West Dover, 2015

7 of us travelled from the Boston area to West Dover in Vermont to participate in the New England Tough Mudder event.

Friday June 5, 2015

I worked from home today so that I could be easily ready to go by 3pm. I used my breaks to finish up a book that was due back at the library the next day, and ran it up the hill when I stopped for the day at 1pm. I also took a few minutes to re-shave the sides of my head to touch up the mohawk, and packed purple tinted sculpting gel to wear on the course. We'd gone with the team name Pretty Pretty Princesses and I was going to try to invoke Belle from Beauty and the Best by wearing a blue run skirt with my blue tech top, but I'd left my blue spiking gel with Louise when we did the Toronto Tough Mudder together. I had all sorts of packing lists but completely forgot to put "last year's headband" on it and despite reminding everyone else to bring theirs, I forgot mine. I did remember to pack an insulated cooler with ice pack and some breakfast and event food though.

Michael and Tricia rolled up to get me just after 3pm and we pretty much immediately got stuck in traffic and torn between competing GPS directions. We eventually settled on the more recently updated system but still took a wrong turn or two due to distraction as both were kept on. We only stopped once, at the Vermont welcome center (very rustic) for a bio break. We were going to drive right through Wilmington on our way to West Dover, so we decided to stop there to eat supper. I'd noted down Jezebel's Eatery, completely forgetting that we'd eaten there last year when we couldn't get into Dot's. We took a table on the enclosed patio, but soon the black clouds on the horizon were over us and dumping rain, so we moved inside. A young boy and an older women were both trying to serve us, we'd get asked the same thing twice in succession, and ended up with a long wait for our food anyway - the woman finally told us that it was all made to order and things could slow down when they were busy. Luckily we got our order of sweet potato fries with maple sour cream dipping sauce first, and that disappeared quickly. Finally my artichoke lemon chicken pasta arrived and it was good (though there were lemon seeds I had to pick out). I took the crispy onions off of my salad and they disappeared quickly across the table. I got my leftovers to go, but didn't end up eating them.

Driving the last 10-15 minutes up to Snow Lake Lodge, we saw lots of fluttering orange and black banners and "Welcome Tough Mudders" signs. The lodge parking lots was filling up by then, it was a bit past 8pm, but Michael found a spot not too far from the door. No problems checking in, Tricia and I were on the second floor and already dreading the stairs after getting back from the mountain. :-) We threw on our bathing suits and went to check out the hot tubs. The indoor one was in a very humid room which smelled strongly of chlorine, so we went with the outdoor one. We sat facing the mountain that we'd conquer tomorrow, watching the stars come out (the clouds had mostly cleared by then). Michael joined us for a bit as well. I was up in the room, showered, and ready for bed (after doing my knee PT exercises) by 9:30, so I read for a bit before trying to sleep. The room a/c wasn't working well - it was set to 60F but the room never got cool. It also seemed to be directing a whomp-whomp sound right at the head of my bed, so I spent some time sleeping with my head at the foot before waking up again and putting in earplugs so I could lie right side up. The rest of the team were to arrive around 11 or midnight, but I had zero signal and only spotty wifi in the room so I was out of touch unless I went down to the lobby to find a reliable wifi signal.

