, , , , , , , , ,

I did it! Last Saturday I conquered the battleground and my mind. It was one the best things I’ve done resulting in one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.

Because of the extreme heat, they kept pushing back the start times. I was in the competitive heat with the trainers from my gym. I got an email we’d be at 7:30 am then at 7:00 am. It worked out better for me because I needed to be in Chicago for an audition by 11:45 am.

I chose clothes I wouldn’t be heart broken if I destroyed. I was stressing because my outfit didn’t match. I’ve become one of those people but only for the gym which I think is funny. I left the house at 4:15 am to make it.

I felt like such a newb. They recommended you show up an hour before your start time so I got there before 6:00 am. It was just me and the volunteers who were still being briefed. What was cool and a nice change was I gave myself permission to be a beginner, to be a newb. I had never done anything like this before so it was okay to not know and ask questions.

I was in the competitive heat and they recommended a 5k time of 20 minutes. I was nervous because I didn’t have that or near that. My trainer assured me it’d be fine because she didn’t either. I wasn’t running with her or the other trainers anymore. I was running with people who looked like they had 5k times of 20 minutes. There were marathoners who ran marathons for fun (why stop at 26.2? Let’s go for 32! Because that’s why we have bikes and cars). One guy ran a couple of miles to warm up. Good for him. The crossfit girls in their micro shorts, sports bras, and over the knee socks used the benches and tables to warm up. Lots of women in shorts and sports bras with me in my capris and baby doll tee.

I have never warmed up for a race before but I’ve warmed up for a horse show. I applied the same ideas, do what you need to do to warm those muscles up, get energy up and going but don’t expend too much energy, don’t get tired. I hadn’t slept well the night before because I was afraid I’d oversleep. I sat to the side to stretch. Felt like a loner but I also enjoyed watching people do their routines. Different personalities, different strategies.

I started getting in my head. What was I doing in the competitive heat? I considered running in another heat but I had signed up for and paid for this one. Do what you set off to do. I centered and focused on my breath.

They called us to the starting gate.

“Are there mile markers?” a high schooler who did cross country asked.

“Yes but they won’t make you feel better,” the announcer said. I lined up with a lacrosse team, cross country runners, and a trainer and two of her students. I don’t remember if there was a gun. There was a countdown and shots of fire over our heads and we were off.

Just keep with the girls ahead of you, I told myself, but I was falling in love with the run. It was held on someone’s farm so we ran through the tall grasses, what used to be a hay field, dodging tractor tracks, ruts, taking hills and berms. Cars honked as we went by the road.

There are some fun signs through out the run. “If you lived here, you’d be home by now. You’d also be a deer.”

The first obstacle was my greatest challenge. Jumping up on a wall to scramble over. My vertical jump is not there, I didn’t care if there was a little ledge to “help” you over. Third attempt I got over so I could then crawl under, then jump over, then crawl under again, to climb over the next wall and pick up in  a run.

I made up time on the obstacles. Prereq should be working on a farm. The dome was climbing a ladder, crawling through a hay loft then climbing down a ladder.

One of the easiest I was so surprised and pleased by was a climbing wall, using your legs and a rope to climb up then climb down. I couldn’t believe how fast I went up that thing.

Crawling through the flooded trenches I felt like a small dog pretending to be a field dog. I was afraid I’d lose my bib which was fully submerged and dragging.

I jumped the fire. That was the one I was sure I was going to walk around, but it was wide not deep.

It didn’t feel like three miles. I was so proud I ran most of it. I walked for the water stations and through the creek in the wooded area because I couldn’t see where my feet were landing. I couldn’t believe when I saw the finish line. I ran across a finish line. I finished before 8 people I started with (but who’s counting?). The feeling at the end was amazing, so calm and happy. It was so exhilarating.

“That’s 35-40 minutes,”someone told the person I finished after. I had run a mud run in 35-40 minutes.

I’ve wanted to do a mud run for a while. One of my goals this year was to do a 5k. I love mud and I love running.

Next year I want to complete it in 25-30 minutes. I’ll improve my time by then. I’m kind of addicted to trail running now. Give me hills and exposed roots, steep inclines, and ruts. I’m already training hills because those slowed me way down. I’ll improve my vertical jump or learn how to better scramble over a wall. I’ll be in the competitive heat next year, one of the veterans in her sports bra and shorts.