Tough Mudder- AGAIN?

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Getting ready for my next muddy adventure. This time, my son is going with me. I am stoked to see him go on his own personal quest to see what it is like to face a challenge with such a diverse group of people.

The most important parts of this trip will be sharing some history and challenges with my main guy. He has been there with me for so many of my “firsts” and I can’t wait to experience Philadelphia with him.

Tough Mudder is in some ways the bane of my existence. I don’t actually have that much fun out there, and I really have no business trying to do this. Oh, well. I am going to do this because I can. I can persevere. Honestly I am just thankful for the lack of elevation in PA.

So, 2015 is the Year of Adventure for me. I have learned some lessons, better underwear choices for playing in the mud comes to mind, and I have made some new friends. I have left the job of my dreams, and I am still okay.

Tough Mudder is not a race. It is a chance to be part of a group working together. I am not afraid of it this time. I am actually a little at peace with my phobias and fears. I am taking my camera and watching my boy have the adventure of his life. It is not always about me. It is okay for me to give up a little comfort for my son to have a life changing experience.

My son will get to meet Captain America, and he will meet The Blogger. There are several other superheroes who will be there with our group. I am excited to see where Ty finds his place among these men. I am counting on them to show him how to give back. I am counting on them to keep me from giving up.

My Tribe did a Tough Mudder yesterday.

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Ahhhh. The hopeful expressions of the innocent. Just kidding. They know what this is all about. It’s Mudder Time! Colorado is the hardest course in North America. Yeah, I obviously stayed home for this one.

I bet you thought you were going to get away with never hearing about another Tough Mudder again. After all, remember how hard the last one was? Have you seen me at boxing lately? Hey! I have been working! And traveling. And resting. . . I know. I have to find a boxing gym. More about the latest in Adventures in Employment later. This is about my friends. 

Tough Mudder in Snowmass, Colorado. Right after Mesa, I had considered trying to train for this one. Here’s the thing, it is at a ski resort. Yep. They were climbing up and down mountains. Right. So, after my training plans fell through I graciously opted out of this adventure. My Kick-ass, awesome, brave, tough-as-nails tribe have never looked back. They had things to do.

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Wishing I were somehow there with them. #jealous

Details are sparse at this point and it is not my story to tell. However, I was having my butt kicked at work, all the while trying to sneak a peek for their progress occasionally. I was living vicariously through my Muddy Buddies.

My Tribe is filled with great people. We have no problem being authentic with each other and this is one of the best parts of having a group.

For your viewing pleasure: can’t wait to hear or hopefully even read all of their stories. 

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Hydrate and heal your broken bodies my friends.

The great thing about Tough Mudder is the way everyone even complete strangers, end up as part of a big family. The physical challenge is such a small part of this adventure. There are mental and emotional obstacles for so many of us.

In case you are wondering, my next Tough Mudder is in about a month. I am taking my son to experience this adventure with a HUGE group of lovely people. I know some of them, the rest I am excited to meet. Yep, it is still going to be hard. I am still terrified of heights. I am still fraught with self-doubt and anxiety. None of that matters. We have totally got this. 

Worlds Collide

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Photo by Mark Larsen

Finding myself in desperate need of an attitude adjustment was a bit humbling. After all, I had just completed a Tough Mudder. I was a badass. (Okay, I had just walked a Tough Mudder, with a group of guys who had lifted me up to make all the walls totally doable.) I was still a badass.

I have a nasty habit of bad mouthing myself, most of it is internal, but it often the only words I hear. This is the worst thing in the world for trying to get healthy.

I have been making a lot of changes in my life lately. I am trying to be more active, trying to write, and trying to get out more socially. I am amazed at how much internal resistance to change I face.

I struggle with all the changes. Making good decisions about food, sleep, and exercise. Going to the doctor, and taking the advice of the doctor. It is hard. Take boxing for example. I get frustrated when I cannot figure out the combination, or when I run out of breath. I get frustrated when my right calf cramps up. I also get frustrated when we are doing burpees. Although, that could just be because burpees suck.

