Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Not the Queen of The Swingers: Tough Mudder Part 2

I got on the ground, assumed a rolling position to protect the ladies,2 and gingerly but ungracefully made my way across the fifteen yards or so of the obstacle. That was easy.

I realized that as long as I didn’t freak out and as long as I didn’t make any stupid jerky movements I would be ok. This sentiment along having successfully hurled my heavy body over the unexpected baby wall at the beginning would set the stage for the entire event.  The obstacles may have been scary or overwhelming to look at, but when I acknowledged my fear, shook its hand and pushed it away, I was mostly able to accomplish whatever task awaited.

There were just about twenty obstacles on the course, and each section it seemed was progressively more difficult and less single-athlete-friendly (although there are a bunch of folks who are absolute superstars at OWNING the obstacles, many of us would require help.. Many would require teamwork to get over, under, or through them).

I won’t bore you with the details of each obstacle, though NONE of the them were boring. In fact, every obstacle had a different challenge. Most were physical, but there were certainly some in which you had to engage your brain, letting go of whatever self-doubts were holding you back, and then use your physicality to succeed.

Out of 20 obstacles, I managed to completely skip only two obstacles; I was not able to complete four of them, but I tried earnestly to do so and will keep trying until I am able to master each and every one of them. 

NOT The Queen of the Swingers: The one obstacle that gave me nightmares....

What I had been most afraid of was the King of the Swingers. I have no problems with height. I also have no problem with swimming. But jumping off a 12 foot high platform with murky water at the bottom and having to simultaneously grab onto a swing seemed impossible, and well…scary. I’ve NEVER dived off of anything. I love swimming. I adore water. Heck, I’m always the one they had to force out of the water during family trips to Rockaway Beach in NY. I love water that much. And heights? We’re best friends. I love being on top of a cliff, or or knob or ledge leaning over, looking death straight in its eyes. But something about the combination of the two gave me very vivid, anxiety dreams leading up to when I was actually standing on the platform waiting my turn. Is there a logic statement that makes sense for this? If p and q then z? If q then not p then r but not r or p then k? I dunno.

One woman approached the ledge, took a few breaths and decided not to do it. I can’t do this, I just can’t. Her team tried desperately to encourage her, gently but insistently. She declined their valiant efforts.

Would that me, I asked myself? Will that be me too? Highly possible.

When fear and anxiety take over, I morph into this quiet, laser-focused, person.  
It was my turn. I thought about letting the guy manning the obstacle at the top keep counting the others in until I was ready. But then he said, possibly sensing my incredible angst, look at the swing, don’t look down, and jump. Your instinct will take over.

I bent my knees a little and tamped down the rest of any errant fears that remained. I jumped. I don’t remember being in the air or hitting the water, but I do recall vividly being underwater for a few seconds, wondering if I was dying, then forcing myself to relax completely.

I didn’t know which way was up, but hoped that my body would know which way to float. Eventually, I broke the surface of the water and doggie-paddled tentatively as my heart rate slowed down, and then freestyled it over to the other side. I coughed, having swallowed some water, but I was not dead. I did not die.


  1. Thanks for the vivid descriptions, I enjoy reading your experiences.

  2. I was scared just reading your description of the swingers obstacle. Good on ya for doing it!!!