Left hip. Biceps. Back. Shoulders. Glutes. Hamstrings (a little bit). These are all in pain, thanks to the Tough Mudder Philly last weekend. But the good news is that I’m alive!Want to know the real deal when it comes to Tough Mudder? Check out my recap! #toughmudder #philly… Click To Tweet
I was actually slated to do the Blacklight 5K run on Saturday in Camden, New Jersey with some friends the night before Tough Mudder. The event was originally on Pope Weekend in September but was rescheduled…on another inconvenient date.
I decided to cancel on the 5K at the last minute because I was too worried about dealing with being all covered in crazy colors and catching a cold the night before Tough Mudder. The temperatures were forecast to be in the 40’s and 50’s that night, and it just seemed too risky to “run” 3 miles before a 10 mile obstacle event.
So instead I stayed home and relaxed as much as I could. I was still a nervous wreck and got an awful night’s sleep, just like most nights before a big race.
I set my alarm for 6:00 am. I already had my clothes laid out:
I had a simple breakfast of toast and jam, my typical pre-race meal. I knew that they would have water and fuel along the course, so I didn’t worry about it too much.
A few of us carpooled together for the hour-long drive to Coatesville, PA, leaving around 8:20 am to meet the group by 9:30. It was pretty chilly that morning, and I was so worried about the weather killing us – especially the wind!
Check in was pretty easy (I forgot to print out my ticket!), and I got my race bib and wristbands for the beer, my goodie bag, and my bib number.
Our group was part of the 10:00 am wave, which was probably the last group of the day and the entire weekend. As we approached the start, we had a nice warm up session to get loose. We did some stretches, lunges, squats, arm circles, and even 15 push ups. Thankfully, no burpees!
Once that was done, we received a very motivational speech from one of the Mudder guys. We even got down on one knee as he put things in perspective for us – I’m very grateful that I’m healthy enough to even attempt to do this thing. There are a lot of people who would love to but can’t…and all you can do is your best, not worry about what other people are doing.
Finally after the National Anthem and some group photos, we were off – and before we got to the official start we had to climb a wall! I definitely did not see that coming!
Tough Mudder is infamous for its obstacles. It’s tough enough climbing walls, but why not add electrocution and tear gas? While I did peek online to see what types of obstacles we’d be facing, there’s nothing like the real thing.
You can’t start a mud event without getting up close and personal with mud! This is where we had to crawl underneath barbed wire and through mud. It wasn’t bad, but I was glad I had my kneepads!
These were pretty tall walls that you had to climb over. The main strategy was to get a boost up from a teammate and then climb over the top. It wasn’t too bad, but you do have to watch your crotch on the wall!
This obstacle was another wall, but more like a ladder. We had a teammate that was afraid of heights so she was nervous, but she handled it great! Thankfully the climbing walls were pretty straightforward.
Before we made it to Cry Baby, we had a good amount of running to do, including going through thick mud that was begging to take your shoes leaping over a muddy river to land in even more mud. Now, things were starting to get messy.
The Cry Baby (aka Tear Gas) obstacle was actually pretty thrilling! We had to jump in muddy water maybe about knee-deep, then duck under an obstacle into the tear gas chamber. It wasn’t real tear gas, but some kind of minty substitute. I kept my eyes close as best as I could and crawled through.
After awhile you realize that you’re going to be absolutely filthy during this course and it’s okay!
This is the obstacle that was my greatest fear: And I actually did it!
Basically you slide down into a pool of ICE water, with actual ice cubes! Then you have to climb over a barrier, land in more ice water, and then finally get out. It was okay in the moment, but once you’re out, everything hurts! My hands were extremely cold!
I can’t believe I actually did it! I tried to get through it as fast as I could, but there’s really no easy way out. It took a long time for my hands to warm up again. The gloves only helped so much.
This was a new obstacle where you “in the womb”…there was water in a bladder-like container and you had to crawl underneath. The weight of the water pressed against you and made it hard to press through. It was okay as long as you stayed towards the side. When you came out the other side, it was like you were being born…except a lot cleaner, haha!
This is where I wish I had done more hill work in my training! This was the most insane hill running I’ve ever experienced. It was extremely steep and you had to up and down a giant hill!
Thankfully, I like hills, so I powered up each one. But now I’m thinking that my hip wasn’t too happy about that, because a couple of miles later, I started to get pain in my left hip. It’s happened before, but this got progressively worse as it went on.
This obstacle was after the first Mud Mile (which I describe below). You were covered in pure muck and had to crawl under a net, aka the Devil’s Beard. For me, it wasn’t that bad. Some people didn’t crawl, but sort of crouched or walked through…that made it easier for me on the ground.
This was another new obstacle where you needed the group to help you. You run and jump onto an inflatable “whale”, and then one by one, your teammates help you make it to the top. I did like the obstacles where you were able to work together. I needed a little help on this one. The whale was pretty tall so you had to have some hops!
This obstacle was kind of cool, but I couldn’t seem to coordinate things. Thankfully, Jennifer was able to coach me up to the top and the guys helped me below. You had two pegs, one in each hand and you had to place each one in a hole and climb your way up the wall while your feet made it up these tiny notches in the wall.
