Tough Mudder and My Glass Case of Emotion

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!

Tough Mudder with CP
We were in elementary school together!

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:

Walk the Plank

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.

Tough Mudder sucks

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.

Tough Mudder with help

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.

Tough Mudder walls 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!

arctic20enema203

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:

Mt. Everest 2
Taking a run up a wall! (a few times!)

Mt. Everest conquered I finally did it on the 4th or 5th attempt. It was crazy hard.

Tough Mudder Mt. Everest

And it was crazy fun.

Tough Mudder

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:

 

The Headband is mine

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…

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Fear. Again.

Apparently I am not getting the message.

I am of the opinion that we learn lessons in life. Situations will recur in life until the lesson is absorbed. Sometimes I think it’s my job to learn things the hard way. Or at least the delayed way.

I recently took my group exercise certification tests and passed. My first thought after I’d completed the exams: “Oh my gosh. I so should have done this sooner.”  I had built up the test as something so scary and so huge that I just sort of became paralyzed. I wasn’t ready, I hadn’t studied enough, could I really do this? Put bluntly: fear of failure.

I literally wanted to shake myself, “WHY?!” I know this in my head. Not that failure never happens, but when I do my best, put myself out there, and take a risk – it rarely comes back without reward of some kind. So why do we still fear when we know the worst-case scenario isn’t all that Earth-shattering? I would like the lesson to be learned. Worst case scenarios and the possibility of failure are still present, sure. But isn’t that the definition of courage – to press on even in the presence of fear?

Tough Mudder is this weekend, and yeah, I’m skerred. But this is a legitimate fear. C’mon – they are going to electrocute me, dunk me in an ice bath, slog me through mud and barbed wire, make me jump over fire and throw me into mud ponds from 20 feet in the air. Perhaps I should be more frightened of my lack of sanity than of the race itself….seriously. I’m doing this for an orange headband.

Joking aside, I will finish. There will be amazing endorphin highs, camaraderie, and all kinds of goodies just waiting for me to experience.  And I’ll have some great muddy, falling, scratched up, scared stories to share.

And I can’t wait. Nothing like a little fear to know you’re alive, right?!

(Thanks, for the reminder, Kai!)

Dash Recap: A Day in the Life of a Warrior

Ahh, Warrior Dash day! I love the energy of race day! It’s just fun getting out there with other folks to play!

On the way down to the “battleground”, I stopped at a Starbucks to get some coffee and one of those spinach feta egg white wraps. (I love them!) I then had to stop at REI to check out their triathlon suits, as I will be needing one in a few weeks! I had a nice conversation with the lady helping me and then I was on my way. I decided that since I live nowhere near a Nordstrom, I should probably stop to check things out before the race. After perusing the Anniversary Sale, I picked up a couple of shirts and headed to the counter.

I have never received bad service at Nordstrom. But today was just a bit off. The person ringing me up wouldn’t look directly at me, was a bit curt, and seemed to want to be done with the transaction. “It was pretty busy with the sale,” I thought as I made my way to the car. Getting in, I looked in the rear view mirror and was suddenly horrified. I had the biggest spinach leaf in my tooth!

Similar to this:

spinach

I have come to the conclusion that despite my best efforts – I will never be cool. Nordstrom is great, I love their clothing, but I definitely fit in better with mud and sweat-soaked peeps conquering obstacles and pushing past comfort zones.

Whatever. Cool is overrated. Down to the dash!

The camaraderie at these events is palpable. It really is so much fun! When you arrive, you see the warriors all clean waiting to run, and then the muddy ones that have already completed their race. You can tell they’ve done it by their swagger. A “Yeah, I did the Dash” strut. (Think John Travolta a la Saturday Night Fever, but with mud and sweat instead of chest hair and bell bottoms.)

They changed up the obstacles a bit this year, but still included lots of mud, barbed wire, and fire jumping. There is one obstacle I call the “‘Get over that wall Seagar!’ wall”. (As in Louis Gossett, Jr. yelling at a flight school candidate to get over the rope wall. Yes, most of my military references are from Hollywood.) I take a running jump, grab the rope and walk the wall. In my head Louis is yelling at me to get over that wall. Have I mentioned I’m not the biggest fan of heights? Well, I got to the top and was okay, but there were people next to me so I sat straddling the top waiting for my opportunity swing my leg over to rope climb back down the other side, you know, without giving anyone a swift kick to the head. I must’ve looked panicky because two guys came up the wall, one in front of me, one behind, and exuberantly patted me on the back and said, “C’mon girl, we got you! Swing that leg over!” Then we all climbed down simultaneously – high fives at the bottom and off we went! That’s just how it is at the Dash – everyone helps everyone and we’re all there to have a good time. And I LOVE it!

