Posts Tagged With: tough mudder

A Bag of Ass

17362917_10210828317876893_2968130807892576018_nIt’s been an entire week since I ran the Tough Mudder NOLA, and I’m still blowing mud out of my nose. I’d call that success.

The TM guys said that this year, they had upped their game. I can attest, Tough Mudder 2.0 is a beast. New obstacles. Improved old obstacles. And more mud!

I’m not going to lie, when my team and I crossed the finish line back in 2015, we were ready to run again. This time, I don’t think any of us wanted any more of this course.

The NOLA trail snaked for 10.9 miles across acres of old sugar cane fields, and through sparse woods. I grew up in cane country. The smell of the sugar mill is not one you want to wear to a black tie affair.Bagasse

Once cane is crushed and drained of its sweet nectar, it is thrown into huge piles outside the mill and left to ferment and rot. It’s called bagasse (pronounced bag-ass), which I believe it’s French for “bag of ass,” because that’s what it smells like.

Now, imagine thick, gumbo mud churned to cake-batter and smelling of bagasse. I was a kid again!

The re-magined Everest2.0 is a leg-slayer. 2014_training_everest_420x220px_1The run-up is shorter, and steeper. If you want to make it to the top, don’t stop churning your legs — even when the mountain falls away from you.

Then, swing wildly for one of the dozen or so outstretched arms of your fellow mudders waiting to pull you up.

If you miss, it’s a short, humiliating slide down the Everest’s muddy face all the way back to base camp for a short rest, and another run at it.13116039_10154117816772790_3498648781963682248_oPyramid Scheme is a blast, as long as you don’t mind strangers grabbing any body part available to heave their muddy carcasses over you. I want to apologize to the woman who’s crotch I may have grabbed on my way to the top. That’s what happens when someone is hanging upside-down and her legs look like a fork in the branches of that big oak tree from your childhood.

She was a good sport and yelled at me, “Just get your ass to the top! I can’t hang here all day!”race_3517_photo_50969411

Standing at the base if an eight foot, mud wall with no foot-holds to help me out of the chest-deep goop I was wading through, I thought, “This is gonna be fun.” Mile of Mud is one of the trademarks of Tough Mudder. This year, it was the slickest, nastiest, most fun on the course, and we got to do it TWICE.

But the best thing about a TM is the mudder to your left and the one to your right. Your team is every single mudder on the course. You’re all in this mad, muddy dash together, and the only way you’ll make it through is with the help of the dudes around you.

And THAT is what Tough Mudder is all about. Now hit the showers. You smell like a bag of ass.17362575_10210828317716889_3419742437002249856_n

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Return to Everest

o-MOUNT-EVEREST-BRAWL-facebookIt started as a whisper, somewhere in the distance, a nagging call among my team. You need to do this. . . Again. The voice was seductive, like the siren’s songs that draws sailors to the sea, only this whispered echo was calling us home.

There was much to do: Gear to clean. Weights to lift. Miles to run. Diets to perfect. In short, we were in no shape to return to Everest. But it was April. Our ascent wasn’t until March. That gave us an entire year to prepare for the grueling trek up the face of an obstacle that has stolen the hopes and dreams of so many.

Preparations the first time around had almost killed us, but they paid off in every member of our team scaling the monolithic half-pipe that is the single toughest Tough Mudder obstacle.

14232489_10208956828370825_7740601966627015887_nWe were all two years older now, and one member of our team was AWOL. (Actually, he’s now a Marine, scaling much tougher obstacles.) Still, we were determined to meet the challenge as any Legionnaire would: With lots of help from our friends.

Then, the historic floods of August 2016 took our home. It could not take our drive.

Training would have to wait while we rebuilt our lives from the ground up. Healthy diets would have to be put aside for something we could eat single-handed on the fly with a hammer in our free hand. Running? Only if dashes to the lumber yard for more sheetrock mud counts.

DSC_0249Last time I scaled Everest, I was in perhaps the best shape of my life. This time, with only two months to prepare, I enter the fray 10 pounds heavier, and a full minute off my mile pace.

Now, with two days left before we get muddy, that siren call blares like a trumpet in our ears.

Rebuilding your life from the ground up in just three months throws up every mental road block anyone can imagine. The crushing blow of learning your home will have to be demolished, the joy of learning it will not, daunting five-hour work sessions after a full nine on your day job, sixteen-hour days on the weekend, sheetrock dust — pounds and pounds of sheetrock dust settled on your skin and in your lungs, decisions on everything from walls to be moved to cabinet pulls.

We may enter this trial slower and heavier, but we enter it stronger. Mudder Nation, prepare for Team Geezer!

