Why?!

Sequel to This Ain’t a 10km Run

I sat there thinking how badly I had just pulled my calf. I didn’t want to consider that I would not finish the course. My coworker  (one of my teammates)  would never let me live it down. I trained way more than him and if he made it to the finish line and not me… that would severely bruise my ego.

I couldn’t see my teammates and I was worried they would run too far ahead before realizing I wasn’t behind them. I got up and limped my way onto the gravel. The burning feeling was subsiding but my calf felt stiff as hell. I kept the weight off my left leg and hobbled onwards. After I turned the corner, I could see two of my teammates walking back towards me. I told them I had pulled my calf and my co-worker didn’t believe me at first. He thought I was just trying to pull a fast one on him. They had turned around and were like “Where the hell did C go?”

The rest of the group had run ahead, but my coworker was going to catch up to them and tell them to slow down. I couldn’t run so I walked for a while in an attempt to keep my muscles warm and to loosen up my calf. I tried to stretch it out a few times and it was slowly loosening up again. We were just shy of the 6 mile mark. This meant I still had at least 4 miles to go. Worse case was 6 miles to go. After about 10 minutes of walking and stretching, I tried to jog slowly and it seemed to be doing okay. It was stiff but it looked like I could still move.

Credit: Tough Mudder Facebook (c)
Thank god we were back on gravel

After all the ice and snow, I wasn’t moving fast enough to keep my body warm. I was starting to get cold and I couldn’t run any faster at this point. After going through all the Insanity DVD’s at least once, I swear I could hear Shaun T’s voice in my head. “Stay strong guys. Dig deeper. You can do it.” At the same time, I was starting to loosen up a bit and I felt encouraged that I could just push through. I was putting a lot more weight on my right leg so I decided to stop and stretch for a bit.  I thought it would be terrible if I were to cramp up on my right leg. As I finished the thought and went into my stretch, I felt my right calf seize up painfully. An intense burn and sharp pain came from my right calf. How ironic… I had stopped to stretch to prevent a cramp…. and I was starting to cramp in my right calf. I was forced to stop again and we sat in the snow stretching out my calves. This was going to be a long six miles if this was the way things were unfolding.

When we finally made it to the next rest station, I got a chance to re-fuel on bananas and water. There was a certain sense of irony as I was the one always eating bananas and drinking water at the stations and yet I was the only one to cramp up. After talking to the team, I decided I was going to push on at a slower pace. The team slowed down so that I could keep up and they would need to help me through all the remaining obstacles much more than before.

And so on we went. Kilometre after kilometre of “running” and more obstacles. I struggled over the spider’s web (climbing over a loosely hung netting) and almost face planted into the ground had it not been for the people who caught me. We had to climb more “Berlin walls” which were getting taller now. We crawled into snow tunnels that had hard packed ice/snow. We crawled through more mud and barbed wire, as well as the version that had live wires hanging over your head. My sister made the trek up to Whistler  to watch me and she finally caught up to me at that obstacle.  She thought the idea of me getting shocked was awesome so she couldn’t miss the event.

Credit: Tough Mudder Facebook (c)
Go go go

We were starting to get closer to the end. We walked through thick mud (up to knee-deep) to get to obstacle 18 and this time I couldn’t keep the weight off my leg anymore. I had to slog through with both legs just to get through it. As we approached the obstacle, I felt my left leg stiffen up again. This time it was my hamstring and it was cramping severely. I had to stop again. All my teammates made it over the snow mound and I was the last one to go over. My teammate commented that I looked like I was in a lot of pain. I told him, “That’s because, I am in a lot of pain”. I waited until my cramps subsided a bit before trying to get up the snow wall. I felt bad for slowing my teammates down so I was somewhat rushing myself. There was a smaller section that was a lot easier to scale but that wouldn’t be doing it “right”. That being said, my stupid shoes were going to let me down again. I couldn’t get a grip on the snow again. Luckily, with the help of someone boosting me up and someone near the top dragging me over, I made it.

We were approaching the starting area again. We could hear the band, the people and there were lots of spectators watching us now. Someone had told us that the course was only 10 miles this time and many people believed the rumour. I was mentally preparing for 12 miles though it seemed like we were nearing the end. We passed by a lady that said we only had a few km to go. Then another one told us we were about 75% done. As we ran by the starting area, we learned we had to go all the way back up part of the mountain and then back down. So much for a few km.

Credit: Tough Mudder Facebook (c)
Starting to level off…after grinding up the face of the mountain equivalent to the slope you see in this picture…

Credit: Tough Mudder Facebook (c)
I did not mention this obstacle but you had to carry a block of wood for a quarter-mile.

We hiked up the mountain on rocks/gravel which was quite hard on the calves since there were no steps (it’s an area where you normally ski/snowboard down the mountain). After the grind uphill, we went through what seemed like a mile of mud. This was not only tricky but one of the more hazardous treks. The “steps” were all at varying heights, so you could be stepping into 2 feet of mud or 2 inches of mud. Combine that with odd holes and it was a recipe for an opportunity to get hurt. And get hurt someone did. One of my team mates got his foot stuck and twisted his ankle in the mud slog. He would have to tough out the last bit of the course injured.

