Category Archives: World’s Toughest Mudder

“When Will You Be Back?”

It has been almost two months since I received the ok to cast the crutches to the curb.Two months since I re-entered the world of bipedalism after three long months with the sticks. And two months since the first person asked me “so, you’ll be racing [x] next weekend?”

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This sums up my existence for 3+ months.

I had gone from three months of no weight-bearing of any type, and I was constantly asked if I would be running [x] race the following weekend. I’m no doctor, but I’m fairly certain that’s not how rehab works.

Believe me – I wish it did. Life would be so much easier if the body and mind were in sync. Unfortunately, as any athlete who has ever gone through a major injury knows, that’s not how the game works.

I’ve had minor injuries in the past, but nothing like this that has knocked me out for such a long period of time, and certainly nothing that caused me to be non-weight bearing for this long. And what has become perfectly clear to me in all of this is that being laid up with injury is easy. It’s the rehab and the comeback that’s the hard part.

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Reflections: 2015 in Review


Is this the real life?

I found myself asking that question several times throughout 2015. Ok, maybe on an (almost) daily basis. (And then it’d be followed by hours of trying to get “Bohemian Rhapsody” out of my head)

cropped-IMG_0616.jpgBut, no, seriously – 2015 was a trip. Tumultuous at times, but so incredibly, freaking awesome at others. I constantly have to remind myself to take a look back at the last few years and really take in and embrace the sideways turn my life took back in 2011, and where it’s brought me to today – the highs, the lows, and sometimes, the utter ridiculousness.

But as the sport continues to grow and evolve (and actually be defined as “a sport”), I’d like to think I continue to grow and evolve with it. And I do so, in part, by taking stock of what has happened, and letting that help shape my future.

So what did 2015 teach me?

Continue reading Reflections: 2015 in Review

World’s Toughest Mudder 2015: Revolution

For the fifth year, we came. We ran. We crawled. We swam. We jumped. We climbed.

We laughed. We cried.

We triumphed.

Over these past five WTM’s, the course has changed, the location and venue have changed, and the heart and soul of this race has changed. All in the best of ways.

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Coat #upgrade

Because we have grown. We have grown as a community. And we have grown in spirit and in love.

Oh, and we’ve totally grown in inappropriate butt touches as well.

[shit, I was supposed to save the sappy stuff for the end. Strike that. Reverse it. Let’s start over. ]

So…..we go to Vegas…

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Coming Home: World’s Toughest Mudder 2014

There are times in life when things just feel right. When you know you are where you are supposed to be.

And as soon as I pulled up to the site of World’s Toughest Mudder 2014 in Lake Las Vegas last Friday, I knew it was one of those times.

Best. Obstacle. Ever.
Best. Obstacle. Ever.

Hugging old friends, meeting new ones, we all anxiously set up our pits areas, commenting on how the Vegas desert was the FURTHEST thing from Raceway Park in Jersey that we had all grown accustomed to over the past few years. Excitement ran high. We were ready to begin.

But 8 weeks ago, I didn’t think I would be there in Vegas, preparing to race. 8 weeks ago, I was mourning the loss of running the Spartan World Championship, and undergoing surgery on a bum knee. I had mentioned to my surgeon that I would love to make it back in time for a “24 hour race,” and he rolled his eyes.

Continue reading Coming Home: World’s Toughest Mudder 2014

Injured Reserve

I hate it when cliches are true: one moment, you feel like you are on top of the world, and the next – things coming crashing down. And you sit and struggle with “why me” and kick and scream and fight, thinking timing is never fair.

Such is my life right now. I’ve been mum on this subject as of late, laying low on social media, hoping/thinking things would resolve, ashamed to admit what I hate to admit to myself: I’m hurt.

As someone who has been fortunately injury-free for a long time, it’s been devastating. Compound that with my calf injury pre-Spartan World Championships, I’ve been hesitant to let people know about the injury for fear of what other people think (I’ll call it “FOWOPT.” Deal with it). But you can only go so hard for so long until something has to give. And it gave, at a horrible time (admittedly, there is never a “good” time).

