Mud on the Mountain 2013

Earlier today, I glanced down at  my knee and realized I still have several “active”, red bruises on my knees from this year’s Mud on the Mountain…which promptly reminded me I forgot to give you the breakdown of how it went this time around.

The Friday evening before, Greg and I headed up to Seven Springs to get a good night’s sleep. Luckily, one of us (him) looked at the weather and made sure we packed some long sleeve clothes. The temperature on Sunday for the Half Marathon had been perfect, low 70s, but the forecast was not looking swell for Mud on the Mountain…snow was even a possibility in the early morning.

We checked in to the hotel (which I wasn’t excited about–I do NOT like the rustic feel of the resort) and were told we were on the 10th floor, the top floor. When we got to the room, I could have jumped on the bed. The place was gorgeous, clearly renovated, and made me very happy. As much as I liked the room, it didn’t take much to convince me to go down to the swimming pool for a ‘lil bit. Greg, as usual, took an opportunity to dive (the number of pools we’ve been at that are deep enough for this could be counted on one hand). I had a first time experience of diving. Sure…it wasn’t beautiful, but it happened. When we got back to the room, we set out our clothes and got rest.

In the morning, my nerves were up. Maybe it’s because I kept going out on our porch and watching the Elite Runners come down the icy, snow hill to the finish line.

There really was no turning back, though, and we got dressed in our 2012 MOTM shirts and checked our bags and headed to the start line with a good 3 minutes to spare.

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It was frigid, but not raining…until the exact moment of 10:30 as we crossed the start line.

This year, I actually jogged up part of the first hill and got to the top before a good 10 other people (versus being next to last the first time). And this is when the rain really mattered. Planning at the first obstacle was awful. We hit the back of the 10:15 wave trying to cross the first wall. The rain came down harder and the wind picked up. I stood shivering and decided I wasn’t doing the wall, wanted to keep moving. But, you see, this is very much a team event and I needed to wait for Greg to get his chance to climb the wall. He didn’t get to do so until after the 10:45 wave had been standing with us for about 15 minutes. So…calculate that. We essentially waited 30 minutes to cross one set of boards. Ugh.

By the time we got moving again, I really couldn’t move. There was so much mud this year, which is exactly what I wanted…but my legs were frozen. I warmed up a little and moved from the mud to the grass and then back again. My knees were not liking the mud, feet sliding left and right. At the cheese grater, Greg flew down the obstacle and I got a burst of energy and jumped into a fast lane, too. Little did we know the bottom of the grater was full of a few feet of cold water.

The next few miles were tough, but not unbearable. I loved that we actually had granite to scamper over for a good portion of the woods, and the added crawling obstacles were fun (until I hit my knee and had to crawl on my hip–ouch).

Greg was enjoying it, but I could tell I was holding him up. We got to an obstacle I know I couldn’t do–inclined monkey bars. Greg was incredible at this one. After that, it was waiting about 20 minutes at another wall. We traversed some more mud, I got mud and rocks places that never should (including some cuts), and we had some good laughs. There was one point I definitely sat down and said I was done, but my motivator kept me going.

And then…we hit the nail biter. The volunteer told me I couldn’t go in the side I picked, she wanted me to go on the easy side. I wasn’t having it, and powered through this one. It was a wall with itty bitty foot and hand holds. What I did not realize? The ground below got lower as we got to the end. Greg had gone through another one, and I could see him jump a good distance off the wall. I didn’t know what I was going to do, and an anxiety attack promptly ensued. I had to go to the other side of the wall to let others come through. My knees and hands shook. I cried. Greg eventually convinced me to jump into his arms. I told him what happened at the beginning, and I had to convince him not to go run his mouth. We moved on after my breathing returned to normal and a fellow runner tapped me on the back and said, “You got this”.

Our Trout Line strategy was to have me go on a line with other women my height while Greg went with taller guys. This worked well…until a man jumped on my line and was swaying it. I felt stretched so far that I couldn’t move. Tension released and I was able to finish it…only to be greeted with the need to pick up a log and walk up a ski slope. I took the equivalent of a twig and had to drop it at the top–my arms were jello. Greg made up for it and carried a log that was probably once a tree trunk.

Next was the final up-hill, marked with the 7-mile marker as we approached it. Apparently only 0.7 was left. I don’t believe this. That last hill kept going and going. The obstacles at the top weren’t crazy, but I was exhausted. We met up with one of my co-workers and her sister and started down the snow. I sat on my butt, lying down at one point, and froze. Mt. Everest wasn’t a bad climb this year, but my muscles were mush. As we descended this last part, we realized we had to hit some ice cold water before getting our medals.

A few photos, a banana, hard bagel, and watered down lemon lime Gatorade then off to hose off and get warm. This was not an easy task, considering my whole back side was near frostbite from my decision to sit versus try.

