Just Jump

Just jump, he said.

You can do it, she said.

1-2-3 go, they said.

But all I could see was the blur of a wooden plank, green trees, and muddy water.  I could see others jumping, all around me, but it was like I was inside a glass jar.  I could see out, but the noises were muffled.  My senses were dulled.  My vision was narrowed, my hearing was echoed, my tastebuds were coated with mud.  Oh, but I could still feel.  I could feel my husband trying to grab my hand to help me forward and my friends patting me on the back.  I could feel the platform shake, the breeze blow, and the water spray.  But mostly, I could feel fear.  Overwhelming, all-encompassing, make-your-knees-buckle fear.  The panic began to overtake me.  I got weepy, my legs shook, my face went white underneath the mud.

But I had known about this all year, I thought.  I did this last year, I thought.  How can this fear possibly be gripping me yet again?  But it was.  And it did.

You see, I wasn’t always afraid of heights.  In fact, I’ve bungee-jumped in Cairns, Australia.


I’ve done the reverse bungee at the Calgary Stampede.


I’ve jumped off high-dives and cliffs, been down huge waterslides, and walked on suspension bridges.  I’ve ridden on roller-coasters and drop-zones and tiny prop airplanes.  I’ve cliff-jumped, climbed high ropes, and stood on roofs.  But I’ve rarely felt fear like that.

You see, this weekend, I participated in the Tough Mudder with my husband and four of our friends.  10527839_10152622826756217_7294258702611999583_nThe Tough Mudder is a 10-mile Obstacle Course/Mud Run, which I also did last year.  So I knew about ‘Walking the Plank‘, as the Tough Mudder Headquarters has so aptly named this obstacle.  I knew about it, I thought about it, I worried about it.  And yet, when it came time, the fear consumed me.  Last year’s jump involved more than 10 minutes of me standing at the top, dozens of people chanting my name, and my husband climbing back up to jump alongside me.  This year’s jump was less dramatic.  I simply panicked.

I panicked and I climbed back down.  I’m not doing it, I said.  I can’t do it, I said.  And so all my teammates jumped.  And when they had continued on to the next aid station, out of sight and out of earshot, I climbed back up and jumped.

Just jump, he said.

You can do it, she said.

1-2-3 go, they said.

So I did.  I can.  Just on my own time.

Thank you, my team. xo.


I participated in the Tough Mudder at Mount St Louis Moonstone this past Saturday.  If you haven’t heard, the Tough Mudder is a “10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie”.  And test it, it did.

But with every test, comes a lesson, and on Saturday, there were many.

  • I learned that the ‘Arctic Enema‘ is in fact, as awful as it sounds.  Ice cold water stole my breath and my voluntary muscle control.  I learned to ask for help.
  • I learned that ‘Walk the Plank‘, a 15+ft jump into water, left me paralyzed with terror.  The sound of dozens of people chanting my name, and the side-by-side support of my husband finally give me the courage to jump.  I learned to rely on the support and togetherness of my team. They would not let me quit.
  • I learned that the anticipation of the electric shocks from the ‘Electric Eel‘ obstacle are worse than the shocks themselves.  I learned that putting your head down and just going for it often beats over-analysis.
  • I learned that the ‘Berlin Walls‘ require strength and balance to conquer.  I learned that my teammates will boost me up and will not let me fall.  I learned to trust blindly.

But you know what the best part was?  There was no clock.  I loved that there was no clock.  I loved that there were no timing mats.  I loved that there were no chip times.  I loved that we had to recite ‘this is not a race’ before we began.  I loved that there were no finish times posted on the Tough Mudder website.

In our results-driven society, we often miss out on opportunities to learn the hidden lessons.  And it was the hidden lessons at Tough Mudder that taught me the most.

There was camaraderie.  There was teamwork.  There was friendship.  There was accomplishment.  There was effort.  There was sheer will.  But most of all, there was fun.

I am a Tough Mudder.



Team ‘Ashley and the Old People’
before the muddiness began…