Monday, May 20, 2013

2013 Tough Mudder Finisher!.. The Race, What I learned about myself, and the human spirit!

     I am officially a 2013 Tough Mudder finisher! I got the headband and the t shirt and lots of pictures to prove it.What a great experience, it was a combination of challenge, fun, and camaraderie. I have to admit, there were times in my head before the race that I thought maybe I "shouldn't, couldn't or wouldn't" do it., However, once I arrived at the race all my fears of actually starting it subsided. I still held on to the the fear of some of the obstacles, and had even decided before hand, if there was one I didn't feel comfortable or safe doing, I would take the designated "safe" route.
     As the race begins, the announcer makes you feel so comfortable, and pumped up. You pledge to not leave any mudder behind, that it is a challenge, not a race, and that you will be more concerned about helping your fellow mudder finish an obstacle than you will be with your race time. Its pretty awesome, however, I wasn't buying it when the horn blew, and everyone took off from the corral. As we headed out to the first leg, wondering what lay ahead of us, you really could feel the excitement, and energy in the group. It was a different feel than road races I've done, or ever triathlons(although triathletes are some of the friendliest athletes I've met), this was different. We were going to go 11 miles, and complete 22 obstacles before the day was over. Obstacles with names like, Arctic Enema, Electric Eel, Mount Everest ,Boa Constrictor, Mud mile to name a few. And in between, you ran cautiously, through back road terrain, muddy water, and mounds, sometimes for long stretches, and you get to meet other mudders to keep you company. This is all before you get to the anticipated last obstacle of electric shock therapy, so that you can be crowned with your tough mudder orange head band.
     I absolutely loved this race! I loved it even more, doing this race with the Captain. We trained for this for months, and it paid off. We were able to finish the race under are allotted time, and when we finished we were not completely depleted of our energy. After every obstacle, we were looking forward to the next one. I did every single obstacle, successfully I might add! There were a few I was hesitant of, but with the Captains encouragement and patience,I did them.
     First,the Arctic Enema, this is where  you  jump into 34 degree water, you have to submerge yourself completely, they make sure of this because the only way out is to go under the wall that takes you to the other side! It was not just cold, it literally took my breath away, and when the Captain pulled me out, I couldn't feel my toes for at least 200 yards..
     The second obstacle, I was deathly afraid of was the, boa constrictor. You crawl on your belly through man made underground tunnels in complete darkness. The first time I went in I got to the turn and backed all the way out. At that point I had to decide, if I was going to complete it,and I decided to give it another try. When I got to the turn the Captain started talking to me from the other side,so I followed his voice and made it through.
     The third obstacle was jumping into a pool of muddy water from about 12-13 feet high platform. I was fine until I got up to the top and looked down, and then I froze. I kept having flash backs of public pools and high diving boards! But, after watching a few people go in, I took the plunge and it was awesome!
    The much anticipated electric shock therapy was painful,and almost unbearable depending on where you got hit.  The Captain got shocked, went down, and bruised a rib! I did get shocked so many times, by the end all I could do was lay there in the mud, and finally one of the guys in our group ran out and just pulled me through!
     The toughest obstacle for me was the funky monkey. I was never very good at monkey bars, and these are monkey bars on steroids. They go way up, then you have to come down them. I did much better than I thought I would, I got to the last part, and the bar twisted and my wrist went out, so I fell into a pit of red water.
     The easiest was the cage. You pull yourself on your back, through muddy water by holding onto a cage. I actually enjoyed this one, and glided right through it quickly.
      My favorite was Mount Everest. You have to run up a greased hill and pull yourself over the wall. It took me four times, because I was laughing so hard from sliding down into the mud! However, once the Captain got up to the top(he did it on his first try!) I knew all I had to do was grab his hand and he would not let me go, and he didn't and I made it!
       My most proud moment, at the end when the announcer had us do eleven push-ups before we could enter the electric shock therapy, but After we did Mount Everest,  and I being the only girl, pumped them out right next to all those boys,without skipping a beat!
       Most inspirational moment, was when I was in the mile mud slosh and a man came up behind me, with an artificial leg,pushing through, and was joking about we were all trying not to lose our shoe, he was trying not to lose his leg!
     The thing is, throughout this whole race, you didn't do it alone. You had your team,  the volunteers, the workers and strangers helping you complete your race. You were actually expected to help others once you got over the walls, ropes, or mud. Everyone adhered to the "pledge". It was so great to see so many people, willing to sacrifice their time to help someone else succeed. It was almost like part of your race was to finish well, but in doing so you helped others finish well. There were all types of people there,all ages, all fitness levels,and all nationalities, moving toward a common goal. It was a race where everyone comes together, gives advice, encouragement,and celebrates each victory. We shared water,salt,and energy gels, but more importantly, we shared an experience for those few hours in which we all had one goal. We became, "one team".It reminded me that in life, like this race, people need people. We need each other to help us get through the tough times,to celebrate the good times, and to keep each other company during the boring times.I could not have completed this race without the help of my teammates, and the help of strangers,it would have simply been impossible.
     Every race I do, I learn more about myself. I think that is one of the reasons I race. This time I learned that even though I was afraid, I didn't let the fear stop me. Yes, I hesitated, but I pushed through it and was better for it.That I will no longer listen to people telling me I "can't" do something, but more importantly, I will never tell myself I "can't" do something. I can and I will, because there are no limits, only limitless opportunities when you believe in yourself .That the Captain and I make a much better team together, than we could ever do alone.And that he will never let me fall,give up on me,or leave me behind.
     I also learned so much about the human condition. We are all the same, only different.We all want to do our best, and be our best. We all want to help someone, and we all need someone's help. That we all want to be successful, and we find joy in other people's success.That at the end of the day,what matters most,is people, and relationships.Like this race, we are not meant to "do" life alone, but together.
     The Captain and I are already planning on signing up for another one,we hope to have more people on our team, however, we know that on race day, we will be part of a bigger team, the Tough Mudder team, where no mudder is ever left behind!

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