We soon arrived at the obstacle known as “Everest”. It involved running up a half-pipe and climbing over. Lots of fellow mudders were up top helping others over. The half-pipe is intentionally greased and with all the mud from the mudders, it was pretty slippery. Of course, my shoes would screw me over once again. Everyone else made it over and I tried numerous times to make it up. I simply could not get enough grip to push myself high enough. I tried removing my shoes but my socks were not going to hold any better. I half thought about going bare foot but the rocks just before the pipe were very sharp and I wouldn’t have enough space to gain momentum.

Credit: Tough Mudder Facebook (c)
What a beautiful scene

Credit: Tough Mudder Facebook (c)
So epic

I then had a “light bulb moment” and told my team mate to lend me his shoes. Teamwork at its finest. I was able to make it up on the next try. It was all downhill from here. The second last obstacle was “Funky Monkey” and it consisted of monkey bars going “uphill” and then “downhill” over a pool of water. After trying to do monkey bars during training and struggling like crazy,  most of us didn’t think we would make it across. However, all of us (except for 1 person) actually made it over (even me!) without falling . I almost slipped but I kept my focus on the next rung to avoid getting deterred by the sheer distance.

Credit: Tough Mudder Facebook (c)
This was easier as a kid

One more obstacle: electric shock therapy. It was the one I feared the most because I have never been shocked in my life. And 10,000 volts sounds painful. I was excited to conquer it though.

We formed a chain of mudders and stormed onwards. As we got close we saw that there were live wires mixed in with rope (to psyche you out no doubt). Everyone made it through no problem and much to my disappointment, I didn’t actually get shocked. We later learned that they had to turn off the electricity for a bit and that was probably during the time we went. Looks like I will have to get shocked next time. 12 miles and 22 obstacles later, we had made it.

Credit: Tough Mudder Facebook (c)
Form a chain of mudders!

We collected our coveted Tough Mudder headbands and T-shirts. We went to get our free beer and I have to say, that was one of the most satisfying beers I’ve ever had.

Credit: Tough Mudder Facebook (c)
All smiles now!

We went to rinse off at the showers and change into our dry clothes. Only about half of the mud was coming off my body, so I just gave up after a while. When I had to wash my clothes later, it took over 20 rinses (no joke), taking a shower with my clothes (twice), a good soaking, and then a trip to the washing machine before I got most of the mud out. I have no idea how so much mud could cling onto my clothes.

We went to pig out in Whistler afterwards and for the next 2 days, I had cheat meal after cheat meal (cheese burger, oyster burger, fries, beer, wings, ribs, philly cheese steak, bubble tea….). We were so tired that we stopped at my teammate’s parent’s house for a coffee pit stop. It was a good idea because I would’ve been quite groggy driving back home. That teammate is typically very loud and when his parents saw him, they noted that “it was the quietest they’ve ever seen him”.

I got home late in the evening and was tired enough to sleep without showering. However, I cleaned up and put some A535 (muscle rub) on my calves. The funny thing was that this was the “Cold and Hot” version that cools before heating up. I could not even feel it on my left calf because it was so stiff.

Overall, this was a great event. It was a lot of fun and the most challenging “event” I’ve done to date. That being said, I haven’t done many and when I climb a mountain like Kilimanjaro, that will probably be harder. While TM was hard, anybody with reasonable fitness can do it in my opinion. I could have done with a bit less running and more challenging obstacles. Though I understand that the grueling length was part of the challenge and probably the hardest part of the whole course. They got rid of “Walk the plank” which was jumping off a platform and swimming to the other side. They were not allowed to have fire in Whistler as well so that was a bit disappointing. The biggest disappointment was the lack of shock at the end though… I will have to come back!

There are lots of ways you can hurt yourself, and an injury may hinder your ability to finish, so you can’t really plan for that. That being said, here are some of my tips for anyone thinking of doing this in the future.

– Performance gear is optimal (can always wear the costume overtop) – compression gear or fitted is preferred

– I didn’t have long sleeve pants but I can vouch for the long sleeve shirt (for the crawling)

– I say yes for gloves (I wore old workout gloves)

– Runners with GRIP (don’t create problems for yourself like I did…)

– Drink lots of water beforehand

If you made it to the end of this post. I commend you. These last 2 posts were excessively long and I rushed to finish them (sorry for the below standard writing). Hope you enjoyed the story.

– C

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14 thoughts on “Why?!

  1. YAY you made it… what an epic adventure!!!
    You must feel so proud and empowered by that awesome experience. Maybe you should grab a friend and celebrate 😉

  2. Congratulations! I can’t believe you want to get shocked! But then again, I would also wonder what that would feel like.
    So happy for you though that you finished it! What a trooper! 😀

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