their tracks.  Our friends who had done the TM twice before skipped this obstacle - it wasn't worth it to them.  Aaron, my brother-in-law, and B all dove right in and got through the obstacle but I was frozen. I kept watching other people and multiple times I squatted down to get in position.  In the end, I couldn't do it. I waited too long and then was in my head too much. I skipped this obstacle but I won't next year.

Next up was the Berlin Wall, a straight up 12-foot wall.  More than twice my height, I thought there was no way I could do this.  But my team helped me and I managed to get a good enough grip to full myself up and swing my leg over.  I'm assuming the various walls we scaled are where these awesome bruises came from.

(L-R): left upper arm, right forearm, right inner thigh, left knee
All of this was followed up by Hole-y Water which is exactly as it sounds: muddy water that has a lot of hidden holes. The ground was already difficult to walk on due to the mud, but slipping into holes that were nearly 5 feet deep made it almost impossible. Once we realized the extent of the holes, we elected to doggy paddle to the end of the obstacle.

Mile 6
Once mile 6 began, we realized that we were hitting the part of the course where some of the obstacles had been shut down for safety issues.  If you look at the map comparison up top, this is where we lost most of the mileage.  As intimidating as some of the obstacles were, it was reassuring that the organizers were willing to close down obstacles that were deemed unsafe for whatever reason.

So our first obstacle for this mile was Twinkle Toes and only the girls were successful at this one.  You had to balance while walking on a 2-by-4 across an icy water hole. This was made more difficult by, you guessed it, mud covering the planks.  All the guys fell into the water but our friend Aaron had it the worst - he ended up landing on his crotch on his way down!  Ha-Ha Ditch came shortly after and it was another mud hole to cross.  Then we got to the second Berlin Walls obstacle.  By this point, we felt like experts at the walls and even stuck around to help some other Tough Mudders!

Mile 7
By the time we hit mile 7, we thought we were in the clear for a while. We didn't see any daunting obstacles ahead of us and eagerly jumped into the second Mud Mile.  This also cooled us off and I was using the mud as sunscreen on my pasty white skin by this point!  We were even joking when we arrived at Devil's Beard, which was basically a cargo net on the ground that we needed to walk under. What we didn't anticipate was how heavy the cargo net was so we ended up getting all tangled in it and almost collapsing in laughter.  I think our sanity was almost gone at this point!

Soon we got to the Cage Crawl, which was another obstacle that I might have chickened out on if I had allowed myself time to think about it.  I'm pretty claustrophobic and this definitely tested the limits.  The obstacle is set up as a muddy pool that you wade into and then have to swim across on your back. The catch is that there is chain link fence laid out about 6 inches above the water across the whole pool.  Which means that you're face-up, with your nose right up against the chain, while your head from the ears back is in the water.  As if that wasn't enough, there are black tarps covering most of the chain so you're in total darkness.  The trick was to move quickly, focus on my breathing, and just reassure myself that I would get to the other end quickly.  Trust me, I was glad to get out of that water!

Mile 8
Mile 8 was just not my mile.  The first obstacle was a huge fail.  Just the Tip consists of a huge wooden wall suspended over water that you have to cross by gripping a very tiny board with your fingers and inching your way across.  I have no upper body strength so I fell in the water pretty much right away.  In fact, only one person in our group succeed on this obstacle.  Next up was Balls to the Wall.  For this obstacle, you had to scale a 15' wall that had some small footholds and a rope to help you up and to help you down on the opposite side.  I know I could have done this one, but there was 30 minute wait and at this point we could see the finish line ahead. There was no way we were going to stand still for 30 minutes when even a minute long water break was leaving us feeling the soreness set in.  No thanks, Houston TM.  Next year, have more than 3 ropes set up!

