Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Mud Which Binds Us: Conquering The Colorado Tough Mudder

The Mud Mile. Trenches of butt grabs!

The Tough Mudder in Colorado was a dirty 11-mile obstacle course in the mountains of Snowmass, near Aspen. Over 8,000 of us Tough Mudders were fueled by crisp-morning-mountain-air-energy and motivational words. We were all ready to get sweaty and muddy in with a playground of obstacles at our disposal! The quote I decided to hijack from the Tough Mudder start line speech was "Give it your best because NO BODY CAN BEAT YOUR BEST!" 

The first time I heard of the Tough Mudder was three years ago and I thought the whole concept was insane. I didn't think I could ever do something so crazy! It's so funny how much your opinion can change through the years. Now a Tough Mudder doesn't seem crazy at all. There were Moms, Grandparents and people in wheelchairs completing the course. That's a lesson for us in not letting our minds place limits on our abilities. Be LIMITLESS.

Since I ran the course, I have been asked by people what my favorite part of the Tough Mudder was and every time I came up with a different answer. So I decided the camaraderie was what impressed me the most, and so I'd say that was my favorite piece. Hands down, the most camaraderie I experienced was during the mud mile. The trenches of the Mud Mile were full of murky water and a muddy bottom that limited your movement and climbing. Us ladies were putting out a hand to help big men dig in and climb over. This is where butt-hoists were labeled "helpful" and were actually justified. Strength alone could not get you over the mud walls, but a helping hand could. It was this team atmosphere that melted my heart, well that and the mostly innocent booty hoists.

Tough Mudder Moments to Remember:

Walk The Plank. Hell Ya.
1. Walk the Plank was the most paralyzing because the height (a 20ft jump into water) but I had the least amount of time to think about it so it was almost painless.

2. Pole Dancer was the most physically challenging because I could only move inches at a time while I was holding myself up on two paralette bars over water. The pain was lengthy but I had a huge amount of support from my group who cheered me on until the bittersweet end.
Pole dancer. No Legs allowed!

3. The most premeditated was Everest as I went last. I ran up the half pipe at my top speed (full speed ahead!) and as I went to grab for my teammate's hand, he pulled it away. My first thought was, "What the Eff!" and my next was, "Oh Crap, I need to grab onto something!" And guess who made it up on their own, this girl with her best beaming smile.

Everest. This is not me, just a sweet pic!
4. I looped up and over the Berlin walls multiple times because I considered it something that "can't be duplicated in the gym" and was excited that I had the strength to climb them solo
Berlin Wall

Just The Tip (Top)of Balls to the Wall 
5. Balls to the Wall happened twice because I heart rope climbing AND I happened to overhear a fellow Tough Mudder mention "legless rope climbs" so I had to try climbing the rope without using the wall for support. The legless idea lasted about one arm reach before I decided I was probably born with legs for this very event and should use them.
Funky Monkey. You had me at Funky.

6. The most mentally-daunting was the Funky Monkey because the risk of falling into ice water below is very real. The monkey bars are slippery with mud and water and there was some distance, probably 20 feet of maneuvering above the water. Your arms get tired and your hands are slippery, but it sure feels good to make it to the other side.                                                                                                                                                                  
You can see I'm getting shocked if you look at my neck. Can you say Tendons?

7. The most over amplified obstacle was Electroshock Therapy because it was WAY overdone in my head. Yes it did HURT, and yes it was managable. Sometimes your expectations can throw you for a loop. I only got shocked twice during my go through. Some people didn't get shocked at all and some got blasted 10+ times. Although, I didn't do burpees or hold my arms out Jesus-style like some crazies (true story) but I do consider myself lucky in an electrical sense. And I might have some intense karma shocking coming my way for next Mudder. Stay tuned.
The Warrior Carry, we took turns don't worry!

Overall, the Colorado hills themselves were immense and I didn't feel properly trained to run all of them.Often where a switch back would have been more compassionate to us Tough Mudders, the course opted instead for a direct ascent. We climbed from 8,500 feet up to 9,500 feet, (1000 feet in elevation gain) in the first 7.5 miles. Mostly, we walked the hills but every now and then I got an itching to run them and I didn't hold back. People were handing out "'attaboys" as I slowly "ran" up the hills. Their encouragement gave me more steam. The majority of people were running/walking in single file lines on the trails and following was both relaxing and frustrating. The lines created "no-pass" zones and limited you from keeping any kind of pace, but did also allow you to chill out and enjoy the Tough Mudder experience.

