Saturday, October 15, 2011

Double Tough Mudder

I have contemplated making a blog. Is it for me? Would anybody care what I have to say? None of this really matters I suppose. But, if I am going to start a blog (obviously I am), why not have the first entry as my Back to Back Tough Mudder experience.

Gettin' dirty, but always time for a smile!
So here it goes....

I have done several "adventure/mud run" races before. Some have been good, others not, and most just ok. They are fun, you get dirty, climb a ladder, everyone has a good time. I have had my expectations let down in the past, was Tough Mudder going to do the same? It seemed like I was training for WWIII in preparation for this event. Countless miles run on trails, pull ups, push ups and so much more. I registered months in advance and thought the day would never come.

So finally the day arrived! My friend Mike and I were registered for the first wave at 9AM. Registration opened at 7AM and we had heard nightmare stories about parking. We got there just a little after 7 and there was already a nice size crowd and definitely some "magic in the air". Registration went extremely smooth, top notch. So back to the car for my pre-race breakfast, timing it so I would have had at least an hour to settle before the race. To my horror, the container in the ice chest that held my breakfast was full of water. My beautiful 'bagel, egg, bacon and cheese sandwich' was soaking wet and too disgusting to even touch. It's always nice when plans go wrong, before a race. I had some Cliff Bars to eat and some Wheat Thins so I was good.

Godwin and myself at the start of Round 1
Ice being added to the pit
Now to the race. It is billed as "Probably the toughest event on the planet" why not do it 2 times in a row? The plan was to run it at 9AM and then again with a friend and fellow beast Godwin at 1PM (he ran 2 times as well!). So pacing the first loop was the name of the game. I won't go into detail about all of the obstacles, just the fun ones and not so fun ones.
Cold cold cold!

One of the first lovely obstacles was called Chernobyl Jacuzzi. It consists of a waist deep pit filled with water and ice. Midway through the pit, you must submerge yourself to get under a wooden barricade. So I get in the pit, waist deep, so far not too bad. Then comes the submerging...WOW!! I went from cool and calm to almost panic in about 1 second. The bar was raised, Tough Mudder is legit.

Made it out alive
Taking the leap of faith
Walking the Plank. I'm not the biggest fan of heights. Add to this, standing on a muddy and slippery platform at least 15 feet in the air with a pool of muddy water below, whose depth is unknown, does not help. Suck it up and jump.

Berlin Walls. Walls that were claimed to be 12 feet tall. First set of walls are probably 8-9 feet. Ego and confidence... sky high. Next Berlin Wall, much much taller. Ego and confidence... starting to waiver. Doable for sure, but it takes a little bit of strength, coordination and some lack of fear. I'd like to say I have 2 out of 3, its probably more like 1.5 out of 3. By the time the last set of walls come around I'm not sure how tall they are but they might as well have been 20 feet. This last set occurs at around mile 9 or so. I witnessed a group of guys in front of me have a domino effect of calf cramps at this obstacle. First guy cramps (everybody laughs) then the 2nd guy (a few chuckle) 3rd guy (crickets chirping) and then the 4th (only sound is me laughing).

Never hurts to have a helping hand
Everest. A quarter pipe to be run up. This one got me. My first try was a shock, as one moment I am running and the next I am sliding down on my belly. Regroup and try again...and again....and again. I could not get the timing of this down at all. I kept trying to run too high on the wall. I never actually got to jump and reach for the top. It always helps in a frustrating situation to have an audience. Nothing boosts your confidence like ooohhs and aaaahhhs from strangers sitting in camping chairs like they were at a NASCAR race. I was fortunate to have my friends Mike and Godwin make it up this gauntlet and start assisting others with a helpful hand. I needed it.

Funky Monkey. Monkey bars up and then down. I trained the most and was worried the most about this obstacle. My real number 1 goal of Tough Mudder was to complete this obstacle. It really was the obstacle that required the most strength. It is intimidating for sure when you approach, it is huge. Add the fact that the bars spin and are slippery, now we have a challenge. Arms flexed at close to 90 degrees and an "every other bar" approach was the game plan. My friend Mike went first and flew through them, can I get a little more pressure please. One hand at a time, with a steady pace and sure grip... I got through! Funky Monkey Part 1 accomplished.

Electroshock Therapy. Run through live electric wires. I have seen the videos and heard the stories. My friend Mike was concerned about this, I was not. I was anticipating a bad pinch or a burn like feeling. I was not able to see the person in front of me pass through this obstacle to give me a heads up as to a good approach. Again, the stage was set with a huge audience to cheer and laugh us through. My plan was to run through with my hands up by my face, like a boxer, for protection. Here goes nothing. About 4-5 feet into the labyrinth of wires the first bolt comes. I will try to explain what I mean by bolt, words will not do it justice. The best description I can think of is when the power goes out in your house during a storm. The sound of the surge of power, the overloading of circuits...this was the sound I felt in my body. It stopped my body from functioning for a split second and sent me to the ground. If I had my head on straight, I might have panicked. Luckily my body kept going because my mind was in la-la land. It is a scary feeling to have your bodily functions taken away from you. So after a total of 3 donkey kicks to the chest, I was through round 1.

