“Go, Mama, Go!” Graham shouted from the sidelines. Such sweet words from a sweet 4-year-old voice to mark the end of my 3.1-mile adventure run called Rugged Maniac.
It was a blast. I had so much fun. I enjoyed being with my teammates, Jaime and Rob. The pictures prove it. When I look back on photos from my first 5K, a regular road race, and notice the expression on my face - it denotes pain. But these mud run photos tell a different story. I’m all smiles, joking around and having a great time. It was what I was looking for three months ago when I signed up. But there was something I did miss.
It was not my best day. It was not my best day physically. Two days before, I was sick and in bed. I hadn’t exercised properly in about the two weeks prior.
And this is not me. I never get sick. I’m always the one in the family who stays well, but not this time. I was run down and just exhausted, so when this sinus bug came rolling along, I was easy prey. And the thing latched onto to me and held on tightly. But somehow, I was feeling pretty good the day of the run. Not great, but well enough to go through it with the near 3,000 other mud runners.
The day started at 9 a.m. at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, with several hundred runners at the start line. Every 15 minutes after that, several hundred more of us would go. I was thrilled my whole family came with me. Keith took photos. Page made a great carrier as she held Jaime’s and Rob’s backpacks. Graham played in the bouncy house and blow up obstacle course. It was a beautiful day. I have never been more grateful for the brightly shinning sun. The 50-plus temperatures were perfect. Only the wind made it cold when you were standing still.
Jaime, Rob and I started our run at 10:30. To get to the starting area, you had to climb over a short wall, our first obstacle, and wait inside a sort of walled holding area. It was insurance that you didn’t chicken out. During this 15 minutes or so, I jumped around to keep warm. I kept looking for my family members to give them big kisses along the outside wall, but time ran out.
As the three of us were waiting, I felt the urge to say a prayer. Knowing my teammates were Christian, I knew they wouldn’t mind, but sometimes it can still seem awkward. I asked if they minded. They didn’t. I prayed.
Of course, when we start praying, the guy on the loud speaker starts talking and then the music is so loud that we didn’t get to hear much of my voice. But when we finished, we turned around and got a glimpse of someone standing directly beside us who highly resembled Jesus. We felt our prayers were being answered. Then as the loud horn blew, we began. Running.
There was more running than my friend, Jaime, had anticipated. Or at least, more than she was hoping for. Jaime has some health issues.
Here’s how she put it afterward, “I just completed the rugged Rugged Maniac. I have pleurisy, I'm overweight and suffer from polymyositis. What's your excuse?”
Rob, on the other hand, has experience in these mud runs. He’s completed the Tough Mudder. It’s a 10 to 12-mile run with obstacles more difficult than the ones we faced Saturday.
So it was. I knew I was the one in the middle of our trio. I’m in good shape, but inexperienced in running in mud and over obstacles. And I had committed to staying with my team, no matter how slow or fast we ran the thing - and to help out if I could. And that’s what we did. Stayed together. Even Rob, who would run ahead to the next obstacle to see what it was and then wait for us two girls, lagging behind.
To be honest, being under the weather, I was more than grateful for the times we walked instead of ran. Jaime made no excuses. She did awesome, especially on the obstacles. No problems there at all. There were many walls to climb over. Some were more difficult than others. I required a boost a couple of times. And got it. From strangers.
These 3,000 folks had their hearts in the right place. I even stopped mid-race when a group of runners asked if I could take their picture as they posed beside a sign that read, “Danger. Obstacle ahead.” Sure. Why not? They had the same spirit of camaraderie that I went in with.
The hardest obstacle, or at least the most shocking, was sliding down a metal tube, headfirst into very cold muddy water, then crawling through the water, under barbed wire and to another metal tube and then climbing up it to be free. It wasn’t so much hard physically as it was hard to take the cold water. It was really cold.
We also jumped into logs, across holes in the earth and ran through tires, some hanging and some on the ground. The race organizers got tricky with the tires on the ground. They left some with hubcaps in. Quite a surprise if you’re not looking for it. Very tricky, indeed.
The balance beam was also difficult. First, it’s slippery with mud. Second, all four were attached to each other. So, when your neighbor jiggles his or hers, the whole thing moves. Again, tricky. But we all made it across without plummeting in the water below. We all made it through all the obstacles. We didn’t go around any. We did them all.
The most fun was the gigantic water slide. It is high. But mostly, it is fast and exhilarating! There was more crawling through mud under barbed wire near the end, but this was thick mud, not the freezing water we endured previously. The thick mud may take more energy to get through, but I’ll take it any day over being cold. It was harder to get through near the end, though. Thick and deep, making it easy to get stuck. Jaime and I assisted each other here.
We had made it. I had made it. Despite being sick in bed a couple of days before, I made it and we did it. I didn’t miss out on this wonderful experience. But there I was, two days after, back in bed and sick again. I slept nearly nonstop for about two days. I’m barely awake now. It sort of feels like God made me well enough to run the race, and do a few others things I needed to do, and then gave me the chance to recuperate when it was over.
When I look at the run photos on my Facebook page, I noticed they’re located right between two videos, one from my awesome and unforgettable weekend at Chrysalis and another of me and the Alive cast recreating, for the zillionth time, the Harlem shake.
I’m blessed. Far more than I deserve. God has given me such wonderful opportunities. I can hardly believe I’m so privileged.