The Ain’t Noboby Got Time For That 5K (aka Tough Mudder Georgia)

For those of y’all that have followed my blog for a while, you know about my Warrior Dash debacle (which got me published in Obstacle Racing Magazine!). I let myself get Jedi mind-tricked into participating in Tough Mudder. What is Tough Mudder, you ask?  It’s a hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.  The Georgia course was around 10 miles and contained about 22 obstacles.

You’d have thought I’d have learned my lesson last year, right? Nope. See, Delusional Nikki thought she had enough time to train & prepare for this event since she registered a YEAR in advance. Why am I talking about myself in the 3rd person? That’s what delusional folks do, ok? Anyway, the months start ticking by and Delusional Nikki keeps eating Reese Cups & watching Scandal…like Olivia & Fitz were going to do this race with her. Next thing Delusional Nikki knows, 11 months have passed and it’s 2 weeks before the event. Sigh. So, at this point, Sane Nikki shows up and is like, “girl, stop. you know you can’t do this. save yourself.” Sane Nikki sends an email to her Tough Mudder team that basically said, “Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike…you’ll have to count me out.” (shout out to my New Edition fans!). But, the team knew Sane Nikki was weak & not making good decisions since Scandal was on a 3 week hiatus. So, she gets Jedi mind-tricked again with an email from the team captain saying, “It won’t be that bad! We haven’t trained either.” [Um, sidenote…they are lying liars who lie because clearly, they had trained. While I’m asking folks for rosary beads & prayers at obstacle 3, they are doing the electric slide through Obstacle 748.]

So, I suck it up and decide to go. A couple of days before the event, Tough Mudder sent an email with logistical details (parking, etc) and a video of one of the obstacles, Arctic Enema. As soon as I watched the clip, I was like, “NOPE!” That looked like a whole bunch of crazy that I couldn’t be a part of. My strategy was to skip the obstacles that looked dangerous/difficult. Don’t judge me. I’m coming out of a Reese Cups coma.

After driving a couple of hours we arrive at the race site.  We passed several obstacles on our way to park.  My first thought was “TURN THIS CAR AROUND NOW!”  But, I kept focused and started mentally hyping myself up…then we walk over to the starting area.  Um, how come I didn’t know you had to complete an obstacle to even START the freaking race?

What?  Why is this wall here?  OMG, I have to climb this? Does this count or is it "extra"?(source, Tough Mudder)

What? Why is this wall here? OMG, I have to climb this? Does this count or is it “extra”?(source, Tough Mudder)

Jesus take the wheel!  iCan’t.  But, my teammates were like,”LET’S DO THIS!!!” and I got caught up.  We climbed the wall, listened to the Tough Mudder inspirational guy (no, I don’t remember his name and I’m too lazy to go find it out), and finished it off by singing the Star Spangled Banner.  Then, we officially start the race.

The first obstacle was “Kiss of Mud”.  In the beginning, I thought it would be fine.  Because I’m still under mind-control.  What I didn’t count on was that the course would be extra muddy due to the week of rain we had before the race.  After running 1/4 of a mile, we come up to the first obstacle and have to crawl under the wire.  Seems pretty simple right?  WRONG!  It felt like there was cracked glass & empty syringes lying on the ground.  Seriously.

Kiss of Mud obstacle (source, Tough Mudder)

Kiss of Mud obstacle (source, Tough Mudder)

But, it wasn’t too bad (compared to the obstacles coming up).  After getting through Obstacle 1, we run through some more mud.  Now, we are still in what I will call the “regular” area…or as I started to think of it, “my safe zone”.  The early obstacles were close to the parking lot so you could keep running to your car if things got too “tough”.  But, I was lulled into a sense of “badassness” by the early obstacles.  Obstacle 2 looked like it would be difficult (I have the upper body strength of a mosquito so climbing up & over stuff is a challenge…might have helped if I had actually trained but hey, I ain’t about to judge myself, k?).  Turns out, Obstacle #2 (Bale Bonds) wasn’t that hard once you got into the swing of it. At this point, I’m like, “WHAT? DO YOU SEE ME?  I’M AWESOME!”  I should’ve known it was too good to last.

