Sunday, October 14, 2012

Utah Tough Mudder 2012

As you know, since I've been talking about it for a long time now, yesterday I was able to take part in the Tough Mudder Event.
* Warning - this post is long and full of pictures AND videos! You have been warned! *

* Seriously - this could quite possibly be the LONGEST blog post EVER! * (at least for me)

It was tough. It was Muddy. I don't think it could count as the hardest thing I've ever done... Actually as I'm thinking about it I really can't think of what really IS the hardest thing I've ever done. Physically or Mentally... Maybe moving to Russia when I was 16 for mentally hard, but it wasn't really physically hard. I guess physically Tough Mudder might be up there in difficulty, but it didn't really push me to my limits. I'll have to think about that because I am not sure what "THE HARDEST THING" for me has been...

On Friday I said "My main goal is to conquer most of the obstacles without assistance" and if that word 'most' is taken into account - then I definitely did it! I only fell on ONE obstacle!

We met up and left at 7:30 to get out to the Event Site an hour before our 9:20 start time. Checked in and they wrote our number on our forehead. I wasn't too excited about that, for some reason I don't like having things written on my forehead!

It was COLD! As the sun was coming up it was getting better though. Jumped over the 6 or 7 ft wall to get into the start area and listened to the intro rules and everything by the course MC. Cool guy.

Then we counted down and started the course!

Here's a map so you can follow along!

Since there was so many people it really took a bit to get moving and then we made it to the first obstacle - "Kiss of Mud"

Next was one of the most dreaded Obstacles - "Arctic Enema" I know - it's a horrible name. It used to be called "Chernobyl Jacuzzi" -  but I think somebody must have complained, so now it has the even worse Enema appellation.  Anyway - I held my camera and videoed the experience so you could see it too!!

About to jump in!

Next were "Berlin Walls" (part one) which were about 8-10 ft tall walls you had to get up and over. Twice. Easy Peasy - seriously, if I had to choose a workout to best prepare, muscle-ups have been the best preparation for most of this stuff. These walls were EASY.

We ran for a while past Mile 2 (Only 10 more to go!)

and hit the next obstacle - "Bale Bonds" - big rolls of hay to climb over.

The 5th obstacle was "Hold Your Wood" which was probably my least favorite event. We took a GIANT and heavy log, and I have bruises from where it dug into my shoulders, along with wrist problems from holding the log with our team mates and coordinating the effort. Yikes!

Next was another Kiss of Mud, then we ran to King of the Mountain... which was just a pile of large hay bales.

Next up - "Trench Warfare" some pretty tight tunnels with a turn in the middle that made it pitch black in the middle. They dug out the trenches, then covered them with boards, dirt, and a TON of dead animal carcasses and bones! It was pretty cool - but could be really difficult for people if it went on much longer. As it was I saw a few that couldn't do it.

Trench Warfare was followed by the "Dirty Ballerina" which was a lot of fun. You could probably get a good enough start to jump over the muddy water pits/trenches, but it worked best if you jumped far into the water and immediately slapped your hands onto the other side and vaulted out. Often we'd jump in and out and turn around to help out our fellow Mudders. Great sense of camaraderie!

After twinkle-toeing our way across the muddy trenches, "Lumber Jacked" where you just jump over some big logs that are set at varying heights. The tallest was about 5 feet... so not too difficult. But lots of opportunity for scrapes on the rough bark (similar issues back in Carry Your Wood!)

Then there was the first of my 2 least favorite obstacles. The "Electric Eel."  Eels are something I very much dislike (But love to eat! Yum!) and apparently my body does not like excess electricity. In this obstacle you crawl under barbed wire like "Kiss of Mud" but in this there is more water, and dangling electrical wires. I made it halfway through before I got my first jolt, and I about cracked my jaw in the clench that resulted. Got shocked 2 more times on the way out - feels like somebody hit me in the brain with a hammer. Yeah I didn't like it. Especially since I started to exit the obstacle with my hand in a puddle and got shocked about five more times. Blech. Still - I could handle this as an obstacle again - it wasn't THAT bad. I still didn't like it much.

"Balls to the Wall" was next - Fun but not too difficult LARGE Plywood wall with ropes up and down.

Waiting in Line to climb up the ropes!
Up next we had the chance to do a "Mud Mile" Which wasn't really a mile - but it was a lot of fun! This is one of the obstacles that really required team work and help - and it was fantastic!

Nice and muddy and fantastic!

"Boa Constrictor" was next - they did a good job with some tight tunnels! You slide down into a pit of water with barbed wire over your head, then back up another tight tube. This may or may not be my hand from the official FB pictures :)

"Berlin Walls" (part two) came next - THIS one was awesome. There was a similar wall at Cahoots, but it was busy and I didn't have time to mess around with it - but THIS time I wanted to do it on my own. 12' walls with a little lip down at the bottom - I made it no problem when I really tried. Just had to step quickly off the lip and not try to step ON the lip.

