We left off with some slight aches and pains in my joints and me hoping for some water soon. I had just completed Devil’s Beard and continued pounding away on the merciless paved pathway. My friend and I had run in direct sunlight for some time before reaching another obstacle. So much sunlight, in fact, that underneath my UnderArmour ColdGear and Dri-Fit shirt, I was beginning to feel hot. We reached Hold Your Wood shortly after:
This obstacle presented a challenge because the logs were deceiving. They were incredibly dense, and therefore way heavier than they looked. I grabbed a log that I felt was proportionate to my frame size and started moving. The distance of this obstacle felt like it could have been a third to a half mile long; it was difficult to judge because we were lugging this heavy wood on our shoulders. I coped well by alternating shoulders. However, as my friend and I finished the loop and went to drop our wood on the pile to be taken again, we saw our team approaching, so we decided to do the loop again. Unfortunately, I had already handed off my wood, so I grabbed another one I felt looked reasonable, but it ended up being way heavier. I was switching shoulders way more often the second lap, but I nevertheless finished it without a break. We moved on as a team, but ended up splitting again due to our difference in running speeds. We hit The Spider’s Web next:
It was directly after a water/banana station, which provided some much-needed hydration and potassium (good for cramps). Again, the teamwork at this obstacle was awesome. Mudders who had made it over were pulling the net down with their body weight to make the net taut and easier to climb. Those who made it over would switch with those that held it for them. This was the epitome of Tough Mudder: camaraderie. It really became clear that we were all in this together; it was a challenge for us all to complete, not a race. After holding the net for a few Mudders, we kept on running. The aches in my legs had subsided somewhat and I was still pumped, so I kept pushing without a problem.
Then came water, and things went all downhill (figuratively, certainly not literally) from there. Walk the Plank:
Though the one at Pocono Manor was considerably higher than the one in this photo, I was looking forward to this obstacle. After climbing up some very steep wooden boards, we reached the top, where several guys in military uniform (presumably Marines) shouted at us to stop thinking and jump. I had no hesitation (as a lifeguard for many years, I was no stranger to the high dive), and leapt in, glad to be getting wet again. The water was cold, as expected, but it was only when I swam around and exited the water that I realized how much the wind had picked up. It was immediately whipping around, and I was shivering violently in seconds. I felt like Will Ferrel in ‘Anchorman’, thinking “I immediately regret this decision.” We kept running, but my body was not liking one moment of this experience. Even though the lake water wasn’t iced (that I could tell), I felt exponentially colder than I had felt after Arctic Enema (iced water). Through some ankle-deep mud and woods, and then came Everest (suitable considering how frigid I was):
There was a slight backup of people at this obstacle, so we had a moment to catch our breath and assess where the best place to run up the quarter pipe was. There was a big section in the middle with the “Degree” logo, and a white strip on both sides. It seemed like the white strips were slicker than the middle section (though perhaps they just looked cleaner; it’s hard to be sure of anything when you’re shaking and praying for warmth). I lined up with the middle section, made eye contact with someone up top, and charged the quarter pipe. I was on track to grab the edge and pull myself up (brought me back to my skater days), but as I planted my foot to launch, it slipped on what felt like grease. Luckily, during the moment I was in mid air, a guy grabbed my arm and pulled me up and over the edge in one swift motion. I knew I didn’t have the body weight to support most of the guys running up, so rather than help others, my friend and I continued on our way. On the way down from Everest, we spotted several gallon jugs of vegetable oil (tricky, tricky). Next came Electric Eel (a mystery obstacle that we had heard about the previous day):
This was also the first electric obstacle. It required crawling in a shallow pool of water under live wires (some charged to “10,000 volts” as advertised by Tough Mudder). In the beginning, the wires were pretty high and could easily be ducked under or crawled around, but as you neared the end of the obstacle, they hung too low to avoid. I was doing a really good job weaving in-between wires until that point. I must have shifted my leg the wrong way, because suddenly I was jolted with a shock (somewhat painful, but more surprising). I definitely think wearing the UnderArmour protected me from a direct skin shock, which I think would have hurt significantly more. I spent a moment to reevaluate my strategy, and then continued. I received at least one more mild shock (which I think was actually someone else’s shock that traveled through the water) before pulling myself out of the obstacle. The water in Electric Eel, because it was so shallow, was incredibly warm. This was pleasurable for the 45 seconds I spent in the obstacle, and a nightmare after (think getting out of a hot tub in the middle of winter). I think this rapid temperature change did me in. I was still shaking, and despite the constant motion, my muscles were beginning to severely tighten, and there was no stopping them.
I was only six obstacles from the finish line, four of which were water obstacles. I didn’t know it was possible at the time, but I’d be getting even colder. As the wind continued to pick up, I made my way out of Electric Eel and onto the trail. I had made it through many difficult tests already, but the final exam was about to begin.