Obstacle #2, "Bale Bonds" (source, Tough Mudder)

Obstacle #2, “Bale Bonds” (source, Tough Mudder)

After that obstacle, the course takes you into the woods.  Seriously…there is no trail.  Just some red ribbon that they attached to the trees earlier that week.  Good luck with that!  The mud combined with no actual trail proved to be the toughest “obstacle”.  And one that I wasn’t really ready for.  It was difficult to keep upright because it was so slick.  Trail shoes wouldn’t have made a difference because the mud cakes the soles until it was like you were running on ice.  Folks loved it though…screaming WOOHOO as they slipped & slid all the way to Grandma’s house.

Once we come out of the woods, we are at Obstacle 3 “Arctic Enema”.  Now, I had already seen the video (provided below) and my initial reaction was…

AW, HECKS NAW!  Nuh uh.  Keep that.  But when I actually arrived at the obstacle, I was feeling solid…the previous obstacles had me feeling like I could do this!  Even when a couple of spectators told me that a man had went unconscious in the pool about 10 minutes before me, I was like, “So what?  He’s weak!”

So, my crazy self jumps into the dumpster filled with 80 pounds of ice & water…and I can’t quite tell you what happened next.  I remember having to swim down to the bottom so I could go under the partition to get to the other side to exit…then, as I surfaced, I think I saw Jesus sitting on the side of the dumpster reaching His hand out to me saying, “What kind of fool are you?”  My response? “I don’t know, Jesus…but I’m pretty sure it’s the biggest kind of fool there is.”  After getting out of the dumpster, my body locks up and I just stand there for a minute.  No idea what was going on.

Then, it’s back to the woods.  I hate the woods, y’all.  Nothing good happens there!  Next obstacle was hauling some wood around.  Lord Jesus…WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS AND NOT TRAIN?  Luckily, my teammates carried the log and I pretended that I was helping to carry it but that was all for appearances.

"Hold Your Wood" obstacle...what is wrong with me? (source, Tough Mudder)

“Hold Your Wood” obstacle…what is wrong with me? (source, Tough Mudder)

Then we get to the next obstacle, “Boa Constrictor”…the pictures make this look so easy.  Like all you have to do is crawl through a tube.  I should’ve known that was too easy.  You have just enough room to crawl into the tube…on your stomach.  The only people who can crawl through on their needs are “little people” and toddlers.  Half way into the tube, I got stuck.  Sigh.  After scooting as much as I could, they lowered a guy down to pull me the rest of the way out.  Which I noticed was pretty common.

I don't even know what number I'm on...just read to be done.  I think this is called the "Boa Constrictor" (source, Tough Mudder)

I don’t even know what number I’m on…just read to be done. I think this is called the “Boa Constrictor” (source, Tough Mudder)

After that obstacle…I was done.  I pulled a back muscle in the tube and hadn’t been able to catch my breath since Arctic Enema.  So, I tapped out and wished my team good luck.  Which ended up being the smartest decision I made.  I never was able to breathe properly until I went to the doctor a couple of days later and had to be put on an inhaler because my lung capacity was at 60%.  All in all, I completed 3.5 miles of the course so I just say I did a 5K 🙂  I want credit for this, y’all.

To prove I’m not making this up (well, my review may be slightly embellished), see the 3 minute video below.

First, where was the cutie at the beginning of the video when I was doing this race???  Did you see those arms & that chest?  *grabbing smelling salts*  If I had raced with him, I might have found a bit more inspiration 🙂  Second, y’all saw those obstacles right?  And folks were smiling!  Like the Tough Mudder folks had laced the mud pits with a meth, bath salts, crack cocktail!  No, ma’am/sir.

I stuck around to watch a couple of other obstacles.  Overall, I’d say Tough Mudder really is a race for those who actually train (not like the 5K mud races where you can fake your way through it).  The obstacles & course are very difficult.  The week after the Georgia TM, Tough Mudder had an event in West Virginia where a man died during the “Walk the Plank” obstacle.  While this isn’t the norm, it does emphasize that you should be careful.  I have never quit in the middle of a race…but I do not regret quitting this one.  And, it was my own fault for not being prepared.  I will say this…the great thing about this race is the spirit of camaraderie and other “mudders” helping their comrades along the way.  They have a “no man left behind” mindset (of course, I was like, “leave me, y’all).  If you have survived Tough Mudder…my hat is off to you as you are better than me 🙂

Interested in what the rest of the obstacles were?

