Tough Mudder NorCal – Epic Recap

17 Sep

Epic.  This will not be your run of the mill race recap from me. And I’m going to start at the beginning.  Well when did the beginning really happen?  It happened back in May.  T sent me an email and said, “Hey, XX and Mrs. XX are signed up and going to participate in Tough Mudder.  Here’s the link.”

And I might have said something along the lines of “holy shit!” and “seriously?” as I looked at the website. But the more I read, the more I thought what an awesome event!  And they even take a dig at running marathons!  And that made me laugh.  Out loud.  Seriously.  Since I was only a few months out from running Disney.

But the idea grew on me.  And I was excited as Tough Mudder gave me the opportunity to blog about my experiences in exchange for an entry into the NorCal event.  I’ve done quite a few updates along the way with my training.  I have to say that doing the “prescribed” Tough Mudder workout they have on their website kicked my butt.  In an awesome, I’ve-never-been-in-this-good-of-shape-ever-in-my-life kind of way.

Last minute change of plans allowed us to stay at my parents’ place at the lake last night.  So instead of having to get up extra extra early, we only had to get up early – 5:30.  I checked the temperature and wasn’t thrilled to see this.

Oh, did I forget to mention that 8 of the 23 obstacles at NorCal Tough Mudder were water.  And not warm water.  Effin’ cold if not icy water.  And I’m looking at that temperature?  Luckily by 8:30 when our wave started the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  Not that the icy water wasn’t still shocking.  It most definitely was but at least the sun was out to warm you up a bit and help you dry.

Anyway.  Back to the order of events.  We waited in line for a bit until registration opened and got our bibs and face markings done.

After that we found Starbucks for warm coffee and the bathrooms.  Which are important to find in the beginning of any race/event.  While I was waiting for T, I glanced down and saw this.

I found a heads-up penny! I smiled to myself and picked it up saying “find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck.”  Ha! I’m not sure I’m ever going to pick up a penny again.

Next time (yes, next time. I will totally do another TM event in the future), I want to get some kind of waterproof camera because I really enjoyed the views and then I could have taken pictures of each obstacle so I could remember accurately what I did.  My memory is horrible!

But off we headed towards the start line.  Camelbaks filled with Nuun, Hammer gels stuck in the pockets of the Camelbaks, prepared for a tough hike but figuring we’d get it done in about 3 to 3-1/2 hours.  Done by noon.  The first real obstacle was the “Kiss of Mud”.  Essentially low crawling under barbed wire in cold muddy water.  This was slow moving at first and my shoes filled up with water and sand and small rocks.  I kept rolling my feet around trying to get the little tiny pebbles into places where they didn’t rub or poke.  I couldn’t see taking my wet soggy shoes off and trying to get them put back on in the first mile when I knew so much more mud and water was on its way.

Most of the next couple of miles was hiking.  There was one obstacle that had you going under water in a tank-like contraption below 1×12″ boards and then hoisting yourself out.  I had problems at first with this because I was a bit out of breath from the hiking and the water was cold and I didn’t realize the boards were so deep.  It took me two tries to get under, but I did it.  And off we went.  We were passing quite a few people on the trails.  I owe that to living at elevation and really pushing myself on our hike a few weeks ago.  I knew how hard I could push and was happy and confident.

Then came what they called “reactor #2”.  Essentially it was an ice bath.  As in we watched a tractor dump a shovel load of ice into one of the tanks and then got in it and across it.  *shiver*.  Though still not hard in my mind.