And then I saw others approach obstacles and not even try, but just decide to walk around. “Nah, forget that. I’m walking around.” Not trying. I guess you could say they “did the dash”, but do you really do something when you half-ass it? I know my nature and I knew right then I would do EVERY obstacle. I am not a quitter.

Try. Get dirty. Get messy. Get into life!

CargoClimb_1

At the cargo climb obstacle (above), I saw a woman who looked to be between 60 and 70 years old shakily sitting on the top, unable to make herself climb down the other side. Her fellow warriors were at the bottom hollering up encouragement and trying to guide her down. “One step down!” “You can do this!”. Ever so slowly she moved her quaking legs down each rope to the ground. Then immediately she covered her face with her mud-caked hands. She was crying. Probably from relief, but hollered an over-joyed, “I did it!” through her tears.

“I did it!”

At the top, we all clapped and wiped away the sweat that was suddenly leaking out of all of our eyes. Conquering fear is universal. Watching someone be brave in their life is stunning to behold.

Then there were monkey bars. Monkey bars about 10 feet over a giant mud pond. (This, other than the electrocution, is what I’m the most nervous about for the Tough Mudder race in October.) Monkey bars represent upper body strength – which is not my strength. I watched as others grab the first few bars, get into the middle, lose their grip and then plunge into that cold muddy water. (Even a few really buff dudes!)

Then it was my turn.

I climbed up to the first bar and mentally started to figure out how I was going to plug my nose when I hit the water. I started to remember the people who didn’t even try, but walked around the obstacles. I gripped my first bar, and swung out to grab my second, then the next, and the next. I kept looking up at the bars and decided that I shouldn’t look down, but instead kept chanting, “I will NOT fall into the water!” “I WILL NOT fall into that water!” I made it to the other side and practically screamed, “I DID NOT FALL INTO THE WATER!” There wasn’t anyone around to celebrate with, so I high-fived myself and ran on to jump over the fire. (More of that “never being cool” thing.)

Whatever. I did the dang thing and didn’t fall into the water! That’s gonna carry me for weeks!

Tough Mudder – I’m getting ready for you!

tough-mudder-monkey-bars

Getting into life. Conquering fear. Being brave when life’s obstacles seem too challenging.

photo3

I WILL own one of these!

Bring it!

Warrior Dash

WOW. I had been looking forward to this event ever since everyone was signing up for it back in Hawaii. I would have done it there, but you know, the navy moved us and didn’t check with my racing schedule beforehand! Ha!

I did this race with my sister (with whom I have been working out with since moving back) and I have to say, it was AWESOME!! It was hot, muddy, filthy dirty fun and I can’t wait to do it again next year! Official race pictures aren’t up yet, but here are the few I took:

 This was on the bus ride from the parking area to the festival area….notice how squeaky clean we are!? Bwahhahahaha! That changed fast!
I found it funny that my “warrior cry” came out more like a Pirate’s “Arrrgh Matey!” I think I may be watching too much of Jake and the Neverland Pirates with my son!
And here are me, my sister, and my brother in law’s thumb! This was post shower! It was insane. The “shower”, if you could call it that, was a guy with a fire hose spraying us muddy warriors off in a cattle pen. It was ridiculous. And not effective as evidenced by the slop still hanging on my arm. I have to say, it was SO much fun, but my shower may never be the same!

Katie enjoying her turkey leg!! Luckily she shared with us! It was SO tasty!!! There is just something about gnawing on meat while wearing a viking helmet – it’s carnal and way fun!

And Sarah playing peek with the camera! 
The girls were both such troopers! It was a HOT day and lots of waiting and lines. SO much fun and I can’t wait until next year.
Oh, that reminds me. I won’t have to wait until next year. I signed up for a Tough Mudder in September. 
Oh. My. Check out their INSANE website! The video gives you an idea of what I’m in for….
I think this mud stuff just might be addicting.