Posted on October 4, 2012 by Beth Yost
So, it’s a few days after we finished Tough Mudder, considered by many to be one of — if not the — toughest events on the adventure race circuit. The good news: We finished, and not only that, we finished without 1) losing any teeth 2) crapping ourselves. (That was the primary goal of Blane’s teammate Darren, of the awesome Crazy-Ass Honey Badgers, and upon hearing it, Blane decided it was indeed a good objective for her, too.)
The bad news: Blane’s already gimpy knee has a new hitch, Beth is so covered in bluish-purple bruises she could very well pass for a Smurf for Halloween, and we both realize we will never be winning any arm-wrestling contests any time soon.
In other words, Tough Mudder was one Tough Mudder for both of us (Blane’s event was in NorCal, Beth’s in Washington), and something we’re pretty freaking proud we can say we completed. And, with that, we present our first-ever Girls Who Get Around Q&A! Yippee!
If you do have questions about Tough Mudder that we haven’t covered here, please let us know in the comments below or on good ‘ole Facebook. Now, back to icing our still-tender wounds.
What was the worst obstacle for you?
Beth: Definitely the electric shock therapy. The whole race I looked forward to the sweet glory of the finish line — until I actually got to it. It was the final obstacle, where everyone gathers to watch the exhausted runners navigate our way through 1,000 wires, many charged with up to 10,000 volts of electricity. It hurt more than I thought, and I got shocked about four times. You know how it looks when a cartoon character gets electrocuted? That’s exactly how it feels for a paralyzing split second. I swear I felt my brain buzz once. And by the way, there are two electroshock obstacles. I just didn’t get shocked as badly at the first.
Blane: Ditto. I was dreading this mo-fo for weeks beforehand, and when it came to the first shock obstacle, which was crawling through the mud under charged wires [link to video below] I literally started crying. I almost chickened out. But watching my brother get through it, and then a couple of my far braver teammates, and then hearing Chris, my ever-supportive husband, say, “If you don’t do this, babe, you’re not going to be able to live with yourself,” I just plowed through. It hurt, for sure. But the last mad dash through those charged wires, over those muddy bumps, was even worse. I got zapped on the shoulder and it literally took me down into the mud. Make no mistake: It sucked. But I promise, if I can do it, with my abysmally low pain threshold, you can, too.
And your favorite obstacle?
Beth: I actually really enjoyed a lot of the obstacles, but I’d have to say Spider’s Web was my favorite. About 15 in the air, a steel cable is stretched between two trees with cargo net draped over it that reaches the ground. We had to climb the wobbly net, switch to the other side and climb down. I enjoy climbing things, but the 13-foot walls were tough for me because I didn’t have the upper body strength to get to the top without help. The web just took patience and stability, which I can do. I was also able to help others by holding the net tight at the bottom, and it felt nice to be able to be on the giving end for once as a smaller female participant.
Blane: That obstacle sounds awesome — wish we would have had that! I really enjoyed most of the obstacles, too, but I’d say my favorite was probably the one where we had to jump off the 15-foot (or so?) platform into that muddy cesspool. That thing was freaking higher than the audience at a Phish concert, so nasty as that water was, I was happy to hit it. I also really enjoyed Everest — that formidable-looking half-pipe contraption that, for us, was the next-to-last obstacle. It took me two tries, but I made it to the top. And the super muddy obstacles were a blast, too.
If you could change one thing about the event, what would it be?
Beth: Overall, I thought the course was great: there were a variety of obstacles and they were spread out nicely. My only complaint is the bottlenecks in certain areas of the trail. I suppose it’s a nice opportunity to catch a breather, but we were there to run, and the obstacles already offer a nice cardio break, so that was kind of annoying.
Blane: For me, it was that there were far too many long, boring stretches up and down ridiculously steep hills. I was ready and prepared to run, a lot, and I just felt like there was far too much of the course that was stretched out over hills that were impossible to run because they were so steep. Our team ran as much as we could, and several of us had the feeling that the event organizers stretched the course out so long instead of adding more obstacles, and thus were able to pack in more participants. I felt like the event would have been far more exciting and challenging with more obstacles and the running factor more about running instead of a hot, dusty hike.
Would you do it again?
Beth: Hmm, tough question. I’m not sure my knees would want me too, but if friends were doing it and wanted me on the team, it would be a struggle to say no. I have that Don’t-Want-to-Miss-Anything syndrome. It’d be tough to not over-think that last obstacle though. Just knowing it’s there is probably the worst part: the dreaded anticipation of electroshock therapy.
Blane: I’d love to do it with Chris, my husband, since he was recovering from shoulder surgery and unable to participate this go-round. But he was hands-down the best spectator ever — he took awesome pics and videos of us, and cheered us on the whole way. And my brother, whose nonchalant athletic prowess makes me so freaking jealous and proud of him at the same time, has already said he wants to do another one. So, who knows?
Would you train for it differently if you did it again?
Beth: Yes. I trained more on endurance for the 11-mile run, and less on strength. I would have been better off to just make sure I could run 3 miles without stopping and focus the rest of my energy on strengthening my upper body.
Blane: I’ve always been a fairly strong runner, and going in, I knew my upper body strength was lacking. I was right. I absolutely sucked at the monkey bars, the rings, anything that involved pulling myself up and over. Definitely an incentive to work on the pull-ups.
Beth: It’s a close call between a number of bruises cascading down my right thigh or the big one on my right tricep. Not sure how I got the ones on my thigh, but I’m certain I got the one on my arm from holding myself at the top of the A-walls until I could lift myself up, get my legs over, hang, and drop. We had to do that three times.
Blane: I’ve got some doozies myself, most of which I have no idea how I got, but I’d say my worst injury is my left knee, which I had ACL surgery on several years back, and, sadly, will never quite be the same. I went for my first run today since the event and let’s just say I won’t be winning any races anytime soon.
Glad you did it?
Beth: Definitely. It’s not my typical challenge, since it’s a man-made course/event, so it can feel a little contrived. But I like the message. It’s a team exercise. It’s not a race, it’s an event. You start together, you help each other, you finish together. Some folks are better than others, and that’s obvious, but I think the positive mentality encourages people to try harder because they aren’t as afraid to fail. No one cares. It’s hard. Just try. It brings out the best in everyone.
Blane: Ditto. I have my orange headband hanging over my desk, and it makes me smile every time I see it.
Got any more questions about Tough Mudder that we didn’t cover? Ask away in the comments below.
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