"Cliffhanger" was next - they had music at this, and it was a lot of fun. Big 4 ft deep water pit at the bottom of a steep muddy wall with a cargo net. Not too hard. There were more steep hills right after a few other obstacles - these without the nets took a bit more teamwork - and this was where our guys excelled. They may not have been the fastest or the flashiest at finishing obstacles (well... Justin and I were pretty awesome at the obstacles!) but they were good at helping others get up the tough parts!

Next up - one I was particularly excited about - "Funky Monkey!" I wanted to conquer this one - because I'm pretty good at pullups now, and I didn't want this to beat me. It didn't. It was actually too easy. Still - I want one in my back yard!

Yeah! Easy as pie! Fun too!


Finally we came to the one obstacle that humbled me a little. I didn't make it across. "Just The Tip" is a big sheet of plywood with two boards at foot and chest level on it, 5 feet deep water pit below. The first 3rd of the wall had normal boards about an inch thick, then the next 3rd was skinner, about half an inch,then it was back to the normal size. I made it about halfway and I couldn't do it anymore. If you look up Just the Tip on YouTube - a lot of them don't have the water pit - and in most of the videos people do it by grabbing on the top, or just climbing up to the top and getting across that way. Huh. I could have done that - but I want to be able to do it the right way!! So yeah, failed on that one - but I did say MOST so I'm not too unhappy.

Being the Piratey type of guy that I am - I have no problems with anything called "Walk the Plank" although really I'm more used to bein the one MAKING others walk the plank, not walking it meself! Hopefully one of the team members who had a spectator recording had video or pictures of this - if so I'll either add it in here or post it separately. This was a lot of fun. I didn't do anything too fancy - just a spread eagle type jump followed by a straight-legged plunge to the very bottom of the 15 foot pit. One thing I do have to learn - is how to keep my nose from filling with water without plugging it! (I fell in the Great Salt Lake when I was 3 that messed up my sinuses for swimming - had to wear one of those nose plugs until I was a teenager!) After resurfacing I was fine, but my body was panicking for about 30 seconds trying to re-regulate breathing and sinus clarity... so weird to be fully aware and fine mentally but your body is in a panic...

Second to last was one of the other obstacles I was both looking forward to and slightly dreading. "Everest" - I really wanted to be able to do this one on my own without help. Having watched videos and seen pictures and seen how many people CAN'T do this without help - I know that once people finally get up they are very willing and eager (often tooooo willing and eager!) to help people conquer Everest. I figured if I did have a problem doing it on my own it would be because people were trying so hard to help. At the same time - I did want to have help if I needed it, and having never done something like this before... I had no idea. From watching American Ninja Warrior and various other Freerunning and Parkour Training vids (like this one from DemonDrills) I thought I would be able to handle it. So I started running, and had no problems at all getting up and adequately grabbing the top to pull myself up (AGAIN - hooray for muscle-up training! Seriously helpful!) BUT like I feared, immediately a couple of well-meaning Mudders started trying to grab and pull me up. I told 'em I was fine, and pulled myself up, then went to be ready to help my team - telling the same people who tried to help me that it was fine to be ready, but the next guy (Justin who I trained with a lot for this, and who (like me honestly) was more ready for this than the others on our team) probably wouldn't need (or want!!) help - so he did it fine too. Booyah! Such a good feeling to be capable of that stuff. I REALLY hope somebody got a picture of that!

Here's a picture of one of our teammates - a great, but short member of our team finally making it up Everest. This was difficult for a lot of people! I'm in blue reaching down grabbing him to pull him up!

Finally was my least favorite obstacle. "Electroshock Therapy" - I really didn't like this one that much. As of right now if I were to have the option of doing a Mudder again I wouldn't because of this one obstacle. In a couple of months- maybe I'd answer differently - but looking at pictures of that makes me hurt. Hammers on Brains. Ouchies.  Here's a video of kind-of what it was like. In all these videos the sound isn't great because there was too much mud in the mic! I think it's permanently damaged now actually... HA.

Why am I doing this again?

12 Miles, 21 Obstacles (plus a few minor ones thrown in there), lots of fun. Plenty of Pain. Overall I really enjoyed the Tough Mudder. I wish it hadn't ended on an obstacle I really didn't like - but that's just how it goes. Like they said at the beginning of the race and on a few signs throughout "Don't Whine! Kids Whine!" So I guess I should stop whining about it! :)

At least I stayed true to the "NO QUIT IN HERE!" mantra! And I got my Orange Headband:

And they got lots of muddy shoes! Not mine though! I kept mine. They've been through too much with me this year! They also got lots of money. This race was expensive!!

Next year I might try the Spartan Race instead. It's the same weekend, and there is a deal on it right now. We'll see!! Either way - I'm excited for more challenges!

This one was ultimately FANTASTIC!

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