Monday, May 5, 2014

Feeling Pretty Tough...

Tough Mudder!  The Tough Mudder raises funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.  Find out more about the race series here.  We were registered to participate in the Tough Mudder on Saturday afternoon.  It was slated to be 11 miles broken up by obstacles varying in degree of difficulty.That morning I woke up both excited and slightly fearful for the Tough Mudder later that day.  I still had a slight migraine lingering and was unsure of how my head would hold up for the race.  By the time we left for the race my head was feeling quite a bit better.  I didn't plan to wear my sunglasses during the race due to all the mud and water obstacles, but I couldn't take them off since my head was still hurting.  About half-way through the race my head was basically back to normal.
Marked up and ready for the race.

We lined up in the starting area and waited for what seemed like ever while a man shared with us safety and course information.  When we finally started we were anxious and excited to get to the first obstacle, but there was a mile and a half of running before getting there.  Jeremy, Thomas, and I must have been a bit too anxious because Ty mentioned our pace was a little fast for him.  We were excited when we finally approached the first obstacle "Balls to the Wall".  It was basically a rope with balls on it hanging from a tall wall.  You used the rope to climb up the wall, but the wall also had slats to put your feet on.  I was nervous coming up to it because Jeremy, Thomas, and Ty all took off.  I thought in my head "What if I can't do this by myself?", but it was easy.  Once I reached the top I swung my leg over and prepared to climb down.  The rope was still underneath me and I didn't realize it until the guy behind me started to grab onto the rope and I almost toppled off the wall.  After I yelled "whoa, whoa, whoa, dude!"  He stopped and I was able to safely dismount the wall.

Our next obstacle was called "Pole Dancer".  It was a set of parallel bars placed over water.  You had to move across the poles using only your arm strength.  I decided to reach out as far as I could, thinking it would take less arm strength, but that was a mistake.  It put me off balance and I swung directly into the freezing cold water.  Jeremy and Thomas both made it across without touching water.  As we ran past a group of runners they said, "None of those guys are wet, how did they do it?"  Obviously they didn't notice me and Ty, but it was still funny.  A short run later we came up on the "Berlin Walls" which were 12 feet tall walls with no foot holes.  There was no way I was making it over on my own so Thomas gave me a boost over while Jeremy and Ty went over.  Then Thomas followed behind us.  We headed on into a rocky, muddy trail which was quite a bit of fun to navigate.  Through the mud and up a hill we came upon the next obstacle "Lumber Jacked" which was a huge debarked tree trunk about 6 feet off the ground.  Jeremy was able to jump up and pull himself over while Ty, Thomas, and I used the side to help us climb over.  There were 2 and on the 2nd one a group of guys watched Jeremy jump up and pull himself over.  They were very impressed and then exclaimed "I wish I weighed under 200 pounds!".

Wheelbarrow was our next obstacle and I called Jeremy as my partner.  We decided I would be the wheelbarrow and he would hold my legs.  There was a sign about half-way down the field that signaled a partner exchange.  My arms are not my strong point and I was getting tired about half-way to the exchange, but I was able to power through.  I felt bad for Jeremy because my arms were so tired after my turn that I had a hard time holding his legs without letting them swing back and forth.  It didn't help how quickly he was moving!

I didn't do nearly as good of a job for Jeremy as he did for me!

