How do you know your limits?

I was at a social gathering over the weekend where I was asked about the Tough Mudder.

Several ladies gathered around me as I showed them my arms and told them about the challenge.

I intentionally kept my description nonchalant and short, knowing reaction would be mixed. My audience was SHOCKED — SHOCKED I say — that such an event exists, let alone that anyone would want to participate. One response hung with me.  “I don’t know why anyone would want to do that.”

At first I thought it was something about the remark itself that bothered me, but later I realized it was that I didn’t get a chance to answer.

I think Andy’s response would have summed it up well:

“How do you know your limits?”

I learned a lot about myself on Saturday. And I am a better person for it. Here are the top three things I learned:

  1. I am able to accomplish whatever I set my mind to. It might take time, but I have determination, and I don’t easily give up. When I set my mind to a task, I can be successful.
  2. I can ask for help when I need it. This was huge. I tend to be a loner, and I lean toward doing things on my own rather than asking for help. But on Saturday, I NEEDED help. I couldn’t have scaled those walls without it.  And I was grateful to each and every person who helped me.
  3. It’s OK to ask for help.  Again — huge for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and so used to people dismissing me, or because some subjects or activities aren’t immediately easy for me, but I tend to want to prove myself and not ask for help. But it’s OK. It doesn’t make me weaker. It actually makes me stronger.

Yes, I did walk away really beat up. REALLY BEAT UP. But as the Black Knight from Monty Python said, “It’s just a flesh wound!” I will heal.  And I will heal stronger. (Because I still have my limbs, unlike the Black Knight.

Is the Tough Mudder an insane challenge? Absolutely. Is it for everyone? Hell no.

My goals were to attempt every obstacle, overcome some fears and finish the damn thing, and I achieved them.  I’m really proud of what I accomplished, and no one can take that away from me.

Bruised and bloody… but I FINISHED

I accomplished a goal today.

I finished the Tough Mudder and I came home with mere bruises, cuts and scrapes.  No broken bones or more serious injuries. Don’t get me wrong… my arms and legs look like hamburger and I’m hobbling. But I didn’t sprain or break anything.  That’s an accomplishment.

The Tough Mudder was no joke. And I’m glad it wasn’t. I was so disappointed with the Diva Dash, I did not want to go through anything like it. But the Tough Mudder wasn’t anything like the Diva Dash. It was very serious.

We had to recite the Mudder oath at the start line. It was all about how the event is not a race– it’s a challenge. It’s about teamwork and camaraderie. And it’s very true.

I’m not going to list off all of the obstacles I went through. You can read the obstacles here. But I will say that I would not have made it through many of the obstacles without the help of others, especially anything that required scaling walls.

We had to scale walls about 4 different times on the course. Andy was there to help give me a boost, but others helped, as well. Once I was at the top of the wall, I was able to swing my body over and lower myself down. And, I swear, the walls kelp getting taller each time we encountered them. I think that last one was 15 feet.

There was a half pipe that we had to run up and pull ourselves to the top. I tried this one twice before the guys at the top managed to grab my hands and help me pull myself up. There were so many mud ponds, slogs and other muddy obstacles, I lost count. We slid down mud hills into water (sometimes icy cold water!) and crawled on our bellies under barbed wire over mud and gravel (ouch! my legs and arms are so cut and bruised!)

But there are 2 obstacles I did that scared the crap out of me and I’m so proud of myself for accomplishing them. The first happened early on — “Walk the Plank.” We scaled a tall wall – about 15 feet – and at the top we had to jump – about 15 feet – into a pool of water.

I stood briefly at the top going “Oh my God, oh my God” because I am very afraid of heights. One of the volunteers said, “Ma’am you have to jump, now!” So I did. I held my breath and jumped. It was scary. but I did it!

The second one I’m proud of myself for not just attempting, but also succeeding was called “Twinkle Toes.” It was 50 feet of balance beam over water, which was about 10-12 feet below. I remember telling Andy that I didn’t want to do it, but I stood in line and waited my turn, just like everyone else. When it was my turn, I just held my arms out and walked. The board (which was only about 2 inches wide) was warped and it swayed when other people on other boards fell off, but I managed to keep my balance and make it all the way across. I wanted to cry at the end, it was that hard for me.

