My Tough Mudder Adventure: Part Deux
I did it. I finished the Tri-State Tough Mudder. I barely finished, but I finished. Here’s how it all went down.
I’ve been detoxing for the whole month of November, so to carb up the night before I ate the equivalent of a meal for three including an entire baking pan worth of sweet potato and pineapple casserole. Half of an entire pineapple and three sweet potatoes all cut into slices and baked in the oven for an hour with butter and cinnamon on top. All the dessert you need without any refined sugar. So delicious. I then got to bed super early and slept a solid ten hours with sweet dreams of running, jumping, crawling, and mudding (Really, I dreamt about the race the whole damn night).
The morning started off like any other morning in November: 4 eggs, a whole pink grapefruit, and some yoga. I stopped by a convenience store to grab a bottle of water and three protein bars and hit the road for Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ.
When I got to the race site I was pleased to see flat land for as far as the eye could see. The Vermont Tough Mudder was nothing but running up and down mountains for ten torturous miles. NJ 1, Vermont 0.
After signing my death waiver and checking in at the Media Check-In tent, I walked into the park to check out the scene. Pop quiz: What’s the main difference between an average New Jersey Tough Mudder and an average Vermont Tough Mudder? Around 20 pounds of muscle and no shirt. Why people in New Jersey are so jacked I don’t know, but there were plenty of guys running around that looked like Rambo. Of course I took the opportunity to join the shirtless New Jersey Tough Mudder crew, but kept my secret identity intact with the Luchador mask that has now traveled all over the world with me.
Shortly after I checked in, I met up with my friend Lauren from the first Tough Mudder adventure and her friend Melanie. As soon as I met Melanie I knew we were going to get along. She had a red bandana on and a t-shirt that read “It’s The Freakin Weekend.” My kind of people. After the obligatory pre-race photoshoot to post Facebook pictures later, we lined up at the start. We walked up to the start just as the last heat had taken off so we got to line up in the front of our heat.
After pumping us up with a little pre-race pep talk and reiterating the fact that we signed a death waiver, the emcee let us loose on the course. Unlike a usual race though, we started by chasing a monster truck. And since we were in the front of our heat, I started the Tri-State Tough Mudder sprinting behind a monster truck.
I could explain the rest of the thirty-something obstacles in detail, but it’s easier to read about them all here on the Tough Mudder website: Tri-State Tough Mudder Course Map
Some of the obstacles stuck out for me though, some because they were fun and others because they were absolutely brutal. The more memorable parts of the course were:
- Swimming across a freezing cold river and climbing up a 15 foot rope ladder on the other side
- Then immediately after that jumping off of a different 15 foot platform into the same freezing cold river and swimming back across
- Running through the Mud Mile, a maze of trenches that had to be at least a quarter mile long through knee-high to waist-high mud
- Crawling through mud under barbed wire 8 inches off the ground
- Running through bales of straw soaked in kerosene and set on fire
- Running around the actual race track carrying a tire
- Successfully crossing a huge set of muddy monkey bars set over an ice cold lake
- Crawling through muddy tunnels that were so long that you couldn’t see any light halfway through them
- Getting shocked three times by live wires carrying a 10,000 volt shock
Tough Mudder is also a great experience because of the tone that the race organizers set at the beginning of the race. All participants raise their right hand and recite the Tough Mudder pledge before they run the course. The pledge is: “As a Tough Mudder I pledge that… I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine – kids whine. I help my fellow Mudders complete the course. I overcome all fears.”
I can’t even count the number of times I got a helping hand from a stranger pulling me through a dark muddy tunnel or pushing me up a 12 foot wall. In return I helped dozens of people over and under the obstacles. In a Tough Mudder race you aren’t running against the other participants, your running with the other participants and against the course. It’s really a great atmosphere.
Of course the most memorable part of the day was crossing the finish line. The feeling of stepping across that line was such a great sense of accomplishment. For those 10-15 minutes after the race I felt nothing but pure happiness. My body was on the verge of failure again, but I just felt great.
Completing the course has also set the baseline of what I know I can accomplish at a higher level. Several years ago I ran my first 5k. A year ago I ran my first half marathon. This weekend I ran a half marathon through hell. The next race will be a little harder, a little longer, or a little tougher, but I know I’ll be able to do it. Success breeds success and right now I’m on a roll…