Remember when I said I needed a new goal for after my 5k race in September?
Yeah, I found one. A big, hairy, freaking-me-out goal. A “Do one thing a day/month/year that scares you” kind of goal, which is infinitely more scary than crossing locks, running over bridges, and climbing towers to do prisoner squats at the top without holding on to something. (Yes, Katie, that made me scared, but I did it anyways).
I think I may be certifiably nuts, but…
I am pre-registered for Toronto Tough Mudder 2013.
After chasing my team to get photos, and watching tons of folks go through obstacles, I began to wonder if indeed I could do a Tough Mudder race myself. There were all shapes, sizes, fitness levels, and abilities on that course. There were short folks like me hefting themselves over walls and such, and there were some people still on their weight loss and fitness journeys. I was particularly motivated by one woman who was still very overweight, and she ran at Everest and made it first try. She came back around after climbing down, hugging her supporters and sobbing. She had been scared to try the obstacle when she started because she felt she was “too fat” to leap and make the top. She went anyways, fueled by success on other obstacles in the course, and she *@#%ing made it. I so high fived her.
If that isn’t validation and motivation for her and everyone around her, I don’t know what is.
This was one of the thousands of amazing achievements at Tough Mudder that got my brain whirling and prompted me to make the decision to try. You have to go to the website and check it out, because at its heart, this event is not a race, it is a challenge. It is not a “winner takes all” but a vehicle for empowerment.
The goal is to finish, and they do not try and make you fail or feel defeated, like other mud-run antics I have read about. In every way, you are encouraged to keep going and see it through. You are encouraged to help your fellow Mudders, help strangers, be part of the goal for everyone you are running with. The common advice is to carry your wounded team mates to see it through (which I saw much of!).
If you fail in an obstacle, it is ok, keep moving, and come back next year to do better, make it a new goal. You are not punished with pushups or burpees or other such nonsense if you fall when traversing the Funky Monkey or other such obstacle (like some other types of mud races). And if you really, really don’t want to do an obstacle, you are encouraged to face your fears, but you can go around if it is too much. No one will yell at you for it.
Just watch a video of the Start Box (MC guy, you are perfect for that job, and you rocked) to understand the feeling I got in my chest as my husband and his team shot off onto the course. I was tearing up, and I wasn’t the one in the box getting revved up.
It also could have been the Van Halen and Eye of the Tiger… Just sayin’…
It wasn’t all serious stuff though. There was much silliness in the quest to get there. There were Mudders wearing tutu’s, full business suits, more neon tights on men than should be legal, and many, many witty and clever team names on t-shirts, tanks, bandannas etc. The odd weird one, like a guy in a speedo wearing a Hulk mask (Who totally did a Willem Dafoe in the ElectroShock Therapy obstacle) and dudes in full ball gown skirts, and one guy carrying a plastic severed leg (why?). Add to that, there were awesome ones like Superhero costumes, and a team wearing neon orange cowboy hats with panache and style.
I could totally rock a hat or something… But I think the focus might just be finishing without putting myself into traction first. Heh…
As official team M.O.M. (Manager of Mudders) and photographer, I ran up a Black Diamond slope (well, ran, stopped, gasped, then ran again), and chased my team, on the actual course path, on over half the course to get ahead of them to get photos, cheer them on, provide relief in the form of lip balm, energy chews and kisses –The latter for husband only, of course – and discussing strategy as I watched countless others power through before them. “Go head first! Look up as you run! DO IT GOGOGO!!!!” I carried a pack stuffed with cell phones, keys, wallets and other such important paraphernalia, except the camera, which I stuffed between my boobs when I was running. Don’t worry, it was very safe cushioned by the girls.
I then ran back down said slope to get to the obstacles at the bottom and the finish line. By the end, I was sunburnt, tired, hungry, and proud of myself for being able to keep up, in fact beat my team to some obstacles. My husband and his team finished in 4 hours, 7 minutes, and were all muddy, sore, tired, banged up, and really, really, friggin’ proud of themselves.
As we drove home on Sunday, I was on a motivational high, being part of something like this, watching all the people around me achieve. I was feeling left out, wanting to run. So I asked my husband “Do you think I could do that?” He hemmed and hawwed a lot, and finally said “You’d have to do a lot of work before May, but yeah, you could.”
I have to learn how to swim, lose another 60 pounds, build up some awesomely sculpteriffic upper body strength to haul my butt over 12 foot walls, and gain some endurance to
runclimb up hills with people way more fit than me.
So, I am.