So there is one thing I said I’d never do when it comes to running – a mud/obstacle race. But then along came Julie…
“Come, it’ll be fun!” she said.
“We can have a weekend away in Whistler!” she said.
“There will be wine!” she said.
I’m weak and before I knew it, found myself agreeing to go run Mudderella Whistler with her and a few other blogging friends. Sigh. What did I get myself into?
I remained blissfully unaware all summer until the week before the race when I finally took the time to read all the race details. Crawling through mud pits, squeezing through dark culverts, icy cold pools of water? Just some of the reasons why I said I’d never run this kind of race!
Incidentally, this is also when I realized that I hadn’t completed my registration for the race yet but that’s a whole other story. Oops.
Anyhow, we headed up to Whistler on Friday night, checked into our hotel and had a pretty relaxing night. We had a later start time on Saturday so it was nice to get up and have time for breakfast at a fantastic little hole-in-the-wall cafe before our impending muddy day. And believe me, as I sipped my coffee I was pretty much dreading all that mud.
When we got to the Mudderella Village we just about froze our fingers off waiting to register and get our bibs and drink tickets. It had been pouring rain all morning and now a really cold wind had struck up – two things that can only make a mud run even better, right?
By the time we had our gear checked, tattoos applied and gathered up the nerve to actually get this race started the sun had started to peek through the clouds. Phew!
There is quite a tough climb in the first few km of the course and it got pretty toasty. My legs were still pretty tired from running Golden the weekend before so I was happy to trudge along and chat our way up the mountain.
I think all of the mud from the weekend washed away my memories of exactly what order we did all the obstacles but let me say this: they were definitely cold and MUDDY! And so totally, completely, 100% out of my element.
As we waded through a pit of cold water, tripping and plunging deeper with each step because the bottom was purposely uneven I thought, ‘Hmm, this is cold but I can take it’
When we carefully inched along balance beams and climbed over the first wooden wall I got some confidence and thought, ‘Okay, maybe this isn’t so bad!’
That confidence quickly waned when we had to climb a rope wall and inch across a pit in downward dog. Yup, my complete lack of yoga skills and any kind of core strength made those ones kinda tough.
But as Julie ‘playfully’ tripped me in the subsequent mud pits and scooped handfuls of mud into my hair, I realizeD how completely ridiculous and odd this kind of event is and just how much I was having. It’s so easy to take running and racing so seriously – tramping through the trails throwing mud balls at each other and plotting ways to get our friends even muddier was just the kind of thing I needed.
At the next mud pit I threw myself right down into the mud while so many others delicately stepped their way across the pit. We made sure to jump square into every mud puddle on course and splash as many people as possible. We had mud in our hair, dirty handprints all over our clothes and I’m still blowing mud out of my nose even a week later. Nice, eh?
But you know what? It was fantastic.
Until we got to the final obstacle, that is. It was harmlessly named ‘The Hat Trick’ but was seriously the most terrifying, knee-knocking, make-my-heart-beat-faster thing I’ve done in a really long time. And I actually just ran along a totally treacherous mountain ridegline 2700m in the air a couple weekends ago but this was scarier! Way scarier.
Back to The Hat Trick, we had to climb a cargo net up the back of a 20-ish foot high wooden structure and then perch at the very top of a huge slide on the other side. As I stared past my shaking legs down what looked like a near-vertical slide and gazed into the pool of icy cold water at the bottom, I was back to asking myself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’
But then all I could hear was Julie again, ‘Three! Two! One! Go!’ and I could barely scoot my bum off the ledge because I was so nervous. But I did. And I screamed. The. Whole. Way. Down.
I’m pretty sure I was still screaming underwater and probably even STILL screaming as I struggled to stand up and crawl out of the freezing pool. Brr. But I did it. We shivered our way over to the volunteers to collect our Mudderella headbands and finishers shirts with big muddy grins on all of us.
Mudderella was a fun but challenging race for me, not because of the physical requirements or difficulty of the obstacles but just because it was so out of my comfort zone. Sure, I can run for 12 hours up and over mountains, through rain and snow and I like to think that makes me kind of tough but the truth is, jumping into huge pits of mud and sliding down way-too-tall waterslides are the kind of things that really make my heart beat faster.
I feel like I am continually challenging myself by training harder, running longer, getting faster but learning to be comfortable outside of my comfort zone has always been the biggest challenge of all. It’s been a huge mental block in my running these past few years and I never would have expected that this 3.5 hrs in the mud would end up helping me get over some of that.
I also got to spend the weekend with some fellow blogging ladies whom I admire very much and while I tried to play it cool and not be all fan-girl around them, I like to think I absorbed a few bits of inspiration here and there.
Oh and did I mention that they dragged me into this crazy October blogging challenge too? Yeah. They did.
I showed up expecting to get wet, to get muddy and of course to have fun but ended up walking away with a confidence boost. And lots of mud in my shoes and my nose too. Thanks for that Julie!