hangin tough

A couple of years back I came across the wackiest-sounding race I had ever heard of.  It was called Muddy Buddy and I did it with my Ironman-friend, Ashley.  A few months later I heard that like North Carolina, San Diego has a Krispie Kreme challenge, albeit a smaller one.  I signed up immediately.  Last year, I did the Red Dress Run and the KK Challenge part 2.  Wacky races were becoming a thing with me.

Then my friend Anne mentioned on her blog the ultimate in crazy endurance races, Tough Mudder.  10-13 miles with 20-25 very difficult/muddy/painful obstacles.  Muddy Buddy sounds quaint anymore, doesn't it?  I'm not sure Anne approved of the increasing insanity these kinds of races offer but to me the idea was like catnip and I could not stay away.  Yesterday I participated in the first of Tough Mudder's So Cal races in 2012.

TM likes to poke fun at easier races

Despite my gung-ho attitude, I was starting to have second thoughts as the date approached.  TM sounded brutal and I'm not particularly strong or flexible outside of my endurance sports.  What if I fell and broke my ankle?  My first Half Ironman is coming up in a month and I've been training really hard for it.

Then I did something truly crazy.  A couple of days back I Googled "tough mudder injury."  And read the horror stories.  Yep, it was scary.  But in a way it was empowering.  Knowing the worst that was out there gave me the information I could use to mitigate potential risks.  My intention was to go out there and skip a few of the scarier obstacles.  Unless the temperature was below 45°.  Then I was going to turn around and get back into bed.  So how did it go?


In short it was way more fun than I expected.  I had psyched myself out; thinking the obstacles were all going to be sadistically brutal.  In the morning I steeled myself to be tough. But once I was out there nothing was too hard for me.  I was a better runner than most of the participants and other than wishing I had stronger arms I breezed through most everything.

TM was held at a scenic place

I woke up at 5:15 to drive up towards Temecula.  I was solo today because there is a $20 charge for spectators (lame!) and for that Christine would just be waiting the 3 1/2 hours for me to finish.  I arrived at 6:50 and the thermometer in my car said 38°.  But I knew the high was 60 and I hoped that it would warm up by my start time of 9:00!  I rode the bus over and quickly breezed through the registration.

more scenery

Once ready I had about 75 minutes to wait for my starting heat.  I'm glad I arrived early because by 8:00 there was a long line at the registration table.  At least I could sit while I waited.  And there was entertainment.  Bic was offering free head shavings and/or mohawks. I declined that along with the free finisher's tattoo BTW.  The early heats were starting and the MC was an entertaining guy.

we had to scale a wall just to get to the start line. Yes, that guy is wearing a sports bra

1) energy abounds at the start line, 2) duh, 3) a proud headband-wearer, 4) at mile 9 i was still running

In the start area I found myself next to a team that was dressed in scrubs. I later found out they were pre-med students.  I like to think I was the first to joke that I was going to hang out next to them just in case...but I probably wasn't.

my med-student buddies getting ready to climb

Sadly, the day before TM I suffered muscle injury.  It was a spasm or strain of either my pectoral muscle or an intercostal muscle (rib meat). It was uncomfortable to breath in deeply.  Not ideal for athletic endeavors but hopefully manageable.  I didn't yet have a professional diagnosis and I was a little worried about obstacles that made me pull up with my arms. And there were plenty but I did fine overall with those. I did wince many a time while running though.

Due to my paranoia I was planning on skipping any obstacle that scared me.  (See my obstacle photos below.)  For instance, I didn't think I was going to do the Funky Monkey (greased monkey bars).  But the water below looked deep and safe.  Sure enough I fell in after 8 rungs or so and no harm done.  The worst obstacle for me was the Arctic Enema which is an ice water obstacle. I didn't think I was going to be able to climb out.  Brutally cold!  Lots of people thought Walk The Plank was tough.  But for a swimmer it was easy.  Close your eyes, jump, and swim.

arctic enema - the worst obstacle

walk the plank

I only skipped two obstacles. And here they are.

i didn't think my hurt shoulder/arm could handle Everest so i skipped it

the electroshock therapy obstacle took many to their knees. no thank you

I was ready for mud and 55°-ish water. For climbing, balancing, swimming and claustrophobia. Here are a few other obstacle photos.

head down, that's barbed wire!

over, under, over, under

other obstacles

If I can express some pride for a moment... I definitely feel some toughness-vindication after tackling this course. Not bad for a computer programmer who normally lives his life in comfortable soft shirts. And doing so with an injury just adds to that. Does that make me a super-tough mudder?


i love her determined face. oh yeah, those are electrified wires and yes, i "got shocked in the buttocks"

getting ready to crawl through the Boa Constrictor, there is muddy water and very little airspace in those tubes

Honestly the worst part for me was at the end.  After the race I was standing around soaked and shivering in the strong breeze.  My strained muscle really tightened up during this wait and was quite sore the rest of the day. On Monday (today) I went to urgent care and got some proper drugs to heal up.

More obstacles...

carry the wood was no trouble

couldn't superman just fly over? Batman take his sub?

the water was a little to cold to swim in without some acclimation time so i waded


After cleaning up I decided that In-N-Out was not going to cut it and made the drive to San Marcos to finally get some lunch at Phil's.  It was about 2PM and I was starving!  The oatmeal and 3 GUs were long gone.  Soon after my food arrived, I heard my name.  Lo and behold it was my buddies and fellow Phil's lovers Roby and Dejah and a friend of theirs.  It sounds like quite a coincidence but I am starting to suspect if I go to Phil's on any given day I will find them there. ;)

the phil's regulars, me with some outstanding hair

The only injuries I suffered on the day was a raspberry on one elbow and a bit of sunburn on the face.  The raspberry was my fault; I had rolled up my sleeves and forgot to roll them down during the first crawling obstacle.  Not much I could do about the sun. No way to carry sunscreen and that first application was not going to last 5 hours.

Would I do it again?  Well it was more fun than I expected.  So maybe.  OTOH, I've been there done that.  If someone is organizing a team and asks me to join then I probably will.  But I am not likely to be the initiator next time.

Oh, and if I do it again I'm skipping the Enema. I'd take the electric shocks before doing that again!