Total time 2hrs 41min
About to start the 2nd round of fun

Round 2

It's funny how a thought or idea becomes a reality. As for deciding to do 2 Tough Mudders in a row, it was really a snowball effect. It started off as a semi-joke for me to join my friend Godwin on his 1PM wave. Godwin decides he will then join me for my 9AM wave, as long as I promise to join him for his later wave. Uh-oh, this is starting to get serious. My "outs" for not doing a 2nd lap are becoming fewer and fewer. I had never even done one Tough Mudder, let alone two. There are so many unknowns to a race like this that several times before even starting I questioned my sanity. The furthest distance I had run so far was 20 miles, without obstacles and mud. As per the title of my blog, "Going for more", is what this challenge was going to be. I embraced it and knew this was going to be truly epic. So Godwin and I made a pact of sorts, double Tough Mudder was our challenge.

This was all about grinding through whatever discomfort there was. The first few steps were the hardest. I was starting to think this was a bad idea. I had committed to this and was going to see it through. The obstacles had changed later on in the day. Some were easier, some were harder. Troughs had been carved into what was once a difficult to navigate muddy slope or pit. Hay bales that were once 15-20 ft tall had been smashed to merely little bumps in the road. Berlin Walls that were challenging turned into slippery, mud covered giants. Mix some butter, oil, and some gravy onto a pull up bar. Now do a pull up, turn it into a tricep extension, swing your leg over and lower yourself down. Do it again 2 more times in a row. Then a few more times in a few miles, then yet again.

Truckin' along
The running aspect of Tough Mudder was the best for me. On round 2, I set myself on auto-pilot and just cruised. This was enough for me to be passing most everyone that was around me. I laughed (on the inside) when countless people had leg cramps at mile 3 onwards. I would hear their friends praise their efforts and speak of how much of a warrior said cramped person was. I'm on miles 14, 15, 16.... I have been running for 3 hrs, 4 hrs, 5hrs....

The further I got into round 2, the larger the lines at the obstacles were, Six Flags style. It's not fun to sit and wait to crawl on bruised and bloody knees. Nor is it fun to wait in a group of several hundred people to do a balance beam that you know you are likely to fall off of in the first few steps. Waiting your turn for the less challenging obstacles is not a challenge. I finally approached Funky Monkey again. I was tired and the bars were more slippery. Now here is a challenge that I like, and I accepted.... passed with "flying" colors. Proudest achievement bar none at Tough Mudder, double Funky Monkey!

After Funky Monkey #2, I saw my friend Mike...saw the gi-normous lines at the last 2-3 so so obstacles and made the decision to call it a day there. I had already decided that Electroshock Therapy was not really an obstacle, but more like some frat boys playing with a taser. It's funny and neat, as long as you are not on the receiving end.  Best friend in the world to hang out for another 3 hrs, after completing Tough Mudder himself, and wait for me to prove something to myself (?) I accomplished what I set out to do. Push the limits on an event that for some, completing it once would be a huge undertaking.

One way to attempt the Ball Shrinker
So my day consisted of....
Round 1   11.05 miles 2 hrs 41 minutes
Round 2     9.16 miles 3 hrs 4 minutes
Total        20.21 miles 5 hrs 45 minutes

I wore my new Inov8 X Talon 212's. These shoes are amazing! They hold the ground so well in places where it shouldn't be possible. Very lightweight and responsive, you can be as nimble as you need to be in them. Add in some wonderful Injinji toes socks and you have some happy feet at the end of all this wetness, mud and miles.

On the second round, I slipped on my new Zensah compression calf sleeves. I was a little hesitant about this. I read wonderful reviews on this product. I bought these the day before the race and had yet to even run in them, let alone put them through hell. I don't like to test something out like that but knew my calves were going to be taking a thrashing and could use some "tight love" on them. They were excellent! The squeezing effect of the sleeves really kept my calves as happy as they could be considering the circumstances. I was also worried that they would not make it out alive as I had plans for using them in future distance running. Well they survived!

I carried a Camelbak Hydrobak which held 50oz of water and a few gel packs. I had it more for backup, just in case a water station was out of water. On round 2, there was one station that was bone dry, not cool at all. I drank probably 2/3 of it each time and indulged at each water station.

I took about 5 gels total throughout the race. 2 gels the first round and 3 on the 2nd round. In between rounds, which was about 1 hr, I wolfed down a PB&Honey sandwich, some wheat thins and some GuBrew electrolyte drink. I also popped 3 Hammer Endurolyte  pills to keep the body in check.

Jumping Hay Bales

Bruised, cut and battered. The best souvenir in the world
Only minor fatigue post race. Slightly sore muscles. I expected to be completely spent, but was not. My knees were banged up pretty good and I still have a little 'catch' in my wrist. I'm happy my feet, ankles, knees and other vital running muscles were unscathed.

Tough Mudder, especially my double, was a wonderful experience. So many fun, and not so fun challenges. Less than a week has passed since it occurred and I am already planning my next Tough Mudder event. Probably the Texas Coast and for sure the Dallas location. Always Going for more!!!!!

Alive and well at the end!

1 comment:

  1. I have been meaning to come back to this and post a comment! I can't tell you how much I love this and glad you are doing something with your entertaining writing :) I just gotta say that the photos chosen for this are perfect too. The one that CRACKS ME UP is the one of you and Godwin going for the second round. Him and his kilt with orange headband....and the guy looking at him...and the other girl looking at you....HILARIOUS!!!! It's like you know what they are saying to themselves! I have GOT to relive this with you guys...April can't get here soon enough ! Love the "O-Face" too when you're coming out of the ice pool....Good stuff Tyler...CONGRATULATIONS!