On a side note: As I sit here writing this, a Nike commercial about women just came on. It was several different women saying the things that run through their heads while they are working out. Despite the voices saying “I can’t do this,” they kept going until it changed to “I did it.” That is the coolest thing that happens for me. I am steady saying “I can’t,” and I keep going until I did. I wonder how one actually changes the inner dialogue to “This sucks ass, but check out what I am doing.”

I have this idea for a story that I am trying to write. I keep starting it, and then I convince myself that I cannot possibly do it justice and I put it away. It’s really too bad that I keep talking myself out of writing it, because I really want to know what happens.

Yes, that’s right. I want to see what happens. I want to see what I can come up with. That is the awesome part of writing, I get to experience the story as I am writing it. It is daydreaming times a million.

My story is about a woman, who has a lot in common with me, however there are quite a few differences too. For one thing, she is a successful writer. She found success. You want to hear a secret? It did not solve anything, which is the crux of the story. I love this character. It is almost as if she is my chance to do what I really want to do with my life.

Wait a second! Before you start getting any crazy ideas, I am not going to quit my job and start writing the great American novel. This is just an exercise and my first attempt at fiction.

It is not surprising that my main character is a lot like me. People write what they know. I suppose you could also write to learn or explore. This one is just my first try. I hope that I am able to grow and get better as I continue this foray into fiction. I have to give myself the chance though.

Change is hard. Growth hurts. Wandering into the unknown takes a certain amount of courage. For a person who wants to avoid uncertainty, it takes an insane amount of bravery and willingness. I never claimed to be adventurous. The problem is that I want to go on adventures.

I want to live a full life. I want to explore all the possibilities. All I have to do is give myself the chance. I think there must be a middle ground where the worlds between fear and self-loathing and courage and adventure collide. I imagine that battle would be epic. This is where I should be. I can’t run away from the challenge, I have to face it head on.

This is where I will find peace. I have to keep walking through the fear until I get through the “I can’t do it,” to the “Look at what I did!” It’s going to be great. Once I get through some of the growing pains.

 

My One Regret: Tough Mudder- Mesa

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IMG_7972I just finished reading The Blogger’s account of the end of Tough Mudder. Those of you who know anything at all about it, know that it always ends with a trip up Everest and a dash through electricity.

I knew all along that Everest is not something I feel like I need to do. It just seems rather careless with a marginal knee. So, I never intended to do it. I did not expect to do what I did though.

I went and sat off to the side alone. I was not watching my teammates crushing this obstacle. I missed Amazing Daniel giving back to his team, one person at a time. You see, Daniel was paralyzed in a work accident. He still came and crushed every single obstacle Tough Mudder had to throw at him. Then, at the end, after he traversed a human ladder to the top of Everest, he stayed at the top and caught the hands of every member of our team to help them to the summit. I missed it.

I forgot about my team. I was frustrated, sore, tired, hungry, and irritable. More than anything, I was ashamed that I had stopped training for TM. I knew that I had brought all that pain and misery on myself. I hated feeling so weak and dependent on that course. I felt like the anchor that threatened to drag down the ship. I felt like I did not belong. I felt like they would have been better off without me.

Letting myself entertain those thoughts was a dangerous game to play. It sucked all my motivation out the door. It is unfortunate that I threw those dice three months before TM. I gave in to negativity. I stopped believing that I was worth fighting for. I unlearned all the lessons I thought I had learned. It is a slippery slope. Negativity only breeds more negativity. I knew that. I did it anyway.

Now, let’s keep in mind my team is awesome. They had supported me the entire time. No one made me feel this way. I did. I let the noise inside my head crowd out reality. The worst part about this whole journey to a healthier lifestyle is the way I talk to myself. I constantly undermine my successes and sabotage all that is good. I do that. No one does it to me. So, I am responsible for changing it.

Yes, TM was awesome.

Yes, TM was HARD.

Yes, I walked across the finish line- and celebrated with my team.

Yes, I hated a lot of it.

Yes, my life changed.

Yes, I made some new life long friends.

Yes, I changed my mind about some people.

