Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tough Mudder New England race and weekend recap!

I am bruised, cut up, and so sore it hurts to move, however, I feel totally satisfied and happy and full.  It's the day after a race, how could I not?  Guys, I hope you had a great weekend and that it was filled with as much sunshine and happiness as mine was!

I am so excited to recap the weekend for you because it was so much fun and such a cool, rewarding experience.  This weekend was the New England Tough Mudder 10-mile run at Mount Snow in Vermont.  I signed up for this in October with some friends from Albany and registered my little brother, who has been trying to get me to do one of these for years, as his Christmas present.  In December, my friends and I started doing Tough Mudder work outs about 2x a week to get ready for the race (although, to be honest, I really dropped off my Mudder workouts over the past couple months with my travel.)

We rented a house near the mountain and after work on Friday we head up spend the weekend.  Friday morning started with a beautiful 3-mile run with Jess and coffee afterwards with an indulgent Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino.  It was delicious!

Leaving work a little early on Friday to hang out in the back seat of a car for a couple hours was a blessing because I somehow got some delayed jet lag that hit me like a ton of bricks midday Friday.  I was suddenly exhausted, head heavy, and totally punchy at work, laughing ridiculously and being silly, feeling like I was drunk or my head was in a bubble or something.

When we got to Vermont, the house we had rented was pretty perfect and we got right to work making it like home and having some fun.  Aubrey whipped up a delicious lasagna and we spent the evening having drinks, playing Bananagrams and Cards Against Humanity, and laughing a lot!  I mean, have you played this game before?  How can you not laugh!

My brother was the last to arrive at about 10:30 p.m. and after about an hour or so of hanging out with the whole group, we called it a night.  It was fun to have my brother meet my friends after everyone had heard so much about one another for a long time.  And just like in the past I have made weekends or trips out of my races (Nashville, Providence, Paris!), it was so fun to just be away for the weekend with friends and all be celebrating the race.

When we got up in the morning we got ready for the run, fueled up on breakfast and coffee, and took some pre-race photos before heading over to Mount Snow.  Our registered time to run was 9:20 a.m. and we wanted to get there about an hour early.  Since the Tough Mudder charges you to spectate and park, our friends just dropped us off at the course and went home for bloody mary's until we called for a pick up.

The team was originally supposed to be a bit bigger but due to some injuries and unforeseen circumstances, it was just my brother, AG, and Jess running the race.  However, we were all a team regardless!

I also felt totally special and happy that my brother was there and we were doing this together.  He is so special to me and it meant so much that we were going to conquer the Mudder as a team!

Plus, he added some much needed muscle to our group :)

However, in my defense, I can hold my own!

It's funny, I still don't think I view myself at the size that I am now.  I have always been a bigger girl and always been bigger than any of my friends.  It sounds silly to write down but I am always picking people up.  I am always the person to give piggy back rides, pick up someone else, or something like that.  Or, I am the person whose lap others sit on if you are piling in a car or running out of seats or something like that.  I am strong and I can easily carry most people.  I am still SO uncomfortable being picked up myself.  I feel like I will be crushing people.  I feel like I will be embarrassed horribly if they cannot do it.  However, nowadays it makes more sense for my brother to be picking me up, no?  However, I still think of us as crazy little kids and me as much larger than I probably am in real life.

I love my baby bro!

When we got to the race, we went and got our bibs and then went to get marked up for the race.

Turns out it is a requirement that you have to have your number on your forehead, which was interesting.  Also, when we were getting ready for the race to start, Jeff and I both decided that we did not want to have sleeves for the race and ripped the sleeves off both of our shirts.  So there was that alteration to outfits that happened.

Other than that, I wore tight dry-fit clothing, as that was what was recommended for the race.  I knew we'd be in and out of water so it seemed like the most logical choice.  I also wore some of my higher socks and an old pair of sneakers that I wouldn't mind just trashing at the end.  

After we wrote our numbers on ourselves, I put my phone into the bag that we checked and we headed to the start line.  We were a bit delayed starting the course because a girl apparently broke her leg right by the start.  There was a small wall you had to jump over before the race really got underway and someone broke their leg on that part!  We were saying how disappointing it would be to hurt yourself on the pre-obstacle before the Tough Mudder even started, and then wouldn't you know it, one of our team members hurt themselves!  Jeff's foot slipped jumping over the first pre-obstacle wall and scraped some of the skin off his shin.  I was really worried but he toughed it up and fought through the raw skin pain for the whole race.  We officially started at around 9:40 a.m.  

