World's Toughest Mudder Revisited

It was just a year ago that I was boarding a plane, on my way to World's Toughest Mudder 2015 in Las Vegas. Although I knew what to expect (24 hours of a Tough Mudder couse-- outrageous obstacles, including a 30-ish foot cliff jump and cold dessert temperatures), I was completely stepping into the unknown. 

I absolutely love pushing my own limits, but I'm not that person who's earned triple Trifectas or races every weekend. This was the most extreme race I've done... this would be the first time I left the comforts of my home to travel to an event. Nervous? No. I was pretty terrified. 

You can read the saga of the event here. Today I'm going to tell you what I learned and what I'd do differently:
1. Pit Crew. Choose them wisely and work with them on a plan that you all agree to before the race. Last year I was on a team of 4. We each had one spouse to be in our pit crew. I love my husband dearly, but he and I both knew it was in the best interest of our marriage for him NOT to be there the entire 24 hours. He stayed for the first lap and returned for the final lap or two. He was there to help set up and breakdown. And he was there via text to update me on my sons' football conference championship game and the Rhonda Rousey fight. 

As for the Pit Crew Wives (I was on a team with 3 men), they were phenomenal! We had only met prior to WTM weekend via FaceTime and shared plans via Google docs. They were attentive to my needs and told me what to do when I got cold and my brain failed.

2. THE Plan. "If you fail to plan, then you're planning to fail"-- no words are more applicable to WTM than these. Except maybe, "Oh, CRAP" (or some similar phrase). You have to have a plan going in. And more importantly, you have to stick to that plan. Especially when you have some brilliant thought that means changing your strategy in the middle of the night during WTM. I had planned to put on my wetsuit after the first non-obstacle lap. Our team was divided on this idea. Then I did the first lap, felt warm and was confident in my change in strategy-- I could definitely do one obstacle lap before putting on the wetsuit. Then halfway through the second lap, the sun went down and with it, the temperatures. My teeth began chattering, hands began shaking, fingers going numb. By the time I finished the lap, I didn't recognize my Pit Crew waiting with hot broth at the pit entrance. I regretted not putting on the wetsuit. We were all shaking and shaken up. The second lap wasn't supposed to end like this. We thought our only choice to stay in the race was to actually sit out of the race through the night and begin again in the morning. Another plan deviation. Another regret.

The original plan that I believe would have been successful:
-Put the wetsuit on before the sun goes down.
-Do not sit down in the Pit.
-Do not stay more than 15 minutes in the Pit.
-Follow the scheduled nutrition plan.

3. Nutrition and Hydration. Know what your body likes to eat and drink during long bouts of training. Do not blindly follow the advice of others, no matter how great the product they're using is. A 24 hour Tough Mudder is definitely NOT the time to try anything new. Having said not to try anything new or the recommendations of others, I'll tell you what worked for me: "real" food. Not loads of simple sugars or carbs. Not fancy electrolyte sports drinks. Not the Pop-Tarts, cookies, Twizzlers or M&M's that my team brought.

My choice of fuel:
-Cocoa almonds
-Campbell's Thick 'n Chunky sirloin burger soup
-chicken noodle soup (in the microwavable container for ease of heating)
-Justin's honey almond butter packets

My drink of choice:

4. Gear. (Maybe in order of importance):
-Vaseline (Worked just fine for me-- I've never had a problem with blisters).
-Neoprene gloves, booties, and a hood (All of these things were new to me.
-They proved to be invaluable and absolutely necessary.)
-Wind breaker (Mine has a hood. Do not wear one with a hood or you will be forever awkwardly reaching behind your head to try to empty out the water.)
-Multiple pairs of socks (compression, non-compression, knee-high and mid-calf).
-Extra pair of trail shoes and a pair of running shoes (Again, I went with my typical shoes-- Saucony, opting not to try the recommended Hoka's or other brands).
-Extra clothes (tights-- compression and not, compression shorts, long and short sleeve compression shirts)-- basically, I brought anything I thought I could possibly want or need.
-First Aid stuff-- Bandaids, KT tape, Neosporin, etc.

5. Mental Game. Enjoy the experience. You've spent hours and hours of training for this. Talk to people around you. If you fail an obstacle, do the penalty and move on. Failing once doesn't mean you'll fail it twice, or five times. I failed the Gut Buster every time except for the last, and as tired as I was, I celebrated like I'd just won the million bucks. Keep moving. Focus only on the the moment you're in. Don't do the mental math of how many more hours. Don't wonder IF. Just keep moving. Smile often. Help your fellow competitors. And be sure to treat yourself well when you're finished.

P.S. Run YOUR race. I had friends telling me I HAD to do the cliff jump. That I'd regret it if I went all the way out there and didn't do the cliff jump. Blah, blah, blah. You know what? I DID NOT do the cliff jump. And I DO NOT regret it for one second. I did the stupid King of Swingers. I was terrified of that height. And I did it. And I'm proud of it.


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