Then came Everest.  Everest was at about mile 3.5.  Essential it was a 12-foot high 1/4-pipe with a smooth slippery surface.  You had to run really fast and reach up hoping somone already at the top was going to grab your hand and pull you up.  There were a ton of people.  It was also about 50-meters long.  So there was a lot of space for a lot of people.  I made my way up to the front and made eye contact with one of the guys at the top and took of sprinting.  I just barely missed his hand and slid back down on my hip and gloved hand.  Didn’t hurt at all.  I got back into the line and waited a minute or two.  I make eye contact with a different guy who looks at me and I hear him say “I’ve got the hotass!”.  So I take off running and I swear I swiped his fingertips with mine but slid back down.  I landed the same way, right hip, right palm.  On my way down, I heard a *pop* and thought “uh oh”.  When I stood up my left ankle was hurting pretty bad.  I made my way through the people and sat down on the ground.  My first thought was “shit, I’m done.”  But as I sat there wondering how I was going to find T to tell him, it stopped hurting quite so much.  So I stood up and tested out my leg.  My ankle was sore, but I could walk on it.  I figured it was just sprained and if I wrapped it, I’d be okay.  So I found T, told him and said let’s go.  We ran into a first aid lady and asked her for a wrap.  She asked if I wanted to wrap it or if I wanted her to do it.  I wanted to do it, so leaned over and wrapped just my ankle as I didn’t want to take off my shoe.  I figured the compression would help and all would be fine.  And off we went.

Next up was a rope climb thing.  There were ropes with knots in them and you had to climb up them to get to a platform.  T held the bottom of the rope so it didn’t swing too much.  With a little help at the top, I made it on the platform.  After T got to the top, we were off.

Hiking.  Hiking.  Hiking.  We hit the mystery obstacle.  Snow.  Under a cargo net-like thing.  It was crawling on hands and knees or for me, I was on my hip and pulling myself through.  Snow is effin cold especially when you’re already wet.  But we made it through a little more numb than when we started.  There were some steep places going back down that T gave me some support because my ankle was hurting a bit and I didn’t want to slip on the steep parts.

The next obstacle was climbing over log walls and crawling under.  Pretty easy.  They took a little maneuvering, but they weren’t hard.

I think the next thing were the Berlin Walls – pairs of 12-foot high walls made out of 2×12″ boards.  These were tough for me as I was scared to push off with my left foot or land on it hard.  But I was able to, one I had a hand pull me high enough so I could reach the top, pull myself up so I was straddling the wall.  Knowing my ankle was tender, I didn’t want to drop and land on my sore ankle, so I called out to a group of guys that was watching everyone coming over.  And I got help to drop down safely.

Then there was more hiking a lot of uphill which didn’t seem to bother my ankle as much as downhill.  I was able to easily carry my log (pick up a log and carry for probably 1/4-mile around part of one of the peaks of the mountain.  I didn’t pick a huge log so this didn’t seem hard to me either.  Though, again, I didn’t want something too big because I didn’t want to throw off my balance.

Then we had to climb down that part of the mountain which was covered in lots of loose rocks on sand that was fairly slippery.  It was hard in some spots with my ankle, so T went first and helped me with physical support so I didn’t have to put so much weight on my ankle.

I had numerous people tell me along the way that they would have given up if they got hurt, but yet here I was still going, albeit more slowly than I wanted.  There was a lot more hiking at this point.  A ton of downhill. Here’s where my memory gets fuzzy. I think this is where “Walk the Plank” was.  Walk the Plank is essentially that.  You climb up to a 15-foot platform and jump off into the lake below and then swim over to three sets of floating plastic barrels and swim under them.  Since I knew the cold water was going to affect my breathing, I made sure I was calm and breathing normally before I jumped.  Holy schnike! That water was COLD! So cold that when I turned over to float on my back, that made it so I could barely breath! I knew as I swam along that there was no way I was going to be able to hold my breath to get under the barrels, so I swam around them and got out.  The swim was hard because of the cold.  A little scary as swimming isn’t my strong suit.

And more hiking hiking hiking.  Now came the obstacle that I said was actually scared about.  The Boa Constrictor.  Essentially plastic pipes placed at an angle that takes you down into nearly submerged water and then you get a break of about 3 feet and then you crawl into another one and out of the water.  They weren’t as long as I was thinking they were, and having my body floating while my hands were on the ground felt so good.  It was a bit hard to crawl out all the way as you were on dirt and rocks without much room to maneuver, but it was relatively easy from what I was expecting.

