Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ultimate Bad Ass

As I sit here looking down at my bruised legs, banged up arms and I am 100% sure I have bruised ribs from this past weekends Tough Mudder Adventure.. I can't help but smile! I feel a deep sense of pride, accomplishment and satisfaction that I was able to run 23 miles and complete 48 obstacles all in a 24 hour period.

I am going to guess many of you think I am crazy. I am sure you are saying "One Tough Mudder race is crazy enough. But to turn around and do another one in less than 24 hours well that is just plain stupid." Maybe! But sometimes stupid crazy is a good thing. I just happen to be surrounded by over 20,000 stupid crazy people just like me during the race. We all have a one thing in common, we are bad ass!

Here is my race recap...

Saturday April 14, 2012
Amherst, Ohio
Race time 1:00
Cold, Windy. Low 50's
Finished time 3 hours and 50 minutes

Sunday April 15, 2012
Amherst, Ohio
Race time 8:20
Sunny, slight wind. Mid 60's
Finish time 3 hours and 38 minutes

I normally don't travel the day of a race but since our race time wasn't till 1:00 we decided to go up that morning. As we drove 2 hours North we started to talk about our fears but never once did we say we would back down. We encouraged each other and I think most of us said a few silent prayers. The weather wasn't looking the best and we knew this might be the hardest obstacle of all. 80% chance of rain with thunderstorms, wind and very cold temperatures. The good news is that there was never a storm, but it did rain before the race and a few times during the race.

My team gathered together and headed to the starting line. We were busting with excitement when Shawn gave us his amazing motivational speech. He reminded us that we were all one team and that we should not leave anyone behind. He talked about men and women who risk their lives every single day for us. The wounded warrior is what this race is all about. So we honored them, sang the National Anthem without music and cited the Tough Mudder Creed. We gave each other high fives, smiled and said Let's do this!

Our first obstacle was High Steppin. This obstacle required you to jump over 15 waist high walls. This obstacle looks simple but it was for sure challenging and got the heart pumping. At this point we were still pumped and couldn't stop smiling. We knew that ahead of us would be some really challenging obstacles but we didn't care we were having fun!

The next challenging obstacle that we approached was Arctic Emena. Just saying the name of this obstacle gives me chills. Arctic Emena is a dumpster full of water and ice. In order to get to the other side of the dumpster you must swim under a board. Saturday was I was disappointed because the dumpster was only waist deep and you could just walk under the board. It was still cold but it wasn't as bad as Sunday. Sunday's Emena was the real deal. The dumpster was full and in order for me to get out I had to dive under the ice cold water to get to the other side. I swear nothing can prepare you for this obstacle. It seriously feels like you can't breathe and that your heart might stop. This obstacle is Tough Mudder's Welcome mat.

The obstacles continued and team Auto- team stayed strong. We climbed over bails of hay, 12 foot walls, and ran in some smoky fire. The mud was insane. It was hard to walk in let alone run. I know that the Tough Mudder is a mud run, but I never imaged that the mud would be everywhere. Needless to say I enjoyed the mud!

The air was very cold a few of us started to shiver. Not a good thing when you know you have more water obstacles and 8 more miles to go. Then came the wonderful plank. I never knew that I had a fear of jumping off things till this Tough Mudder. The plank was 20 foot high and to get down you needed to jump into the freezing quarry that is 40 feet deep I might add. When we got to the top of the plank I started to panic. I told my teammate Lindsay Groom that if I didn't jump to push me. The guy counted 1...2...3. I stood their frozen like an statue. I didn't have time to think because Lindsay gave me a quick tap forward, I was pushed in. On the way down you could hear me yelling "you bitch" at Lindsay. When I hit the water I felt like I could die. This water was colder then Enema and for a second I started to think of the people on the titanic. I was so close to calling over a lifeguard because I couldn't breathe, but some how I was able to manage to swim to the side and jump out. Lindsay said she was sorry, I gave her a high five and thanked her for giving me the push I needed.

I hated the Plank but this was the obstacle that made me realize why I love this race so much. I was scared to death on Sunday because I knew how it felt on Saturday. I actually convinced myself on Saturday night that I wouldn't do this obstacle Sunday morning... but I did it because a real Tough Mudder doesn't give up because of fear. I told Justin another teammate of mine that if I didn't jump to push me off yet again. We got to the top and I froze. He was about to push me when I told him I needed to do this alone. So I did, I jumped! Screamed like a baby the whole way down but I completed the obstacle alone and that made me feel like I would be able to complete the rest of the race with no problem.

As we continued on, we started seeing people cramping up. Some looked as if they could die because of the cold and some were trying their hardest to continue on. This is another reason I love this race. Every single person supports one another. There is no I in this race. You see someone down, you race over to help them get back up. You stretch the guy out who is having killer leg cramps and you pray for the ones that are pulled off the course. If the world could function like a Tough Mudder race this world would be amazing. People helping each other out no matter what age, race or gender. It is bad ass I tell you and you will never know how it feels unless you go run one of these races.

The next obstacle that was new to me was Dirty Ballerina. This obstacle was mud hills but in between each hill was trenches of water. You had to jump in the water that was shoulder deep to get up the little stoney, muddy hill. This obstacle took teamwork, true tough mudder magic! You lift your hand up and someone was always there to support you. Then you turn around and support the next person. I had to stop halfway to put on my gloves since the hills were ripping up my hands. This was hard work and it felt like the obstacle would go on forever. Once we finished the Dirty Ballerina we regrouped. Gave each other the encouragement to continue, laughed and moved forward.