This was fun!! I was happy to make it up on the first try! This is where you have the “half-pipe” that you get a running start and run all the way to the top. Now I didn’t make it all the way to the top on my own – my teammates were there to grab my hands, but it was a smooth transition. Unfortunately, I saw some very dangerous situations with people getting pulled up by 2 arms and a leg…it looked like they were getting ripped apart.
This was another wall climb, but more on an incline. You just needed to get some help getting pulled up, and then it wasn’t so bad!
This was definitely one of the most miserable obstacles. The first “mud mile” was tough, but the second mile was much, much worse! You’re climbing down or jumping down in muddy water of varying depths, and then climbing over a giant mud wall. This obstacle required a lot of cooperation within your group and with other people around you. I was glad that I was able to help pull up a couple of people. It was a miserable experience and the first point where I fully tasted mud!
Some of my teammates skipped the second mile. I don’t blame them. But I’m glad I was able to stick with it, especially since I did skip a few…
This was our very last obstacle before the finish line. Our fearless Captain suggested that the team go through the electrified wires arm in arm…why, I have no idea! As you can see, it was a pretty miserable experience! Thankfully, I only really got zapped once, but it was in my arm and it hurt! I never felt the electricity go through me like some of my teammates, but it was so strong that some people fell to the ground from the impact. Thankfully, everyone was okay.
This was a new obstacle that no one could really figure out. You have to do it as a team. Someone holds one rope on an inclined wall, and they have to swing across to the next rope (that another teammate grabs) and just keep moving. We did get a couple of people to do it with some support, but when I tried I slipped, and I couldn’t get my gloves off to try to get a better grip.
I tried, and it just wasn’t happening. These were two parallel poles that you had to use your upper body strength to glide across maybe 10 or 20 feet. I saw some guys do this one effortlessly…not me! I need to do more work in the gym!
This one I really feel bad about. You have a partner carry you on their back half way, and then you switch. My partner unfortunately had the bad luck of getting me to try to carry them. She did her job, but I couldn’t. I’ve never carried an adult on my back and it showed…we fell to the ground! Thankfully she wasn’t mad at me and when we tried a second time, I had to tell her I couldn’t do it.
These are the monkey bars from Hell. I wasn’t even going to attempt this one since there was 5.5 feet of water below…and at this point we were so wet and cold. I also haven’t swam in deep water in a very long time and I was worried about what would happen when I inevitable fell from the bars. I only saw one guy complete this obstacle…he made it look easy!
This was a new obstacle this year and I really regret not trying this one because you had to jump onto a “swing” which took you down towards a bell you had to ring and then splash into the water below. The water was over 10 feet deep and I wasn’t comfortable making the attempt, even though there was a diver in the water on standby. Plus, I was still freaking cold! One of our teammates almost did a belly flop when he landed in the water – crazy!
Oh yes, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about all of the running involved in Tough Mudder. The entire course, including the obstacles, was 10.1 miles long. You were never running longer than a mile or so at a time, but that didn’t mean it was easy!
The trail running was absolutely gorgeous. It wasn’t extremely technical, so I didn’t have to worry about busting my butt, though I did turn my ankle once. There were some sections with some steep, slippery hills and some rivers to cross, and that was a lot of fun. I love trail running so it was definitely a highlight for me.
The HILL running was extremely challenging but in a good way. I never really felt winded besides the hills from Killa Gorilla, but it was still a solid workout. The hills were SO steep and I was worried about the declines because the ground was hard from frost and I was worried that people would go down too fast and possibly get hurt. Thankfully I didn’t see anyone get injured along the way.
A lot of people were challenged by the running, and some people did get cramps along the course. I think making sure you’re running a few times a week leading up to the race would prevent that problem. Plus you could walk at any time…which I definitely did from time to time!
After the painful Electroshock Therapy obstacle, we unceremoniously walked to the finish line, officially becoming Tough Mudders!
It took us about 4 hours to get through everything, but all 12 of us started together and finished together, which I’m really happy about!
Overall I felt pretty strong, didn’t really feel that I was in over my head, and I’m happy about that. Everyone did a great job and I’m glad that I was part of such an awesome team!
Unfortunately, I’m noticing for these mud events that a lot of people really don’t have much interest in hanging too long for the after party. I don’t blame them – it’s cold, you’re wet, and feel pretty gross.
But I earned my Shocktop Beer and I was going to get it to drink no matter what! I got as much mud off as I could at the rinsing station, changed into some clean clothes – yet forgot to bring an extra pair of shoes – and got my beer, darn it! There were also apparently food trucks that were in the Mudder Village, but because we finished so late, it seemed that everyone was packing up, so I didn’t eat until I got back home after 5 pm.
I am so glad that I participated in the Tough Mudder. I really challenged myself to do something I never thought I could do. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t bad enough to kill me!
This was really a great event and I’m so happy that I faced my fears to participate. So of course I have to give several thank you’s to some very awesome people:
Now I get to move on with the rest of my life, haha! Tough Mudder is DONE. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and I’d definitely do it again one day, just not right away! Now my body needs to recover!
Note: I’ve also posted my review of this race on bibrave.com – it’s a free site 100% dedicated to race reviews. I’m a BibRave Pro Ambassador for 2016, and I’d love if you considered joining the site!
Have you ever done the Tough Mudder? And would you ever? Any questions about the experience overall?