The running part? Piece of cake. There was so much resting at the obstacles that the running was no big deal. However, Andy’s leg was bothering him and then he hurt his knee falling into the water on “Twinkle Toes,” so we walked the rest of the course as fast as possible.

I attempted every obstacle. I failed to accomplish just a few: I fell into the water while going across the water while balancing on a cable and holding onto a rope. I fell off the hay bales on the jumping hay bales. And I fell off the monkey bars into the water. Everything else I succeeded, including “Electro-Shock Therapy.” I didn’t even get shocked.

This was definitely a challenge. It wasn’t intense like a Crossfit workout, and at no point  did I feel like I couldn’t go on or that I needed to shore up my energy to make it through. But it was very long, and I was ready for it to be done about halfway through. I knew I had more in me, and I was determined to finish, so I kept going. It really was all about mental grit and determination.

I’m really glad I did this event. It was NO JOKE. And I was happy to earn my orange headband. I came home with lots of gear for me and the kids.

And I’m happy to be able to say: I AM A TOUGH MUDDER.

My oath for the Tough Mudder

Dear Big Mudder,

Tough Mudder logoI’m really intimidated by what I have signed up to endure tomorrow. (Texas-Central Tough Mudder).

I understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event and that I could potentially crush some of my fears.

It would be stupid to ignore my fears or pretend the Tough Mudder doesn’t scare me. I may have been preparing for the past several months, but I still don’t feel like I’ll ever be ready. So instead of pretending, I’m going to embrace my fears — celebrate them even — and I make the following vow.

I will focus on the present, taking each step one at a time.
I will face every obstacle with grit and determination.
I will attempt every obstacle.
I will not say “I quit.”
I will tell myself “I can,” rather than “I can’t.”
I will not whine.
I will treat my teammates and fellow mudders with respect and help when I can.
I will accept help when it is offered.
I will remember it’s about finishing the course, not how fast I go.
I will not cry until the end.
I will smile.

Sincerely yours,

Cindy Brummer
A humble mudder and member of Team Brummer

Never quit

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or and hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

Lance Armstrong

I dreamt of being a lifeguard when I was 14.

I wanted to have a job by the pool, get some sun, save lives. It seemed glamorous and perfect for a teenager.

I signed up for Red Cross CPR and First Aid classes. Then I signed up for my town’s lifeguard training class. It was a week long.

And it exposed all of my weaknesses.

I thought I was a strong swimmer. But I really wasn’t. I could swim freestyle OK, but I had never been formally trained in any other stroke, which was a major disadvantage.

I struggled through 4 days of the training. I felt humiliated every day when I left. On day 5 — the last day — I decided I wouldn’t show up. It was testing day, and I was sure I wouldn’t pass. So instead of going and possibly humiliating myself further, I decided to quit.

Twenty-five years later, I still regret not showing up. Not seeing it through.

I think about that whenever I’m faced with a new challenge. It could be some really tough coding issue at work. Or it could be a really tough exercise. There’s a part of me that thinks about quitting. “You don’t HAVE to do this. You could ask someone else to figure this out.” Or “This weight it too heavy. Quit now and you won’t hurt as bad.”

But I know that finking out will make be feel like crap for a very long time. And even though I could end up being humiliated — red in the face — I do it anyway.

That’s my determination.

I hope I remember that next weekend at the Tough Mudder. I intend on completing every obstacle and finishing the course, no matter how long it takes or how scary it feels. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t signed up, but I did, and I’m not backing out now. No WAY.

I have a goal: Finish the Tough Mudder.

I’m not gonna quit.

Our Sunday run

There are an insane number of people who run at Lady Bird Lake on the weekend — especially when I think it’s waaaaaay too hot.

Of course, I’m one of those people — so I really shouldn’t talk.

