Don't blink. Just run.

Where training meets fandom. And everything in between.

Tough Mudder Recap

on June 2, 2014

First, I just want to thank Tara and Julie for being my biggest cheerleaders and hiking up and around the spectator route looking for me to cheer me on, keeping me fueled and keeping me calm. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did without either of them (or Dan cheering me on from MA).

 

 

Now – I’m having trouble even figuring out where to begin, so I’ll just start with Friday’s drive up and our hotel. Tara ended up with the day off unexpectedly, so she got our last minute stuff packed that we hadn’t already gotten together. I left work at 1pm and we were hoping to beat the forecasted rain. We ended up driving through it, then sun again, then rain again, then sun again…you get the idea. I think we drove through rain maybe half a dozen times, but never for more than 5-10 minutes. The sky looked rather ominous at times.

 

 

As for the hotel, let’s just say, the outside was cute, the inside was ooooold and the key made me think we were entering the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.

 

 

This is apparently their idea of extra security in addition to the plain ol’ door lock

 

It had really good reviews online and, for the location as close as it was to Mount Snow, you couldn’t beat the price for the weekend! The bed sucked though, which was really bad for us Saturday night because neither of us could sleep well and I was already in a fair amount of pain from the day’s adventure. But I digress…

After we arrived in VT, Julie asked us to swing by her dad’s house to say hi since it was on our way to the hotel. We stopped in for a quick hello and she then followed us to the hotel so we could check in and unload the car. After that was all set we went up the road to West Dover Joe’s for dinner. It wasn’t bad, but the waitress wasn’t helpful at all. I ended up getting potato gnocchi with meat sauce, you know, to “carb load”, but I was nervous so I could only eat half of it. To be fair though, it was a really big portion.

Once we had dinner, we grabbed a couple of things at the 7-11 and headed back to the hotel for an early bedtime. I usually like to veg out to some TV before bed, but turns out the cable had been severed to our TV so we didn’t have a working set. I ended up just flipping through some stuff on my iPad and we went to bed around 9:30ish I think.

5:00 am came really early on race day, but I didn’t sleep that well because I was nervous (and again, the bed sucked). I got up and tried to eat, but could only manage a banana and some water. Once I showered, I got down half a bagel with some peanut butter on it. I put on my race clothes and made sure my pack was all stocked up with everything I felt I would need. I think I definitely overpacked though. I had a disposable waterproof camera, Shot Bloks, an epi pen (I’m allergic to bee stings), bandaids, wet ones, hot hands and (guys turn away at this point) some tampons. I was due for my TOM that very day, but hadn’t gotten it before we left. Sure enough, I got it halfway through – awesome. Tara thought it would be a good idea to get a pre-race jitters picture.

 

Nah, I’m not nervous…

 

Julie arrived around 6:45 and I think we left for Mount Snow around 7:05 or so. Parking was super easy and I was glad I paid for the premium pass. We were so close to everything that way and Julie and Tara could go to the car if they needed something during the race. I was VERY glad I bought it afterwards when I could barely walk.

 

 

I was running with my NE Spahtens team, none of whom I had met before. It was arranged on the Facebook page to meet up at 8:40 by the band stage for a team picture and then our wave was supposed to go off at 9:00.

 

Tara made these fun shirts for her and Julie to wear

 

We took our picture, and thought we got in the right line, but all of a sudden we heard them release the 9:00 wave and we realized we were standing in the 9:20 wave line. We tried to go around and run to catch up, but the MC saw us coming and said not to worry about wave times and catching up to teammates, just to stay and run in the next one. Not a great idea with the size of each wave going off, but whatever.

After we got released to go up to the start line, you are supposed to run up, climb a wall and then wait to be sent off after taking the TM pledge. We ran up, waited for a minute, then the team started weaving to the outside edge, so I followed them. I didn’t realize it, but we skipped the wall and ended up just making our own start time. I can’t say I was unhappy to not have to climb the wall (which I still can’t do on my own), but I still would have liked to have done the pledge and had the experience of the hype up by the MC.

 

That’s my “I have no idea what we’re doing” face

 

Once we weaved around the people waiting to climb the wall, hopped the barrier and went through the spectators, my team took off and I was all alone immediately. That sucked. As soon as they took off, I noticed this trio walking along and carrying with them a 60 lb sandbag. I made some comment to them about it and we ended up talking for a minute and turns out they were NE Spahtens, too! They were doing the race through an obstacle racing magazine and would be writing something about it so they were given media passes and didn’t really have a start time. I asked if they minded if I joined them for the race and they were really cool and said it wouldn’t be a problem at all. I was glad they had that sandbag because it meant just walking/hiking, not running it, which I was OK with. I could have run on some of the downhills (and I say some because not all of those were run-able) and straightaways, but the majority I would have been walking anyway. That mountain was no joke – VERY few people actually ran.