Saturday June 6, 2015

We'd agreed to meet up in the lobby between 8:15 and 8:30 and walk up to the main lodge cafeteria for breakfast. Michael and Chris were a bit ahead of us, and Aaron and Juliet behind us, and Tony to follow. I was scarfing down my granola and yoghurt and had enough time to run the container upstairs before we headed over. We had left lots of time to allow for lateness/herding cats, and were at the cafeteria by 9. I sat with the packs and checked bags while the others ordered, and when they came back with food to eat tried to talk about non event related stuff (after getting on a tangent about dangers of various obstacles) so that I wouldn't get too nervous. We were done by quarter to 10 so headed over to the entry to Mudder Village a bit early (wanted to be there by 10:15, an hour before our wave time). The check of our event registration went quickly, no lines segregated by last name and finding specific packets, they just scanned our EventBrite QR codes and then scanned a code on a race number and gave it to us. Then there was a table with safety pins to attach them, and markers to put our numbers on our faces/arms/legs (I was 117643, the rest of the team were in numerical order so we can find photos of each other fairly easily). I did forehead and neck this time, with Chris's sharpies instead of waiting for the official ones. We took a "before" team picture (happy and then fierce) and then traded full team picture taking with the group marking up next to us. Michael was carrying his phone in a ziplock bag and was our official photographer. :-) From there, we did bag check, also faster than expected, and then the Legionnaire check in to get yet another wrist band. I think by the end I had four: 21+, my beer band, my race band, and my Legionnaire band. We eyed the Ring of Fire set up but decided that we didn't want to get cold and wet before even starting the race. We were fine in the sun, but shade + wind was a bit chilly. I had backup layers in my pack (wool short sleeve, wool long sleeve, light baselayer, plus a hat) as well as two sandwiches and two Luna bars and two sleeves of Clif Blocks. I'd put a bit of water in the camelbak bladder to sip between water stations as well, but didn't fill it up since I didn't want it to get too heavy. Michael had organised a picnic for us but I didn't end up having to carry anything (Aaron got the utensils, Chris the chicken, Juliet the bread and cheese, and the wine and strawberries, grapes and salami were also distributed).

After one last port a potty stop, we were ready to go but our wave time wasn't quite there yet. We were able to squeeze into what turned into the 11am wave though, going into the warm up pen at 10:45. I didn't quite get to stretch enough since we came in half way through, but I did some. Soon we were let out of that pen and jogged up to the actual start, with the traditional wall to get over to get into the starting pen. No injuries there, though we got packed in tight. I wasn't able to take a knee when the starter asked us to, both knees were braced but it wasn't comfortable to kneel, so I just crouched. He told stories of other Mudders (one team last year ran for a brother doing chemo, the brother was out on the mountain ahead of us), they had us chanting, played the US anthem, and then we were off, led by a guy carrying the Wounded Warrior flag. I'd done some last minute fund raising for WW, but there was no Gilette tent doing head shaving for more donations this time around.

I wrote up the obstacles here. The picnic was awesome, and perfectly timed as I was getting super hungry. I'd had half my shot blocks by then and was considering my sandwich. I was drinking at least two cups of water at every stop, but the only course food I took were the gummies (skipped the bananas as usual). The half hour wait at Everest wasn't bad this time, we were in full sun so we didn't get cold. Funky Monkey also had a long wait, and Dead Ringer, but most of the others had good flow through. We were probably standing around for an hour total at obstacles, then had maybe a 15-20 minute picnic, and finished at 5pm.

I gave my beer to Aaron for letting me climb him on one obstacle and for holding the rope for us at Everest. The new headband was tight as usual, but I kept it on until we had our ending picture. I ran over to get my 4-6x headband, it was a bright bright yellow. I was getting shivery by then, but putting one band around my neck helped a lot. Tricia headed back to the room to claim first shower, but I waited with the rest for Michael, Aaron and Juliet to do Ring of Fire (there was a bit of a line, they wouldn't let more than one person on the tower at once). Chris went off to talk to the guy responsible for the fire effect, it was neat to learn that they had two water cooled pipes surrounding the fire pipe to avoid burns. Soon everyone was wrapped up in towels and hoodies and we were walking slowly back to the lodge. Juliet and Aaron donated their shoes and were leaving wet foot prints all the way across the parking lot, their trails wandering - we were all pretty tired, though with the course being just over 10 marked miles (I swear miles 7-10 were shorter than the other ones) we weren't destroyed. I was just limping a bit since my leg was bruised and my quads were killing me, but I was extremely happy to have zero knee pain. We saw a goose family swimming in the lake and wondered if the parents were the grown up goslings from last year.

