In June of 2011, I received a text from my brother that had the link for the Tough Mudder event on it asking me to check it out. I said I was down for it, but couldn’t get any other family members to commit. The race was going to be in February 2012. I remember texting Amy Van Cleve that I wanted to do the Tough Mudder. We both half-joked that we should do the event and then promptly went about our lives.
When Amy decided in May 2012 to train a group of athletes for the Tough Mudder Race in 2013, I was excited and a little fearful. Having done other events, I knew that I would just have to go through the training and be as prepared as I could be for the event.
I spoke with a co-worker who had done the race in 2012 and he shared some pictures of his team going through the obstacles.
The only obstacle that took my breath away was the 15 feet jump off a platform into water ( the “Walk the Plank” obstacle.) I sent Amy these pictures and suggested that she share them with the group that would be going through the training. She opted not to share the pictures since she didn’t want people to get preconceived ideas about the obstacles.
She knew what we were up against…we did not fit the mold for the participants that usually join the race (we were predominantly 40-60 year old women..not 25 year old stud muffins.) I knew we could accomplish this event, especially with Amy carefully watching us every step of the way and making sure we stayed uninjured.
We began training in October 2012 for the race in February 2013. The requirement from Amy was that we be enrolled in AVC Elite group training Monday and Wednesday sessions and she would add a Saturday training day. We were on our own to run two to three days a week to get the base conditioning in. I can’t even guess how many hours we put in from October 2012 to event day on February 23, 2013 but needless to say there were a lot of hours involved.
Amy worked predominantly on our endurance in the Saturday training sessions. The basic training session was warm-up, run, cardio exercises, run some more, and yet more cardio exercises. Towards the end of our training we were up to 13 miles in total with 20 or more obstacles lasting 4 hours.
In addition to endurance, Amy placed an emphasis on proper running with your weight balanced underneath you, 180 steps per minute strides, proper arm movement and no over-striding. She constantly emphasized hydration, proper nutrition, proper sleep, all components that made us the best condition that we could be in. Not to say that I couldn’t have run more or had better nutrition but her constant reminders were always there making sure that we were giving it our all.
The training sessions all run together but the memories that come to the forefront for me are the following:
- First training session running, doing 2 minute cardio exercises, and walk/running up and down Kong with Kettlebells
- Training session at Mountain View High School where the temperature was 20 degrees and we had frost on our running shoes
- Carrying a telephone pole across Mountain View practice fields to utilize it for the Twinkle Toes obstacle
- Crawling through John’s tarped-covered “Trench Warfare” obstacle
- Training sessions in which you looked at your watch and realized that you were two hours into training and you still had a minimum of an hour to go
- Jumping into Amy’s pool in January to get ready for the Arctic Enema obstacle
- The look of horror on some of my teammates faces as Amy described some of the obstacles we would be encountering in the race (planning meeting at the Monastery)
The spirit of camaraderie in our training was unparalleled. When someone achieved an obstacle that they hadn’t previously been able to do, the entire group cheered. When someone had an injury, (and there were plenty of them) the entire group rallied around that individual. We had such a fantastic collection of personalities all melding together to conquer this achievement.
Most everyone on the team had an obstacle or a fear that they would need to overcome to complete the entire Tough Mudder event. We didn’t dwell on the obstacles we weren’t going to try…we would simply try every one and if we couldn’t get it done after a couple of attempts, we would move on.
Finally it was race day… The 15 of us showed up at the training facility at Ellsworth and Guadalupe. After an inspirational speech by Sean Corvelle (boo-rah), and we were off for 12 miles of running and 21 obstacles.
We had an amazing group of friends and family there to support and cheer us on. They couldn’t have done more for us than cheering us on at each obstacle. Big Kudos to Helen, who trained with us through every Saturday session, and took amazing videos and pictures of the all the FUN we were having.
The actual race itself is a blur, with the hardest obstacles for me being the Berlin Walls and Everest. Everything else was doable. I was definitely fatigued during the race, but felt I had the endurance to complete it. We stuck together as a team and although it took us a bit longer because of that, we were there for each other the whole way.
- Kendall completing the monkey bars…go Kendall!
- Cynthia jumping off “Walk the Plan” the 15 foot platform…conquering one of her fears
- Patti getting through the obstacle Trench Warfare which can be horrible for claustrophobic people
- My whole team working together to get up Everest…thanks, team
After a couple of months had passed since the Tough Mudder event, the daughter of one of my friends did the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder where one of the participants drowned. I realize that many accidents happen especially in such a difficult event, but I sincerely feel that Amy trained us to prepare for the race and we were the most prepared we could have been.
Thanks, Coach Amy, and I can’t wait to do the next Tough Mudder event!
What will you check off your bucket list this year? Rim-to-Rim at the Grand Canyon? Tough Mudder? Ironman? An Ultra Trail Event? What ever your fitness goals, AVC Elite Training can help you achieve them. Contact Amy today and let’s get to work!