I have been thinking quite a bit about TM, and what the experience was like. Not just for me, but for the people around me, especially my teammates. There was something very bittersweet about reading everyone’s emails post TM. Though I know none of these people, I understood what they were all saying. Their experience of the course was about coming together as a large group and overcoming issues like injury, conditioning, differing fitness levels and fear. They did it as a group, no matter how long it took, or how hard they had to struggle. I think about the first couple miles, and how it all worked out the way it did. Even though I did not know them, I was on their team. The bittersweet feeling was rooted in guilt. I felt bad having left them. As I explore my experience and why I made the choices I did, I have to look at what drove me.
In the first 100 yards we all set out at a very reasonable pace. Considering the distance and the fact that we had very little idea what we were in for. I have run enough that I understand where my comfort zone is, especially on long runs. I let myself relax into that pace. I know now that is where everything came apart. I think I was so excited and so wound up I just let myself go a bit. When we got to the arctic enema jump into ice, it combined cold with that adrenaline rush. I honestly can’t say I have ever done something like Mudder. I didn’t much know how I would respond. Once I was soaked and frozen my brain clicked into this weird, very driven place. It was as if I could not stop moving if I tried. As exhausted as I got, and more tight I became the more I wanted to move. I think that is probably a pretty primitive survival type response to having your core temperature dropped like that. I know eventually I would have stopped moving, we all reach our bottom eventually. My experience of the course was one of constant movement. I was so blessed to have two people with me. I know that meant they had to make a decision. It was not an easy one. They could have chosen to stay with the group, and it would have meant I was without friends on my way around. That would have greatly altered my experience of TM. Not that people didn’t help one another. It was evident everywhere you looked. Each mudder took care of those around them. If it meant helping someone up, or steadying someone as they lost their footing in the muck. Some were too proud to accept the help. One fellow was limping badly on the way down a slick hill. I asked him repeatedly, but I don’t think he much wanted help from some scrawny little chick. But he was the exception. Most everyone was gracious and helpful. I am not sure I would have conquered my fears was it not for my friends. I know I paced back and forth in front of the Boa Constrictor in the moments before they caught up. I needed that urging to drop into that drainage tube. It would have been a very different day without them.
When I think about the rest of the team and their battle to finish TM, I am amazed. They overcame injury, and all the obstacles along with exhaustion. It took them a while, but they made it, together. I am glad they made it, and that they each supported each other like that. In tackling TM, I think it is so important to take into account the length of the course and the conditioning of the team. It is a hard challenge, but it gets even more difficult when everyone if moving at a different pace. Thankfully our team ended up it two pieces. Rather than many small ones, or worse broken into individuals.
It was an amazing day, but more important it was about friendship and about strengthening bonds. I feel I have learned a great deal about my friend. I think the reverse is equally true. I know I have someone at my back. That is a wonderful thing to learn. Regardless of how worn out or tired, or afraid, we have each other. When I looked over the wonderful pictures I stopped at the sequence from Everest. I wondered for a second if she had hurt herself reaching the top, as she has a very pained expression. I realized in looking more carefully, she was okay, it was concern for me. It took me a number of tries to get up that damn thing. She was waiting for me, and she was worried. I learned so much from TM, but most of all I learned about her. It may have only been 4 hours, but it may well have been a lifetime. How often do we have the opportunity to learn so much about each other in this era of emails and texts? Our friendships are often shallow and fleeting. Gone are the days of sitting and talking for hours, and sharing lives. TM gave me the opportunity to find so much. Whether it be my own strength and grit, or that of my friend.