How to Survive an Event That You Really Don't Want to be Part Of - Trail Runners Journey

How to Survive an Event That You Really Don’t Want to be Part Of

Have you even been somewhere as a result of a twist of fate wondering how the hell you got there and now that you’re “here” wondering how the hell you will survive (or back out whichever comes first)? Not to mention also being scared spitless as to what you’re about to do and go through?

Mud Hero Before the Race and After the Nerves Set In

Well that was me a few years ago and this is my process leading up to and throughout this whole event.

Assign the blame to the following:

  • The friend because it was her idea.
  • The husband because he thought it was a good idea to join in.
  • The credit card because it allowed the transaction.
  • The team because they’re doing it too and well, you’re a part of the team.

Before any seedy thoughts start forming a story of their own, I’m talking about an obstacle course mud run called Mud Hero, similar to Spartan and Tough Mudder races, but emphasizing more on the fun and less on the competitive side. The name of the game is to do obstacles over a 6 ish km course that happens to span out over a ski hill with some of the obstacles that entail wallowing in mud.

State reasons as to why I should back out:
Now some of you might think that this would be a fun thing to do. Why not? Well the not is not me.

  • For starters, 6 km is a friggin long way and I don’t know if I can go that far.
  • The course involves running, which I DON’T do.
  • Obstacles, okay, those could be fun however at the time I was healing a separated shoulder, so obstacles could be a maybe.
  • There’s mud and I really don’t like to get my hands dirty. True story.
  • Resistance-meter is off the charts high.
  • I’m scared spitless of doing this race. Mud Hero my ass!! Mud Chicken is more like it.

Obviously I must do the obvious and list what I think will be the race outcome:

  • I will be left way far behind.
  • Everyone will forget about me.
  • Cleanup crew will find a lump of mud under an obstacle and discover that it is me.
  • My team will also laugh at me because I am such a failure.
  • My ultimate fear: coming in last.

Now what do I do? One of the team members stated that we run this together as a team, but I knew my team mates. We’re all competitive, need I say more? I’m doomed.

Feel the fear and do it anyway:
This is a quote that’s rampant out in personal development land, however it’s a lot easier when one is at the speaking end of the quote and not in the circumstance because:

  • The fear is quite real and can be quite paralyzing
  • The mind can gleefully make up all sorts of possible not-so-desired outcomes while quite nimbly dodging the most probable (and enlightening) result.
  • The “terror barrier” is something that one must break through in order to go onto the next level.

I must admit that at this time, there was no thinking of breakthroughs, or enlightenment, or anything remotely related to a Holy Grail. I was convinced that this circus of a race was going to be either my demise, or my deathbed, one of the two.

But alas, race day at Mud Hero came and I was secretly twisting myself into a knot. On the outside I may have been quasi calm, cool, and collected, but on the inside I was screaming “I’m going to die!!!” Our wave came and off we went. However, at the first obstacle something happened that surprised me and as a result, sent my thought process about this race spinning 180 degrees.

Team Strategics on Getting Into the Last Mud Pit

Unexpected race happenings:

  • A team formed consisting 3 of my teammates (including my husband) who chose to run with me through the entire race. Translation, there was unexpected support.
  • I did have fun even though parts of the race were tough and challenging. Loved the fire pole, should install one in our house.
  • I did obstacles that I knew would not strain my shoulder, walked around the rest, and I was good with that. This is called adapt to the situation or terrain. My story, sticking to it.
  • Random encouragement from random people. Who knew??
  • Something caught my eye that inspired me. As I was going up the hill for the umpteenth time, I spotted an older gentlemen, that I’d say was well into his 60’s, decked out in white shorts, singlet and headband happily trotting down the hill. He was still clean while the rest of us were dirtier than mud-wallowed pigs, but the fact remained that he was out there killing this race. I want to be like him when I grow up.

When we got to the finish line, pretty much as a team, a shiny medal was placed around my filthy neck and I couldn’t have been happier. After the finish line and into the night there was what I affectionately call:

Me and My “Frankie” Husband Coming Out of the Last Mud Pit.

The doses of reality:

  • I was alive. I didn’t die on the course.
  • I wasn’t left behind, there was a team of support. In fact there were other mini-teams that formed for others during the race for the same reason.
  • Immense team bonding and the stories that were told. EPIC!!
  • During campfire story telling, I found out that I wasn’t the only one who was out of my mind scared, others were too.
  • I had a boatload of fun. So much better than the alternative.
  • Next day when I checked the results, I was shocked to find out that I came in mid-pack. Really?? Me?? Always-coming-in-last-at-school-track-events me? I was dumbfounded.

But then something else happened before I even left to the parking lot to come home that still leaves me almost speechless (almost).

After the Race, a Whole Lot Muddier and Happier

The next “logical” step: Death Race!!

  • Enter in the denial: Whoa!!! Wait a minute!! I want WHAT??!!
  • Realization of race details: a 125 kilometer, 24 hour race that includes climbing 3 mountains and crossing a river!! And running at night!
  • Admit no responsibility: Where the hell did that come from?? Surely somewhere in a mudpit I have lost my mind. When someone finds it, please return to the original owner.
  • Next action step: When I get home I am going to get this silly notion out of my head for once and for all!!! (Spoiler alert: silly notion wouldn’t leave.)

Even though Mud Hero was an event that will always remain a both as a pivotal event in my life as well as one of the most cherished times ever, will I do the race again? Probably not as I have discovered that mud runs and related challenges aren’t my thing. Happy and grateful that I participated and I’ll keep it as a cherished memory along with the T-shirt and medal.

Mud Hero 2013 T-shirt and Finisher Medal

Valuable lessons learned at Mud Hero:

  • No matter what I felt or where I was, I wasn’t alone.
  • Not all people are hardcore competitive, there are some who are adamant that no one gets left behind.
  • Support and encouragement comes at the right time and in the right place from the right people.
  • Inspiration comes not only when one least expects it, but also from unlikely sources.
  • When one has the courage to face the fear and go through the terror barrier, the feeling that one is rewarded with on the other side is almost indescribable.
  • I have been way too hard on myself about what I’m capable of.
  • When one takes action a path opens up

Now your turn, do share. Was there an event or situation that was pivotal in your life? Post in the comments below. 

1 response

  1. Rachel says:

    It was Mud Hero for me as well. As I began my journey back to a healthy weight following children I suffered the loss of five family members over the course of a year. Although some were elderly I really came to grasp the reality that I didn’t want to stand at the finish line of life and say- I could have done more. I loved Mud Hero and am doing it again this year. I loved Five Peaks, and as long as my hip rehab continues my goal is all five peaks North races next year. We are guilty of underestimating ourselves. I won’t miss out on future challenges because I was worried I might not finish! I would rather be the last across a finish line but be able to encourage someone along than win first place!Whoorah!!

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