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(*I came, I ran, I conquered)

I like my 5Ks like I like my men: dirty …with obstacles.

(Sorry, I can’t help myself sometimes.)

mud run c r before

So, how was it?

It was a gorgeous day last Sunday in the Bronx—sunshine, slight breeze, perfect temps—when Hubs and I arrived at Pelham Bay Park to participate in the Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run 5K. Up until the moment they said “Go!,” I didn’t believe I was actually going to run this thing. EVEN AS I RAN I wasn’t sure I was going to finish. So I gave myself a fail-proof goal: Finish the race, get whatever I want for lunch. Run the entire race (or at least most of it), I can have ice cream—and only ice cream—for dinner.

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Were you nervous?

I know I am not the first person to run a 5K. It was just my first 5K. I had a mix of first-time jitters with I’m-not-that-athletic dread. My Facebook feed wasn’t helping quell my fears either as everyone’s Map My Run counts (11 miles) or humble-brags (“Ran 3.5 miles for the first time in two years!”) popped up. I’d abandoned my handy-dandy Couch-to-5K graph weeks ago and had yet to run the complete 3.1 miles that comprised the race. All I had going in to the starting line was my dear friends, an old pair of running shoes, and a shaky faith.

The gang!

The gang!

If you’re not a runner, why do it?

To spend a beautiful Sunday with my friends, of course. And to get a number.  Pinning a race number to my shirt feels so cool, and I don’t care how dorky that sounds. Plus, I was excited about the obstacles. My whole childhood had prepared me for the obstacles: crawling through tunnels, climbing nets, jumping walls, shimmying through puddles and pits. I didn’t just want to acknowledge my teachers for teaching me the ABC’s, I wanted to thank them for giving me recess.

Are you sure you did every obstacle?

Okay, okay, back off. I skipped the second to last obstacle—pulling oneself up an angled board by a rope. One or two quick pulls and I was at DEFCON Oh-HELL-no.

How did Hubs do?

Hubs always does well, it’s in his nature (don’t tell him I said that). He stayed with me for the first mile or so, keeping a slower pace, but always running (he had his own goals). “Keep going. We’re almost there!” he’d call out, though I saw no obstacle in sight. Occasionally, he’d point out places from his childhood. “Over there is the beach where I wandered away when I was two and ended up hanging out with another family.” “That parking lot is where my dad taught me to drive a stick shift.” “We used to skip rocks on the water here.” Hearing his stories turned out to be my favorite part of the experience.

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Awww. That’s sweet. How did you do?

Not wanting to hold him back, I ultimately told Hubs to go on without me. Now it was just me, running through the woods, dodging the dedicated runners and the winded walkers. Recently, I’d heard someone talk about running a Tough Mudder—a longer, far more involved mud run than my undertaking. By the last mile, she said, her body was tired, her mind was weary. So she started shouting all the things she was grateful for, from the smallest to the grandest things. As she tells it, she instantly had renewed energy and finished stronger and faster than she had ever done before. As I passed “Mile 2”—my feet wet, my heart racing, and my lungs full—I became grateful for everything, from the Beast to the Hubs to my amazing friends and more. I even gave thanks for the hurts and heartaches that helped shaped my life to this exact moment. I felt strong and more present than ever. “I got this,” I said. [Disclaimer: I do not think gratitude could get me through a marathon…but you never know.]

mud pit

Where does the mud come in?

The final obstacle in the course is a three- or four-lane mud pit designed to get you good and muddy. It’s what you always wanted to do as a kid, but your parents would never let you. We shimmied, we crawled, some of us did a face-plant right into the muddy mix. As soon as we crossed the finished line, it looked like Day Three of Woodstock—all of us caked in mud and smiling.

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What was your final time?

50:58.

But you skipped an obstacle.

Shut up.

What did you have for dinner?

Pistachio ice cream.

the gang after

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