The days leading up to the race were crazy to say the least! For anyone who has never done an event like this, the days before are a huge rush of things to get done, gear to sort, items to buy and just going over your race plan many, many times. The day before the race is registration and pit set up. You get a 10x10 area as a home base for 24 hours, where all your food and gear will be kept. I know this is not something that most people think about, but normal things that are brought and needed are tents, flash lights, thermoses, tote bags/ containers, first aid kits, headlamps, strobes, various neoprene items including a wetsuit, gloves, shoes, food… this list could be a whole other blog in itself. There is this crazy set up day… and then back to the hotel to… relax? But all I could think about was the next day; what the obstacles would be, how I would do, what I was going to eat that won’t upset my stomach, etc.
In 2016 we had a noon start on Saturday. The atmosphere was filled with nervous excitement as people returned to their pit areas to do last minute organizing and planning. Around 1120 we were all corralled into the starting shoot and all I could do was look around and think, no turning back now, this is what I’ve been waiting for. As always Sean Corvelle gave an amazing and inspirational speech, the horn blew, and just like that 1280 participants, including me, began our 24 hours of running, obstacles, mud, and swimming.
I wish I could say this was the perfect happily ever after ending to my journey, but in life, nothing is perfect. I have to say I surprised myself on a lot of the upper body strength obstacles. I did not have to take a penalty until my fourth lap, when I slipped off the last ring of Kong right before the platform. I really was loving the whole experience. At the end of the laps, right before the pit area, there were these very steep hills that you would run. At the end of this fourth lap, I went into an autopilot mode on these hills and started daydreaming about various things. As I was on the decline right after the top of a hill, my foot hit a rock and I flew superman style through the air until I landed, very hard, on my right side. At the time I had the bottom of my wetsuit on, but the top tied on my waist. I hit the ground so hard that I initially thought I had ripped right through the leg of my wetsuit. As I got up I saw the wetsuit was fine, so I forced myself to get up and jog it out, through tears, thinking if I stopped now I would lock up and never finish.
Back in the pit, I took a quick 15 minute break and headed right back out. The right hip was sore, but nothing I couldn’t jog through. I mistakenly thought that I could keep racing without issue. The real problem did not start until I hit the water in the first obstacle. As soon as my hip submerged into that cold water, my whole right side locked up on me. I could barely lift my right leg up and I struggled to complete that fifth lap. Moving slower now, the cold of the dessert night started to get to me and I decided to pack it in for the night.
Now here’s the thing with having a dream. Even when you are at your lowest, if you have the chance to prove something to yourself, you should do it. I had waited four years to get to this race and I was not giving up this easily. It was not about winning or losing, it was about finding strength in myself to keep going and finish something I had set out to do. I got up early that next morning and finished two more laps slowly but confidently. Before coming, my goal had been to go 50 miles in the 24 hours. I had finished well below that goal, but I didn’t give up on myself, even when the plan needed to change. I ended the 24 hours with an official 35 miles (approximately 40.7 miles with penalties). I had completed something that most people would never attempt and I earned my 24 hour headband; something that was priceless to me.
The plan in 2016 had been to only do this race once in my life, and for a while I really had no desire to try it again. In May 2017, I started again with strength training and took it much more seriously this time around. I did not run much in 2017 until the summer. Doing the Long Island Tough Mudder in July reminded me how much I enjoyed these races and sent me back to dreaming of competing in WTM yet again. I set my sights on WTM 2018. I have ran consistently and strength trained since that LI TM. I also began cross training in the beginning of 2018. This year I have completed two Toughest Mudders (8hr through the night obstacle races) and obtained my contender status for WTM in these races. I also completed my first official marathon this year; something I really never thought I would do. All of this from someone who in 2011 barely exercised and couldn’t run a quarter of a mile. It’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to something.
World’s Toughest Mudder is in Atlanta this year, and with only one week to go I am beyond excited. I know I am more prepared for this race than I had been in 2016. The moral of this is to never give up on personal goals, no matter how farfetched they may seem. I would like to thank everyone here for reading through my story and for the love and support I have recieved. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store.