My first OCR DNF happened, last night, at my favourite event, the World’s Toughest Mudder.
But it was far from a surprise.
I barely made it carrying my 1-year-old from the car park to the library last week and just did my first nearly pain free shallow pool run three days ago.
We considered cancelling the trip but then decided to give it a go.
Hey, my foot might loosen or numb up or something right?
I was actually surprised to make it through the first lap. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast and it didn’t feel good… but I was hobbling at a decent clip. If I could just hobble through like this for 24 hours, 75 miles would be no problem. Every step hurt but the pain was manageable. I was happy.
This year you had one free hour to run before the obstacles opened. I should have been over the moon, trotting around the dessert, running like I love to do. Instead, I could hardly wait until the obstacles opened so I could stop limping along through the sand.
The bell rang as I was attempting to pass Operation. This obstacle was a giant replication of the classic game where you get hit with 10,000 volts instead of a earful of soul jarring buzzer. I took the penalty that first lap, which involved dragging a sandbag up and down a hill and through tunnels. On the next ones though, I opted to go slowly and carefully – not wanting to find out what happens when that kind of voltage runs through my titanium arm. I must have looked like I was defusing a bomb.
Tight Fit was next. They changed the name just to screw with us I’m sure. It was the same large hole cargo net pulled tight over tractor tires. Perfect for tangling exhausted racers up.
Grease Monkey was a set of ascending monkey bars to a descending tube. They got a little harder as they got a little muddier but they were always a welcome break for my leg.
Statue of Liberty again this year! Float across a lake holding a lit torch. So much calm and beauty admist a challenging course.
And then came Gut Buster. It requires you to traverse across a pool of water sideways in the plank position with your feet on a board, walking your hands across a set of fixed vertical beams each about two feet or so apart. Really tough for short people. I noticed the people that fell early did the cinder block carry penalty in the same time that it took me to get across. From then on, I took the penalty.
Hump Chuck is pretty much a giant slanted whiteboard in the water.
Upper Decker was a rope climb out of water where you had to drag yourself into a tube at the top and then crawl through a great deal of mud under barb wire. Easy enough the first few laps but one that would tire people quickly. I guess they made it tube to rope later for safety.
I suck at Swingers. You’re supposed to jump off a tower about 12 feet over a pool of water, grab a T-bar, swing across, let go, hit the bell with your hand and then drop into the water below. For me it’s always jump off a tower over a pool of water, grab a T-bar, swing across, let go, hit the water with my face. Every time. Bend my arms, face plant. Straighten my arms, face plant. Kip my hips, face plant with added enthusiasm.
Kiss of Mud. Is there glass in here? Are we rolling in glass? These pieces are shiny. And sharp.
I could have happily done Roll the Dice for all 24 hours. Consisting of long pyramids on skewers in the water that you need to grab and quickly throw yourself over to spin, they worked best as a group effort although I was able to get across one time on my own. Fun.
I never got the hang of Tramp Stamp, where you jumped off a platform to bounce off a trampoline to grab a T bar and then zip line across a pool of water. I just couldn’t generate enough bounce. This is also where Ama shot me a thumbs up and yelled, “Good job anyway on the trampoline” – which left a dorky smile on my face for a few miles.
Royal Flush was just unpleasant. Wade across pond and pull yourself up semi submerged incline tube that sprayed water in your face. Just stop. But you couldn’t actually say that because there’s water being sprayed right in your face.
The Mud Mile was always a welcome sight since it meant the pit was just around the corner.
Everest (the run up the skate pipe) was the first obstacle on the course so I missed it on the second lap since we were still on obstacle free time. There was the regular 1.0 that you do and complete a penalty – or a 2.0 with a higher rounded lip to choose from. Before my leg entirely went and I couldn’t even run to the base, I managed 2.0 easily since some strong dudes were there to haul me up.
Whale’s Turd consisted of a giant inflatable post swim covered in netting. The first few pulls were hard to get over the first jump and then it was up and over. There is just something fun about inflatables.
Hydroplane was what you see kids doing at the pool: running across a bunch of floaty mats over water. And there’s a reason the kids love it.
They made some little knotches on Liberator (the peg board ramp) to stick your toes into so it was heaps easier. I think this speaks volumes about TM balancing the course out.
For Abseil, you repel down a rock wall by a rope. Simple. But a little freaky the first time.
The Gamble. This year you rolled a dice which determined which variety of wall you got. Vegas baby! I rolled an incline wall, an incline wall with a vertical rail and a huge wall. Thankfully another person also rolled a big wall at the same time and so he hoisted me up and then I pulled him over.
Next was Vertigo, a latter with very slippery boards that led to a balance beam over a cargo net. Easy enough but treacherous. I saw a guy bail face first into it and then fall back into the net. And then get up.
In terms of my DNF, I bounced from high points where I shuffled along in elation under the happy illusion I could make this dream a reality to low points where taking another step was simply too agonizing.
On the run section at end of mile twenty, the pain crawled into my IT band and quad. I was holding my breath just to jog a few steps. Even walking hurt and running downhill was no longer a joyous reunion with nearly pain free running.
John fixed the IT band pain with his magical Chinese RMT powers, suited me up in extra warm clothes and sent me trotting off like a spritly little pony. And then after about 100 feet of pure bliss, things digressed quickly and drastically. It was a hard decision but I officially pulled out.
It’s a funny thing, this is the race that I trained all year for. I was sad and lost. Of course. But having the chance to be with such amazing people doing such cool and challenging stuff still filled my heart with joy.
And of course, surprising the girls back at hotel was all I needed to heal my heart right up.
My body of course, was another matter. I spent a long night writhing in pain and cramping like crazy. Well, at least I won’t be forever wondering if I called it too early.
My husband is yet again the real star. He spent the last month rehabbing my foot while building a giant rig for the canfitpro show next week, working, and being an equally exceptional dad.
And then taking care of everything this weekend. Including his wife’s mental and physical health.
Here’s hoping I can hobble down to bask in the glory of my fellow mudders who fought hard to overcome a challenging course this weekend.