 

Our merry little band walking along to the first obstacle

 

The first obstacle we came across was Kiss Of Mud. This consisted of a VERY low barb wire crawl, uphill, through mud and rocks. When I say this thing was low, I mean looooow. If you click the link, it shows you the obstacle. Now see how those pictures make it look like there is some wiggle room above you? I can guarantee you there was NO wiggle room above me when I went through there. I know how to crawl under that sort of thing, and have trained to do so, but even just adjusting my hips to push myself upward would have my butt or lower shirt get snagged almost every other time. It was way more difficult than I expected and glad that we weren’t around any crowds going through it. Little did I know that this would be one of only a few obstacles I actually did.

Our next obstacle would be Glory Blades. These are inverted walls that you have to climb up the angled side. I opted out of this one due to my shoulder. They were much higher than I expected and, even with help, I would have had to use it quite a bit to get up and over. I was OK with this at the time, but knowing what would happen later I wish I had at least tried a bit.

 

 

After the Blades, I decided I wanted to help out with the sandbag to give them a break since they were awesome enough to let me join them. Plus, I felt like I should be doing something extra for skipping obstacles. The first time I carried it, I probably took it 500+ feet or so, plus up a smallish start of a hill. That thing was crazy! Nele is training for a Go Ruck Selection and will be carrying even more than that, and doing the challenge for 48 hours. She’s also competed in 3 Death Races and even won one of them! She’s a complete badass and couldn’t be any nicer of a person.

 

Not gonna lie – I felt pretty badass walking with this thing

 

Next up was the Funky Monkey. This one was one of the obstacles I opted out of in advance because of the shoulder at my chiro’s recommendation. I took everyone’s bags and just watched over them while Patrick, Ben and Nele went across. All 3 of them made it and did awesome.

 

I think this was right after Funky Monkey, at one of the spectator points for Julie and Tara

See that? Yep, that’s snow. We had to climb over 3 different snow banks and separate points on the mountain.

 

Next up – the one that scared me most at the time – Arctic Enema. I have to say, this was not nearly as bad as I expected. Sure it was freezing cold, but it was such a quick in and out I was OK. Now, the problem was when I put my hand down to jump into the water, I ended up wrenching my injured shoulder. Badly. Like, so badly I started crying in the portapotty. When I came out, I didn’t want the others to see me crying because I didn’t want to be the whiny girl or the big baby in the group so I grabbed my shirt from Tara and just talked to her and Julie for a minute while everybody got their clothes back on and situated to start hiking up again.

 

Talking strategy before getting into Arctic Enema

 

NOT a flattering picture of me, but it was definitely a wise choice taking off the tshirt to have it be warm and dry when I got out of the Enema. See that Rocktape on my shoulder? Not helpful after I tweaked it.

 

I believe Quagmire was next (no link on TM website) and it was basically just going through a mud pit. The whole mountain was mud so this wasn’t that dramatic.

 

 

I believe Walk The Plank was next and this was another one I knew I wasn’t doing in advance because I’m a chicken shit and didn’t want to jump off into the water. The water didn’t bother me, the jumping did.

 

Not a great pic but it was about a 15 foot jump. Ben is the only one who did this obstacle.

 

From this point on, my memory isn’t the greatest. I can’t use the map to jog my memory because the obstacles weren’t in order like the map showed. I think the next one was Devil’s Beard. There is no link for it online, but basically it was a huge, long cargo net (maybe 25 feet?) that you had to crawl under. No one actually crawled though. Everyone going under was just using teamwork to hold it up and walk through. Once we got out from under the cargo net, we then had to crawl through probably 25 ft tubes that were actually part of Balls To The Wall. I took off my pack and pushed it ahead of me while crawling on my hands and knees, so it wasn’t too tight of a tube that I had to belly crawl.

After that, it shows “Muddersection” as the next obstacle. I don’t know where or what the hell this was, but like I said, there was so much mud on that mountain it was like the whole thing was one big “Muddersection”.

