Thursday, November 24, 2011

Race Report: Tough Mudder Indiana 2011

I felt like I had run 10 miles. I was done, defeated. We had jumped into an ice bath, clawed up one too many hills, forced our way over three walls and run through endless mud puddles.

We turned around a corner, walking at this point and saw a little sign that read "Mile 4".

Then there was another sign mocking us: "Don't worry, you only have 6 miles to go!"

The Tough Mudder seemed like a much better idea when we signed up in July. Yet another sign mocked us. "Think it's cold? What did you expect, it's November!"

I'm ready to kill Beth at this point for suggesting this. She looks miserable too. I keep my mouth shut and truck onward.

I did the Tough Mudder Sunday in Attica, Indiana with Beth O., Traci P. and her cousin Katie H. What an experience! I came out alive, something only 60 percent can say (40 percent drop out), and despite the toughness of the event I had so much fun.

It was a 10-mile course with 23 obstacles at an ATV park. We couldn't do all the obstacles but I'm stoked that I was able to do the ones that I could. (These may not be in the right order! I'm going by what the website said which isn't entirely accurate.)

It was also a road trip, so the four hour drive included a trip to WalMart to over-prepare:

And take pictures wearing kids' headbands.

And take pictures in front of silly signs.

We stayed over in LaFayette, 5 of us to a tiny hotel room. That didn't matter, we got in at midnight and were up and moving by 7 a.m. Lessons learned from the Warrior Dash, we braided our hair and taped up our shoes.

And I wore a goofy Christmas sweater as a throwaway.

And pads to protect my poor, sensitive knees.

We got to the ATV park around 9 a.m., plenty of time to kill before our 10:40 wave. We scoped out the scene, took pictures of the obstacles we could see, got some swag, and opted not to get mullets.

These standing by didn't make us nervous at all. Not one bit.

Our "before" pictures.

We checked our bags and they called our waves. The announcer got us pumped up, then gets serious. "Have a knee" he says. Work together, he tells us, and take the time to call for help if you see someone "having a conversation with the worms".


And then we were off!

Thanks to Beth doing her research at the beginning, we started barely at a jog. We knew we had to conserve our energy, and I'm glad we did.

The first real obstacle was to truck it up and down a series of hills. They were steep, and slick. We were grabbing onto anything just to get over. Then there was some barbed wire to crawl under.

We had barely gone a mile. Then we see a sign. "At least you aren't wet."

Sure enough, next up was the Chernobyl Jacuzzi, a dumpster divided into three lanes filled with icy water. Not fun in November, despite the 50 degree weather. We plunge in, but that's not all, we have to put our head under to go underneath a board. I emerged, and seriously felt like I had gone into shock. For a second I couldn't breath. It. Was. So. Cold! And it was backed up getting to the ladder to get out. Only one obstacle in and I already wanted to die!

We made it out, and ran to warm up. We started to get comfortable again only to hit the mud mile.

For about a mile but seeming like much longer we waded through murky waters. The only upside? It was a lot warmer than Chernobyl.

Then we hit the walls. Literally. Three of them. These beefy Marines helped pull us up and over. We'd hit two more sets of walls later in the course. We'd go around both times.

Then there was the plank.

We had to climb up a 15-foot incline with a rope to get to the top, then take the plunge into a red lake.

At first, I chickened out, but seeing Traci, Beth and Katie at the top made me want to try. Beth and Katie pulled me up to the top. Katie decided not to jump. Beth and I looked at each other.

We just need to go. We just need to do it.

I took the jump first. I walked off the plank, then remember thinking on my way down "$@#$ did I just do that?" I went into the freezing cold water and it felt like it took an eternity to reach the surface again. When I emerged I found myself gasping for breath saying choice words over and over and over. Traci laughed and helped pull me out. Then Beth went in, emerging in a similar fashion.

 We watched a number of people, including the beefy marines, skip the jump, so we felt we earned a pass on a couple obstacles. We bypassed the Boa Constrictor, where you went face down a tube into a mud pit,and yet another muddy swamp.

There was one muddy swamp we couldn't get around. That's where we saw a sign "Warrior Dash Finish, but you've only just begun."


This mud puddle felt like an eternity. Then we saw the Mile 4 sign. I was done. At this point, I knew why 40 percent drop out.

But then there was a haven. Shortly after the fourth mile marker there was a heated tent. We went in, ate some food, warmed up, and felt refreshed by the time we left. We coasted through the next few miles.

We had to climb across a cargo net, climb under a cargo net and climb over a cargo net in separate obstacles. Climbing over was tricky, thanks to Traci for coaxing me through.

Then there was the mud mile. A mile, literally, of muddy swamp. I went down on several occasions as did the other girls. There was no other option but to get back up and laugh about it.

And the logs. We had to climb up and over logs, and up and over haystacks. I have never been so scared of breaking my ankle. We had to pick up a log and carry it around a short obstacle course. That was nothing.

At Mile 7, we're feeling pretty good. We didn't feel guilty about skipping the obstacles we bypassed, which included one where you had to crawl under barbed wire with electroshocks in ice water.

But where was Mile 8? The scenery was gorgeous, but there was no Mile 8. Apparently there was no Mile 9 either. We came around a bend and heard music and cheering. We were almost there!

But we weren't there yet! There was a set of obstacles in rapid succession.

First up was the monkey bars. We skipped those. Then there was the half pipe. That seemed impossible at first, but we were tired, wet, and figured we'd conquer it.

The Marines were on top to catch people and pull them over. I ran for it once. Slid back down. Ran for it again. Slid down again. Ran for it a third time. Grabbed onto one Marine's hand.

"We're not gonna let you go!" he said. He, another and Traci all pulled me up. Making it up the half pipe was a great feeling.

Then another murky swamp, then more barbed wire to crawl under. Then we ran through walls of fire. Nothing to it. Then, last was electroshock therapy. A little scary, but we plowed through the cords and over the hay and across the finish line!


We were too chilled to take an after picture, so I'm hoping the official event pictures turn out. I was sore in so many ways. We grabbed our swag and struggled to change, then snapped a few photos.

This is what the showers looked like.

And we were so happy for this.

I earned my orange headband, and found a great place for it too!!

What a race!


  1. Wow that race sounds CRAZY! Kudos to you for completing it - I honestly cannot say that I would do the same. LOL!

  2. Awesome! You are amazing, and I am so glad you will be back at MIT! Loved this report!