The next two obstacles I skipped.  Another set of Berlin Walls and hay bales stacked high.  I knew in looking at them that they were pretty loose and I was scared the unstable nature of hay would mess with my ankle.

I was really hurting at this point.  I was hiking about as fast as the 5yo.  Where I’m basically dragging her along.  That was me.  And I kept stepping aside and the people who were trying to run down hill get by me.  There were portions of the last few miles downhill that I had my hands on T’s shoulders and using him for support.  But that angle was hard to bear on my back and sometimes my feet.  By the end my other ankle was sore from my altered gait.  Numerous people either told me great job for toughing it out or are you sure you’re okay?  One even commented on the ugly bloody heel of my other foot from sand and dirt rubbing.  Which made me laugh because I barely felt that at all, even though the back of my sock was red from blood.  The pain in my other ankle was so overwhelming that I didn’t notice.  On top of that I had to PEE! And there were no port-a-potties or real places that I felt I could easily get to to balance, pull down my pants and go.  At mile 10 I heard someone say that it was 2:15, and I wanted to cry.  We had been on the course since 8:30.  We were expecting to be done by 12.  And here it was 2+ hours later than that and we still had 2 miles of downhill to go.  But I kept going.  I had a couple of first aid folks ask me if I was okay.  I *knew* that if they looked at my ankle they would make me stop.  Dammit! I wanted my orange headband! I was going to make it.

Those last 2 miles were so painful.  At the very end there were the last three obstacles.  The Turd’s Nest, Twinkle Toes, and ElectroShock Therapy.  The Turd’s Nest was cargo-net like ropes over water.  I knew there was no way my ankle would put up with that, so I skipped it.  Met T on the other side.  Twinkle Toes was essentially wiggly balance beams about 30-feet long over water.  I knew neither one of my ankles had any balance left in them.  I also couldn’t see a way to bypass it.  I *also* knew I didn’t want to get wet again.  So I decided that I was going to sit on the boards and scoot across.  That wasn’t easy, but it got the job done.  The very last…ElectroShock Therapy.  I did not want to get shocked, but the finish line was 15 feet past the end of this.  Luckily, for me, there were lots of big spaces between wires and I was able to hobble through and make it across the finish line and claim my orange Tough Mudder headband, my shirt, and my free Dos Equis.

Now if you know anything about me, you know I don’t like beer.  Can’t stand the stuff really.  But I drank at least half of that plastic cup full of beer.  I wanted to sit down and cry, but I knew I needed to get my bag.  I knew I needed to let people know that I had finished…even though it was HOURS after I had intended on finishing.  I was in a lot of pain.  Here.  Wanna see my face?

I was in serious pain at this point.  I wanted, no needed, food.  I had eaten a smoothie at 6 a.m., drank half of a grande mocha from starbucks, a banana, a bag of energy chews, a Hammer gel, and lots of Nuun…oh, and about 6 ounces of beer, but it was already 3:30.  I knew I needed two things.  1) to get off my foot and get it elevated and 2) food.  I wasn’t feeling starving but I knew my body needed it.

We met up with some friends at one of the restaurants in the Village at the resort.  And I took my shoe off and unwrapped it.  It was not pretty at all.  I didn’t get a great picture as it was sunny and so the lighting was bad.  After we ate and I drank my very strong margarita, we talked to my parents and told them we were going to stop at the ER on the way back into town and we’d give them an update as soon as we knew something.

It was a beautiful day at the lake though.

And off to the ER we went.  Here’s the ankle after being palpated by the doctor.

And one of the xrays. I fractured the hell out of my fibula. There is the main break, a white spiral break going up from the edge of the main break, and it’s a little hard to see it, but there is a dark Y-shape above the main break that is also spiral-ish in nature.

This is my first broken bone.  When I do something, I really *do* something.

