I come to you today as a new me.
It’s been a struggle lately to write, to create recipes, to run, to find motivation, and to keep up with the website. Why is that? These things are all very important to me. They should be on the top of my list of things to do.
The reality is, motivation needs to be fed. I was falling down on my dream to help others. I felt the need to help myself. I took a nice, relaxing trip home to Kansas City. I reconnected with some old friends and ran a Ruckus. I met my 2 great-nephews for the first time. I shopped with my mom. I stayed in a fancy hotel and drove a supped-up rental car. I ate myself silly. I even cheered on the KU Jayhawks (omg, I can’t believe I’m admitting that). I recharged.
Upon returning to Cleveland I felt better, but something was still amiss. There was something on my mind that no amount of Kansas City BBQ could relieve. I had another challenge coming my way. I tried to have a hard exterior and give off the impression that it would be no sweat to me.
I was scared to death.
The day of Tough Mudder came. I was part of a team of 10. We called ourselves the Muddy Nuts. I was the only female on the team. Obviously, I didn’t pick the name, however amongst Crushed Nut, Cracked Nut, Big Nut, Salty Nut, Hairy Nut, etc, there was No Nut.
This is just another run, right? I’ve done these muddy, adventure races before. No big deal…except for the water. Tough Mudder Ohio was in Amherst Quarry. There’s lots of water there…lots of cold, deep water there. And, I’m on a team…of men…men I work with…men that know me as a runner. Many of them knew about my distaste for water, but did they REALLY know?
It was a cold, rainy day this past Saturday. When we arrived on site, I was the experienced one. I explained how this was all going to go down. We got suited up, took our team photo, and everyone headed to check their bags. I snuck off to gather myself and text my children that I love them.
After climbing the pre-race obstacle 8-foot wall, we reached the starting line. The atmosphere was great. The guy pumping us up before the race was awesome. He gave us the low-down on how to stay safe, work as a team, and leave no Mudder behind. I was now ready! I can do this! The obstacle I feared the most wasn’t until the last mile (according to the online map). I CAN DO THIS…until I freak out in a few hours.
We started off slow because of the bottleneck of people trying to get though the narrow course. We laughed at how easy it was. We were at a nice walking pace for awhile. The guys joked at how great it was that we were “running at their training pace”. We went up some hills, swam though an ice bath called the Arctic Enema, and drudged through some thick mud.
At one point, I was feeling extra confident. I was running though that obstacle they called the “Mile of Mud”…and yes, it was a MILE of mud. I ran from the middle of the pack to the front. I was whizzing by all those Nuts, not paying any attention to what was going on in front of me. I was watching my feet so that I didn’t plummet face first and embarrass myself. I vaguely remember a Nut saying, “I wonder how deep that is.” Still running like I’m the shiz-nit, I answered that question for them. I’m 5’4″ and the hole I ran into was up to my nose. Graceful. Just a beautiful sight. The next thing I heard was another saying, “Where did she go?” Oh, that was fun. There were, I think, 5 of those mud pits that we had to jump into. On the last one, the Muddy Nuts took it hand-in-hand. Great times!
We continued on. Up more hills, through more mud, and off to my right I spot it…that damn water. Surely, we must be passing this and coming back to it at the end. We go through a very steep collection of sandy, rocky hills. Up…down…through a cold stream, happy to wash off the mud from my shoes…back up…down again…WAIT… Why did we end up at that water? Walk The Plank was next. We weren’t even at the halfway point. Son of a…..!!!!! By now, these guys REALLY realized No Nut has a little issue with water. Luckily, they were all very kind and reassuring.
The obstacle was supposed to be a 15 foot drop into water. That’s what the website said. That’s what I saw on all the YouTube videos. Ohhh, but we’re at a quarry. We have the 15 foot Tough Mudder man-made structure that is now sitting on top of a ledge that just happens to be about another 10 feet above the 30 feet of ice-freaking-cold water.
Petrified, I start climbing the structure. There’s no ladder. Oh no…Tough Mudders happily climb 15 feet to leap to their deaths. 2 fellow Nuts were ahead of me on my plank. One just smiled at me and said, “It’s ok. I’ll jump first.”
He leaped. He landed. He survived. The next Nut was ready to go. The guy yelled, “GO!” People on the other planks jumped. My fellow Nut turned around and looked at me. “You going,” he asked. “What? It’s your turn. Not mine,” I screeched. “Yeah, I can’t do this,” he said and traded places with me.
The man working my plank looked at me and said, “When that guy says GO, you have to GO! You can’t wait. You GO Mudder!”
I looked down. It was far. I heard a Nut say, “You can do it, No Nut.” I turned to my right and looked at the guy screaming GO. As I continued to glare at the guy screaming GO, I took 1 step. I fell.
I kept falling.
Hit water butt first…still falling.
To my amazement, I was alive when I reached the surface. A Nut had been waiting just in case he needed to dive down and pull me up. “You did it,” he said.
I started to swim (remembering all I could from my classes at the YMCA), but I was frozen. I heard my Nuts cheering me on and found some foam float-thingy in my face from a lifeguard that was standing on the side. I grabbed ahold and expected to feel the lifeguard pulling me in. That foam thingy just sat there in my face! I started to get a little pissy. We’ll spare the details, but I was shooting out nastiness at that poor female lifeguard.
I was soon on shore, fist-bumping the Nuts. I got a few hugs. All of them told me they were proud of me. The Nut that was supposed to leap before me, ran up behind me, soaking wet, and said, “Thank you.” He was scared of heights and conquered that fear when he saw me defeat mine. This was teamwork at it’s best. We were all there for each other. No Mudder left behind!
Ahhhh, done with that one…6 or 7 more miles to go. We continued on through numerous shocks of electricity at the Electric Eel. We carried logs up slippery, steep slopes. One of us fell face first, slid back down on the belly, only to be stopped by a tree between the legs. Thank goodness it was No Nut. We leaped across too many mud pits to count. I decided to just leap into the pits and get pulled out. I was at a little bit of a height disadvantage. We climbed over 12 foot walls, helped each other climb Everest, slipped off crazy huge monkey bars, didn’t see the rings coming, and shared muddy heat sheets we found laying on the side of the course. It was brutal at times. The cold weather was the worst obstacle of all, I think. We are stronger for it though.
Today, I can say I’m proud of myself. I dug deep down inside and found either bravery or stupidity. Whatever it is, I’m glad I have it. I’m also very happy to have my Nuts. I knew that each and every one of them would have risked their lives to save mine if needed. This is what they do everyday.
Thanks Nuts! I am extremely proud to be the No Nut. I will go anywhere, and do any crazy thing (no matter how much water, or how high the leap) with the Muddy Nuts. My fear is still in there, but each time I challenge my fear, it dies a little. I will crush it.
Muddy Nuts made the Official Video very quickly at the end! Watch for the bright blue shirts.
***Most pictures courtesy of Tough Mudder’s Facebook page. I anxiously await my share.