I’m One Tough Mudder! (And So Can You!)

Tough Mudder is a 10 to 12 mile military-style obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces that’s held in various places around the world. And I voluntarily signed up for it. Well, in reality, I was bullied into signing up for Tough Mudder Wisconsin months ago by my good friend, the military veteran who did a tour of Iraq and who’s already competed one Tough Mudder. I had already committed to a half marathon, so I thought, Screw it! I’ll be in shape by then. What have I got to lose? Nothing. It turns, out I was actually right.

While the website is totally intimidating, and it’s true that you have sign a death waiver, the event is seriously fun. That’s right. I said it. F-U-N. I was on a team with six people (Odin’s Raven for the win!) and they are what made the event memorable. It’s all about helping each other get to the end. You’re not going to climb over a 10 foot wall on your own, right? That’s what your teammates are for. To put a firm hand on your ass and push you over. And if they can’t do it, a stranger from another team will. In fact, two of my own teammates were strangers — friends of friends I met that day. By the end, I felt like we were close buddies.

The event is not timed, and participants are encouraged (multiple times!) to skip any obstacles that they don’t want to do. It’s simple to walk around any obstacle (there’s about 25 of them) on the course. I’m insanely claustrophobic so I skipped the obstacle where you had to crawl through slender plastic tubes filled with muddy water and rocks, called The Boa Constrictor. (Looking back, I should have just done it, but whatever.) I’m also not that great at holding my breath underwater, but I forced myself to jump off the 15-foot high wall into water, take on the Underwater Tunnels (floating barrels that you had to swim under), and Arctic Enema (the flipping freezing cold ice bath with a nice wall in the middle that you also had to swim under). I even ran smiling through the Electroshock Therapy — the final obstacle where live wires with 10,000 volts dangle from a 15-foot long wooden archway just a few muddy steps from the finish line. I only got shocked once and I stayed on my feet. (Tip: SPRINT fast with high knees. That mud is slippery, but you don’t want to army crawl slowly through this obstacle like many people do. You will get shocked more often, and it will be worse.)

You can walk the whole time and no one will judge you — it just might take you a long time. Our course was a little over 11 miles (a half marathon is 13.1). We ran the majority of the time, were all fairly athletic, and it took us 3.5 hours. I believe the starting and stopping is harder on your body, so I preferred to jog the whole time and stay flexible. My muscles were cramping up by the end.

The only obstacle that sucked was the Electric Eel. We had to army crawl through the mud with live wires dangling inches above our head. I got zapped three times. I screamed the first two times — I got shocked on my foot and was NOT expecting it — but it’s not as bad as it sounds. I think.

On that note, sign up for Tough Mudder today! You’ll love it.

P.S. The event isn’t cheap, but it benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.

Aubre Andrus is a freelance writer in Chicago who specializes in copywriting, blogging, reporting, and social media consulting. View her website and portfolio at www.aubreandrus.com or find her on Twitter @aubreandrus.

Two More of My Books are Out!

 {Images copyright of American Girl}

Yesterday was a big day! The book I’m most excited about — Slumber Wonders — finally hit the digital shelves on Amazon.com. (To give you an idea of how long the process is, I turned in the first draft to my editor in April 2011. We had been bouncing ideas around since January 2011.) This book was especially special to me because I was kind of a slumber party addict as a child. I planned my birthday parties months in advance, devising a cool theme and hand-drawing the invitations for each of my friends. Of course, the party decorations never turned out quite as elaborate as I dreamed, but balloons taped to the ceiling of a suburban living room by a fourth grader wouldn’t be that impressive, would they? I was too hard on myself. Anyway, I hope this book helps other girls turn their slumber party dreams into a reality.

 Buy Slumber Wonders at Amazon.com now!

Also, I have to give a shout-out to the illustrator of Slumber Wonders — she’s one of my faves — Stacy Peterson. Her style is modern and adorable and she’s even worked with Madonna on one of her English Roses books. HOW COOL IS THAT? She’s previously illustrated my features in American Girl magazine, but it’s really exciting now that she’s illustrated one of my books.

I don’t want to gloss over the Bored No More Quiz Book. I’m really proud of this one because I actually came up with the idea myself. Usually American Girl approaches me with a mostly flushed out idea and says, “Hey, can you write this?” but this time, I had to do a little brainstorming on my own based off, “We need a quiz book. Go.” What I like about the Bored No More Quiz Book is that it’s more than just a quiz book. The answers to each quiz are a craft or activity. There are quizzes for when you’re alone and bored, when you’re with your friends and bored, when you’re playing outside and bored, when it’s a rainy day and you’re bored, etc. So it’s like a survival kit of boredom busters for any situation. (Specifically if you’re an 8 to 12-year-old girl.) And it’s illustrated by Carol Yoshizumi who’s an American Girl staple. Her style is classic American Girl, and I can’t picture anything AG without thinking of one of her illustrated girls.

Buy Bored No More Quiz Book at Amazon.com now!

One last thing — I also came up with the title for each book which is a big deal to me. Writing headlines was my least favorite part about working at a daily newspaper in college so imagine how daunting it is to come up with a title of a book. It sits on a shelf for a lot longer than one day! Combine that with the fact that no two books in the world should have the same title, and the knowledge that people DO judge books by their covers, and you can just about give yourself a heart attack while you sit alone at your desk, staring at a blank Word Doc of Doom. (I did come up with I <heart> Art as well, but let’s be honest — it’s cute but it didn’t take much magical word wizardry to conjure up that one.) So even if “Slumber Wonders” and “Bored No More” don’t seem like rocket science to you, it’s the kind of wordplay that makes a writer happy.

Read the description for each book:

Slumber Wonders: “Slumber Wonders is a fun slumber-party planning book featuring 8 themes that girls are sure to love. Included with each theme are ideas for invitations, decorations, food, games, crafts, and goody bags. Also included is a tear-out shopping list for each party and a tear-out door hanger to color in.”

Bored No More: “Oh no! Another long day ahead of you without a thing to do. Right? Wrong! Blast away the bores and snores and get ready for fun! This book is filled with all kinds of quizzes to help you decide on a game, activity, or craft to keep you busy. The answer activities are to do on your own or with a friend, for indoors or outdoors, related to school or just for fun, or to do with your family all around you. Say, “goodbye,” to a wasted day, and “hello,” to doing something entertaining!”

P.S. My first two books came out in May and you can buy them online now.

Buy I <heart> Art at AmericanGirl.com or Amazon.com now!
Buy Math + Fashion = Fun at AmericanGirl.com or Amazon.com now!

Aubre Andrus is a freelance writer in Chicago who specializes in copywriting, blogging, reporting, and social media consulting. View her website and portfolio at www.aubreandrus.com or find her on Twitter @aubreandrus.