Somewhere over the rainbow…
Wait, that’s not right.
Somewhere in the city limits of Topeka, Kansas, Coach Pain gave a motivational speech to the 10:30 am wave of runners in the BattleFrog obstacle race.
“Who here is cold?”
My teeth chattered while I jumped in place.
“Take a deep breath.”
I inhaled and exhaled. I continued to jump.
“Breathing will warm you up. And I’m gonna tell you right now – holding your breath and hopping like this with your teeth chattering will not warm you up. You want to feel cold? Go to San Diego, California. Coronado Beach. Now that’s cold.”
I don’t know, California seems pretty warm. I continued to jump in place. Scott rolled his eyes at me.
“Are you scared?”
“I said, is anyone here scared?”
Please don’t yell at me.
“Fear doesn’t care if you’re scared.”
“Everyone get down on one knee.”
I made a disgusted face. Ugh. Mud on my knee already. Scott gave me a stern look. I half smiled.
“We do not live just to live. Each one of us has a duty for ourselves. When you get up in the morning and the sun is shining on your face and not on your grave, that’s a blessing.”
I’m going to die. Right here. In Topeka, Kansas.
“I like to tell people the truth. We are missing the truth. You’re going to be challenged today. Fear is going to challenge you. You’re going to want to give up.”
How much did we pay for this?
“But there’s another person in the mirror when you looked at yourself this morning. You’re fighting a fight because someone else fought for you. Someone else that is not here with us today. Can I get a HOORAH.”
“CAN I GET A HOORAH!”
Scott: HOORAH! THAT’S RIGHT!
Coach Pain pointed at Scott.
“You will be your team leader. You don’t get a choice. I picked you for a reason.”
You have got to be kidding me. It’s only because of his muscles.
Scott got our group organized at the start line and stood next to me.
Me: I’m not listening to you.
“READY, SET, GO!”
An 8K in American terms is 4.97 miles and in BattleFrog terms is 5.5 miles.
I don’t sugarcoat things.
I rummaged the Internet the night before. I looked for articles that weren’t written by the mud race elite. I’m a real person, not a machine. I didn’t want a motivational speech. I didn’t want someone to tell me, “anyone can do it! It’s for all fitness levels!” I wanted honesty. I wanted someone to tell me exactly what each obstacle entailed.
If you want to know what an 8K mud race is like for a beginner, this is the only place to read about it.
Please remember I trained for this by eating cupcakes.
Mother is nature is a bitch. I live in the heartland of America. In the spring, the warm gulf stream air rises and the cold arctic air pushes down. When the two air masses collide over Kansas – BOOM! Thunderstorms. Mother Nature will run your cold, mud bath from her never-ending faucet. We spent two miles of this race walking through water. We spent the other three miles running through a slip and slide of mud.
Marathon runners are a bitch. No, not you. You’re not a bitch. You keep doing what you’re doing. I’m just saying I would be a bitch. I don’t have an autopilot mode or a “zone” runners get into. I like to give up and walk. It feels good to give up. This wasn’t a marathon. Everyone walked. We walked through pitch black, cement storm sewers against a cold current of water at our knees. Every time I saw a storm sewer coming up, I knew it would slow my team down to a hunched-over crawl. And it felt good to crawl, even if it was pitch black, sewer-crawling.
Vietnam was a bitch. Every war scene in Forrest Gump was performed by my team. Adrenaline pushed us in and out of trees. We grabbed anything to keep us from falling in the mud, a thorny tree limb or a handful of poison ivy. Invisible holes would appear while walking through the murky streams. Underwater tree roots would trip us. We walked along the edge of a pond – the inside edge of a pond in waist deep water. My shoe got stuck in the muddy bottom, I tripped and there was nothing to catch my fall. My hand touched the bottom of a pond and probably a dead body. I saw the white light.
Obstacles are a bitch. The first obstacle was to carry a sandbag over our shoulders up and down bleachers. But first, we had to walk up a steep hill of mud. I face planted. There was no time to turn my face away. Cameras clicked. I heard laughter. The weight of the sandbag on my neck pushed my face in and I couldn’t move. The doctor in our group pulled the bag off my neck and I continued on with a mud mask. We encountered monkey bars over a pool of muddy water, we carried two jugs of water with BattleFrog cameras in our faces. We climbed walls. We belly-crawled under crossed wires in a pit of mud. There was no one there to stop you from skipping an obstacle or to make sure you did eight burpees if you skipped. I skipped a few.
It was 5.5 miles of running, falling, walking through water, crawling in sewers, shivering and sweating. Fear showed up. Weakness showed up. Help was there when you needed it. There was a laugh or two. I flipped off the frogs croaking in the ponds more than once because they needed to shut up and stop cheerleading.
I walked through the finish line 3 hours after Coach Pain gave us his motivational speech. Even though we stayed together, I was the last one in our group to finish.
I’m going to tell you right now – it was painful. If I had my phone on me, I would have called Uber to pick me up in the woods around mile 1. But I didn’t have my phone. Once you start, there’s no going back. You can walk 5.5 miles and skip the obstacles or you can run and do every obstacle. No matter what your fitness level is at a mud race, you will start and finish 5.5 miles. And maybe that’s the hardest part for everyone – starting. Once you start you can’t stop.
I received a medal around my neck. My only emotion was relief.
I did it. It’s over. HOORAH.