I am planning to do two more Tough Mudders this year. Dallas and then I will rejoin the SDLHC in Philly. I have a lot of things that I want to do over.

  1. No crying about climbing over walls.
  2. No going off and ignoring my friends, just so I can entertain my own negativity.
  3. I will more prepared physically for the challenge.
  4. I won’t let my head do all the thinking.
  5. I will buy a waterproof camera and take a ton of pictures.
  6. I will share this experience with my son (In Philly)
  7. I will not shut out my best friend this time.
  8. I will remember that being quiet and ignoring the group, hurts people’s feelings.
  9. I will not lose my bib.
  10. I will figure out how to avoid blisters.
  11. I will get different underwear.
  12. I will laugh more.
  13. I will wear a damn TIARA. You know why? Because I am a damn Princess.

So, yeah. My biggest regret is that I missed Everest. It was a selfish move. I will not be making that mistake again.

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I really underestimated how much this would change my life.

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Nope- look at the bottom. I was terrified at that point. I swear, it is so much higher than it looks here.

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Nose wrinkle and all. I guess I did not care what I looked like. Maybe I stepped out of my head for a minute, and let my heart take over.

 

This is me. I am not starting over. I am continuing this quest. I may make mistakes, and I may have some regrets. That does not diminish what this experience was for me. Remember- in my new tribe, we have a saying:

We totally got this.

 

Impressions and Assumptions: The Blogger and Captain America

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I am a people watcher. There is a steady stream of observations constantly running through my head. Sometimes, it is exhausting to be constantly evaluating every thing that I see and hear.

(Yes, I know you were hoping this would not be about Tough Mudder. Too bad.) I just tricked you by not putting it in the title.

This is the story of how my mind was changed.

When I first stumbled upon The Blogger, I was struck by how he wrote these awesome pieces that seemed so unapologetically real and sincere. He was funny and relatable. As I read more, I realized he was just a normal guy who happened to have enough courage to just put it out there and see what happened. I decided I wanted to watch. I wanted to see how the story unfolded.

So, I joined an online health club he had started. It took me a while to figure out how it all worked, and eventually I joined a gym and started working out. I had something to talk about with these people. Over time, I go to know some of them. It was fun. It was a distraction. It was not REAL. It seemed to fit into my idea of heaven, keeping life compartmentalized and separate.

Then, I “met” Captain America. Here was a confident, insanely supportive man. He got on my nerves. I do not trust people who are that nice. They freak me out. Over time, we developed a playful push and shove. He encouraged my boxing, challenged me to do 100 burpees, and even staged a repeat ice water challenge. He wrote a post about me and how I inspired him. At first, I was embarrassed, and then, for some reason it worked for me. I was excited about getting healthy.

Now, fast forward. These two guys were part of a group of fitty fools who had done a Tough Mudder in Utah. All of these people suddenly became more real. I wanted to do one too. I wanted to do one with them.

I got my chance. There were going to be three “official” group Tough Mudders. I decided to do Mesa. I only had 6 months to prepare. The first three went well. Then, life hit me squarely in the chest, and knocked me so far off the wagon that I was not entirely certain there ever was a wagon. The group interactions were so excited and frantically supportive, and I became a skeptic. These people were weird. Why were they all so nice to each other? Why were we all so excited? What were we thinking?

I managed to convince myself that The Blogger was only doing this to advance his personal agenda. I assumed that is the only reason someone would do all of this. I doubted his sincerity every step of the way. Things felt contrived and staged. Nothing felt natural to me. My own insecurities were painting his actions in an unflattering light. I was afraid to be excited. I was sure this was all going to be some epic prank aimed at the people who were not physically prepared for a Tough Mudder. I had nightmares about the humiliation.

And then I was there. I was in a group of people who I only knew online. I was seeing them for the first time. I watched and judged. I maintained my attitude of indifference. I was afraid to have a good time, because it would be so disappointing when the experience failed to live up to my expectations.

