Sep 28, 2011

Tough Mudder: Part 4 – The Adventure Continues…

Our Small Group After Tough Mudder

At the bottom of the rock slide, we met up with the Log Jammin obstacle. It was easy enough, as I was able to use the strength of my legs to help me climb up and over 3 or 4 logs. And I was small enough that I could get under the barbed wire wrapped logs pretty easily too. Tui decided to have some fun here and would roll through the dirt to get under a log.

We all were ready for a break at this point. Conveniently, a cement support at the end of a chair lift was nearby which also provided shade. The cool cement block felt good to sit on. Yes, we’d actually warmed up at this point.

We filled up on some Gels and Blocks for some much needed fuel and rested for 5 or 10minutes. Time was a blur to me by this point. I had no clue how long it had taken us to get here and none of us carried a watch with us.

After our little rest, we had another trek up hill – all the way up to the very tip top of Squaw Valley. On the way up, we were privileged to walk behind a team that had picked up a large pine log left over from creating Log Jammin. Why any one would opt to add in another obstacle, I don’t know, but they did. Maybe they thought it was one, since there were quite a few pieces left over, but there was no sign and no Marines overseeing it. At one point, they stopped and we all heard “Head on Left” several times before we watched as half the team attempted to toss the log over their heads on the left to the left and the other half tried to toss the log to the right. The giant log (about 12 feet long) scissored before taking three people out, running for their lives down the hill to the left of us. Luckily, no one was hurt but the team started arguing about which way they said they were going to throw it – all of us behind them yelled that we heard “Head on left”! Because of this, we’d been stopped in our tracks and piled up waiting to pass. Guess that’s why we all felt it necessary to clear up the disagreement.

Here’s what I found very silly about the whole situation – why would you put your head on the side that you were going to throw the log. So much easier to just roll the dam log off your left shoulder then in one fluid motion raise the log over your head to chuck it left. It didn’t make sense to toss the log to the right, because that was uphill and you’d risk having the log roll back onto you and possibly the whole team would have been running down the hill for their lives. Oh well, it wasn’t my team falling apart and with no one hurt, made for a good laugh. That reminds me, some one did catch that on their Go-pro. I wonder if it made it onto YouTube?

At the top of Squaw Valley was our next obstacle – Hold Your Wood. Cameron wanted me to sit this one out, but it looked harmless enough. Grab a piece of wood and navigate the circle that went down some rocky terrain and back up. He found me a nice small one and we started the loop. It was probably 100 yards in total. And, it really wasn’t too hard – slow and steady, like the rest of the day had and would be.

Since there was no more mountain for us to trek up, we headed downhill, staying to the right, being that we were of the slow and steady mindset. The faster traffic could pass us on the left. Why any one was running down this path, I haven’t a clue. There were loose rocks every where begging to take some ankles out. Low and behold, one girl came barreling past us, slipped on a rock and immediately stopped, raising her ankle like every one does when the roll it. Stopping that suddenly probably resulted in a pulled quad or two, as well. I'm sure she had a nice twisted ankle thanks to that move. She’s lucky it wasn’t broken or that she didn’t fall down the shear cliff that was on the left side of the trail.

We were almost back down to Squaw’s upper lodge when we encountered the first of the Berlin Walls. Jeff, Cameron and I all opted out, but Cameron made sure to help get Kelley and Tui over the first of the walls before walking around. Cameron had been limping down from the summit and finally told us about landing on his hip – his knee was now hurting because it was over compensating for it. We both felt any extra jarring to our bodies via jumping down from the top of the Berlin Walls could prevent us from finishing the course.

Not too far from the Berlin Walls were the Walk the Plank and Underwater Tunnels obstacles. Again, I opted out. I wasn’t ready for swimming 50 yards in cold, muddy water, or going under barbed wire-wrapped barrels. Jeff opted out too.

Cameron, Kelley and Tui braved the frigid water and swam. I’m not sure if Kelly did the underwater tunnels or not – Tui did and ran into issues with an overcrowding of people at the first barrels. Cameron decided to swim around the barrels and just get out.

Before heading up yet another mountain, we needed to pass the Boa Constrictor. The only one to participate in this obstacle would be Tui. She ended up in front of a very strong man literally up her a$# yelling “YOU CAN DO IT!” (I imagine him saying this the way Rob Schneider’s character in The Waterboy does in his bad Mexican accent). And he literally was that close to Tui - his hands were out of the tube before her feet were.

As we looked up at how high we were now expected to trek, again, we began to wonder what happened to 5-6 miles up, 5-6 miles down. Shouldn’t the rest of the course be downhill from here on out? But up we climbed. We watched as a first aid guy passed us by twice on an ATV to rescue a few people that had thrown up an X.

We’d end up walking the next few miles before the next obstacle, going up and down, up and down along the ridge of Squaw Valley. It was full of more dusty and rocky trails on the edges of cliffs. Finally, we came to the next obstacle, another set of Berlin walls. Cameron and I opted out again while Tui and Kelley completed it. Jeff made a beeline for the water station just past this obstacle. Had my back not been totally stiff at this point, I would have attempted this one. The walls weren’t as high as the previous, so with a little boost I could have gotten over. But with my back, I might not have survived the dismount.

