I took a break from my regularly scheduled marathon training this weekend to participate in Tough Mudder Long Island. I’ve been wanting to do a mud/obstacle type race for a while now, but I was either training for a triathlon or pregnant. So when Tough Mudder announced they’d be hosting an event on my Long Island turf, I immediately rounded up the troops (and by troops I mean husband, brother, and sister-in-law who unfortunately couldn’t make it to the race) and convinced them all to sign up.
Why I did it
Despite Marathon Training
I knew Tough Mudder on August 15th would interfere with training for my September 13th marathon, but at this point in my life and training, I’m doing events for enjoyment. When my husband and I ran our first marathon in 2010 (while training for our first Ironman) we did the whole I can’t race this weekend cause I’m training thing–and it wasn’t fun!
I loved that Tough Mudder puts emphasis on the commraderie aspect of the race (which is really not a race because it’s not even timed). I come from a team sports background and kind of miss that. There’s a great deal of commraderie in my running community, but it’s not quite the same as physically pulling someone over a wall…
Doing the Impossible
I went into Tough Mudder with 100% confidence that I would not be able to complete every obstacle. Horrible, I know.
This was the first time the event was being held on Long Island, so details about parking and transportation were a little slow and confusing rolling in. I felt like I was getting emails from Tough Mudder like every day, but that was way more confusing than informative. Hopefully they fine tune it next year and just send one concise email telling us what to do.
Just like any other big time race, once we finally got there the atmosphere was electric (or was that just the Electroshock Therapy obstacle??). Everyone was amped up and ready to go. We were corralled by our start time for a little pre-race warm up and last minute reminders, then ushered into the starting area where we received one of the most amazing motivational speeches I every remember hearing.
The line that stuck out to me was about doing something new everyday–because that is truly living. I wish I had the speech on video to watch over and over. After that speech I know I felt like I could accomplish anything, and I’m pretty sure most everyone felt the same.
I could actually feel the camaraderie with everyone around me. It was understood that we would all be there to push each other and support each other.
There were 19 obstacles on the 10 mile trail course, but I’ll go over a few of my favorites that left the biggest impression.
By far, my favorite obstacle was the Funky Monkey bars–and I never thought I would say that. These bars were the ones I was 100% sure I would never make it through.
Negative self talk filled my head.
But when the time came, I was able to focus and visualize how I wanted to attack the obstacle–I was just hoping my body would agree. Not only did I make it across the monkey bars, I made the transition to the trapeze bar, and smoothly transitioned to the pipe. Shimmied my way down and dismounted on to the platform.
I wish I had it on video because I still don’t believe I did it!
This was another how am I ever going to do this obstacle. From a platform way up high over a 12.5 foot deep puddle of mud water, I had to jump to a trapeze bar, swing, and propel myself up and forward through the air to attempt to ring a hanging bell. None of us got the bell, but we all got oh, so close.
I talked about cute little recovery ice baths in this post, but this obstacle had me slide down into a pool of ice water, submerge myself under a beam, climb over a wall, and get out as fast as I could. I was so worried about this one, but it turned out to be totally exhilarating!
The exhilaration, the challenge, and the self discovery are all reasons why I do everything. Tough Mudder ranked right up there with the Ironman—just in a different way.
I would definitely recommend a Tough Mudder to anyone interested in this kind of thing. It’s definitely a challenge that requires athletic ability, but Tough Mudder reinforces the fact that you can customize the experience. Walk between all obstacles, or run. Take the bypass lane, or try. As long as you support your fellow Mudders, you’re in.
And the part my parents and Grandma are most happy about:
What’s the craziest race you’ve ever done?
Do you stray from training plans to participate in races?
I do have a lot more to say about my Tough Mudder experience, and want to step beyond this review to reveal some details…so don’t forget to sign up and don’t miss a thing!
Stay in touch!