Mudd, Sweat & Tears

Or should that be 'Mudd, Blood & Hyperthermia... Ok, so it wasn't quite that bad but I did scuff my knee a little and it was certainly cold enough not to sweat!

Mudd, Sweat & Tears is a 12km cross country obstacle course similar to the Tough Mudder or Spartan races out there. It's designed to test all round fitness, team spirit and determination. Here in Kelowna BC the event takes place at Crystal Mountain - one of our local ski resorts, which being at elevation means the weather is unpredictable to say the least - especially in spring. It was probably 15 degrees C in town but up the hills it was no higher than 5. With rain. With wind. With icy cold water obstacles... Thankfully there was lots of running up an down hillsides in-between obstacles which gave the competitors a chance to dry off and warm up - somewhat. I say competitors but really it's not a race at all, at least not against other teams, just against yourselves. All teams help each other out when it comes to the more challenging events like climbing up and over 9ft mud slicked walls and the likes.

Our team consisted mainly of people from Helen's workplace, and me as a guest member and was a variety of ages and fitness levels, but only one goal - to have fun and to finish! Our start time was 10 am but due to some logistical issues and the sheer numbers of competitors we got going with the newly created 10:15 group!. There seemed to be less of us in our group so we had a daily clear run to the first obstacle - the above mentioned 9ft wall. Once over that the fun really started - with a muddy crawl through a pit covered with strands of barbed wire - just to keep our heads down and our bodies low, and wet! This really set the scene for the morning and from now on anything we came across was covered in mud from previous participants - I was always a bit of a dab hand at rope climbs but when both it and my hands are covered in slimy mud...

Other obstacles consisted of the intentionally demoralizing idea of carrying something heavy up a hill only to then carry it back down again, hulling a truck tire uphill by rope, more mud pits and wading through a waist deep mountain stream full of snow-melt - only the males amongst us can really appreciate the effort it takes to keep the water level below 'that' certain part of the body :-/

But the clincher, hence the photograph, had to be the last obstacle - the 'Over and Under'. A mud pit just a foot or so deep with logs running side to side; waist high ones to climb/slither over and low ones barely above the mud level to go under. Amazingly I did see one or two clean-ish faces that had managed to somehow get under without having to fully submerge the body, but for me at least, the only way under was to literally swim under! And so it was I emerged with enough mud in my face to not be able to open my eyes for sometime afterward - tricky really when the only way to clean off was a fire hose connected to yet more snow-melt water.

It was funny to watch a crowd of people trying to get their free finisher's beer to their mouths whilst shivering uncontrollably to the point of spilling more than they drank - but those few sips that made it to your mouth were oh so sweet!. Carelessly we'd taken just one small towel between us thinking that it would be easy to dry off and then put on our clean clothes - ha, no such chance! Getting home, (how awesome are heated seats when you need them...) we had to strip off in the garage before entering the house as even our 'clean' clothes were caked in slowly drying mud. And then the longest hottest shower ever ensued...

All in all a top day out; lots of mud, some sweat and some very almost tears of feeling fingers again after eventually thawing out  - way to go team Bridge Trolls!!!

Too old for this shit!

Recently I was trying to rally friends to join our 'Mudd, Sweat & Tears' team and although I expected many of the 'thanks but no thanks' responses, one answer almost stopped me dead in my tracks. A guy ten years my junior replied with "I'm too old for that shit" - whilst proceeding to tell me how great he used to be in his youth - he's nearly 42! Too old for what exactly? Too old to have fun, too old to get down 'n' dirty, too old to work up a sweat, too old to exercise and take care of himself???

And it got me thinking, at what age are we too old, at what point do we give up, consider ourselves over the hill and start 'winding down' to whatever the next life has to offer? there are lots of inspirational quotes about how we should live our lives (this being one of many and a personal favourite);
But however you choose to inspire yourself, surely the whole point of life is living. We are born and we die, those two are pretty much guaranteed, but anything else in between is really up to us. Shouldn't we live and keep on living right up until we die?

Thankfully not everyone has the same outlook; when I completed my first 'Tough Mudder' last year one of the guys on our team was in his early 60s, fit as a fiddle and was in no way holding anyone up. But he seems to be in the minority. Why? - because he's lucky that he's in good shape and is not ill? No, apart from not having been run over by a bus so far he's not lucky at all; unlike many middle-aged, (whenever that is!) people, he is committed to living a long, healthy and fun life - me too!

So I plead to all of you; consider this life precious, ignore the nay sayers and doubters and especially if you're one of those people who think they're 'too old'. Have a rethink, turn back the clock and make sure the second half of your life is better than the first. You've had the practice run, you have the experience and wisdom - start proving it! (and live the life in your Facebook profile!).

Come on; who's for never being too old for this shit???

Get to know the awesome you!

20 years ago this week something happened that changed the way I thought about myself forever and genuinely came to believe that I, (and therefore you) can do anything that I set my mind to. So what was this big life changing event? I completed one of the physically toughest and mentally challenging courses in the (British) military. The course itself was 'only' three weeks long but to me it was a culmination of a year of committed training and before that, many years of wanting, wondering, questioning my abilities. Did I have it in me, and if not what did that say about me as a person? What if I failed or was injured, would I try again? In the end certain things aligned, the opportunity came along and it was time to 'put up or shut up'!

It wasn't specifically the course content itself, but what followed as a direct result of passing that did it for me, a whole multitude of things changed; I was immersed into a culture of seeing every challenge as just that - something to be tried; there was no such thing as quitting - ever and nothing was seen as a failure, I was part a culture of non-judgemental equality, men who encouraged and sang the praises of each other as opposed to putting others down to boost their own self esteem. For the first time in my life I truly felt good about myself - I'd faced my fears and uncertainties and I'd won. A whole new world of opportunity opened up, and it was 'my' world for the taking!

I discovered a new found confidence in myself. Understanding that everyone has their own private battle inside, I started to feel comfortable around strangers, forgetting my own insecurities and paying attention to them. I learned to rock climb, to skydive and scuba dive, I found and married the love of my life, my career took a turn for the better - a career I eventually cut short to follow my dream of travelling after which I emigrated to another country and started a whole new career, this time working for myself helping ordinary yet amazing people face their own fears and make the changes to achieve their greatest gold and dreams!

Don't get me wrong; the point of all this isn't to brag about 'me' but to pass it on, to pay it forward - whatever it is that's holding you back, whatever your toughest challenge is, whether you think you can or can't, whatever you may find out about yourself; the only sure way to find out is to try it - you have no idea what you're capable of, (more than you think, I guarantee it!) or how it may change your life forever. Get to know the awesome you!

And the most important lesson I learned along the way - you'll never regret the things you do as much as the things you don't...
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