Toughest Midwest: Final Gear

As I mentioned before, going into this event, I did a lot of research. One of the things that I noticed quickly is that there isn’t a ton of information for people who are just running to prove they can and not to get all the miles.

There isn’t a lot of information out there for regular-ish Joes; it all seems to be for the pros.

So I took the information I found, developed a plan of my own, bought the things I thought I would need, and packed (and overpacked).

First things first: Nutrition, aka the hardest part of planning for me.

Through my reading there was a common thread: Pick what your body likes and knows. Which meant that my main source of calories and protein would be PB&J sandwiches, namely Smuckers Uncrustables.

Next, I needed something for quick energy when I felt myself starting to flag. While I was at REI a few weeks back, I saw some Stinger Energy Gummies and decided to give them a chance. I ate about half a packet one evening before a workout that I was forcing myself to do because I was so tired. They worked great for the 1.5 hour long workout and didn’t make me feel bad afterward. These were to carry onto course for when I would need a boost to get me going.

Next, I grabbed the Stinger Waffles that they hand out at the end of Tough Mudder. These were a back-up of a sort. I knew that I had enjoyed them in the past and they were easy to eat. The idea was that if nothing else was appealing, I would be able to make myself eat that.

After deciding what I would be utilizing for nutrition, I needed a way to track it easily. I placed two sandwiches, one pack of gummies, and one waffle each in a gallon baggy and labeled the bags for each of the laps we hoped to complete. This helped me to keep up with what I had eaten during previous pits and think about what I may want to take out with me onto the course.

Second: Gear and all that really means.

Most people only think of items like shoes and wetsuits when you mention gear. But gear also means items like string and batteries, KT Tape and scissors, extra socks and bras.

There are a few things that I wish I had taken with me, but I felt limited by the fact that I had to fly and I didn’t want to risk taking from the BNB we stayed at.

One of the most helpful things that I was told was to bring rope to attach my headlamp and glowstick to my bib, to keep the headlamp from getting lost on the chance that it fell from my head if I fell in the water. Both of which happened. Multiple times.

When I went to the store to purchase the rope for my headlamp, it was cheaper to buy more. So I proceeded to cut the string into about 2 foot long pieces. After I finished I probably had 20 or so. I took all of these pieces with us and once we were finished getting ready for the night in the pit area I left them on the table. By the time I got back for my first pit, more than half of these were gone.

I also learned that if you have a spare of anything, you should take it. Even though many of us plan and prepare for the worst, there’s always a chance that there’s something someone forgot.

An actual list of gear I packed or wore:

  • Wetsuit – O’neill
  • Compression capris – Second Skin
  • Sports bra – Under Armour
  • Headlamp – Black Diamond Spot
  • Shoes – Merrell All Out Crush 2.0
  • Spare shoes – Salomon Speedcross 4’s
  • Spare socks – Mudgear and injinji
  • Long sleeve shirt – Second Skin
  • Spare set of clothes
  • Wind breaker
  • 2 spare headlamps
  • Extra glowsticks
  • A massage stick
  • A hydration pack – Northern Brothers
  • Clean microfiber washcloths
  • Towel
  • Body Glide
  • KT Tape

Gear envy, aka Things I Want for WTM:

Can I get a Dryrobe, please? I was able to snuggle for a nap in the car using one of these as a blanket and it was the best. I was also exhausted so I may have been a bit biased, but my loyalty has been won. Additionally, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Not to mention, I have three different events in the colder months this year… so it seems like a pretty sound investment…. right?

I did not end up taking my hydration pack on the course at all. I already felt constricted because of the wetsuit. And as I was just looking at the pack after I filled it up, I knew I didn’t want that additional weight and bulk. While waiting in the start area, I met a lady who was wearing a hydration vest and realized it was exactly what I needed. The mesh vest was light weight and not bulky at all. It was perfect for under the bib.

Other things:

One of the last minute things we did was grab a notepad from our BNB. We used this notepad to take down the times we entered the pit, with four of us and only two of us having similar goals, the notepad was an easy way for us to know how long somebody had been out on course, around about when we could expect them back in, and just chance to leave a little bit of encouragement for one another.

And talking about encouragement from others:

Leading up to this event, I was very concerned about EVERYTHING. I expressed those concerns to many people. Because I know that talking things out helps me process how I’m feeling and how I should deal with those feelings. When it came my friends, those who have always supported me but have never done a Tough Mudder, telling me that I could do this and I had it and that I would be great, a little part of me was very skeptical.

I know that they were saying it to be encouraging, but part of me couldn’t help but think about the fact that they had never done it. I know now that it doesn’t matter. It’s not about the fact that my friends didn’t know how hard it would be, it was about the fact that my friends knew how hard I had trained and how hard I would push myself to achieve my goals.

I wouldn’t have been able to make it to and through Toughest Midwest if it wasn’t for the support from the people who believed in me. Those people were just as important as any piece of gear I utilitzed or packed.

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