Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tough Mudder Utah, event report, part 3 – the part describing the next 12 obstacles

Obstacle #12: Balls to the Wall This is a new obstacle, debuted in Utah. Oh, how freakin’ lucky are we? This was a wooden wall AS TALL AS MY HOUSE with ropes for the hands and 2x4s for the feet. So, we had less than 2” for our toes to go on, and our hands were gripping the rope. Both things were getting muddy, but ok. I had a hard time even getting on the wall because the first board was so high and my upper body strength is so iffy. BO gave me a shove on the bum so that I could get started, and it was slow going. SLOW. It took so long that every time I managed to get on the next board (each 3’ apart), there was a cheer from the crowd below. This was really sweet, but I was terrified. All I could think was that if I fell, I would fall on my back on a meager foot of hay. I would be paralyzed which would be awful because we have steps going all over our house. I would be in a wheelchair and not be about to maneuver in my own home. This was the most terrifying thing I’ve done since, well, F – I’m not even sure. I was getting closer to the top and the guy next to me (who scaled the wall like Spiderman) turned and asked if I needed help. I almost started to cry. So, I said “Yes. I need help. Please help me. Please help me!” in a really scared, little girl, shaking voice. He anchored himself and reached his gloved hand down to me. I made it to the top, but I wouldn’t have. I honest-to-goodness would not have made it. I am 100% convinced that I would have fallen before I would have made it. Before he quickly scaled himself down, I said “I love you,” and I meant it. I really did. Of course, when I got to the top, the other side was exactly the same. I had to get down the same way I got up. I looked at my teammates and mouthed the F-word. They all knew exactly what I was saying. I made it down the other side, and got some congratulations from my teammates and other people, too. It was really sweet, but I couldn’t soak it all in because my adrenaline was amped over the top. I was wired. And scared even though I was no longer on the wall. In fact, I was scared until I reached the next obstacle. I was scared later when I just LOOKED at Balls to the Wall. I still can’t think of the last time I was this scared.

Obstacle #13: Mud Mile This was like the Dirty Ballerina, but three times more trenches, deeper trenches (chest/chin deep) and mini-hills between each trench (instead of the flat surface that the DB had). This was, by far, the most fun. Bless the course organizers for putting this after that last horrible obstacle to get my mind off of my terror. Oh my gawd. We were a disastrous mess. It was hysterical. Again, I did the slide-it-in entry approach and the knee-up exit, but this time I had to have help from anybody who was already out of the trench. At the last trench, BO shoved me in. I landed with a huge splash. I turned around and called him an ass just in time for RG to shove BO in! We had a blast on this obstacle. A blast!
Just getting started in the Mud Mile. By the end, we were covered head to toe with slippery, gray mud.

Obstacle #14: Boa Constrictor This obstacle consists of ribbed culverts with mud and water inside. The first slants down slightly and the second slants back up. You’ve got to gut crawl through both of them. I managed to do some of it on my knees, but not much. After what we had been through, this was another breather, relatively speaking.
RG halfway through the Boa Constrictor

Obstacle #15: Faux Cliffhanger We all thought that this was Cliffhanger, but honestly, I think that it was just an extra mud pit placed on the course. The mud was knee+ deep and had a serious sucking action. I had tied my shoes tightly, but actually worried a time or two about losing them. Climbing up the other side was awfully hard. Again, it was the super slippery gray mud, and impossible to get a foothold. We ended up having RG and JN lay down on their stomachs, and we used them as human ladders. BO and MW were at the bottom to get us started. Other guys were at the top to grab our hands and pull us up. Teamwork works. Even though we had been “rinsed off” during Boa Constrictor, we were now covered once again.
See that line of orange shirts? That's us.

Obstacle #16: Carry a Mudder This isn’t an official obstacle, but I think that it’s just part of the whole deal. It’s a 100 yard stretch where you have to carry another Mudder (teammate or not) on your back. At the halfway point, you have to switch. RG carried me at first. The whole team was together. At the halfway point, JN just kept carrying his wife, LN, because she is TINY and she was starting to have some hip problems. At the halfway point, everybody switched. RG was going to keep carrying me, but I wouldn’t let him. I wasn’t going to wuss out. He didn’t think that I could do it. I did. I totally did. We were slower than the rest of the team, but I carried his ass for the next 100 yards just like he had done for me. Yes. I rock.

Obstacle #17: Berlin Walls #2 This is a repeat of the first Berlin Walls, but 14-feet high instead of 12, and covered with slimy gray mud. Same approach as before. I was just as graceful as the first time. I smacked my left knee coming off of both walls again.

Obstacle #18: Cliffhanger Now, we got to the actual Cliffhanger. It starts by jumping into a deep pit of water (chest deep), and then climbing up a hill. At least this time we were given a big cargo net to help us get up to the top. I made it. Piece of cake. And, by “piece of cake,” I mean it was steep and slippery and gross!
The orange team just getting ready to enter the water pit before the big climb.

