A few months ago, I did the Merrell Down & Dirty 10k. I had planned on only doing the 5k, but when you sign up for races after a few glasses of wine, what's another 5k? I was more nervous than I let on for this race. I hadn't done any specific training, although I was four months into the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating Program (which I love, is sensible info and sensibly prices and will write about when I'm done with the year.) PE has a prescribed workout plan, so I had been lifting and running and sprinting and the like.
I finished the Merrell 10k with more gas left in the tank than I thought. It's when I started to think about doing a Tough Mudder. I talked about it at work, and it turned out some of the P.A.s were also interested in doing the race as well. We hemmed and hawed, and then my friend Shane Nickerson commented on that post:
Will and I looked at each other and decided Shane was right: We were doing the Tough Mudder.
I'd be seven months into my training program by then, and having goals to work toward was always a good idea.
The race loomed on the horizon, something we could see but not ever getting there. I started tailoring my workouts slightly - working on pull-ups (I still can't do one, but I'm training!), making sure that all of my cardio training was on steep inclines. I knew there'd be hills, so I wanted to get used to going up. I was slow (well, slowER, as I've never been fast) and trained shorter distances. While the Mudder was a punishing ten miles, I knew that I could walk ten miles if I had to. What I wanted to be able to do was have short bursts of energy (for obstacles) and then recover quickly, mimicking what I thought would be similar to my energy output on the Mudder course.
Our P.A.s decided t join us, as well as some of their friends and our friend Jesse from up North. Suddenly we had a team.
As the day approached, I was suddenly offered a consulting job on Nickelodeon's House of Anubis, which shoots in the UK. I needed to get over to England for a week. They wanted me there by July 2. The Tough Mudder was July 7.
I didn't want to miss the race. But it was work.
Thanks to some machinations on the part of Nick UK, I was able to return on Friday, July 6. After a 10 hour flight, I sailed through customs to a Towncar which took me to Will's office. From there we hopped into his car and drove three hours through rush hour traffic to get to Big Bear, where we were staying overnight. We woke up at 5:30am, ready to hop back into the car and drive to the race a few miles away.
As we waited for our teammates to show up, it hit me that I was actually doing this. At 7000+ elevation. After being in England the day before.
The doubt crept in: Who was I to think I could do this? Look at all of these in-shape people, these toned biceps and washboard abs (and that was just the women.) Hell, you had to CLIMB A WALL JUST TO GET TO THE STARTING LINE. My teammate Ami held out his hands for me to step into. I stepped into them, pressing upward and fell backward. While I was embarrassed, I was more angry. I WASN'T EVEN GOING TO GET TO THE STARTING LINE? I was going to get there, dammit.
On the second try, I got over, with Will watching my back so we didn't have a repeat of the first. I was at the starting line.
I won't lie: the course was punishing. It was hot as hell and the elevation made it so recovery was twice as hard because you couldn't get enough oxygen in your lungs.
But I climbed each and every hill, and while my thighs screamed in pain, when I got to the top...I recovered. My training had made a difference. I could do this.
For five+ hours, our team attacked that course, running when we could, walking when we couldn't run, and helping each other across each obstacle. We cheered everyone on. The one thing about the Tough Mudder is that while you may have your team, everyone is on your team. If you're trying, someone will be there to build you up, to hold out a hand, to hoist you those last three inches.
Suddenly (if five-plus hours is sudden) we were standing in front of the last obstacle: Electroshock Therapy. We gathered as a team, smiled, and ran through the live wires.
And we crossed the finish line. I did it.
We did it.
I spent more than half my life as a fat girl. Feeling awkward. Out of shape. Worried about looking silly.
I'm going to be 40 this year. And it was time to make changes. They weren't big changes. Just small ones.
One foot in front of the other.
But little steps turn into big steps.
And then suddenly you’re running up a slippery half pipe in 90 degree heat after climbing 9 miles of hills. Put in the work, have a little faith, and there will be someone there to catch you.
I can't wait to do another one.
More photos and a write-up of the individual obstacles with more commentary can be found here. Will wrote a few words himself here. A heartfelt thanks to our entire team, Will, Ami, Dylan, Vanessa, Jesse, Rudy, Ana, Mia and Scott.