Monday, September 21, 2009

Cue the Breaking News Sounder - USMC Mud Run Update!

I survived the 16th annual USMC Mud Run. Barely, and with help from my team mates, but I survived. It was a LONG 4.2 miles with 30+ obstacles, and LOTS of mud. Did I train? Not much. My summer was eaten away by injury after injury - kicked by a mule, biten by a feral cat, breaking a bone in my foot, all the fun stuff. I went in knowing that I was inadequately prepared for the mud fest, but despite all that, managed to finish.

There are plenty of people who can tell you how to train for the mud run. I thought I would share my now first-hand knowledge with the world on how to survive the mud run.

  1. Set Low Expectations: It’s okay NOT to want to win. It’s okay NOT to place in the top 100. My goal from the start was to still be breathing at the end. And my friends, I was. I met my goal!

  2. Embrace Your Pain: Pain is a good thing. You don’t have pain if you are dead. So appreciate the fact from Number 1, and keep your feet moving.

  3. Don’t get attached to your clothes: Reference Picture 1 to understand what mere words can’t prepare you for.

  4. Laugh! The more you laugh, the shorter the course will seem, and the better time you will have. Unless you a REALLY serious competitor trying to complete the course in less than 50 minutes, then have some fun with it. Mud can be fun!

  5. Other Important Things

    Dress appropriately. No, seriously. Dress appropriately. You have a beer gut? Cover it up. Unsightly scars – hide them. No one can afford to be distracted during the over and under logs by your lack of clothing. Ladies, wear a sports bra at least a size too small. You need to be as aerodynamic as possible when mud running. And don’t wear girly girl stuff, if you want laid that bad, go to the bars after the mud run. And please don’t tell your team mates while on the course that her outfit makes her boobs look perky. That’s a great way to bring the race to a stop.

    Ignore the Marines yelling at you, unless they are telling you an alligator just crawled into the Tarzan pit. You are doing your best. (As an aside, I did meet one wonderful marine who cheered me all the way to the BIG mud pit – he made me laugh, which cost me valuable oxygen, but I appreciated it.)

    Remember the fun you had as a kid, sliding on your butt down a hill? Revisit your childhood and slip-slide away down steep hills to save your ankles and knees.
    Ignore the first water stop. This is a trick. What you don’t know is that in front of you is the Z-Ridge and at the end of it, your body will expel any liquid left in your stomach.

    Oh yeah, the BIG MUD PIT. It’s a dozy! If you haven’t swum fully clothed for a long time, you may want to practice it a few times to remember the drag of clothes and shoes. And don’t be too dismayed by the ropes at the other end that you need to pull yourself out with. At least you made it to the other end.

    Accessorize appropriately. By this, I mean make sure your shoes still have tread left. Everyone will tell you to wear an old pair of shoes. But what they don’t tell you is to make sure you have some traction left. I didn’t realize what little tread I had would (literally) disappear during the course, and I would be ice skating across, down, through the mud. Duct taping your shoe laces is de rigueur, and it may even be gauche to not have taped your shoes. Kinda like wearing white after Labor Day.

    Build up your repartee. While most of the course is survived by brute force, your quick wit may come in handy. For example, as we were grinding our way to the end up and down the killer hills (this may have been called Heart Attack Hill on the official obstacle guide, which would be very appropriate), I slipped on a down side due to lack of tread, and face planted into the next up-hill. At this point we were nearing the end and spectators were gathering. I heard the crowd gasp as I embraced yet more mud. I, feeling no pain at this point, jumped up and yelled “DIRT – It’s what’s for breakfast!” My new fans yelled and clapped.

    Get a tetanus shot, if you haven’t had one in awhile. For reals.

    Buy some Imodium. Uh-huh, think of it this way – about 7,000 people are going to be swimming through the same mud pit. ‘Nuff said.

    Rice paddy/Light Armored Vehicle Trenches. Right. Don’t try to crawl, don’t try to swim. Float. And pretend you are a crocodile. Use your arms only to propel you forward. I moved faster and got a little rest that way. There was only one “rice paddy” that only had 6 inches of water in it, and the floating technique wouldn’t work. Crawling through it felt like crawling through wet sand paper. Also, no flutter kicking, per my team captain.

    The Z-Trench. Oh, for the love of Pete! Wasn’t the Z-Ridge enough? I gave up trying to walk this damn thing that would go from knee-high water to a 6 foot drop and crocodile swam. Take that, course designer person!

    10 foot Vertical Walls. Take the two minute penalty, don’t be a hero.

    Tarzan Pit – let go while you are over the water. Not when you hit the wet clay on the other side.

    Litter carry – you’ve made it. It’s only 100 yards of screaming hell as you carry one of your team mates on a litter to the finish line. Your muscles are crying for more oxygen, your eyes can’t focus. And then one of you team mates says “lets run.” What a jester!

    Post Mud Run

    There is a party going on once you cross the finish line. It’s okay to walk around wet and muddy for a few minutes. It’s your badge of honor, your Purple Heart, and your platoon’s colors all rolled into one. Of course, you are still trying to breathe at this point. But soak in the admiration. You deserve it.

    The water and the orange wedge you suck down will be the BEST ever.

    When it is time to start the de-mudding process, hopefully, you remembered to bring a garbage bag for your wet and muddy clothes. Feel free to toss your shoes in the provided garbage can outside the changing area. The clothes you see in the pictures went through a fifteen minute rinse process, and that’s what they looked like.

    Feel free to bring a shower kit with you. The water is ice cold and you are out in public, but the more mud you can get off here, is the less mud you will carry home.
    At home de-mudding: Remember to clean your ears when they are wet. Or better yet, buy an ear cleaner kit pre-Mud Run for use afterwards. If you try to Q-tip your ear clean, it will hurt. And don’t expect to get all the mud out on the first try. It sticks with you for days.

    Post Mud Run Pain Relief. I sucked down 4 Advil as soon as I got back to the truck. And about 4 hours later, took 4 more. Find a muscle relaxer for that night – it will help with the twitching. Do try to do some work the next day. It will hurt, but it helps to get things moving. Also, drink lots and lots of water.


    Did I have a good time? Yes! Will I do this again? Maybe! Am I in pain? Yes!

    Hey, wanna see what I’m talking about? Take a look at these:

    The State Newspaper Photo Gallery

    Midlands Connect

    WIS TV Coverage

    See the whole course - Someone wore a helmet cam!
      Hats off to our team mate Phil!!!!!!!!!!!! He pulled our sorry asses (mine in particular) through the course. He's my hero of the week!
      Hats off to Liz who finished even with a concussion from bonking her head during her Tarzan Pit experience.
      Hats off to Mike who understood my pain when I had to crawl out of my truck to open the gate to our driveway.
                      Hats off to my S/O Joe, who helped me out of my sports bra when my arms wouldn't move.
                        Hats off to Matt and Leo, our co-workers, who inspired us to pull together a team and participate.
                          Hats off to the event orgainzers - truly one of the best run events I've ever been a part of - wonderful job, and the key valet - superb!
                          Hats off to the vets that we ran and raised money for - thank you!

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