About a month ago, I pulled out of the Omaha Spartan Sprint 10 minutes before the Elite heats started after being seized by hip pain and debilitating sciatica. Since then, it’s been a month-long endeavor in pinpointing the cause and battling ever-present nerve pain. All signs point to some combination of pelvic misalignment, SI joint, and piriformis issues (back is cool, ohthankyouJesus). Some days I wake up fine, other days every step sends shooting pains down my legs into my feet (and the leg choice seems to rotate). X-rays, MRIs, ART, countless physical therapy sessions later, I’m making steady progress thanks to a combination of incredibly boring, seemingly wussy strengthening exercises and enduring torturous weekly sessions of my hips and legs being abused by dry needles. In fact, I was pretty confident about my WTM prospects until I suffered a flare up this past weekend, and I’m back to nowhere close to 100%. I’ve managed a few 2 or 3 mile runs, only to be stopped short by seizing pain or a completely numb leg. On the bright side, I’m learning how better “not to drown.” (hot damn, swimming is HARD. And boring. I have utmost respect for all you swimmers out there).

I'm blaming the article title for jinxing me
I’m blaming the article title for jinxing me

Oh, the irony: the so-called “Queen of Pain” is now in immense pain. Amelia Boone is now crippled from the simple act of sitting at her desk for 10 hours a day or walking 2 miles to work.

So while I’m currently going stir crazy not being able to train, “that one big race” looms in a week. Where I am supposed to “defend my title” and “win it all.” And nothing drives me to tears right now more than the thought of not being able to compete.

I’ve blogged before about the special place World’s Toughest Mudder has in my heart: it’s the race that started it all (or, the race that ruined it all). In 2011, it was a community of less than 1,000 of us with no idea what we were getting into. And the thought of not being out there again, mostly with these people, just kills me. Despite how much I bemoan what a miserable race it is, how it’s a battle in fighting off hypothermia and boredom, I can’t deny that I love this race.

So what do I do? All signs point to “sit out.” Aside from the fact that I could risk setting myself back even further in my recovery, my training has been severely limited (hello Airdyne sprints!), I’m in pain, and I’m obviously not 100% – making “defending my title” a Herculean task right now.

I wish I could just go out to WTM, run a few laps for “fun,” and be fine with that. But as someone reminded me the other day, I don’t have that luxury, because “people expect me to win.” In other words, “if I’m not going out to win, it’s not worth going out at all.”

2011: the days when it was all "fun" (oh, blissful naivete)
2011: the days when it was all “fun”
(oh, blissful naivete)

HOLD UP – it’s not? With that comment, it really hit me: this is not what I signed up for when I got into this a few years ago. What happened to to obstacle racing being a stress release for me? Of being a hobby, a pastime, a fun outlet? I suppose that all went out the window when I started winning. Somewhere along the way, amidst sponsorship offers, magazine articles, and documentaries, I lost myself. (or, to quote Macklemore – “lost the compass where self is”).

I started racing because I loved the sport. And I still race because I love the sport. As I’ve said before, I’m not a professional and I have no plans to make this my sole occupation. I’ve struggled to reconcile the pressure of winning and of people’s expectations with going out there and having fun, regardless of how I do. Suddenly, winning becomes an expectation, whether I want it to or not.

But as long as I love the sport, why should it matter?

I keep praying for a miracle in the next week. Of going out on race day, feeling fine, and breezing through without pain (well, aside from the crippling pain of running 90+ miles). But you can’t fake 24 hours. And you certainly can’t fake it when even a few miles wreaks havoc on your body right now. While I’m chomping at the bit to get out there and tear up a course, I also have to listen to my body telling me there is something seriously “off.” That the entire left side of your body going numb isn’t “normal.” And as frustrated as I am that the doctors can’t exactly pinpoint a cause, that rehab isn’t coming as fast as I want it, ignoring the reality isn’t a sound “recovery strategy.” And when I started PT after Omaha, doctors and physical therapists warned me that, try as I might, WTM didn’t look good. Granted, I’ve never been one to listen to doctors.

