Wednesday 5 August 2015

Me vs Mudder

Tough Mudder. It's tough and there is an ungodly amount of mud.

Before I started, I really believed that I would do ok....whatever I thought that meant. I guess I should have taken off my rose coloured glasses and considered the fact that I am not a specimen of elite prowess when it comes to running, and that has never been made more abundantly clear to me than during the absolute circle jerk that was this event.

This all began when a friend asked if we would be interested in signing up. She denies this and says I asked her to do it, but she's wrong. This was her idea. Don't let her tell you otherwise.

We formed a team called the Raging Wombats. Nothing less likely is possible in the animal kingdom. Wombats don't look capable of irritation, let alone rage, and they are the least athletic animal I've ever seen, with the possible exception of the manatee.

After mentally reliving the Spartan race we did the year before, which was 7 kms long, I figured that this event was totally doable, despite being more than double the distance at 18 kms. Really, the obstacles were supposed to be the hard part...if I got tired, I could just hike rather than run the distance. 

I was so, so tragically wrong.

Apparently my delusional thinking was on point that day. I have no idea what on earth possessed me to think that 18 kms of anything was a fucking reality. I think the last time I even hiked that kind of distance was when I was a hormone driven teenager showing how I could keep up with the boys....which mostly meant hiking by myself through the woods hoping not to get eaten by a cougar, because the guys were much faster hikers and way ahead of me.

So yeah, this was an idiotic decision.

To deepen the hole I had now dug myself into by agreeing to this lunacy, I decided that I would train for the event (good decision), but I would train for the obstacles, and not the running, because I hate running (a categorically stupid decision). In hindsight, this was the exact fucking opposite of what should have happened.

As race day approached, the looming idiocy of what I'd committed myself too became more and more apparent. I coped with this by eating chocolate instead of training. By the time we arrived in Whistler to actually do the race, I'd taken about 3 weeks off my "training" the interest of saving my strength, of course.

On the morning of the event, the plan was to get an early start and be done early. Ha. We did get up, but we were in no way a well oiled machine of speed and organization. To make things worse, we all jumped into our van and then nothing happened. The Delica, in an attempt to warn me off the race in the only way it could, wouldn't start. The battery, which was later discovered to be 15+ years old, was totally dead. Fortunately (or unfortunately) other vehicles were found, and we were eventually on our way.

Me before my legs refused to obey
simple commands
Once we started the course, I actually felt ok. I wasn't winded, I could keep up a (really) slow jog fairly consistently, and the first few obstacles we came to were a lot of fun. I got up and over things without embarrassing myself, I crawled through a really small space which is something I hate, but I did it anyway, and I didn't break my foot off my leg falling off a wall! (I wasn't aware that was a problem I needed to worry about until my lovely teammate told me stories of the year before)

To the Tough Mudder team's credit, overall the obstacles were awesome. I loved the ones I did. They were challenging, but fun, however I really wish that some of the bigger ones had been nearer the front so I could have tried them before the desire to just lay down and die set in. 

When I started to feel like I needed water, I'd turn a corner and there was a water station. When I felt like I was going to eat the person in front of me because it had been hours since I had consumed anything with calories, some helpful event worker would hand me a banana. 

I made it to the 8 km mark feeling like I wasn't going to die.  And then my knee started becoming more insistently unhappy, followed quickly by my shins.

Quick back story....due to a number of skiing accidents, followed by getting out of a chair while pregnant and doing it wrong, my knee has much less cartilage in it than it otherwise should. It hates running more than I do. Which is quite a lot.

Despite being in some pain, I still felt reasonable. I trudged on with fewer intervals of running, and my team mates getting further ahead of me with each passing minute.  To Husband's credit, he would come back and visit me from time to time, and as I got more pathetically distant, his visits back to the slow team (read: me) lasted longer, until he pretty much gave up finishing with any real speed.

Then my hips gave out and it became impossible to run. 14 km mark.

15 km mark. And then it started to rain. Not a nice refreshing shower, but arctic cold hate falling from the sky.

Because I couldn't run, I couldn't get warm. It was all I could do to get one leg in front of the other, let alone move with any real speed. I stopped doing obstacles because I was too cold. My brother in law joined me in my little hate-trudge, as his hips were complaining too. As time went on, I kept hoping that we were close, or that one of the event fairies would come by and give me an emergency blanket like other people along the trail seemed to have gotten. Looking back, I was probably well on my way to hypothermia. I was shaking for so long, and shivering so hard, that I couldn't even stand up straight.
The members of Team Wombat
that actually did all the obstacles

Eventually we found a bridge and tried to wait out the rain and let our team mates (who were not skipping every obstacle they came across) catch up. After what seemed like forever, we gave up waiting. Sadly, however, we failed to realize until too late that they had the car keys and the bag check tags, so even making it to the finish line didn't provide anything other than more waiting in the rain.

We shuffled down the hill. Really truly shuffled. At this point my hips were so sore I could barely lift my legs up to put one foot in front of the other. Coincidentally, it was around this time that I decided my lack of any running prior to this nightmare was perhaps poorly thought out. People running past us (read: assholes) would stop to ask if I wanted them to call a medic. No. I'd made it this far, and so help me I would cross that bloody finish line and get the stupid t-shirt.

And I could see it. THE END. It was right there....on the other side of EST.

EST. Electro Shock Therapy. Basically electrified wires hanging down that you run through. Or in my case, that you are forced to move slowly through because your everything hurts and refuses to obey your commands to move quickly.

Now, to be fair, I could have opted out and gone around, but for some reason that just didn't occur to me at the time. It's possible I'm a bit stubborn. I didn't particularly relish the idea of being electrocuted, and I wasn't really looking forward to what I imagined would be a large number of wires hitting me while I limped my way through. I took my first few painful steps in. 

I had been told by people who had done this before that you couldn't avoid the wires; there are too many, too close together, and the best bet is just to run. Not an option. 

So that day I became a candidate for Cirque du Soleil. I contorted, bent, ducked and generally kicked serious ass the whole way through and did not hit a single wire. I may have even picked up some speed.

Me as a Ninja. That is some serious
concentration I'm pulling off
I was a fucking NINJA.

And then I was finished. Sweet, sweet, painful victory. I shuffled my way over to a table in the beer garden, in the rain, and collapsed into a shaking mass to wait for the rest of the group. I was even given a pity jacket by a stranger because I was shivering so hard and turning blue. It was pretty definitively the coldest I've ever been.

In hindsight, I think that despite the incredible pain in my hips and legs, the worst part was the cold. If I hadn't been shaking so badly and for so long, I probably would have done a little better. As it was though, it took me 3 hours, a hot shower and a prolonged soak in the hot tub to bring my body up to a reasonable temperature again.

Basically Tough Mudder was great until it became a terrible death march to the finish line. I blame the rain, my incredible lack of foresight concerning the distance,  and an utter lack of preparedness.

And then I signed up for next year. Go Wombats!

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