Now, it is Friday morning. I am walking through the dining room at the hotel. I hear this voice say “And, there is Nyki.” I turn and there in real life is Captain America. He is wearing a shirt that I have seen so many pictures of him in. It is a little unreal. He is both exactly what I expected and nothing like I anticipated. He walked up to me, we had a brief hug, and I immediately reverted to the shy, uncomfortable girl who is meeting someone for the first time. Nevermind that he knows so much about me. It was like meeting a stranger you have known your entire life. Miss Snarky snuck into my head, and I immediately decided that the hug was out of obligation, and that he was not in fact glad to meet me.

(Not that he had done anything to give me that impression. I ASSUMED that was the case.) I always assume that is the case.

Dinner that night was interesting. Walking into a lion’s den of hungry people who think it is a good idea to burst into cheers when you walk through the door is startling. The Blogger took his role as a leader seriously, and he tried valiantly to draw us into a conversation where our fears could be alleviated by the group. I was unable to take it seriously. Remember, Miss Snarky has firmly embedded herself in my brain.

I made a joke, and tried to foil his attempts to draw me out. He called me on it. I resisted. He tried. I was annoyed.

Then, it was time for Tough Mudder. (Don’t worry, I am not going to give you a recap)

The first wall was paralyzing. The Blogger tried to be supportive and kind. That does not work for me. Captain America actually stepped in and saved the day. He challenged me. He was like SERIOUSLY??? This is going to be the thing that stops you? It worked. I watched him help his team through this adventure over and over again. He did not seem to be seeking approval. He was not doing it to be noticed. I would see his joy when someone overcame a fear. It was sincere. Captain America really wants to help people achieve their goals. It is genuine. Gee. What a jerk. (Kidding- I loved seeing that it was not a front.)

Now, The Blogger. It took me most of the day to come to a conclusion about him. I watched him struggle to lead this loud and diverse group. I saw him be recognized as a “famous” person. I teased him mercilessly about that. Remember, to me… he is just a blogger. I had no idea that he was famous. I did not get it.

Towards the end- we had about 3 miles left. I was hurting. I had blisters on my foot. My knee was swollen, I was looking for the exit. The Blogger walked up behind me, pulled a bottle of pedialyte out of his bag, and simply said “drink.” I told him I was done. I was tired. I no longer cared about Tough Mudder.

And, this poor guy. I know his first instinct was to try to inspire me, to give me a “you can do it” speech. Instead, he put his arm around my shoulders, let me lean on him, and walked. We had a nice talk. I do not remember most of it. There was no pressure to be having a good time. There was no expectation that I had to be enjoying walking on my tender foot. I was enough exactly where I was. This was the point that I realized that he had many of the same insecurities I did. The Blogger is not your usual natural-born leader. He is quiet and shy. He was carrying the weight of this group’s success on his shoulders. I think there was a part of him that was scared. If this went badly, it would not be a private failure. He had a lot riding on this.

We talked about me skipping some obstacles at the end. He reminded me of his TM in England, the one where he got sick. This was the make or break event. He was either good enough, or he wasn’t. I realized that this was a struggle for him too. I saw where the need to make this event special came from. I saw the desperation for this to work. He was not just looking for material to write about. He was trying to redeem himself. (Now, I am not certain if he said any of this. I honestly don’t remember anything about the conversation. This is the impression I was left with, and for me, that is so much more important.)

Now, fast forward to the drive home. After I have deposited my best friend at the airport in New Mexico. Quiet time. Reflection. This was when the whole experience hit me like a ton of bricks. I was wrong about The Blogger and Captain America. They really do just want to help other people achieve something great. I thought (errantly) that they were super confident that they had THE RIGHT STUFF to change the world. Nope, not even close. They are searching for it, just the same as everyone else. IMG_8074

The Tough Mudder was not the great thing. Not even a little.

The achievements that we all earned are so much more. We came together as a team. We faced our fears. We did the impossible.

We were forced out of our comfort zones, and we triumphed. The two weeks since the TM have been rough for most of us. We see life a little differently. We are trying to explain to people what made this so great. Words are not enough.

