Am I tough enough for Tough Mudder?

One of the best things in life is surprising yourself. I remember being shocked when I was going through breast cancer at how "relatively OK" I was during treatment. People would say "wow, you are really handling this with courage and grace" and I thought, yeah, I kind of am, thanks! I would never in a million years have thought that I would be that type - I thought for sure I would be the crumbling, sobbing, wreck of a girl. But when it actually happened to me, I learned that I really do have a kind of inner spirit that I am proud of - it's a major life lesson that I thank the universe for giving me. Cool to know about yourself that you are stronger than you thought you were.

A friend had asked me to join her team for the Tough Mudder race in Beaver Creek. My first thought was "no way am I that tough!" First of all, it's a 12-mile trail race at altitude - then throw in 25 military style obstacles like crawling through tunnels, scaling 12-foot walls and climbing mountains of ice. Yeah, no thanks. I might be in decent shape, but I'm not that bad ass... Not really my style, too many unknowns, too mental. Thanks for thinking of me though. Well anyone who really knows me knows that I live for physical challenges that make me feel like a bad ass, so it wasn't long before I reconsidered and threw myself head first into training for Tough Mudder. I was bound and determined to kick this thing's butt, and was pretty confident I could do so... until a few days before the race. The doubts started creeping into my mind - would I be too slow to keep up with the team? Would I freak out in the ice cold water? Would I embarrass myself? Did I really have what it took mentally and physically to get through the grueling course? To be honest, I was worried about both the physical and mental aspects of the 3-4 hour race course, and wasn't totally sure I could hang.

But on race morning, I woke up, excited (though nervous) about what the day would entail. A buddy texted me that his friend had broken his nose on the last obstacle of the course (electrical wires that shock you when you run through them - the legendary Tough Mudder obstacle) and I swore that I would not break anything that day!

I met up with my team, which consisted of three other gals and 10 guys, and we pumped each other up for the race. We are all super psyched and ready to go! I reminded myself about the goal of the day - tackle every obstacle and make it through til the end with no broken bones.

We headed out as a team, intending to stay together the whole race. We quickly realized that it would be pretty hard for 14 people to stay together the whole time; I stayed with most of the group for about half the race, then finished with an awesome gal named Misty - she is a total rock star and if it weren't for her, I most likely would not have completed the obstacle that gave me the most mental trouble - kiss of mud. On a regular Tough Mudder course, this obstacle involves army crawling under dangling electrical wires, which of course shock you on the shoulders, arms and butt when you crawl under them. But since this is Beaver Creek, you are crawling over snow/ice instead of mud. I had already army crawled through one electrical shock obstacle, and knew there was a third one coming at the very end of the course, so I stood in front of Kiss of Mud telling Misty "I don't know if I can do this, girl. I don't want to walk around, but I think I might have to." She was super patient, and told me that I would hate myself if I didn't do it (totally true!) so eventually, I summoned my courage and forced myself to get through it. I was (and still am) so damn proud of myself for looking my fear in the face and telling it to f off! It was only after the race that I realized that my forearms were completely shredded from this obstacle - really, my only "battle wound" from the race! Painful, yes, but a very tangible reminder of how amazing it feels to conquer a gigantic mental and physical challenge.

Yes, I was disappointed that my upper body training did not come through for me on the Hangin' Tough and Funky Monkey obstacles - I fell into the icy water along with 78% of the other Tough Mudders. I so desperately wanted to be the bad ass girl that made it across those ones. But honestly, the pride I feel for having completed the course, tackled all obstacles head on despite being nearly hypothermic, at times terrified, and often times with no one but myself and people that had been strangers to me just a few hours prior, so far overshadows the disappointment from "failing" those obstacles.

Will I do the race again? I'm honestly not sure. It was tough, really tough - more so mentally than physically actually, although I'm not gonna lie, the physical part was no walk in the park either. A lot of guys who did the race last year and this year said that this year was much harder than last year - sweet! As I predicted, Brian is super excited to do Tough Mudder next year, and I think it would be amazing to do it with him. I saw several couples out there on the course, supporting and helping each other out physically and mentally, and I think it would be awesome (not to mention super HOT!) to watch Brian tackle those obstacles by my side. Maybe we'll see how the Spartan Race goes next May - we're already signed up for that, and I'm of course already super pumped for a fun new challenge... :) Doing 30 burpees after every failed obstacle might incent me to work even harder on my upper body strength to make it across the monkey bars without falling...

I challenge you to face a fear - whether it be physical, mental or both. You'll never know what you're made of until you do, and you just might be surprised at how tough you really are...



Kristina said...

You are one bad ass. You have to do it again, next time I might join you.


Meghan said...

you are bad ass, amy, no matter what!

Heather said...

Hi I’m Heather! Please email me, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)

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