Tough Mudder Atlanta: Tips and Race Report

Race Recap time! I haven’t done one in a while but since this weekend I tackled two events I thought I would. My weekend started with the Country Music Half Marathon on Saturday and ended with Tough Mudder Atlanta on Sunday. I can’t believe I don’t get to belong to a special club for such a weekend!

Tough Mudder Atlanta

Country Music was good as usual. The weather was good but a little hot by the time I finished. I loved the new route. We start downtown now. They will need to make some changes for better organization next yet but the way it broke up the hills was wonderful. One thing you need to know about the Country Music Half and Marathon is that it is hilly! It can feel like you are always going uphill.

My personal race went not so good. I was tired. Originally it was my race this year but by the time I did the Dopey 48.6 in January, Tom King Half in March, Oak Barrel Half in early April, spent a weekend getting certified to teach Buti Yoga, and picking up boxing and dancing…well, I could tell my body wasn’t going to have a PR in it. I also didn’t really prep well the last few weeks. I was simply fascinated with my new interests that I didn’t rest like I should. I’m not used to teaching classes, navigating my own training, and keeping my bliss workouts involved.

Miles 1-7 were great and I stopped to poop twice. Mother Nature didn’t realize we were racing. Miles 8-9 were hilly and hot so I dropped back a bit. Mile 10 I picked up the pace again and then some dude ran into me and tore my shoe off! I stopped to get everything back on and then my mojo sort of just went. Miles 11-12 are AWFUL in this race. Just so you know it’s long with a huge climb. I started to not feel so good around here either. I thought I can kill myself and not get a PR or I can walk saving some leg for tomorrow and not get a PR. I walked some and jogged some and finished up feeling better than if I had just kept pushing.

All in all I love that race and I will likely do it again next year. I always do and it’s hard for me not to when it’s in my backyard. There’s something about the crazy good crowd support. Honestly, if I do a marathon next year I would love to make it this one. When I do my fifth marathon I want it to be one I love and that means something to me.

After the race, I raced home to shower, eat lunch with the boys and then drive four hours to Tough Mudder Atlanta. One of my long time friends and PNP client was doing the race and needed a partner. I am SO GLAD I did this with her. The Tough Mudder Atlanta was one of the best races I’ve done and I’ve done TONS of them.

We arrived early and jumped in the first wave. It was so exciting to be the first group of the day. I looked around at all the different athletes there. It’s amazing to see people of all ages, sizes, abilities, and disabilities doing the race. We took off after an amazing pre-race speech. I was excited because this would be my sixth Tough Mudder putting me into the Mudder Legion.

Mudder Legion is where you have run multiple events. You get special colored headbands to commemorate your race history. At the end of the race you get to do three obstacles built for you and it adds about mile a to your race. The BEST part is you can opt to skip the ElectroShock Therapy and head straight to the earned beer!

These are some of the obstacles we did at Tough Mudder Atlanta and we did 25 total including the Legion Loop.

Blades of Glory – These are slanted walls you climb over. Best thing to do is walk up, turn around, ask a guy (or a girl but a hot guy is always fun) for a boost, and go. What you will learn at Tough Mudder is this is not a timed event and we help EVERYONE. There is always a chance to get help and GIVE help.

Kiss of Mud – Get low and crawl through the mud. TIP: keep your feet up as much as possible and when you crawl out don’t stand up until you are out of the mud. You are going to get plenty of times in the course you can’t miss the mud. Stomping around in it just adds weight to your feet you don’t want to carry until a water obstacle.

Everest – I made it again but it took two attempts. The first time the guy thought I was going to make it all the way (which is a goal of mine some day). He grabbed my THUMB when he saw I was going back down. LOL. I said let go! All I could see was dislocating it because 150lbs of me isn’t meant to be held by the thumb joint. The key to this one is to sprint and keep running aiming for the top – NOT the ARMS of the people who are helping. If you aim for the top you will get that critical few extra inches you need for someone to grab you if you can’t get up the half pipe on your own. Once someone grabs you, throw a leg up and either people will pull you up or you will be able to pull up on your own.

K2 – This was new to me! Think big ass cliff with a cargo net at the top. You run up like Everest, crawl and try to grab the cargo net. Then you pull up the cliff and use your feet to stabilize. My best advice here is DON’T LOOK DOWN. Just focus on the next piece of rope you can grab. It’s freaking HIGH. Afterward I was shaking just knowing how high I was and how far the drop would be if I couldn’t hang on. It’s gotta be a good 40+ feet? All I know is I thought I would vomit.

