Over the weekend I flew into Texas with my good buddy and running mate, Jeremy Payne. We were on the first leg of our quest for the Tough Mudder "Holy Grail"
This event was held in Smithville, Texas and kicked off at Midnight 5/5. This in itself was a challenge mentally to prepare for, keeping our bodies ready for a overnight journey that we have never embarked on before. Once we arrived at Mudder Village the mood changed, and we were amped up ready to go! We got into the Pit area and the rest fell right into line.
We were getting ready, geared up, dressed and before we knew it, it was time to get in the starting corral. The pledge was delivered, the Star Spangled Banner, echoed through the darkness it was time to get muddy.
The first mile was the "sprint lap" designed to thin out the pack before obstacles began to open in the morning. This was an indication of what was to come, the mud was thick, the trail fast, and the obstacles fierce. This was going to be epic.
The course was already super muddy, the trails fast and difficult at times, and the setup perfect. This only got harder as the water began to be dragged from obstacles to the trail, the mud was relentless at times, but we were up to the challenge.
20 obstacles set up to destroy us, only 7 of which didn't include water of some sort. We made it through lap 1 in 1:09, somewhat fast for me, slower for Jeremy and in comparison to Ryan Atkins who was the odds on favorite to win, terribly slow, Ryan finished lap one in 38 minutes.
As the night progressed and obstacles opened, it felt like a true Tough Mudder, we were wet, cold, muddy and smiling from ear to ear. We set out with a goal of 20 miles, 4 laps on this brutal course. 2 laps in we were in high spirits, the obstacles pushing us, the water refreshing us and the other competitors keeping everyone engaged.
Even at one point, Ryan passed us, and in his true fashion gave a "Hey Guys, good luck" as he passed us as if we were standing still.
This is where things started to get dicey, my legs started to have issues, my hip flexors began to tighten but was manageable as long as I was moving. I did take a slip into Trench Warfare, which ended up hurting my right arm but was something I would work through all night long.
We finished lap 2, hit the pits to fuel and decide if we wanted to get our wetsuits on or not. Jeremy made that choice quick and was ready to go, myself, I had some second thoughts, and ultimately ruined my night by waiting too long. This break allowed my legs to tighten more, to the point I was ready to bow out there. 20 miles was going to be nearly impossible at that point, but I had to push on. Suited up, and hit the course again. This lap was slow and painful, 2:30 to be exact, a terrible time, but it was completed. I wish I had stuck to our plan and suited up immediately to keep moving, about 20 mins, hell maybe 30 minutes in the pit was my downfall, I was done, after 15 miles, my mind was right but my body wasn't.
Jeremy hit the trail again and got his 20 miles. I felt defeated yet oddly satisfied with my accomplishment, I am not a runner, especially in the endurance realm, but I made it and left nothing in the tank. Overall, I finished 15 official miles, unofficially, 17.3 with penalty loops, a distance PR for me.
Now, If you have made it this far into this post, I not only applaud you, but thank you. I am not a professional OCR athlete in anyway, shape or form, just an ordinary guy, trying to do extraordinary things. So if you want advice from me, here it is.
Get out there and try this race format, do not hesitate, it is doable, it is fun and it is challenging as hell. Go in with a plan and stick to it! Don't let your tired brain slow you down, know what your method of attack is and stick to it. Have fun and do your best.
Next up for us is Tougher Tahoe, the competitive wave for the standard 10 mile Tough Mudder race, this will be step 2 of 3 for the Grail. Then comes the big one, Worlds Toughest Mudder, Atlanta, 24 hours of hell, sounds scary but I can't wait!
Finally, to those who completed this race, congrats, you are all awesome. Ryan Atkins and Rea Kobl while kicking everyones ass, did it with sincerity and encouragement. Every racer out there, helped everyone push a bit further. To my team at Total Nutrition Sacramento, thanks for your support, its time for us to push for the next two racers ,I promise to you guys ill be ready and in better shape to kill it. Xterra wetsuits, your gear saved me on lap 3. Jeremy Payne, without you, i dont get 15 miles, thanks dude.
Until, June its time to train, its time to get in better shape and its time to kick some more ass.