On Saturday, I participated in the Mudderella Boston obstacle run with a team of women that I met through Studio Poise. Confession: I entered into the day feeling less excited and more panicked/nauseous. I signed up after a few too many glasses of wine one night, because these are pretty fantastic ladies who can talk me into most activities…but the thought of running five miles and tackling those muddy obstacles was definitely giving me anxiety attacks.
We decided to whole-heartedly ignore the training tips on the Mudderella official website, and instead prepped for the event our own way… with wine and crafting. Race day, we were surprised by how many people commented on our blinged out team tanks. A female-centric race screams glitter and gemstones to me, but we didn’t see any other teams rocking the bling. Still a little baffled by that one!
My nerves weren’t helped at all by the ability to see the race map ahead of time. Somehow, knowing what obstacles were coming just made me even more convinced that this was going to be a disaster. I had very little confidence in my abilities. In my head, I think I still expected the old Colleen to show up at the race Saturday morning. It was almost as if everything I’ve accomplished the past 18 months flew out the window.
Luckily, I had some amazing teammates to help me overcome this completely irrational panic. I definitely would not have been able to finish this race without these women by my side. I could continue to gush about them for paragraphs, but I’ll keep it short and simple. I’m grateful every day for the decision to give Studio Poise a try – the community of women I’ve met there have become some of my biggest supporters and I’m lucky to call them my friends.
As it turns out, the race itself wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected it to be. First off, I can’t imagine trying to run the whole course. Props to the women who attempted it; we stuck to a brisk walk and finished the course in two hours. I honestly think it would have been more dangerous to try to run the trails in between the obstacles – the terrain was very uneven, slippery at points, and filled with ditches and potholes. I was perfectly content to walk it and avoid a broken ankle, thankyouverymuch.
The obstacles themselves weren’t nearly as bad as I had made them out to be. Don’t get me wrong – they definitely challenged me. I felt pushed out of my comfort zone and was surprised time and again when I successfully completed one of the obstacles. I only skipped one obstacle – the “New Heights” challenge, which required scaling a wall and descending the other side. I didn’t feel like I could get a good grip on the top of the wall and didn’t feel safe trying to swing myself over, so instead I became the team’s designated spotter when descending the other side. I don’t regret skipping it – I didn’t personally feel safe and I valued my ability to finish the race more than risking a broken bone.
Other than that, I felt like I was well prepared for all of the challenges. The mud delivered as promised. We managed to avoid getting too aggressively mud-covered for the first half of the race. More power to you, crazy people jumping and splashing in mud puddles from the get-go, but I am going to avoid mud in my ears until absolutely necessary.
My personal favorite challenge was the “Hat Trick” obstacle. This involved scaling a cargo net wall to the top of a slide, then plunging down into a pool of water. It was a huge adrenaline rush and I am really proud of our team for completing it together – I love this series of photos! My only regret is that this wasn’t the last event of the day, as we were sort of almost clean at this point… and then had to dive back into mud for the last mile before crossing the finish line.
The very last obstacle was one that I had worried about quite a bit prior to the race – a tire obstacle course. Balance is not my strong suit, folks. I was super nervous about getting through this event, but by the time we got there, I was so ready to crush it and get across that finish line. I took my time, figured out a strategy, and was so proud of myself when I made it through without losing my balance.
We finished strong as a team. I’m so proud of us for helping each other through the race course! If you had told me, two years ago, that I would sign up for a mud run and successfully complete it, I would have told you that you were crazy.
So, after all of that, would I do it again? The answer is a resounding YES… But…
I don’t think I would participate in another Tough Mudder event. The 2014 Boston Mudderella had to be relocated several times, and the ultimate location was two hours from Boston, up in Maine. This wasn’t a huge problem for our team – we had a generous volunteer to drive us to and from the race, so none of us had to face the drive on top of the physical exertion – but other teams weren’t so lucky, or were coming from even farther away. The Tough Mudder organization didn’t do a great job of handling the venue change, and didn’t offer refunds for teams who could no longer participate.
I also felt that Mudderella and the Tough Mudder organization misrepresented the charity aspect of the run. They advertise a charitable partnership with Futures Without Violence, but none of the race registration fee actually goes to charity. Futures Without Violence received funds only if teams did additional fundraising, which is something that wasn’t clear to me at the outset.
I would definitely do another mud run in the future, though – I had a great time and really loved that it pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I feel better equipped to tackle a more challenging run in the future now that I know what to expect and I know what I’m capable of. I definitely advocate having a team of people who you trust to support you and cheer you on, as my teammates really made the race day experience memorable and positive for me, from start to finish. However, I’ll do more research next time before picking a race, to make sure I choose an event run by an organization that I am more comfortable supporting.
Have you ever participated in a mud run or obstacle race?
What parts did you most enjoy?