Race Series: Firefly Illuminated 5K Night Run

sourced from Firefly websiteWant to run with glow sticks and covered in LED lights?  Check out the Firefly Illuminated 5K/10K Night Run.   Currently, this race is offered in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, Chicago and San Jose.  But keep checking the website as they may add new cities.

Atlanta only offered the 5K run starting & finishing at Piedmont Park.  There were about 4 hills so the run was actually a little tough!  I didn’t die of water cancer or think about pushing a kid off a scooter so all in all, I’d say it’s a win 🙂

I formed a team named The Glitterati.  We had an awesome time!  There was plenty of music, bananas, water and great people!  Between the neon glowing wigs to lighted fairy wings, there was a bit of everything.  Running inspires camaraderie and it’s amazing how you will strike up a conversation with complete strangers over the common theme of racing.

Want more information on what to expect?  Check out the video below!

So if you are looking for a great night race to try, check out the Firefly Illuminated 5K/10K Night Run.  You will have a BLAST!

Team Glitterati

race swag

Now, I’m looking for my next race.  What do you recommend?  What’s your favorite race(s)?

Race Series: A Letter from Heaven…Cuz that’s Where I’m at After the Warrior Dash

Old Nikki…unaware of what is about to happen.

The Warrior Dash is billed as “The World’s Largest Running Series”.  Not sure what type of process they had to go thru for this “certification”.  The race is 3.2 miles of running & obstacles (swimming, climbing over shit, crawling thru mud with some glass & hypodermic needles thrown in [I may have made that last part up], and running thru hot fiyah).  My colleague, Jeff, talked me into doing this and after reviewing the information and “obstacles” listed on the website, I wasn’t all that worried.  I’m training for a marathon so this couldn’t be that hard, right?  WRONG.  See me in the picture there on the left?  Looking all clean and smiling because I didn’t know that I would have to run thru the bowels of hell?  Yeah, I miss her.  I think I lost her at mile 1.5.

Fake obstacle course…maybe that’s the first obstacle. To fool you into thinking it’s not that hard.

The race was being held in north Georgia (close to the South Carolina state line) in Mountain City.  I picked up Jeff and we headed north to meet up with Glenn, another work colleague.  Which…I’m just going to put this out there.  Clearly all 3 of us don’t have good decision-making abilities.  But, I digress.  Jeff is worried that the paramedics will have to airlift him to a hospital during the race.  I laugh (or Old Nikki in the photo above laughed…she’s dead now).  I had studied the obstacle course (which I have provided for your viewing pleasure) like it was a treasure map.  I was confident in what to expect.  Like I had read What To Expect When You are Expecting (To Run an Obstacle Course).  I figured that it wouldn’t be that difficult.  I mean, it’s only 3.2 miles and 13 obstacles.  I even had a strategy.  I know!  I thought I was prepared.  Spoiler alert — I was not.

On our way to the race, Jeff and I speculate about how many other people of color we would see.  His response?  “I think I’m looking at it.”  Now, normally you don’t see black folks crawling in mud and trudging across a lake for sport…there needs to be a good reason (like life or death).  That’s not what we do.  But, it’s 2012.  Obama is POTUS.  Anything is possible, people.  Change we can believe in, y’all.  I held out hope that I wouldn’t be the only brown person there.  Luckily, I saw a few others.  There weren’t many…but change starts small.  See?  I’m spreading the word now.  So to my black people…go out and do this race!  Don’t worry about the title and how I said I died.  You may live!

Apparently this is the pre-party/race area.