So I can’t tell you what I’m going to do come next Saturday in Englishtown, New Jersey (though the new race format looks AMAZING. So awesome). For now, it’s a day-to-day struggle. More than anything, I want to run. Whether that can be competitively, I don’t know. But I don’t feel like there should be any shame in that.

Regardless of whether I’m out there or not, I know I’ll be back to healthy very soon, smarter and stronger. We all know there is nothing more frustrated than watching from the sidelines. You can’t keep me down for long: a new race season awaits.

World’s Toughest Mudder 2013: and it won’t change a thing?

World’s Toughest Mudder registration went live two weeks ago, and judging from the Facebook and social media reaction, you would have thought TMHQ had punched a baby.

“NO qualification process?!?” seemed to be the resounding outcry. Hundreds (read, in reality: dozens) of
affronted people, worried that the race wouldn’t be “elite” enough, or that the out-of-shape masses would crowd Raceway Park in New Jersey, leaving the finishers to step over frozen bodies littered around the course after 24 hours. I skimmed the new changes, and the only thing that came to mind was “meh”.

Continue reading World’s Toughest Mudder 2013: and it won’t change a thing?

A Racing Year in Review: The Tippity Top

So the world didn’t end today, though judging by the looks of the weather outside here in Chicago, it may still choose to do so. I guess that means that we’ll make it to 2013 and another year of racing will commence. The end of the year is always littered with the “best of”, “year in review” or the “top 10” lists from various outlets, my favorite being this one from The Onion. So if a lemur can have its place in a year in review list, I sure as hell can write my own about my racing year. Right? Right? Obviously, all of these highlights will involve yours truly, so call me self-important or egotistical, but I certainly can’t write about it if I wasn’t there, so deal with it. Without further ado, the inaugural 2012 “Amelia’s Top 16 Moments in Obstacle/Adventure Racing”* (and challenges, to encompass GoRuck and S.E.R.E.)

[*Because Top 10 lists are so cliche.]

(1) The Burpee Board at the Winter Death Race: It’s a thing of beauty right? And very precise and scientific. But after 3000 burpees, you’d lose count, too. Some of us lost count repeatedly, but that happens after 30+ hours awake. And some of us had WAAAAY too much fun doing burpees (I’m looking at you, Mark Webb burpee-sandwich).

(2) Acquiring Weapons as Prizes: Top Team at S.E.R.E Chicago received KA-bars, which I have now used for everything from opening cans to a using as a steak knife to cutting through wrapping paper. And first-place prize at the Super Spartan Midwest was a 2-ft sword, which I have used for…nothing. It’s still sitting on my living room floor until I figure out what to do with it. And a smattering of kettlebells could technically be considered weapons–have you ever dropped one of those suckers?

(3) Carrying the concrete bag at the Death Race. There were very few times this past year at races where I didn’t think I was going to make it. At 50+ hours into the Death Race, after being handed a 60lb bag of concrete to add to my 35+lbs of gear and being told to carry it to the top of Joe’s mountain (without breaking it, mind you), I was fairly certain I couldn’t make it. And was praying for them to call the race. I’d never carried close to 100lbs on my back, which is about 3/4 of my body weight. But slowly, surely, step by step, I made it up that mountain. 10 steps at a time, I told myself, as I fought being pulled backwards and falling over due to the enormous weight on my back. I hugged my bucket as a counterbalance, and leaned forward almost in a crawl position. I don’t know how long it took me to get up that mountain, but you best be believing I’d never been so happy in my life when that cabin at the top came into view. (and then I flipped out on Olof–sorry dude. You rock)

(4) Successfully making it across the rings and monkey bars multiple times at WTM. While this may not seem like a huge feat for a lot of you, I had struggled with these obstacles for the longest time. I’m going to go ahead and thank the cult of Crossfit for my success at this one (hello grip strength!). And I’m no longer frightened of these.

