Tag Archives: Rugged Maniac

Love makes you do crazy things: Tough Mudder Edition

“Yes, sweetheart, we paid to do this.”

It’s been about a month since I last posted anything. Where have I been? Well besides living and experiencing things to then write about, I’m on what Dusty called a “love break.” Yes, its true and I’m not ashamed to admit it. That being said, love will make you do some crazy things. Things that the “normal, not-in-love” version of you would scoff at.

2 weekends ago, love led me to beautiful Charlotte, NC for the Tough Mudder. I’m just now recovered enough to share my experience of this event with you.

For those of you who don’t know, the Tough Mudder is the Mudder (pun? alliteration?) of all mud races. Yeah, I’m looking at you Zombie Run, Rugged Maniac, Spartan Race, Muddy Buddy, et al. You’re all Mickey Mouse, child’s play compared this 12 mile, 18 obstacle bastard. It’s safe to say I used more than a few 4-letter words (sorry Mom).

Let me just take you on a little journey through the 3.5 hour light jog on a Saturday afternoon. After roughly 2 miles and crawling through a foot of mud under barbed wire, you’re asked to do the Arctic Enema. What’s that? Oh you know, just an industrial size dumpster, fill with muddy water and ICE. Yeah. And once you jump in this thing, you then have to go head under water for a few seconds to get passed a conveniently placed board in the middle. It’s safe to say, I was a full-blown woman for about 30 seconds after that plunge and only brought myself back to man-hood by peeing during the next run.

2 miles down. 12 to go. The next few obstacles sucked equally as bad and were a complete mind-F. Hey, let’s have people hoist us up a 15 foot wall, so we can climb over and jump down the other side! Yay! Or the obstacle “Just the Tip.” Not the same game played by every fraternity guy on a Friday night social. You scale, side-ways across a 2×6 piece of lumber, nailed to a wall and hanging you 10 feet above water.

And then, the Electric Eel. This satanic obstacle involved army crawling through a foot of water for 20 feet, under electrical wires hanging at your face. If you just put your hand in the water if felt like the static shock you get from rubbing your socks on the floor and turning on a light switch. Only this time, doing that under water. Despite this, I dove in, swam across and felt my body uncontrollably jolt for the entire 20 feet.

Later on, on this lovely Saturday afternoon stroll, we climbed what I later learned was a 25 foot high dive platform and jumped into cold, muddy water with no idea of just how deep that pit was actually dug. Sadly, my American Flag bandana was lost on this plunge and is now resting peacefully in a now covered ditch on a farm in Charlotte.

Along with people in our running group have massive cramps in both calves, legs, stomachs, chest and my knee feeling like someone hit it repeatedly with a Louisville Slugger, we escaped without experience TOO much pain. That is, until we got to ElectroShock Therapy. Enjoy the video below watching people’s bodies get shocked rendering them immobile. It’s hilarious to watch, but I would have never done this had I watched the video. My favorite part is hearing the people video taping try to give advice.

You run through mud and misting water with 10-30 volt wires hanging like devilish, electric spider webs. And, oh by the way, there were a few 100volt wires dangling in there as well. If you’re lucky enough to find those…you’ll know. As I climb on top of a hay bail, I felt a pain in my shoulder like I’ve never felt and my body was out of my own control for about 5 seconds. On top of that, my girlfriends arm was barely touching mine, and the volts passed through my body, and shocked her! What a way to end a Saturday!

But at the end they give you a beer and an Orange head band! So worth it!

I can safely say the 2 things I’d never like to go through again are:

6th-8th grade (wow they were awkward, right?)

Tough Mudder

Glad to be back,

Tommy “Yes it was that bad” Cooksey

Born to Run, A Memoir of Anti-Talent

I’ve decided that I’m a writer because I have no say in the matter.

I’m not a writer in the professional sense (although I’m open to the potential), but certainly in the spiritual sense.  Try as humans might to claim agency of their own lives, they are rarely responsible for their talents and desires, essential influences behind the illusion of choice. In other words, I write because I was born to it, just as I was born to any other moment of specific talent.  Is it chance that my 6’4” frame walks into the break room at the very moment my 5’4” colleague can’t reach the coffee on the top shelf?  Like Morpheus, I see providence, and I can do nothing else but extend my arm, and pass down the coffee.  Maybe your specific talent is drawing, or baking, or maybe you’re particularly good at guessing the number of jelly beans in jars.  These talents might not be world class (even I’m not arrogant to suggest I have even a single world-class talent, and I doubt you do either), but they’re yours and they’re important.  Find them, flex them, and let the talent lead you to a place you’ll know you belong.

A couple weeks ago, I ignored all that drivel and ended up running the Rugged Maniac 5K.  Running is not my talent.  It’s not the worst thing I do either (that would be any activity requiring surgical steadiness in the hands).  In fact, I think running is the inverse talent to my writing.  It’s a primarily physical endeavor that I’m not horrendous at, while writing is a primarily mental endeavor that I’m not terrific at.  And, just as with the writing, I claim no agency in my body heaving laboriously across ankle-turning terrain in the Rugged Maniac 5K.  I signed up in a moment of hubris (I had lost a bit of weight in a diet, and somehow believed that equaled a cardiovascular renaissance of high school Dusty), coerced by a couple buddies.  My friend Steven finished the race in the top 25.

I finished in the top 500.

But the race wasn’t a total waste of time.  In business, I’ve come to believe that ambition beats talent 96 times out of 100.  Sure, nothing beats talented ambition, but let’s keep this simple. I’m somewhere between the third and fourth K of the run, and a skinny (but shapely) blond starts passing me.  I have instant clarity, recognizing this as a defining moment. For about half a kilometer, I weigh my options.  I can let the moment define me and find comfort in the gloriously tight, soaking-wet spandex running away from my instantly impotent body (I swear, at the moment, it felt like sexual virility was somehow on the line here). Or—nope, it was bigger than that—OR, I could latch onto the flame of chauvinism that has fueled male productivity for millennia and say, “Not today, bitch.”

I chose number two, channeled all the best scenes from Chariots of Fire, and kicked over to mental playback of The Boss on the final stretch (completely irrelevant to running beyond the title line). For that last kilometer, I was from Kenya. I was Forrest Gump. I was Steve Prefontaine. I was a guy who finished ten meters behind a skinny (but shapely) blond at the finish line.  Some inestimable time before she passed me for good, she said, “Nice run.”  God bless her.

Maybe the only talent I was ever born with is my unassailable ego, held sacred above all else, and I only channel ambition through the abilities that will keep that ego in place. I’ve gone on a few jogs since that 5K. Usually not more than a mile or two around my apartment complex. I mostly lumber along like a man 50 pounds heavier than he is, but every now and then, a pretty girl jogs past me in the opposite direction. I put my shoulders back and lift my chin up and actually run for about 10 seconds until she passes. It always feels great and silly at the same time.

But I’ve decided that I do it because I have no say in the matter.