Tough Mudder – Recap and Newbie’s Guide to Doing One

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If you’ve ever had friends who run – but you don’t – then you know that feeling of “Maybe I should do this but I don’t know about it and I don’t typically do that.” That was how I felt about running too and now I consider myself a runner. But about three years ago when Courtney and Robert signed up for a Tough Mudder and tried desperately to convince us to join their team, I was way too skeptical. I always had a reason not to do it: time, money, pregnant, etc. This year, I decided to commit.


Though I have been running semi-consistently for months, I wanted to train additionally for this competition. For a while I was using our rock climbing hang board to do dead hangs and work on my pull-ups for upper body strength.  I also went to the playground and practiced going back and forth on the monkey bars. I did push-ups and planks in my office when I could. I think if I had done this a little more consistently, I would have been able to finish a few more of the obstacles but I did fine on most of them.

If you’re going to commit, I would say that you should definitely be able to run a solid two miles. That is, if you want to feel strong going into your first obstacle. From what I know of my race and others, your first test is to run between one and two miles. Sure, you could walk, but I feel like you’re taking away from the point of it.

Race type:

Our “race” was held in Palm Bay, just slightly south of Melbourne, Florida. I put race in quotation marks because it is not timed. If you are a runner and used to this sort of competition, realize that this is in a league of its own. The Mudder is focused primarily on team cohesion and finishing. The thing I don’t like about it is that you can opt to skip every obstacle. You could walk the entire thing and walk around each challenge and still get the finisher headband at the end. To me, this lessens the integrity of my award. So in my opinion – in the words of Jameis Winston – “If we gon’ do it then, we gon’ do it big then.” Attempt every obstacle. Run as much as you can.


I highly recommend a certain type of gear for this.

One: wear running/racing pants. At least have something that covers your knees. You will do a lot of crawling – army and on hands and knees. My husband’s knees look red and shredded today from The Devil’s Beard and The Birth Canal.

Two: shoes that don’t hold water. You will trudge through nasty looking pits and entire mud puddles. You will fall into vats of disgusting sludge. You will want light-weight shoes. We often had to empty our shoes and it got to the point where running was so hard because of the weight.

Three: For women, get that hair pulled back tight. You will be disgusting, you will have to force yourself under barbed wire and netting. Don’t take the risk of getting hair all over.


Not every race is the same but the Tough Mudder crew will send you an email with your race info and planned obstacles about a week out from your event. We had the following: Kiss of Mud, Birth Canal, Pitfall, Skidmarked, Balls Out, Arctic Enema 2.0, Devil’s Beard, Mud Mile, Berlin Walls 2.0, Warrior Carry, Cry Baby, Shawshanked, Beached Whale, Ladder to Hell, Funky Monkey 2.0, King of Swingers, The Liberator, Everest, and Electroshock Therapy.

Now, Everest was not on our map so that was the x factor. It was apparently 20% higher than before.

Some advice for specific obstacles:

Kiss of Mud, Devil’s Beard, Cry Baby, Shawshanked, and Birth Canal: STAY LOW. Practice that army crawl or you’ll get caught on the barbed wire.toronto-canada-15th-aug-2015-tough-mudder-obstacle-course-aug-15-2015-f0gpxg

Balls Out, Berlin Walls, Skidmarked, Ladder, Funky Monkey, The Liberator: Work out your upper body. If you have a strong team member or members, then the wall up and overs are ok. Someone can push you from the bottom and pull you from the top. But having good arm strength helps. I dominated Balls Out and that gave me a huge confidence booster.Tough-Mudder-Obstacle-Testing--3664587597-O_1

I was very worried about Arctic Enema but it was actually a welcomed feeling. Since you’re so muddy and gross, the water was nice. Granted, it wasn’t too dirty yet and the weather was warm. It is a bit of a shock to your system but take the plunge!

I will admit that I skipped Ladder to Hell because it was higher than I thought and very slippery. I was watching a girl my height crest it and she was struggling to get her leg to the next board. I said, “Do I want to risk falling?” The answer was: not really.

I also skipped the Liberator because I was really worn down by that point and my upper body was simply not making that climb. I was feeling really dejected at that point too but then my success on the Electroshock made me feel a lot better.

