A couple of years ago when I was living in a small town in Nevada I met some people at my local gym who were going to do the Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder is a 12 mile race and obstacle course with climbing and running and monkey bars and water and electric shock and it looked really, really scary. I was awed. I couldn’t believe these people (who all looked very normal) were going to do something so difficult. I remember talking to someone about it and he said – you can’t do that, it’s for elite athletes and you could never do any of that stuff.
irritated me that this person thought I couldn’t run this race – and more that I could never do it. I like to think of myself as a strong individual and it became obvious to me that this person did not see me that way at all. And when I talked to the people at the gym about it, they all thought I could do it. So, I decided I wanted to give it a try.
The Tough Mudder is designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. It is a proud supporter of The Wounded Warrior Project, which helps soldiers who have been injured in the line of duty while protecting those of us who can actually take the time to do stuff like this for fun. The Tough Mudder is not a race, but a challenge. It is about facing your fears, never giving in, and above all else, camaraderie. You never leave a teammate behind.
As a kid growing up I never imagined doing something like this. Especially not at 43 years old! The first challenge was army crawling through a muddy trench under barbed wire. No big deal. The second was jumping from a 15-foot ledge into a pool of murky, cold water. I suddenly discovered that I had a fear of heights and of cold water, but I did it. We had to carry a log about a half mile and then we came to The Arctic Enema – jump into a vat of green ice water – and I mean, there was a LOT of ice in there – and then you had to go under water to swim under a board and then swim to the opposite side and get out. I didn’t know you could get brain freeze from the outside! Then there were a series of monkey bars, cargo nets, Berlin Walls (10-12 foot walls you had to jump), ring swings, uphill hikes, tunnel crawls, log jumps, wall crawls and mud crawls. My favorites (not) were the Electric Eel (crawl through a trough of mud with electric wires hanging over you – and yes, you do get shocked, and yes, it hurts!), the Mud Mile (crawling through cold, muddy water with a lot of dips so you fall in a lot), Mount Everest (a 20-foot quarter pipe that you run up and grab the ledge – or the hand of another Mudder – and pull yourself up) and finally the Electroshock Therapy (run through a field of live wires with as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock). To see more about the crazy obstacles and the Tough Mudder go here: http://toughmudder.com/obstacles/.
I have had a lot of people ask me why I would do something like this. All I could say was that I wanted to see what I was made of. And I learned something about myself –
I am one Tough Mudder!
I left that event feeling like I could conquer the world – and I felt like I had earned just a little bit of respect from that person who doubted me. It also gave me the confidence to make some other changes in my life that I needed to make. I no longer felt stuck, incapable, powerless or hopeless. I felt like my life was my choice… and it has been ever since!
Now whenever I feel like things are getting too difficult in life I remember this race. Then I think of all of our military men and women and the hardships they endure day in and day out – for you and for me. Then I make a choice and I find a way to conquer.
Last year I had another friend who wanted to do the Mudder. She had already lost over 100 lbs and she wanted to give it a try… but she was scared to do any of the obstacles. She did the race with John and I and she completed every single obstacle in the race! She was amazed at how invincible she felt! This past summer she completed her first marathon!
We all have days where we feel helpless, hopeless, stuck, incapable and powerless. This race is the kind of thing that makes you realize that you are not any of those things – it helps you realize that everything is a choice. You can go around or avoid the obstacles in life, you can skip the race of life altogether – OR you can take a deep breath and jump in headfirst and conquer. Believe me, those obstacles will be the things you look back on in life with relish!