Broken. Battered. Bloody. Bruised. Brilliant.
The Mud Life begins here…
I’ve always seen posts about Tough Mudder, whether it be on Facebook, Instagram or TV adverts but never imagined myself lining up on the start line to actually compete in one, lest of all complete it.
My journey began back in January. I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that throws in the occasional reward scheme (often for no apparent reason) and I was the beneficiary of a reasonable sum of money over the Christmas period thanks to a spontaneous Christmas email quiz from our CEO.
So what do you do when you receive an unexpected bonus? You start fulfilling your New Years Resolutions a little more seriously, also known as: sign up for a Tough Mudder, in my case.
No doubt I echo the thoughts of many when I wistfully recount my younger years – I used to be fit as a fiddle as a teenager, but those heady days are behind me. I played just about every sport under the sun and wanted to do even more. Athletics, Football, Rugby, Tennis, Squash, Table Tennis, Swimming, Cycling… I used to train regularly (big shout out to my parents for perservering with the travel arrangements) but then came the impending problem: I got a car.
To many this would seem like the perfect scenario – with a car there is no end to the possibilities of where I can go and what I could do. My problem was more deep-seated than that; I had a severe motivation-cum-monetary issue. I didn’t have a job so I couldn’t afford petrol. I didn’t have the motivation to get a job either. I had no interest in doing anything that involved leaving the house for extended periods of time. And once I had my own source of travel my parents were much less inclined to pick up the slack. So, naturally, I drifted away from training sessions and spent my dwindling cash flow more wisely… indulging in the finer things in life; drinking and smoking.
Hell, I could walk to the pub, all my friends were local and we had nothing better to do on the weekends.
Fast-forward circa ten years and here I find myself: fairly well-travelled (as much as the UK allows), two hundred miles from “home”, relatively unfit and wondering where the hell it all went wrong, so to speak.
But, as the age-old adage goes: there’s no time like the present.
Toby Keith may have said “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was” but by no means am I ready to lay down and die. Time isn’t necessarily of the essence but time itself won’t change me – only I can change me.
Which brings me back to January 2017. Click, click, type, type, type, click, click… done.
No backing out now. No last-minute excuses. This is for real.
I may have had three months to prepare for this, and although I don’t go out drinking like an animal anymore, I still smoke like an absolute trooper. Not the thirty-a-day kind, but still enough to classify it as an addiction that needed severely kicking to the curb. I tried on numerous occasions to quit but I definitely wasn’t in the right mindset for that.
“I reckon I could manage the Tough Mudder Half still, no problem. I’ll just cut back a bit.”
Typical me. Twenty-seven years old and still stubborn as an ox (I can’t say as stubborn as a mule, that would imply some sensibility behind my stubbornness).
Nevertheless, I downloaded the training plans, printed them out, backdated every single day on the schedule and told myself I would stick to the plan and give myself a fighting chance.
Did I stick to it? Did I f**k. I think I lasted all of a week before I ignored it completely. If Bas Rutten was here he’d be shouting at me, “wrong move!”
Even my desktop background, a quote from the legendary Eric “The Hip Hop Preacher” Thomas couldn’t motivate me enough:
“Pain is temporary. It may last for a minute, or an hour, or a day, or even a year but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place.
If I quit, however, it was last forever.”
NB: I implore you to take out Eric Thomas on Youtube – his motivational speeches are ludicrously inspiring – mostly due the sheer passion he puts into telling it how it is.
Alas, Saturday 6th May rolls around. I’ve had a pretty decent night of sleep and I’m up nice and early to print off all the necessaries: entry ticket, parking ticket, death waiver (well, liability waiver, but let’s call it what it really is) and finally some directions (just in case my phone battery gives up on me).
I’m dressed, I’ve packed a bag with everything I might require, I’ve got pre and post-race food and drink, I’m cruising down motorways and country lanes to somewhere west of London and then finally…
It’s a blur. I don’t remember much but I’m at the start line, alone with strangers, soaking up Dangerzone by Kenny Loggins as it blasts over the PA.
Then the countdown into the unknown begins…