I have always prided myself on being neat, orderly, and contained. I am just not the kind of person that leaves dishes in the sink, pitches clothes onto the floor or even wears shoes in my home. I look forward to my monthly manicure/pedicure and camping is just is not my idea of a relaxing vacation. I really would not categorize myself as fussy about the way I look, but I do pride myself in maintaining a well-groomed appearance.
I remember clearly the day I said yes to my adventurous friends when they invited me to join their team for the 2014 Dirty Girl Mud Run. We were having our usual Sunday morning brunch after a 5-mile jog around Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. Natalie is the member of our group that is always nudging us to do activities that stretch our comfort zone. Last year we participated in the Diva Dash women’s obstacle adventure run and the year before we crossed the border to participate in the Toronto Island Girl Half Marathon Relay. When Natalie brought up the Dirty Girl Mud Run, I readily said yes to participate with my friends. Somehow the words “dirty girl” did not seem to register in my brain.
After brunch, I went home to register for the Dirty Girl Mud Run and read about the event. I was impressed to read that the Dirty Girl Mud Run’s National charity partner is Bright Pink. This organization focuses on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women. I certainly wanted to support such a wonderful cause and was pleased that Natalie chose this event for our group.
I looked through the Dirty Girl Mud Run website, and I realized we were going to be running much of this 3.1-mile obstacle course through mud. I studied the layout of the race course, which had obstacle names such as “dirty dancing”, “sudin’dirty”, and “down and dirty.” I saw pictures of women of all ages, shapes, and sizes covered in mud from head-to-toe as they crossed the finish line. I am not one to ever back out once I commit to something, but I wondered if there was a polite way to ask to be the gear bag holder while everyone else participated in the race.
We arrived at the Dirty Girl Mud Run early in the morning to check out the race course and plan our strategy. Since the race contained many obstacles that were best conquered using team work, we determined who was best suited to go first up the obstacles and help the rest of the team. One of many qualities I love about my adventurous group of friends is the way we truly are bonded as a team. Not only do we laugh and play together, but what happens to one happens to us all. When one of us is not well or having a personal issue, we all come together in a circle of support. On race day, I was so grateful to know that my strong sister-friends were going to be there to lend a strong, muddy hand to pull me through the race.
At the sound of the bull horn, our boisterous team took off for the first obstacle. I struggled as we started up our first climb. My teammates shouted encouragement, I felt my heart pounding and my head full of doubt as to whether I could make it through even the first part of the race. One of my teammates reached back, grabbed my hand and pulled me up and over the obstacle.
We plopped to the ground and headed towards the next obstacle where we had to wade through a large box of slippery mud. We all formed a line and grabbed hands to prevent falling. Unfortunately, one of our teammates lost their balance and like a row of dominoes, we all went down in a muddy face-plant. Never in my life have I wallowed in a pit of mud, and at first I was stunned to be completely covered with the brown ooze.
Once I got over the shock of having mud fill my shoes, jog bra, nose, and undies, a sense of exhilaration came over me. I realized that I could only get so dirty, so I might as well “go big or go home.”.For the rest of the race, I embraced every opportunity to stomp mud at my team (they reciprocated with vigor), I was one of the first teammates to go through the remaining obstacles, and I shouted Dirty Girl Mud Run cheers along the way.
We’re gonna’ do it every year.
We finished the race as we started, full of laughter, shouts of encouragement, and hugs of support. During our next Sunday brunch, I shared with my teammates a few of my own obstacles the Dirty Girl Mud Run helped me to overcome. I realized I was stronger, both physically and mentally, than I had once believed. I was more aware of the special bond that I have with my sister-friends. It is comforting to know that they will always be there for me, even when we’re flinging a little mud!
You can read more posts like this under our Heck Yeah! Blog post category. You might also enjoy reading “Getting To Zen At 100 Feet Below Sea Level”.