Finally, the Funky Monkey.  Nightmares of the monkey bars from elementary school came flooding back to me. At the recommendation of the volunteer at this obstacle, I took of my gloves (and shoved them in my handy bra/goodies holder) and eagerly grabbed onto the first bar.  Then I confidently reach for the second bar, where I promptly fell in the water.  Upper body strength fail, so I swam to the other side and waited for my teammates, most of whom were successful.  It should also be noted that these monkey bars were at the incline - the first half goes up to a peak and then the second half descends. I've also heard reports of the bars rotating when you grab on and being greased up.  This wasn't the case for us, but it's possible the grease had just been rubbed off by the time we got there.

Mile 9
Finally, the last mile! Rakel and I were practically sprinting between obstacles at this point while the boys of the group were dragging behind.  Walk the Plank came up first and I loved it.  You climb up an angled 20' foot wall (with footholds) and then take a flying leap into a chilly pool of muddy water.  It didn't look too high from the ground, but when I was up there, I might as well have been that guy that skydived with Redbull from the edge of the atmosphere.  Damn.  But there are guys up there yelling at you to jump, so I plugged my nose and took off.  I can say this - I went deep in the water and didn't touch the bottom.  It took me a while to come up and I could tell it was dark and muddy through my closed eyes.  But again, the water felt so nice! 

The second to last event was a short jog away.  Everest was a half-pipe covered in mud where we had to run up the curved wall and jump, hoping to grab the hands of some Tough Mudders who were already at the top.  It was really amazing to see the teamwork everyone displayed.  I witnessed quite a few Tough Mudders get up the wall and then lay down at the edge to reach their arms down and help up not 1, not 2, but many other mudders.  I couldn't quite get a hold the first time, but I refused to quit so I got back in line. The second time I successfully grabbed hold of two hands and was able to swing my leg up on the ledge to pull myself up.  I remember giving the guy who grabbed me a huge hug once I was on the platform on the top - thank you, random Tough Mudder!!

Finally, the last event - Electroshock Therapy. Given that I skipped the first electric obstacle, I was determined to get through this one.  Electroshock Therapy is a mud pit with hay bales placed throughout and hundreds of live wires hanging down, just waiting to shock the living daylights out of you.  The obstacles for each Tough Mudder often change, but this one is always the last obstacle before the finish line.  I noticed a path that looked like I could avoid some wires, so without even thinking I just ran and dove.  Literally, I dove.  This is the only picture that I could find of myself from the event photographers:

I see you laughing at me, girl in the background.  Joke's on you - I didn't get shocked!
And I landed HARD on my nose.  My first thought wasn't "am I getting shocked?" but "did I break my nose?".  I don't really remember getting through the rest of the obstacle because my nose hurt so badly. I crawled out and just bent over, head in my hands, and softly patted on and around my nose.  I'm still not entirely convinced that it isn't broken or fractured and it still hurts like hell, but it isn't crooked or purple so I'm just hoping it feels better soon.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. I loved it and cannot wait to do the next one.  We've already looked into doing 2 next year - one in the spring (if it fits around the wedding and graduation) and another one in the fall.  I promise that I am actually wearing pants in the picture below.  And that Dos XX was the best damn beer I've ever had.  The only better beer I can image will be the Shiners that I consume after my half marathon!

Still waiting on the high res version to be sent to us. I'll replace it when it comes in!

never has Five Guys tasted so good

I (stupidly) started time while we were waiting, so it was actually closer to 3.5 hours and a pace of 24 min/mile. But 1130 calories! Woohoo!

Two things: (1) See that mud in my hairline? This was after TWO showers! (2) Holy sunburn, Batman!

How I spent my evening, post-Tough Mudder: bubble bath, TV, hydrating and brews.  It was heavenly.

So... who wants to join me for the next obstacle race? Or for the BCM 5K this Saturday? Registration is 50% off with code "LastMinute" but ends tonight!



  1. That is crazy! I never considered all the mud and dirt and not being able to see... I was saying I would never do it based on physicality alone. Good for you for doing it and loving it!

  2. Ok...that sounds like so much fun!


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