Electroshock Therapy is apparently as rugged as you’d think. We stood there watching people run through and fall hard as soon as they got a shock. I was terrified. My teammates went through and I watched Ash take a wire to the foot and fall over like he had been literally shot. Both he and Courtney took the low road: crawling in mud over hay bales as the wires hung above. Both flipped their feet too high and caught a wire. Before I knew it, every one of them was across and I was left. I turned to the two Army guys manning the obstacle and claimed, “My team left me!” One of them said, “No, you left them.” And with that, I plunged down into the mud and crawled myself to safety, never catching a wire. I am glad too; Ash said it is really as bad as you’d think.

(I look thoroughly disgusted in this pic but I am so worried about getting shocked that I was in a whole other state of mind: get to the end NOW.)



In short, it was a pretty fun thing to do. “Life-affirming” would be the best descriptor. It made me feel like I was actually being challenged and I felt pretty good about it. I was tired and sore and I still am. But I felt like I truly earned my beers and burger. I will say, having beer at the finish line (like a lot of other races do too) was very nice. And if you wanted more, they were not overpriced. (Five bucks) They didn’t set up the finish very well. At every race I have been to, you cross the finish line then walk at least 20-30 feet before hitting tables of water, food, gear, etc. They had theirs – no joke – about two feet after the finish so everyone bunched up and it got really annoying. That would be my only true complaint about set up.

Overall, do I recommend it to people? YES! It was a great experience. Will I do another one? Maybe in time. I think I have to forget how strenuous this one was before I go signing up for another. But it certainly was an experience!

(Our team: The Mud Puppies)


T25 – What doesn’t kill me makes me… well, maybe



Shaun T says: get in there and focus! Ash and I started this on Monday so yeah, we’re  only on day 3. So far, I am feeling the burn. The first day was cardio and yesterday was “speed 1.0”, which was slightly easier in that there were a lot of yoga stretches. These  proved easy for me but Ash had trouble with balancing. I can tell you that I love the 25 minute countdown and the loading bar for each exercise. And last night went by so quickly compared to day one. I can’t expect every day to fly by but if they are so intense that they breeze by, I will be happy.

The plan is to stick to it as best we can. I like that we tend to do it after the kids go to sleep (so anywhere from 8:15-8:30) and then I make it past that 9 PM slump I was in for the longest time. I work out for 25 minutes, do a 2 minute cool down, rinse off, then go wash dishes and bottles or catch up on other little chores. This was exactly what I was looking for! I juts hope it can tone my body in the ways I want. I’m not looking to be a model; I just want to be thinner. I don’t need to have ridiculously defined abs; I just want less leftover baby flab. I want to go to the beach and feel relatively comfortable in a bathing suit. And besides, I didn’t think I was that out of shape until we started and I want to keep my health. I’ll be 35 in 15 days!

A little bit o’ this, and some of that…

For so long, I had one major goal in mind: finish the half marathon. Now with that over and done with, I find myself sort of adrift. Sure, there are a million thoughts floating around my head at any given moment. Because my life is overfull with responsibility. But there is nothing pressing, no ONE thing I have to focus on. This leaves me somewhat empty.

There are other photos of me running but this was one of the only ones to look semi-decent. (Also, swiped the proof because there’s no way I am paying for my own pic.) In half of them, my expression is pained, though I honestly didn’t feel all that worked. Sure, I was tired but not enough to justify such a hurt face.

I’m sitting with a piece of paper in front of me, folded length-wise. I have numbered it one through five so far. I intend to posit some major goals for the next few weeks. One of them is start speed training. I intend to run three miles in increasingly faster times. Then I’m going to sign up for as many 5ks as I can squeeze in and just dominate them. Not to WIN them, per se, but to get used to racing. I know some people get all hyped up but I felt out of my element.  (Photo: Herb Wills, local race photographer)

It’s something I want to keep up. Running balances my life in a way I never thought it could. I actually ended up enjoying it. The sense of accomplishment each and every time I go out there is so encouraging and healthy, mentally and physically. I am way better equipped to handle life problems when I am actively running.