I did tell T on the way down that I’m my father’s daughter.  My dad always encouraged me to go back and try despite a little pain.  He is currently recovering from shoulder surgery because of doing something he loved and having an accident.

Like father like daughter.  My brother also called to tell me congrats on finishing and WTFing go on breaking it so well!  He was proud of me! Heh. I love my family.

So here are all my memorabilia from today.

In this picture you see my splinted leg/foot, my Tough Mudder headband,

my hospital ID band, my bib number wrist bracelet and my Dos Equis wrist band.

All of them used.  🙂

So who wants to do a Tough Mudder with me next year?  Do I have any takers?


Posted by on September 17, 2011 in fitness, running


Tags: , , , ,

32 responses to “Tough Mudder NorCal – Epic Recap

  1. Jaime

    September 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I’m impressed you got throigh 7.5 miles with a broken ankle – and more impressed that you’re already planning for the next race. I’m still sorry you ended up with broken bones but glad you finished and got the headband 🙂

  2. Karena

    September 18, 2011 at 12:44 am

    You are indeed one tough mudder 🙂 I can’t believe you saw all that through! And, ummm, I probably wouldn’t have encouraged you to continue. Because I’m Mrs. Safety, and all that 🙂 But so, so proud of you, K! You are one of the most determined people I’ve ever *met*!

    Also, despite the beautiful scenery, I don’t think you could talk me into doing a ToughMudder. That takes a kind of determination (or is it craziness?) that I just don’t possess 🙂

  3. Bari

    September 18, 2011 at 2:20 am

    Oh my God, girl. I’m reading this, with tears in my eyes. I am so proud of you for sticking it out, but also sorta want to smack you for hiking 8 miles on a broken ankle. I love you and I’m so proud of you for doing this. Like Karena said, you are definitely one of the most determined people I know.

    And do I want to do one of these with you? HELLZ NO.

  4. Erin

    September 18, 2011 at 4:32 am

    I think you’re officially a Tough Mudder when you break your ankle and you’re already looking ahead to next year!

  5. Ashley S

    September 18, 2011 at 4:45 am

    I’ll be the first to say I’m intrigued… But not totally convinced I’d want to do TM. Quite the experience girl! Looking at your x-rays… You did a number! Hopefully you’ll be back to workouts/running in no time. 🙂

  6. Andrea

    September 18, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Wow! Running on a fractured ankle is hard core! At least you have a great story to tell. Hope it heals fast.

  7. Lissa

    September 18, 2011 at 6:51 am

    You are completely fricking crazy. But we already knew that. 🙂 You are completely bad-ass. Rest up, skank, and let that ankle heal. xo

  8. Azlb

    September 18, 2011 at 6:57 am

    What an amazing race I can’t believe you pushed through like that you are amazing!!!

  9. Christy

    September 18, 2011 at 7:10 am

    OMFG. I am so sorry about your break, but WOW on finishing, Kirsten. I am SO proud of you!!!!!

  10. Colormeroo

    September 18, 2011 at 7:12 am

    I am still amazed that you went so far on a broken ankle. You definitely earned the Tough Mudder headband and then some!

  11. Nancy

    September 18, 2011 at 8:05 am

    You are totally “one tough mudder”!!!! I am so proud of you. I can’t even imagine finishing that many miles on that extreme a course with a broken ankle. You deserve to be pampered with a lot of rest and STV. I’ll take a pass on doing it with you next year.

  12. growingupmo

    September 18, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I already admired you so much but now you have taken that admiration to the stratosphere. You are bad-ass (and a little effing crazy!). I’ll leave the TM races to you : ).

  13. Beki

    September 18, 2011 at 9:59 am

    You are a rockstar. And you know what? I don’t want to do it. I can’t stand being cold. And all that icy water? Just doesn’t sound fun to me. I’m so glad you had a good time! What a tough cookie you are! Love you K! I’m so proud of you!

