Places I don’t belong, by Jyl:
At the scene of an accident if there is a need for assistance.
Escape Rooms, if my input is critical to finishing before the buzzer.
The snake house at the zoo. Or anywhere actually. Or, really, in visual range of any reptiles at all as demonstrated by the many ways I hid from a bearded dragon just yesterday.
Places where inappropriate laughter would be frowned upon.
Elementary schools at Christmas time where slip ups like ‘but Santa’s not real’ are very, um, bad.
So, obviously, after confirming most of those to be true, I signed up for the last one, just to be sure.
Oh yes, I was asking myself the same question the entirety of the weeks between punching in my credit card number and the actual event. Oh yes, I was also screaming the same question to myself for approximately 2.7 of the 3.1 miles of the actual event.
I mean, first, I blame this Bunco group I’ve latched on to. There is a level of I’ve arrived! when you get your first Bunco invite, the mystery of this popular ladies’ outing revealed as you’re finally able to sneak behind the curtains. Turns out, Bunco is awesome – a chance for a gaggle to come together and share the goings on in our lives. Good vibes only. I described it once as a gossip session built around a dice game and was given an overblown glare by another Bunco aficionado (though not in the same circuit) – but I didn’t mean gossip in the negative sense. I’m meant the good sense – chatter, filling in, this is your life. Right, so the Bunco group – I’ve become a regular sub which is spot on for my level of commitment at this time in my crazy life. During one of my appearances a few months ago, a fellow player announced her frustration that no one in the group wanted to join her for a Mudrun.
…is what I heard someone say.
When all heads turned my way, I realized that someone was me.
No turning back, then. I scurried home as soon as I was able and told my husband what I’d done specifically so he could talk me out of it.
He did not.
He was annoyingly encouraging. I then scurried to sign up before I could talk myself out of it – while also silently suggesting that, in the end, my entry fee could just be a donation.
In the six weeks between commitment and race day – I mentally made big plans of a fully involved training regiment before the magic muddy day arrived. If you know me at all, you know that working out is actually one of the few things I do take seriously. I made lists of relevant exercises and planned to walk a 5k weekly (this body does not run anymore). You know what they say about plans… I entered a season of aches and pains…various joints asking for a bit of a break right smack in the weeks leading up to the big day. While I was trying to convince myself that no one would notice my lack of skills, our group of two became a group of four Mudgirls – which I followed via a group text with the main main focus of encouraging participation no matter what happened on the actual course. I threw out a few half-hearted just go on with out me, if you want, I’ll finish when I finish, no need to take my slower approach. It seemed like the only way to take all of the pressure off of myself. Plus, it would lower the witness count if I fell deep into a mud pit and disappeared forever.
When race day arrived, my stomach was somersaulting. I had no idea what to eat, when to caffeinate, what to wear, if I’d have time for my morning doodie, or….WHY????? If my husband had not signed up as my cheerleader, I would have absolutely taken a line from my teenager. Oops, I overslept. Instead, we hopped in line with a caravan of three women I barely knew to participate in something I’d always thought sounded awesome…but wasn’t very confident in the awesomeness now that it was right in front of me.
Except it was pretty awesome at first in-person glance.
The venue was a race track turned obstacle course full of music, smiling faces, and the biggest variety of athletic prowess imaginable. This particular mudrun (mudgirlrun.us) was for females only and most of my experiences with women is that when we are really struggling, we are generally very supportive of each other. My hope was that this would be no different. My hope was that once all the lickity-split ladies were well out of sight, the rest of us would hunker down together as allies in muddy misery.
In the name of social distancing, we were asked to arrive in heats – ours was for an 11:30am start. We arrived at the requested no earlier than 45 minutes early time giving us only enough buffer to check in, slap on a temporary tattoo, hit the Port-0-Jills, and double knot our sneakers before it was our turn at the starting line. Holy hell.
As this is not meant to be a suspenseful post, I’ll save you the trouble of scrolling straight to the end.
I did it.
The whole stinking 3.1 miles. Every one of the 20 muddy obstacles. I still can’t believe it. It took me forty-five minutes less time than I’d mentally banked as a permissible retirement point, which was two hours. If I was still struggling after two hours, yes, I’d promised myself, that would be an acceptable (and probably intelligent) time to bail. We finished in 75 minutes. Yes, we. Those troopers of new friends stayed with me through the entire race. I know they could have finished the entire thing twice in the time I did once – but we all pushed, pulled and cheered each other on. A reminder of the we’re in this togetherness that’s been missing a bit over the last year or so.
It’s been many, many years since I felt the spike in adrenaline of a competitive event. I love it. I’d forgotten what it felt like. As a youth and through college, there was always a gymnastics meet to prepare for. When I picked up tennis in my thirties, I went to local, super amateur tournaments for years. Since moving to the Ville, I’ve not really had the time to do anything competitive or challenging or that might cause me to doubt myself quite as much as this mudrun did. And the flip side of that doubt was a sense of pride that I’ve also been missing. This was something I did for me. Foolish? Likely. Worth it? Absolutely. The last decade has been taken up with the figuring out of family life – which has meant putting aside me-specific activities to focus on ones that were meant more for the whole. Maybe it was just dumb luck that my invite to volunteer within the schools was rescinded for pandemic purposes because it gave me time to focus more on me-things like learning to cook from scratch, writing this blog, writing a book, and, yes, spending 75 minutes knee deep in slushy obstacles.
It’s been a long time since being exhausted felt so worthwhile. Usually it’s just an end of day what did I do today to get this tired? This time is was oh, I’m so tired (that was so much fun) and I can’t move my legs (also, wow, I did that) and will I ever be able to bend my arms again? (who cares).
And before the Biofreeze even dried, I clickity-clacked my way to signing up for another mudrun (ruggedmaniac.com). Really? Why???? It just seemed super obvious to me to go ahead and throw caution to another wind. There will be males at this one. It’ll be fine. Two of those males will be my husband and son – the latter so, so excited to join me. I assume he will finish the course in quick time and then catch back up with his old mama during round two to push, pull and cheer her on. Seems like a much tougher course. It’ll be fine. All three of my new friends signed up as well. Plus another friend and her son. I think I was up to ten additional participants at last count. It’ll be fine.
Oh sorry. Nothing poetic or deep or wrapped up in a bow here.
I have found that I am still motivated by medals. That’s really it.
And also, I just really love this picture because I know what a feat this was for that girl.