Andy and I took the kids and their respective strollers down to the trail for what has become our weekly long run.  It’s part of our preparation for the Tough Mudder.  I feel bad for Andy, who pushes the stroller with Luke.  Luke is nearly 40 pounds now.  He’s getting a bike for his upcoming birthday, so hopefully he’ll be able to ride along with us at some point.  But for now, if Andy and I want to run together, we push the kids.

I gotta say, pushing a stroller is no joke.  My arms always feel fried. And it’s not easy pushing one with soft wheels (which is what I’ve had to deal with).  So it’s actually great training for the Tough Mudder for when we have to run through mud and stuff like that.  All we have to do now is add in push ups and squats every mile or so.

We ended up running the Congress to Mopac loop — 4.79 miles @ 46:49.  This time does not include our water stop at Auditorium Shore or the 1/2 mile Andy needed to walk because his knee started hurting.  In fact, I’ve told Andy he’s out of commission for at least a week because of that pain. I hope he feels better soon.

Losing time

The weeks are flying by.

Everything feels like time is rushing along at a furious pace, and I’m just hanging on, trying to keep up.  I always thought summer was for slowing down, but this year, it feels like life has gone into 5th gear.  Job.  Kids.  Chores. To dos.  It’s harder to keep up with friends, even with my many social media apps.  I just am not as available as I was.  And neither are they.

And so an entire week has passed since I sat down to write about the Garage Gym Throwdown.  A whole week of workouts.  Workouts I loved.  Workouts I hated.  Squeezed in for 45 minutes in the morning or late at night after the kids have fallen asleep.  I just finished one.  I’m sweaty and salty and gross, and it’s 11pm.  I have to be up before 5 tomorrow morning.  I still have to take a shower.

But I want to write about what I’ve done.  What I’ve accomplished.  Where I’ve failed.  I’m proud of my performance this week.  I’m disappointed that I’ve eaten without regard to how it makes me feel.  Lunches out.  Dinners out.  More than just a few indulgences.  It makes me wonder, if I had paid attention, would I have done better?  Would I be stronger now?


Front Squat

Results: 50-55-60-65-75


6-4 Intervals
5x 400m holding best pace possible, not deviating more than 3 seconds from fastest interval
2 min recovery


Comments:  SLOW!!!!!!


Power Snatch (M 115# / W 80#)
Ring Rows

Time: 12:04 @ 55# (ring rows scaled)

Comments:  Ow.  This one really hurt.  I tried 65#, but my form was weak and wobbly, so I dropped back to 55#, which was extremely challenging, but my form was much improved.


Front Squat

Results: 65-75-85-95-105-110

“Jess E”
20 Wall Ball (M20# / W 14#)
1 Inverted Burpee
18/2, 16/3, 14/4, 12/5, 10/6, 8/7, 6/8, 4/9, 2/10

Results: Completed 9 rounds RX in 15 minutes


5K run

Time: 32:27 (easy pace)

5 rounds
12 Deadlift (M 155# / W 95#)
9 Hang Power Clean
6 Push Jerk

Time: 7:54 @ 65#

Comments: Time to bump up the weight!  This is one of my own benchmarks, and this time I cut a significant amount of time off this WOD.  Last time, I was over 10 minutes.  Whoo-hoo!


For Time:
21 Deadlift (225#)
400m run
18 deadlift
400m run
15 deadlift
400m run
12 deadlift
400m run

Time: 13:25 @ 95#

Shoulder Press

Results: 45-50-55-60-60

Comments: I considered trying 115# for a little while, and maybe I should have since I pretty much flew through the workout.  I felt like I had a lot of energy for the runs, but my legs just didn’t want to move.  Andy tried 185#, and me got all the way into round 3 before nearly throwing up.  He finished with the run and called it a day.

We’re going to be hitting it hard over the next couple of weeks.  We’re taking a full week of rest, a very necessary part of training.  And yes, I am in training.  We signed up for the Tough Mudder.  Paid the money and everything.  No turning back now.  At least, not for me.  It’s so important to eat clean and train right from now until October.

What a way to celebrate a wedding anniversary.