adding to my goal of running an event a month in 2014, my May event was the Tough Mudder Central Texas. it was my second time doing the Tough Mudder (TM), and i have to say – it most certainly will not be my last.
i convinced a good buddy of mine, daniel, to run it with me. daniel and i lived together in college, and he has always loved running and doing races. he’s done a marathon, a half-iron man, and several other events along the way – i’ve just never really run anything with him before. he moved to colorado after college, and i was fat and didn’t exercise at all when we were in college, so we never got to share the ‘athletic’ part of our lives. but now he is back in austin, and he was game for trying this crazy event.
the night before the TM i headed to austin to stay with daniel and his wife. daniel is a fantastic cook, and he made the most delicious – and healthy – teriyaki chicken stir-fry i’ve ever had. we just hung out, ate some dinner, drank some beer and then made the mistake of watching “prisoners” with hugh hackman. it was a great movie, but it was like 3 hours long! going to bed at 1 am when your start time is 8:40 is not the smartest idea…
i am a huge fan of books like “born to run” and “eat and run,” and i’ve always longed for experiences like the ones these runners have the night before big races. they always talk about traveling to the race location, staying at a friend’s house, having delicious home-cooked meals, drinking beer and catching up. i’ve always, always wanted that kind of community, and it was awesome that i got it before this run. the joneses are good people.
the run was great overall. i could have been a little more prepared, but that’s always the case, right?
this year, they did something a little different. they instituted the mudder legion – a multi-mudder program designed to encourage people to run multiple events. at the end of each TM, you get an orange headband. you can’t buy them anywhere – you have to earn it after running a TM. at the end of your second time running, you get a green headband. the third time? a blue headband. and so on.
there are a couple of other perks, too – you get access to a special section of the course called legionnaire’s loop and you get to bypass the last obstacle: electroshock therapy. considering i was knocked unconscious for a couple of seconds at this obstacle last year (where you run through a field of live wires), i was pretty excited that i got to bypass it.
so how’d the race go? here are the most memorable parts (just a quick note – while none of the pictures below are of me, they were actual pictures taken from the TM that i ran):
- legionnaire’s loop
- this happened around mile four, and daniel and i split up since this was his first TM. the first obstacle on the loop was a set of bungee cords all crisscrossing and you and to snake your way through them, like catherine zeta jones in “entrapment.” then we had to climb under some fallen tree logs and on the other side, there as a field of hanging electric wires. i swore that i would never do the obstacles with electricity again, so i ran around it instead of going through it. once i passed the obstacle and turned round a bend in the trail, there was a giant sign that said something to the effect of “just kidding” – the wires were a fake. you got me this time, TM…
- mud mile
- imagine mud hills with water trenches – 7 or 8 of them, one right after the other. this was when the TM really got going. it was absolutely impossible to climb up the muddy hill from the waist-high water-filled trench. it was just too slippery. so you had to get a boost from behind from a stranger, and then grab the hand of someone on top of the hill to help pull yourself up. then you would reach back down and help the next person up. this is the thing that the TM excels at – and it’s my favorite part. you really have to help each other out in order to have a successful run. and it’s awesome.
- pyramid scheme
- this was a new obstacle, and i think it will be the crown obstacle for all future TM’s. imagine a 15-foot tall inclined slope. directly in front of it is a moat, about 3 feet deep, filled with mud. the idea of this obstacle is that you have to make a human pyramid, using people as a ladder to boost yourself up and grab the hand of a person on the top of the wall so that they can pull you up. if what i am describing sounds like the zombie swarm from “world war z,” you’d be correct.
- daniel looked at me at the beginning of this obstacle and said, “well, we have to be every part of the pyramid.” so it was spoken, so shall it be done.
- we stood at the bottom, with our backs on the slope and half of our bodies in the muddy moat. then people would stand on our shoulders, their backs to the slope. and people would stand on their shoulders, until someone could climb high enough to grab someone’s waiting hand at the top. then we switched to the middle part of the pyramid for a little bit, then we got to the top and helped pull people up.
- the entire obstacle took about an hour. there was major bottlenecking at the beginning, and i have to admit that i was super frustrated at first. no body was working together – we were all just trying to find a way to move on with the rest of the race. every one was serious, determining the best course of action, when one bearded man named chris who was standing next to me yelled out “climb from your heart!” to the person who was trying to scale the obstacle. it was hilarious, immediately broke the tension and allowed us all to work as a team. and became our battle cry through the rest of the TM.
- funky monkey
- imagine monkey bars, but your hands are completely muddy and wet. oh, and instead of a horizontal line of monkey bars that is parallel to the ground, this set slopes up to a point, and then slopes back down. ridiculous.
- last year, i made it to the second rung before falling off into the muddy water below. i’ve never been good at upper-body strength activities. this year, though, i made it past the peak in the middle. progress!
- arctic enema
- this used to be my favorite obstacle (until pyramid scheme). imagine a giant rectangular above ground pool filled with icy water. icy, as in they were continually pouring bags of ice into the water. in the middle of the pool is a wooden wall, and you have to swim underneath it to the other side. it’s freezing, miserable, and the best jolt of adrenaline i’ve ever felt.
if you can’t tell by now, i’m a huge fan of the tough mudder. it’s hands down my favorite event that i do, and i cannot wait to do it again. daniel’s already said he is gonna do another one with me. maybe i can convince him to make that stir fry again…