This is gonna be a long one, guys. Just giving you a heads up right now. This journey from registration to completion was an amazing experience and it deserve a lot of words.
I signed up to do Mudderella way back in March, when September 26 seemed a far and distant date. I had an abundance of time to train and to bond with my teammates and to be full on prepared for this crazy not-a-race event that I had signed myself up for.
While I had my reservations, I never entertained the thought of pulling out. That just wasn’t an option for me. I’ve done plenty of other stupid things without training for them (like 60 miles, or 100 km, over 3 days in the name of breast cancer research), but this one was right up there with holy scary as hell.
About a month ago, I started to feel a smidge of panic. I hadn’t done anything more than my standard workouts which, while nothing to shake a head at, weren’t exactly making me feel up to the task of this insanity.
Then, a week before the event, I just felt calm about it. I figured I’d stick with the team and if I needed to pass an obstacle, I would. I would do the best I could and enjoy the experience. Perhaps some of that had to do with my heightening anxiety over who I was meeting and when and where I was supposed to meet them.
The morning of Mudderella I woke up bright and early. I got dressed in the clothes that I’d laid out the night before, still waffling over whether or not I was going to wear my sweatshirt. I knew I was going to get warm as I moved and I also knew that the sweatshirt was going to weigh a million pounds by the time that I got truly wet and muddy, but…. the rest of my gear was long pants and a tank top and this was Whistler mountain at the butt crack of dawn – also known as COLD. Whistler did get its first snowfall just a few short weeks prior.
I hopped in my cab and met up with a few girls at their hotel and then we wandered over to the gondola and met up with a few more crew members before taking the gondola up to Mudderella village. It was hard not to feel excited with the music pumping and the grins on faces all around and the costumes. (For the record, we were the SDLHC Dirty Divas and we had matching tank tops and crowns.) We milled around for a bit (and by we, I mean our team of 10-11 people) and then checked our bags (including my sweatshirt) and headed for the starting line.
A brief speech later about watching out for bears (??) and a reminder not to selfie with a bear should we stumble upon one (??), we were off! I should note that friends of a friend did the course a few hours later than us and did, in fact, see bears despite our thoughts that all the noise we were making would keep most of the wildlife away.
We trudged uphill and through some woods and up more hills and around some corners and there we were at the first obstacle, Surprise Party, a muddy slope that drops you into a muddy water filled pit with hidden holes to make for surprise dips. I have a real aversion to cold water and it was only about 5 degrees at this point, but, I was here for the adventure so… up and over! It was cold. It was muddy. It was exhilarating. And hey, the cold water actually numbed my legs so that only my upper half was cold now!
The next stretch was the most difficult and it was the only part where I questioned whether or not I was going to be able to go on. I was SO cold. I couldn’t lift my arms above my shoulders. It was POURING RAIN and each raindrop was feeling like a needle hitting my skin. I couldn’t curl my fingers as they were so numb. I was MISERABLE. Oh, and also? This part of the course was literally hiking 3K straight up the bloody mountain. Where people usually take the gondola. And while I had told myself earlier that I could just do my best and if I had to skip stuff, I could? I wasn’t feeling so hot about skipping anything at this point because I was here and I wanted to do it all and be proud of having done it all… so I was cold and angry about that, too!
Eventually our group, now separated into a few smaller groups, made it to the top of the hill and the rain even came to a stop. I still had no feeling in most of my extremities, but my mood was shifting with the weather and with the returning sensation in my fingertips.
The next obstacle at the top of the mountain was making our way across some balance beams. I sometimes find it a challenge to stand on a normal floor, so I felt relieved that the beams weren’t super high off the ground. I actually managed to make my way all the way across without falling!
A short distance later we came upon a wall to climb. It was a smallish wall with footholds and we hurdled it pretty easily and kept moving on.
We kept on trekking and came up to our 4th obstacle, Down To The Wire. There were wooden beams and stretches of wire about waist high and about 1-2 feet of squelchy mud underneath and the only way through was going under the wires. I had expected, based on the pictures, to have to crawl through this one, but the cords were actually high enough that by standing sideways, bending and ducking, we were able to get through without having to put our knees to the ground. This was one of the 2 muddiest obstacles on the course and I feel lucky I didn’t actually lose a shoe. The last stretch under the wires was mud and water. I had mud caked up to my knees by the time that I left that obstacle.
