This past Sunday I ran the Down & Dirty Mud Run 10k! A big thanks to Renewal by Andersen of Detroit for sponsoring me in this race! Much appreciated! (All Detroit area runners should like them on Facebook for a chance to win a free race entry. They give them away ALL the time.)
The start time of the race was 7:30am which meant a 4am wake up time for me! That’s early, even for me!
The race was at Kensington Metro Park which puts the park near me to shame. Oh how I wish I lived closer to that park! It is a mecca of trail running, bike paths and hills! More on the hills later!
When I got to the park there was a bit of confusion over where the race actually was. I am not sure if it was due to lack of signage or because it was dark out or both. Either way myself and many other runners spent some time walking in the opposite direction of the race area. Once I got redirected towards the race area, I found it without any trouble. Packet pick up was a breeze. And shortly after I picked up my packet, I headed to the Renewal by Andersen tent to get my awesome race shirt. There were 3 other runners sponsored at this race in addition to myself. Did I mention how awesome Renewal by Andersen is? Seriously!
While waiting for the pre-race festivities to get underway I spotted these guys.
I knew one of the obstacles was push-ups so I was kinda excited about the possibility of a drill sargeant ordering some push-ups out of me. I’m weird, I know.
Before the race started there was a pull-up contest. The winner of the woman’s division did 17 and the winner of the male division did 27, I believe. That’s pretty awesome, in my opinion, as I can’t even do 1! Which reminds me, I should work on that.
After the pull-up contest it was time to line up at the start line. This was very different from any mud run I have ever done before, as you lined up in a corral based upon your projected pace per mile. Every other mud run I have done had different waves or heats. I was a little nervous about how the corral idea would work but this race was much smaller than other mud runs and thus it worked out just fine. I was in the 10 min pace corral, which meant that I had a little waiting time before I actually started. The first corral to go was military & service personnel, then the 8 min corral, then the 9 min corral and then mine. In between each corral was a 4 minute gap. While I waited I chatted with some of the runners about the race and other mud runs. I got a lot of surprised looks when I disclosed that I ran a Tough Mudder. A little un-intended intimidation can be a good thing in a race.
Since I lined up at the front of my corral, once my corral reached the start line, I was in the very front. This was a first for me, I don’t normally line up at the very front of the pack. But I stood my ground and figured I would hold my own as long as I could. Once the gun went off, I took off and tried to keep pace with the others who started up front. I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to maintain the pace that they were keeping for the entire race so I backed off and ran my race to prevent from running out of steam halfway through. The course was hilly from the get go and was a good indicator of how the entire course was going to be. Luckily I have been hill training for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon on the treadmill so that was in my favor.
The first 4 miles of the race felt blah to me. I just wasn’t feeling right, I wasn’t running 100% and if felt like more work than it should have. I kept on having to remind myself that I was a Tough Mudder. Lol Whatever mantra gets you through right? After mile 4 everything fell into place and I felt like I had my running mojo back.
Here are the obstacles that I tackled along the course.
1. Ladder Wall - A series of 8 foot tall walls that look just like ladders. Thanks to the ladder rungs they were easy to get over.
2. Low Crawl – A cargo net laid close to the ground that you crawl under. I have done this type of obstacle before and being small works to my advantage.
3. Balance Beams – I suck at balancing but I made it all the way across the beams without any help and without falling.
4. Monkey Cross – This was tough for me since I am short! There were straps to walk on with large gaps in between. The key to getting across was using the ropes at the top to steady yourself. The problem was I couldn’t reach the ropes by myself. So I would have to wait for someone else to grab the same rope that I needed which brought it down far enough for me to reach it.
5. 20 Push Ups – Doing 50 push-ups every other day or so came in handy here! I was able to make up some of the time that I lost at the previous obstacle and I even passed a few people who had started their push-ups before I got there!
6. Marine Hurdles – A series of 5 feet tall hurdles. I wasn’t graceful getting over them, but I did it!
7. Tires – There were a ton of tires to run through. Fun!
8. Five Foot Walls – These were easier to get over than the Marine Hurdles. I guess because there was something to put my feet against.
9. Low Walls – These were fun and easy as they are only about 4 feet tall.
10. Sandbag Carry – I was excited about this obstacle as I hadn’t done anything like it before. I know, I get excited about weird stuff. I carried a 20 lb sand bag through the designated area without a problem.
11. Inflatable – I LOVED this! It was basically a 20 foot inflatable slide. Before you could get to the fun part of sliding down it, you first had to climb up a cargo net.
12. Cargo Climb – Another cargo net, but smaller than the previous.
13. Water Crossing – This was refreshing walk in water after being all hot and sweaty.
14. Mud Pit – The first mud that we encountered on the course. You had to army crawl through the mud to stay under the string of flags.
15. Tunnels – A big cloth tunnel to crawl through.
16. High Wall – An 8 foot wall with climbing holds. You could elect to do a smaller version of the wall so of course I tackled the big one. Made me want to do rock climbing for real!
17. Slippery Mountain - This was hard. You had to crawl on your knees up and over a a sloped wall using a rope to help you get over it. Did I mention it was slippery?
18. Mud Pit #2 – No mud run is complete without a final mud pit for spectators to enjoy!
As I mentioned before the race had a ton of hills! It was like I was getting my long run and hill work in all in one run! I ran up most hills but did walk a portion of a few of them. Right before the inflatable obstacle there was a giant hill that seemed to go straight up with no end in sight. I talk to myself (and other runners) a lot when I run. Sometimes out loud and sometimes in my head. I’m not sure which it was this time but I remember saying “I am going to run up this sob if it kills me. Oh and I swear a lot when I run too. Nobody and I mean NOBODY was running up the hill. So ran it I did and I got tons of encouragement as I passed people on the way up. Which also meant that there was no way I was going to walk any of it. I think I even shouted out something about how I love hills! Who am I? lol
At the end of the race there was plenty of water and food to refuel. I was grateful for the refreshing orange slices which tasted heavenly after being hot and muddy. Usually there are only bananas at the end of races and I am the only runner who doesn’t like bananas. Once I hosed myself off, I retrieved my bag from baggage check and made my way to claim my free grub. Every racer got a hamburger, chips and pop! That is a plus!
Probably one of the highlights of the day was when another runner came over to me and said “Nice run! I tried to keep pace with you but couldn’t keep up.” Thank you runner dude. That made my day. Especially since I didn’t find my groove until the 4 mile mark.
My official race time turned out to be 1:10:27, not too shabby. I placed 14th out of 48 in my age group and I was 207th out of the 537 total runners.
As much fun as I had at this race, it was a little bittersweet. I think this is my last mud run of the year as next month I have a “normal” 5k and in October I have the Nike Women’s Half. Luckily, I already have several mud runs scheduled for next year, so that will give me something to look forward to! I may have a mud run addiction, can you tell?