Tag Archive: relax

This was so AWESOME!  I can’t wait to do it again. Seriously.

I have to admit I experienced a certain amount of trepidation regarding what I’d gotten myself into, but when my sister showed up as a surprise, everything changed.  If she believed in me enough to come to Austin, I knew I could do it. This might seem silly. So many people have been supportive of me from the outset.  This was different in some undefinable way.Mudder Boots

A lot of other things were going through my brain as we got underway.  Running by myself, it was obvious I was going to need help to get over a lot of the obstacles. (Like the 15 foot high walls with little tiny ledges at chest height.) I was concerned I was going to wear down because of the heat, concerned it was too cold since it was in the low 40s when I started, concerned I’d be laughed off the course for wearing long pants, tights, and two shirts.  I think I was the only one in long pants, but it was wise on my part.  It protected me from the “Arctic Enema” which is a long dumpster filled with ice water; you have to swim under a barrier to get to the other side. My clothes kept me warm and also cooled me off as we were running. They also protected me from the “Electric Eel” and “Electric Shock Therapy”. The first one requires you to low crawl through the mud under live electric wires, and the second is a run through a mud pit with live electric wires dangling over you. I only got zapped when I slipped and had my neck exposed as I got up to finish.

Those are the three obstacles they brag about being so tough, and they were conquered by long pants and long sleeves. So here’s a question:  are we here to get gouged, shocked, scraped and bruised as part of the fun, or are we here to take on the challenge and defeat it?

Other than the difficulty about the walls, (three different wall obstacles each a little different requiring a new approach to getting over) I think the hardest part was the running. It was all gravel and potholes and up and down and at some points it was so steep there was no running, only climbing.  Some of you might have enjoyed the trail running, but I was busy focusing on keeping my feet underneath the rest of me.  While we were running (I found a group to run with, and which was a big confidence booster.  A big thanks to K. Franklin Johnson and pals.) I saw two gazelle shoot right across the path on the way downhill.  I was a little surprised figuring the noise of the whole event would have scared all the wildlife into the next county.  There were also a lot of skeletons along the trail, some fresher than others.  It didn’t seem anything remained… uh…  unpicked… for very long.

I mean it when I say I had so much fun, it’s incredible. I would do this again in a heartbeat. I might not wear combat boots next time, and I think I’d have to shave my head to keep my hair out of my eyes.  I’d definitely train differently, but given half a chance, I’d be all over it.  Maybe if I start training now…

The truth though, I felt like I’d been hit by a car when I got up on Sunday.  I didn’t feel much better Monday on the way to work. It’s definitely going to take some time for all my bruises to heal, but even with all that, it was totally, totally worth every minute.  I may have felt odd being alone out there and being the only person in long pants, but at least I wasn’t with the group of guys wearing Nothing But Thongs  (or better, Nothing Butt Thongs), or the group of guys in Speedos, Chippendale bow-ties and shirt cuffs.  I also met a very large man, who was walking the course, and I have to say I am very proud he would take this challenge and work to complete it. (I saw him just before the second to last obstacle, and he had that look that said, “I can do this.” It was amazing.)

I feel like a little kid on a ferris wheel: all I can think is “GO AROUND AGAIN!”

Maybe next year…

PS: This is my last Mudder post (until next time) feel free to share with whoever might be entertained.


I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Over the weekend, I received over $600 in donations for the Tough Mudder’s Fight Against Blindness. I want to share the names of my new friends, who have so generously given.

As time is winding down more and more people are coming forward to support my cause, and I want to thank you all, right now, before I go and bonk my head and forget my own name. As kick off gets closer I am getting increasingly stoked to go play in the mud.  Of course, more and more people are encouraging me to get psychiatric help… but I think it’s too late to sign up for that.

To my friends who have been so generous to me:

  • Rebecca Vanslyke
  • Dusan Lazarov
  • Deirdre Whann
  • Lara Gund
  • Christine McManus
  • Jeremiah Shaw
  • Scott LeBlanc (and the Scabannah band!)
  • Jonathan Roberge


(PS: I know this is short, but it’s definitely sweet for me to say thank you again to everyone supporting me, praying for me, and laughing yourselves silly with me.  It’s almost time to get on the plane.)

It’s all about Mardi Gras…

We went to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World where Mardi Gras floats are created. We got sneak peeks at some of this year’s floats, and an even sneakier peek at 2014 floats.Did you know there are over 50 parades every year in the New Orleans area? Floats can only be 16 feet high due to the height of street lights and overhead utility lines. Parades were moved off the streets of the French Quarter as floats got larger. The streets are too narrow to support the amount of traffic involved in the major parades.

Krewes are non-profit organizations that put on the various parades in any given location. Each parade is only held once and each float can only be in one parade. A parade must have at least 14 floats and no more than 28. It suddenly becomes a word problem in math. How many parades with 14 floats can intersect with parades containing 21 to 28 floats without having any two floats crossing paths more than once? All of them.
Yeah. So, anyway. The company Mardi Gras World makes more than just floats for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. They also make props (what the figurines and busts are called) for casinos, amusement parks and ad campaigns. They have a set of Chick-fil-A cows (Eat Mor Chikn), and busts of several Warner Brothers and Disney characters. There are also plenty of movie characters and movie stars.

Props are created by taking blocks of Styrofoam and shaping them using basic carpentry type tools and then putting a layer of papier-mache on to smooth and paint. I’ve tried to show all phases of the development, and how many props or busts can be used in more than one context.
Obviously, literal images of a real person or character, can only be used as themselves, but more abstract images can be used in different ways. The head of a mermaid can be a mermaid or a witch, depending on how she’s painted. There are also floats and props that are called signature floats because they are used every year and are known as Kern floats.
The parade floats themselves are works of art. They also contain the necessary elements for lights, ‘fire’ smoke, as well as a restroom and safety hooks to keep krewe members aboard regardless of inebriation. There is even a list of do’s and don’ts for people to follow.
And while we’re talking about parades, and such, we got to see a little procession while we were enjoying an afternoon espresso and beignet. (Whoo! Got to squeeze that in one more time!) A small New Orleans jazz band marched up the street by a group of people with an elderly couple being pulled in a carriage. Upon reflection we realized that there were at least four generations of a family celebrating an anniversary. So that was pretty cool.

So enjoy your little mini, virtual tour of Mardi Gras World.