Disclaimer: I was provided with a media pass to participate in Tough Mudder. All opinions are my own.
I had about a week to prepare for Tough Mudder Central Florida. Having a media pass meant that I could pick any wave, either day. I put out a call on Facebook and was welcomed by my friend Kris to join her team: OFF THE CHEESE. They would be running on Saturday and we met up at 7:30am on Saturday morning, in the POURING rain, and started on our trek to Westgate River Ranch in River Ranch, FL which is just east of Bartow. The rain stopped as we got on to I-4 and the sky looked blue and clear by the time we arrived in River Ranch.
Traffic was backed up to get in to the ranch, but we were able to see some obstacles and runners along the way, and for the amount of people that were there, I think we got in fairly quickly.
We gathered up our group of 5, and waited for the second group of 5 to arrive. We waited a while. We heard wave after wave being announced, we stood around and took pictures. We also had the husband of one of the girls there and thank goodness for him! He helped me through a couple obstacles!!
After waiting for a while Michelle (in the orange) and I decided to head over and check out the shopping area. And I really needed some water.
We found the Wheaties tent where they were giving out shirts for Movember. I also had a bowl of chocolate milk (I still hadn't found water!!)
We walked around some more and FINALLY I found water. $3 for a Dasani water. I guess it could have been more. And then we decided we'd check our bags and hope that our other 5 team members would arrive soon!
Gear check was $5 and worth every penny! They had security checking our bag numbers with our athlete ID numbers and security was heavy on the check in and on the check out.
My beautiful Lesportsac extra large weekender tote (Devotion print) did a GREAT job!! I had packed that tote full with room to spare.
What did I pack to my FIRST Tough Mudder?? Since I've done numerous mud runs in the past, I knew what to expect, and I didn't forget anything :)
2 garbage bags
And wouldn't ya know it, my friend needed a garbage bag and a pair of shoes! Jenny to the rescue :) We both happen to wear a size 9. It was fate that I packed extra shoes.
So gear is checked, (including my cell phone) and now we're just waiting to find the rest of our team. More opportunity for fun pictures! I love all the DC and Marvel Comics characters, so when I saw this group, I had to get a photo with them!
We finally meet up with the other 5 members of our team, so now all 10 of us are ready to go!! We hustle over to the starting line and we have an obstacle BEFORE we can even get to the start. We have to climb a wall. Two boosts up and I was up and over. I tweaked my ankle on landing, and while it hurt a tad, I knew it wasn't anything too serious and was thankful we had like a 10 minute inspirational talk and national anthem to get through before we started. It gave me time to rest my ankle and make sure I was good to go. I was.
And GO!! We were off. We started off running and soon we were to our first obstacle. The Kiss of Mud. This was disgusting. Running towards this obstacle we saw lots and lots and lots of cow poop. Big huge piles.
This mud was so thick and it smelled so bad of sewage. I did everything in my power to not have to put my hands down in it. I was so careful and watched people in front of me step in to big holes and KISS THE MUD Yuck!! I'm not sure how long it was but I'd guess it was at least 1/2 mile long. We come up from this one and went in to the Jesus Walk. Where you guessed it...we walked on water.
We came out of that one a little cleaner but I still had somehow managed to get a HUGE glob of sand/mud/something inside my right shoe right under my toes. It was starting to bother me and we still had 10 miles to go!!
The sack-up was next on our course. Basically we carried bags of sand around a designated area. Some people ran. I walked. But I picked the biggest sack I could find.I figured I might not be able to do all the obstacles, but this one I could surely do, what with all my CrossFit lifting and all. I'd guess my bag weighed about 40 pounds.
We came out of this "obstacle" and in to a water station. I could see the rings from Hangin' Tough in the distance, so I told my 4 team mates (oh right...forgot to mention that those other 5 that we waited OVER AN HOUR FOR ditched us!) that I would catch up to them because I wanted to try to get the mud/sand/whatever out of my shoe. Hangin' Tough literally looked like it was 400 meters away.
It took me a long time to get out my triple knots and there was a huge glob of mud/sand/whatever, and I felt so much better once it was out of my shoe, so off I went to find my friends!!
Little did I know that Hangin' Tough was 2 MILES and 1 obstacle away!! The course took us away from Hangin' Tough before bringing us back around again.
Here I am all alone on Mile 3 and Mile 4. Thankfully the Mud Mile obstacle wasn't difficult and I managed that one just fine alone
I caught up with my friends in line, and this is when the weather took a turn for the worse! It started to get windy, cold, and rain was coming down. Oh well. We were already wet, what's a little rain, right?
I did not attempt the Hangin' Tough obstacle. Hanging is a weakness of mine, and I just didn't want to do it. LOL.
But my friends tried it! Michelle fell before I could snap a picture (I'm sorry, but so proud of you for trying it!!) Kris started off well, but those dang gloves were slippery and she lost her grip. Tip...DON'T WEAR GLOVES!!
Next up was the electric eel. I opted out of this one. I have metal in my shoulder and they said anyone with metal in their body shouldn't do it. Darn. I really wanted to get shocked.
