Saturday, August 3, 2013

Lesson Two Fifty-One: Awakening

I did it, Readers!
Eloise was a Tough Mudder Finisher.

I got my orange headband, but it looks better on my feet.

The coveted orange headband is now nailed to the wood rack in the Lamp Post garage, 
along with my muddy number

 and my Tough Mudder Wheaties box.

If you are curious about the course and the obstacles, you can view the video from Tough Mudder Buffalo.  

CLICK HERE to see it.

The video on the link above was created by the Tough Mudder organization, and what an organization it is!  The work and planning that is involved with this event is mind boggling.  Here are some facts and figures from the Tough Mudder website:

Number of Events

  • 2010: 3
  • 2011: 14
  • 2012: 35


  • 2010: 20,000
  • 2011: 140,000
  • 2012: 460,000+

Wounded Warrior Project

  • 2010: $500,000 raised
  • 2011: $2 million raised
  • 2012 Projected: $4 million raised


  • 76% Male
  • 24% Female
  • Average Age: 29

Tough Mudder by the Numbers

  • 78%: Average percentage of participants who finish a Tough Mudder
  • 80%: Percentage of participants who do Tough Mudder as part of a team
  • 1,000 +: Number of people who have the Tough Mudder logo permanently tattooed on their body
  • 3.5 Hours: Average time it takes to finish a Tough Mudder course
  • 10 to 12 Miles: Length of a Tough Mudder course
As you can see, my gender was in the minority, and I far exceeded the average age for a participant.  I am anxious to find out the numbers for the 2013 season. 

I labored all week trying to find words to describe the experience.  Six days later I still am wordless.  The best I can do is to say this:  the Tough Mudder experience is just like having sex for the first time.

Wait---be right back-----have to go lock all the doors to the Lamp Post--
my mother lives next door-------and she ain't gonna be happy with this.........

All I've been hearing from my friends is how awesome Tough Mudder is.  How great.  How afterwards you feel something you've never felt before.  I've been overhearing and participating in these conversations for nine months.  Finally Eloise signed up, to the surprise of most everyone, just to find out what all the hype was about.  (And I do believe the facebook post that circulated with it was "Holy shit!  She signed..........")It all began as a curiosity more than anything.  

And isn't that a little like......I'll spell it, Mom,  S-E-X? 

So Eloise did it.  
I did the deed.  
July 27, 2013 I put a big red X on my calendar to mark the milestone. 
Mud race virgin, no more.

At least I did it with lots of people.

Wait.............I better go close the mother still scares me.

And I did it with men AND women.

$h!t!  I better shut the shades, too! 

And I did it in the mud in front of everyone.

Deadbolt engaged.  Sorry Mom.  You can't stop me now.

At least I did it with someone special.  (Someone, meaning a gang)

They are nice, Mom, really.


I can't describe the experience.  The best I can offer you are some of my pictures snapped by Ellen Louise, my blogger-daughter.  My family came to watch and I couldn't have been happier to have them there.

This was a picture of us getting ready to leave for the weekend.

You'll notice Sam is wearing a clip-on necktie.  I was doing the last van loads and going over my list, when Sam, my born-curious six year old son, began asking incessant questions:

  • Where are we going again?
  • What is it for?
  • What's a Tough Mudder?
  • Do you win a prize?
  • NO
  • Will there be horses there?
  • (!?!?!?!) NO
  • Well what fun is that?
Mother Eloise responded:  "Look, Sam.  I don't know exactly what this is because I've never done something like this before.  I've never been to this place, and I really don't know what we're going to do when we get there.  But I want you to know that this is IMPORTANT.  This is an IMPORTANT DAY for Mommy.  Do you understand that?"

I looked Sam straight in the eye and held tight his little shoulders, giving them a little shake for emphasis.  Surprisingly he seemed to understand.  He nodded seriously and said, "Well, I better go get ready then."

Sam retreated to his bedroom, giving me a few minutes of peace to load the band aids, Bactine, and gauze pads into the van.  When he came back downstairs he was wearing his Cleveland Indians baseball shirt and a clip on necktie.  "I have to support the home town team!" Sam said proudly.   "And look, Momma--I am wearing my tie for your IMPORTANT day!"  

I decided to skip the geography review and hug my son instead.

Here are some of Ellen's fine photos:

This is my friend I call Tracy Northern
(I have two friends named Tracy so I call them Northern and Southern);
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, here is 1,001.

It was a long, hilly, rugged 12 miles.  The Tough Mudder website recommends that you must be able to run five consecutive miles before attempting a Tough Mudder.  To be on the safe side, I wouldn't attempt it until you can run 8 to 10.  You don't run that much steadily, but you need it for your endurance.