Writing. I received my MA in Creative Writing back in ’06. Since then, it has been more of a sometimes hobby than a job. Though I’m still in the English department I am not actively pursuing a writing career. It’s like the cliched dream: to be a writer who can stay home and work in their office, pounding out page after page of meaningful publishable text.

As previously mentioned, I have taken the characters from my rather immature and unfinished master’s thesis and throttled them into the future, reworking them to fit into a contemporary romance. Here is an excerpt:

Kyra nodded and sipped again. His gaze was intent on her, studying, noting. Soon as she took the bottle from her lips, he took it in his hand and placed it on a post of the fence surrounding them. “Dance with me.” Though it sounded like a command, she knew it to be a mere request. And one she knew she could not turn down. He led her back inside, the disparity in the temperatures washing over her. The floor was crowded and couples moved in waves, bodies to and fro in a sea of dance and movement. Kyra had always loved dancing and seldom found a guy who felt comfortable doing it or could do it with the sense of rhythm Cam appeared to possess. The sight of him in front of her now was such a turn-on, any and all misgivings she may have had before leaving the house just an hour earlier went right out the window.

Cam kept a safe distance as they both sought out their own pace and meter to match the music. Colored lights bathed them and the throng, distorting reality and drowning her in sensation. As she was swept under by the hypnotizing effect of the music, the nearness of her partner’s body sent a shiver through her. She could feel the heat radiating off of him as he moved away and towards her, coming together at times. Cam placed an arm around her waist, tentatively at first then firmer when her body ceded to his touch and he knew she felt comfortable.  He didn’t know how far he could push her but he knew there had once been something between them and now that they were older and perhaps wiser, he hoped to flesh that out, right here, tonight.

Kyra couldn’t help but breathe in the spicy masculine scent each time Cam got closer. The fast-paced song rolled into a more relaxed tune and he pulled her close, leaning his head down to the meeting of shoulder and neck. “Is this alright?” he whispered in her ear, his breath hot against the sensitive flesh. Sweet lord was it ever alright.

I’m no stranger to the romance genre but I have to admit I am slightly embarrassed to be pursuing it now as a publishable book. But I feel like I can do it, that I have some kind of grasp on it. And let’s face it, this shit sells. It’s a multi-million dollar business. So long as there are women, there will be an audience.


The kids. Whenever people come to chat and ask, “How are your children?” I never really know how to respond. Do they *actually* want to hear? If I tell them they’re fine then there’s not really much else to talk about but if I say that Elliot has a cold and Isaac keeps waking up at night will they be like, “Uh, ok I didn’t really *care*, I was just being polite”?

Because they ARE doing fine. Elliot is finally coming out of the horrendous I Am Three stage, wherein he was half howler monkey, half-satanic offspring with an occasional glimpse at the real person hiding underneath. I learn every day the ways to keep him from melting down. He really likes to help so if I can give him some simple directions and tasks to accomplish, he’s usually pretty good. He likes to hold open doors and help wash dishes, which really entails us doing dishes and him filling cups with water and pouring water out. But it makes him happy. And keeps him entertained. He has the attention span of a gerbil.

Isaac is coming out of the fog of infanthood, which means he understands more and interacts more. His giggles crack me up and the way he army crawls all over the house is pretty amazing. He looks at us like obstacles to scale and will climb us like trees. He’s very in-tune with what Elliot does and the two have a little language all their own. I don’t know if they understand each other but it seems inherent; Isaac makes some unintelligible noise and Elliot mimics it, only to have Isaac come back with another in a slightly different tone. They’ll go back and forth like this for minutes, off in their own world.

My life is so full, so immensely satisfying. Elliot asked why these two people were standing by a sign this morning – the bus stop – and I explained to him that they don’t have cars and told him how blessed we were to have TWO cars and as I was almost mindlessly going through the adult spiel about that, I realized that I myself needed to take a step back and just be thankful and happy. Because I am. The guys in my life make it all worth living. Ever day. No matter what.


Taper week is driving me insane

Ash warned me; he did. He said that people sometimes go a little nutty during taper week because though you’re glad to be running less, your metabolism is still running really high and you have an excess of energy. On top of that, you’re used to making time to run so without it, your brain cannot process the extra slot. Ain’t this the truth. I was like a caged animal yesterday. I wanted to cross-train – i.e. use the hang board – to tone up a little and expend this energy but I was in such a bad mood that I didn’t want to do anything. I ate two biscuits and some grits for dinner then I crawled in bed at nine o’clock. Nine! I felt like such a slacker but I was angry at the world and sort of felt like I’d hurt someone if I didn’t sequester myself away.