We hit up some more trails, this time all downhill which was a huge relief. We came out of a break in the woods to find our next obstacle, Skinny Jeans, which was crawling through huge pipes to wind up in 2-3 feet of muddy water at the bottom. I thought I’d slip right through the pipe, but it was actually a little hard to get movement so I had to inchworm my way through and, yes, the water at the bottom was SO COLD.
Next obstacle was Dirty Downward Dog. There was a series of ditches and in order to get across them you had to downward dog yourself so you were tenting over the ditch and then clamber sideways across. As long as you kept your hands off any sharp rocks this was easy. As a side note, if I do this again, I’m wearing gloves of some sort. The rocks on a couple different obstacles hurt and also, cold. So take my advice and wear gloves if you do a Mudderella or an event like it.
We were tossed back into the woods at this point and kept on moving downhill. One of my teammates was having a hard time keeping a grip on the downhills and kept sliding in her shoes. My knees took a good beating and I never thought I’d have said it, but I was actually wishing for some uphill!
A much-needed hydration break and potty break came up next and then another short little obstacle, I’ve Got Your Back, where you piggyback a teammate halfway across a stretch and then switch and they piggyback you. I jumped on my teammates back and off we went, but she didn’t want to switch at the halfway point and just lugged me the rest of the way across. Lots of giggles ensued.
At this point we had a pretty good hustle going on. While it still wasn’t super warm, we were at least comfortable and not freezing our asses off. We’d found a good rhythm and we were tackling these obstacles.
Up ahead we could hear shrieks and laughter and we rounded the corner to find Ain’t No Mountain High – a series of mud piles with water filled trenches between them. You had to climb over the mud pile and slide into the pool of water – a sign in front of the challenge warned us to close our eyes before sliding into the water. Up and down we went, sinking as deep as waist deep into the water and then scrambling up the next mini-mountain to do it again. While the water in some of the previous obstacles had washed off a lot of the mud, we just had it coated all over us again – mainly on our asses as we slid down!
The challenges were coming on quickly as we were approaching the last quarter of the course. We had to crawl underneath a heavy cargo net, nearly losing our crowns in the process. I had expected there to be mud under the net, but there wasn’t so we stayed relatively clean.
Through some more walls and we broke out to find another, much taller wall, Tough Ta-Ta’s. This one was a bit nerve-wracking because of its height and because it required the use of a rope to help get up it. My hands, while much improved from earlier, were still pretty cold and I wasn’t sure how my grip was going to hold up. My teammate and I briefly glanced at each other and around the side like we considered going around, but I had to at least try so we both grabbed onto ropes and up we went. At one point I was pretty sure I was going to fall backwards and smack my head on the ground, but I held on tight and used the footholds and then I was at the top and climbing over. I don’t know if I have ever felt so good as when I was back on the right side of that wall.
The course at this point was mostly flat with just a few small hills and dips and again, it was only short distance before our 2nd to last obstacle – the Wheels In Motion. This one was a series of hanging tires that you had to get across. It was a lot harder than it looked as the tires were all different sizes and some tipped as you stepped and some didn’t. I fell the first time, but made it all the way across on my second attempt. I was giggling like a fool.
And then. Then we came upon the grand finale, Hat Trick. You climb up a cargo net and you sit on the top of a slide and whooooosh, down you go into a pit of water. See, I have this thing against my face getting wet. I know, it’s weird, but I do. I climbed that net. I stood at the top and it was HIGH. It was realllllly high up, guys. The announcer said to not lean back, cross your arms across your chest and 1, 2, 3 and I was off and that thing LAUNCHES you. I flew ass over teakettle (in one picture you can see my feet and my head at equal heights as my ass hits the water first) and under. I sucked in a ton of water and heaved myself gasping to the side and then realized…. I DID IT. That was it! The final obstacle! The finish line was straight ahead!
In approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes (give or take a few), we completed the Mudderella course. We got our victory headbands and our t-shirts and some much-needed beef jerky. Because I’m super emotional like that, I almost cried getting my headband.
I am SO proud of what my team and I accomplished. I am so PROUD that I was able to do that and now it has me all inspired to do bigger and better things. Next up is a half-marathon in San Diego next June and then? I think I’m signing up for Tough Mudder, y’all. Also in June, also in Whistler.
So here’s to challenges. Here’s to doing things you never thought yourself capable of. Here’s to moving on to bigger and better accomplishments and here’s to always improving.
Go Dirty Divas!