(5) Finishing GoRuck Class 129 on an 80 degree day St. Patty’s Day in Chicago. The picture says it all.

(6) Nearly dying from eating a Larabar at S.E.R.E. Beta. I am VERY allergic to certain trees nuts, particularly cashews. I am also apparently VERY bad at reading labels, as I found out when I stuffed a Larabar into my mouth at 3am at SERE Beta in D.C., and immediately went into allergic shock. Thanks to some speedy classmates (and an injured Joel Gat who managed to run like the wind), some liquid Benadryl saved me. And after some puking on the street in Georgetown with Petrizzo rubbing my back and then giving me a Honey Stinger waffle, I made it and completed the challenge. And now Deavilla will ALWAYS volunteer to give me CPR when there are cashews around. You guys were the best.

(7) Todd’s sled at the Winter Death Race. We all laughed with Sedlak rolled up with a plastic sled strapped to his pack at the WDR, particularly because the rules made clear that anything you brought with you had to be carried with you at all times. In typical Todd fashion, he made fantastic use of that sled, nearly killing himself sledding down the mountain several times. So think outside the box on your gear lists, Death Racers. (though his wheeled shopping cart at the Summer Death Race didn’t work so well)

(8) This picture at the Midwest Super Spartan:

I’d highly recommend volunteering, particularly to hand out medals, after you finish. Most fun you’ll have congratulating a bunch of muddy people.

(9) The hills at the Ultrabeast. You will never see me get more excited about something at a race than when there are massive hills/mountains involved. I could have run up and down (nb: I hate the down part, so really, just up) those things all day long. And I did. And I loved every second of it. To me, that course was perfection.

(10) Winning first overall (for men and women) at Civilian Military Combine. For all the talk of what happened at WTM and people finding it incredible that I could be that close to catching J.Pak, I had to remind myself that I already beat all the boys once this year. At CMC at Camelbak Mtn, PA, I took first place overall. And there I also met Alyssa and Carrie (in person) for the first time, and they are now two of my favorite people out there. So I’d call that a victory in itself.

(11) Having TSA open up my sandpills for inspection. Ha! Fooled you, suckers. #notcocaine

(12) Breakfast sandwiches at the Pittsfield General Store post-Winter Death Race. Or really, just the Pittsfield General Store in general. Because after finishing at 3am, sleeping on the floor of the barn for 3 hours, and then getting up and heading to the general store with fellow Death Racers, there is NOTHING better than the General Store. Really, just Death Racers in general deserve their own “moment.” Obstacle racers are cool and all, but there is something special about, and a strong camaraderie among, those that have finished a Death Race.

(13) A sub-8min Helen, a 4 and a half Fran, and a 3:45 Grace. Oh wait, that’s not obstacle racing. But I’d like to think that obstacle racing got me into Crossfit, so I’m going to call it tangentially related. I’m marginally passable at Crossfit–never going to compete with the big girls. But now I can be super cool and measure my self-worth in workouts named after girls and the number of times I rip my calluses, and then talk to everyone nonstop about it.

(14) Bikram Joe-ga at the Winter Death Race. Because nothing is more motivation than a second 90-minute session of bikram where Joe yells at you “grab your heels and PULL like a motherfucker!” during standing-head-to-knee pose.

(15) Having legs that always look like this:

And going to summer weddings like that.

(16) And finally, how I felt at this moment:

It’s been real, folks. See you next season.

WTM Commandments Revisited: One Year Later

You all can blame WTM 2011 for me entering into the blogosphere. It’s because of that race that you feel obliged to read my unimportant and trivial ramblings. Post-WTM last year, I sat down a wrote four posts on the Ten Commandments of WTM (you can find them here, here, here, and here).

But this year’s race was a whole different animal than last year. So did these Commandments hold up? Or, now, in my infinite wisdom (after being at this for less than a year), have I committed sacrilege by violating my own commandments?

