Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm a Dirty Girl

Yesterday was the World Famous Camp Pendleton Mud Run and I survived. Actually, I did better than survive - I had a fantastic time. You are going to have to bear with the crappy pictures though - I didn't bring my digital camera, but instead opted for a waterproof disposable. And we all know how awesome the quality of those photos always are!

I was nervous, as demonstrated by Friday's blog post. I really didn't know what to expect. I was worried I would be too slow over the obstacles. I was a little worried I would get hurt. I was going to be majorly pissed off if my husband beat me.

Our alarm went off at 5:00 am, which in my opinion, is just wrong. But the paperwork recommended we be at the Camp Pendleton Main Gate by 6:00 am. Well, that might have been a tad bit early. We arrived about 6:40 am and we still had plenty of time. After taking the shuttle bus, grabbing our T-shirts, and checking our bag, we walked around for a while, warmed up a little and stretched, drank a crapload of water, went to the port-o-potties twice, and then waited in a huge crowd by the start. It was pretty fun seeing all the teams - there were girls with boas, guys wearing funny shirts, teams all dressed alike. I saw people duct tape their shoes on and break out the swim goggles. Everyone was having a great time.

There was a marine yelling into a microphone, but I couldn't hear a word he said. I could see the countdown clock, so I just waited, major butterflies in my tummy. I kinda felt like maybe this wasn't a good idea, but before I could back out, we had started. Within the first mile, I wondered if I had made a bad decision on shoes. I knew I would be throwing them away after, but these were 8 year old trail runners, and my left shin was making sure I knew this. But I knew I had to keep going, if for no other reason than to save face.

I was worried it would be too cold for the water obstacles, but by the time we hit the fire hoses and fire trucks, I was happy for some water to cool me off. The water might actually be the best part about the Mud Run compared to other races! Some wimpy girls tried to run behind a water truck, not realizing that they spray water out the back to dampen down trails and cut dust. You better believe that driver let loose on them!

I was starting to worry about how I was going to hold up - I had no clue on my pace, or how far we had run, and I was getting pretty tired. And then we hit a bottleneck - the first "mud" crossing. It was next to nothing, but between the trail narrowing by 80% and the hesitation some people had about crossing the mud, it gave us the opportunity to walk. Or rather, shuffle. It was a welcome break at first, but then it started to get a bit annoying. This happened a few times - first with barely damp "mud" and then with a reasonably clean but knee high river crossing, and the a dank and vile black mud pit with slop that went about mid calf, all interspersed with sand running. I have to say though, after my shin's first water dunk, it felt like a million bucks. No more pain! Or maybe that was adrenaline. But I digress.

After those little teasers, it was up the hill. And what a hill that sucker was. It stretched probably a couple miles linearly, and it was just a steady hill climb. Sometimes it was steep, but most of all, it was just a draining, gradual climb. I believe they call it "Suicide Hill" - I will call it "Husband Killer." This is where my husband told me to leave him, since I was trying to encourage him to start running again. I guess the hill training I am doing is paying off! Woot! So I took off and left him behind. I probably should have stuck with him, but I was bound and determined to beat him, and of course, if I totally sucked at obstacles, I kinda didn't want him to see me fail.

So I ran. Just after a Marine told me I had hit the four mile mark, I saw the first mud pit and 5' wall. It didn't look so bad, and I had already decided I could use a Marine knee if required. Well, I didn't need to! I got over it no problem with no help! I was pretty pumped at this point. I wasn't fast at it, but I did it. About a quarter mile later I round a corner and see the lake crossing. That was interesting - I am a tall girl and that lake was up to my shoulders/chin. I felt bad for the short people who had to swim the whole way! But it was cool and refreshing and maybe the part of the race that was the most fun.

Now, once you have been practically swimming in water for 5 minutes, you have no more shame. Your shoes are completely squishing, your clothes are pasted to you with water. I knew there was another set of mud pits with another 5' wall, and those came pretty quickly. All confident from my first wall success, I went in hot, and maybe didn't calculate my landing as well - I landed on my feet and promptly lost my balance and fell on my butt. I landed on a rock and got mud everywhere - hair, ears, face. My butt still hurts, but if you don't want to get dirty, you don't run this race, right? There was a female Marine standing next to the mud pit. Our eyes met as I stood up, and I laughed at myself and she smiled at me. What are you going to do? At the end of that mud pit there were tunnels and a Marine yelling at people to go faster. I went as fast as the guy in front of me did.

