Saturday, May 7th was the day I scribbled my signature on a waiver that legitimately signed away my life. The waiver read:
“I further understand and acknowledge that any of these risks (in the Tough Mudder Course) and others, not specifically named, may cause injury or injuries that may be categorized as minor, serious, or catastrophic.“
“Catastrophic injuries are rare; however, we feel that our participants should be aware of the possibility. These injuries can include, but are not limited to, permanent disabilities, stroke, single or multiple organ failure or dysfunction, physical damage to organs, spinal injuries, paralysis, heart attack, heart failure, blood cell disorder, brain swelling, and even death.“
I had just signed a freaking waiver that was telling me I was voluntarily committing myself to completing a course that could literally kill me. Was I completely losing it? Absolutely. Did I regret as much as a cursive “a” on that waiver? Absolutely not.
If you’ve never heard of it, Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile course comprised of mud and 20 different obstacles. Designed to push participants both physically and mentally, Tough Mudder forces its
victims participants to step, dive, jump, leap and submerge themselves far outside of their comfort zones.
Between the plunge into 35°F degree water, the sprint through 50 feet cluttered with unavoidable 10,000 volt wires and the various walls I was supposed to be climbing that were two to three times my height, I was fully prepared to cry 27 times.
Shockingly enough, no tears were shed.The only thing tearing up on the course was the turf under my feet- because I like I said ~18 times throughout the day, “I’m literally Katniss,” and like the girl on fire, I felt like I was on fire, but although I was feelin’ pretty good, the reality is that without the help of all of the other “mudders” on the course, I would have never made it through.
I would have flung myself up the 12′ wall (rag doll style), only to be flung down and turned into a legitimate rag left to mop up the mud at the end of the day. I can barely clean the kitchen of my apartment at school, so I don’t think I’d excel at this role.
The camaraderie, the “no man left behind” mentality and everyone’s genuine desire to see one another succeed was the only way I was able to complete the course. The selflessness radiating from the other mudders was infectious. Being surrounded by all of the positive energy and the borderline delusional (like, are you even aware of what we’re committing to right now?) can-do attitudes, you couldn’t help but want to help.
I sincerely wish that I had the addresses of everyone that helped me get through it so that I could properly thank them with an edible arrangements. Because nothing says, “Thanks for carrying me over this 10′ tire wall, friends!” like chocolate covered berries.
To give you a full picture, the aura of the Tough Mudder was like the most extreme version of Disney World. In case you haven’t stopped by the mouse’s house recently, everyone who works at Disney World is eerily nice– like eerily kind, but it’s not fake. They’re genuinely really, really freaking happy all of the freaking time. The Magic Kingdom could be lit on fire, and I swear the entire cast and crew would still be smiling and offering you directions to Space Mountain while it burnt behind them.
Everyone at Tough Mudder had this same genuine niceness to them, and it was perplexing because, unlike Disney World, this course is most certainly not referred to as the happiest place on earth, and no one’s getting paid.
Once I finally convinced myself that everyone was in fact not on ecstasy, but just genuinely happy to help eachother, this pure selflessness allowed me to understand that this course was much more than just a borderline-suicidal obstacle marathon. It was a challenge, and a course that taught me several important things about life:
1. You Can’t Train for the Obstacles Life Throws at You
You can train for a marathon, a triathlon, you can even prepare your body for the freaking Olympics, but you really can’t train for a Tough Mudder. Beyond conditioning yourself to be able to run ~10 miles, there’s not much you can do to ready your body for getting zapped by 10,000 volts or frozen by 35°F waters.
But, that’s life. Sh*t happens, and things don’t go according to plan. Although you can’t train yourself for specific life events, you can train yourself to acquire a healthy mentality to overcome these unexpected challenges. Allow yourself 10 seconds of freak out before you get the f*ck over it and attack it head on.
2. You’re a Lot Stronger Than You Think You Are
Approaching pretty much every obstacle on the course, I’d look at it and think, “There’s no way.” Don’t let the negative parts your mind overpower what you’re totally capable of doing because you’ll miss out on so much.
It’s human nature to doubt yourself, and we psych ourselves out so often that we often forgo opportunities because we don’t think we’re capable of accomplishing them or doing them well. K, bye. If the 65 year old woman wearing a tutu could make it through her sixth Tough Mudder, you can bet your bottom dollar you’re going to be just fine in Physics II.
3. Adrenaline is Addictive
There’s a reason certain people are referred to as “adrenaline junkies.” Once you get a taste of the rush, it’s hard not to want to continuously feel the sense of euphoria adrenaline gives you. After we’d finished the course we were literally ready to go at it again – that was until we all sat down and realized our limbs were no longer mobile.
You don’t need to necessarily run a Tough Mudder to experience it. There are healthier/safer ways to get your kick (see runner’s high, falling in love, tearing through 17 packs of Twinkies in one night), but this course will certainly give you a heaping dose.
4. Adversity Bonds Us
In the words of the ever-wise Marilyn Monore, “If you don’t love me at my worst then you don’t deserve me at my best.” Preach, MM. I quickly connected with the girl who was also snotting whilst wiggling her way under a barricade, and if I had her number I’d probably count on her to pick me up the next time my mom forgets me at the airport. The people who stick with you when things get weird (like freshman year welcome week weird), are the ones that will always be there when life really gets tough.
5. Shock Top Beer Should be Freely Dispensed from Water Fountains Around the United States
At the end of the 10.5 mile course, you can get water, but you can also get beer. Why waste your time re-hydrating when you can further deplete yourself of liquids and sip on this sweet nectar from the gods?
In honor of all children who were duped by the elementary school kid who ran for class president and swore if they were elected “they’ll have coke coming out of the drinking fountains” I would like to petition to implement this beverage runnith free from water fountains across the country.
6. Vulnerability is the Key to Building Relationships
All I’m saying, is if someone wanted to put this lesson on a mug and sell it on Pinterest, I wouldn’t be pissed. When a middle aged, 6′ 5″, 200-pound man reluctantly reached for my hands, the palms of a 5′ 5″ girl who was just barely old enough to score the free beer at the end of the course, I knew the only thing that could have made him more vulnerable is if he were naked (after walking away with multiple bruises and scrapes, this would not be liberating, but rather just simply horrifying for everyone.)
He couldn’t have made it through the obstacle without my help, but his vulnerability not only allowed him to finish the challenge, it quickly built a bond between the two of us. Allowing yourself to be open with others let’s them see you for who you are, and most times, being open means you have to be somewhat vulnerable.
It’s not always comfortable, but vulnerability= realness, and between the production process that is so many individuals’ social media personas and the horrors of scripted “reality” television, the last thing anyone in our generation needs is someone in their day-to-day life who’s anything less than authentic.
This Course Teaches You About Life
You can run a marathon alone, you can try out a triathlon solo, but like the giant marathon that is life (tears and more Pinterest quotes worthy of posters), you’re not getting through this thing by yourself. So whether you feel somewhat inspired from everything I’ve just said, or if all you took away from this was free beer, that’s totally cool, too. You deserve to create some Pinterest-y quotes by experiencing it for yourself. Allow yourself ten seconds of freak out, get the f*ck over it and then sign up. We can tear through 17 packs of Twinkies afterward.