(1) Thou shall respect the power of neoprene

If you took a look at the pics of the starting line this year, it’s clear that everyone obeyed this one: aside from a few weirdos in speedos (several of whom I saw in the med tent being treated for hypothermia later), we all waddled to the starting line in our wetsuits.

I started in a 3/2 full, and nearly died of heat the first lap. I almost wanted to fail at Everest solely so I could jump in the Arctic Enema as a penalty. And for the first three laps (all before sundown), the 3/2 full was all I needed–no hood, no vest, no gloves, no socks.

I threw on the 3mm vest/hood combo and 3mm gloves the 4th lap, and then added the 3mm long john and a 5mm hood from laps 5 onward (though I delayered again the last lap, stripping the last hood). Surprisingly, I never put on neoprene socks for three reasons: (1) my feet had started to swell so much I don’t think the neoprene could have fit in the shoes; (2) my feet actually stayed pretty warm with the injinji/smart wool combo; and (3) I NEVER HAD TIME. Being chased sucks.

Most other racers had similar strategies. Coupled with warmer temps, this meant I saw relatively few people shivering in the med tents. Personally, my hands only really got cold at a few points in the early morning hours, and my core never got cold. No uncontrollable shivering, no loss of feeling in the hands.

Neoprene for the win. But it’s not attractive–ohmygod it’s not attractive. TMHQ, let’s have a warm weather WTM next year–fit shirtless men and women in sports bras and booty shorts? Marketing dream.

(2) Thou shall dry off completely between laps

Yeah…this didn’t happen at all. In fact, I never changed out of my original socks or tights, and only took off my shoes once to scoop out the dirt that had caked in the end. Would I have liked to dry off? Yes. But once again, no time. The longest I pitted for was perhaps 25 minutes, in which I mixed up some hot chocolate and hid from the camera crews while stuffing peanut butter and pretzels, Snickers, and Ensure in my mouth.

(3) Thou shall know the beauty of aid stations

True, but yet again, no time. This year, there was no hot jello (thank you), and while there was hot broth, TM volunteers were regulating it like soup nazis, monitoring how much you could take. I grabbed a small cup at a few stations during the wee morning hours, but once again, kept trucking. I’m sensing a “no time” theme…

And let’s take a moment to discuss the Sharkie situation. Sharkies are hard to chew as it is. Frozen Sharkies are damn near impossible to chew. I will regret saying this, but I totally miss the sharkies in hot water of WTM 2011.

(4) Thou shall learn how to climb tactical ladders

Once again, people must have done their homework. No back-ups or lines at the tac ladders on the backside of Everest (granted, they were much shorter), but the cargo net out of the water proved to be a bit of a bear. Then again, I was also ahead of the pack for most of this race, and found the only traffic jam to be on my third lap, when most people were trucking through their second.

(5) Thou shall not undestimate the power of logrolling

After logrolling for a mile and a half at the Death Race, I’m pretty sure I can handle two Kisses of Mud. Perhaps I don’t have a “dizzy” switch, but I’ll never understand how a 50-ft roll can get people all discombobulated.

(6) Thou shall not get wasted the night before

I did not. I ate a massive omelette at IHOP. Joel did not. But he cramped and finished less laps than last year. So I will stick with not getting wasted the night before, but perhaps Joel should go back to the bottle.

(7) Thou shall get your ass in the water

Still applicable, but Walk the Plank was a million times less daunting this year, as we weren’t jumping into the lake, but a man made hole. And it seemed to be about 10 feet shorter. But the swim back and forth across the lake was still there, and no less daunting. Tip on passing the time: chat with the lifeguards on kayaks and paddleboards. They are bored out of their minds

(8) Thou shall smile (and thank your volunteers)

I gotta hand it to TMHQ–the volunteers were WONDERFUL. Absolutely wonderful. So much encouragement and cheering, so many words of comfort. Perhaps, at times, TOO much. (lady at mud mile during day 1–nice enthusiasm, but I was ready to get out and strangle you and your chants of “tough! mudder! tough! mudder!)

