I am sure you are thinking that we were absolutely nuts for doing this. I was thinking that too, but bear with me. It only gets crazier.
After we went through numerous muddy hills and muddy pits, we came to a fork in the trail that had signs marked “Lap 1” and “Lap 2”. I thought that would be pretty easy to navigate. There was not a lot of Tough Mudder staff on site, but at that time I didn’t think I would need it.
By this point in the challenge, most of the team had split. Joe and Michael were so sweet to ask if I did mind that they went on ahead. Of course not, go ahead. Everyone else had just kind of deserted Marianne, Rob and myself but we still forged ahead.
The Smokehouse challenge was next. A small house, with smoke billowing out. Three small windows to climb through. Yep, I could do that. Climbing in, I jumped right down in the mud to realize that we then had to cross two more cold water mud pits inside this smoke house. Ugh. That is really all I can say about that.
We made it. Next was a series of steep muddy hills, some so slippery you had to cling to the ground with your hands and help each other along. It was hard. No lying there. The Devils Beard obstacle was tricky. A giant net on the ground which you had to hold up and go under. I found that it worked real easy if you got right next to a large man and let him do all the work. That is my suggestion to you all for next time. :)
The three of us were talking so much and really trying to enjoy this torture that somehow we missed our turn. There was no one around to tell us where to go. We assumed we were going the right way as we approached a the big wall to climb over. With team work, we made it over. We also ran into Roger who was frazzled and concerned that he had gone in circles three times. We said to stick with us and we would make it.
As we marched in with some other fellow Tough Mudders, we realized we were approaching the finish. There in front of us was the “walk the plank” challenge, a 20 foot jump into what I now knew would be freezing water. I knew this was not right. We did not do half of the obstacles. How in the *#@! did we get here? Okay, I knew I had to find out where we went wrong and keep going. I called a mini meeting and Roger, Rob and myself decided to carry on. My sweet Marianne knew she had enough and decided to find Anne Marie and wait for us. Part of me wanted to do that too, but at that moment, I still had a lot to give.
We made our way back to one of the paths and found that we had to go through all those muddy hills, the Devils Beard and the steep climbs all over again! As we came around the corner we saw where the path split and there was a lady standing there. We asked her if we were suppose to go in the woods. She was shocked that we had been around twice and not been through the woods yet. We all said we would do it, so that is what we did. If you are picturing a beautiful hike in the woods, you are so wrong. It was brutal. It was up and down the sides on mountains. No exaggeration. I almost couldn’t make it. On one of the last climbs, I said to Roger and Rob I was done. When I got out of those woods I was finding one of those ATV riding guys and getting the crap out of there. Of course as we know, that didn’t happen. We pressed on. I almost had a breakdown. I almost gave up, I almost cried. My body hurt so bad at this point and we were not even half way through with the course!
Roger and Rob were solid teammates. They pushed me when I needed it, helped me when I thought I couldn’t go on and made me laugh all along the way.
The next few obstacles are a blur to me. We climbed up and down, through water and mud and carried a log. We were talking about what we were going to eat when we left that God forsaken place. We were all a little delirious and it made it all the more interesting.
Making our way through the path, we were so thirsty. I saw a sign for a Water Station and got very excited. I needed water bad. That hike through the woods nearly killed me, at least I would have some water. Oh, nope. They were all out of water. Nothing I could do but keep walking. One foot in front of the other.
It was funny how often I heard people talking about what they were going to eat when they finished this race. Burritos from Moe’s, Pizza Hut, anything would be good. And Beer, NO WAY. I don’t think anyone that was with us at that point cared about a beer. We just wanted to get done, get some food and go to bed.
Just as I started to feel better, and we were on mile 10 or so, it was time for “The Funky Monkey”. Yep, monkey bars going up then down over ice-cold water. Um, no thanks. Screw that. I am not ashamed to say I walked around it. The only obstacle I did not do. I figured going around the 2 + mile lap an extra time on accident covered me from having to hang in the air and fall into water. Rob and Roger climbed on and did so good. I cheered for them as loud as I could. Way to go boys!
At this point I was so thirsty I couldn’t stand it. Apparently I was complaining out loud and some nice guy heard me. He was passing me with a half of bottle of water. He looked me in my eyes, handed the bottle to me and said “Go for it, it’s all yours. You need to stay hydrated”. I grabbed it and chugged it. Not even caring that I was drinking after a complete stranger. At this point, it was survival.
