A participant's story …

Preparing to tackle Maine's first Tough Mudder

'The Great Northeast' competition set for Aug. 23-24
By Lyn Tesseyman | Aug 15, 2014
Courtesy of: Jenn Rich Lyn Tesseyman.

Westbrook — For the first time since its inception in 2010, Tough Mudder will come to Maine when "The Great Northeast" competition heats up and makes a stop in the Pine Tree State Aug. 23-24.

Searching for the best location to hold the inaugural event, Tough Mudder landed in New England at Westbrook's Sunset Ridge. With mixes of open fields, hills, dense forest and intense mountain bike trails, the designers of the course have built one that will crush its participants physically and mentally.

A Tough Mudder is defined as a 10- to 12-mile hardcore obstacle course designed to test all-around strength, stamina, teamwork and mental grit. To succeed in conquering a Tough Mudder course one needs to overcome fear and persevere against defying odds.

This is not a race, this is a challenge. In addition to the personal piece, it is all about team effort and camaraderie with your fellow mudders.

It is safe to say I did not know what a Tough Mudder was until after signing on to do it. I thought it was a race but upon further research realized quickly this was not the foundation of a Tough Mudder; rather it was about participation and finishing. It was about team and self-preservation.

There are more than 20 obstacles ranging from running in mud, climbing over walls, hanging from monkey bars, jumping into ice water and getting electrocuted.

I would have to think ahead and seriously train to be able to complete this grueling challenge.Through the videos, the concept became clearer. I needed a plan. I needed a team. I needed some arm muscles.

The first thing was go to the official Tough Mudder website. There was a wealth of information on the training and the obstacles. It was a key tool in helping the participant prepare; everything from what type of clothing to wear, to utilizing the circuit training routines that are available for everyone online.

Each obstacle has an appropriate name to the task at hand. For instance, take the obstacle named Everest. This obstacle is a huge quarter pipe ramp coated in mud and grease. To conquer Everest it will take serious strength and a great deal of teamwork.

The Pyramid Scheme obstacle also is strongly dependent on team effort. The only way to reach the top is to work together. Whether you are boosting or pulling, it will take unified strength to make it to the top.

Electric Eel is coined the "brat" of the Mudder obstacles as it forces you to crawl through a patch of live wires in frigid water, ice and mud. This will truly be mind over matter gripping at your nerves.

The obstacle that is the scariest is the Cage Crawl. This obstacle was designed to test mental discipline in small spaces. Being claustrophobic, the thought of swimming under 20 meters of cage, with only inches of breathing room, literally haunts my dreams.

Work schedules and life’s responsibilities make it difficult to commit to training times together with my teammates. Rain or shine, teammates or no teammates, one must go out every day and exercise.

When I started in April, it was hard to run three miles and I could not do a single pullup. My daily routine started every evening after work and I created a seven-mile run where the halfway mark was the Camden Snow Bowl. At the Snow Bowl, I compiled sets of circuit workouts using the resources available at the field. Pushups, tire throwing, running bleachers while carrying tires, burpies, more pushups, army crawls, more pushups; you get the idea.

The physical demand on my body was intense. In the beginning, morning awakenings included cramps from head to toe with movement slow and painful as if my body was ancient. The thought of doing it all over again each day was daunting. It was a chore to force movement and to keep pushing the agenda each day.

During the second month of training my body started to change. I shed 10 pounds. Muscles were beginning to form. The long distance running became enjoyable and a new mindset began to take hold. This feat could be accomplished with hard work. The aches and pains turned into strength.

By my third month I began testing myself. Walking up to the pullup bar, determined to finally do one, my time had come. How about five! As a ballerina with hardly any upper body strength, this was incredibly empowering.

Now at month four, I am eager to get out there and see what can be done.

The final piece of the puzzle was to solidify a team. This proved to be a more difficult task then first imagined. Luckily, in the 11th hour, it all came together. The first to commit was Seth Knowlton, a Tough Mudder veteran. I then recruited Travis Hamilton, owner of Arbor Tech, a small company that handles preservation of trees, and Quincy McCarthy, who is with the Rock Coast Rollers, a talented local Roller Derby team based out of Rockland.

We are all united on how to attack "The Great Northeast;" we do not care about time and we finish as a team.

The Tough Mudder pledge is: “I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge. I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time. I do not whine — kids whine. I help my fellow mudders complete the course. I overcome all fears“.

The Tough Mudder is not just a personal challenge; it is also for a great cause. It works to raise money for The Wounded Warrior Project. WWP is a veteran service organization that offers a variety of programs, services, and events for wounded veterans of military action. Mudder Nation has raised more than $6 million to help support thousands of warriors in need.

There is a gut clenching mixture of excitement and sheer panic as the date draws nearer. There will be 10,000 to 15,000 participants in Westbrook on Aug. 23-24. Statistically speaking an average of 78 percent of entrants successfully complete the course and I am looking forward to being part of that percentage.

My goal is to conquer my fears.

My wish is to leap over fire.

It is a life-changing adventure getting ready for the challenge of a Tough Mudder and "godspeed" to all participants for a safe and successful mudder.

For information and registration, go to the Tough Mudder website.

Tough Mudder: "The Great Northeast," is located at Sunset Ridge, 771 Cumberland St., Westbrook, Maine 04092.

Lyn Tesseyman, 35, of Camden and a self-proclaimed adventurer, is a Camden-Rockport High School graduate. A former professional ballerina, she now is a dance instructor/choreographer. She also is sales and marketing executive with TravelMaine, abOUT Maine and PetMAINE, all owned by RFB Advertising. She can be reached by email at lynallstar@gmail.com. She also will write a story after her participation in the Tough Mudder.

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