After we park, there is a shuttle that takes you to the actual event.  Once we arrive at the venue, we notice an ambulance speeding away with sirens blaring (Clue #1).  As we are walking up a hill (Clue #2 because I hadn’t even considered hills would be involved) we pass people who had completed the race and they looked a hot, sizzling mess (Clue #3).  Before we get to the registration desk, we see a girl laid out on a freaking STRETCHER and she WAS.NOT.MOVING. (Clue #4).  By this time, Jeff has started providing statistics of our chances of getting injured (which did not calm me one bit).  I tried to divert our attention by looking at the costumes.  Because most folks dressed up as something.  We saw Sesame Street characters, Borat (and trust me that a man running in a thong is not cute), a lady wearing a wedding gown…pretty much everything you could think of.  Which should have been Clue #5 but I didn’t realize it at the time.  That lulled me into a sense of calm…like it couldn’t be that bad.  I’m looking at crazy but I don’t recognize the crazy.  I’m part of it.

Before I get into the details of actually running this race, I do need to give Leap Frog Events some praise.  They had the Warrior Dash event organized like a well-oiled machine (except for when it came time to claim my free beer but I’m not going to deal with that now).  The race starts in 30 minute waves.  But, while you may register for a 4pm wave, it seemed like you could run in any wave throughout the day.  Registration was fast and easy.  Race swag includes a cotton t-shirt, medal, 1 free beer and a fuzzy warrior helmet (I will be wearing it this winter so get ready).  There is also a huge party at the finish line (complete with a DJ and folks doing the “Wobble”…I kid you not).  It was awesome.

Starting line…these fools have no idea what is about to happen. Unless they are repeat fools (folks that do this every year…someone I’m about to be).

The Race

We line up towards the back of the wave so we don’t have to deal with the Bruce Jenners trying to actually race.  It starts out with a pretty easy 1/2 mile run slightly uphill.  Now, my strategy was based on the obstacle course map above where the water obstacles were at the end. In my mind, this was great because I wouldn’t have to run in water-logged shoes.  I should’ve known that made too much sense to be real.

Obstacles 1-3

So, when I see the first obstacle is crossing a muddy LAKE by either walking (in water that at some points is higher than me) or swimming, I immediately was like, “this wasn’t in the marketing materials!”  I end up behind some guys dressed as KISS (and using their inflatable guitars as flotation devices…genius.  I’m totally going as Prince next year).  We finally make it across the lake (all while I’m praying there aren’t any flesh-eating bacteria in there).  And as soon as we exit the lake, we have to crawl through mud (and what I am going to assume was mixed with glass because my elbows and knees are scraped to hell) under barbed wire for a bit, then go thru some mesh.  Then it’s time to run some more.  It’s an easy run (which I knew was too good to last).

Obstacle 4

Another freaking lake?  WTF?  Why the hell wasn’t this on the map?  I walk out to the pier, jump into the lake, sink to the bottom to my death (then back up to the top to my resurrection which I am sure will be short-lived).  We had to swim out to a floating obstacle…with shoes weighing you down.  This is where things get dicey.  I realize that my upper body strength training didn’t work a damn as I couldn’t get my big ass on that buoy.  So, Jeff has to pull me up while some poor soul is either helping me by lifting my ass or just copping a feel (which…really?  Don’t you see I’m in a life or death situation?).  After crossing over the floating obstacles, we have to jump right back into the muddy lake and swim to shore.  I got water in my nose and what I thought was my lungs.  I’m running and snorting water thinking “I now have water cancer.”  Don’t judge me…that could be real.  Then it’s time for a new obstacle.

Obstacle 5

Rope climbing.  This obstacle was actually on the map and I was dreading it.  Now that I know that I have the upper strength of a toddler (or that my arms can’t handle the weight from my hips and thighs…there really isn’t a comforting answer to any of this), I just drop my head.  But I’m not a quitter.  My Mom read The Little Engine That Could to me when I was little.  But I’m pretty sure that Little Engine never had to climb ropes.  He only had to climb a mountain and he had the help of an engine so I call cheating.  Aaaannnyyyway, I square my shoulders, grab the rope and start climbing…then stop.  WTF?  Why am I so freaking heavy?  And why are other folks climbing over this wall like monkeys?  Is my rope defective?  So I climb down and try a new one (water cancer causes dementia).  Same thing.  After what feels like 45 minutes, I finally make it to the top.  But now it’s time to actually go over the wall.  And The Count from Sesame Street is trying to get on the rope.  I’m not finished, buddy.  Count the seconds until you see me hit the ground.  Finally, I make it over and climb down.  Then it’s time to run thru a MUDDY FOREST!  Over snakes and tree trunks.  Lord help me.  This goes on for another 1/2 mile.