The next pictures are from the Tough Mudder Facebook album from the event, so not mine, and not me in most of them, but I wanted to give an idea of what the obstacles were like.  Hopefully when more pictures come out I will have more with me actually in them!

The race was 10 miles long and there were 19 obstacles.  I was nervous going into the run because I hadn't run more than 8 miles since the marathon, but it turns out that wasn't a problem because what I failed to consider was that this race UP A MOUNTAIN.  In between the obstacles, we literally were going through ankle deep MUD up and down a mountain.  Running was near impossible, or really really slow, for most of the course.

The first obstacle we came across was sliding under barbed wire through the mud.  They wanted to get you dirty right away, and it was actually harder than I thought it would be.  Also got my elbows and forearms scraped up right from the start.

There were a number of walls to climb over throughout the course and you really had to rely on teamwork.  For us, it was so helpful to have a guy like Jeff on our team to help us with these obstacles!

There were also many that were not team oriented, and right away, I got wet when we came to the "Funky Monkey."  Despite my attempts to strength my arms, I still cannot really hold my own weight and I totally dropped into the water when it came to the monkey bars.  I barely made it a few rungs when I just couldn't hold myself any more.  It was expected, and I knew I was going to get wet at this obstacle, but to me, the important part was that I still went for it and tried it!

I was nervous before the start of the race, and even after the first few obstacles, I was really scared I wasn't going to make it through in one piece and be able to do all the obstacles.  When I dropped off the other side of the first wall we had to climb over, I pulled my arm out of the socket a bit and tweaked it.  And then when I dropped off the monkey bars into the water, it was a little shallower than I realized and jammed my leg a bit.  Both made me feel a little sore and careful how for the future things we came across.

One of my favorite obstacles and one that was incredibly empowering was a giant wall that had three little ridges and a knotted rope that you had to get over.  It looked really scary and I was pretty nervous that I wasn't going to have the arm strength again to do it.  We had to wait a while before we had a chance to do the obstacle so it gave us the chance to watch others and get a strategy.

We had Jeff climb up first on his own, and then hold the rope so that it remained close to the wall.  I was able to climb up myself and then I took on the position of holding the rope close to the wall while Jess and AG climbed up and over.  I think we were all probably more nervous that we cared to admit (AG was thinking of just skipping the obstacle) but we ALL DID IT!  This was the half way point of the race and I was so empowered after going through and conquering that part of the course.

Not long after that there were even higher walls we had to climb over.  The big walls never ended!

It was really cool to see the comraderie throughout the entire course.  Some of these walls and things, Jeff was able to help us a bit but we also relied on just other Tough Mudders out there to give us a hand.  It was such a fun, cool, team effort of everyone involved and whether it was just a cheer of encouragement or an actual push/lift, it was what made the event what it was.

Another notable part of the course was the "Arctic Enema" where you had to jump into a tank full of freezing cold ice water!  Once you jumped in there was a bar you had to swim under, so you HAD to go underneath.  I chose to just jump in and swim underwater to hopefully get under the bar, whereas my brother jumped, came up for air, then had to go back under water again to go under the bar.  He said it was the worst thing he'd ever done in his life and having to go back under water after he came up once.  I think maybe being a swimmer helped me be somewhat okay with the icey water, but I did have what felt like brain freeze for about 5 minutes after this!

Just like the walls didn't stop, the getting wet didn't stop either.  The monkey bars was the first time I was underwater, and there was also the arctic enema, and a fun jump into a pool below that kept us in and out of the water.

The sun was in and out of the clouds, so it made it somewhat chilly at times.  But, luckily we had a muddy MOUNTAIN to climb that kept our body temperature up.

My absolute favorite obstacle of the day though was one that was called "Pyramid Scheme"

This was a "teamwork required" obstacle that involved a slippery plastic wall that you needed to form a human pyramid to be able to climb up.

We started by having Jeff brace himself on the bottom and then I climbed on top of him so I was standing on his shoulders.  As I mentioned before, I am not really used to my size all the time, and it was nerve racking because I was SURE that I must be breaking his neck/shoulders by climbing on him and putting my weight on his shoulders.

