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!

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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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Trepidation and Encouragement

On Tough Mudder eve, I’m feeling nervous. Like every new race, I’m always nervous. Anxiously reviewing the list of preparations, questioning whether there was enough training, enough sleep, enough nutrition….the list goes on and on.

I have never regretted trying new things. Ever. I may have been in pain, achey for days, occasionally disappointed, and sore in places I didn’t know existed – but never regret. This race, perhaps even more than the marathon, makes me VERY nervous.

On this race eve, as I pack and prepare and we head south, my husband comes in the with the mail and hands me an envelope. I open it, noting the return address from a fellow DumBell Fitness recruit. They left Hawaii before we did. She was always very motivating standing next to me during those grueling workouts.

I open it up and find this:

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On a day I can really use a boost, I get one. Big time. The fellow recruit that sent this to me had saved this sticker for me from the time we had had a conversation in the parking lot over 2 years ago. 

Ultimately, the only thing we take with us or leave behind is how we impact other people. I am so touched that she remembered, followed my races, and reached out to encourage me (and I’m sure many others along the way.)

That I may have impacted anyone else the way that she, and so many others have influenced and encouraged me, I will call myself very lucky indeed.

Thank you so much, Melissa. You have no idea how much I needed this today.

“Everyday try something that scares you. Push yourself beyond the limits you thought were impossible. Do not stay in your comfort zone, but learn to see what lies outside.”

A little advice for the one seeking the orange headband. . .

Love this ❤

Hangin' by a Thread

To my Aunt Lori who will be earning her very own orange headband this weekend.  .  .

Think of all the amazing athletic accomplishments of the last few years of your life– the dashes, the tri, the half’s, the marathon (and not to mention the fact that you are now a certified instructor) and you will realize before you even cross the starting line that you’ve got this little Mudder thing down no problem. F-E-A-R no longer exists in your vocabulary.

But in case you are still a little anxious after my brief pep-talk above, keep the following in mind when tackling the Mudder:

  • The ice water compares only to jumping into a frozen Minnesota lake in January. It hurts and it will LITERALLY take your breath away. Wait a few seconds for your breath to return, and then go for it. Don’t panic, just breathe.
  • Being shocked also hurts…

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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!)

Fartleks, Minions, and It Was All My Neighbor’s Fault

Sometimes I question my sanity.

I got up early (before the sun) hit the early spin class, was feeling great and got hubby off to work and was determined to play hard with the minions. It’s been sunny the past couple of days, but the rain is coming. It ALWAYS comes. And then we will be stuck inside for a few months. Yay Pacific Northwest!

We started off after breakfast with a bike ride to our favorite playground; played hide-and-seek, chase, and practiced monkey bars. (Good cross training for Tough Mudder!) We came back for a break, some lunch and then decided to get an ice cream cone.

Later, our neighbors came over to chat. They are headed out-of-state in a couple of weeks as he will be running a marathon and is currently in the throes of training. Not only was he all covered in an 18 mile run endorphin high, but he was flaunting his Tough Mudder sweat band.

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Ugh. That thing forever haunts me.

I’ve been taking bodypump and spin classes at the gym, but I have only been running once a week. I’ve missed it.  Talking with my runner neighbors about the joys and pains of running sealed the deal. I needed a run. I was completely green with endorphin envy.

The minions were asking to go to another playground so I decided it was the perfect idea to run intervals while they rode their bikes. I should always reconsider a plan when it seems perfect. The run there was great. (It’s down hill and I got some great sprints in.) We got to the playground and played for a bit, then one minion had an accident. Time to call it a day.

Climbing back uphill, pushing kids on bikes (they needed ‘boosts’ all the way home), one minion tries to pass the other, 4 skinned knees, 1 pair of wet pants, crying and helmets all askew – this did not add up to a “perfect run”.

I think tomorrow I’ll be heading to the gym.  Then maybe a run….solo, of course!

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.

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I WILL own one of these!

Bring it!