Honestly, my day was a lot like this. One thing could have set me off. I was a walking time bomb. But today, oh, how I do feel much better. I’m still worried about a lot of things but more equipped to process them. For example, I do indeed need surgery on my right hand to correct the carpal tunnel. Though it’s a relatively minor procedure, I think the word alone is bothering me. SURGERY. I’ve never gone under the knife and I don’t know how I feel about it. Though I base all pain on my experiences with childbirth, I just don’t know what to expect. I know that for at least two days, I won’t be able to do much. The home is my realm and relinquishing that control….kind of gives me the shakes. Ash will have to do so much more for me and though I bitch and moan for him to do more in general, giving it up in this manner just irks me. I’m not allowed to change diapers or do anything that may cause my incision to get infected (ew) so basically, I’ll have to just hang out. Just the thought of that makes me feel gloomy.

::Clap clap:: No more wallowing. It’s a waste of time. We tend to get so bogged down in the daily minutia that it becomes difficult to feel really good about all the wonderful things we actually do have, you know? I found myself bitching about some really stupid things yesterday and the voice in the back of my head kept saying. “That’s not true and you know it.” I know if I keep thinking so negatively, it will really affect my life so with that, I’m stopping.

With this weird couple weeks before my half-marathon I am trying to focus on me and the other aspects of who I am aside from running. Also, I am treating myself to some indulgences. I just ate a big cheeseburger and I got a lemon blueberry cupcake that was like OMG. I didn’t know you could package an orgasm but this place somehow managed it. :)

I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself from this whole running thing. Once the race is over, it’ll be weird to run on my own terms and not for some goal, though I foresee myself finding other races to do so that there IS an actual reason other than weight loss. But by having to fit it into my life, I’ve also learned how to appreciate everything more, like my husband and children. I know it sounds cheesy but running made me a better person. Ha ha.

Ok, enough sappiness.



Ground down, but not out

I have been contemplating an entry for about a week now and in that time, two things have come up that mirrored my sentiments. For one, on last week’s Bones episode, Booth wakes up and is feeling his age. As he stumbles from bed to the bathroom, he cracks and creaks like an old familiar chair might. He takes a good long look at himself in the mirror and it’s apparent he realizes that he’s getting older and his body cannot do what it once could.

Then this morning, I was scrolling through my blogroll and, as usual, went on to Sundry Mourning wherein she laments her younger self and being free, virile, and not so… domestic. I have been thinking a lot about these topics.

Ash was going through old pictures last night and regretfully mentioned that he had never really looked at our photos from 2006. We were married in October of 2005 and so 2006 was our first entire year of being a young married couple. He says he couldn’t really remember what all we did because in 2007, Elliot was born and his memories of being childless were basically wiped away. I sure as hell remember them. In 2006 we vacationed and we rode our bikes all over Tallahassee and we rock climbed and ate out a lot and we saw movies. We stayed up late watching mindless TV and we played Everquest II.

Also, we were in the best shape we’d ever been in as a couple. The years before Elliot were good to us and we reveled in them, in our time and our magnificent bodies and our friends and partying.


Monday morning I rolled over when the alarm went off and shuffled down a bit under the comforter. Normally I get up while Ash is in the shower and I prepare Isaac’s bottles and Elliot’s lunch and then I head to the shower myself. But the unfathomable back ache and my clogged sinuses compelled me to forgo the domestic minutia and sleep just five. more. minutes. I stood, bending backwards only to feel a searing pain down my spine that settled at the base, pulsating, making me want to double over and cry. Why did I feel this way? Perhaps it was getting back to running or the chores I spent all of Sunday doing, all the while making meals and taking care of the kids. All I know is that I felt old that Monday. I felt…used.

