After Spartan World Championship weekend, running the Beast and Ultra Beast I decided to step it up a notch and go for something a little tougher. I knew of a few friends that were going to Vegas for World's Toughest Mudder only six weeks away from Tahoe weekend and I contemplated taking the plunge to join in. The race itself is expensive, then you add up all the gear and time off work and you are looking at a big chunk of money. I decided to ask my sponsors to see if they would be able to help in any way. I told myself if they say yes, well then I am going to Vegas! Sure enough one of my sponsors, Oral IV, said yes! And within minutes I was signed up for World's Toughest Mudder 2015.
I started planning out workouts, long runs, food, ordering my wet suit and all the other things I was going to need. I was more excited and nervous about this race than any other race. I knew I was going to have to push new limits mentally and physically. My running times increased and running at odd hours became a part of training. Eating more food was required for the amount of time spent on my feet and in the gym. I had great support and had many veterans to WTM helping me out with advice.
A week before the race I started to reduce workouts, eat more and sleep often. This task was harder than I thought, mentally. Eating so much and not working out, I definitely had to keep myself in check. Friday morning arrives and my pit crew, Jamie, and I head out to Vegas! Friday was registration and pit drop. Lets talk about LINES! Registration was crazy! But about 2 hours later we were at the venue waiting to get in to drop our tent. Seeing all the mudders and getting a feel for the environment, I was getting anxious. Now time to eat and rest.
Saturday morning arrives and with plenty of sleep I was well rested. Race doesn't start till 2pm and we have plenty of time to have our morning coffee and a good breakfast. As we were sitting in the hotel waiting for time to pass I became more anxious and ready to go. I was checking Facebook for updates on the WTM community page and saw that the lines were growing to get inside the venue. I hopped up and said, "Lets GO!"
Arriving at the venue I remember seeing families, friends and pit crews taking time away from their own lives for multiple days to support all the mudders and thinking how amazing this community is. Getting to my pit I begin to get ready, eat, and make sure everything is in order for both me and Jamie to easily transition from lap to lap. The debriefing begins, rules are read, and one of the most motivational men spoke to us before we head out. Within minutes we start, 2pm Saturday November 13th.
Lap one was a test run, no obstacles, and just a good warm up leading up to the next 24 hours. We had the first hour to get through as much as we can without doing any obstacles and my goal was to get past Operation and be safe from some electrical shock. Goal was achieved. Within minutes of passing Operation the horn went off and it was time to hit the obstacles. First up was Grease Monkey, incline monkey bars leading into a big black pipe to slide down. Then we start to hit some of the water obstacles, starting with Statue of Liberty. The water was frigid but the sun was still out and our body temperatures, if running, were still running high. Next was Gut Buster and great core obstacle that many were taking the penalty ( I myself didn't make it all 11 laps). Next up another water obstacle called Hump Chuck, a swim to wall that needed to be climbed and by a few laps you were definitely using the extra help that was around. Upper Decker was one of my favorites which was a start in 4-5 feet of water, climb a rope to another black tube and slide down into a muddy barb wire crawl. Half way through the event they turned the obstacle around and we started with the crawl, to the tube and jump into the water from the tube. By this point we hit the water station and that marks our half way point, only two and half more miles to go! If you planned on doing only one lap!
Next up was my least favorite obstacle, King of Swingers, for some reason I just had anxiety every time! I mean, not enough to slow me down, but enough to make me have butterflies every freakin lap. It may have been the idea of jumping towards something and making sure I don't slip off the bar, or the fact it was twenty feet high and if I slip and swing back I would have a horrible landing. Whatever those fears were, none of them came true during any of my laps. After King of Swingers I knew the rest was more of the climbing trekking and the second half took a little bit longer than the first half. Kiss of Mud 2.0, a super muddy barbwire crawl, followed by my favorite obstacle, Roll the Dice. It was definitely a team effort obstacle. In four feet of water we had to get over big boxes that turned, by using teamwork it was a lot easier to just help each other, well in my case anyway.
Tramp Stamp, an obstacle I opted for penalty every time after realizing the water was so shallow I might compress some disks if I land wrong again. On to the next, Royal Flush, another water, crawl into a tube obstacle. By this time on this side of the course it was getting shady and core temperatures were dropping dramatically if not hustling to keep that heart rate up. After that was Mud Mile, a few mud pits back to back, and after that a small stretch to the finish. Lap 2 was complete.