Obstacle #19: Funky Monkey I’ve never seen any woman make it across these. If there is a YouTube that proves me wrong, I would love to see it. Basically, this is the playground monkey bars, but longer, sloping, greased, muddy, and loose. Yup. There were probably 40 bars. The first 20 are at an incline with the remaining on a decline. They are loose, so they turn just a smidge each time you grab one. They are slippery from the mud but also from the grease that the organizers put on them. Thoughtful, no? Thankfully, there is a deep, watery mud pit below so that when you fall off the bars, you can get rinsed off. I could barely reach the bars, so I couldn’t get enough of a grip to even get started. I’m not ashamed to say that after realizing that I couldn’t get a grip, I just lowered myself into the water and walked across that way. MW rocked it in, like, ten seconds. He’s incredible. He’s also an experienced rock climber.

Obstacle #20: Just the Tip This is an 18-foot long wall with two 2x4s – one for your feet and one for your hands. I couldn’t get a foothold with the problems I have with the big toe on my right foot. I can’t grip with it, I can’t push with it, I can’t bend it. Again, I just had to lower myself into the water and walk across. The only person from our team to make it was MW. No surprise there.

Obstacle #21: Walk the Plank This is a 15-foot high platform that you have to jump off into a very deep pool of water. My Seattle friend said “do not hesitate,” but honestly, it was so hard to get to the top (BO helped me at the bottom and MW helped me at the top) that I needed a second to catch my breath. That second turned into a minute – maybe two. I don’t know. I made eye contact with two of the lifeguards and said “do NOT let me drown.” They promised to keep me alive. In fact, they promised to throw in their red flotation devices immediately after I jumped so that they could just pull me out. I finally got the nerve, plugged my nose, and plunged into a cold, DEEP, muddy nightmare. Holy crap. I went down for what seemed like 100 years even though I started kicking as soon as I hit the water. At least, I think I did. Who the hell knows? Anyway, I did finally come to the top, and true to what they promised, there was a red flotation device waiting for me. I didn’t grab it. Instead, I shouted “Shit! Piss!” and started back paddling. The lifeguard laughed and said something to me. I assume that he was talking about my foul mouth, but I’m not sure. I just kept paddling until I got to the other side with the cargo net and climbed out. Bummer about this obstacle: I lost my gloves out of the waist band of my running pants. I'm glad that I didn't spend more than $3 for them!

Obstacle #22: Everest This is a quarter-pipe similar to what skateboarders and snowboarders use. The idea is to sprint up as far as possible hopefully making it to the top. Few people actually make it to the top without help. There is almost always a groups of people laying on their bellies at the top trying to catch those trying to come up. MW and RG made it up with a little help, and then they were there to help BO and the rest of us. JN and LN didn’t attempt it because she could barely walk at this point, and he’s so dang cute and in looooove with her that he went off to find her a space blanket and help her get warm. At the beginning of the event, the announcer/emcee/motivational dude gives instructions like “if you’ve ever had a stroke, convulsion, seizure, or if you have a pacemaker, don’t do XXX obstacles.” He also says “if you decide to skip an obstacle or if you can’t do it, that’s ok. There is no shame in that.” Well, I disagree. Before we even got to Everest, I had decided that I was done. I don’t think that my legs had ANY sprint in them, and my arms/chest definitely had nothing. MW said “don’t worry about it; we’ll grab your hands and pull you up.” The problem was that they would have to do all of the work. I had nothing left, and I wouldn’t be helping. They would basically have to pull 170 pounds of dead weight up and over the top of the obstacle. That just didn’t seem fair to do to them. And, a little part of me didn’t want to make a fool of myself with my exhausted body. So, I sat it out. Now, there is shame in not even trying. I feel like a fraud, a wuss, a boob. UG! I hate that feeling!
This is BO trying to get up Everest with RG and MW grabbing his hands.

Obstacle #23: Electroshock Therapy This is like the Electric Eel, but upright and with bales of hay to jump over. Some of the participants were going through on their feet, and some were going through on their stomachs. Some were starting on foot and finishing on their tummies after getting knocked down by the shocks. After the Electric Eel, I had absolutely ZERO desire to do this obstacle. ZERO!! That shit hurts. I only felt a little bad that I wasn’t doing it. Until I found out that RG didn’t get shocked once because he did it on his belly and maneuvered it well. GREAT! Now I totally feel like a failure. Yes. I have unrealistically high expectations for myself. But, really. I didn’t even try. What a baby. I can’t stand it. The finish line where we were freezing half to death!
Left to right: RG, BO, JN, LN, MW, and yours truly

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