Best spot for it? coming down the backside of Everest. I made a point of throwing my hands up and going “woohoo” every time I slide down that thing, meeting the cheers of volunteers and spectators standing around. I wish someone could put together a montage of those 9 photos–perspective on the slow demise of my sanity.

(9) Thou shalt not stop for bathroom breaks

That’s what wetsuits are for. And that massive sinkhole of sh*t in the woods. Though, for the love of God, I hope if you had to take a dump on the course, you stopped. Otherwise I’m blaming you for whatever nasty eye infections I come down with.

(10) Thou shall never travel alone

Of course, the last commandment is where I committed real sacrilege. Well, I take that back–there were cameras in my face for about 95% of the race, so I guess I was never REALLY alone. And while it was rather depressing and lonely at times to not have a running companion, it didn’t mean I was the only one out there. The shouts of encouragement from other racers as I ran by kept me going, and stealing the small chats here and there with people moving at the same time. I put names to faces, and faces to names. I joked for a few moments with those around, and then shuffled on my merry way. Towards the end, I was being passed left and right by others moving faster than me. And when my strength failed me on Everest and the 12 ft walls as the night progressed, tons of people pitched in to get me through it. So while I didn’t have the constant companionship like I had with Joel last year, I never felt utterly alone.

As I’ve said countless times before, it’s the people and the fellow racers at these events that keep me coming back. And here, it was no different. I’m honored to run among all you amazing athletes, and I thank you for the help and support along the way.

Like I’ve said, it’s amazing the difference a year makes. And if I wrote commandments this year, they’d look a hell of a lot different than last years. So maybe I will. Just maybe I will.

Day After World’s Toughest Mudder Hangover

No, not like booze hangover. I wish. Back to work, back to the grind, and thanking the higher powers I’m a desk jockey. Sitting is the only thing that doesn’t kill me right now. I need a dog to go fetch my print jobs from the copier.

I always like to mull over races for a few days to let it all sink in and organize my thoughts, so that will happen at some point.

But let’s get to the not-so-important and meaningful things: the “random thoughts” edition. So in no particular order:

