4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Tough Mudder – Part I

with 2 comments

It has been 2 weeks since I completed the Tough Mudder with Joe and Nate.  This was easily the most bad-ass thing I’ve ever done in terms of physical activity, fitness or racing.  Here is the intro from the website, to give you a taste:

Tough Mudder is not your average lame-ass mud run or spirit-crushing ‘endurance’ road race. It’s Ironman meets Burning Man, and it is coming to a location near you. Our 10-12 mile obstacle courses are designed by British Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, mental grit, andcamaraderie. Forget finish times. Simply completing a Tough Mudder is a badge of honor. All Tough Mudder sponsorship proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project.

In the moment before it started, I was easily more scared of this than anything I’ve ever done before.  I can think of 2 other instances where I was also scared to do what was about to be done, but they don’t compare.

  1. The 1st was my first Olympic distance triathlon, the NYC Triathlon.  I wasn’t scared of the race per se, but it hit me when it was my turn to get up on the pier to start the race, looking out into a mile of Hudson River to the finish pier.  It felt like that sickening moment when you crest over the top of a roller coaster and are about to go hurling down the other side.  In that moment, I was scared, but it was a fake kind of scared, because I knew inside I could get it done.  I had a wetsuit on, the swim was with the current, and in my mind I knew I really had nothing to fear.
  2. The 2nd was coincidentally my second Olympic distance triathlon, the NJ State Triathlon.  I was not scared of the race or the distance, but the fact that the water temperature was too warm to allow for wetsuits.  I would have to swim the entire 1500 meters without the buoyancy aid  of a wetsuit, which had gotten me through all my other triathlons.  In that moment, I really was scared that I would not be able to complete the distance.  I wasn’t scared for my life, as I knew there were lifeguards and buoys in the water, and if I couldn’t do it, the worst that would happen is that I would have to endure the embarrassment of being helped out of the water and then missing the rest of the race.  In the end, I got it done, and was so proud of the accomplishment.
But the fear this time was different.  It was the fear of the unknown, and the fear of really possibly hurting myself.  Not only was this an endurance event to the level I’ve never tried before – it was 11+ miles up and down a ski mountain, with several miles of technical trail running – but it also included dozens of obstacles, running the gamut from crawling through mud, to carrying a log up a hill, and jumping 15 feet into the water.

Tough Mudder is run on both Saturday and Sunday.  We did the event on Sunday, and adding to the fear was finding out that about 25% of the participants did not finish the course on Saturday, and that one of the obstacles was closed down because it was too dangerous.  There were also vague reports of people breaking bones, and that was something I was not interested in happening, an was actually scared about.

Joe, Nate and myself kept asking ourselves why, why were were even bothering to do this.  In a way, we all clearly like adventure and challenges.  Nate did the Tough Mudder last year and was disappointed because it did not live up to the expectations (it was apparently the first TM event and it was not as hard as billed and there were lots of kinks), so he wanted another shot at the tougher course this time around.  Joe had experienced serious heart problems in the last year, which ultimately were fixed, but he was reduced to running 11-12 minute pace per mile in his races, including the NYC Marathon.  Since he had a clean bill of health, he wanted to celebrate with something awesome, and this certainly fit the bill.  As for myself, I had no idea what I was getting into.  A friend had turned me onto mud events, and I thought it would be a fun challenge.  When Joe was asking for people to join him, I threw my hat into the ring.

I think I am speaking for all 3 of us, when I say that as we were sitting around Nate’s kitchen table on Saturday night in Allentown, we were all a bit afraid of what was to come…


Written by SCL

April 24, 2011 at 11:35 am

Posted in Race Report

2 Responses

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  1. In all of the post-race bravado – I honestly completely forgot about all of the pre-race apprehension that we all felt. I’m really glad that you captured that part…because I probably wouldn’t have remembered it when (if) I ever sit down to write my own race report 🙂


    April 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm

  2. Ahem, where is part two? [Asks she who hasn’t blogged in forever. Ha!] I too am a fan of mud runs, but this one sounds like the grand puba of them all. More, more!!! Please 🙂


    May 20, 2011 at 11:45 am

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