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There Will Be Mud

DCIM105GOPROFrom the euphoria of conquering Everest to the muck in the bowels of the mud pit, one thing the Tough Mudder course never does is let up. My intrepid team of Mudder’s had barely set our feet on solid ground when the trek to the next challenge began.

My son and I ran point. My sister and cousin trod in our footprints, a half-mile up a gentle incline. But nothing about the Mudder is gentle. This slope was covered in soft, dry sand. Better to muscle through and rest at the top than to break our pace and breathe easy.

DCIM105GOPROAnother mile and three more obstacles down the winding trail, we saw it. The Mudder’s namesake. The Mud Mile. All this time we had been gradually ascending. Now the Mudder would throw us into a pit of Hell. Down another winding trail with no place to stand but loose, red dirt.

We kept our feet moving. To rest was to tumble through the legs of the Mudders ahead of us. Up one pile of freshly dug dirt, and down another until we reached the canyon floor.

DCIM106GOPROIf the Mud Mile were simply mud, what would be the challenge? Water, thick as pancake batter met us first. First to our ankles, then above our knees, but that is for kids. The batter reached our chests as our legs sank past our knees in soft, squishy muck. Then it was over slick clay walls nearly as tall as we were. Not one, but three per mud pit.

Then out of the pit and across more loose dirt and sand. It clung to our clothes and caked inside our shoes. We repeated this ritual for a mile, maybe more with nothing but belly-crawls through loose sand as an interlude.

DCIM106GOPROWhen it came to an end, we had to leave the pit, but not on the same winding trail we had entered. No, Mudders climb out, on ropes. We scaled the walls, many pounds heavier than when we entered the pit thanks to the red clay, mud, and sand in our shoes, shorts, and hair.

We had survived the toughest, nastiest obstacles the Mudder could throw at us. We simply had a mile sprint to the finish. Our months of training paid off. DSC_0307While other teams gasped for air, we trotted past them grinning ear to ear. The finish line lay just ahead, and so did the bright orange headbands that would crown us as official Tough Mudders.

We’ve had a month to bask in the glow of our accomplishments. Now, it is on to The Spartan Trifecta.

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Conquering Everest

DCIM103GOPROThe crisp morning air crackled with anticipation. We had watched the forecast for two weeks and prayed the storms forecast for the morning of our ascent would pass us by. Now, under the mid-morning sun, my team chatted with nearly 200 other hopefuls waiting to begin our journey from base camp up the face of Everest.

The only thing standing in our way, an eight-foot wall of lumber painted black and emblazoned with the Tough Mudder logo. Everest is one of the Mudder’s signature obstacles — a twenty-foot quarter pipe sheathed in aluminum and coated with water and glycol just to keep things interesting.

But the monster lay in wait more than five miles down the course. race_702_photo_15314523Before we would get a chance to even view her, we would have to maneuver our team across and over obstacles designed to test our strength, stamina, agility, comraderie, and grit.

The Tough Mudder eats other obstacle courses for breakfast and barely burps. My son, cousin, baby sister, and I had trained for four months with our only goal to survive obstacles with names like Funky Monkey, Cry Baby, Pole Dancer, Beached Whale, and Arctic Enema.

Between each obstacle, a grueling tromp through soft sand, up hills, and across lakes of water and mud. The plan was simple. My son and I would set the pace for the run, and we would work together with our team and others to make it past anything else the Mudder would throw at us.

DCIM103GOPROThe Funky Monkey, Pole Dancer, and Beached Whale tested our strength. We blasted the Arctic Enema (imagine the The Ice Bucket Challenge on crack) by sheer will-power. Then we saw her, the orange and white megalith we had come to conquer. Amped on adrenaline, my son was the first to test Everest. A running start, a leap of faith, and the flying grip of the Mudder before him helped land Brock safely on the summit.

DSC_0195Then it was my turn. Stamina was no problem. My training had served me well. My legs felt fresh as they churned up the slope. One fourth. One third. One half the way up. Then, when if felt like I was losing steam, one giant leap. I was airborne. Time seemed to stand still as I soared above mere mortal sherpas. (It felt more graceful than it actually was.) I was going to conquer Everest.

Then, reality set in. My chest crashed on Everest’s peak. Air drained from my lungs, and gravity began to snatch my victory.DSC_0249 A hand clenched my elbow. My feet kicked and scrambled for grip on the slick surface. Two great heaves later, I stood atop my nemisis with no time to reflect. We still had two team members to help over the top.

Once we were all safe atop the peak, we paused for one triumphant moment, the sun smiling on our accomplishment. Then, like all who scale Everest, we headed back down. We were only half-way through our trek and still had a Mile of Mud to vanquish.

Categories: Fun, Life Or Something Like It | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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