My Tough Mudder Experience

Before Saturday, Tough Mudder was something I had only dreamed of doing. It was something I had thought I would like to do, but never believed I would.  With the help of my trainer, my family, and complete strangers I finished that 10 mile course…and here is my story!

We arrived and met up with my trainer around 10am Saturday morning. Got checked in, got our numbers put on and headed to the warm-up area. Before we actually took off we listened to this talk one of the TM guys was giving at the start line. He said that it’s not about how fast you go, or how many obstacles you complete. It is about giving it your best, doing the very best YOU can do, and leaving no man behind. Now, I had heard about how helpful everyone was on the course but it was very different to experience it. When they said go Jessica and I ended up at the back of the pack. I am a slow runner but it didn’t matter to me We had about an eighth of a mile to the first obstacle and I jogged the entire way. Up first was kiss of mud 2.0. This was a fun obstacle. Lots of crawling and sliding on your stomach under barbed wire in the mud. It was simple enough but we came out covered in mud! Then we headed on to the next obstacle warrior carry. I carried my partner the first half and then continued to carry her for the second half. We were supposed to switch and she was supposed to carry me. But since I am about twice her weight I knew no way! After that we headed on to the Berlin Walls. I had joked with Jessica and said I hoped two really strong guys would come help me over the wall. And sure enough…two guys came and helped me up to the top. When I looked down at Jessica I told her I was scared! (heights are not my thing!!) so I looked back at the guys and asked them to please come catch me, and they did! Standing in front of that wall, I would have sworn it was 20 feet tall:) Really it was 10 feet!

The next obstacle was called balls to the wall. You had to climb up yet another wall, but all you had was a rope to help you. Where were these strong guys now? 🙂 I tried, but just did not have the upper body strength to make it up. But I cheered Jessica as she climbed it. Then we headed to Turducken. We waited in line quite a while at this event and met some really nice people. Being able to chat helped my nerves settle down. But when it was my turn I struggled to get up the mud wall to the tube. I kept falling and falling, and then all of a sudden everyone at that obstacle started cheering “Go Liz, Go Liz” and complete strangers came up behind me and helped me up to the tube. Once I got inside they all broke out in cheers and  I crawled through that tube with tears in my eyes. It was exhausting but I wasn’t even halfway finished with the obstacle! At the end of the tube I dropped into 6 feet deep water head first, thankfully the life guard caught me because I swallowed a mouthful of muddy water. Jessica and I then finished Turducken together.

The Liberator was the next obstacle. It was another wall with pegs that you had to use to climb it. I fell once but again complete strangers started cheering me on and helped me get to the top of that wall. My husband was able to video this obstacle and I am so glad I have this to look back on. Then we headed to mud mile 2.0. Mud mile seemed like endless hills of mud! That stuff is really hard to climb up! Thankfully, yet again, complete strangers were helping me over and over again. Halfway through I knew I was exhausted, so I climbed out and then started helping others. I figured if I couldn’t physically finish then at least I could help someone else. Next was the crybaby obstacle. I was so excited to try this! But as we approached the obstacle I started freaking myself out. Crybaby is where you crawl inside a box full of tear gas. I finally worked up the courage to do it. First you had to go full body under water to get inside the box. After holding my breath the first thing I wanted to do was breath deep but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even see in front of me and I started to panic. There was a small hill I had to pull myself over and I remember screaming help me..and someone pushed me over it thankfully. Then I army crawled the rest of the way. Once I got  out I was spitting and snotting and trying to remain calm!

The next two obstacles I was unable to do. King of swingers played too much on my fear of heights. I just couldn’t bring myself to jump into the 12 feet deep water, especially after drinking some mud back at Turducken. And at skidmarked (yet another wall) there were not any strong guys around to help me over:( So we headed on to the next obstacle the Underwater tunnels. There was a huge line we had to wait in. Jessica looked over and told me she was freaking out about this one. But it ended up not being bad at all. I even climbed the rope ladder up the side of the hill without any problems! I really was proud of myself this point! Funky Monkey was the next obstacle and because of my lack of upper body strength I knew there was no way I could do monkey bars. Then was arctic enema. It was a chilly day to begin with and after freezing in the lake water I wasn’t prepared to jump into 35 degree water. So we headed on to Birth Canal. That obstacle was a lot of fun. I chose to crawl on my knees and use my back/butt to push the heavy water up off of me. It was pretty exhausting, but fun. Our next obstacle was called Quagmire and that one was not fun! There was a girl rolling across the mud and I was wondering why. The minute I stepped in the mud and it came up to my knee I understood! My left shoe got so stuck in the mud, I had to slip my foot out and pull and pull at it. It easily took me 3 minutes to get it free from the mud. Then I had to crawl my way across the mud and up the muddy hill. Some guy came up from behind and put his foot on mine to give me some leverage to get up the hill. Thank gosh too because I don’t know how else I would have made it up.

I was exhausted at this point in the race. Not just physically exhausted but mentally too. But I was determined to finish. When we reached the beach whale event I just did not have it in me. So I cheered Jessica along and then we headed to pitfall. When we arrived at this obstacle everyone was crawling in the water on their bellies and I said not me! I started to walk it, and the first bit of slippery mud I hit knocked me on my butt! So I crawled the rest of the way:) After that we found ourselves at devils Beard. This was a cargo net that Jessica and I decided to bear crawl under. Bear crawling is something she has me do often during training and always while pushing an 8lb ball. So we joked along the way high-fiving each other about how I was well prepared for that obstacle! Then we came up to Everest 2.0. I knew there was no freaking way I could make it up that curved wall.  I stood there watching people run as fast as they could and reach out hoping someone a the top would be able to grab their hands and pull them to safety.  Our last obstacle was electric shock therapy. Here you run through mud hoping that these dangling wires don’t shock you. I stood there probably 10 minutes trying to get the nerve to do it. I saw grown men fall down, women scream as they ran through, and I freaked myself out. That is the one obstacle I skipped that I keep beating myself up over. Tough Mudder was tough on so many levels. I did not expect to be as mentally or physically drained as I was at the end . But I finished all 10 miles!

I had my name on the back of my shirt and during the entire course people kept saying “great job Liz, keep it up Liz”. That really helped me to keep going. At one obstacle this guys called out and said “hey, I was the one that had my hand on your butt.” And I thanked him very much for that help! I ended up with so many scrapes and bruises and swollen knees. At first I kept asking myself why I decided to do this! But now that I am almost back to normal I am ready to do it again. My goal next time is to do just one more obstacle than this time!

For any of you thinking about trying a Tough Mudder, I say go for it! I earned that orange sweatband and no one can ever take that away!

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