This weekend I completed my very first Tough Mudder Half. Five miles and 13 obstacles completed alongside two very patient, exceptional friends. How did it go, and why did I do it? Well, let me tell you…
To be perfectly transparent, I was nervous to even attempt the course. Terrified, actually. I had zero clue what to expect and I was pretty stressed out about it. When something stresses me out, I tend to avoid it. Thankfully, my team consisted of two college friends who convinced me to do it in the first place. They both live in Pennsylvania and made a special trip to Nashville to complete the race with me. All that to say – I could be as nervous as I wanted to be. Ain’t no way I was backing out.
The most difficult part of of the entire thing is that I’ve never made myself truly learn how to run. In the months leading up to the Tough Mudder, I had plenty of time to train. I made sure I kept up strength and endurance, but couldn’t seem to make myself train specifically for the running part. I know that all sounds quite ridiculous, given that it’s a race, but running for me has always been something I’m incredibly self conscious about. I’ve always had a pretty defined limp, especially as a kid, and running during recess or tag would only pronounce the limp. When I was little, I didn’t care so much. The older I got, though, I started to become more self-conscious of what I looked like, and eventually I decided to avoid it all together. I found other ways to adapt and stay in shape.
Right now you may be thinking, “Amy if you don’t know how to run, what the HECK did you do when it came time for the race?” And I’ll tell you in blatant honesty: I completed the race exceptionally slow. My friends embraced my stubborn personality, didn’t get mad when I refused to let them carry me at any point of the race, and the 3 of us stuck together.
As for the obstacles part of the race…it’s actually pretty fun to swim in the mud. Shocking, I know. (I imagine my parents reading this and wondering how the heck they raised such a tomboy.) Quite honestly, I thought I would hate it. For about the first 1/3 of the race, it was pretty easy to stay clean. One of the first obstacles was to walk across a mud pitt that came to about my knees. I remember thinking “oh wait, this actually isn’t bad. I may be able to do this thing and not even get my shirt that dirty.”
It didn’t take long for us to realize that the first mud pitt was just a warm up. We had plenty (and let me repeat, PLENTY) of opportunity to get absolutely COVERED in mud. I mean, we literally swam in it. And guess what? I loved every second of it. Even when I felt tired and overwhelmed, I had so much fun doing the obstacles. Because I recently got a new prosthesis made, I was able to wear my old prosthesis and not worry so much about it getting ruined. I jumped and slid into 5 foot deep mud puddles and had a blast. I’ve never once been in water past my hip with a prosthesis on. It was a completely new feeling for me, to swim with two legs underwater at the same time, and I couldn’t believe how blessed I was to be able to experience that. May sound like a very simple thing, but for me, it was huge.
The atmosphere and the energy of the whole day was contagious – you’re surrounded by people who are all trying to accomplish the same goal. Everyone is sweaty and gross and covered in mud from head to toe, and it doesn’t even matter that you may never be friends with the person next to you. When you’re literally trying to climb out of a ditch and they’re offering you a (muddy) hand or giving you a boost, you take it, because you realize everyone is on one gigantic team. There’s something about that level of commitment and effort that makes the craziness of it all that much more exhilarating.
So what did I take away from this entire experience? Well, for starters, I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out. Even if our pace was slow, I tried every obstacle and took every step myself, and that means a lot to me. Two, I learned that it’s okay to need people. I could NOT have completed that course without Jordan and Luke and the people around me. They cheered me on, pulled me up when I needed it, provided physical and emotional support, and made the experience wayyyy more fun. At one point in the beginning, I kept apologizing for how slow we were going. My teammate Jordan looked at me and said, “Amy the only thing that will make me mad about today is if you spend this whole time worrying about how we feel. Don’t worry about our pace.” That made me shut up, and it helped me more than he realized.
Completing the Tough Mudder Half also reminded me how much I love trying new things. It doesn’t even matter if I’m good at it; most of the time I’m gonna be terrible at something I try for the first time. But even so, it was energizing and fun in its own way.
So now what? Am I officially one of those people who live and breathe mud races, traveling to different cities to complete as many as possible? Probably not. It was fun, but I love trying different things. I would like to do the full version someday (10 miles and 20 obstacles), but not before I knock a few other things off the bucket list.
I love the idea of wanting to try something new, and then just going to do it. No need to waste time pondering and stressing over what it will be like. Best way to find out is to just try it. So, what’s next? To name a few, I’d like to go horseback riding, skiing, and kneeboarding. And yes, I’d like to get a running blade and learn how to run. For real. No time like the present to live life to the fullest!