New Resurrected Nikki rocking the fuzzy warrior helmet…part of the Fall 2012 Mental Illness Line.

Obstacle 6

I don’t even know what this obstacle is called.  You have to climb a wall where the little ledges are spaced about 6 feet apart.  It was at this point that I seriously considered skipping it like so many others that had bypassed obstacles that looked too hard.  But I refused to quit (and I knew I’d never hear the end of it from my colleagues).  Instead, I made a call.  It went like this, “Are you there God?  It’s me, Nikki.  Um, help please?”  Somehow, someway, I made it to the top only to find out that I would have to slide down a pole (which was a good distance from the wall).  WTH??  The race attendant had to talk me down like I was suicidal.  Our conversation went a little like this:

Me:  “WTF is this, John?” (I don’t know if that was his name but water cancer makes you want to re-name folks…it also makes you have anger management issues).

John?:  “Just lean forward and wrap your legs around the pole.”

Me:  “Do I look like a stripper?  I don’t know how to do this!”

John?:  “Just lean into the pole, it will be okay.”

Me:  “This doesn’t look safe.  Has this obstacle been certified by a safety inspector?”

John?: *blank stare*

Me:  “If I die, I’m totally coming back to haunt your ass.”

I did as he instructed, made it down the pole and promptly hurt my hip because I landed too fast.  John, you mutherfucker!  This is going to worsen my water cancer.  I think I’m now Stage 3 at this point.  And as it’s time to run again, I see a mile marker sign that says “1.5 miles completed.”  MUTHERFUCKER!  I’m not even halfway done with this yet?  OMG!  That’s when Old Nikki died.  Right there at the 1.5 mile marker.  Apparently, the water cancer was more aggressive than I first thought.  Out of her ashes, New Nikki arose.  And she was PISSED that she had to run 1.7 more miles of obstacles.

Obstacles…I don’t even care

Seriously?  I climbed over waist-high walls, under more barbed wire, slid down a water slide made of trash bags, climbed over crashed up cars, hurdled over some hot fire and crawled thru mud under more barbed wire (seriously with the barbed wire?  Are they a sponsor or something?).  Finally, there is the finish line…I almost thought it was another obstacle.  Like, “PSYCHE!  YOU AIN’T DONE YET.  THAT WAS ANOTHER OBSTACLE…A MENTAL ONE.  GET TO RUNNING, BITCH!”  But, it turned out to be real.  And as soon as I was done, I proclaimed that I would NEVA EVA do that again.

Then, as we are listening to The Humpty Dance (yes, you read that right), we decided to put together a team to do Tough Mudder.  Which is almost the same except it’s 12 miles instead of 3.2 and the barbed wire is electrified with 10,000 volts of electricity.  You know you want to do this too!  Clearly I suffer from some sort of mental illness…maybe the water cancer is back?

After we pick up our items from bag check, I ask the lady where the showers are (as I know there has to be a place to wash all the mud off).  She points in a vague direction and says, “you just wash off in the lake.”  I gave her the side-eye then trudged to the lake (my 3rd of the day) to wash up like my name is Laura Ingalls and this creek is my way of getting clean before Pa asks me why I flipped Almonzo off at the 2 mile marker while yelling “WHY THE HELL DID YOU LET ME DO THIS?”

Overall, this race was actually awesome.  I know I complained (and died of water cancer)…it’s hard!  But, it was also fun.  And, the after party is a riot.  It was a good time.  If you read this, then you should now be prepared to be a warrior.  So, register (and then join me for Tough Mudder in  2013)!

P.S.  I had to fly to Oregon on business the next freaking day.  I travel ALL THE TIME and never forget to pack major items.  But, when I start to get dressed for work the next morning, I realized that I had forgotten to pack my bras.  Not only am I apparently out of water cancer remission, I now suffer from Warrior Dash PTSD.  Lord help me.