6:15 a.m: My alarm clock goes off and I groggily check my phone for the temperature. 48 degrees. Shit. I’m not prepared for this. I didn’t bring any of my cold gear and I definitely don’t want to throw myself into an ice bath in this weather. I hope it warms up by the time our start wave is.
7:00 a.m: We finally leave the house, later than we expected but we had a few minor hang ups. The one thing on everyone’s mind this early? Coffee. Definitely coffee. On our way to the venue we look for something resembling a coffee shop or restaurant but none exist in this neck of the woods. Resorting to us using Siri to find the closest one.
8:10 a.m: Found a coffee shop. I don’t think we will make our 8:15 start time, but coffee trumps punctuality. Plus maybe it will warm up a bit more by the time we actually start. It’s still a chilly 52 right now.
8:35 a.m: We take advantage of our volunteer parking passes to avoid the $20 parking fee but still have a nice 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot. We park right in front of the mother of all horse barns- this isn’t a barn it’s a palace.
9:15 a.m: Standing in line we are greeted by a few fellow GORMR’s who chat with us for a bit before trailing off to find who they are running with. It takes about 25 minutes to get through the check in line.
9:40 a.m: Bags checked, bibs on, numbers marked on our stomachs and arms. Let’s do this!
9:50 a.m: We enter the warm up zone, where Coach leads us through a series of warm ups. Including his famous “hip circles” move.
10:10 a.m: We’re off into the woods for the start of my fourth Tough Mudder! Straight uphill. My Florida legs aren’t used to this.
At this point, my timeline becomes a little skewed, due to not really caring to check what time it is and my watch malfunctioning (so no data to reference). I’ll go over the highlights of the event though, because those I remember like it was yesterday.
– Venue (Bouckaert Farms): This was probably one of the most gorgeous places I’ve run an OCR. It had all the elements that make up a great course- hills, mountains (in the distance), hills, fields with wild flowers, hills, oh and did I mention more hills?
– Legionnaire Obstacles: In 2015, I wasn’t too thrilled with the legionnaire offerings. Dead Ringer (using rings to cross a board with pegs on it) wasn’t that great of a finish. 2016 upped the ante. They had legionnaire lanes (more difficult/intense options) at both Cage Crawl (called Rain Man for legionnaires), which had water pouring down on you from above as you tried to make your way on your back under a fence with inches of breathing room between your nose and the water; Backstabber (I.e. The Liberator for non-legionnaires), which has only one row of pegs for those of us repeat Mudders to use to climb the slippery slanted board. Finally for the finisher obstacle they added Frequent Flyers Club, which has legionnaires leap off a 20 foot platform, attempt to hit a colored post the same color as your headband for that event before landing on a giant crash pad below. Definitely one of my new favorites.
– Teamwork, especially at Pyramid Scheme: When they introduced this obstacle in 2015 I was hoping to get a chance to try it but they didn’t have it at either of the courses I ran last year. This time they did and I loved it! I even got lowered down from the top by my arms so other Mudders could use my legs to help pull themselves to the top.
– Finishing My Spring Season with TM: Originally I hadn’t planned on doing a TM this season but when I learned that the fall dates conflicted with my schedule I added this pretty last minute. I’m glad I did!
– Meeting Coach T Mud and Sean Corvelle: I’ve seen them both at events before but I haven’t met either of them in person! This time I got to meet both! I event got a hug from Sean and a selfie with Coach 🙂
– King of the Swingers: I still can’t do this one. I know it’s all mental, but it’s frustrating that I can’t seem to overcome the mental block surrounding this obstacle.
– Photos: There aren’t any. Of myself or my teammates. I was told there was an average of 7.5 photos per participant- obviously that average didn’t include us. I get the same photo every time I do Tough Mudder lately…it would be nice if they got me on a different obstacle!
– Funky Monkey: Since they updated this obstacle last year I’m 1 for 3 attempts. I know it’s a grip strength deal, but I was really hoping I’d be able to do it this time. I wasn’t anticipating the wet bars though.
– Arctic Enema: No matter how many times you do it, this obstacle sucks. It’s just a matter of how cold it is as to how much it sucks. This time it was practically solid ice! It was so cold it froze my Garmin. See the split in the route right before the finish? That was after Arctic Enema when my watch took about five minutes to warm back up before it started recording data again.
Many don’t understand my love for Tough Mudder, and at times I don’t understand it myself. There are many events in the OCR world that put on amazing runs, many events with some pretty epic obstacles, and an equal number of events that I have felt that familiar sense of accomplishment and pride as I crossed the finish line. But for some reason, Tough Mudder has always left me with a sense of achievement I haven’t received from anywhere else.
Perhaps it’s the ‘fear factor’ of several of the obstacles, the ensuing feeling of having completed something you didn’t think you could do. Perhaps its the feeling of complete and utter exhaustion I have when I come to the end of a course of that length, knowing that I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Maybe its the teamwork- complete and total strangers stopping to help others on course, encouraging their friends as well as those they don’t know. While other events offer encouragement and teamwork, all pale in comparison to that shown at Tough Mudder. Maybe it’s the fact that the event is not timed- whether it takes you 2 or 6 hours, you’re still a member of Mudder Legion, a part of the family. Elite has no meaning on courses like this.
These are the reasons TM will always hold a special place in my heart. We are a family of Mudders, encouraging and helping each other. If you want to experience a renewal of faith in humanity, come to a Tough Mudder course. Be a part of something bigger than yourself.
Linking up with the wonderful ladies of Wild Workout Wednesday! Annmarie from the Fit Foodie Mama, Angelena Marie from Angelina Marie: Happy, Healthy and Balanced, Michelle at Fruition Fitness, and Nicole from Fitful Focus.