My old college friend Brian and I were talking after we completed Urban Mudder with our respective teams. We were pretty pumped up, and already in good shape so we thought it would be a brilliant idea to sign up for the Tough Mudder Tri-State event in New Jersey.
With it being four months away we were already talking about our what our work out regiment should look like. I really wanted to add cardio/marathon style running to mine as I struggled severely during Urban Mudder’s course which was half the length as Tough Mudder.
All of a sudden I get a text from Brian questioning me about logistics with Tough Mudder… At first I’m like… huh? Then I looked at the calendar and went “oh shit”. It was just barely over a week away and I was NOT prepared! In fact, not only was I not training for Tough Mudder, I wasn’t training period! Work became increasingly demanding and I spent some time in Chicago for friend’s wedding, and the next thing I know four months flew by. I had two training sessions with my trainer that week and it was a struggle. I went down in almost all my weights and my cardio… I couldn’t even tell you the last time I ran a mile – let alone 10 miles!! Actually… I never ran 10 miles in one shot, I’d always get way too bored and stop around 2 miles…
I warn him that I am completely out of shape, and he gives me some comfort saying that he hasn’t really done any training either. Go us. Unfortunately being the Virgo that I am… I absolutely hate going into something feeling unprepared, so poor Brian had to endure listening to me bitch and whine about how I was going to die. I really thought that the underwire in my bra would send me to my doom in the Electroshock Therapy obstacle. It also did not help that “A Prayer For The Dying” by Seal was playing when I got in my car the morning of the event to meet up with Brian.
The one positive was that I had a secret weapon this event: My inhaler!
So here’s our walk through of the Tough Mudder Tri-State event (Course map below):
THE WARM UP:
Getting ready to enter the warm up area, I need to pee and run to bathrooms. Brian downs a C4 energy drink they are giving out to the participants. We both start doing our own stretches. I know that we’re about to do more once we enter the warm up area, but my hips need some special attention. I need to pee again. Brian figures he might as well go himself since he just had the energy drink. We get back, I decided to quickly finish an energy drink and we entered the warm up area. They played “The Man” by Aloe Blacc, which reminded me of [professional bull rider] Matt Triplett and got me pumped up, because Matt’s a badass and I wanted to be a bad ass too, at least just for today. Then came the motivational speech from the “Mirror Man” and the National Anthem. Next thing you know you’re running and high fiving people.
I think it was about stride number seven when I turned to Brian and proceeded to tell him that I’m already over the running part, and asked if we were done.
I was serious.
Uh oh, I have to pee again. And the people next to us have to pee, and the girl that just ran past us is asking people on the side lines where the bathrooms are… Screw the obstacles, we all just wanted to get to a toilet! We veer off course to get to the port-a-potties where I discover – no toilet paper. As if port-a-potties aren’t bad enough… Brian spots some rogue ones a little further up. Mission accomplished. We run some more.
OBSTACLE #1: SKIDMARKED
Skidmarked is basically a slanted wall about an inch and a half thick that you need to climb over, preferably with the help of your teammates and some nice mudders around you. This was the start of Brian showing off his spider monkey skills. With a small running start, he was up and over with no problem. Some guys were approaching and gave me a boost. Up and over I go! While we’re on top, we reach over to help pull any mudders that were behind up. We help this group of people, but the last girl left could not get over without the help of someone booster her up from the other side. Brian hops down and runs back to the front of the obstacle and helps her up. At this point, I got down and walked over around the side and Brian jumps up and pulls himself over the wall a second time… I look at him and say:
“Why didn’t you just walk around… you already did this one?”
Brian stares at me for a seconds and says “it actually didn’t even cross my mind…”
I yell at him to conserve his energy… He tells me he’s fine. In the meantime I hate life again because completing an obstacle means I have to start running. That was until I remembered what the next obstacle was….
OBSTACLE #2: POLE DANCER
Crap. There were some obstacles that I was not looking forward to, such as The Liberator and of course the Electroshock. But this was the obstacle I really questioned if I had the strength to do it. They are parallel bars that angle up, and then back down. They’re also supposedly not sturdy. Brian made it through relatively with ease, and I had decent momentum in the beginning until I got to the top. I think I mentally questioned my ability and eventually my left arm gave way and that was it. Pole Dancer… I do not like you….
OBSTACLE #3: BALE BONDS
I liked this one… it was just jumping over bales of hay… which brought back fond memories of my bull riding days.
OBSTACLE #4: PRAIRIE DOG
This obstacle was a black plastic pipe/tube that you have to go down head first into muddy water. This one really wasn’t bad at all. Brian and I go down at the same time. We get out and I look down and immediately throw my hands up in the and say “HOW does it look like I peed my pants” I’m still really not sure how I ONLY managed to get wet in that area. Brian laughs at me. We start running again.