Tui and I would take on the next obstacle a short while later – Bale Bonds. By this time so many people had been through them that small, narrow passageways had been made through the bales of hay, so it wasn’t too hard – slippery, but we breezed through. It would have sucked if we weren’t skinny women – we commented on what it must have been like to be a bulkier man trying to get over these.

We’d also begun our final descent down the mountain. We now had to follow a zip zaggy, dustry trail and from the top we could hear the music as well as see the finish area below and the last few obstacles. But the slope was steep and slow going (single file only here folks) and we had a good mile to go before the next obstacle.

Cameron was leading us, walking behind a man that we figured was in his 60s. The poor guy slipped at one point and took a pretty hard fall – but he kept going, limping and hunched over. We were all too close to drop out now. We could taste the beer promised to us at the finish line.

Up the wooden ladder we all went when we got to the bottom of the trail and arrived at the Turds Nest. Brett had mentioned that morning that he’d read it was best to roll through the cargo net versus trying to walk your way over it with hands and feet. This was pretty clear once we got to the top – almost every one was rolling through and sometimes over one another. At the other end, I did need to use my hands and feet to get to the platform, but I found it was pretty easy if I went sideways so that one foot and one hand led the other set across the net.

We only had 200 yards left to go before we could cross the finish line and collect the most well-earned beer I’d ever worked toward. We saw Kyle and Angie cheering us on, saying we only had 200 yards to go. Magic Carpet ride came on over the loud speakers and suddenly Cameron was off running, followed by Tui, Kelley and I. At this point I had no clue where Jeff was – I think he’d gone ahead.

Here’s the cruel joke I played on myself at this point – somehow I’d forgotten about the last two obstacles. I thought I was just running for the finish line. That was, until I rounded a corner and found Twinkle Toes. I stopped running and walked to the line. After a few minutes of waiting it was my turn – Cameron would go behind me. We lost Kelley and Tui here to the masses and wouldn’t see them until after the course.

I made it only a few steps onto the board before it got pretty wobbly. My legs and body didn’t have the strength to fight it and I figured it was the last of the water so why not? I was hot at this point. I jumped in and swam as quickly as I could to get to the ladder to pull myself out. I turned around just in time to see Cameron falling in. He’d made it pretty far - about two thirds of the way across. One more obstacle and we would be done.

But it was the one obstacle I was sure I wouldn’t do and was quite scared of – Electroshock Therapy. But the course was set up in such a way that I couldn’t get around it.

Guess what – Cameron and I both made it through without a single shock! We went slowly and found a nice path led by those before us. We both admitted later that the only way we would have been shocked would have been by flying wires kicked up by someone sprinting through it. We got lucky. Every one by this time was taking it slow and steady.

We’d done it – we’d completed the Toughest Event on the Planet! We were exhausted but exhilarated by our accomplishment, full of smiles. We were greeted with our prizes just after it too – an orange Tough Mudder head band, a t-shirt, and a cold Dos XX beer. We were sore, tired, hungry, thirsty and dying to get our shoes off. Kyle and Angie came over to congratulate us all. They, along with Brooke and John had completed the course almost two hours before us - it took them five hours to complete. It took us 6 hours and 40 minutes. Now we were all wondering about Brett, Trina, Kell and Lisa. Were they still out there?

Yes, we kissed right after the finish line too! If you look closely you can see mud on my cheek still

While we waited to find out, we headed for bag check. You’d think Cameron would say he had the best, most awesome wife in the world for even attempting Tough Mudder. Nope. Those words came when we picked up our bag from bag check and he discovered that I’d packed his sandals for after the race. He thought he was going to have to choose between walking in wet shoes back to the car or barefoot with exposed blisters, neither of which sounded good at all. Good thing I think ahead (most of the time).

We made our way back to the car to change out of our wet clothes and get some food to eat while we continued to wait for the last four. Soon we got a call from Kyle that there had been a Kell sighting. The last of our team was on the zig zag - Kell wasn't hard to see in his birght purple shirt. Did I ever mention our team name was the Purple Glitter Pooping Ninjas?

45 minutes after we had crossed the finish line, Brett, Trina, Kell and Lisa did the same. Our team of 13 beat the odds and we all finished. Best of all, the Tough Mudder NorCal event raised more money for the Wounded Warrior Project than any other event Tough Mudder has held so far.

By the time we had finished Tough Mudder on Sunday, Cameron and I had both agreed that we’d never attempt a Tough Mudder course again – we’d done it, we could check it off our bucket list and move on, right? We could barely move, we were so sore after the event. It would take until Wednesday to move without wincing in pain and the black boogers didn't go away until Tuesday. Why would we even think of doing this again? Enough people thought we were crazy enough to attempt it at all.

Still in the throws of pain and soreness, Monday night I asked Cameron if I was crazy. After all we’d said on Sunday about never, ever even thinking about doing Tough Mudder again. But here I was starting to think maybe we would. Cameron is with me on this too. Maybe it’s the competitive nature in us both, the former athletes we once were. This course had handed out a#*es to us in a silver cup after being blended into a fine puree. We now know what to expect and have a better idea of how to train for it. Now we want to complete a Tough Mudder and feel like we have conquered it, not the other way around. I did make Cameron promise to install a pull up bar for me. And I still may opt out of any Chernobyl Jacuzzi. We’ll see if and when the time comes.
Yes, I guess we are crazy.

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