(1) So much warmer than last year. I got a bit chilly at around lap 4 or 5, but it was never unbearable. As it became harder and harder to run, though, it got colder since I couldn’t keep my body temps up. And thank you wind for not picking up until the last lap. Did anyone notice how calm the wind was during the night?
(2) Who is in charge of TMHQ’s music? I swear to God it was the same 5 or 6 bands on repeat throughout the course the entire time: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blink-182, Tupac, Van Halen, and Pink Floyd. I must have heard Nirvana’s “Rape Me” about 5 times during the race–very motivational, guys. I heard a racer say he thought Christmas music was playing during part of it. Hallucination or not, but that’s freakin’ hilarious.
(3) Mudders rock. The amount of encouragement from other racers out there was just amazing. I apologize to those of you who called out to me and I had no idea who you were–wetsuit hoods make everyone look the same. I met tons of awesome people along the way, and offered people $5 here and there when they helped me out in some way (offering to hold down the cargo net, etc.). I hope you all don’t think you actually are going to collect on that.
(4) Wetsuits are not flattering. As I ran by people, I must have been told “keep it going, man!” or “well done, dude!” about two dozen times. So yes, we all look the same in wetsuits: like dudes.
(5) Wetsuits do prevent gnarly gashes. While I’m covered in bruises, at least I don’t have to worry about infected cuts like after the Death Race or the Ultrabeast. Infected eyes from the Jersey mud, however, are probably inevitable.
(6) Windburn and eyeball burn hurts. I spent the entire flight back to Chicago last night with a Coke can pressed up against my face. And rocking sunglasses in the Philly airport to shield my eyes. People must have thought I was either a celebrity or a beating victim.
(7) When your grip strength goes, you’re screwed. I cruised through the Funky Monkey and Hanging Tough and that rope climby-thing the first few laps just fine (I’m going to go ahead and thank Crossfit for that–struggled immensely with all of those last year). But between the monkey bars, rings, ropes, tac ladders, and that damn cargo net out of the lake, my forearms were shot after 4 laps. Couple that with the freezing water, and there’s no way to regain that. I’m just thankful I didn’t fall off of that cargo net the last couple laps. God knows I was precariously close.
(8) Being in the lead is stressful. I felt like I was being chased. I mean, I guess I was. Sadly, I never had the opportunity meet Deanna Bregg, the Aussie who held down third, but I wish I could have–what a great competitor and athlete. She stayed consistently 30 minutes behind give or take a few for the first 8 laps, and you bet that I was looking over my shoulder the entire time.
(9) OH MY GOD THESE PICTURES. I’m not vane or anything (ok, I am…a bit), but seriously?! Is that seriously what I looked like? Swollen face, mud mustache and eyebrows, and just pain? Yikes. I gotta work on that.
(10) I have phenomenal friends and support. Those who helped me break down my tent and campsite afterwards, who brought me clothes, who drove my rental car when I was in no condition to, who posed with my giant check and gave any interview…oh…wait.
(11) This is my first semi-serious race injury. I thought it was a sprained ankle, but the swelling has migrated to the top of my foot. Crossing my fingers there are no broken bones. Ice and rest for the time being, and you all know how I hate rest. Hate it.
(12) I still cry after races. This time, I made it successfully away from the race track and through a shower without breaking down into sobs. But as soon as I got on the phone with the parents, the flood gates opened.
(13) I did not break the 2nd place streak. I mean, I won for women, but I still came in second to Pak. Not that I even thought I could get within a lap of him, let alone less than 10 minutes. In other words, I’ll take it.
(14) Running alone blows. It’s lonely out there. Thankfully, I kept myself company by singing this on repeat for 24 hours. Check it out: THIS IS F*CKIN AWESOME.
(15) Watch out boys, we’re coming for you. 1300 competitors, only 100 of them women. Second and third place OVERALL held down by women. You figure out the rest.

How World’s Toughest Mudder Ruined My Life

The second ever World’s Toughest Mudder is rapidly approaching on November 17th. It’s not technically a perfect one-year anniversary, since TMHQ moved the race up a month this year, but on that day, it will be 11 months since the beginning.

The beginning, you say? Ah yes, the beginning of the descent into the world of obstacle racing, adventure racing, endurance racing, and all kinds of idiocy.

And while the jury is still out on whether or not I’m going to be able to make an appearance at WTM (to perhaps once again continue my second-place winning/losing streak), I look back and realize how dramatically different my life has become over the past year. As an ode to WTM, let’s take a step back to remember exactly the ways in which it has ruined my life:

(1) Running on the road bores me to death. I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to do another road race. You mean, you just…run? In a straight line? On pavement? That’s cool, but where are the walls and bars and mud pits?

(2) It introduced me to the Death Race. The DR is a race that really has no point. No start, no finish. No real…point. But it’s the hardest, most fun, and most mentally/physically/emotionally tasking (and rewarding!) thing I’ve ever done. And now my life revolves around making it out to Pittsfield Vermont twice or three times a year to spend 48+ hours out in the woods. For no money. For no glory. For a plastic skull. And unless you’ve done one, you won’t get it. And you shouldn’t do one. ‘Cause like I said, it has no point.

(3) My co-workers treat me with caution. Though, that could be because I have a Death Race finishers skull and a WTM sign sitting on my desk.

(4) I’ve had to buy all new shoes. My feet have grown from an already large size 10 to a 10.5 or sometimes 11 in the past year. And at WTM last year, I gouged massive holes in my heels (making it impossible to wear any type of shoe for 3 weeks), that are now knobs of scar tissue. And they’ve widened out. My cute narrow feet are now ugly and sausage-like.