We agreed to meet in the lobby at 6:30 to head out for dinner, trying to beat the rush. I just had time to take a very thorough shower and throw on my swim suit and join Juliet and then Chris in the indoor hot tub to soak out some aches and pains (and get our core temperatures up). Another quick shower to rinse and then into gloriously warm clothes (I'd brought a light long sleeved top for just this reason, I was still on the verge of being chilled). Tricia pointed out that I'd missed washing out some dye from my mohawk, but I didn't think much of it. We just drove a little way down the street to the Dover Forge where they weren't phased by us asking for a table for 7. We were in the back with other Mudders, one woman had put her headband on her baby and it was super cute. :-) We got an order of chicken wings for the table to make the wait less arduous for our entrees, they disappeared right quick. I had a summer sipper with cucumber gin, breaking my week alcohol fast with a tasty tasty cocktail. I guess fortunately the night's special cocktail was a pear monstrosity that I hated and only had a few sips from. My Hawaiian chicken dish with coconut rice was very tender, flavourful and filling: aka perfect.

Back at the hotel, most of us ended up hanging out by or in the outdoor hot tub. I went down first and spent some time gazing at the mountain and the lake and the sky and just breathing and stretching a bit. Tony and I ended up sitting on chairs on the deck next to the tub while Michael, Tricia, Aaron and Juliet soaked. It was really good to just hang out relaxing with my friends and having a bit of an event post mortem (though we did most of it on the walk back and at dinner). Tricia decided to hit the hay after tubbing, but the rest of us convened in Michael and Chris's room to chat (rather than braving the crowd at the Snow Barn after party). Tony had brought some Talisker Storm and I happily sipped that while we had nature documentaries on mute on the TV and discussed issues raised by Mad Max: Fury Road. Michael and I may have decided on costumes for our next race at the tail end of that discussion. :-) I headed up to bed at around midnight and fell right asleep. I woke briefly when Tricia opened the window to get some cool air in but was soon under again.

Sunday June 7, 2015

I woke up early and starving, so I tried to quietly eat my leftover apple without waking Tricia, reading to pass the eating time. I was still exhausted, so lay down again waiting for the alarm at 9:30 and fell asleep again. I had a moment of almost screaming with pain when I went to brush out my hair - turns out that I'd missed a strip around my mohawk when applying (and reapplying!) sunblock and the supposed dye was my skin going reddish purple. :-/ Tricia and I got ourselves dressed, packed and checked out and went to knock on Michael's door at around 9:30. We'd agreed to leave around 10, earlier if we were ready, but he and Chris stuck to the 10am plan while Tricia and I sat in the lobby and chatted for a bit. :-) Aaron had already left at 6am, but we caught Tony and Juliet heading out on their way to NYC. A few false starts on a breakfast stop led us back to Jezebel's where we were able to sit next to Tony and Juliet, but not to move the tables together due to a random door in the wall. Service was super slow again, I had to go up and ask for my muffin (which I'd ordered expressly so it would get to me quickly). Not sure who decided that a cornbread and blueberry combo was good for muffins (not a fan of cornbread), but I was hungry enough to devour it, and it stove off the hangry for a while longer. The huevos rancheros when it came was delicious, but lesson learned: don't show up starving. We retraced our route back to Boston, and with far less traffic it went much more quickly. We stopped on route 2 for a bio and drink break but otherwise it was a straight shot. Chris was dropped off first, and then me, and it wasn't too too painful getting up the stairs to my apartment. :-) More food was the first order of business, then getting the biggest chunks of mud off of my clothes so that they could go in the washing machine. I ended up running them through twice to get them mostly clean, and trying to clean my bathroom as I rinsed since the mud was going everywhere. I hadn't spotted the cold showers at the course, though we did stop at a random hose to rinse off our shoes a bit. I'm glad that I brought my old orthotic inserts, I was able to use those while the new ones dried. I managed to walk down the hill to get some breakfast food, and then up to return my now late library book, but ended up thawing some frozen soup that I had put into my freezer for situations like this, when I was just too tired to deal with shopping + cooking. I managed to stay up until midnight, taking a hot shower and then using my foam roller to try and get my quads calmed down.

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