Our next adventure took us over a creek and through more mud.  If you can imagine, there was a lot of mud in the Tough Mudder!  I looked up and saw our next obstacle looming ahead, "Funky Monkey" which consisted of a set of monkey bars slowly slanting upward for about 16 feet and then slowly slanting back down for another 16 feet.  I haven't attempted monkey bars since elementary school and if you've ever gotten a peek at my body type I carry a large percentage of my body weight in my lower half.  My "weight lifting" consists of pushing Carter in the stroller.  When Ty showed me the obstacles I instantly proclaimed, "There is no way I'll be able to do that one."  As we approached the monkey bars I saw they were hanging about 10 feet over a pit of water.  I reached for the first bar wondering if I should just swing off the bar into the water, but I decided to give it a shot.  I made it about half-way to the middle section and heard Ty fall into the water next to me and exclaim, "This water is freezing!"  The moment I heard that I became a bit more determined to continue on.  Then I made it to the middle where the monkey bars began to slant back down.  I couldn't believe it!  I had made it half-way.  At that point I decided I was not giving up, I didn't want to feel that icy cold water.  I had worked too hard.  As I got closer and closer to the end of the monkey bars more and more people were cheering.  I had heard my mom the entire time, but began to hear other spectators and volunteers cheering me on.  My mom said I was the only female she saw make it all the way across.  I felt the determination in my face and the thought crossed my mind that I was making the same face I made during child birth.  I was so in the zone.  Dropping down from the monkey bars and into Ty and Thomas' arms I felt so bad ass.  I am pretty confident in my abilities and this was one thing I was confident I couldn't do.  I had surprised myself and was proud of my mental toughness.  After that obstacle I was super jacked up and proud.  That was definitely a high moment of the day for me.
All of team Tough Cox conquering the monkey bars.
I fell way behind everyone else (Jeremy was skipping rungs), but I finished!

We were laughing about the next obstacle "Killa Gorilla" which was weaving up and down the same hill 4 times.  To Jeremy, Thomas, and me it really wasn't an obstacle.  We passed so many people complaining about the hills as we ran and they walked up the hills.  I was impressed with Ty that he wanted to run up the hills.  After running up and down the hills, we turned a corner and I could see "Walk the Plank" in the distance.  I began to freak out.  I had conveniently forgotten about the obstacle where you stand on a small board and then willingly drop 15 feet into water.  I am not exactly afraid of heights.  Being up on something high doesn't bother me, but when I'm up high and I'm safe, I'm not a fan of jumping down into uncertainty.  One time at the lake I jumped off a 15 foot tall cliff and I was done.  I did it because everyone else did, but I was not a fan.  As everyone else went back up to go again or go higher, I happily sat on the boat, not interested in doing it again.  My heart began to beat faster just seeing other people jumping into the water.  I began to question my intelligence signing up for the race.  We got up to the obstacle and for safety reasons there were life guards okaying each lane to jump once the previous jumper had surfaced and swam far enough out of the way.  Had I been able to walk straight up and jump I may have been okay, but standing and waiting I began to freak out.  They cleared me to jump and I slowly tiptoed onto the plank, not letting go of the frame holding the planks up.  I made the mistake of looking down and was unsure I would be able to jump.  I saw Thomas walk out onto his plank in my peripheral vision and crouched down and slowly hopped off.  The falling part isn't that bad, it's the letting go and jumping and then re-surfacing that sucks.  It was definitely my least favorite obstacle.
Notice I'm still holding onto the bar even as I jump.  Eek, it was scary!

Next up was the "Electric Eel".  We had to crawl across a slick tarp covered with mud and water with electrical wires perilously hanging above us.  Jeremy and Ty went first.  Jeremy got a massive jolt which caused him to black out momentarily, planting his face directly into the muddy water.   Moments later he got another jolt which was enough for Thomas to speed up and cut over in front of me to the path Ty was taking all while laughing at Jeremy's misfortune.  At this point I was getting tired.  My arms were worn out and there was only so much I could expect out of my legs.  It was slow moving through the water.  My mom yelled to me, "Are you going slow to miss the wires and not get shocked?" and I kid you not, I took a pretty good jolt right between my shoulder blades immediately after she said that.

Remember the part where I just said my arms were tired?  Well there was no rest for the weary.  Our next obstacle was "Mount Everest".  A half pipe we had to run up, grab the top of (or in my case the hands of other competitors) and hoist ourselves up onto the top (or be pulled over the top like a roped calf, in my case).  Unfortunately we chose the side with a shorter line to get through the obstacle which meant there were fewer people on that side of the half pipe helping other people over.  I made the mistake of going right after Ty and he was the only person there to help me.  Needless to say I didn't make it over.  Thomas went and then I tried again, still unsuccessful.  Jeremy went and I tried again.  This time I was closer to making it over, but a stranger stepped up and tried to help Ty and Thomas.  He was very rough and repeatedly slammed me against the half pipe until I finally asked them to let go.  I have an arm covered in bruises thanks to that well-meaning stranger's help.  On my 4th attempt I was determined to get over.  I had been trying to keep my feet under me so I could try to walk up the half pipe.  I realized that wasn't working because it was extremely wet and I kept slipping.  This time I lifted my leg higher so they were able to grab my leg and pull me over.  I was so relieved to finally be over!