I think some confusion comes in here because I believe Balls To The Wall was next, which was basically a tall rope climb wall. This was supposedly on the map just after mile 3, but I know its as much later than that. Once again I skipped out due to not being able to pull myself up with my shoulder, so I babysat the bags again. But not Joe the Sandbag – he was going up and over! They were SO impressive getting that thing through. Nele and Ben climbed at the same time next to each other while Pat handed the sandbag up to them. They then hoisted it up and over the wall to the other side and the three of them then went over themselves. It was amazing to watch them work.

 

 

Once they climbed Balls To The Wall, I finished out the rest of the obstacle with them which went through a water pit (with very little water left in it when we got there) and then over the tubes we previously crawled through (5 or 6 I think). We did a small loop up and down and then came to Berlin Walls. After waiting in line for probably 1/2 hour at Balls, we all just bypassed these walls and kept going. From there, it was up, up and up some more to the highest point of the Mudder where we faced Lumberjacked. I opted out again and at this point resigned myself to the fact that my biggest obstacle was the mountain.

 

 

On the way down, we went by Pole Dancer. All shoulders – not happening for Courtney. I was impressed yet again as they managed to work together to get the sandbag across it. After that was Pyramid Scheme. There was a huge mud trench in front of the wall and lines of people, so no one was able to just run and try to get up it by themselves. There was no way someone was yanking me up this thing, so I watched the bags again as the trio plus the sandbag went up the wall.

Back up the mountain we went after Pyramid until we came across Pitfall. I’m not sure what this was meant to be, but it was kind of a maze of muddy water. I guess some were deeper than others, but you didn’t know which ones? I have no idea what the point of that one was, but I went through it. From there, we went to Warrior Carry. Patrick had gone ahead with the sandbag which meant there were only 3 of us. Ben ended up just piggybacking Nele the whole way while I carried his bag. I would have attempted to piggy back someone, but wasn’t going to worry about it at this point so close to the end.

Down the mountain we went to the point where we had to split up. Being part of the media group, the trio got to do the Legionnaire’s Loop. This is reserved only for people who have done 1 or more Mudders already. Since this was my first, I had to continue on alone until the rally point where I would meet up with them again before the last obstacle. I walked down the hill and was able to see them complete their extra obstacles which was fun.

The last obstacle was Electroshock Therapy, which also scared the hell out of me. I was told to cover my face, keep my head down and just haul ass through it. I did end up getting zapped on the arm, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected.

 

See those little dangly things surrounding me? Yeah, full of electricity.

 

And Tara even got it in live action! Watch me across the top of the screen (purple pack, black pants, navy shirt).

 

Now, you have to understand, I thought after this obstacle we were literally done. No. That’s too kind. We had to go UPhill again and back down a small loop before crossing the actual finish line.

 

Crossing as a team holding Joe the Sandbag

 

Once we crossed that line, there was nothing sweeter than having that orange headband put on me.

 

 

Am I upset I couldn’t/didn’t do more obstacles? Yes. Terribly? No. I found that mountain to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever tackled in my life. I could barely move my right leg from the hip and knee pain by the end and was pretty much dragging it behind me to the car and for the rest of the night. My shoulder was screaming in pain until Sunday afternoon and is just now starting to ease up. Would I ever do it again? Maybe.

Nele, Ben and Patrick were the ultimate teammates and I couldn’t have asked to meet better people at just the right time when I needed a team. I will always be thankful they let me tag along with them.

 

Even Joe got a headband

 

Here are some fun post race pics from the parking lot and the hotel “De-Mudder” station they set up (a hose outside LOL).

 

 

Goal race #1 for the year – done! Goal race #2 training starts June 24! Half marathon – I’m coming for you!

 

 

 

 

 

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45 responses to “Tough Mudder Recap

  1. Such a great review! I felt
    Like I could feel all of your pain and suffering!! HUGE CONGRATS!!! You’re a tough mudder chick, and that is really cool!!!

  2. piratebobcat says:

    Way to earn your orange headband!!!!

  3. dawn @ running the dawn says:

    what an awesome race and report! epic!

  4. Julie says:

    So proud of you and was happy to be there with you along the way! You did amazing!!!!!

  5. Wow – this looks so hard. Congrats on earning your headband!

  6. This looks freakin’ hard! Congrats on getting through it, you rock!

  7. Wow fantastic review! Sorry about the shoulder though! So so so proud of you! You did it!

    Oh and redrum to the creepy hotel!

