**warning, I have lots to say and not many muddy photos, yet**
Yesterday my summer of training came to its test at Tough Mudder Mid Atlantic. I knew it was going to be challenging, but the weather decided to add some extra obstacles. First obstacle? Getting there. About six miles away the traffic just stopped. They had sent us texts warning us that there was a back up with parking and to not park illegally. Well after trying a short cut through town (and running into a street festival) we decided that a grassy embankment on the side of the highway would do just fine. What we didn't know, was that embankment was over two miles from the entrance. And the scary clouds that were predicted were approaching.
|our start time was 2:30 the severe storms arrived at 1:30|
About a mile into our walk to the entrance it started torrentially raining. We walked passed car after car, not moving, waiting in line for the official parking lot. When we reached the parking lot there were cars stuck on muddy hills. When we reached the registration they were announcing that the final legs were leaving immediately and the water obstacles were closed down until the storm passed. I felt a little better as the water obstacles were the ones I was fearing the most... and most of the obstacles had a water element.
|fun names = fun times|
Almost as soon as we started the rain stopped and we took off through the fields. The race was set up on a farm, so we were running through corn and soybean fields the entire time. Felt like I was at home.
|first half of the course|
Referencing the map above, we started at the green arrow and ran a little less than a mile before arriving at the Arctic Enema, which they decided to open back up just as we got there... With no time to think about it we climbed to the top. I waited till my teammate made it under the divider and jumped in. I should of waited a bit longer as it was the coldest water I've ever been in and I made it to the wall in seconds, but my teammates were still struggling to get out. I couldn't get out, my body wanted out, all I could think about was getting out of the frigid water. Finally after what felt like minutes, but in reality was probably 5 seconds I was able to pull myself out and roll over the side. It was still pretty warm out at this point, so my body temperature returned to normal almost immediately and we started running on to the next obstacle.
The next two, dirty ballerina (mud pits about four feet apart) and kiss of mud (barbed wire about a foot and a half off the ground to crawl under), were relatively easy. Kiss of mud was really slick & smooth, kind of like a slip in slide.
After two miles we reached our first Berlin Walls. These are wooden walls, they have a little foot hold on them, but are still pretty tough. These weren't that tall and we were able to with a little boost, grab the top, throw a leg over and get to the other side.
Next was bale bonds. These were stacked hay bales we had to climb over. These were a lot of fun, because of the rain they were pretty soft and climbing over them were pretty painless.
We passed the 3 mile mark and reached hold your wood. There was a big wood pile, everyone got to choose their own piece from a variety of sizes. I went with a medium piece. This was also where we encountered our first miserable muddy area therefore we ended up walking with our wood.
After dumping our logs we had a pretty good run before the second kiss of mud, this one wasn't as fun as the mud was very rocky.
Obstacle 8 was Trench warfare, basically semi dark tunnels we had to crawl through. They put some dips and hills in the tunnels, but it wasn't near as suffocating or dark as I had feared and was actually delightful.
The next two obstacles, Walk the Plank and Log Jammin', hurt my dignity the most.
A 15 foot walk the plank awaited us. I wasn't very nervous about this one, but one of my teammates, Catherine, was and it started to wear off on me. The climb to the top wasn't easy, and then they wanted us to jump in. This was the one obstacle where the lifeguards were hard at work. It seemed like every minute they were jumping in to pull someone out. I was more worried about accidentally jumping on top of someone than my jump, this was a mistake. I'm not sure what happened but I couldn't correct mid fall and I ended up doing a face first cannon ball. Everything stung a bit, but as I came back to the surface I took a body part inventory and everything was functioning fine and it was an easy swim to the edge. Catherine ended up doing an awesome jump.
Log Jammin' were just these horizontal logs about five feet off the ground. We were suppose to go over them. The issue was 1. I am short 2. I can't jump very high 3. the area under the logs was sloppy mud. What happened? I ran jumped, slid around the log, slipped on the mud, and landed on my back on the ground. My landing was met with a chorus of UGHH/OHHH/EEEE from those waiting to go. For the next one, my strong teammate Matt gave me a boost and I was up and over with out a second wipeout.
Obstacle 11 is listed as King of the Mountain, I don't remember a mountain or hill, but that might be because my eyes were on the slippery mud the entire time... This could of been the second hay bale obstacle, the second was as fun as the first.
About 7.5 miles in we reached electric eel. This was another slip in slide type obstacle, but with the added challenge of an electric current. Luckily the current was very small and the shocks felt like a light tickle or soft snap from a rubber band.
#13 was the most pleasant obstacle of the course. We had to go under floating barrels in a pond, but the pond water was perfect bathwater temperature and there seemed to be a current carrying you through to the other side. We were all kind of disappointed when this one was over, especially when we saw we had our second set of Berlin walls ahead.