You can sign up individually or with a team, but I highly recommend a team.  You can ride on the energy of the group if your tank is getting low.  Their collective courage will carry you if you are afraid.  And you can always find your leader if he is wearing a blue unitard.

Doc wasn't the only one attempting 12 obstacled miles in a costume.
These two dudes completed the course in flamingo suits.

This pair did it in women's tennis blouses.

Maybe that's why we slither through electric shock---to help us forget some of that.

The tunnels were under ground and filled with water.

The platform was very high, but I jumped anyway.
T Northern and I jumped together.
It's what true friends do for you.
Jump off scary-high platforms.

The hardest was the second to last obstacle at mile 12--Everest.
It is almost impossible to conquer alone.  
It taught me to trust and that I needed a team.

I made it up on my second attempt, and kissed both my helpers!

We got these cool orange headbands

and a beer at the finish line.......

AFTER we ran though the electric shock.
That is a curtain of live wires, Readers.

Headband earned.

I doubted if I could save the shoes,

but the Smurf shoes proved to be dauntless as well.
They came clean!
Thanks, Oxy Clean!

Readers, is the thought crossing your mind?
Could I do this?

Eloise says, OF COURSE YOU CAN!

and my but is big,

will you be serious about your training?

Can you maintain the focus for a full year?

There is no cheating, no cutting corners with this challenge.  
You simply must put in the work.  
If you are willing to do that, 
willing to lace up your running shoes at 5:30 am, 
willing to head out to a Team Adrenaline workout after work when the couch is calling you,
willing to combat the soreness,
willing to push yourself mentally and physically harder than you ever have before,
then you are ready to make this a goal.  

Pre-register today.

The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline. -Steve Smith

Eloise will help you get in contact with the right people to help you with your training.

Prior to Tough Mudder, we trekked to the area a day early so we could go exploring.  Eloise and family found Letchworth State Park in New York.  I highly recommend the day trip if you live in the area.

You take I-90 to the Angola exit, then head south.

It is hill country!

The park has breathtaking views of a beautiful gorge.

The waterfall is simply spectacular.

This is the view from the road as the sun came up on July 27th.
We were headed to meet up with the rest of my team.

I was quite excited and along with that comes some jitters.
Excitement and nervousness combined make for one 
Absentminded Eloise.

When I texted Doc to let him know that I had arrived at his hotel, I left my phone in the Dunkin Doughnuts bathroom.  Sigh.  Me and my phones.  We have a love-hate relationship.  I lost my newest phone about a week ago.  It just disappeared.  I am using an old one with a new SIM card.  I had to re-add all my contacts, so this time I did so by using only nicknames.  Here are a few:

Weather channel is my mother......

Good to know there are still some good people in the world.
This person found the person I texted last (Doc), 
to let him know that his Tough Mudder recruit was operating on a slight delay.

How embarrassing!

I didn't realize I had lost my phone until about 10 minutes after leaving Dunkin Doughnuts.  We were in a long line of cars, trailing one another, headed to Tough Mudder when my nervous bladder struck.  No matter how many times I pee, the needs strikes me again and again and again until I settle down.  Unfortunately the bladder cramping could be tolerated no longer, so I had to pee in a cup while we were driving down the interstate.  I had to dump my cup out the window.  Thinking a little humor in the morning would curb the nerves, I went to call my friend Alcatraz who was trailing me to tell her that was my pee that splashed on her windshield.  It was then I realized my phone was gone. 

The problem with losing your phone is really losing all of your contacts.  I've seen other people do this, so I copied.  I put a request on facebook to send me messages so I could add to my contacts.  I put my phone number on my wall and waited for the texts to arrive.As each one came in, I nicknamed the sender and added them to my contacts under a nickname.  Most came through as just numbers, so some read "This is Jen," to help me out.   

One person, however, decided to play a little game with Eloise.  Look at what this clever turd sent me on July 26th at 2:27 pm.  The sender is in the pinkish box.  My responses are in the blue boxes.

Always a game with Eloise.
I still don't know who Smartass is.

I don't know who Fionnula Flanigan is either.  
After my list of accusations last week, she has yet to respond.

I have an idea, Fionnula.  It involves a date to reveal yourself.
Send me a letter and let me know if you are interested.

It's been a stormy week at the Lamp Post.

Lake Erie has been rough, so no boat pictures this week.

But my dauntless streak continues.  I met this lovely dog on the beach.
His name is Murphy and I let him lick my face.

Fear of dogs---gone.

I'm afraid this post has to end, though.
Eloise is tired.  
She's had a busy week and another lies just around the bend.

Enjoy the pictures from Tough Mudder and Letchworth State Park in New York.  I set them to Peter Gabriel's song Solsbury Hill.  It is a song about an awakening.  Fitting, because that is truly what Tough Mudder is really about---an awakening of the soul.

Seize the day,

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