OBSTACLE #5: JUST THE TIP
This is a vertical wall with some pieces on it for our hands and feet to walk along it to the other side. I look at it and say… wait what about the middle. Brian tells me you just walk across it. I repeat, ‘but what about the middle?’ He tells me again, ‘you just go across’… So we start on our walls with our backs facing each other. All of a sudden I hear… “Oh… this is what you meant…” There was no place to put your feet. We get through it just fine, and just in time for my hip to start to lock up at the very end. More running.
OBSTACLE #6: KISS OF MUD 2.0
The army crawl in the mud under barb wire. I joke about how my boobs are not going let me fit. We start going through, at the end I decided to mess around and roll off the last haystack. Apparently it was so exciting the guy after me decided to try it too. I was a bit muddy after this obstacle. This made my happy and also detracted from the poorly placed wet spot I had.
OBSTACLE #7: BALLS OUT
A long slanted wall with 6-8 ropes hanging from the top. You had to make it across the wall swinging from rope to rope. Brian went first and moved through it like it was nobody’s business. But as he was approaching the end, I saw that the person who went before him, left the very last rope hanging off the backside of the wall. Like a trooper, Brian refused to let go until he got the rope back in place – which was no easy task. My turn… I get up and get moving, just focusing on being able to grab the next rope. I reach the end of the wall giving Brian a high five. This one was my favorite challenge by far!
OBSTACLE #8: BERLIN WALLS
Two tall vertical walls… I think Brian got up these himself too (like serious?! Is he a superhero in disguise?!) With the help of some awesome people (Bri included) I got over them. After jumping down from the second wall, I felt something in my hip and needed to stretch it out or give it a second to go back to normal. After walking a minute or two I was ready to go again – back to running!
OBSTACLE #9: CRYBABY
The “tear gas” test! Brian and I are standing looking at the beginning of the obstacle. I don’t think either of us were thrilled that we had to put our head in water to start. We get ready and go – I duck my head in the water and wipe my eyes when I come up to a smoke filled tent that I need to crawl through. I remember reading two tips:
- Remember to breathe
- Stay low – better visibility
So we’re in the tent thing crawling side by side, but you can barely see three inches in front of you. I hear Brian’s screaming “I can’t see!” and I am screaming “I can’t breathe!!”
We get out and I start coughing. We all comment on how minty it was. I’m assuming that it was menthol.
OBSTACLE #10: BEACHED WHALE
We approach this obstacle, which I would describe it as a giant blow up hot dog that you have to get over to the other side. I see a rope or two hanging on one end and Brian points out these “grips” on the other end. That’s when someone informs us that ‘they’re not grips.. it’s where the ropes were once attached to…’ We help a few people over first before Brian gets up on top, and reaches out to me. I make it up super easy. We help a few more people and make friends with these two other mudders – another guy/chick duo. We were talking about the warrior carry which was next and made the agreement that we’d split up guys & girls… since there was definitely NO way this other chick would be able to carry the guy. In fact when Brian mentioned the idea, I said to myself… you realize you’re going to have to carry this big dude now…
Ok… back to running…
OBSTACLE #11: WARRIOR CARRY
So we reach the warrior carry, and I think the guy grabs Brian first. At this point I’m more concerned about me breaking this tiny, super skinny girl’s back. I know that we would not be able to do the proper warrior carry, so I just got on piggy back style… She struggled. Big time. (damn my fat ass!!) We were approaching the switching point, and I was like ‘this is fine we can switch here’. She squatted down a little lower – still holding onto my legs and stood up – causing me to fall to the ground on my back. She just dropped me! She totally just dropped me!!! I heard a mudder behind me rush over ready to help saying ‘OH MY G-D!!!! ARE YOU OK?!’. Of course I was fine, and I grabbed this chick and jogged to the other side. The photographer even mentioned that I was ‘haulin’ it’
OBSTACLE #12: FUNKY MONKEY 2.0
Oh Funky Monkey… how funky you are. Next.
Ok… Ok…… this was one obstacle I couldn’t do… I don’t know what it was but my hands slipped right off the monkey bars as if someone greased them… maybe they were wet from someone before I don’t know… but it didn’t end well at the start of it. I also didn’t realize how deep the water was underneath! Brian went after me and ALMOST HAD IT… he got to the swing part, it was going from the swing to the long pipe.. he got one hand on it and then down he went too. I think we’re both still mad about that one… Although I think I’m madder now than I was at the time.
OBSTACLE #13: DEVIL’S BEARD
Super easy… Pretty much the fastest way to do it was to do bear crawls as fast as you could with you butt as high in the air and your head down.
OBSTACLE #14: ARCTIC ENEMA 2.0
Brian was stressing about Arctic Enema the way I was stressing about the Electroshock. We climb up to the top, where we slide down (between a chain-link fence, so you’re forced to go underwater) into a freezing ice bath complete with salt to lower the temperature even more and ice cubes. Both our bodies have the complete opposite reaction.
