MUDDER MANIA! The big day was Saturday, and it was a perfect day in Western Pennsylvania to be crawling through mud, under barbed wire, and/or hauling myself over 12' walls.
Saturday was my first Tough Mudder. We ran in the woods along the edges of the Pocono Manor golf course, and it was a sea of happy people wearing Under Armour from head to toe. (Note to self: Must do a SW challenge pitting Team Under Armour vs. Team Lululemon! Battle of the Fitness Brands...) And, for all my anxiety, the event proved more fun than tough. The Mudder organizers make a big point of saying that "it's a challenge, not a race," and they encourage people to help each other along the course. So the vibe really is way fun and supportive. At every obstacle, people stick around to help those behind them, and there's lot's of supportive cheering and yelling. And these Mudder organizers definitely have a sense of humor. Within the first few yards of the start, you basically have to run through ankle deep mud and there's a sprinkler spraying you with water as you go by. So much for staying clean or dry — only 12 more miles to go.
What about my tragically pulled quad muscle? Well, I was worried, and making subtle comments to my teammates the night before along the lines of "Um, ha ha, I kind of pulled my quad on my very last training run." To which they responded, "Stop being negative."
As it happened, the leg had healed just enough, and the pace was slow enough, that it wasn't a problem. That was so great. Also, my terror of pullups proved unfounded. I scrambled over the walls, and handled the monkey bars and rings with style, I'd say. Really, it was mostly fun. Yes, there was blaring heavy metal at every obstacle, and we did, in fact, run 12 miles, and get dunked in ice water, sprint through fire, and get mildly electro-shocked, but the pace was slow, and the lines at obstacles provided plenty of breaks, and the pain was relatively short lived, providing just the right amount of worry and humor.
And when we finally crossed the finish line, slipping and sliding over the mud four hours and twenty minutes later (!!), we were given a cool orange headband and a cold Dos Equis. Really, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
In sum: This is good, clean (or dirty) fun, and great to do with friends, especially friends who need a reason to get in shape. My little crew included four men and three women, and I think the women enjoyed it just as much as the men, though it's definitely a very masculine sort of activity. There are plenty of super-ripped CrossFitters in the mix, but also lot's of very normal people. It's really an original slice of Americana. If you're tempted, though, definitely do it in warm weather. I heard stories of the November edition, and it didn't sound pretty. Crawling through mud is a lot less fun when there's snow on the ground.
Only one problem now: What new challenge will scare me enough to stay in shape? Time to do some challenge brainstorming.