Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tough Mudder!


Yes, I am wearing a mustache in this picture. Because I am one of a 5-piece quintuplet of Magnum P.I.'s! I'll admit I wasn't stoked about the 'stache, but once I got it on and started parading around in it, I got a total kick out of it! I got a ton of hilarious comments and support from other "Mudders." We got all dandied up in Hawaiian shirts and shorty shorts in honor of the '80s and the proclivity for men to show WAAAY too much leg hair.

There were months of preparation and training for this race, mainly lifting and muscle building for me. Mainly with P90X! Since this 7-ish mile course was held on a ski resort, Bear Valley California, with double black diamond slopes factored in, I knew there wasn't going to be as much running during this race as much as straight hand-over-hand climbing. Both up and down. This was an almost-epic trip for Team Library Dork + Ben- I'll get to the almost part soon. I'm going to tell this story in pictures- and I actually have some pretty good ones to share since Dave brought his indestructible camera which is waterproof and mud and rock proof too!

This is a view of the mountain below where the race took place, from the parking lot. It dawned quite the beautiful day! There were 5000 people signed up for the even (the majority of which were men, so for once in my life when I used the bathroom there was a huge line for the men's room but not for the ladies!), and waves of starters every 15 minutes of 350, on a very steep hill. Our wave didn't start until 11:30, so we got to sit down to a nice breakfast at a normal hour instead of the usual Clif bar.

Here I am before the race, milling around trying to find the packet pick-up area:

And Turi:

And Chris:

And me with Mario and Luigi:

A close up of the 5 of us, all 'stached up!

And finally, dah dah Daaaaah! The Walk To The Start (cue: Sunshine! Notice how they're all in step?):

This is one of the steepest, hilliest, most elevation gain and loss races I've ever done. Check out the hill they had us slide down to start~

Turi, and me edging down trying to get some of the worst out of the way before the shot went off, because for some reason the rest of the guys wanted to hang back (which I think they regretted for the rest of the race)...


And we're off! I lost my mustache in the first obstacle, crawling through mud and grit under the barbed wire fence (where I nearly lost my hat several times as well, and in which I drew first blood, I think, from the bottom of Chris's shoe), and hastily stuffed it in my front shirt pocket. Bruised knee #1. The photos for this one didn't come out clear, but immediately we started down our first steep downhill (yup, I sat down once after my feet slipped out from under me on the gravel covered rocks, but with shouts from behind of, "Mudder down!" I was up again like a rocket). Here's me:

And here is part of the track, wide still,

And Dave getting pissed off as we ran into our first wait, which was backed up because there were so many people filing onto a steep down-hill single track.

And then we started back UP that monster we just worked our way down. Turi and I are rock skipping here, just like I've done at Tahoe countless times:

After hiking back up the mountain (which I think was considered an obstacle in itself) we came to another obstacle: the Snowblowers. They weren't blowing snow, but more like stinging ice water. It was blinding in that man-made storm, and I had to walk through knee-deep water to get to them. Oh well. I knew I'd be doing a lot of running/hiking with wet shoes. Beauty in the Beast- the rainbow from the top was spectacular, and this picture doesn't do it justice.

Another obstacle climb. Can you say steep?

It just kept on going up and up and up...

My heart was pounding by the time I got to the top of this one! But I never stopped. And there were lots of "stoppers." Then a fun obstacle appeared: the construction Spools! With a good 10 minute wait to get to them. Between the two spools (your team got to pick one to hop over) were tires that no one but Dave ran through:

Turi and Chris made it over the top on their own because of their towering height, but I only managed to land on my stomach and needed to be pulled the rest of the way over. Bruised knee #2. Then, finally a flatish and downhill stretch to run!

And then another huge wait. I'm sure we waited a good 20 minutes at this one, and most of us had no idea what was going on at the front of the crowd. Then one of the volunteers waved through a huge part of the crowd, and TLD was left at the front, cut off from the rest and made to wait because of another huge back-up at the next obstacle. But at least we had a clear view of what was to come. The Mud Pit. It was 20 yards of that thick sloshy mud that tries to take your shoes off followed by a pool of liquid concoction that reminded me of the consistency of what's at the bottom of a port-o-potty. Someone piped up from the crowd, "While we're waiting, would it be okay if I ran and jumped in the mud and got back in line?" He ran, jumped, and landed flat on his belly with the most satisfying belly-slap! So of course this put ideas into Chris's head that he needed to follow suit. He ran and flew threw the air, and with a SLURP dissappeared into the mud. He climbed out dripping, and made a bee-line for guess who? Yes, there was no out-running this mad man, and the entire crowd cheered as he slammed into me and slathered me with slimy mud! He even went back for seconds and got me good in the face. And now I smelled like the out-house I was just previously imagining. By the time this picture was taken, I'd managed to wipe off most of the mud from my face onto Turi and Dave's shirts:

Another down hill and we came to the "high poles." These poles were vertical, and taller than my head. This one also required team work to get over the top. Chris and Turi were helped up by other Mudders, and then I was given a boost up, and then almost fell on my rear coming down the other side. Should've gone over forward instead of gripping the pole and easing off my stomach.