Inspiration comes in the strangest places. You cannot force it. All you can do is seek to live a good life, full of adventures and quests. If you are lucky- You will keep your eyes and heart open, and avoid making assumptions about how it is all going to turn out. Trust me, people will shock you. I think that we are all a lot less unique than we think we are. Let’s do the best we can with what we have. Remember, We Got This. 14660_10153505239449156_4602544733387127900_n

 

I know. You are tired of hearing about the Tough Mudder

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I know, I know. Do you talk about anything else these days?

Yes.

I do.

I promise. I am just having so much fun going through pictures and planning my next adventure with my son and my new friends.

I had not actually planned on attempting many of the obstacles. I had not been working out, and I was woefully unprepared for the TM. I went anyway. I wanted to meet these people. I am so glad that I did.

Participating with this group of people was life-changing. I feel like I was probably the one in the worst shape, I feel like I was the biggest person out there. The old me would never in a million years wear compression pants and a form fitting shirt out in public like that. I would have felt out of place and like I did not belong.

I have worked hard to overcome the negative self-talk that permeates my life. It is not easy. I think this is one of the hardest parts about getting healthy. You have to feel like you are worth the effort. Tough Mudder is so much more than an obstacle course. It is a chance to overcome your fears. It is an opportunity to prove to yourself that you can do anything.

There are videos. There are videos of me on the ground in a mud pit.

I have an interesting nose. (I hate my nose.) It is turned up, a la a pig nose. Oh, and I have always been heavier than most of the people I know. I remember when I was a kid, and the mean kids called me Ms. Piggy. Now, Fast forward more than 20 years. I am still fat, and I still have a turned-up nose. I was actually essentially rolling around in a pit of mud. I assure you, no one called me a pig.

This sounds silly but, this is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I stopped letting the bullies and mean people dictate my life. I can be healthy and active. It’s okay that I am not in fantastic (or even acceptable) physical condition. I went out and worked hard. I played. I had fun. No one told me I did not belong with them.

It is time to stop letting the voices from our past prevent us from living up to our full potential. Yeah, there were mean kids and people who pointed out our flaws. Wanna hear a secret? My son has my nose. In fact, he looks pretty much like a male version of me. I think he is the most handsome person on the planet. I do not see those features as flaws on him.

I now understand why it hurt my family so much all those years I thought I was ugly. I get it. I understand why it hurt them to see me hurting myself. I was hurting the person they loved.

Today, I am still fat. I am still slow and out of shape. I can do a burpee. I can go and have fun in the mud with a group of fitty friends. I am not ugly. Turns out, I have a lot to offer. Who I am to stand in my way?

 

Natives, Heroes, and Heat: Tough Mudder- Mesa

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This post is dedicated to one of the most inspiring women I have ever met. I remember the first time I remember seeing her post on the HC that I am a proud member of. A friend of hers had gifted her a bootcamp scholarship from one of those weight loss shows. I was so impressed by her already. She was one of the reasons I was so excited to do this Tough Mudder.

Jill is one of the most positive and life affirming women I know. She is unendingly kind. She is so tough.

Jill is from Arizona. She had been training hard. Completing obstacle courses with her workout buddies, working hard, and eating right. She was totally prepared to rock this Mudder to the core.

Well, preparation does not alway ensure the ending that we are expecting. For unknown reasons, Jill began having problems with nausea and vomiting. Eventually, it led to her being in an extremely dehydrated condition, and when she became light-headed she had to leave the course and seek medical treatment. I know that was the last thing she wanted to do. I think if her body had let her, she would have continued regardless of how she felt.

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My Toughest Mudder. Even with an IV, she looks fierce.

Let me tell you a little more about this superhero. She was there waiting for us when we got to the finish line. She had received IV hydration in the medical tent, and was still not feeling great, and she stayed to support her team. I am so humbled by her inner strength.

I can only imagine how I would have felt. I can easily imagine that I would have left, and gone home to wallow in my shame and disappointment. The fact that she was more concerned about seeing this group of strangers complete this course shows her spirit. She is far stronger than I am.

So, imagine my heartbreak when I read her Facebook post that said “I am not a Tough Mudder.” My initial reaction was shock and disbelief. I had been thinking of her as the toughest mudder out there.

