So you want to know more about the Tough Mudder Challenge? So did I.
The TM is not for the faint of heart, but anyone can do it. If you have the mental drive to tackle this beast, then your comrades will get you through the rest. That’s exactly what stands out about this race, the camaraderie. There isn’t any point in the race where you’re without a friend, even if you’ve never met them before.
The course is built to test every bit of strength you have, and it isn’t just physical. I’m talking about the mental will to finish, to fight the fatigue you’ll feel on mile 8, to suck down sugary gel’s for cramps, to find a little bit more upper body strength to pull you over the top of Berlin Walls, so you don’t face plant down a 12 foot wall, to power through the burn in your legs to sprint up muddy hills, which at times are, comparable to frozen ice, to accept that you’ll be electrocuted, and that you paid over $100 to have this done.
The thing is, your comrades are there to help you find the strength in all of this even when you’ve forgotten. If you have the will to do this, then that’s all you really need.
I’ve tried to make time for this for 3 years now, and am happy that I finally followed through. I was worried about completing the race in the weeks leading up to the event. I hadn’t been feeling well for weeks prior. It all started one afternoon when I went for a run. After running 1.5 miles I felt exhausted. It was as if I had ran 8 miles without fueling properly. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I was forced to slow down. This pattern continued the next three times I tried to run.
At first, I assumed it was over-training. For me, it could have been a mix of over-training and being under much stress. As a graduate student who travels between several jobs daily, the exhaustion from this made training difficult. I train year round regardless of an upcoming race. With this in mind, I figured I was exhausted. After another week, I knew something was wrong. I was still just as tired, and becoming weaker.
You may have noticed in my previous blog post that I mentioned feeling exhausted. I tried everything, and considered everything. The night before the challenge, I prayed. I asked my higher power to keep me safe during the race and to give me enough energy to complete it. If I felt anything like I did in the days leading up to the event, I didn’t know how I’d get through it.
I woke up feeling excited. While I was feeling slightly better than before, I knew something was wrong. I also knew that I would push through this no matter what.
I finished the race feeling tired, but assuming it was because of the strenuous activity we did for 3 hours.
By Monday, I had a sore throat, fever, and felt like I couldn’t move my body. Something was definitely wrong. By Wednesday I managed to move the appointment I had with the doctor to earlier in the week. By Friday, I’d gone for two rounds of blood work, determined my white blood cell count was incredibly high, and finally discovered I had two virus’s and a throat infection. I wasn’t crazy after all! I was told that my spleen was possibly enlarged and that I had to rest. I was also told there would be no yoga (only the very gentle kind once I felt up to it) , running, heavy lifting, sports or any activity for that matter. I’d need to rest a lot for 4-6 weeks and possibly beyond (that was the news I didn’t want to hear). I can’t complain about any of this because there are so many others out there who have it much worse than me. While my mind wanted nothing more than to go for a run, my body wanted nothing to do with it anyway. This was the first time I felt this way in my life (feeling like I couldn’t physically do anything).
That’s when I realized how lucky I was to have completed the Tough Mudder at all, and with minimal injury (only a badly bruised tail bone).
Looking back at how damaged my body was during that time, I would like to think it would have been better to rest, but I know myself, and I know I probably wouldn’t have heeded this advice anyway.
Many times we push our bodies beyond its capacity. There is a fine line between pushing forward, and not listening. I realized that I was fooled by how sick I really was, and pushed my body way beyond its means. Working 13-15 hour days, and having two virus’s forced my body to slow down.
Regardless of what was going on inside, I can’t express how much fun I had at the TM. And the camaraderie is really what got me through it. Having my best friend at my side, and new friends we made along the way …this race is for anyone who has ever considered it. You can do, you absolutely can. Next year I promise to listen to my body more closely, give it the rest it needs. It’s incredible to think that all if the yoga and meditative practices I carry with me are probably what helped my will to continue forward. For that, and many other things, I am grateful. I welcome any questions about this years race or the race in general.
My best friend and I as our spectator friend snapped a quick photo of us mid-race.