Good times.High Fives and fist bumps. We all made it. The race day ended with boastful grins, deep mountain sunburns and an almost finished bottle of whiskey. I felt both ecstatic and pooped at the same time. Decided I was not completely broken though, I am saving broken status for the World's Toughest Mudder 2015. After the race, I vegged out in my hotel room, ate a crap load of almond butter and slept like a baby tiger.

Tough Mudder gives each of us a headband that is color coded to represent how many times we finished a Tough Mudder. Orange was my color, for first timers. Second-timers got green. I saw black for World's Toughest Mudders. I kinda wanted to ask those people what the hell was wrong with them at the same time as I wanted to pick their brains about this World's Toughest Mudder business. Something so crazy that I can barely wrap my mind around it, kinda like what I used to think of the Tough Mudder. Funny how that works.

You might just be a Tough Mudder First Timer if...  
1.You face plant in Electro Shock Therapy. Had I known face-planting was something that could occur I would have been even more terrified. You see, the problem with falling inside ElectroShock therapy is NOBODY wants to get in there to help you. That's a real pickle.

Fire In Your Hole. Legionaire obstacle. 
2. You feel excluded from the Leggionaire course but REALLY upset that you don't get to do Fire In Your Hole because Colorado laws won't allow fire on the course. So you sign up for another Tough Mudder in Texas.

3. You drink 4 beers the night before the Tough Mudder. WTH.

4. Your feet go so fast on the downhill that stopping is too much work so you strap on your biggest shit-eating-grin and let go!

5.You shamelessly crack Asian jokes, steal restaurants pens in plain sight, and frequent questionable goth night clubs (not to name any names!)
Chris, making it look casual
Robin getting dirty
Yolanda who gets extra points keeping her sunnies on the whole time
You could be ready for Leggionnaire Status if...

1.You sprint on the steepest part of the course for a $5 bet.

2.You can't reach the bell by mere veritcal jump & request a lift to smack it like you mean it.

3. You wear muddy hand prints on your bright pink yoga pants and can discuss boobs and implant recovery for miles.

4. You say how disgusting a McDonalds is & then someone mentions you ate Wendy's the day before. Thrown.Under.The.Bus.

You are awfully close to World's Toughest Mudder Status if...

1. You are willing to pee yourself to avoid removing your compression pants in a porta potty

2. You participate in the #IWILL challenge following whisky shots, beer, oh, and after the Tough Mudder    
Pull ups, box jumps &Tire flips, Oh my!

3.You maintain a "The Show Must Go On" approach despite an injured ankle and knee...Eight people.Two injuries in 11 miles- not bad. And both injured kept the show going, Advil- Free

4. You race through Electro Shock Therapy like this guy, only to crash at the end. "Yes, he's still down folks!" the announcer said
A Beast
You are DEFINITELY World's Toughest Mudder material if:
1. In your attempt to reach the top of Everest, you fall down, smack your boob on the half pipe and get right back up to go again. Yes, Tiffany, you are Tough.
Tiff. And Kaylie. Warrier Carries with a smile

Smiling like you mean it, because You Mean It.

Go America

It's best to cover the money maker & press on during Electro Shock

Extreme cold. It's a total shock even though you know it's coming
The 1st wall climb, right at the start

Log carrying like they mean it: Tony & Robin

Badass moves right here, be jealous

Tough Tiffany

Those that carry logs together, stay together

The tank that got ditched

It was a long 11 miles for Kaylie...

Tiffany 1, Electro Shock 0

A shocking good time!

My thumbs were both up during this part

Another of my favorite times, getting dirty!

Barbed wire easily motivates you to "Get Low"

Log carry. I only pretended to be carrying any weight 

Good times in the Arctic

1. The shock of the ice water  (Arctic Enema)
2. Still cold, little less shock
3. OK, now the water is refreshing, promise

The Glorious Finish!