After this we had another climb that went up and up and up forever into the heavens- and deceived us by hiding the next hill with the previous one (and again, I'm proud of myself for not stopping until I got to the top. Dave on the other hand had to wander into the woods for a while to find a private bush to ease his angry stomach of the biscuits and gravy he powered up with for breakfast, and found his way to the top, gloveless), and a half hour wait to do the "Berlin Wall Climb." This obstacle consisted of a pile of logs with a hard plastic sheet you had to run and scramble up to get to the wood. I wouldn't have managed this nearly as gracefully as I had without the help of two guys from another team reaching out helping hands. Thankfully, that was the last long wait we had to do for the obstacles.

The next obstacle was one that I had been waiting for, actually. I still had stinky mud flaking and dusting off my body and was eager to wash some of it off. Here is Chris right behind me easing his way down into the water:

The pond however I swear was melted snow, and froze my girl parts as I dunked under the two barrels. I was so cold I hurt and couldn't get out of the water on the other side fast enough!

As you can see from this picture, you cross the pond once and then go down the slip-and-slide on the other side and climb out again. Chris, Turi and Ben somehow got ahead of Dave and I, and I watched with a crazed expression on my face as Chris went down head first! Not many were brave enough to pull that stunt. Dave slid down seated, and I took a few quick steps thinking I'd make the best of a fast slide, and I TRIPPED! Crap! I went down head-first, and straight for several people in the water, Dave included! So I balled up my fists and punched my way into the crowd, "YAAAAAAAHHHH!" I popped up out of the water (not nearly so bad the second time in!) and apologized for running into someone, who just brushed it off. I missed Dave. Whew!

Immediately after this obstacle was the wood pile. Yes, we all sported our wood in a variety of positions, carrying our pieces down a trail and back about a half mile. I think this was Dave's favorite obstacle by far! He looks surprised in this photo, but most of the time he was grinning with the implications of this part of the race.


I keep saying "race" in this blog, but it really wasn't. It was a team effort and we all stuck together waiting for those at the back of the lines. It was about camaraderie and support and not about time- we only ran about one mile total anyway. But I'll continue to call this a race, okay? That was the last race photo I have because Dave's camera ran out of space, but we still had 3 obstacles after that. And not really worth photographing. One was a 12-foot fence that we had to climb back and forth over 16 times (that was kind of fun, and made it worth carrying thin gloves in my back pocket for the entire race), and one was drinking a tiny shot of hot sauce just meters from the finish (that was lame). The final obstacle couldn't have been more disappointing. The "wall of flame" was a mere grill to jump over, that I thought was only slightly warm. Even so, someone still managed to fall on it and burn him or herself. Geez people! TLD's last member finished at 3 hours and 3 minutes. I wonder how we would have done if we didn't have all that waiting around to do? The rest of the team was not happy about that part, to put it lightly. I, however, was SUPER sore for the next several days- I completely destroyed my quads on the downhills trying to watch my form and not mess up my knee (or back), and didn't feel like I had the right to complain about the race, even though it was the mountain that difficult and not the actual obstacles (I left out mention of a few of the super easy ones, like the spider-web crawl over a school bus, and a claustrophobic dark crawl through a tunnel that made my knees hurt). But I am still proud of myself for all the training I did, and if nothing else, I got to spend the entire day outside in the beautiful sunshine with my teammates, and share some good food and beer after (although not the Dos Equis at the post-race party). This is one of those races that I looked forward to and can say I completed, but don't feel the need to ever do again. So my thanks is to TLD for a great weekend!

Two last pictures. Not only were my quads destroyed, but so were my Magnum PI shorts. These went straight into the dumpster after this photo was taken:

And the skin on my knees:

But worth it. :)

4 comments:

slowrunner77 said...

i digress. turi and i were able to jump the spools not because of our height, but because of our super-duper manlyleticism and giant brass cajones!!!

Turi said...

Despite the downer aspect of the race organization and all, it sure was nice to be out for a day with the team. Thanks guys -

arcteryx said...

Great that this race had a nice output, despite the down aspect. it was still a great one! keep it up!

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for your very detailed blog . . I have recently been "cut" from my team as they believe I am not "tough" enough. I have been emailing tm to see if I still just show up or if I now have to adopt a new name. I was thinking of the name "One among many" Thanks again so much once again you have given me hope!