About a year and a half ago a good friend of mine talked me into signing up for a “Tough Mudder”. These are not your average mud runs, but 10-13 mile, hard-core obstacle courses built by former British Special Forces. Their tag-line is “Probably The Toughest Event On The Planet” – – which it clearly isn’t, when compared to Iron Mans and even some of the competitive cross-fit events. However, the Tough Mudder experience does challenge your body and mind, and nobody gets through and earns an orange headband without paying the price and stepping up. I will note that a typical Tough Mudder runs you up and down very steep hills/mountains (literally), and includes obstacles like swimming through a trough of ice-water, crawling/running through spaces with electrical wires (some with 10K volt charges), crawling through very narrow and confined spaces under ground, and jumping from a high platform into extremely frigid waters – they work hard to cover all potential fears and phobias.
My first was in Squaw Valley (Tahoe) in September 2011, followed by Temecula (CA) 2012 and Snow Valley (near Big Bear, CA) in 2012. Then came Tough Mudder, “Winter 2013” also in Temecula, which was this past weekend (Feb 9 and 10). For those of you who consistently read my blog, you know that I have a passion for health and fitness, and that I’ve had to deal with some nagging injuries, and that I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee in October of this year. You may have also picked up in my “Diary of a Middle Age Man: Broken, Not Beaten” entry, that while rehabbing my right knee, I actually injured my left knee – – now I’m really sounding like an old man. So as my fourth Tough Mudder approached, there was a 10 day period when I really thought I wouldn’t be able to participate. My left (formerly known as good knee) just didn’t feel right and I didn’t want to let my team down.
As it turns out, I couldn’t resist the pull of Big Mudder and I drove to Temecula on Saturday, February 9 for the event. As I arrived it was 32 degrees Fahrenheit and I knew this was going to be a rough one. Team Coldfusion started the event at 9:00 am and finished the 12 mile, mountainous course at approximately 12:40pm. The temperature stayed in the 30’s for a while and never climbed past the low 40’s during our run. The obstacles, many of which engage water, kept us wet and frozen for the entire journey. I was thoughtful throughout, to ensure I didn’t do anything stupid that could injure and/or exacerbate issues with my knees, and to my surprise they felt pretty good. What I didn’t expect was the toll the air and water temperature would take on my muscles. Around mile 10, the course shot back up a mountain trail (very steep, the equivalent of a black diamond ski run) and the calve and hamstring on both of my legs began cramping – – and the kind of cramps that you can’t work out. You simply have to endure and wait for them to relax. Then, when I would start to hike, the cramps would come back. After about 10 minutes of “cramp management” I was able to move again and I finished the Tough Mudder, earning orange headband number four.
It was a good day, and I would do it again in a heart-beat. Hoping to tackle Tough Mudder, SoCal Summer 2013 on June 22 (likely at Snow Valley). Life’s too short to opt out, so why not go for it.
Small steps add up!!!