DATE: September 22, 2012
TEAM: Mudder, Inc
LOCATION: N 39° 16′ 31.2954″, W 120° 7′ 16.8954″ (Northstar Resort at Tahoe)
MISSION: Operation Badass
PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Conquer Tough Mudder Norcal 2012 as an entire team without leaving fellow Mudders behind.
SECONDARY OBJECTIVE: Have Fun!!
DIFFICULTIES ANTICIPATED: rough terrain, ice water, high altitude thin air, fatigue, mental doubt, pain, fear
INSTRUCTIONS: Should you accept this mission, your team will work together and offer help to each other as well as members of other teams. You will finish with the mindset of completing the course successfully without regard to time. This message will NOT self destruct so you can be reminded that you all are badasses and accomplished something EPIC and nobody can ever take that away from you! OOOH RAAAH!!
<END OF MESSAGE>
Last weekend, we embarked on a mission to achieve glory not in a biblical sense, but in a self gratifying venture to complete the Tough Mudder obstacle course I never would have thought I could do in my entire life. Let alone WANT to do it.
Months ago when we first thought about doing this, I looked at the course and watched the videos, I initially thought, “Oh, hell no!!!” HAHA! But the more I watched and the more we all talked about it, I started to think, “What if?” or “Do I think I can do it?” Then I thought even more: “I think I really want to do it.” and “What an accomplishment if I did.”
So after a while, I decided to go for it. I signed up and hoped I can do it without killing myself. I had to put myself in a frame of mind to eat better and be more active. At first, I didn’t do much other than walking more and eating less. I found myself walking up the BART and MUNI stairs instead of using the escalator. Then after a few weeks, I started doing the P90X videos and later, the Insanity Workouts. I thought I my progress was very good…
Then I worked out for the first time with the rest of the team. I felt like it was the first time I ever exercised! My body felt like jello and I wanted to collapse! Tony and Shaun T worked my ass off, but it wasn’t enough! So at this point, I knew I had to step up my game. It was hard.
I was in the process of moving and stressing about which schools the kids were going to go in the new neighborhood. Basically LIFE just overwhelmed me a little. After the move, I was able to work out more often, but at this point, I knew it was too little too late for me. I just hoped I wouldn’t let the team down and not be able to compete. Then I recalled the Mudder Pledge:
As a Tough Mudder I pledge that…
I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
I do not whine – kids whine.
I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.
I overcome all fears
I remembered it’s not a competition and I got my second wind of motivation. So I trained as hard as I could with the help of my team. I pushed myself to the limit. In our team workouts, I pushed through our training regime. And I vowed never to take the easy way out of a workout. So when my team asked if we should run the shorter trail or the longer one, I didn’t hesitate and chose the longer, tougher route. (This came back to bite me, but more on that later).
So thanks to “Coach Ben” and “Sefu Marv,” they came up with a program that I believe was the best preparation we could have done. They combined the principles and practices of several known workouts and changed it up so it doesn’t seem repetitive. It was a great plan and very challenging.
Day 1, we followed a Spartacus “Type” circuit training. There are about 15 exercises. This is a few of them:
- Jumping Jacks
- Mountain Climbers
- Split Jumps
- Russian Twists
- Squat Rows
Do each exercise for 60 seconds with 15-30 second rest intervals. Repeat 3 rounds.
Day 2 is a rest or light running day.
Day 3, we worked out in a park by our houses. There are several workout “stations” around the park. We would run to each station and perform a series of exercises. It was a great way to “simulate” the obstacle course routine where each workout station represented an obstacle. We repeated the exercises 3-4 times around the park. The following are some of the exercises we did:
- Bench Jumps
- Monkey Bars
Day 5 usually on a Saturday: We ran a trail somewhere. I highly recommend running through trails and hills. This will best prepare you to get used to running on rough terrain. The Tahoe Mudder had a lot of rocks and uneven dirt we had to trek through. The trail and hill running we did really prepared us to be unsurprised by the type of surfaces we had to run through.
Day 6: Rest or Light Running
Day 7: REST
After our last team workout 2 weeks prior to the event, after finishing a workout, I felt sharp pains in my left knee. I said to myself, “Oh shit! Please not now! Not so close to the big date!” I went to the doctor the following Monday and they referred me to an Sports Medicine Orthopedic Specialist which immediately got me nervous. A few days later I walked in to the Sports Clinic at California Pacific Medical Center and had my knee examined and x-rayed. The doctor looks at the file in front of him with his forehead wrinkled as he analyzes the report. He reads my chart and looks at my x-rays and says without looking at me, “So you think you’ll be able to run a Tough Mudder in a couple of weeks?” I say to myself, “Oh Fuck!! he’s not going to clear me to run!”
Then he chuckles, smiles and says, “I don’t see a problem with you running the event. Your knee x-rays look good. Looks like no significant damage is done.” I let out an exhale. “Whew!!” He goes on to tell me he can’t guarantee there’s no ligament damage, but the spacing between my joints and bones in my knee are good and since there isn’t any swelling, he’s confident that my knee is fine. He attributed the pain to irritated cartilage. He gave me a choice: “Either rest the knee and wait and see if the pain subsides or he can give me a one time (Get Out of Jail Free Card) Cortisone shot and limit my workouts so I do not further damage the cartilage.” He said he wouldn’t recommend it if I wasn’t running the Mudder. So I chose the shot and we chatted a bit about how he ran the Mudder the year before and looked forward to hear about it when I come back for a follow-up in a week after the event.
