CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY. CLICK HERE FOR ALL POSTS IN THIS SERIES.
By the time I had begun army crawling through the trough of mud and water, doing my best to avoid the hundreds of hanging electrical wires within “Electric Eel,” my body was done, and we were only at mile 8 of 12. We had finished “Hold Your Wood” just half a mile earlier, an obstacle where we had to hoist and carry 100 lb. logs around a long beaten path, and my legs were charlie horsing from my toes all the way into my hips in gratitude for finishing it.
I don’t know if mentally I was just checked out or if the current in the wires just wasn’t that strong, but every time a jolt went through my body, I noticed it as much as I would notice someone randomly tapping on my arm. I couldn’t use my crippled legs to get through, so I had to pull myself along with my forearms all the way to the end. The water in Electric Eel was frigid and penetrating, and it caused my muscles to cramp even further as I went. Once out the other side, all I could do was stand up against my body’s will, stretch quickly, and keep walking in such ways that the muscles alternated in their spasms.
It was at 9.5 miles when I first thought I was officially done for. In a new obstacle called “Pyramid Scheme,” Mudders had to get a running start and make their way up a convex and slippery pyramid. Nobody got to the top without help from others. I stood at the bottom for the longest time. My mind was leaving. My body was leaving. One hard cramp had left me faint and light-headed. But Eric was at the top, with his arm outstretched. I attempted to run. I attempted to jump. And I slammed into the side of the obstacle after all of my muscles in both legs seized completely and simultaneously.
“I’m done. I’m done. I’m done.” I murmured to myself as I hobble/crawled around the obstacle to the other side. I could no longer walk. I could go no further. I had just jacked up my legs to the point of no return. I wasn’t saying those words to Eric. He wasn’t there yet. I was saying them in a moment of panic, as fears of medical crews racing to the obstacle to carry me away set in as my unavoidable reality.
Eric scurried down the other side. “Are you done?” he said quietly. He had seen all hope and belief that I could still finish leave me when I had collapsed against the side of the obstacle.
“Just keep walking. Just keep walking.” I told him repeatedly. “My legs will work themselves out.”
I don’t know what was inside my mind telling me that. It was nothing rational, I assure you. Yet, somehow, hobbling at the pace of a napping sloth, we continued the next half mile to the “Cage Crawl,” a 50 foot icy cold trench of water which Mudders have to float along on their backs, underneath a cage, with only inches of breathing room.
I stood there watching other Mudders go through. Some were hustling. Some were panicking. Some were closing their eyes and humming mantras to get through. People were hollering and yelling about the temperature of it. And everything inside of me told me to skip this obstacle. I was already so cold, and I was not warming up. Chilling breezes in front of a thickly hidden sun were hitting me like daggers already. And for some reason, I got in anyway and started my way through the obstacle.
It was halfway through it that I knew what a colossal mistake I had made. I began shivering uncontrollably as I went. My legs attempted to turn themselves inside out with new cramps. I felt my bones freeze, first in my arms and then in my legs. My breathing shallowed. And I was stuck under the cage with no way out but to keep going.
I closed my eyes as often as I could. I mentally pushed out all of the incredible pain and cold. I grabbed link after link in the fence above and slowly made my way to the end. I just had to get out of there. I knew that would be the end for me. There was no continuing. We had two miles to go and my body would not physically be able to do it.
Once at the end, completely unable to use my legs for extrication from the icy pool, I did one final massive pull-up and flipped my body over into the mud beyond where I lay for the longest time trembling and shivering, waiting for my body to do what I knew was coming. Waiting for it to officially quit on me.
But… it didn’t.