I’ve done plenty of races in the past five years from tris to marathons, but I don’t think I’ve ever been truly nervous about any of the courses before. Anxious about hitting my goal pace or placing, yes. Completing the course, never. Enter the Tough Mudder. Full disclosure, this is the second Tough Mudder I’ve signed up for. My first, two years ago in Houston, I chickened out. Paid the entry fees, and just decided not to go…I told myself that I was afraid of hurting myself a few weeks before a marathon and skipping was doing the right thing. This summer, Kyle and I decided to join a team of his coworkers for Tough Mudder Dallas.
I’ve been pretty busy the last few weeks and haven’t had too much time to think about the race, but on the drive up we read through the obstacles and I started to get a twinge of worry. Sure I can run, but was I going to be able to complete the obstacles? Was I going to get hurt? And, what about that crazy electro shock therapy I’d heard about? Yikes.
Come race day we were ready to go. Armed with a good night sleep, a Venti Soy Latte and bagel, I felt good! We stretched, warmed up, took our “before” photos and lined up with the second wave of the morning.
I could probably write pages giving you a blow by blow of each obstacle, but instead here’s a few things I learned (in no particular order) from doing my first Tough Mudder.
- Sign up with a team. Being part of a team means you all get the same starting time. This ends up being VERY helpful on the course as most of the obstacles require teamwork!
- Running is the most important skill. Sure there are 21 obstacles, but you’re still running 10+ miles. Being good runners allowed us quickly get ahead of the crowds so we didn’t have to wait in line for obstacles.
- Watch your footing. The Dallas race took place on a large ranch south of the city. The result? Lots of obstacles on the ground…from cow poop to brambles, large sticks and hidden holes. Maneuvering the trails and running through high grass was a challenge in its own right.
- Get comfy with strangers. My teammates helped me along, but there were a couple obstacles where we enlisted the assistance of complete strangers. Being okay with asking for help and getting touched by people you don’t know is something we got used to pretty early on. Because nobody wants to get stuck in a mud pit alone.
- You will get messy. Our first obstacle was pretty darn muddy so right off the bat we were dirty. Wearing old running clothes and shoes made getting gross a pretty easy feat.
- Remember it’s not actually a race. The Tough Mudder isn’t timed so it really doesn’t matter how long it takes you to finish (although I’m extremely proud of being the second female of the day to complete the course). The less competitive nature let us focus on taking care of ourselves.
- There’s a thin line between encouragement and peer pressure. At the beginning of the day I declared that I was going to skip the “tear gas” and electroshock therapy obstacles. Once on the course I felt compelled to complete every obstacle. It was still my choice, but seeing everyone around me do them I knew I was capable, too.
- Pack a mini first aid kit. If I could do it again, I’d definitely put a mini first aid kit in my checked bag. Upon completion I noticed all my cuts and bruises (mainly on my knees…my high socks protected my shins) and wanted to clean them up. I also wanted to down some Advil to reduce the pain in my foot from lingering plantar fasciitis issues. While the medical tent was able to help me out, it took a while and honestly I’d rather them concentrate on real injuries.
- Enjoy the people watching. Like most large scale experiential events, the Tough Mudder attracts some characters. From guys in American flag printed undies to extremely intense Tough Mudder veterans, watching participants was a blast.
- Just have fun. Once I got through the first couple obstacles I realized that this event was completely doable and there was nothing to be scared of. As soon as I let my anxiety go, I started to really enjoy myself! Plus, it was great bonding for my fiancé and I.