I had some guilt where Jill was concerned. When I first found out she was struggling to keep water down, I off-handedly told her to just take little sips. When I found out she was sitting on the ground by the monkey bars, I went over to make sure that the medics were coming, and then I removed myself. The nurse practitioner in me wanted to put my foot down and demand that she quit. The girl who knew that this was a grown woman who had not entrusted herself to my care, knew that was not my place. So, once I knew the medics were there I walked away. I wish I had given her hug right then, and told her that I was proud of her. I regret that.

You see, this adventure was so much more than an obstacle course. It was a life changing experience. I met some of the kindest souls I ever imagined. We all had different fears and obstacles to overcome in order to even show up. We were a shockingly large, slow-moving tribe. People would stop and look at us in awe, and ask “Do you all know each other?” We were able to gleefully answer that no, most of us had just met. Yet, we were continuously throwing our arms around each other, and posing for a ridiculous number of pictures. (There are thousands of pictures!!!)

I was overwhelmed many times by all the emotions that Tough Mudder brought out in me. I struggled with being in the middle of such a large group. I sought solitude frequently. I wanted to process what I experienced. There were many times I wished for a pen and paper so that I could find the words to describe the interactions I witnessed. For some, they thought that meant I was not okay, or that I did not like them. This is one of the pitfalls of my personality. In an effort to filter what I say, I have to remove myself from the situation. Otherwise, whatever pops into my head tends to come out of my mouth. Unfortunately, no one cares how you mean it. So, when I am overwhelmed I tend to withdraw. It is simply my coping mechanism.

You see, ADD has some benefits. I see and take in a lot of information, but then I am tasked with the chore of sorting through it all and determining it’s significance. I had faced so many fears, and still had so many more miles to go. I had blisters on my heels, and I was hungry. I was surrounded by strangers who were also friends. It was a huge amount of stressors to deal with.

I was unprepared physically and mentally for this challenge. I was unprepared for how much I would depend on this group of strangers.

Since the TM I have seen video of me completing some of these obstacles. Let’s be honest, I am horrified. I cannot believe I allowed myself to be captured in those positions. There are far more pictures of my ass on Facebook than I ever imagined possible.

Which is why, I am signing up to do another Tough Mudder with this group. Guess what? All these people have seen me blubber and cry at the thought of climbing a wall. They have seen me go off alone to contemplate my insanity. They still wanted to give me a hug at the finish line. Some of them even walked with me, with my arms around their shoulders so I could take some of the weight off my throbbing, swollen, blistered left foot. So, in October my son and I are traveling to do one together. I can’t wait for him to see the way people can come together to support one another.

I never would have thought a Facebook group and a man I call “the blogger” would change my life. More about that later.

 

Mud, Sweat, and Boobs?: Tough Mudder- Mesa

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I froze at the top of every wall. Yep. Every single one. These awesome guys would support me, and make me feel safe enough to finally awkwardly roll myself over.

So, if you have been paying attention, you are getting the picture. Tough Mudder was tough. I was scared. I was scared I was too fat, too heavy, too clumsy, too weak, too much and too little all at the same time.

However, there were some parts that I felt pretty confident. Funky Monkey did not scare me, I have no doubt that I cannot cross monkey bars. I knew I would reach out and fall in the water. I did. Nothing bad happened.

Warrior Carry. I got to the starting line of the obstacle, and immediately started searching for Angela. There was no other person I wanted to carry. She has carried me plenty of times throughout the years. It was absolute greatness. You can tell by the picture. And, yes. Her hands are firmly grasping my breasts. It made me laugh. I am so glad there is a picture of this.

This was not hard for many reasons. One thing, I would never drop her. She would never let me fall. This was easy. It was a time that I felt like I was capable. I think that this challenge was good for me. I needed something that felt right. By this point, I was afraid that I needed to give up. This fun time gave me a boost to keep going for a while.

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Best pic ever! I was so comfortable. I was so happy to be with my best friend. There was no shame, fear, or self- doubt. I really do not think anyone else could have gotten away with using my breasts as handles.

