My first Mudder was in Houston on October 5, 2013, and I am happy to report that overall it was a terrific experience. The competition renewed my confidence in mankind and myself. I loved the fact that our Wounded Warriors received some of the event proceeds. This was the ultimate in team building. I arrived on the course alone, but before I was done, I felt like everybody I encountered was part of my team.
Mudders before me provided a wealth of information about techniques for conquering the toughest obstacles, as well as, what to wear for the best results. Now it is my turn to pay it forward. During the early months of my training, I discussed sports nutrition for body fat reduction and a week prior to the event (see post following this one), I posted more sports nutrition advice and discussed my training techniques. Now I get to give the post-event results.
Did My Training Pay Off?
My legs felt great and my endurance held strong, but my upper body needed more strength work. I jogged between obstacles and never felt winded. My legs pulled through the mud without a problem. I briefly, had cramps in my calf muscles at mile 10, but that had more to do with only having warm water to drink at the help stations rather than physical conditioning. The lack of proper cold fluids in humid, 95 degree weather is the only complaint I have for event organizers.
Lifting weights twice weekly over four months and throwing in some bar work was not enough to conquer all the obstacles. Those playground monkey bars fell about 30 bars short of the Funkey Monkey. The “Balls to the Walls” rope knots were spread further apart than I was used to. My biggest disappointment was my failure to climb the Mount Everest wall. I ended up twisting my finger around a nylon rope that somebody at the top was holding to help get people up the wall. Sadly, my index finger turned in a direction it was not meant to go. Fortunately, it was the second to the last event, and my swelling finger did not keep me from finishing.
Good Choice in Competition Attire
My choice of attire was inspired by the blogs I mentioned earlier, and I believe I made excellent choices, except for the gloves. My shoes (Solomon SpeedCross 3h) stayed glued to my feet. No matter how much the mud sucked me under those shoes stayed on. The Nike Pro short sleeve compression shirt stayed in place and dried quickly. My biker-type shorts hit just above my knees, and they stayed up even when caked with mud (polyester/spandex blend). The gloves proved useless, because they got too saturated with mud inside and out. I’ll skip them next time.
Surprises on the Course
The two obstacles I feared most turned out to be far less of a concern than I ever imagined. The Electric Eel stung, but I would not call it painful. The Arctic Enema was a gift and probably helped prevent us from getting heat-stroke. I heard a number of people say that they wished it would pop up again around mile nine.
(see by blog: Your Fluid Guide for Tough Training)
Now back to my one complaint. Being a Sports Dietitian, I may be more concerned than most about proper fluid replacement to prevent heat injury. I did not sneak a peek in the medic’s tent, but I’ll venture to guess that it was pretty full. Also, I’m glad my sister and I didn’t hang around for the after party highway experience considering the main fluid served was beer (just for extra dehydration, and general intoxication). Cold fluid replacement drinks along the course would have been a blessing. A cold refreshing drink would have helped cool our core temperature, the glucose would have helped fuel our muscles, and the electrolytes would have helped prevent cramping. Come on Tough Mudder, get Gatorade or Powerade as a sponsor. At the very least, hook up with an ice company and keep the water in the coolers below the boiling point. Those of us who trained in Houston and had a chance to acclimatize to the conditions definitely had an advantage over our northern visitors.
The Most Memorable Part
What really made the Tough Mudder memorable was raising money for our Wounded Warriors and observing and benefiting from all the fabulous young men and women who were willing to lend a hand to everybody around them. I was one of the oldest participants (over 50) but was never made to fill out-of-place or unappreciated. I felt young again having completed the 12 miles (just under 3 hours) while attempting every obstacle and conquering most of them. I want to offer a big thanks to Nacogdoches Bruce who teamed up with me. Bruce normally completes the course in 2 hours, but due to a painful knee, he became my partner around mile seven. My wonderful sis was my cheerleader and photographer and stepped in for my supportive husband who was down with a bad back. Next time I’ll conquer the ones I fell on and enjoy the camaraderie all over again. I’ll also ask my sister and husband to arrive at strategic locations with a cooler loaded with icy Gatorade.