Warning: A long recap coming. There are too many aspects to talk about.
As I was laying in bed last night trying to wind down while nursing my wounds I wrote this blog post in my head. You see trying to sleep even though I felt like I had been beaten senseless was impossible. Even on only 4 hours sleep the night before. I was overwhelmed with the experience I had. There aren't really any pictures since it would be ludicrous to take any sort of camera. I highly suggest you go check out the pictures of the Toronto event on the TM website HERE.
I wasn't supposed to do this race because of my clavicular dysfunction (HA, I love that term) injury. I quit running over 2 months ago because it was just too much pain. The only thing I've been able to do for exercise is cycling and the occasional escarpment stair intervals. Not to mention I'm moving all this week so I've been hauling crap and boxes and generally just aggravating my shoulder.
I signed up for Tough Mudder with my friend and her team not totally realizing what I was getting myself into. Well with me injured and her running a marathon the very next weekend, we both tried selling our bibs but to no avail since you have to show ID to register at the race. I found this out a week before the race. I had two options. Lose out on the hefty registration cost +$100, defer to next year at a cost of $30 or suck it up and do it. I'm sure most of you know me by now so there's no surprise that I did it.
The course route map
Off the TM website:
"Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world."
So let's get this straight... You're signing up to be dunked into a dumpster full of ice. Zapped with electricity at 10,000 volts, crawl through mud under barbed wire, thrown over walls and into mud pits, up and down ski hills, in cramped spaces surely to make even the non claustrophobic scared and get your a$$ handed to you on a platter for 10-12 miles. And thousands of people across the country are willingly signing up to to this?! It does take a certain kind of person though I didn't think I was one of them.
In order to get into the start corral the first obstacle is a wall. I climbed this wall (got pushed up and over it actually) and that was stupid. I immediately regretted it as my collar bone screamed back in horror. Okay, I can see how this is going to play out. They did a phenomenal job of psyching us out and pumping us up with the energy, music and power of the MC. I was getting shivers!
Then we took off. We were almost immediately faced with our first climb. I will say that I lost count how many times we were climbing up the ski hill. There was very little actual running involved in this race. We were either scaling UP the ski hill or tumbling down.
I had to opt out from most of the obstacles because they required hauling and launching yourself and others over walls, hanging from monkey bars or running full speed up a quarter pipe praying for someone to grab your hand. Most of the time I had my one arm glued to me which made doing everything else including running with one arm strenuous and annoying. If you go and watch the video on the TM website most of the obstacles are the same at every event so it's worthwhile to watch to see what we did. Unfortunately due to the fire ban in parts of Ontario there were no fire obstacles. I think they just replaced it with extra mud and maybe another hill to climb.
Of the obstacles I did partake in, the Arctic Enema and Electroshock Therapy were by far the most horrible. Those links take you to the official obstacle youtube videos which are totally worth watching! The arctic enema was only the 2nd obstacle so there was an entrée of "throw yourself into it" or crap your pants. This obstacle consisted of jumping into a huge dumpster filled with ice water that we couldn't see through because of mud and some eerie food colouring or something. We were then faced with a wall that was too high to go over with barbed wire so we had to submerge ourselves and go under the wall and come up the other side. I couldn't breathe. The ice cold water shocked my body and I almost took a big gulp of water. Getting out wasn't any easier. I was looking at my legs and telling them to crawl down the other side but they weren't moving. Probably because THEY WERE FROZEN!
The event was phenomenally organized. I was SO impressed. Most well organized event I've ever been to. I liked that you weren't overwhelmed with "safety". I mean, there were organizers and first aid watching everywhere but nobody was treating us like kids as you often get at these things. Then again, we are choosing to torture ourselves so there has to be some element of stupid responsibility on ourselves. Plus we did sign a 2 page waiver which probably stated (as if I actually read it) that we were responsible for everything including death. There were participants breaking bones, dislocating shoulders, suffering concussions and a lot worse.
I was there with a team of 5 other people who I didn't know until that day. They were all really great and amazing to be with. I was by far the weakest link. They waited for me at the top of hills and through obstacles I struggled with. They waited for me to catch up running with one arm. They were AWESOME.