The second set were a lot taller and we own our team's success over these ones to Matt. He climbed to the top and straddled the top. While the rest of us helped boost and brace, he pulled us up until we could kick a leg over to the other side. Also at this point we were all getting a little worn down.
Mud mile was similar to dirty ballerina, but muddier. We had to climb piles of mud and slosh through mud pits... that got increasingly taller and slippier.
By obstacle 15 we had run 8.5 muddy miles. Most of the obstacles were easier if you were taller, this was the one exception. The Boa Constrictor was a downhill drainage tube, a small, water pit, into an uphill drainage tube. I had no problem on these as I could crawl on all fours and brace my back against the top of the tube. The taller guys had to army crawl in the slippery tube.
Funky Monkey was one of the obstacles I knew I had a slim chance of completing successfully. I was amazing at monkey bars as a child, but I guess if you don't keep it up, you lose it. To make it a bit more challenging, they went up and then down... and of course they were wet and muddy. Some people were making it across, but even more were dropping into the water. I made two and then fell in.
Twinkle toes... or a balance beam across water, is one I think I could of done better. You had a two inch board to walk on, but after you got out a few feet it started wobbling pretty good. I made it maybe a fourth of the way and then started to lose it. My poor falling skills earlier were also on my mind at this point so I jumped in before I did something stupid. Next time though I would like to fight for it.
We were almost to the end, but with two of the most daunting obstacles left, Everest and Electric Shock Therapy.
Everest is a gigantic half pipe. When we arrived there was a huge back up of people waiting to get up. The half pipe was covered in slick mud. Half of the people were running up and jumping into people's arms and then struggling like crazy to get over the top. The other half were forming human chains for people to climb up and then get pulled up over the top. We stood around for a bit discussing what we should do. Honestly I wanted to go around. Watching people hanging by their feet and falling back down the ramp wasn't encouraging. But Becky was intent on going. So they made a chain. Matt on the bottom, then Jeff, then Becky. Laura went first climbing up the chain and grabbing on to people's arms from above. And they pulled and she pulled and kicked her leg up and they pulled and pulled. And the super light and athletic Laura finally got up. This was kind of discouraging, but Catherine wasn't discouraged and went. Catherine was pulled up with less trouble, so when Becky looked at me and told me to go, so I went. First climbing over Matt, then to Jeff's hands and shoulders, and then to Becky's shoulders. I ended up having to crouch on Becky's shoulders for a minute while the girls up top found a new guy to help them haul me up. It couldn't of been comfortable for Becky. They found a guy and started pulling me up. I had no strength left to try to pull myself up and every time I kicked my foot up, it was just millimeters out of reach. I admit as I was hanging there I reached a point where I was just feeling like it needed to end. I didn't want to drop down and hit someone, but I didn't know how much longer I could hang. Then finally the guy got an extra wind from somewhere and they pulled me up and over. Once I got my chest above the ledge I was able to get up and finally breathe. But then we had to get Becky up, someone replaced her in the ladder and we searched for another guy to help us and after a few pulls, she was safely to the top. The boys decided not to attempt the wall. We weren't strong enough to get them up, and Matt's shoulder was bothering him, impeding him from a run and jump.
Catherine's parents and aunt were there as spectators, which with the severe weather makes them extremely tough too. So after Everest we stopped for a photo op. You can tell I was feeling exhausted.
|Matt, Me, Catherine, Laura, Jeff, and Becky|
The last obstacle was Electric Shock Therapy. There was muddy water to run through with electric strings hanging down. The light shocks of the electric eel made me go into this one with no fear... When I should of had some fear. I was shocked three times and this time I could feel it. These felt more like "OMG what just happened" I wasn't tossed to the ground, but it did make you twitch and stop for a half second.
After the shocks we were done. They planted a headband on us, handed us a heat blanket, a t-shirt, water, an oddly warm banana, and finally a beer. After enjoying our beer we grabbed our clean stuff only to find out that they ran out of water for the showers. So we tried to rub the drying mud off of us and put on some dry clothes. I tossed my shoes this time in the donation pile, I kept my shoes after Warrior Dash, but then ended up trashing them anyway.
The after race party was pretty much shut down due to the earlier storms so we set off walking back to the car... another 2 miles away . On the way back to the car we saw a rainbow.
|double rainbow (photo cred to Catherine)|
The traffic and storm were a bigger mess than we even knew at the time. They ended up canceling the Sunday event (due to the extra mud and flooding and ruined parking area) and we have received several emails apologizing for the mess and promising refunds and free transfers for those who did not run and discounts to future events for everyone experiencing traffic delays (which I think was EVERYONE).
My body woke me up at 7 am, too sore to sleep. And I'm covered with bumps, bruises, and scratches, but nothing serious.
|my poor elbow|
|bruised and battered legs|
Lastly, thanks to my amazing team. They all took a turn pushing, pulling, and cheering me on.
Now if you need me I'll be on my couch trying not to move while finding more and more mud hiding on me.