Run, run, run. Up another hill, and then down. Such a long downhill. It was hard to run, my quads were killing me and the ground was loose enough that it just didn't feel stable, and then we saw the steep hill. Or maybe that's the slippery hill? Holy Mother of God. The bottom was hard dirt. And then there was a little river. And then there was mud. Lots of mud. And people slipping all around me. I was glad that my old trail runners still had a good amount of tread. I made it without slipping too much, but I'm not sure how. And then once at the top, there were more Marines with fire hoses. What do I care? I'm already soaked and covered with mud. I have dirt and sweat in my eyes. Hey, maybe they could hose my face off! That would have totally helped.

The marines keep telling me the finish was only 200 yards away. but all I see is this steep ass downhill, so steep you can't run, you can't even jog. It was strategic foot placement the whole way down, just trying not to slip and scrape my ass the rest of the way down the hill. I suppose I could have gained some time that way! Once at the bottom, I felt like I was at the end. In fact, there were spectators! I must be at the finish! But I turned the corner, and saw the 100' mud crawl. There were low lying pieces of flagging to keep my ass on my hands and knees. A kind Marine helped me over the 3' burm whether I needed it or not, and then I was in it. The sand and rocks were scraping my knees, but I just needed to finish. Stay low, keep going. I could see no way to even bear crawl. As I went, it seemed the flagging got lower and lower, and then someone caught the flagging and once it was released, it dipped low. I of course didn't want it to hit me in the face, or catch my neck on it, so I ducked - face first into muddy water. Awesome. I could see the mud on my eyelashes as I crawled out and sprinted towards the finish. I couldn't wipe my eyes - my whole body was coated in mud. By this time I realized the camera has suffered some major scratches to the casing in front of the lens. I look up as I finish, and I see I have finished in about 1:32. Not bad.

Then I waited for my other half, and about six minutes later he showed up, dirty and tired.

We got a picture, which was fairly messed up due to the camera scratches as well as the original quality.

We picked up our stuff, a couple heavy duty plastic bags for our clothes, grabbed $4 beers ::thumbs up:: and then waited in line for a cold public shower. I had thought ahead and I wore bathing suit bottoms and a sports bra under my clothes, so in line I stripped down to basically my underwear and flippy floppies. When a shower opened up I jumped in, whimpered slightly at the cold water, and attempted to scrub the dirt out of my hair and off my limbs.

The women's changing room was packed and crowded, so I did a semi-surfer change in public. My dignity was already gone, so why not? LOL Remind me next year to bring a bigger towel. Once our dirty clothes were packed into our bag, it weighed about 30 pounds. I think my socks alone weighed a pound each. We grabbed more $4 beers, and decided it was time to leave.

It was the absolute most fun I have ever had at a race! I want to definitely do it again next year. I really enjoyed it, and I feel really proud to have done it. I am mostly proud of myself for trying something new, and even though I did feel a good bit of hesitation before I began, I had very little hesitation while on the course. I ran through the mud, I ran into the lake, I didn't try to avoid the fire hoses, and I certainly didn't take the easy way out over the mini wall or walk on the edges. I went for it. And I'll be going for it again next year to hit a new Mud Run PR!


  1. Wow! That sounds like quite an event. Yay for finishing before the H!

  2. 1) Holler on an awesome race experience! 2) I am so sad and mad that I didn't do this with you!

  3. unbelievable! that looks intense! good job.....
    WHO RAH!

  4. Wow, that sounds like a blast!!

  5. I love the play by play of the race! Congratulations on doing it and with a smile on your face. :)

    Btw, the picture of you in the lake - the girl behind you was in my sorority. I did a triple take before I realized, yes, indeeed, it was her. Confirmed with her recent FB status of completing the Mud Run this weekend. Dang, it's a small world.

  6. Awesome job! Those pictures look exhilarating! I'm going for my second Mud Run on June 13 (did my first last October) and you're pictures have me salivating!

    I linked to your post on my blog, by the way :)

  7. Wow...that looks amazing! I am SO jealous I didn't get to run that. It looks like you had a really fun time though!

  8. Thanks for the recap!
    I was thinking of doing one in September, but had no idea what to expect.
    Congrats on your time, it sounds like you did an awesome job!

  9. Congrats on a great finish!! This looks like so much fun, maybe I'll join you next year!

  10. Wow! That sounds like so much fun! It would probably kill me but I'd have fun dying. LOL Way to go!


  11. Wow, those are cool photos. Now that I see how the race is I actually want to join in next year. I was just a photographer this time. -- check out photos at I might have one or two of yours.


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