I am not a runner. I can count on my fingers the number of times I have “run” since being under the prison-guard menace of middle school gym teachers. I’ve struggled with weight since I was a kid, and mostly I lose the fight. Fitness just isn’t my “thing” and given the choice of sweating or having a bowl of Death By Chocolate ice cream- I’ve always chosen the ice cream.
So imagine the surprise I met when last winter I announced my intention to join one of the “mud runs” that have been popping up. You? Really? Why??
The reason: turning 40 looms ever closer, and if I don’t change my life now, it literally will never change. I’ve spent 30+ years with one excuse after another why I just “can’t” … can’t excercise, can’t diet, just need a little more time, just need to get through this other project, just need the weather to change…..
Off and on throughout the year I made pretty steady use of the treadmill, with this crazy idea of doing a mud run in my head. The “off” times got more frequent as the summer came- just so many other things to do (ie: excuses not to exercise). My intention to do the run began to lose a lot of steam, until I saw a number of good friends and women I really admire participate in various running events, and all of these fantastic people earnestly encouraged me to go for it. I was terrified as I hit the submit button and paid my entrance fee, but knew the deal was now sealed (see, I don’t part easily with hard earned cash so now I HAD to do it). I can’t say I really trained much more at that point- tried to do a couple miles every few days and put the race out of mind…until yesterday morning: race day!!
The Muddy Viking is a 4 mile off road course with 26 obstacles. I knew going into it I wouldn’t be able to do most of those obstacles (rope climbing? Ha ha ha… Jumping the fire pit! Are you kidding?), but was really truly amazed to find myself actually DOING many of them!! Going down the giant slip and slides was incredibly fun, and I needed that laugh in the face of how HARD the 4 miles was! At the 1/2 way point I was greeted by a wall- and no way around it… Two friendly people on the wall extended their hands and I said “no… I really can’t….” And then over the wall I saw my two children- jumping and cheering for me. I grabbed those hands and went over that wall!! I knew at that moment there was no way I could stop!!
The course was really beautiful – fall leaves through the wooded trails. Running up the creek beds through water, rocks and mud made me thankful for all the times I did that as a kid. Sliding down muddy banks over tree roots – that I can do! I was grateful for the ropes the crew tied to trees to help pull ourselves up the other side of the deep muddy banks! Not able to swim well, I was tempted to skip the obstacle in the lake- but my husband urged me on and I did give it a go… an was thankful to discover the lake water wasn’t very deep when I fell into it. Waist-deep through the swamp, elbow deep in the mud pit… this was insanity!!!! (but really pretty fun!)
This was one of the hardest things I have ever attempted thus far in life- and that moment when I crossed the finish line, drenched in swamp water and mud, exhausted and hurting…greeted by my cheering family- I’ve never been so proud of myself.
I am incredibly grateful to my friends and family who cheered me along, ran the race along with me, and encouraged me to accomplish this goal, your support made all the difference. Tomorrow, I start my first fitness class- the next step in what I hope to be a real, true change. No more excuses.