As a Tough Mudder, I pledge that...
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.
My biggest fears have always been water and heights. I always imagined that I would one day drown or fall off a high ledge, so I challenged those fears these past few years by incessantly rock climbing and swimming. I never got over either fear, but I see them as smaller obstacles now. This race would challenge both of those fears, as I dreaded jumping off of the 15-feet tall ledge into a pool below. Endless trenches of mud, electrocution, barbed wire, giant pits to leap, 11 miles of hills, that all I can handle without a second thought, but when I reached the top of that wall and looked down, all I think about was all of those fears. When that drill sergeant told me it was my turn to go, I turned off all of my inhibitions, saluted him, smiled, took a step back and ran forward to jump over the edge. As the wind rushed around me and my body went still before the splash, all I could do was smile. There was no hesitation going over, and I was only on the platform for about 10-20 seconds before leaping. That's the way I want to live my life, and I knew I overcame a serious obstacle that day. No fear, no whining, just ride the thrill and live in the moment.
Before this event, I heard a lot of noise from every direction - friends, coworkers, family, acquaintances. Everyone told me I was crazy, masochistic, insane, and reckless. One of my coworkers asked if I signed my will or realized that I still had to go back to work on Monday. Most friends and students just asked if it was a good idea with my stress fractured foot. Many shook their heads and stayed silent. I know I said this before, but if you have to ask, you will not understand. In some of us, there is an innate drive to push for greater heights, whether physical or mental. My drive always encapsulated both realms, and I still refuse "no" for an answer to anything that people say I cannot do. I will never brush off the chip on the shoulder. It only makes me want to work harder, and by the end of the race, I knew that the Tough Mudder motto had been mine long before the race. It's the same one I try to implore to my friends and students. Don't complain. Don't whine. Help yourself. Help your friends. Overcome. Some of us are content with sitting, wondering, and spectating. I will never be okay with that and accept it as a lifestyle.
I finished the race with a sprained left ankle, sort right foot, bruised shin and chest, sunburned arms, slashed pinkie (from barbed wire), and countless scrapes, cuts, and bruises. I helped my fellow Mudders stand back up and complete their obstacles after I was done. With that said, I want to say that I'm incredibly proud of my brother for finishing as well. I know he had a really tough time, and we both came out injured and battered, but he showed some incredible resilience that day. Respect.