  14. Nisee

    September 18, 2011 at 10:10 am

    WOW! Good job finishing sweetheart! And I thought I was pushing thru with a sprained wrist and a chest cold 🙂 Needless to say I’m kind of sore today. How could you forget “Funky Monkey”? 😉

    • girlsworld

      September 18, 2011 at 10:16 am

      Holy smokes! I did forget the funky monkey! I made about 3 bars and then splash!

  15. Tiffany

    September 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    You are one tough SAH. I can’t believe you finished. Awesome job. But there is no way in hell I’m joining you next year. 🙂

  16. Christie O.

    September 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm


    I was barely on the computer all weekend, I thought you twisted it or something but BROKE IT??? You really DO go all out, don’t you?!

    dude. you’re a freakin superhero. I can’t believe you did that race with a broken ankle.

    Unfreakinbelievable. Well, it’s you, so I do believe it. But man. Ouch.
    I LOVE YOU. you are my hero.

  17. Jade @ Tasting Grace

    September 19, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Ju crazy, mang. And totally awesome and amazing. I’m pretty sure I would have sat down and cried. Several times. You kick ass.

  18. Thea @ Im A Drama Mama

    September 19, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Good God Almighty. I can’t decide if he should give you a huge ass high five for pushing through and finishing or smack you upside your damn head for pushing through and finishing!

    You are amazing. You really are. You worked so hard for this and you deserve that headband!

  19. keli hoskins

    September 19, 2011 at 9:05 am

    you are the very definition of tough mudder. congratulations!!! but next time? don’t finish! 😉

    • girlsworld

      September 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      Keli, I think I’ve proved myself to myself now and next time, if something breaks? I will call it a day.

  20. Colleen

    September 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Determined. Badass. Crazy 😉
    all 3 come to mind when I read this!!!!You are amazing and I cannot believe you hiked 8 miles with that kind of a break. You really did earn that orange head band.

    I am intrigued by the tough mudder but swimming scares the shit out of me. who knows maybe I will be doing one with you one day 🙂

  21. Elaine

    September 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    You are ONE determined hooker. That’s for SURE!!! I still can’t believe you finished in the sense that there is NO WAY that I would have. You’re amazing. Congrats on finishing and here’s to healing FAST!

  22. nicole

    September 20, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Holy crap! You are amazing! I just did my first “adventure” race this past weekend. It was only 3 miles and relatively easy, nothing crazy like you had to do. There is a Tough Mudder here in TX but I have no desire to do it. I am jealous of your good beer at the end. Our only option was nasty Miller Lite. 😉

  23. Brooke

    September 20, 2011 at 11:43 am

    i swear i thought i finished/commented on this one ages ago. guess not – sorry!

    i think i’m in the “You’re crazy do i need to beat the snot out of you?” camp for not listening to your body. no one can question your determination though!!! rock that orange head band and enjoy all the glory that it entails!

  24. Jeannie

    September 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    You are definitely tough! That is amazing that you still finished. Glad yo hear that the break is stable and you will be up and hopefully running again in a couple months! I did the Warrior Dash here but it sounds nothing compared to what you did!

  25. Spartan ab workout

    October 2, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Oh, sorry to hear this but looking forward for your fully recovery. But still, congratulations that your one of the tough mudders now and for a great job.

  26. Heather@MamaSass

    October 2, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Can’t believe I’m just reading this but OMG. You’re a nut. In the best possible way.
    I’m not ready for a TM, but am thinking of a Warrior Dash. Baby steps;)

  27. Michelle Wood (@ChasingChelles)

    October 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Wow! You’re quite the trooper! My husband just pointed me to your blog because he and I are doing Tough Mudder in Virginia in a couple of weeks. Great recap! Now I can be somewhat prepared. haha I’m getting nervous, but I think I’ll do ok.
    Sorry to hear about your ankle, but props on finishing!

  28. Steve Rosie

    February 20, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Love it.
    Great effort, awesome stuff.
    (Doing TM Melbourne, Aus at the end of March and stumbled onto your blog. Thanks for sharing.)


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