  8. Congrats! You are a Mudder now! Hoorah! Sorry it didn’t go as expected but that how those things go sometimes!

  9. osarah26 says:

    Your recap is awesome! I always knew Tough Mudders were hard but I had no idea (and I didn’t realize you could skip the obstacles) so I am super impressed by your toughness. Songratulations on getting through it, especially the electro-shock one! I always think people are crazy about wanting to get zapped on purpose! Bummer about your shoulder, but you still toughed it out- great job!

    • Courtney says:

      Thanks! I liked that you could skip them if you wanted, but still felt a little guilty.

      I didn’t technically *want* to get zapped, but just had to try it. I had already been zapped at a previous race before, so I sort of knew what to expect in terms of the feeling, but not how much zapping would occur.

  10. Congratulations Courtney! Anyone who can complete these races is a badass in my eyes. 🙂 I’m afraid of the electric part of the race!

  11. Wow! That looks so challenging! Good job.

  12. d20girl says:

    What a crazy race! Glad you found a great group of people to join and AWESOME job!!

  13. Alli says:

    You did great! There is no shame in bypassing obstacles. That mountain in and of itself was an obstacle times 10 and you conquered it!

  14. Oh my goodness. I am so happy you were brave enough to ask those people if you could join them, and I am even happier they said yes and were great race buddies.

    • Courtney says:

      I’ve definitely gotten a lot braver since I started running races. I don’t have friends that are into this sort of thing so it’s either do them by myself or try to meet new people. It’s terrifying putting myself out there, but I’ve met some awesome people by doing it.

  15. Oh my gosh this sounds exhausting. I need a nap just from reading it! I’m sorry about your shoulder but you kept on going and you finished so that’s all that matters!

  16. This race just looks so crazy! Awesome job getting through it all and earning your orange headband! Congrats!!

  17. […] Here are my trials with the Tough Mudder.  (Courtney’s can be found here.) […]

  18. Debbie @ Deb Runs says:

    First of all, major congrats and kudos for checking this race off your list! What was the distance of the event?

    Am I the only one that thinks it’s hilarious that you got up and showered “before” the Tough Mudder? 🙂

    Thanks for including links to the obstacles. I think the Funky Monkey would be my favorite because I would be up and away from the mud! 🙂

    • Courtney says:

      Thanks! It ended up being 10.1 or 10.2 miles. The mountain was the worst of it by far.

      I shower before every race. Just habit I guess. I took a nice long one after too, fully clothed, to rinse everything off before I cleaned myself. LOL

  19. Michelle Hardy says:

    This is awesome! I have a few questions, if you don’t mind! We are doing this next month!!

  20. Michelle Hardy says:

    So it was doable to carry a backpack with epi-pens? I am so afraid I will get stung by a bee and be so far away from a medical aid station… Also, did a lot of people end up walking or was it straight running the entire time?

    • Courtney says:

      Yes, I carried this pack: http://dontblinkjustrun.com/2014/05/11/camelbak-octane-lr-review/

      I require epi pens for bees, too.Most of the “regular” people just power hiked the mountain. It was covered in mud and still some snow and a lot of people were falling if they tried to run but didn’t seem to care. The pack is good to carry some fuel in, in case you don’t like what they’re offering (which I didn’t). It’s good to have extra water as well. The only help that can get to you in certain areas is an ATV – a girl busted her leg and her teammates had to carry her to where they could drive up and pick her up. Not trying to scare you, just be careful. I also put some hot hands in my pack which I ended up giving to a girl walking in a space blanket who refused to quit. She was shaking pretty bad from the cold and crying and I felt bad.

      On the same note, don’t pack too much either. Bare necessities.

      • Michelle Hardy says:

        ok that’s good to know. I have heard so many reviews about ‘you have to be able to run 5 miles without stopping’ and such. How sore were you the next couple of days?

      • Courtney says:

        Nah…you’ll be fine just walking it. It took us 7.5 hours to walk it, but most of the people I was with were taking turns carrying a 60 lb sandbag as well. Just be prepared for a LOT of hiking. I was very sore, within a few hours and for several days.

  21. Michelle Hardy says:

    That’s not too bad, I have a fear that we will be like the slow people, and it will be all over and we get stuck on the mountain somewhere (I over think a lot of things). It is a stress reliever to talk to someone who has done it at Mount Snow.

  22. Michelle Hardy says:

    We just finished on Saturday! It was such a crazy experience, and we had so much fun! We are already talking about doing the one in September in Maine! Thanks for the info!

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