We did Boa Constritor, Devil's Beard and Kiss the Mud. The next obstacle that we all felt was challenging was the Electric Eel. This obstacle got me 10 times in Phoenix so I was very worried about it. On Saturday there was no water, which was a blessing. I didn't get shocked. But Sunday was a completely different story. There was a ton of water. As I army crawled under live wires, I stared to question my sanity. I got shocked 4 times. Getting shocked doesn't feel good by the way, especially when you are in water.

Next came the funky monkey, the adult monkey bars. Tough Mudder put barb wire all around it so there was no way I could climb on top of the bars this time. My hands were so numb there was no use to trying. So I just jumped in the water and swam to the other side. No one on our team made it across. I am happy to say that on Sunday I did make it a few bars before I fell into the cold ass water.

We came across another set of walls. In the Tough Mudder race there is no ropes to help you get across. You have to rely on one another to get to the top. The walls are 15 foot high and there were two sets of them. For me I had to have two guys support me and push my feet up so my hands could grasp the top. Some guys could get over without support, but most had to lend a hand. It is really hard to trust someone you don't know but in this race you know your fellow mudder would never drop you.

Hanging Tough was up next. This obstacle is impossible. You have to swing from one Olympic style ring to the other. I would say there is maybe 10 rings? Saturday I hung on one forever and just fell straight into the water. Sunday I made it across two rings. I consider that a huge success since I feel like my upper body is very weak. Phil made it across and a few others from our team did so too. My goal for the next race is to get across four, if this obstacle is there!

Log Jammer was next. This obstacle I love! You go over a log, then under, then over... repeat. There is barb wire everywhere, stones on the ground and nothing to really grip when you go over. I love that it makes my heart race and my muscles get angry. I hope this obstacle is at every single race I go to this year. Sure it is easy but I love it no matter what. At this time in the race some of our teammates were dealing with cramps and had no energy left in them ... this obstacle didn't let them forget that the cramps were there I am sure of it.

We high fived each other, knowing the end was near. We still had to complete 1.5 miles to get our lovely orange headband. Not only that we had two extremely hard obstacles to get over Mount Everest and Electric Shock Therapy.

We got to the half pipe, or better known as Everest, which requires you to run full speed to make it to the top of a 20 foot half pipe. This obstacle requires faith in your teammates. You also have to have something deep in you to want to get to the top. It is not easy because it is super slippery with all the mud from our feet.

I had to dig deep if I wanted to make it to the top. I took off running; praying I would make it on the first try. I leaped into the air and grabbed the hands of two men. I yelled "please don't let go!" They got me to the top in one try! I was pumped and excited that I made it to the top with no problem at all. We all made it to the top! Sunday it took me two attempts to get to the top but again I made it up successfully without cutting up my legs or breaking my arm.

.5 miles to go. The last obstacle is one most fear the most...Electric Shock therapy. You have to try to run threw 10,000 volts of live wires. I knew from Phoenix that you will get shocked. So plow as fast as you can to get to the other side. I was so happy to see that Saturday the wires were all tangled and I could easily walk to the other side. This was not the case on Sunday. Justin and Brian went first Sunday and made it across in one piece. I knew I had to go but was worried because I didn't know really how to complete this obstacle without getting shocked. My teammate Bill told me to go ahead of him so he could get me running on film. I took a big deep breath in and took off as fast as I could. I was not even three feet in when I fell flat on my face. The shock took me down and hard. I tried to get up but the wires kept shocking me. I could hear the announcer Shawn saying you have to get up or you will keep getting shocked. I wanted to yell I am freaking trying. Finally, I told myself you can stay here all day and continue to feel this pain or you push yourself to get up and run the remaining 7 feet. I got up and bolted ahead getting shocked a few more times.. but I made it!

I was crowned not just one but two orange Tough Mudder crowns (headbands). On Saturday I felt so happy that all 18 of us made it without dying. Sunday when I was crowned I felt like I was unstoppable. I got my free beer and celebrated with my team on both days.

In the end everyone made it both days. The funny thing is about this race is that I didn't even know my team. We all found each other on facebook and met up the morning of the race. These people are not just facebook friends to me, they are now part of my Tough Mudder family. They were with me at my worst and was there to push me forward when at times I wanted to quit.

This race just does something to me. It does make me feel like I am unstoppable and that I am a true bad ass.. but it also does something much more. It makes me realize that it is okay to trust people, to let your guard down, smile, have fun and enjoy the obstacles that might stand in your way. It makes me see that life will never be easy and it is full of messy screwed up obstacles. You have the power to push yourself over the edge, to jump over the obstacles and to say screw you world I will do this my way. It might take a team to help you over some obstacles and it might take you reaching out your hand to someone you don't know. But I do know that obstacles are nothing when you believe you are worth it and that you can do it. We all can do amazing things and if it takes running 11.5 miles around 26 obstacles in mud and ice to understand that then so be it.

So I ask you this.. how can you feel like an ultimate bad ass? It might not be a Tough Mudder race or any race for that matter...All I can say it is worth trying to find that ultimate bad ass in you... it is worth stepping off the plank realizing that fear is just in your head. Challenge yourself! Make yourself see that you too can be unstoppable.... If you want a real challenge join me in my next Tough Mudder. I promise you that you will not regret doing it and you might even find yourself along the way.

Big thanks to my Tough Mudder team. Without you I wouldn't have been able to complete two races. Bill and Justin you two are bad ass! I love that we together were able to complete the course two days in a row. Without your support I would have fallen short on Sunday.

I wish every day could be a Tough Mudder day.....

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