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Tough Mudder II

Tough Mudder II

Originally published on 10-20-13

Last April my brother, David, convinced me to participate in my first Tough Mudder. I thought, “Tough Mudder, huh? I guess.” He explained to me that it was a difficult obstacle course of sorts, so six months out I started training with a purpose. I frequented the gym, lifted heavy weights, trained with a personal trainer, the whole thing.  As always, I’m all in.

October 2012 rolled up quickly and I was ready.  My outfit was planned down to the color tape I would use, fuchsia of course.

On the morning of the race our team woke up well before dawn and stopped for a quick snack at the nearest Waffle House. Not the best idea we’ve ever had. But, we were ready and so excited! When we drove onto the course grounds I was blown away by the hundreds of people meandering around the course grounds. People were everywhere and it was 7:30am on a Saturday!

Our team registered and figured out the lay of the land. We had chosen a 9:00am start time and realized that there was no Tough Mudder staff member forcing us to start at a certain time, or at all! We were going to have to choose to start. At this point I knew that Tough Mudder was a 13 mile course packed with 25 military like obstacles which included scaling wooden walls, electrocution, ascending monkey bars and swimming. I knew this was not going to be a walk in the park and I started to get nervous. 9am started to close in on us and we decided to go for it. After visiting the porta pottys a few times, we walked over to the starting area where participants were corralled.

At the corral, there was a team starter, a motivator if you will, pumping everyone up. He lead us in the Tough Mudder Oath. “I understand that tough mudder is not a race but a challenge. I put team work and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine- kids whine.I help my fellow mudders complete the course.  I overcome all fears. Can I get an oohrah?” he yelled. “Oohrah” everyone screamed back. The music was loud and thumping and the energy was rising. There were at least 100 people in the corral with us, ready to kick ass. And since I am all about team, and doing things for the greater good and challenging myself, I was in hog heaven.

I looked around and realized that the only thing linking these other 100 people to me was that they too wanted to push themselves and they too wanted to prove that they had it in them. And damn it, we did just that.

We ran 13 miles in cold and mud, scaled wooden walls, crawled through live wires pulsing with 10K volts per wire, all to prove to ourselves that because we wanted to we could.  Each participant gave up a Saturday on the couch to gain something much more valuable in return, an increase in confidence, self-esteem, and bad-assery. It took our team four hours to complete the course, but we did it.  We claimed our orange Tough Mudder headbands and made the trek home, feeling great about ourselves.

Well, the next TM rolled around and a few of us looked at each other and asked “Why not? We felt so good last time.” So we registered.  This time I was too busy training from my first marathon to be too scared or too concerned.  The months and weeks flew by and race day had arrived.  One early morning in April, we were at TM again! It was so incredibly cold that morning.  At 46 degrees I just knew that from the moment I stepped out of my house to the moment I stepped back into it, I’d be cold. I knew that I was going to have to swim and jump and roll around and there was no chance for warmth. With all those thoughts rolling around, I showed up again with my well thought out TM gear and I was ready to roll!

This time around our team I had a Sis on my team! Monique was half 45% reluctant and 55% willing.

As she walked up to the fourth obstacle on the course, the Arctic Enema I saw her shake her head side to side and her eyes well up with tears. She looked terrified, almost paralyzed in fear. I wasn’t sure if she was going to do it or not, but I knew I had to.

The Arctic Enema is a dumpster full of ice and water.  The goal was to willingly jump into the dumpster, swim under slats of wood through hundreds of pounds of ice and come up for air on the other side. As soon as I jumped in my muscles were in total shock, because it’s 46 degrees outside and just as cold inside the dumpster. I knew the longer I waited the worse it would be so I submerged myself under the ice and swam under the wooden slats.  The ice was heavy on my head, but I managed to come up for air.  And as I realized my muscles were not responding as fast as I wanted them to I realized I had to push myself up out of the ice without the use of steps or a ladder. Help!

This is me catching my first breath, still in the ice.

And I soon as I got back on dry ground I turned around and saw Monique jumping in! She was doing it! She was terrified and she did it anyway. I was so proud of her and happy for her. I knew that with each obstacle she accomplished her self-esteem would grow.

After the Arctic Enema she was pretty shaken up and I turned to her and asked, “Are you in pain?” She told me that she wasn’t. “Are you physically able?” I asked.  She told me that she was. So I replied with “Then I’m going to push you.” She nodded in agreement, and we finished the remaining 18 obstacles after that, together.

At each of the 22 obstacles that day thousands of people proved to themselves they could do it. From scaling walks to crawling through tunnels to running up a 20 foot tall half pipe, goals were conquered.   Tough Mudders left there pumped about who they were and about being part of a team.  I can’t prove it, but I think that Austin’s self-esteem quotient raised a few notches that day.

I write about reaching just beyond your grasp all the time. I write about it because I am living proof that when we make the decision to step out of our comfort zone, our physical bodies will meet us where we want to be. It’s magical. Our body will step up when our mind tells it to.

When we commit to a challenge and we conquer that challenge, our insides transform in a way that can never be taken away. 

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