All in all, it hurt a bit, was physically and emotionally exhausting (more so than the Half). Would I do it again? Probably. Even if it was after running a half 6 days before? Maybe. We’ll see. I mean, this is definitely worth it:

mud on the mountain

(Especially when you compare last year’s photo!)

7 Miles / Mud, Sweat, Tears

You already know we did it, Mud on the Mountain at Seven Springs. Not only did we do it, but we crushed our fears and came out smiling.

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On May 12, Greg and I put on our old shoes, PodCamp shirts, and ate a big breakfast before embarking on our adventure. We met up with some of my work friends and made it to the Start line just before it was time to hit the hills.

A quick huddle, a countdown, and off we went. Everyone left the gate running, but we quickly had to go it slow up the first of three big hills (ski slopes). Not going to lie, I walked most of that hill. My knee kept slipping and I definitely shed a few tears. I was next to last to get to the top and HATED that I was holding everyone else up, but was so proud I made it up without turning around.

(Note, the following four photos are proofs from the Mud on the Mountain official photos. I did not have a camera with me, so these have to do!)

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The first obstacle was waiting for us, the Spider’s Nest (a big cargo net to climb up and over). I got two rungs up and the knee. THE KNEE. Ugh. A co-worker said it was ok, go around, and I did. But I looked back and saw the guy who was behind me coming up the hill struggling with “to go on or not to go on”. There was no way we were letting him quit, even though he was a complete stranger. Greg talked to him and convinced him to go on with us. Our group broke up at that point, but we were ok with that. It was Greg, S, P, and myself against the mud and the mountain.

Over the next four hours (hey, next year we’ll be cutting a good amount of time off that, trust us!), we went through 19 other obstacles, climbed several small hills and two much larger, steeper ones. We didn’t get as muddy as we expected, but it was still fun to get a little bit dirty.

Although I was slightly scared of the “Cheese Grater” (appropriately named, there were rocks under the “waterslide”), but P took that slide like a champ, so there was no fear to be had here. The funniest part of the day is when S and I got to the end, we didn’t slid down the small hill to get off the slide and ran into each other, collapsing in giggles.

We climbed a hill, then just when we thought we were at the top, we hit the “Baby Crawl”, a very steep incline to climb up. I gloated, climbing the whole thing without using my hands…until I got to the last 6 feet of it and hit a mud spot. BAM! Down on all fours and had no clue how to get up. The great thing about endurance runs? Everyone is helpful. A kind stranger reached out his hand and helped pull me up. Phew!

One of my favorite obstacles was next, a belly crawl through mud. I did “reverse” snow angels in the mud, saying, “Who needs the spa when you have this?”! Next was a water obstacle, “Dunk, Dunk, Goose”. We had to go under three barrels that were floating in about 3 feet of (frigid) water. I had severe ice cream headache and charged out of there when the photographer caught this one:

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Next was one of our least favorite obstacles, basically a log jump and duck…but with mud and spraying water. Greg was a trooper, helping all of us over and under and he got water straight in the eyes several times. Boo!

Poleland

Several other obstacles including a boulder climb (I took the HERO path over the ZERO), tires, a wormhole (this one tore up the elbows!), water, and a muddy downhill slope faced us. I hated that slope–it scared me because I didn’t want to slip! We made it to the trout line and had to cross 12 feet deep water stretched out like meat left to dry on two ropes. The problem was that Greg happens to be pretty tall, so he pulled the rope a bit more stretched than I did, but my body had to account for his. I wore a lifejacket because I didn’t want to get a charlie horse while crossing that water, and although I felt like a dork, I was glad for safety first.

We climbed the largest, steepest hill of them all, then ran through wet, soapy trailers, over 8 foot walls (ok, not me, but you should have seen Greg jump it!), over a hay bale, and into a dumpster of ice water. The final quarter mile was down hill…this girl sat on her butt and slid so that I didn’t bust a leg that close to the end.

Ok, maybe the last obstacle was my least favorite. We had to climb a 30-foot mound of snow, and I just really wanted to give up and go around it. Greg pushed, I pulled, I crawled. We posed. Then I froze up.

MtEverest

I was at the top, but I had NO desire to get down. Bring in the helicopter! Nope. Not an option. I cried a little bit, but Greg promised to slide down the hill ahead of me and help control my speed. It was scary (I try to stand up on roller coasters, so you have to imagine I was scared of this icy slide), but I did it! We crossed the finish line with smiles, grabbed our medals, and started cranking the Gatorade.

It was a beautiful day, a great adventure, and we will definitely do it again! It’s great to think about where I was before my whole journey to better health began, and I never would have imagined doing this event (or running a 5k the next weekend!). What a blessing it was to have this experience and have a great team by my side to complete it! Thanks Greg and S, and we’re so proud of you, P!

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Goodbye, shoes!

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Our shirts, bibs, and medals…well earned!