I don’t tend to wear a lot of make-up, never have. But lately, as I notice more wrinkles and the clear signs of aging on my skin, I’ve turned more to foundations and some mild eyeliner to boost my appearance. It feels so vain but I always have had great skin. It pains me to finally realize that it has begun to deteriorate. Sure, this sounds awful; to be at 31 and complaining about these things. But nonetheless they are concerns. This is why the half-marathon means so much to me. Why I look in the mirror and see relatively toned calves and thighs but also, the leftover belly fat from two pregnancies and I groan. I want that gone. I do. Is it wrong to want to be thin? I’ve not been “thin” since about 5th grade. I was always slightly chubby or built from middle school on. It’s not my body type to be thin; I know this. I am OK with that. But it’s an experiment in self-discipline for me to see if I can achieve a relatively flat stomach. I want to be healthier even as I age because lord knows I haven’t always appreciated the power I have in my body or how I could use it.  Looking forward to the rest of my 30s and into my 40s, I want to still utilize what I’ve been given.

Sometimes when I run, I relish in the sheer power of my body, as my legs propel me forward and I feel strong, slicing through the air, going faster, farther. I appreciate the burn of muscles tearing down, only to be rebuilt day after day. I take pleasure in the fact that I am honing this machine, if for nothing else than to keep up with my kids. If I could have even a fraction of Elliot’s energy, imagine all the things I could do in a day!

Commence the training

Yesterday was my unofficial official first day of half-marathon training. I say this because I am going to run the first week twice, to acclimate myself to the schedule and off days, etc. I ran a mere two miles in about 18 minutes, putting me at about a 9 minute mile pace. Pretty decent, considering I had taken a 7 week hiatus and dealt with that nasty knee injury.

I cannot sing the praises of Glucosamine enough. It claims to take about 4-6 weeks to begin working and after about three and a half, my knee suddenly felt new again. Couple that with KT Tape and my runs are only difficult in the endurance/side stitch areas. I remember those from when I first began running when Isaac was 6 weeks old. It goes away fairly quickly but I’m still in those early stages. I can’t wait to get back to where I was where 5 miles was nothing and I was pushing it to 6 and excited to lengthen my runs, to feel strong and swift.

I have a long 13 weeks ahead of me, especially since the holidays will get in the way but I’m doing it. I will be running 13.1 miles.

Summer’s nearly over

If there’s one thing I look forward to all year it’s Autumn. The first cool mornings when I open the door for the dogs and that air hits my face, letting me know that summer will soon be waning. I stopped by Starbucks this morning and had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. It’s another indication that Fall is on its way, though they seem to up this product’s debut every year.  I know some places in the country may already be cold but here, we’re just on the verge. Summer is on its way out, thankfully, and we can move into the next season.

I organize my Flickr pictures by months, every four months, to be exact. When September began, we were in the later months of 2010. And I had a slight moment as I remembered how, every year, a small part of me dies as we get into the days leading towards Thanksgiving, then Christmas and then the moment when we put up the next year’s calendar and one more era has come to a close. I get sort of sad in these last four months. Even though I love Fall and pumpkins and Halloween…Thanksgiving food, frosty mornings, Christmas and seeing family…my emotions go all wonky. I wish I had better words to explain it but there’s a certain blue-tinting to my days as they slip away towards 2011. Towards my sons being older. And once the new year begins, my birthday isn’t  long after. I know this sounds like an awful defeatist attitude but sometimes it just seems like time is slipping through my fingers and I cannot hold on.

I should simply embrace all the goods things, I know. Like when Isaac is happily playing on his fishy activity mat… and not screaming his ever-loving head off. Or when Elliot’s agreeable and eats his food and doesn’t spit at us when we ask him to do one little thing. Or when I get that rare moment to myself, be it in the bathroom or the car and it’s quiet… oh-so quiet. I mean, I’ve read four books in the past three weeks. I consider that an act of magic, right there. And as lame as it sounds, being able to churn through these books keeps me balanced, just like the running.

Oh, the running. I started back up last Thursday. It was a decent run. I only did two miles and I stuck to flat land and the knee was alright. It ached a little in the beginning but once I hit blacktop it sort of numbed out enough to push through. On both Saturday and Monday I did a three miler and iced. Knee’s a little sore today but I can’t NOT run anymore. My stomach – just in my three week hiatus – has turned a little more jiggly. And it drives me nuts.

