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Tough Mudder Thrice - Sunday, November 4, 2018
Yesterday I did my third Tough Mudder, this time in Lake Elsinore. I opted for this one after the March SoCal event was cancelled due to excessive rain and mud (the irony).

So Friday night, we flew down to Santa Ana/Irvine, got our rental car, met up with Raymond at Pokenoya, walked around the Orange County Great Park (we wanted to get on the hot air balloon but it was shut down early due to wind conditions), and drove to our hotel in Lake Elsinore. The hotel was pretty ghetto but we chose it because it was 0.8 miles from the Lake Elsinore Diamond where the event was. So the next day, Priscilla just drove me down the street and dropped me off right at the venue.

After the event (which I'll elaborate on in a bit), we drove back to Irvine and checked into the Hilton by the airport. In the evening, Raymond picked us up and we went to Aaron and Lauren's place to hang out with them. But we didn't see the baby since she'd already gone to sleep. And finally on Sunday, we went to church at the Saddleback Irvine South location (we walked there from our hotel) before flying home. It was a pretty eventful weekend, so we hit the hay early.

So back to the SoCal Tough Mudder. Checkin and bag drop were pretty quick, though that was perhaps because I had an earlier wave time (9:00) and got there at 8:20, so it hadn't gotten too crowded yet. The format was pretty similar to the NorCal event a month ago, though the Full route here didn't involve doing two laps and repeating some obstacles. Unlike my previous two times, I ran this one solo (hard to find people crazy enough to sign up with me, especially if it involves travel). It was definitely more fun with a team, but since I was able to set my own pace, I chose to run most of the way and finished in just over 2.5 hours. But my legs started cramping at mile 8, and I'm not sure if that was due to the tight compression socks that I was wearing. On the positive side, the socks did prevent a lot of (though not all) grit from getting in.

There were 21 ostacles on the Full route. Like with NorCal, the first obstacle was Kiss of Mud 2.0, ensuring that everyone started off with their entire frontside covered with mud. On Hero Carry, I paired up with a big guy and it was challenging carrying him on my back, mostly because his damp legs (from the previous obstacle) kept slipping from my hands. So he started carrying me about 20 feet before the switch point.

Blockness Monster was again a lot of fun, though most people didn't turn around and grab the block on their way down, which reduced throughput by a lot. SoCal had one obstacle I've never done - Tower of Tire, where people had to climb over a wall made of giant tires stacked three layers high. Pretty easy.

Mud Mile 2.0 was easier than it was at NorCal. Most people were able to get over the first two sections without help. The remaining sections required minimal help - just one person giving one hand from above.

Having had experience from a month ago, I breezed through Kong Infinity and Funky Monkey, though my technique still could use work. Cage Crawl was again a bit vexing, but I was doing ok until near the end, when the cage got pretty close to the water and then my face had nowhere to go but under the water. I then started freaking out and pulled myself through as fast as possible while getting water up my nose and down my throat. I can see how this could be a dangerous obstacle - I honestly wonder if anybody's come close to drowning.

On the next obstacle, Just the Tip, I got further than I did at NorCal, making it past the knobs and pegs in the middle. But on the latter half, it was too painful to keep holding onto the wood edge, so I bailed. I actually ended up losing some skin on my palm here. The guy after me completed this obstacle pretty easily, and he said that the trick was to keep the arms hanging loose instead of doing the cat grip that I was doing. In keeping the arms loose, the grip would probably also be relaxed and rely mainly on the tip of the fingers, which explains the name of the obstacle.

Arctic Enema was pretty cold, but I really felt it after getting out. That's when the shock wears off, I guess. And speaking of shocks, Electroshock Therapy was the next obstacle. I tried to carefully weave through the wires but still got hit twice in the back. I crouched to get under some of the wires, and the announcer compared me to a baby bird crouching in a nest and said that somebody should come and put regurgitated food into my mouth. I think this was the same announcer who in 2014 commented about me making sweet love to the mud! At least I didn't crawl through the mud on all fours this time.

Immediately afterwards was the final obstacle, Happy Ending. People were really good about forming human ladders and didn't seem to have the trouble that people were having at NorCal. I was able to get up pretty quickly thanks to some heroes at the bottom. And with that, upon crossing the finish line, my third Tough Mudder was complete.

I had fun, and it was great to see everybody tackling the obstacles and giving it their all. But I'm probably not going to sign up for another one unless somebody asks me to run with them. I don't really enjoy getting dirty, the overhead of getting to the events is a bit much, and the nature of the obstacles lend themselves to completing them with people you know. I do still enjoy the obstacles and the athleticism, and I'd like to try Spartan Race, which is intended to be more individualistic and competitive. But that will have to wait since I have an ankle injury, wrist pain and a GI condition that I'm trying to recover from. My biggest obstacle, apparently, really is myself. But these are hurdles, and hurdles are meant to be conquered.
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