Friday June 7, 2013 – Tropical Storm Andrea has been sending sheets of rain across Virginia for several days. Rain is one of two essential ingredients that are necessary to make mud…and mud is perfect for something called a Tough Mudder, right? I am all set to take on 10-12 miles of obstacles and mud on Saturday June 8th at the Berkley Plantation. My race gear is ready, my spectator tickets are purchased and all of the logistics have been worked out. Five months of training and following through on my New Year’s resolution are ready for their first test.
And speaking of training, by that point I had completed T25 Alpha and Beta, along with P90X3. Both programs were fun and easy to stick with, mainly because they only lasted 25 and 30 minutes respectively. I had tried the original P90X back in 2008, but that program was a commitment of 1 – 1.5 hours per day, 6-7 days a week. Due to my work/family schedule, I am forced to do a lot of training before the sun comes up, and getting up at 5 a.m. or earlier to do P90X was tough in 2008 – when I only had 1 kid. The 30 minute workouts of P90X3 were far more manageable, and nearly as intense.
By the spring of 2013 I was back down to my usual 170 – 175 pounds, and I was running once or twice a week in addition to the T25 and P90X3 workouts. Overall, I was working out about 5-6 days per week, even if most days entailed less than 1 hour of workout time. My running was progressing slowly, but I had built up to about 5 miles for my “long” runs at a pace in the low 9 minute per mile range. My neighborhood is hilly, so my pacing did (and does) suffer a bit from the hills.
Sometime that spring I came across obstacle course racing on the internet. I had never heard of obstacle course racing, but it seemed to be far more interesting and challenging than simply running. I have never been a fan of running, and most of my running came during soccer practice and games growing up. Moreover, I was never a very fast runner – either short or long distance. I do, however, have pretty good upper body strength for my size. Thus, breaking up running with obstacles that focused primarily on upper body strength sounded appealing, and I thought that it might give me an advantage over pure runners who might not be able manage more than a few pull-ups.
Based upon my internet research, Tough Mudder and Spartan Race seemed to be the two main obstacle course racing brands. Tough Mudder was not a timed race, and it had more “gimmicky” obstacles, such as dangling electrical wires. Some of its obstacles also played to certain fears – such as a fear of heights and confined dark spaces. The Spartan Race was timed, and appeared to be designed with a singular purpose – to inflict as much pain as possible on any given course. Both were appealing, so I signed up for the June Tough Mudder at the Berkley Plantation and the Spartan Super race at Wintergreen in August. The Tough Mudder was 10-12 miles and the Spartan Super was a measly 8 miles. By June 2013, my longest run was still only 7 miles, but I was convinced that I was ready.
Back to June 7, 2013 – that evening I received an email that the Tough Mudder was going to be cancelled due to the heavy rains and mud. Apparently, mud is a good thing, but too much mud, even for a Tough Mudder, is a bad thing. According to the Tough Mudder bigwigs, the excessively muddy conditions created safety issues, in that, paramedics would be unable to evacuate injured participants. To say that I was disappointed was an understatement, but Tough Mudder eventually offered to roll over my entry to the October 2013 event in West Virginia. Thus, Mudder glory would have to be delayed for several months…
Thankfully, I did have the Wintergreen Super Spartan on my calendar for August, but that race was ONLY going to be 8 miles, not the 10-12 that the Tough Mudder promised. Oh well, I figured that I could use the Spartan Race as a “tune up” for the October Tough Mudder…