So, trudge along to the very last obstacle. I have blisters on my heel. My left knee is swollen and stiff. I am hungry, tired, and cranky. All I want is for this to end. I skip three obstacles. Not because I am scared of them, but because I am tired and afraid that I will not be able to finish if I don’t.

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It was fun. It hurt. It kinda tickled. Until I fell.

The very last challenge is the electroshock challenge. Basically, you run through a giant mud pit under wires that give you a little jolt. Basically, a whole body TENS unit. I was planning to run through it holding hands and skipping with Rebecca. This was necessary. We did it.

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This is such an attractive picture. Here is the funny part. I was right under a “live” wire. It was shocking me over and over. I could not move. I just sat there, twitching repeatedly. It felt like an eternity. Finally, Lisa came in to get me. She got zapped in the face at that point. She is one of my heroes.

I love the fact that these pictures captured my smile. I was happy. It did not matter what I looked like. I had been supported whole-heartedly the entire day. I surprised myself and other people. No, I was not graceful.

When I was going over the Berlin Wall, Trevor (not my brother, but my new friend) was recording with his GoPro. He never dreamed I would do it. I was his “out.” Yeah, well with a little help from my friends, I sure did do it. So did he.

We have no excuse to back down from a challenge. If it is just fear that is threatening to stop us, we have an obligation to push through. Sometimes that requires help.

Now, there are still so many stories to tell. I am not going to discuss the finish line until after I tell those stories. They will have to wait though. I am not done processing this adventure. It was an emotional roller-coaster.

I know that I am failing to adequately explain what this experience was like for me. There are really no words to express what I was feeling. I do know that I repeatedly threatened to kill “whoever thought this was a good idea.” Funny, since I am planning on doing two more. I am going to train harder and try to be in better shape. I know what to expect now. I know I can do it.

 

Ladders, Slides, and Ice Water: Tough Mudder- Mesa

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We are just getting started.

Okay, so we have started the course. (Don’t Worry, I cannot remember the whole course step by step. I wish I could- but, it is too much.) You know about how my team encouraged me and lifted me over a wall. You know that they figured out how to get me out of my fears, and to just man up and do it.

So, now the first real obstacle. Arctic Enema. Oddly, I was not that scared of this one. I mistakenly thinking that it would just be vaguely uncomfortable. Then, we arrived to the obstacle. Once again, I have no real idea of how tall the platform was. There was a ladder. A tall platform. Very tall. I am imagining that we were like 200 feet off the ground. (Of course I know that is not true but, it may as well of been.)

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Me- freaking out. Angela- handling it like a boss. And, Mike.

I walk around a little, find Angela, and up we start to climb. I am holding my breath, and hyperventilating all at the same time. Trying hard not to freak out and freeze. Somewhere near the top, I look through the slats I am climbing. I am too high. I freeze for a second. Then, there is this guy who is climbing up beside me. I suppose he looked over and realized that I was freaking out.

He said “Don’t think about it. Think of anything else. Do you like food? Think of your favorite food. I bet you like Mexican.” Wait. What??? Why would you automatically assume the fat girl likes Mexican food? I was vaguely annoyed. So, I climbed up a little faster  until I got to the top, and I had to let go and stand up. I froze again. The very nice volunteer came over and said “you have to come up.” I was scared, so I stalled. Introduced myself to him. His name was Mike.

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I love this picture. Angela really hates being cold. She handled this like it was nothing. That is so cool.

So, once on the top  all you have to do it sit down- and then slide down a slide (covered with a fence- I do not know the purpose of the fence) and land in mid chest height ice water. There was a guy unloading ice from a truck to pour into the tank. I remember pointing and yelling at him to wait right there and not add to my misery. As if it would have made a difference. Angela is next to me. I am nervous.

Then, we slide down and I am surrounded by ice. All I know is that I have to stand up. I can’t get my feet on the bottom. I hit my head on the fence. I have a vague sense that I am going to drown and die. Somehow I emerge from the icy depths. And, my mind and body stop functioning. I have no idea how I got over the wall (someone probably boosted me- I seriously have no idea.) I do remember the end, I could not figure out how to get out. I think someone helped me up, and I awkwardly rolled out. Then, I walked away. I was sputtering and crying, all I wanted to do is walk away. I was horrified at how difficult this was. My body was numb. I was in serious pain. I was convinced everyone who goes to this thing is insane.