Doesn't Kris look like she's having so much fun??
Next up was the Warrior Carry. Not sure how, but I got separated from my group and did this one alone. There was no one there for me to carry, so I just walked through and when I came out on the other side my group was there. Apparently Mile 5 was also in the Warrior Carry area and I missed that one! Oh well, on to mile 6 and the official 1/2 way point!! Woot woot!!
We went through another Jesus walk, and suddenly were at the Glory Blades. I thought about doing this, but after watching a few people get hurt, and my #1 goal for Tough Mudder was to not get hurt, I decided against doing them. I cheered on my team, though! And we got photo bombed in the last picture. Love it!
We came across a hydration station that also had Clif Bloks. Those things were GOOD! I really liked them. Easy on the stomach and gave me a nice pick me up. But not enough of a pick me up to attempt the next obstacle, the Funky Monkey. It started to rain on us again while we were waiting in line. Kris left her gloves with me, and off she went. She did really good. Made it more than 1/2 way, but then the chick in front of her who was going feet first was moving slower than her, so Kris had to hang and wait, and then the chick left a big glob of mud on the bar, and Kris' hand slipped on it, she lost her grip and down she went. I was so bummed for her. I thought she had it for sure. Silly feet first girl.
Mile 7 was upon us before we knew it and so was the Gopher Tunnel (that's what I called it. It's official name is "course hazard.")
That's Kris heading in to the tunnel and I was right behind her. It was literally a tunnel dug right in to the ground with a wooden plank on the top. It was dark. It was hot. It was a tight fit and the closer we got to the end, the tighter the fit got. But I did it!!
The next obstacle was the cage crawl and I did that one, too!! I didn't get any photos of that, but you lay on your back and sort of float in mud and pull yourself along on a chain link fence that is above you. That was probably my favorite obstacle.
Mile 8 brought us the Arctic Enema. I knew straight away that I wasn't going to do this one. Nope, no way. But I loved cheering my teammates on!
These crazy girls took a running start, Michelle held her nose and in they went!! It was literally filled with ice cubes. O.M.G.
I attempted to get a video but the wall was too high for me, but I did catch them on the way out!! They couldn't get out of there fast enough!
We did some jogging to warm them up, and came across another course hazard and some trench warfare. Again, just big paths dug out and filled with mucky yucky muddy water. And wouldn't ya know it...this is where I suffered my only lasting injury (besides some bruising.) I was slipping in some mud and didn't want to fall all the way in, so reached out and grabbed a bush that was full of THORNS! Ugh. It cut my fingers and left behind little thorny parts. But I was a trooper and on we went past mile 9 and mile 10!
And then the WALK THE PLANK obstacle loomed out ahead of us. Kris and Michelle went and stood in line and I went to fix my shoe and wait for them! They did it and I'm so proud of them both!!
They were cold again and wanted to run. I was not in the running mood, so told them to go on their way, I'd catch up, and I befriended another walker on the course. I went through the underwater tunnels alone, and then caught up with my friends at the Mystery Obstacle, which was called the Anaconda. I didn't get a photo, but it was basically big black tubes at a nice steep angle. Tom gave me a boost, I grabbed the rope and climbed up through the inside of the tunnel. It was alright. I'm glad I did it.
We hit mile 11 and the Berlin Walls.
I wonder what Kris is thinking as she is giving Michelle a boost up the wall??
I know what I was thinking! I was so glad to be almost finished!! I wanted a beer so badly!
And after doing 11 miles, and at least 1/2 the obstacles, I felt I had earned my beer!!
The last two obstacles were Everest and another Electroshock Therapy.
Everest looked cool, but all I had left in me was walking. I had no desire to try to run up this obstacle. But my friends did it!! Yeah friends!!
And then I saw the most beautiful sign EVER!! Seriously. I ran to the finish line! Why weren't all these other people running?? Weren't they are happy as me to finally be finished?
I can officially say it! I AM A TOUGH MUDDER!!
And walking around the after-party, I came across two people that had on shirts from CrossFit Blackbeard. My good friend Mindy from Mindy's Fitness Journey works out at CF Blackbeard, so I thought it fitting that I get a quick picture!
Later I learned that one obstacle, The Phoenix (jumping over fire) was taken down before our wave. Why? I don't know. There were also several severe injuries including 3 broken ankles, one severely ripped bicep, and one injury so bad he wouldn't tell me what it was. They also had to close the course to allow an alligator to pass and the Underwater Tunnels obstacle had a big cottonmouth swimming nearby! Yikes!
Final Reflections: I had a great time and would totally do it again. Though I'd prefer more than a week's notice. The aid/hydration/fuel stations were great. Loved the bananas and the Clif bloks. I did more obstacles than I went around, so I'm proud of myself for that. But most of all I am proud of my friends! I loved watching them complete things that I couldn't and cheering them on was so much fun!!
What's coming up for me in the mud run world?? I am doing Pretty Muddy (the family wave with my trio) in December, and then in 2014 I have the Spartan Race in February and the Savage Race in March.
Have you ever done a mud run? Does this sort of physical activity appeal to you??