(Written on June 9, 2014)
Over the weekend I flew to Nashville, TN to complete my first Tough Mudder, as well as visit my sister and nephews (which I will write about in a different journal entry). For those of you who don't know, the Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile obstacle course-a description that doesn't even begin to accurately portray what the course is all about. Before participants can begin the course, they are required to climb over a wall to enter the starting pit, and once there they must recite an oath. Simply put, the oath states that the Tough Mudder is not a race, it's a challenge that we all must help each other complete. In fact, anyone seen by course officials not helping another participant when in need, will be kicked off the course. There is no timing chip, no clock, and no rewards for finishing first. The goal of the course is simply to finish.and finish I did.
Before that finish line, however, there were a lot of challenging moments that tested my physical, mental, and even emotional fortitude. Prior to beginning my journey on the 10.6 mile course, I secretly hoped that the forecasted thunder storms would cause a cancellation. I was extremely nervous, and wasn't sure I could complete the distance or some of the more difficult obstacles I had heard about. I was also very tired, as I tossed and turned all night thinking about the day ahead. On the way to the location of the course, we ran into horrible traffic, taking an hour and a half to travel four miles. We were late for our start time, I was tired, hungry, and a bit cranky, but I climbed over that wall anyway, took the Mudder oath, and started with a slow, swampy jog under the midday sun. "Tough Mudder is not a race."
When we got the first upward slope, and I already had to stop and walk less than a mile into the course, I thought to myself that I was a fool for doing this.how could I complete 10.6 miles with obstacles if I can't even run up a small hill? Then I looked around and saw that nearly everyone else was walking; apparently the high sun and humidity were zapping everyone's energy. Throughout the day, the jogging and walking alternated quite often, with bursts of energy here and there fueled by the adrenaline rush and exhilaration of completing a frightening obstacle, or a visit to a water/electrolyte station. Tough Mudder is a challenge."
As for the obstacles, they were difficult, and I required assistance with nearly every obstacle, but only encountered one I could not complete. Needing help does not equate failure. Tough Mudder is about teamwork, and camaraderie. Even some of the most fit participants required help with many of the obstacles.it was designed by a team of elite soldiers after all. While Nick helped me with most obstacles, there were also many other people who either gave me a boost up, or even pulled me up by the seat of my pants! Not being able to assist others with many obstacles, I was thrilled when I got the chance to help hold taller individuals' feet to keep them from sliding down a steep, slippery slope while they helped pull others up. While I I was doing this, Nick stood waist deep in dark, muddy water, serving as a base at the bottom of that slope, and allowed others to climb up his body to reach the waiting arms above. "Tough Mudder is about teamwork."
When I think back on the course, my favorite obstacles were the ones I was dreading the most. Climbing up and over a 15 foot wall with a rope is not my idea of fun, and it was certainly scary, but I did it and I didn't fall. Running up a half pipe and leaping into the air to grab someone's arm I had never met in my life required an immense amount of trust, but I did it and he didn't let go. Climbing up another 15 foot wall using the legs, hands, and shoulders of other people, having them push me up by the feet and supporting myself on that wall with nothing to grab onto if I fell was the scariest thing I've ever done in my life.until I had to drop to the ground on the other side, but I did it. Luckily, Nick was on the other side of that wall, and he helped me down with both his words and by spotting my landing..must have been his way of thanking me for carrying him on my back for 50 yards earlier in the day. :) "
I've been thinking to myself how this experience relates to the Ethos theme; Ethos is about community and being connected by shared beliefs and ideas about the world, and I can tell you that the Tough Mudder creates and solidifies a very strong ethos among thousands of people at every single event. On a grand scale, I felt connected to the 10,000 participants that day through the oath I recited at the beginning, a demonstration of shared values among those who ran, walked, climbed, crawled, jumped, and sweated beside me, and the immense amount of support I received from people who simply wanted to help a fellow Mudder. I now understand why people choose to participate again and again.
Overall, this experience was extremely positive, and I feel a renewed sense of motivation with my journey to my 3rd degree Black Belt. I am so lucky to have had Nick at my side during my first Tough Mudder, as his presence gave me motivation, and he helped me complete the course in more ways than one. I feel that he and I have grown even closer than I thought possible, and I am excited about all of the future obstacles we will overcome as we share our martial arts training, and our lives together.