(Editor’s note: Lacey Hessling-Yzeik, the daughter of Richard and Mary Hessling of Honesdale, participated in the Bear Creek Resort Tough Mudder held in Allentown in April. She resides in Waymart.)
My team name was team “Suck It Up.” We were a group of 13 that got together via a Facebook page called NEPA90.
My team name was team “Suck It Up.” We were a group of 13 that got together via a Facebook page called NEPA90. We have been on a weight loss mission for months and (the) majority of us have lost a ton of weight and changed our lives all with the support from the NEPA 90 Group. Larry Crimi, Jr. fellow Honesdalian was our coach and leader and prepared us for this event. While only 13 of the 100’s of people on the NEPA 90 site competed in the ‘Mudder”, the fact of the matter is that we did it and we finished, together. We helped each team member fight to the end, we helped others teams fight and complete the obstacles. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, it is definitely the toughest event on the planet. Definitely more mental than physical, although physical fitness is probably a good idea.
The one thing that I need to mention is that I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I was told not to do the Mudder. I was told it would be impossible for me to complete it. I wear an insulin pump to control my diabetes. The pump is a small mechanical device that I wear on my body at all times that delivers insulin to me like a regular pancreas would based on numbers formulate and controlled by me and my doctor. I have to track how many carbohydrates I eat and tell the pump the amount of grams I am consuming and it will suggest the amount of insulin I need to cover that so that my blood glucose level stay consistent and in range. I call it a mechanical pancreas. The thing about the pump is that diabetics should not have the pump off for more than an hour. Well, the Tough Mudder takes longer than that, unless you are he-man, so I was all set to have to quit within the first hour.
Me and my teammates gathered at the starting line, said the Tough Mudder pledge and got ourselves ready. The start gun went off and we were on our way. The first few miles were tough but nothing we couldn’t handle, they were really fun. About an hour and 45 minutes in I met up with my husband who was taking pictures and holding my diabetes supplies. It was time for the first blood glucose check. I was 183 mg/dl which was fine for the amount of exercise I was doing. I rather be a little higher than Low. So, I was happy, I could continue and I did. The obstacle after checking my blood glucose was called “Walk the Plank”. I am absolutely terrified of heights so this was an obstacle that scared me to death. I climbed to the top with my coach and hesitated. I could not do it. The Army guy at the top and Coach Larry, both said, “Don’t think about it, just go” and that is exactly what I did. The 3.2 mile run through the woods was very tough. It really started to mess with my head and it was not good. Being on a team that stuck together was great but during this 3.2 mile run we kind of separated a bit and we were by ourselves. This time alone played serious tricks on my mind. This is when I realized how tired and sore I really was.
Emerging from the woods after the 3.2 mile run I realized we only a few more MILES to go and we would be done. However, climbing up more hills and ski slopes in the mud were the last thing I wanted to do but I pressed onward. I could not let my team down and I could not let myself down. I started feeling that perhaps my Blood glucose would be too high for me to continue. That was my way of getting out of the event; this was my “excuse” to get out of continuing. I hated the thought but at the same time, I was done. My mind was pushing me to quit. I met up with my husband again and checked my blood glucose figuring it would be high since I have not had any insulin in 4 hours. I pricked my finger and the machine counted down and there it was right on the screen 105 mg/dl. I was fine. This result is unheard of. I was flabbergasted. I had not had insulin in 4 hours and instead of going high as it was clearly indicating with the first blood glucose check, I was normal. I had no “excuse” to quit now. I had to finish. There was no reason not to. I was at mile 9 and to quit now would be a total let down to me and my team. I beat diabetes and I have no idea how.
I plodded along; I think my head was down the whole time as I went through the last 2 hilly miles. I was exhausted, but as long as I kept moving and my legs kept going and my teammates cheered me on I knew I could do it. Keeping my head down made it easier since I could not see what was ahead of me. Cramping calves, scratches and bruises, mud caked in places that should never be in contact with mud, I plodded along with my team.
We were approaching the finish line. The “electro shock therapy” obstacle was the last obstacle and the only way to the finish line. WE, as team, gathered at the beginning of the obstacle and all together ran through to emerge on the other side as Tough Mudders. WE did it. The feeling was amazing. I not only beat myself and my tendencies to quit, I beat diabetes.
So, the “Tough Mudder” is truly something that stays with me and it taught me so much. It taught me that teamwork and camaraderie is essential, not only in the “Mudder” but in life. Without my team, I would not have made it. It taught me that I am a strong person. It taught me that I can push through negative thoughts. It taught me exactly what exhaustion feels like. It pushed me to my ultimate point and I came out, alive and unscathed. I can do anything and diabetes does not define me. It does not control me, I control it.
I thought it would be nice to hear a different kind of experience at the Tough Mudder. I feel it is important to share. We were an underdog team that took 4 hours and 45 minutes to complete but at least we completed it. 70% of the people that participated finished and we are a part of that. I wear my “crown” with pride.