Funky Monkey – Monkey bars just like when you were a kid except you fall in green water and it’s shaped like a triangle. I made it almost half-way this time. It’s the farthest I have gone. Start working on your CORE strength and your grip. My core was great but my grip gave out. I plan to build up to 2-min. Farmer’s Walk with 50lbs DB’s over the next few weeks before I do Tough Mudder Nashville.

Cargo Net – This is a basic climb up and over a cargo net. You need to just have good pulling strength. Doing rows and pull-ups (any type like inverted or assisted) will help with this one.

Walk the Plank – The first time is so scary because you jump into murky water off a 12-15 ft high dive. The sixth time you just wait for them to say go and hold your nose! I have found if I just walk out on the plank, look out and not down, and jump when they say jump I’m fine. I get to looking down and taking it in then my stomach blows up and I about vomit.

Rope Climb – New to me this year was a tall wall (20ft?) with a knotted rope and a few slats. You need good upper body strength for this one. I’ve never done this one so what I did was grab right above a knot and plant my feet on the wall. The more “laid back” I was it felt easier to get up. Each time I moved a hand up the rope I kicked the wall to grab some air. I got up, sat at the top, realized how high I was, grabbed the down rope and prayed I wouldn’t drop myself. You have the option of doing one or both walls. I did one wall and was so juiced that I was afraid I wouldn’t hold myself on the second. I felt bad ass enough so we moved on.

Cliffhanger – This just means big ass hill climb. At our race we were lucky it was dry so it was just hard because it’s so steep and long. If you are at a wet venue like I’ve done in the past then you will need to rely on others to help pull you up slick mud. It gets trickier the wetter your race.

There’s loads of others things. Just some random tips:

– Be careful in the mud. You will get so much opportunity to experience mud that when you see mud trails stay to the sides where you won’t lose a shoe.

– Work on CORE, FLEXIBILITY and BALANCE. While it’s important to be strong in the Tough Mudder, so many of the obstacles rely on your core to help pull you. Your arms are not going to be enough so you need that core to assist you. Do things like yoga, planks, pilates, so you don’t pull things, can hike your legs up reach far, and more.

– Don’t worry so much about running. There are 10+ miles but there’s a lot of hiking, climbing, and walking due to the terrain. Get to where you can run and walk a good 6-8 miles. It’s fine if you aren’t a great runner. You don’t need to be! You need to be a good walker, crawler, and climber.

– I love trail shoes for this race. It helps you keep your balance and traction. I’ve worn running shoes and minamalist shoes and I slipped a lot. I like feeling like I can get a good grip with my feet.

– Wear socks that wick water and be sure to wear socks that don’t allow a lot of gravel, rock, and dirt INSIDE through the ankle. I like a higher sock because when I wore crew socks I had to keep stopping and digging out rocks that ate my ankles up.

– Clothes wise I advise stuff that isn’t flowy. It will get snagged on everything. I wear compression capris to cover my knees for crawling and I cutoff race shirt that is tighter fitting.

– I bring sunglasses. I just shove them in my sports bra when I do the ice bath or swimming obstacles I might lose them during the dunking.

– There is water and bananas, jelly beans and more on the course. Normally there are 6-7 stops so I don’t bring any fuel or hydration.

All in all I was so stinking proud of myself in this race. As always it shows me how strong I am. I think I will always fall into thinking of myself as a recovering and struggling fat girl to some degree. That voice seems to very quiet after races like this. I still can’t believe I can physically do many things I do and I am not even talking running back-to-back races with an 8-hour round trip drive. It’s the facing my fears, running with a dear friend, figuring out how to conquer a physical challenge, and not quitting.

There are days where I doubt myself, wonder if I can keep off the 100lbs, worry I’m always going to be slow, etc. But, today I feel wonderful. I am reminded that as long as I keep challenging myself and working to be strong and fit those old voices get quiet. And whatever it is I want to “weigh”, look like, whatever will fall into place if I’m able to scale walls, climb cliffs, and stare down fear.

***Note: I did this race with another mom of two who killed it. She impressed the heck out of me because she had to balance training, a very busy job and two kids under the age of 2.5. No excuses! Love it!

  • Maggie says:

    Love it!!!

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