Brian: Hopped over the divider wall and out of the container just as fast as he got in it.
Me: Mentally, I’m already out of the container… physically I’m frozen staring at the divider I need to hop over to more ice water. I remember it being cold, but not THAT bad. I had already found myself in relatively cold water from previous challenges, but my body no longer wanted to function. Eventually I managed to get myself out.
Neither of us were able to feel the bottom of our feet for quite some time, which only made running that much more comfortable.. yay.
OBSTACLE #15: JERSEY JUGHANDLE
Silly obstacle where we carry a plastic tube partially filled with water over, under and through walls. We had this in Urban Mudder too… I found this to be the least exciting.
OBSTACLE #16: THE LIBERATOR
This was the other obstacle, like Pole Dancer that I was relatively concerned about… You had to climb this wall by putting pegs in these holes. There were notches in the wood for your feet, but they were pretty small. This was probable one of the few advantages I had being smaller than most participants. Brian goes up first. As I start to go, he tells me to push against the outer walls. BOOM. NAILED IT! As my dad would say ” so easssssssyyyyyy!”
OBSTACLE #17: EVEREST 2.0
Everest is basically half a half pipe. Brian and I watch for a few minutes as people start running and sliding down back down the half pipe in a failed attempt to get to the top. We watch as one guy gets a good running start and makes it up by himself. Holy Crap! How did he do that?! So I get ready… I spot my targets that I go to run to, and charge up the wall keeping my feet moving. Two big guys each grab a hand and I start to slip. Another guy tells me to give him my leg, so I kick it up to him. I am now being held up by three of my four limbs with my head facing the ground. I calmly say – “WHATEVER you guys do, don’t drop me… you can’t drop me now!” I did not want to head down head first! I got over and I start looking below for Brian. Where is he?! I turn around and he’s up at the top right next to me.
Me: What?! How did you get up here? Did you run up by yourself???
Freakin’ spider monkey I tell you!!! I don’t know how he does half this stuff! We help a bunch of people before moving on.
OBSTACLE #18: THE JUMP
This was the mystery obstacle where you jump down about 15 feet onto a crash pad. For some reason I’m always ready to go and then the second I look down I freeze. I joked with Bri that I have a tendency to always jump the wrong way every time… Sure enough I jump the exact way you are not supposed to, Brian makes fun of me for it. Fair enough…
OBSTACLE #19: ELECTROSHOCK & DEAD RINGER
ALMOST AT THE END… ALMOST… Just the most dreaded obstacle left… Seriously, who wants to voluntarily get shocked?! As you approach there are people [working there] asking if it was our first time (if you completed two Tough Mudders, you can skip the electroshock event). I tell the girl there that I lost my headband (the color symbolizes how many events you’ve done) And she’s about to let me go, but Brian calls me out on my lie. I go up to the guy with a microphone and start asking him all sorts of questions
“how many of the wires are live?”
“Why are there so many?”
“What’s the best path to run?”
Brian starts telling me to shut up and to just go and that I’m overthinking it. I can’t argue.. he’s right… but he wasn’t helping me with my delay tactic. He goes through, I hear him grunt a time or two. Nothing left for me to do but to just go… The guy with the mic counts me down. I start running through and I think I’m feeling something… Is this it? Am I being shocked right now? I got one on my butt that was a bit stronger, but honestly I didn’t really feel much of anything. Then I realized how thankful I was for my “Electroshock Therapy Acupuncture” experience, because that was way worse than this!!! Who would have thought that acupuncture would prepare you for Tough Mudder!
THE FINISH LINE:
We’ve been pushed, gassed, frozen, and shocked… and just had a little ways to go until we pass through the finish line. Brian’s calves are cramping from the drastic temperature changes, and I was having difficulty breathing from the Cry Baby obstacle since apparently it complete negated all effects of my inhaler. We’re trying to keep motivating each other to bitter end. (Although I think I was bitching that I was still running at this point). ANDDDD… we cross the finish line! Orange headbands were placed on our heads and it felt awesome!
It was a great experience, but one of the most important things about choosing to do these events, is making sure that you have a supportive partner/team. I’m proud that I was able to complete the course with a great, encouraging friend who has some spider monkey DNA. Watching him being able to do a chunk of the obstacles by himself was pretty awesome. Considering that neither of us actually trained or prepared for the event, I say that we did a pretty darn good job! And the fact that we ran a large portion of the course, is a mega huge accomplishment for myself! The lack of preparation really came out a day or two later when the soreness crept in.
I’m planning on doing the Tough Mudder in Texas next year, and I know that Brian is already planning to do some next year as well. What can we say.. we enjoy punishing ourselves!