Fast Foreword to Saturday morning of the event. My stomach is in knots. I’m hella nervous as we walk up to the starting line. We debate on whether to catch up and run on our scheduled time which we just missed or run on the next wave so we can take in the full experience from the beginning. We decided to wait until the next wave. I’m glad we did because the MC’s speech at the beginning got everyone hype!
So the original course we looked up several months ago on the Tough Mudder website changed just a few days before the event. It originally had approximately 25 obstacles. The final map had 20. They also changed the Start and Finish. Originally, the staging area was at the top and finished at the top. I’m actually glad they changed the start and finish because I would’ve hated to have to go up hill on the last half of the course. The obstacle details are posted on the link above as well as throughout the Tough Mudder website. Below is just a list in order from start to finish along the Northstar Tahoe course.
1. Kiss of Mud
2. Walk the Plank
4. Arctic Enema
5. Hangin Tough
6. Boa Constrictor
7. Kiss of Mud
8. Berlin Walls #1
9. Electric Eel
10. Just the Tip
12. Berlin Walls #2
14. Log Jammin
16. Spider’s Web
17. Mud Mile
18. High Steppin
20. Electroshock Therapy
During that last couple miles, I was spent! My body was tired. My mind was mush and the only thing that kept me going was the sound of the music and the screaming crowd. I knew that was where I wanted to be because it was the end.
A little flashback…
When we first arrived, there was a huge traffic jam to get in to the resort. Our families planned to arrive later in the day. I doubted that our families would be able to get in and watch because parking was limited. So I accepted the fact that they probable couldn’t get in to watch us and would probably meet us back at the cabin when we were done.
So when we made the last turn towards the second to last obstacle (Everest) and walked up to the line, I heard voices screaming “Go Mudder, Inc!!!” I look up and see my family waving encouraging signs and cheering us on! I could feel our energy level just shoot right back up and I get a second wind! I mean my fourth or fifth because I’m pretty sure I used the first few about half way through the run! I was happy and relieved to see everyone there cheering and representing their Mudder, Inc Team shirts! It was an awesome feeling. We smiled and paused to take some family pics and moved on to Mount Everest.
I knew this would take a team effort to do this. One by one, Team Mudder, Inc reached the top with the help of fellow Mudders. It took some members of the team several tries before getting up. But success was the only option. Then it was my turn…
On the first try I reached the fingertips of a teammate only to fall back and slide down. I get back in line and get ready for my next attempt. My adrenaline is flowing and I’m ready! It’s my turn again. I begin my sprint towards the half-pipe. When I get to the bottom of the slope, I try to drop the hammer and put it in another gear! I begin with my right leg and drive my leg down to pick up momentum. I follow through on my left leg up the obstacle and…
As I drive my leg down, I feel my calf muscle and my knee give out as I crumble down to the bottom of the slope. I knew it was bad. I grab my leg in agony and try to get out of the way of other Mudders so they can make their attempt. When I get to the back of the line, I try to massage my leg and then stretch it out. But the pain was just too much and my calf muscle was stretched. I still have one more obstacle to go so I sadly have to concede and bypass Mount Everest. Bummed out, I go around and with encouragement from my teammates and fellow Mudders, I limp my way to the last obstacle, Electroshock Therapy.
When I get to the beginning of Electroshock, I look at the dangling electrified wires, and think to myself, “oh damn, I want to run through it but I know with a bum leg, it will hardly be a run.
Ready. Set. Go! I try to hop and run and the same time. I hold up my forearms to protect my face. One wire sneaks through. I feel it brush along my cheek and slide along my lips. I only pray, “Please don’t zap me there!!” Fortunately, I do not feel a shock! I made it! Well, almost made it. I’m almost past the last set of wires and I feel a jolt of “shock therapy” on my lower right leg where I have a couple pins I had surgically implanted when I was in a motorcycle accident many years ago. I nearly fall face first into the mud, but luckily stay upright. I’m through!! I get past the finish line and receive my Mudder Headband!! And all the pain just fades away! I don’t even acknowledge it anymore.
We did it! Finished the whole thing relatively in one piece! All the fatigue, pain, and misery is transformed into joy, excitement and a thirst for the anticipated beer given to every finisher of Tough Mudder!! I can’t explain the feeling! It’s a combination of all the emotions I mentioned, but it feels like more! I feel the sense of accomplishment and I’m thrilled to overcome the doubt that I felt a various times throughout the course. It’s a great feeling.
It was tough. I’m not going to say that I knew I was going to finish. Because I didn’t. I knew I was not prepared like I wanted to be. I just didn’t want to let my team down. I was determined to finish. I’m happy to say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
DATE: September 28, 2012
TEAM: Mudder, Inc
LOCATION: N 38° 10′ 29.6214″, W 122° 15′ 39.0126″ (American Canyon, CA): Home
MISSION: Operation Badass
POST-MISSION TEAM RECAP:
Obstacles conquered: 20/20 Effort: 130% Teamwork Scale (1-10, 10=HIGHEST): 15
Badass Scale (1-10, 10=HIGHEST): 100!!!
MISSION RESULT: Mission Accomplished BITCHES!!!