Well, it’s Sunday September the 27th and I’ve been snuggled in my trackies, rugby on, with a large cup of tea for most of the day. All I can think about is where I was this time yesterday: The Matterly Bowl, London South, Tough Mudder.
I don’t know if any amount of training could’ve prepared me for enduring a 11.5 mile hill run, being plummeted into freezing cold murky water (with ice on one occasion), swinging from monkey bars, jumping off ledges, scrambling under barbed wire and down dark trenches, through thick thigh high mud (I don’t know how I didn’t lose my trainers) and clambering over many wooden walls. But Laura and I did it! And in doing so have raised an incredible £1100 in aid of Mind.
Saying that I’ve pushed my body beyond its limits is an understatement; I surprised myself with my stamina and managed to run the whole thing (obviously you do stop at the obstacles and the water stations). I would like to mention that before this event the only running I’d done was on a treadmill…definitely took a running dive straight into the deep end.
On route they had interspersed water and snack stations. We were both very pleased since are start time meant that we hadn’t had lunch and were running on our breakfast energy – which was a substantial bowl of protein porridge, but we were definitely in need of all the fuel we could get. Especially as the intense shock of the freezing water depletes muscle strength immensely!
In the run up for this challenge I have dedicated a lot of time to doing weights (I’m a big body pump fan!), aiming to increase my upper body strength and gain a more fit and athletic physique. I aimed to work out 4-5 times a week, including two HIIT (high interval training sessions) hill run/sprints. Early gym starts, a cupboard stashed up on My Protein products, and eating about 4 meals a day. Eating has been essential with gaining muscle mass and I could not have done this if my eating disorder was still present! It has been such a fantastic experience being able to do this without the intrusive anorexic thoughts of calorie burning and weight loss sneaking into the back of my mind, and I have loved every minute of the training.
As Laura and I stood at the start line, with the pledge of comradeship done, and four months of training behind us, I have never felt so anxious – but at the same time ready to blitz this! We definitely had different mentalities towards a lot of the obstacles, Laura being more cautious, and sensibly so when your about to crawl into a tunnel of tear gas or jump from a 5ft ledge on to unstable ground, and me with an all singing all dancing attitude likely to end in severe injury. Luckily the worst injury was a slightly pulled back muscle, bruise on the elbow and a broken nail. However, I am now suffering now with a nasty fluey cold and I think this is probably due to how cold I was at the end of the run and accidentally swallowing some stagnant water!!
The best feeling, other than running through that finish line and knowing that we had completed it, was the first time I saw my dad at the side. Due to the length of the course (12 miles) spectators were limited to specific routes enabling them to see certain obstacles and parts of the run, but not the whole course. I had lost hope of seeing my dad since we had started before he had arrived and were now a good two hours into the run. I told myself “you’ll see him at the finish line” and proceeded to encourage myself to keep going. Just as we were running on from one of the check points I looked up to hear “there’s my baby girl” being shouted out and a camera phone held high in the air. A smile, that would envy even the Cheshire cat’s, spread across my face, and it was like a new buzz of energy was released in me. My dad used to run marathons back in his prime, and I wanted to show to him just how tough his ‘baby girl’ really was.
My Top 2 Favourite Obstacles of The Race
My favourite obstacle was the ‘King of the Swingers’ where you jump off a scaffolding ledge, grabbing hold of a metal bar in attempt to swing and hit a bell, and launching yourself into deep, muddy water. Signs posted stating “strong swimmers only” were planted around the vicinity, and just previously to our arrival there an ambulance had taken one lady away on a stretcher who had unfortunately had another person launched on to her.
It is exhilarating, thrilling and down right dirty when you accidentally swallow that filthy, brown, water -but it was refreshing to wash off the mud that had began to dry in thick patches all over my skin.By the time we’d reached this obstacle we’d already ran 9-10 miles and were fatiguing; with muscles aching and shivering from the setting sun, there were times where I had to run on from Laura just to keep my body heat up.
My second favourite, ‘The Muddy Mile’; a mile of thick, waist high mud, double high entrance and exit mounds, with vertical mud masses interspersed between the pools of mud to clamber over and slide down into more waist high gloop. Being a bit of a tomboy the thought of climbing and sliding around in thick mud was actually pretty fun! What wasn’t fun was then running afterwards, covered in an extra few pounds of mud weight! But did that stop us?! Not a chance!
The Final Ascent
As we queued for Everest the sun was setting behind the rolling hills, and many people were shivering. We were at the penultimate hurdle, but I was beginning to falter. I was so cold and my feet sodden, arms scratched and muscles torn and sore. But there I was, face-to-face with a quarter pipe covered in slippery mud, with a rope that looked suspect to having no grip left – and it didn’t. People were jumping and jogging on the spot to keep body heat up and there were moments where I felt as though I was going to be sick. As I used the last inch of my leg power I launched myself up, grabbing on to two of my fellow mudders hands that had stationed themselves above the ramp ready to pull others over.
We’d made it.
It Was All Thanks To You!
I cannot begin to say how thankful I am to each and every one of you who sponsored Laura and I. The money raised is overwhelming, and as I ran through the finish line tears pricked the back of my eyes – partly from pain and tiredness, and then from sheer amazement that both Laura and I had completed and survived this challenge which a year or two ago would have been incomprehensible. That cider we were given on completion tasted so sweet!
Limitations only exist if you let them.
The tough mudder is definitely a mental challenge as well as physical one, and as I was running the last mile I felt the strongest I’d ever felt.
The best thing was that there were people there from every walk of life; some at the peak of their fitness, others who were not. All shapes, ages, and sizes.
This challenge has proved to me that when I set my mind to something I see it through to the end and don’t allow any limitations to drag me down. Whatever your ‘tough challenge’ may be, may this be proof to you that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
“Don’t just fly, soar.” – Dumbo