The above quote resonates with anyone who has heard Sean Corvelle MC at a Tough Mudder. It is a line that both inspires and motivates, but also makes you think about life and what it truly means to live. Sometimes we forget that life is about experiences and we get comfortable with the mundane. Every now and then we need a reminder that there are so many new experiences waiting for us out in the unknown.
It has been two and a half weeks since World’s Toughest Mudder Atlanta; my 24 hour race. I wanted to write about this race right away, but it was hard with all the mixed emotions, feelings and thoughts I had swirling in my head. I was disappointed in my performance, yet proud and grateful for everything I had accomplished and learned in Atlanta at the same time. How was I going to convey all these conflicting emotions and recap the race? I wasn’t sure what my angle would be and it was gnawing away at me as the days went by.
To begin, I need to backtrack somewhat. Back to my blogs leading up to this race, I had mentioned my phoenix tattoo and that it would be mentioned in the third blog. Oops, it wasn’t. In my excitement to get that last blog out a week before the race I had forgotten all about it. In some ways this is lucky for me because this is going to be the glue to stick this messy blog together. So without further ado….
My phoenix tattoo. When I first had this idea of getting a phoenix tattoo, it was with WTM in mind. It was a time of rebirth for me; when I decided I wanted to live out dreams and stop caring what people from the outside thought about them. As stated in that first blog, it was a reminder of my journey back from the ashes. It was a reminder of how far I had come and a reminder that I could always build and remodel my life no matter what stood in the way. It was also a reminder that it was ok to fail. From failure comes learning, experience and knowledge. As long as you continue to strive forward, failure is not an end, but a beginning.
When my mom had gotten sick in 2015 this idea became even more important to me. I wanted to live my life, not just float through it waiting for little bits of happiness along the way. I wanted my life to have meaning, and I wanted to know that I had adventure and experience on my short time on this earth. I wanted to overcome fears and make myself stronger.
So, World’s Toughest Mudder, Atlanta 2018 had finally come. Although this was not my first WTM, this race was filled with many firsts for me. It was cold and it was wet…. and by cold and wet I mean the temperatures were mostly in the 30’s and the majority of obstacles had us submerged in water. Now I have done races in both of these conditions before, but not both at the same time. I didn’t know how to handle the situation because I had never done it. There is a huge difference between reading what you should do from someone else’s experience and being thrown into it yourself. I learned so much about what works for me and what doesn’t from this one day and for that I am grateful. If next year has the same conditions I would know how to handle it.
This November 10th however, I did not have the experience and as much as I hate to admit it, I ended up in my tent fearing hypothermia for about 13 hours of the 24. Definitely not what I had envisioned for this race. I had finished 4 laps before sunset, but without being dressed correctly, I had literally lost the use of my hands. I couldn’t feel or close my fingers. To be honest I could barely make any movement with my fingers at all, which now made the obstacles scary. I came in from that lap and knew I needed to warm up, but stayed in my wet clothes for over 2 hours because I wanted to go back out there – big mistake. I couldn’t get warm and sat there shivering for over 2 hours. I finally took the wet clothes off and was able to warm up, but being as I had never raced in my wetsuit in temperatures that low, I was unsure if it would keep me warm. I was more afraid of being pulled from the course with hypothermia and not being able to continue than I was of staying in the tent and completing way under my goal.
The next lap I decided that if I was going to fall very short of my mileage goals that I was at least going to conquer a huge fear that day. Let me introduce you to The Stacks. This is a 37 foot walk the plank. You can go around the stacks without question, you just need to add distance (I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that every lap counts as 5 miles regardless if you do 5 miles or 7 miles in a loop. Distance is added for penalties, but not to your official mileage). I still can’t believe I jumped off of this thing. When I took this first picture the day before the race I was thinking there’s no way I’m jumping off this thing; less than 24 hours later I was climbing up it thinking ‘this is a terrible idea but I need to do it’. This might be the one accomplishment that I am the most proud of for the entire race.
Above all I need to remind myself of my phoenix and about the quote that started this blog off. Although I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to, I still set a huge goal and went for it. I know I will come back in 2019 stronger and more confident than ever before. And yes, I am already signed up for World’s in 2019. I have unfinished business to attend to.