Tough Mudder Virginia Recap: It’s Just Cross Training, Right?

Back in June, when a friend said that he and the Artist were registered for Tough Mudder, I looked on my calendar and saw that I had a cross training workout planned for October 23. No kidding. I am that much of a nerd that I have cross training planned 4 months in advance. Anyway, Tough Mudder = cross training, right?

Let’s clear up the goals aspect of things first. I wanted to: 

(1) Survive
(2) End the day with the same number of bones that I started with, all my ligaments attached, and with no concussion
(3) Have fun
(4) Finish with the Artist
(5) Finish in under 3 hours
(6) Finish in under 2 and a half hours

I survived, ended the day with the same number of bones that I started with, all my ligaments attached (even the reconstructed one – yay!), and with no concussion, had fun, and finished with the Artist in approximately 4 hours and 10 minutes. 
Random aside, the website said that the course was 9 miles and would take an average of 2.5 hours to complete. I’m pretty skeptical of the 2.5-hour average, and if the mile markers on the course were correct, it was at least 9.25 miles. Not whining. Just sayin’.
The Artist and I had Sunday, 9:40am starts. After LIFE took over for everyone else we knew who had signed up, another friend – Ben – super generously offered to drive and spectate. This turned out to be an awesome decision.
At breakfast at the hotel Sunday morning, we came upon a guy wearing a mylar space blanket arm sling who had done Tough Mudder the day before. No offense to the guy, but a space blanket sling is still a space blanket sling: it means that he didn’t injure himself enough to receive frontcountry medical care, which was enough to reassure me that I was going have the same number of bones and ligaments that I started with.
Local traffic to the parking lot in a winery’s field was intense, but we quickly got onto a shuttle bus up to Wintergreen. Then it was off to sign in.
Items 1 & 2: Signing Death Waiver and 
Entry and Participation Agreement.
Item 3: Pick up race packet by last name.
Item 4: getting face marked. This was a little weird because I had 
just seen Les Mis at the Kennedy Center last week, so the number 
racing around IN my head was, uh, Jean Valjean’s 24601. 
In three part harmony.

Item 5: No puking.

We also discovered at sign-in that as a spectator, Ben could come on the course as long as he didn’t interfere with the obstacles. This turned into photo op gold and the perfect opportunity for a human SAG wagon so I didn’t have to stuff all my Honey Stinger chews and gels into my tights.
Start line in the distance.
The Artist and I mugging for the camera 
one last time before heading to the start.
After a pump-up talk and the National Anthem, our wave charged onto the course.
The dudes lead the charge. See ya at the ice bath, boys!
The Artist and I make our way up the first of many jaunts up a hill.
First obstacle: Berlin Walls.
Multiply this downhill run 3 times. Maybe 4.

The Girls at Team Sparkle gave me the awesome opportunity to wear a Team Sparkle Traveling Skirt for Tough Mudder. The Artist was jealous and wanted his own. The woman in front of me at another obstacle was wearing a black skirt and was envious of the sparkles. Another woman at the top of a hill called me out, along with a cheer for girl power. It was pretty awesome.

Next obstacle: Jumping over hay bales like I do this every weekend.
I’d like to think, by the way, that it was my guaranteed to succeed strategies that pulled me through in some of these spots.
Another up, another down, then pick a log from the pile.
Props to the chicas who carried proper fire logs.
I swear this one was 3% my body weight.
The Artist killed it on the Funky Monkey bars.
I, on the other hand…
…took a drink. Yum.
We then dashed into the woods, I think, and came out at the Twinkle Toes obstacle. All those years of gymnastics training paid off.
Coincidentally, I hated the doing balance beam in gymnastics.
I think from here we went up some mountain biking trail, through some “bog” and then we wound up at the “Chernobyl Jacuzzi” obstacle, aka, dumpsters filled with ice water. I think in general the boys psyched themselves out on this one…
Guy to my right dropped the f bomb as I went in…
…then I couldn’t get myself out. Nor could two guys.
It took THREE people to get me out.
On the Spider’s Web cargo nets. The woman in front of me also was
wearing a skirt, but she lamented her lack of sparkles.
Next up: Slip n’ Slide. Nice refreshing water at the bottom…
…sometimes I wonder about myself.
Crawling through muddy tunnels. Gotta love it.
Ducking under logs…
…followed by my now customary head-first exit.
LOTS of ups on this course. Right up the fall line, too.
Glad I didn’t have to deal with elevation.
Also a lot of dirt. On my Team Sparkle skirt.
I actually got really, really cold. Like shivering cold. Not long
after this photo, Ben told me he ate one of my Honey Stinger
gels (which he discovered he liked) and gave me his down sweater.
Now a traipse off to the golf course. I was too cold to notice
the scenery, but it looks pretty here!
Somewhere along the way, we hit another obstacle:
going under and over logs.
Another couple of bales of hay…
The course then took us through the golf course and ~2 miles of paved golf cart road. Along the way, there was a mini tire/fast feet obstacle (it’s what I think of when I think football combine, but that’s probably not what a combine is).
Then, after a port-o-potty and aid station break, it was the second set of Berlin Walls, set higher than the first.
MANY thanks to the guys overhead pressing me.
Last mile, right?
From here it was a jaunt back to the ski area and then the Mystery Kick Ass Obstacle: the Smoke Chute. 
I hate spiders.
Love the TLC from the volunteers.
This obstacle was pretty freaky. It’s essentially a slide that free falls for as far as I was willing to peak over the ledge and then levels out. Not gonna lie. This obstacle took my breath away. And, I hit the back of my head on this one and then got shot out of that slide so fast and far, I skidded off the plastic tarp. Some poor woman who had made it to the top of the ladder had psyched herself out and was in near hysterics. I hope she sorted it out.
Being small had a LOT of advantages in this…
All concentration on the Shake n’ Bake. If you ever wanted to
feel like a breaded piece of meat, this was your chance.
All right, more cargo nets – this time, the Turd’s Nest.
The grand-daddy of all obstacles: Everest.
Not my finest attempt. But the Artist nailed it on his second try!
Not the John Woo moment that I was hoping for,
but close enough!
And then finally, the moment of truth: the Electroshock Therapy obstacle. Ben gave us great beta after watching a bunch of people go through: keep you hands up so they don’t get tangled in the live wires. Yeah, I wrote LIVE wires.
The Artist and I kind of look like Butch Cassidy and the
Sundance Kid…
…with a happier ending. I wound up getting zapped about 3 times.
Each time, I yelped “Ow!” as though I was annoyed, mostly
because I don’t think my brain realized what was going on.
Unfortunately, no epic finish line crossing, mostly because I chased after Ben as he ran through to set up for the shot. Obviously, I left my brain in the ice bath. If I can snag some pics off the official event photog site, I’ll post them.
Dos Equis? Yes, please!
Cheers! And muchas gracias to the man behind the cameras!

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