One of the incredible things about this event was the camaraderie of all the participants. I mean seriously. Hundreds of people helping hundreds others. Once you face an obstacle you automatically help whoever is around you whether they are team mates or not and everybody else follows suit. No.Matter.What. At one point I was trying to crawl out of a slippery pipe half submerged in muddy water and it just wasn't happening. The guy on the other end stuck his hand down as far as he could and said, "just reach my hand, it's all you have to do" while the guy behind me pushed my feet. It sounds like war which thankfully it was not. The point is, even though it's a small little challenge, everybody comes together. No one gets left behind even if they're strangers. Mind you the dude behind me was probably his friend he was waiting for and well, I happened to be in the friend sandwich. The point is still the same.
Lindsay! I didn't know where else to shove gels and my meter while crawling around in mud and swimming through nasty brown ponds. My meter got nestled into a small Otter Box which worked like a charm. I probably could have gone without the meter and just shoved gels in my bra but I also had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was afraid I might lose those gels.
Thanks to a reliable Otter Box
The last obstacle, "Electroshock Therapy" was thoroughly awful. A field of innocent dangling wires that held 10,000 volts of electricity? I thought that was a joke. I wish I took a video of other people going through it so you could see. There were too many wires too close together to avoid. It was the end of the race. The finish line was on the other side. Initially I had said I wasn't doing it after a couple friendly D-folks told me not to (with my insulin pump). I skipped the other obstacle with live wires. However, emotions got the better of me and my stubborn side kicked in. I basically said "to hell with it" went through it with my team, insulin pump and all. I thought I would just hunker in behind someone but that failed, miserably. Also, I was thinking, "how bad could it really be?" referring to my statement above about "safety".
Well let me tell you, I got shocked 4 times and it terrified me. You are running through mud pits so there's an intentional tripping hazard.
It went like this: (I'm sorry but the "F" word is all that came out of my mouth)
*ZAAP* then I screamed "F@*K!" *ZAAP, "F@*K! *ZAAP*, "F@*K" and the last one? *ZAAP* and I went down into the mud almost unable to move as I rolled and crawled away, with my knee bleeding. Each zap knocked the breath out of me and stopped me. I stood up holding my chest. I couldn't breath and tears were welling up in my eyes. That was horrible. One of the medics ran over asking why I was holding my chest. I pulled out my insulin pump, the screen was fine so I told him I was just in shock. I am still not sure if I am fine today, I'll just say that. But the pump? seems to be A-OK!
How's that for you Medtronic?
Diabetes devices took a beating. Mud, water, electric shock? Far more hardcore than metal detectors and body scanners at the airport (of which I go through both). I was nervous and risked a lot taking my expensive medical devices into the unknown but what else was I to do? I surely proved that it put up with me.
It was not without it's difficulties though. I am in so much pain. My shoulder is brutal and I hurt in places I didn't even know existed. It really does feel like I went through a human sized pin ball machine. It hurt lifting my coffee to my mouth. I'm glad all I ended up with was sore muscles and scrapes. People get seriously hurt doing TM events.
Overall, it was pretty miserable! (I say that with a smile). Not gonna lie. Climbing up a black diamond ski hill was like a battle field. People falling over. People crawling and complaining and swearing. I saw muscle cramps and tears and friends trying to carry friends. Surprisingly I saw no hurling. Black diamond ski hills are not meant for hiking up. I'm glad I did it even if it wasn't good for my shoulder. I met a great group of strangers who quickly became my team mates. I witnessed stuff I'd never see any where else. It was hard. It was really hard for someone who hasn't even run in 2 months never mind not doing any other sort of training either. Totally unprepared for this!
The "after" picture. Thanks again Ashley!
In a nutshell? I can't wait to do it again next year.
Also? If you ever get the chance to try it, don't pass up the opportunity! It's less about the macho and more about the team work and camaraderie. Just be careful and maybe wear long pants or something.
This was awesome. I have to admit I felt like an animal in a car wash. The dudes on the side were scrubbing people down with brushes on sticks. Those things hanging? More scrubbers. It did the trick though.
Replacing my infusion set on the school bus ride back to the parking lot.
I call these the "day-after-tough-mudder" knees. They look bad and they feel bad.