After Lap 2 and sun setting I made the decision to put my wet suit on and get ready for black ops. With nine minutes in the pit I was off and running. I was eager to try the obstacles I got to bypass in the first two laps. First on the course was Everest, another least favorite, an inverted wall that most needed help with. Then off to another swim to Whales Turd, a giant inflatable thing with a cargo net for us to climb over. As I approach Hydroplane and seeing everyone pretty much face plant I can't help but laugh. It was floating floor that you had to run across and be super light on your feet. This one got my heart rate up each time and I laughed each time. The LiberAtor was another favorite of mine, a inverted wall with pegs and holes to get up and over the wall. Up next was Anseil, a repelling off a ledge to the next obstacle, Gamble, rolling dice to find out which wall you get to go over. Wall 5 was a bitch, that is all. Vertigo was a high climb to balancing beams and after that a long stretch to Operation! You know the game Operation? That is exactly what it was. We had to stand in a pool of water, use a metal pole with a hook on the end and use the pole to hook a ring through a small hole that would shock us if touched. One of my favorites, with and without the shock. It got you to slow down and use some serious focus. Last obstacle for me to try for the first time was Tight Fit, a heavy ass cargo net over tires that you had to get under. A lot of the time there were people to help out and it wasn't as hard, but if got your head stuck, well you might fall back. By this time I have completed all but one of the obstacles and had a taste of the course and what I was getting myself into. Until midnight I would have to wait and see what the famous Cliff Jump was all about! Let me just say.... I never once looked down!
Lap after lap I continue to push through and maintain a top 5 spot for about 14 hours, which in a 24 hour race isn't much. After about mile 30 I started getting a pain in the side of my right knee causing me to slow down to more of a trot than run. With my pace slowing down, my body temperature starts to drop, and in the middle of the night, in and out of water, is not a good time. I got to the pit after mile 35 and told Jamie I am not sure how much more I can do, doubt starts to cross my mind and I am in my head the remainder of lap 8. Once I finally made it out of lap 8, which was one of the worst laps full of penalties, I told Jamie, "I can't." These words I will NEVER say again. I debated for about 40 mins, back and forth, in and out of the medical tent if I should go on. I made the decision to break, warm up and rest my leg. I had no idea what was going on with my knee and I was devastated. After about 3-4 hours the sun began to rise and life was a little bit brighter. Luke, Brandon and I were all on the fence about going back out (If you know these two, you know it unlike them and myself to doubt going back out)but after a Snickers and a Krispy Kreme I was ready to jump back into that WET wetsuit and continue on this journey of mine. With some help from Dr. Beck, Jamie, Luke and Brandon I was able to head back out with great energy, positive mindset, and a goal of just reaching 50 miles, another two laps in seven hours was totally do able.
This is when shit gets real. I head out on lap 9 with a bum knee, not able to run, but feeling fucking fabulous. After the first lap I fueled and went out quick. (as quick as I could with my fast trekking abilities) During lap 10 I kept doing the math and realizing I could get away with doing another lap. My mind working, and having Jamie along side course keeping track of time I realized I could get 60 miles no problem. I kept the pace and I was on a mission. My body and mind wanted to run, but right when I would begin a run my knee was not having it, so trekking it was. Through the last few laps Jamie was a long side cheering me on and broadcasting live through Periscope to all my supporters and with their words I was motivated and inspired. By this time I was fighting to get my top 5 spot back. I was so close I could taste it!
Stepping over that finish line for the last time was such a great feeling. Seeing friends and the TMHQ cheering you on is one feeling I will never forget. At that point I didn't know what place I came in, and it would be a lie to say I didn't care, I did. Getting my 50 mile bib and taking pictures was a must, as it was for everyone. I got to see my crew Jamie and give her a huge hug and if she wasn't there I would not have gotten through those miles as smoothly as I did, if at all. I grab dry clothes and head to the medical tent to get warm and changed. Within minutes I see Luke, he was mentioned above and went back out with me, who was trembling and cold and could not speak. I called out for him and ran over and gave him a hug and he told me if it wasn't for me he would not have gone back out and achieved 75 miles. That shit right there is why I love doing what I do.
I haven't been emotional after the race until this moment writing this. So many emotions run through my body and l can't seem to hold on to just one. I am happy to have achieved something so great. I am sad because I was so close to that top 5 spot. I am proud because I put that wetsuit back on and finished what I start. I am disappointed for taking too much time and maybe I could of had a chance. At this moment I realized things happen for a reason. I step out side of myself and wonder, what if I didn't stop when I did, would I have been able to be a part of Luke finishing with 75 miles? Would I be able to show others that you can persevere through adversity. I went back out on that course with hopes of finishing another 10 miles to reach 50 for that brown bib. I exceeded my expectations and doubled those 10 miles.
I met some amazing people through this journey and hope to see all of them again at next year's WTM, if not sooner! We live and we learn. Some wise words from a new friend, "LIVE FOR A LIVING." -Christian Griffith
Foods/Drinks I had throughout the race:
Uncrustables. Chili Spiced Mango, Trail mix, one Krispy Kreme provided by Chris Herber, one Snickers, Sweetened Coconut Strips, Pretzels, Perfect Bar, Beef jerky, a few random bites of a seven layered pizza left from Michelle's crew, Protein cookies made by Brian Wiliams, Nuun with Carbolean from Total Nutrition, Hot Chocolate with a Splash of coffee made by Jamie and about 20 Oral IVs through the whole weekend. Notice I did not mention cramping one time! I came hydrated and stayed hydrated!