(5) My definition of a “long” race is completely skewed. Case in point: when describing the UltraBeast to my mom a few months ago, I told her “don’t worry, it will start when it’s light out and end when it’s light out.” Before WTM, I thought 24 hours was ridiculous. Now anything less seems…pedestrian. (In related news, I’ve become an endurance snob)

(6) It introduced me to Crossfit. It’s way too expensive, my hands are always ripped or covered in blood blisters, my collarbone is always covered in clean bruises, and I talk in strange acronyms and code that annoys the shit out of everyone.

(7) It made me think that running around a city a night with a backpack full of bricks was totally normal. At WTM, I meet my first GRT’s (they were EXCELLENT at shaking handwarmers for me), and immediately signed up for my first GoRuck Challenge. I’ve never met a more batshit-crazy cult in my life.

(8) I can’t wear dresses to work. Well, I can (and I do, everyday), but it’s not pretty. Obstacle racing has permanently mottled my legs, and as soon as one set of scabs/scrapes/bruises heals, the next race is up. I attended several weddings this summer where people gasped in horror. And thanks to the scars, I suppose I’ll never be able to live out my childhood dream of becoming a Nair model.

(9) My balcony will never be clean again. Currently, it’s covered in bricks, rucks, sand pills, muddy shoes, Camelbaks, an axe, and stuff from the UltraBeast that I still haven’t washed out. I need a hose. Those don’t work very well in a high-rise condo.

(10) Facebook has owned my life. I think I doubled my number of friends (and I stopped taking requests from people I’ve never met). All obstacle racing discussions, planning and strategy take place in Facebook groups, which grow by the day. I get probably close to 100 notifications a day. But if I tune out, I miss important stuff–I couldn’t quit if I tried. Damn you, Facebook.

(11) I started blogging. And we all know that blogging is a completely narcissistic exercise. It’s “me me me” and “look how awesome I am at something that no one cares about” and “listen to my deep thoughts and validate my emotional worth.” So yes, I suck. And I contribute nothing useful…why are you reading? Word.

(12) It introduced me to Joel Gat. He bites nipples. Enough said.

(13) Mint.com sends me angry reminders that I’ve constantly “exceeded my budget for travel.” Living in Chicago, very few of these races are within driving distance. I’ve flown more than I ever have in my entire life, and my savings account hates me for it. Along those lines, my gearwhore-ness has no bounds. Rucks are expensive, winter clothes and wetsuits are expensive. So instead, I’ve just increased my budget–take that, mint.com.

(14) I’ve met enough weirdos to fill a psych ward. Seriously, I love you fellow racers, but most of you are just plain nuts. Some of you are annoying, going around talking about how “badass” you are all the time. That’s cool. I just roll my eyes. Most of you are the good crazy. But still, crazy–I don’t think I’d take you home to meet my mom or anything.

(15) I’ll never look at a wetsuit the same way again. Wearing 2.5 of them for the better part of 24 hours and still nearly getting hypothermia will skew your perception of any innocuous object.

(16) My hair may never grow again. (and no, it’s not from the hair dye, assholes) Keeping it pulled back in tight ponytails for hours on end and then getting that wet, muddy, in knots, and ripped my barb wire will cause some very attractive breakage.

(17) My competitive side came back to life. I avoid races/competition for several years before WTM because I knew how innately competitive I am, and how that can become ugly. And now it seems like everything I do is a competition. Hell, even my daily workouts are competitions. Or walking faster than everyone else on my morning commute.

(18) Certain foods have weird associations. Sharkies. Peanut M&Ms. Mint Oreos. Ice Cream Sundae Poptarts. Hot Jello. Bananas. YoGo. Nutella. Cashews.

(19) I can’t wear sandals. Well, once again, I SHOULDN’T wear sandals. But I do. But I’m down to 6 toenails, and the ones that are there fall off post-race at a regular interval. Yes, it’s ugly. But I’ve gotten really good at painting the skin. So deal with it, people.

(20) Though it’s faint, my apartment will always slightly smell of Jersey. At times, I’ll get a whiff. And then I’ll either smile or want to cry.

Let’s be honest. I smile. I love this shit.

It’s ruined my life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.