Click here to see mom's video of my Mount Everest struggle as well as Jeremy and Thomas' success.  Unfortunately she missed Ty's success.

"Glory Blades" was the next obstacle which consisted of slanted walls similar to the "Berlin Walls".  After the debacle that was me getting over the half pipe, I had no shame and climbed up the side where the supports were.  We all enjoyed our next obstacle the "Mud Mile".  There were tall mud hills with water in between.  Thomas decided to cannonball into one of the sections of water.  He came up covered in mud with one of his contacts misplaced, poor decision.  At the end of the mud mile I intended to slide down one section but then was bumped over and slid down over a ramp actually getting air born.  Although I hadn't meant to do it and was shocked, it was actually quite a bit of fun!

There isn't much exciting to share about "Just the Tip".  Basically you had to use finger strength to climb across a wall by gripping a board with just your hands.  We watched a few extremely impressive people in front of us make it across, but for the most part everyone fell in.  None of us were able to make it across.  We did the "Warrior Carry" next and I again called Jeremy.  Rather than carrying him fireman carry because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it, I carried him piggy back.  As we were all getting tired we came across "Tired Yet" a set of tires to hop through.  Thomas got a cramp in his calf and rather than walking to the side of the tires, he actually walked through the tires.  It was hilarious!

Thomas walking after his cramp.

The last obstacles were "Family Feud", "Fire in Your Hole", and "Electroshock Therapy". "Family Feud" saw us run/walking across a 2x6 board while having buoys thrown at us by spectators.  Thomas ran across, lost his balance, went parallel with the water and fell.  The rest of us made it across unscathed.  "Fire in Your Hole" was a 30-40 foot tall slide that shot you out through fire.  "Electroshock Therapy" was the last obstacle and the most entertaining.  This time it was an extremely muddy terrain with electric wires of varying voltages hanging down.  Ty ran through first and caught one shock so strong he blacked out and slammed his face into the mud, resurfacing with a nose covered in mud.  I was next receiving a total of 3 shocks.  One was a strong enough shock that I crumpled to the ground and landed on the left side of my head, packing mud in my ear.  My shoe was sucked into the mud and I had to trek back in to pull it out and actually crossed the finish line with one shoe in my hand.  Jeremy and Thomas slipped before even going in, but came out a little better.  Jeremy didn't get shocked at all and Thomas got a strong on in the shoulder.
Ty's black out shock.
Coming to after blacking out.
To see my mom's video of me going through "Electroshock Therapy" click here (she missed Ty).
To see my mom's video of Jeremy and Thomas going through "Electroshock Therapy" click here.

We enjoyed the race and were extremely glad to be finished.  They slapped a head band on our heads, handed us a cold beer, and we were on our way.  We were tired, covered with mud, and feeling accomplished.  They had hoses set up to rinse off.  The hose was freezing cold and the water came out with rapid speed.  It felt like tiny daggers repeatedly stabbing me in the legs and arms.  So I didn't get cleaned off very well, but it was good enough to get in the car.  For whatever reason I really wanted a McDonald's cheeseburger so we stopped to get one on our way to Ty's parents' house.

Once we were done I was so ready to see Carter.  When we arrived back at Ty's parents' house Leina came outside with Carter to meet us.  Carter squealed and waved as I took off running (or maybe more so hobbling) toward him.  He decided to run and meet me in the middle, but tripped and landed on the side of his face leaving him bruised and crying.  It was so sad, but it was so good to scoop my baby up and have him in my arms.  I had missed him so.  We all agreed this is a race we will definitely do in the future, but need a while before venturing out for it again.
Love my little man!


  1. Oh my goodness!! You all are my heroes!! You couldn't pay me to go through the electrical wires!! Wish I could have been there - as a spectator!! :)

    1. It was so much fun! My parents enjoyed spectating although my dad was bummed to not be participating this year. He ran with Ty when they did it 2 years ago.