Jess then went to climb over me and put her weight on top of my shoulders.  On our first attempt to try and do this, I somehow lost my balance and ended up knocking both Jess and myself sliding into the muddy water at the bottom.  Woops!  

However, we tried again and this time I got on Jeff's shoulders, getting him even dirtier this time since I was fresh out of the muddy water, and Jess climbed on top of me, and then with the help of someone at the top, she was able to climb up to the top.  AG chose to opt out of this one because she had hurt her shoulder at another obstacle.  I think we had another person climb up the human pyramid of Jess & myself before I climbed to the top.

I then spent some time laying on my stomach dangling down the slippery wall with Jess holding my feet as we were good Tough Mudder samaritans and people climbed up Jeff and I would pull them up to the top.  We eventually then got Jeff to the top with the help of some big men at the bottom and then we had him dangle off the edge and we helped quite a few people get up.  Including a man who was really struggling and few larger people as well.  

The race photographer got us in a picture at this point, which is pretty badass if I must say!

You can also see our group in the very first picture I showed if you look close enough!  So cool.

The second half of the race I think went by much faster than the first and when we got to the finish it was hard to believe that it was over!  The final obstacle was what was the scariest to me and to be honest, the thought of it was the reason that I put off the race for a few years... electrocution!

You had to run through a series of live electric wires and it was freaking scary as hell!!! I wasn't sure what to expect and it took a few deep breaths before I worked up the guts to run through.

I got shocked a couple times at the beginning and it was uncomfortable but not terrible.  However, towards the end of the wires, I got shocked bad and it knocked the wind out of me, seizing my muscles and knocking me to the ground.  I was able to crawl/walk my way out and then after a few more feet the race was over!!!

Right at the finish they put on your Tough Mudder head bands and handed you a beer that was MUCH needed and deserved by everyone participating.

As we drank our finisher beers, grabbed our finisher tees, we also took some "after" race photos, which I love, because I feel like you can really see our happiness, pride, exhaustion, and excitement of finishing in these pictures.  I will never stop loving the "after" photos that I have from the many races I have now done.  These included!

You can tell I was feeling good at the end of this race because I am doing the muscle man pose in pretty much every picture -- without even much muscles to show off :)

I love the feeling of finishing races.  It seriously never gets old and the high is so incredible and addicting.  I have loved trying to get my friends into running because I want to share the incredible feelings of accomplishment and pride that you get when you train for something for months and finally experience it.  It is so, so incredible.

Following the race, Aubrey came and picked us up and we had a fun reunion before returning back to the house for more drinks, more lasanga, more games, laughter, bandaging of wounds, burgers, sausages, snacks, and did I mention more drinks?  

There were also glorious showers that involved LOTS of scrubbing.  They take their mud seriously in the Tough Mudder races!

By the early evening I was WIPED.  I wasn't sure if it was from the race, the drinks, or the lingering jet lag, but I could barely stay awake.  I really wanted to go to the race "after party" but I had NO energy to do so.  Instead I raged at the house as best I could in glasses, my new Tough Mudder hoodie, and head band.

Okay, and a blanket wrapped around me...

It was such a fun day and night and I slept so soundly last night.  Today, I've been moving pretty slow.  My whole body aches and I am covered in bruises and I just want to not move and have someone feed me all day. 

However, I forced myself to be productive and after driving back from Vermont with Aubrey and Erin (with the top down!!) I went grocery shopping, cooked food, did laundry, cleaned, and got myself somewhat prepared for the week.

I am SO proud of my friends and I for doing the Tough Mudder and so happy to be a part of the group of people who can say they have accomplished one of these races.  In fact, my brother and I actually signed up for a second one!!! There was discounted registration at the race, so we signed up for a to-be-determined race in 2015.  We're hoping to do one that does not include climbing a mountain and is more running/less hiking, but we're excited.  

Congratulations to all those who did the Tough Mudder New England this weekend!  I love the running/fitness/adrenaline junkie community, I love New England, I love my baby bro, and I love my running friends with whom I am continuing to grow the list of incredible experiences we've had together.

I hope you had a great weekend as well and happy start to your week!

1 comment:

  1. The one of the best activity i like is Hiking and however i also take part in Obstacle Run, Spartan Run, Tough Mudder, Mud Run and other out door events.