After almost 90 days of training (3-4 times/week), the Tough Mudder is finally here! The Tough Mudder is a 10 mile off-road race filled with 25 military grade obstacles. It’s like a longer, more brutal Warrior Dash, with challenges like a 10,000 volt electric shock added in.
Because of the shock and other things like it, everyone has to sign a “Death Waiver” before they can race. It is pretty standard stuff, and anyone who has done anything semi-dangerous has probably signed a similar release of liability, but calling it a “Death Waiver” does make it sound a lot more hardcore.
I go back and forth between thinking that the race will be easier than I think (being confident in my training) and thinking that it will be harder than I think. A couple of things that have changed the game a bit:
1) The heat wave that is sweeping the Midwest has led to a heat advisory for the race. Heat is a game-changer. You can train all you want, but raise the temperature around 100 and who knows how your body will respond.
2) More obstacles have been added, including water obstacles. I have this irrational fear about swimming and jumping into water that’s not clear. Something about almost drowning as a kid (or at least thinking I was going to drown). I consider myself a reasonably able swimmer in a pool, but put me in the middle of a dark lake where I can’t see the bottom and it starts to mess with my head. Psychologically, one obstacle called “Walk the Plank” (jumping off a high platform and swimming to shore) will probably be the obstacle I fear the most as I run the race.
I read somewhere that the only fears that we are born with are the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. That means all the other fears are learned – and thus can be unlearned.
I didn’t sign up for the challenge because I thought it would be easy or to stay away from my fears. I wanted to embrace the mental and physical challenge and train myself to become someone worth being. And danger and fear have a way of revealing your character in a way that comfort never will.
Incidentally, I just read this article which argues that today’s playgrounds are too safe. As a father of two young children, I had a mixed response. The overprotective dad thought, “no they need to be safer.” The Christian and CrossFitter in me thought, “that’s right, we need more things that cultivate adventure and risk, because our society produces pansies.”
Here’s the thing. I want my kids to be safe. I don’t want anything bad or painful or dangerous to ever happen to them. And yet I know that my character has been more shaped and stretched by my adventures, the bad, the painful, the dangerous the hard stuff than the safe and comfortable stuff.
Adversity forges strength of character, Peter the Apostle says.
Here’s to the Tough Mudder, strength of character and unlearning our fears!