Why? What on earth does this prove? Then, I started walking. I was very much not concerned with the group. I was in my head trying to sort out what my motivation was. Why was I here? Did I belong here? What on earth was I thinking?

I think the very next obstacle was pit fall. (I could be wrong. Whatever, it is my story.) Pitfall was okay. Go under a log into a pit of muddy water. Walk to the end, climb out. Well, it was simple. Yep, fell like 4 times. The bottom was uneven, and there were a ton of holes. I ate a lot of mud. Then, I got to end, and lo and behold there was an outstretched hand waiting to haul my ass out of the pit. I had done it. I could do this. My friends were there for me. They did not judge me and make me feel stupid, fat, and weak. They just assisted me. I am so grateful for that. Traversing the muddy, slippery banks of these obstacles was not particularly easy… but, it was kinda fun.

This whole adventure was not easy…

Next… Another damn wall. What are these Mudder fools trying to prove? Why on earth is this considered a good idea?

I am planning to skip this obstacle. I don’t want to go up on another wall. I walk around the obstacle and stand there to watch…. Until I decide to try.

Once again, there are many false starts. Kris (or maybe Dan, I am not sure)- leans down and says “this is nothing,  just step up” I finally step into the hands, grab Kurt or David’s hand, and reach up for the wall. When I get up there and look out into the sea of muddy faces I am overcome with shock and awe. I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Holy Fucking SHIT!!!” And, then I am helped over the top of the wall to the tires on the other side. It was scary climbing down. Once again, my team was waiting with open arms. Once again, I am shaking and trembling with fear and exhilaration.

Now, you would think that I had this wall thing down… Nope. Not even close. The taller one is coming up….. I really want to give up now…

Walls and Starting Lines: Tough Mudder- Mesa 2015

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So, I suppose you wanna hear about my Tough Mudder adventure.

Let me start from the beginning. Did you know there is a wall you have to climb over before the starting line? I do not think it is very tall- 6 or 7 feet maybe. 8? I dunno. Not too high. Most people get over it- and make it look easy.

Now, let me explain- I don’t do heights. I do not climb ladders- I don’t walk to the edge of cliffs- I don’t go anywhere that might require climbing. I am not even fond of stairs. I’m a big girl- not one to let people lift me up or carry me. I just do not do it. EVER! Bridges? No, thank you very much. I am not doing it. Nope. I’ll just go home.

So, here we are. I have spent a small fortune to participate in this event, and I am about to quit before I even get to the starting line. I am in a mass of excited people, and I am filled with dread and regret. I am embarrassed, ashamed, and horrified. I am not doing it.

Tears are streaming down my face, and I am hoping valiantly that no one can see the terror behind my shades. The members of my team are surrounding me, and I cannot hear a word they are saying. All I know is that there is no way in hell I can do this. I feel like a fool for even thinking this is a good idea.

Then… somehow… they convince me to go up to the wall. A pair of hands clasped in front of me- all I have to do is take a step- push up- and take a leap of faith. After a couple of false starts. I am finally able to commit. I step up and grab the edge of the wall. Rick, (who is my burpee nemesis) is straddling the top. He grabs my hand, and I grip his arm. Somehow I get one leg over. I am laying across the top of this wall, shaking with fear. Rick is holding on and telling me how proud he is. And I come over the wall into the arms of my team. Angela is right behind me… up and over the wall. (she makes it look incredibly easy- which makes sense- she is a superhero to me.) Wow. How did we do that? Then, it is time for the National Anthem and the Mudder Pledge. Everything is going to be okay. I am shaking and crying.

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It’s just an obstacle in the end. Do we really want to let obstacles stand in our way?

Then, we jog through the starting line- give a high-five to the dude- and we are off… Now, the adventure is really about to begin. Next up is the Arctic Enema. What? There is a ladder? Ugh. What have I gotten myself into?