Monday, November 21, 2011

post tough mudder thoughts

I'm sitting here on Monday morning and my legs are screaming in pain from the weekend's challenge.  Yet there is this deep satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something with other men that you can share the rest of your lives.

My day started very early as I arose at 3:00 and picked up Kirt and headed to Grace for a 4am departure. We traveled about 3 hours in a van together to Attica Indiana and swapped stories, prayed for each other, and spoke courage into each other. We arrived and boarded a bus that took us to the grounds where the event was held. We had winds blowing at 18 mile an hour and it was cold with wind chill making it feel like 28 degrees.

We were stoked as we waited for our start. We heard an incredible opening fire-up speech, sang the National Anthem, cited a creed, and listened to some rockin music, to say we were pumped is a major understatement. We fist-bumped, high-fived and shouted our mantra... I am LEGACY!!!

Right away we found ourselves crawling through mud with barbed-wire above us and immediately running up a hill that required other mudders yanking us up the hill. We were so incredibly fired up and yelled our mantra  together, as I would scream I am and the rest of the team in loud unison yelled LEGACY.

Our first encounter with water was a dumpster loaded with ice water which required us to dive under a plank and swim through ice. I felt my heart stop and begin a few times. As we exited the wind hit us and numbness ran through our bodies, but our spirits were alive and well. It was our welcome to the tough mudder moment.

The challenge continued and teamwork surfaced, we had two moments that required wardrobe adjustments, shoes were stuck in mud and we could not untie the knots in the shoes because our fingers were numb, it took us 15 minutes to untie a shoe, but it was just another element to overcome. The walls were killers as the landing on the other side caused your already frozen ankles to hold the landing. Then came the plank jump  which was 20 feet in the air to the frozen water below. It  was freakish and  I was convinced for a millisecond that I was going to die, as I tried to find my way to the top and swim out of the ice water.

At that moment our bodies were shivering on the verge of hypothermia. More obstacles with a few water stops. My legs were cramping up with about 5 miles to go and at one point Rich had to stretch them out. Yet, I was not going to let  a few cramps stop me when men with one good leg finished this thing.

The last 4 obstacles were challenging because we were frozen, cramping, and had little grip left in our fingers. We hiked over the large wall, crawled through the mystery obstacle where electric wires and barbed-wire were placed above a pit of ice. We had to crawl through without being zapped. One of our guys got hit so hard he blacked out and went face first in the ice. I think he is still there. We then came to the funky monkey where we were required to work our way across monkey bars that had water underneath them. I gave it a valiant effort as did the rest of our team yet only Jeremy made it the full way.

We then faced a Half Pipe, or better known as Mount Everest in tough mudder lingo, which required us to run up and scale a  20 foot half-pipe at full speed, leap into the air and grab the arms of men at the top. If you missed, your face was planted into the wood and you slid the whole way down. For me personally this was my most exhilarating moment. I was completely knotted up with leg cramps and unsure if I could even run. But this was my moment to do something great. I just willed myself to run up the ramp even though my body was saying no.

I took off and  jumped as my calves locked up and grabbed the hands of two dudes I did not know and we locked arms. I looked at these two dudes and said don't let go and they yanked me up. I just screamed and  threw my arms in the air and yelled at my teammates below in excitement. It was a moment like I have never experienced and  as I was celebrating my legs locked up. I wasn't sure I could make it down. I just dug deep and said go for it. Somehow I navigated down the 2x4 ladder and kept going. My teammates built a human bridge to get men up to the top so that they could catch men who ran up too.

A fire pit remained and for me it was the easiest obstacle on the course. I guess all my bonfire and leaf burning days prepared me for this obstacle. Then another mud crawl which was a breath of fresh air because my arms were strong and quite frankly my legs couldn't of handled another climb.

The last event was the electric run through 10,000 volts. A large group of men stood there contemplating when to run. My logic was this, die now or die later, and now seemed better then later. Why belabor the obvious. I took off with legs all cramped up and went for it. It really wasn't that  bad for me, because my cramps drowned out the pain of the shocks. Plus the finish line was in store and when you put a finish line in front of me I go into a zone that shuts pain out.

As I crossed the finish I saw the headband lady. She placed this orange headband on me and I yelled my head off with satisfaction. They had bananas, water, cliff bars, shirts available and I grabbed one of each. Yet I could not open anything because my hands were numb.

I hobbled back to watch my team finish the race and we celebrated together, Kirt got knocked off his feet with the 10,000 volts and blacked out for a second.

As we stood around for pictures we soon realized that we better get to the van or all of us might die from hypothermia.  I seriously  thought Scott was dying as he shook nonstop in the bus on the way back to the  parking lot.

I loved how along the way each teammate supported each other, guys came along side of me as I plowed through leg cramps, men lifted each other up, we cheered each other on, we prayed for injured guys on the course as we ran, we pulled the best out of each other. And in the end every man made it and kicked the tough mudder's butt.

Then we capped it off by swapping stories on the 3 hour drive back to Goshen. Something special happened in us and for us as we accomplished this goal after 4 months of training! And we will wear our tough mudder headbands and shirts with great pride!


MarlaMae said...

That story is a MUST for your book, Pastor Jim! God has definitely got His hand on you and our whole staff at GCC...

yochanan770 said...

I underestimated this course by a long shot. It was something that I will never forget, nor will I ever doubt my own will to accomplish something I thought I couldn't. My teammate was among those injured with a dislocated knee around mile 7, but he got up and the two of us walked to the finish line to be the last two through. Thank you for being there with us.

Jim Brown said...

Way to finish the course and fight the good fight!

Jim Turnbo III said...

Jim, This is an awesome post!! The way you explained it gives people the idea behind team work and what it takes to push through something mentally.

These events are some of the best at showing those who have never been in the military what it's like to trust and rely on someone you do not know. And what it feels like to look in the eyes of a stranger knowing they will do what it takes to keep you alive - with total disregard for what it may mean for them.

Though God shows how He works through the timid at times, I am sure you can see why God uses "warrior" references so much more often in the bible. Especially after the Tough Mudder.

You guys are inspiring and did awesome!!

No room for the timid here!