Six years ago I was 315 pounds. Two years ago I got it in my head that I would attempt my first ever endurance event. Did I pick something on nice predictable terrain? No; I picked Tough Mudder. Why? It was in my backyard at Mount Snow and it seemed like it would be fun, including obstacles that required physical strength, a spirit that couldn’t be broken and of course some electrocution right at the end to reset you.
What started out as a seven-mile romp actually ended as a 10-mile romp, but it ended and I never felt more accomplished. The feeling was unbelievable ... so much so that I never wanted to do another one again. My body hurt for a week, but as time passed I realized I could do another and I did, followed by two more (four Tough Mudders all together).
But how many Tough Mudder headbands does one person need? (If you don’t know, they give out a hunter orange headband that says Tough Mudder on it when you cross the finish line.) So I signed up for the Spartan Beast, along with Mike Sorensen, Maaike de Jong, Kayla Burrows, Valerie Sargent, Pierre Landry and Nick Franklin. Because, let’s face it, if you’re gonna do something stupid, best not to do it alone.
Spartan advertised this as a half marathon, but I’ve been told that the course was GPS’d at just over 15, or maybe just under 15 (miles that is). So here’s the big question: Was it tougher than Tough Mudder? Answer: Does the tax code get smaller? Do kids love Disneyland? Do bears ... Well, you get what I mean and if you don’t, the quick answer is "Yes, yes it was a lot tougher." The long answer is: Anything that includes a two-and-a-half mile traverse up terrain that’s better suited for billy goats is going to make a human say and do some unnecessary things.
For instance, while grabbing two trees to keep from falling backwards, my hand slipped and I almost took out my battle buddy Mike. I jokingly said, "What’s better than this?" He answered, "Getting shot in the chest with a hollow point bullet from a 408 assault rifle, that would be better!" OK, poorly timed question, it would appear, yet answered with a little too much conviction to press further.
A lot happens on the trail. It wasn’t until I logged onto the Spartan Beast website that I was reminded of half the things we had either done or attempted to do.
Two things I’ll never forget: First, 30 burpees every time you fail an obstacle. For those of you that don’t know what burpees are, they’re miserable and everyone hates them (and for the record, they hate you right back). They are also referred to as "skunks" (because they stink), kill-mes, suck jumps, vomits, and I’ve even heard them called "the ex-wife." Hopefully that painted a sufficient enough picture. Doing 10 in a row will zap 90 percent of the people, so 30 is just not reasonable.
The second: HOTEL-200-3825. In the middle of the course there’s a huge board with a random series of words and number on them, you had to find yours and memorize it. Two hours later you would be asked what your number was and if you got it wrong? Thirty kill-mes! HOTEL-200-3825 was mine. I wish I could purge it to make some room for important stuff and in time I’m hoping it leaves on its own, but for now it’s clogging up my thought process.
I think that may have been my last run through the mud. I’ve done six total and I need some predictable terrain, so it’s on to triathlons. I’ll spend the next two years preparing for a full Ironman: A 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run, all in under 17 hours. First, a half Ironman just to wet the whistle next summer. And once again I’m taking someone down with me (Dieter Van L’eggsandwaffles), because misery loves company.
What the hell is up with that?