tough, tough, tough

Do any of you, faithful readers, remember Tough Mudder?  I've completed and blogged about it twice now.  I've even won Toastmasters contests talking about it.  It's one of my favorite races.

This past weekend was round three with a team that included a couple of first-timers.  I'm sure they considered me a combination sherpa / Yoda / comic relief.  At least that's what I was going for.

The big question for me is would my increased strength pay off?  I've been doing weight training for about a year after doing just endurance workouts the couple of years prior.  Research has convinced me that strength training will lead to better performance and less injury.  But research smesearch.  I want this strength to lead to more fun too.

It already saw dividends at race #2 when I'd been at it just 3 months.  How about this time?  The proof's in the pudding so what flavor was it?

before, nice and clean

and after (spoiler: we finished)

We got started an hour late.  Traffic in was quite backed up and we didn't have buffer time in our schedule.  But once we arrived, registered, dropped bags and took the above photo we ran towards the start. Off we went where everyone soon learned they don't put mud in the title for nothing...

Shannon is the first to get dirty

Mike grimaces but muds it out

I must think this is fun

I'd like to point out that many of these photos were taken by Mike's wife.  Thanks Luanne!

Last time I was really proud of myself that I made it across the monkey bars.  Well a few hundred pull ups later, it was almost an easy challenge.  Almost.

a natural born monkey

There was only one challenge I didn't do this time - the dreaded Arctic Enema.  I did it the first time out and that was enough for one lifetime.  It's a construction dumpster filled with ice water.  There's a barrier in the middle so you have to duck your head underneath.  It is nothing but pain.

But Mike wanted to do every obstacle so he went for it.  Check out this craziness!

Mike, making a questionable decision

this didn't hurt, really!

One thing that surprises a lot of participants is all the hills.  You'll see plenty of people stopping to huff and puff or on the ground trying to stretch out a cramp.  I run hills pretty regularly and thus was not so severely affected.  These hills were a lot steeper than what I run, yes.  But my preparation was enough to push through.

Shannon encourages me with a hair whip

this is not the top of a killer hill

coming down was pretty spectacular too...and dusty

on top of a hill and a long ways from our car

I finally did the two obstacles I've never completed before.  Everest is a 1/4 pipe, about 10 feet tall.  You run up and either pull yourself up or hope someone grabs your arms.  It's always the penultimate one which precedes the Electro Shock Therapy which is what Tough Mudder is known for.  You run through a wooden structure with dangling wires that give you a few jolts as you try and stay on your feet.  Check and check.

In fact, this is the first Tough Mudder I ran without injury.  (Injuries are what stopped me from trying Everest before.)  Let me say, being 100% healthy is better.  Now, more obstacle photos.



how deep is this water again?

careful, Shannon, that water's sanitation level is questionable

as long as the mouth is above water...

You've probably noticed the shirts by now.  My sister came up the Team Dumpling concept and I I knew this had to happen.  Christine made the fantastic shirts which were very popular with fellow mudders.  I was catcalled many times.  I'm assuming it wasn't because of my hot legs.

goin' for a ride, when's my turn?

through the mud and dust storms...

I don't mean to say Tough Mudder is all easy peasy now.  Some parts of the race led to grunting and straining.

I can still stand up, really

me too, I promise


I can pull this with the power of my hair alone. that's is a lie, tough pulling through the sand

As it ended, we were tired and ready for some food.  It was about 3:00 and of course we hadn't had lunch.  We had to sit through a ton of traffic delay before the traditional Phil's could be had.  The traffic was the only bad thing on this day.  It was a ton of fun sandwiched between two long, long waits.

It's clear I enjoy this kind of thing, but how about Shannon and Mike?  Well they both talked about doing it again. This was a crowd that is tougher than your average panda bear.  I guess this Yoda didn't lead them too far astray.  And I know I provided comic relief.  There were plenty of laughs during the day.  Well, I think they were laughing with me...


My next scheduled race is my second 1/2 Ironman in July, 2014.  The first one I finished but ran out of calories partway through the run.  This time I hope to figure that out and push the pace all the way to the end.  Then that pudding will be sweet and chocolaty like this one was.