On a side note, Tough Mudder will bring out the sailor in you. If your mother was walking there with you, you would surely need your mouth washed out.
We came to “Twinkle Toes”. Balancing on wobbly 2 x 4s over, you guessed it… ice-cold muddy water. I made it about 5 steps before falling in. I couldn’t help but laugh as I remembered one of our team slogans that day, “it jiggles”. That it did…
Another half of mile walk we came to the “Fire Walker” obstacle. Running through bales of hay on fire. Hot and smokey. Not at all scary, more of a nuisance than anything else.
I could hear the crowds cheering. We were almost there. Only another mile or two. Yep, we had to go around that lap one more time. I was so mad. I already did this lap two times. Devils Beard, yep… twice. I said screw it. Mud Pits, Mud hills and more. Third time was a charm.
Finally a water station with lukewarm water being served up out of a trash can lined with a garbage bag. I could care less at this point. The snob in me left at mile 2, I was just trying to survive and get done. Cheers! Drink up!
All we had left was the hill up and down to the “Walk the Plank” obstacle. A small run up a 15 foot wooden ramp. As we waited in line, I tried my hardest not to think about what I was about to do. As the man said “Next two, GO”, Rob and I ran up the wooden hill to meet Roger at the top. I looked down and saw the guy that just jumped right before us. I noticed he was doggy paddling. He was a very fit man and obviously in good shape. That scared me to think, “Why was he struggling”? They had rescue people in water and one swam up to him with a float. That man screamed, “Get out of my way!!!!” I knew this was serious.
It was our turn. We had no time to think. The finish line was just on the other side of that lake. Our team was cheering for us. I could see them all across the lake. There was no way I was scooting back down that wooden ramp and walking around. Just then the man at the top with us said ” You go left, you go right and you go center. Now GO!” Roger jumped and in the split second I knew Rob and I had to go. For some reason unknown to myself, I held my nose and jumped. The fall was fast and scary. I hit the water and shank very far, without ever touching the bottom. In that moment I let all my air out and panicked. The water was freezing and I couldn’t tell how far I had to go to get to the top. I know how to swim very well, but at that moment I know I was dog paddling and flailing around like a fool. I reached the top and took in a deep breath of air. I was making some crazy noises as I was freezing and couldn’t breathe. I heard Rob next to me making the same noises. That makes me laugh now, but not at that time. The rescue man came over to me with a float and I said no. I had made it this far, really… I could swim across.
Climbing out of the muddy water, I realized that there was one obstacle left. “Electroshock Therapy”. Because some sick British MF thought it would be the perfect ending… soaking wet and running through highly charged tentacles. All the crowd was around. Roger, Rob and I stood there watching as a large man ran through and fell to the ground in the middle. I said to the Tough Mudder guy, “I am not freakin doing this. No way in hell!” That guy looked at me and said ” You put the Tough in Tough Mudder, now go!” So, Rob and I ran. I ran for my life. I ran faster than I ever have before. I remember pushing those hanging tentacles out of my way. I finished. I never got shocked once!!! How did that happen? Rob got two good ones. Both in the spine. We crossed that finish line and I have never been happier.
I grabbed my protein bar, headband and shirt and posed for a few pictures. That was it. It was over.
I have to say that it was nothing like I thought it would be. I thought that since I had three kids and endured combined total of 50 hours of labor, I could handle 12 + miles. It was harder than childbirth at times. It was so physically painful, but even more mentally exhausting.
I pushed myself farther than ever. I went on after I wanted to quit so many times. I walked for my family, I walked for my friends, I walked for my business and I walked for all those Veterans out there that have gone through way worse than that course. I think that if you have never gone through something like that, you would never understand. We are literally in a league of our own. I am so proud of my team. I am so proud of Rob. I am so proud of myself. We had endured Tough Mudder and we came out stronger.
Word around is that Tough Mudder Georgia was the hardest course they had so far. Only 71% of people who started that course finished. Team Backstage Beat is in the 71%. We finished and we are Tough!
**UPDATE – WE RAISED $3,176 FOR THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT!!!! – “LIKE” US ON FACEBOOK AND KEEP UP WITH US! LINK HERE
Our new Tough Mudder friend, Christen Biddle and her team had the forethought to attach cameras to their heads and film their race. So, here it is… a little taste of what we all went through on March 12, 2011.