We have this thing in our house: we love Will Ferrell. This scene above from the movie Anchorman has become a reminder to laugh when things get overwhelming. As I sat lost in thought about my new swim-bike-run sticker getting ready for Tough Mudder this weekend, my husband looked over at me and asked, “Are you in a glass case of emotion?!” (This is of course belted out in his best Ron Burgundy voice.) Yes, I was. And I still am.
Tough Mudder is like nothing else. It really is no joke. Last year I signed up for this race event when it came through Seattle, but due to illness and hubby being deployed, I just couldn’t do it. I am certain I made the right decision to delay. I never would have survived. I had no team, and a team is indeed what you need. I have mixed feelings about this race. There are so many things I loved about it! I reconnected with a childhood friend for this one!
11+ miles of obstacles and muddy fun. Tough Mudder comes complete with electro shock therapy, mud, muddy water, ice baths, and heights. Ah, the heights. (No, sadly I’m not referring to the ill-fated early 90’s sitcom spin-off.) Heights as in serious alto phobia – the irrational fear of heights. I can get on a plane. I can climb up a few steps on a ladder. I have a visceral reaction to carnival rides. I literally wanted to vomit, cry, and poop my pants when faced with this:
The “Walk the Plank” obstacle is a 20 ft plunge into a mud pond. I can swim. I have no problem with water. I can even dive. It’s the free fall drop that I can’t make myself do. Not that I didn’t try. Oh, my did I try. I felt like hot acid was being poured into my gut.
Fear is not a good look. I was wrestling with myself trying to force myself to just do the damn thing. I really wanted to be the one to face this fear and come up through the other side.
The first aid dude even came up to jump it with me. He was rooting for me. They all were. Sadly, I just couldn’t do it. (I’m literally trying not to puke on this guy.) I shame-walked back down and met up with the rest of the team and on we went. Black wetsuit dude stopped me and gave me the biggest muddy bear hug and whispered in my ear, “Girl, you got up there and tried. It ain’t no joke facing fear. It’s tough. You did good. There is no shame in that.”
And as I sit here in the coffee shop relieving it, I’m wiping away the tears of frustration that I just couldn’t do it. And yes, I’m in my glass case of emotion thinking about the graciousness of that guy and how he really didn’t have to say anything to me at all. He could have said nothing. I’m so glad he spoke up. As I ran the next leg wiping away wet anger spewing from my eyes, I knew I had two choices. I could either cry and bitch in my head for the remaining 10 or so miles and mentally beat myself up and have a miserable time, or I could wipe away the hot sting and do my damnedest to get through every other obstacle to the best of my ability.
I chose the latter.
That’s me climbing over walls! With the assistance of a kick ass team – I climbed over walls, rocks, slid down a 60ft mud hill, and experienced Arctic Enema. That was a thrill like no other!
Obviously, this is not me, but you get the idea. It’s a double-length dumpster that you jump into on one side, have to submerge completely to get to the other side, and when you come up, you realize that it’s SOLID ICE. Before your body is completely numb, you have to heave your body out. It’s insane. I loved it. I kind of wanted to do it again. There were other obstacles – climbing through drains filled with muddy water, icy floats on your back clinging to chain link fence where only your face peeks out to breath.
Even Mt. Everest:
I finally did it on the 4th or 5th attempt. It was crazy hard.
And it was crazy fun.
I actually didn’t get shocked. I strategized my movements and slithered through! Kind of feel like I cheated. But apparently, the Tough Mudder people didn’t think so:
Cause I got my orange headband!
Band in hand, I went off to retrieve my bag and catch up with my family. Stopped twice by different volunteers, they each came up to ask if I was the one that couldn’t Walk the Plank. I affirmed that it was me. Steeling myself for the pity, I looked up to discover myself in another hug, and a hearty clap on the back. I was told I was awesome despite the lack of a jump. “Even people who do jump can’t finish this race. You done good, kid.”
And you know what? There’s always next year…