I’ve never been athletically prone. I could win medals in such endeavors as Internet Browsing, Couch Sitting, Dog Snuggling, Kitty Wrangling, Popcorn Eating or Book Reading, but never in athleticism. Sweating is not something I’ve ever enjoyed and I’ve had difficulty hopping on the “pain is weakness leaving the body” train because it’s easier to climb under a blanket and take a nap than to go outside and run three miles. I never once participated in any sort of organized sport-like activity. The Army forced me toward physical fitness and while I’ve mostly succeeded at passing Army-mandated fitness standards, I have in no way excelled.
I’ve been working out a lot lately, yes, something I wrote about here, and I’ve finally made some progress toward hitting my recently generated health-related goals, but still – this fitness bandwagon is a new one for me and one I’m not quite used to.
And then came the Warrior Dash.
A good friend from high school (who I incidentally met in gym class sophomore year of high school, a class were we largely avoided any sort of running or otherwise physically strainful activity) invited me to partake in the Virginia Warrior Dash with her, since her original partner had to cancel. The invite came at the most perfect time in my surprisingly non-futile adventure toward reaching a higher level of fitness and it was like the Universe was yelling at me to do the damn thing.
So we did.
We started the day looking like this:
I was nervous and excited. I’d looked over the course map approximately eleventy billion times, but that didn’t give my any idea what running three and a half miles through mud and over obstacles was going to be like. Plus, it was a chilly 58 degrees outside at 11 am and I was freezing my ass off. The thought of getting wet and crawling through mud had me convinced I’d die of hypothermia before the day was done.
Spoiler Alert: I didn’t.
What I did was run through mud, smash through a tire jungle, climb over muddy cars, run up and down mud-slicked hills, climb cargo nets, nearly drown in a river with water well-above the promised waist level, leap over fire not once, but TWICE, splash along the shore of the James River and, finally, dive into a pit of mud.
By the end of the race, we looked like this:
We couldn’t stop smiling after we crossed the finish line. We ran it. The whole thing, all three and a half miles of up and down hills, around bends, through woods and across frields. Considering I haven’t run more than 3 miles in somewhere around five years, I’ve been on a non-stop self back-pat parade for the past two days.
I’ve done some pretty bad ass stuff in my life. I’ve made big, life-changing decisions and gone on grand adventures, but nothing has ever made me feel like more of a bad ass than the Warrior Dash.
I’m not entirely sure if I know how to explain it, but the feeling of having done it, and done it well, is amazing. Maybe it’s that I never thought I’d be one to willingly subject myself to mud pits or fire leaps, or that just a few months ago I would have collapsed in a breathless heap at the mere thought of such an endeavor, or maybe it’s just that this gave me the chance to be proud of myself for the first time in a long time.
It’s possible the most futile thing I’ve ever attempted was the rinse I gave myself in the James River after the race. It made me feel a little better, I guess, but really, by the time we’d rinsed off, toweled off and changed by the car, I still smelled like a farm. That didn’t stop me from eating a turkey though.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about mud and mud races after running the Warrior Dash. I knew it would go one of two ways, that I would either emerge fully satiated of my desire for dirty, gritty fun, or I’d come out of the mud pit and out of the race desperate for some other extreme and muddy encounter and sure enough, here I am, still sore from Saturday’s Warrior Dash already clamoring for more fun. I spent at least two hours over the course of the weekend eyeballing YouTube videos of other mud runs and amping myself up for future adventures because while smelling like a farm isn’t the best thing ever, feeling like a bad ass is.