Well, that was something out of the ordinary! When going away on vacation the majority of normal people out there do something relaxing and fun. You know, the normal stuff like laying on an island beach, going on a cruise, doing Vegas or Disney, maybe even jetsetting to Europe to see the world. Some even do the staycation thing or hang out visiting family. Nope, not me being the mildly disturbed individual that I am. For some idiotic reason I decided to train for months to start my vacation off with a Tough Mudder which is one of the more grueling events one can partake. They even make you sign a “Death Waiver” to be allowed to participate. Not only is it physically demanding but also mentally taxing especially when running it solo as I did. I targeted the July 12th Upstate NY event. For months leading up to this my nights and many mornings included jogging for miles, lifting weights, and basically living in a gym. Eating healthier. I can’t say that it was a total waste of time as it sure paid off! In fact, I had a blast at the Mudder and actually did pretty well. Other than some minor injuries, bruises, and scrapes I walked off that course feeling like a champ and exhilarated. It was an amazing feeling knowing that I succeeded doing something I set out as a personal goal, and overall not many people can claim to taking on the challenge of this event and conquering it. Definitely not a walk through the park.
I am now a proud member of Mudder Nation!
That beer which was handed to me after I crossed the finish line was one of the best tasting ever! When that cold Dos Equis hit my lips the reward for all the hard work I put in was extremely satisfying. I nursed that beer a bit and relished it. Along with a much needed protein bar. Then a few slices of pizza! Along with a few more cold brews. Heck – my vacation was just starting and I deserved some bad eats after all that! Still, I sat there on the field in Mudder Village area, took a deep breath, and finally exhaled a bit as I took it all in around me. Other participants getting ready for their run, family and friends watching others do some of the obstacles in view of the area, and those like myself who had completed their runs and were basking in the glow of victory. It was a bit surreal as I could not believe it was actually over and I had really done it. At times I had my doubts and questioned my ability. I’m not a 20 something kid anymore. I’m still a big kid at heart and in mind, but my body definitely reacts and recovers differently now in my 40’s. Yet, as the Tough Mudder finisher headband was placed on my noggin, and the special finisher tshirt was put on, I felt 20 years younger. It’s as if I turned back the clock for a short while. Back to my more athletic days. Back to a time when I could put my body through all kinds of stuff and get away with it. Nothing wrong with sipping from the fountain of youth now and then. Too bad the next few days afterwards brought me back down to reality as the pings of soreness and exposed bruises reminded me that I ain’t a kid anymore.
You know what? It felt great! I enjoyed the pain. I felt alive and so glad I did it!
As I stated before I ran the course solo. Being by myself had it’s own set of mental obstacles to overcome. All around me were couples, groups of friends, teams, older parents and their children, among others. They had built in support systems all along the path from start to finish. Attacking Tough Mudder by your lonesome can feel quite isolating at times, and during the run the mind plays some tricks on you. Can I really do this? Why do my legs hurt? Why am I doing this? Will I be able to get over that wall? Am I crazy? Seven more miles? Is that a bear in the woods? You have to build up motivation from within and keep going. Don’t give up. Never give up. Just keep moving forward. With over 10 miles of length and 20 obstacles to maneuver around overcoming your fears and perceived shortcomings are an absolute must. You must believe in yourself. As each mile and obstacle disappeared behind me I felt empowered. I actually felt stronger as the course went on. What was surprising to me is that I slowly started to pass those much younger than me in my wave and left many in my dust by the time I reached the finish line. Many of them started out fast. Maybe too fast. It’s a marathon not a sprint. I also saw a bunch of them puking along the way, holding up to rest, or cramping up bad and limping along. This is where all my training paid off. No cramping. No puking. By the end I was not even breathing too heavy. Slow and steady wins the race as they say. Eat my dust kids!
Yet, one of the major things about Tough Mudder is the camaraderie. Everyone is there for the same thing. There is a feeling of teamwork and it was very easy to chat with other participants along the way, and many were more than ready to help out and lend a hand at some of the tougher obstacles where a boost was necessary. In turn, I also did my best to help out others along the way when needed. It seemed as if everyone wanted to see everyone else cross that finish line and succeed. Tough Mudder is not about achieving the best time, as it’s more about working together to establish a common goal and driving each other to succeed. If I could do it so could you. For anyone on the fence thinking about trying an obstacle course race my advice is to just go for it! As long as you’re healthy, able, and have the inner drive then just do it. Hoorah!
I will admit that I was sore, bruised, and a bit scraped up by the end. This event is no joke, and being in good shape is key to survival. Some obstacles I did pretty well at, and others I totally sucked at. Nature of the beast I guess. I gave it my best at each one and at least have comfort in that fact that I attempted each one. Some things I breezed over and some I kerplunked into the mud or murky waters below. I got up at each one and kept going. It was fun getting muddy, wet, and a bit dirty. As it was a beautifully warm 80 degree sunny day out it felt refreshing at times and gave me a lift. There was always the option to avoid certain obstacles and walk around them but that never crossed my mind. I went right at each one and gave it a go. At mile eight I landed badly on my right foot jumping down from the Berlin Walls obstacle and hurt it. Had to pretty much limp-jog the remainder of the two miles and also get through the last three obstacles that way. No way was I going to give up at that point. Not with the finish so close. No quitting in this kid!
Another thing that helped motivate me was that I was running this for charity and raised close to $2000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. I am humbled and extremely grateful to all those that donated and supported me over these months leading up to the Tough Mudder. It meant a lot to me to receive that kind of support. I was honored to run this for those that have served and given so much for our country. Thank you all so very much! I also have to give props to those volunteering at the event and helping run it. The Mudder at the Tall Pines ATV Park was a well oiled machine and the staff on hand were more than friendly, attentive, and encouraging. They really help make this event such a huge success. Just seeing them at each obstacle clapping hands and keeping us motivated was great.
Now the question remains if I will attempt another obstacle course race. After a Warrior Dash last August, and now a Tough Mudder this summer I might take a break for awhile and chill out a bit. Plus, I need to let my bumps and bruises heal up. People have asked if I would do it again. Hmmm….maybe. Am I glad I did it? Absolutely! It was an amazing day that I will always remember.
I raise a cold brew to all those mudders out there!