But with summer almost gone, I look forward to Fall/Winter runs. And yes, even to that weird feeling where your insides are on fire from the burning muscles but your outside is frozen. It’s such an odd sensation and yet, it’s on my list of to-dos.

SO, what’s your favorite part of Fall and Winter? Are you glad to see the Summer pass?

Goods and bads; day to day

Maybe you don’t want to know about this but I bought a new product today, one that actually works and benefits me, the breastfeeding mother.
The Milk Saver is a wonderful invention that catches the milk that leaks from the side on which you are not feeding your baby. Some women don’t leak that much in general but this being my second kid, I already know how my body is. This is a product made for me. In three feedings alone today I have saved almost 4 ounces of milk. Why would I want to do this, you ask? Because Isaac is unpredictable. With Elliot, I knew that if I fed him, he’d be good to go for 2-3 hours and I could run errands during this time. Isaac can have just eaten – on both sides – and still want food in ten minutes. Or is it gas? Or is it that he needs to spit up? And then once he spits up, he’s all upset for some reason. This happened to us in Target today. I was “that” mom with the crying, inconsolable baby. He screamed his little red head off the entire drive home, only thirty minutes after a relatively large “meal”. When I got him home, he snacked for five minutes and promptly passed out for nearly two hours.


BUT, the upswing of the day is that I harvested some milk in the event this happens again I can pop a bottle in his mouth in hopes that our next quickly south-turning outing will be fixed. And also? I worked out while he slept. Yup. Got my sports bra on, my running shoes… opened to my page in the first book of this series, (You may judge me; I’m not afraid to tell you how addicted I have become to trashy vampire novels.) and got down to business with the elliptical. And man, that 30 minutes made my entire world seem brighter. Well, and the fact that the sun is finally shining. Days and days of gloom have brought me down something fierce.

I’m glad to be feeling better. Things are never as bad as they seem, even when your kid cries for no reason.

Back on the horse. No, not THAT horse

4-6 weeks is probably best for the horse you may think I refer to. If you don’t get it, well, I’m sorry. ;)

Anyway, I’m talking about the exercise wagon. I had been walking in the ‘hood but that’s not really going to help me lose any baby weight. So even though Isaac was having a terribly fussy evening, Ash got him under control and allowed me a good solid thirty minute workout on the elliptical. It was actually not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I figured my legs would ache and my back weak. But I felt strong and capable and not even worn out, which seems pretty amazing considering I housed a small creature for about 9 months and then only birthed him about 3 weeks ago. The body is an amazing tool.

SO, I have roughly a year and a half to get into at least bathing suit shape. I know Ash would love me to someday wear a two piece but I haven’t done that since I was, like, ten, and I somehow don’t foresee this happening ever again. Two words: stretch marks. But the in shape part is very possible. I have done it before and I can do it again, this time even better. I want to be able to hang out on the shores of Waikiki without feeling self-conscious. When I am sippin’ on daiquiris by the hotel pool, I want to feel thin and dare I say, sexy?  Moms can totally do that, right?

So here’s the goal breakdown:

This week: Walk when it’s not raining and 30 mins on elliptical every night

Next week: See how I feel and begin walk/run routine outside

Week after that: Run outside for a full fifteen minutes with no stopping

Wish me luck!

Lose it!

While bored last Friday afternoon, I logged onto my iTouch and browsed the free apps. I stumbled across a calorie counter program that allows you to track your food every day, set weight loss goals, etc. Of course I am not trying to lose weight right now, in the midst of a pregnancy. I am, however, trying to eat better and more well-rounded meals. It’s been really helpful in getting a good amount of calories in me and for tracking my exercise. In fact, it’s made me want to exercise more because it subtracts those burned calories form my overall count. Something about seeing that number go down is really motivating.

The best thing about it is that I set my weight loss goal for 1 pound a week, which put my daily intake at about 1500. I obviously need between two and three hundred extra calories at this point in the pregnancy so when I hit my daily goal, I try to make those last 300 really matter: fruits and vegetables mainly. Also, I sort of plan my day around it. I will search for foods I think I want, add them in, and then I feel obligated to stick to them. It’s funny how this simple program has kicked my ass into gear about being healthier and more conscious about this.