Its hard to believe that just one year ago I found myself walking through an entrance to a run that frankly made me both anxious and exhilarated. And yet this year I chose the same fate knowing all that I went through last year.
This past Saturday, I ran and completed my second Tough Mudder run in Englishtown, NJ. Honestly, I was so incredibly excited for this year with little nerves working me. I cannot even stress how different my two experiences have been. I spent the bulk of 2012 training for the Mudder last year- lifting weights regularly, running a few miles a few days a week. I even did the full Insanity program by Beach Body the two months leading up to the Mudder. A few times throughout last summer the team I signed up with would do team workouts- we’d run like 4-5 miles, do tons of pushups, squats, run with tires, and practice monkey bars [which I still find it ridiculous that I completely fail when 7 year olds can do them with such ease]. I’m the kind of person that tends to talk trash… like I open my mouth and say something. And because I spoke, I refuse to quit and look like an idiot. That was so me last year. I had signed up for the TM in March and didn’t really start training til April and May. I was excited for it, but a huge part of me was very very nervous. The doubts of my abilities were running so much in my head. My fears of trying an obstacle and getting hurt. Failing and looking stupid. Everything. BUT because I opened my mouth, paid over $100 for it, and committed with a team [of people I didn’t really know], there was no going back. So when I found myself the week leading into the Mudder last year, I had so much anxiety. I was nervous about everything and felt so ill-prepared. And ironically I felt ill. I was actually sick. For days before the Mudder, I was doping up on Nyquil, Dayquil, vitamins, etc. because I still wanted to the Mudder. When race day came, I felt like crap. I managed to push through my slight sickness, full bodily fatigue, and my desire to want to quit basically every second. I was not as prepared as I thought I was. The mental games that the Tough Mudder HQ do are intense and definitely meant to be a challenge all on its own. By the end of the day- our time for the run was 5 1/2 hours, largely because we had a pretty severe injury on our team. I was sore in places I had never felt, bruised everywhere, and literally felt weaker than I had in a long time. Come to find out….my simple cold turned into Bronchitis which turned into pneumonia… for 3 months. It was rough.
And that’s how I started my year.
Just recovering from pneumonia, my friend Danielle and I decided to create our own team for TM13 and try for Englishtown again. Despite my sickness the previous months, there was something in me that was just aching to do it again. To put my body through the challenge again. To train. To run. To lift. Crossing that finish line last year was among the most accomplishing feelings I have ever had… I wanted that again. But when I found myself working out, I was weak. My lungs couldn’t handle much running beyond a mile. So basically through most of the year my training consisted of upper body and legs with little to no cardio.
My feelings going into the Mudder this year were vastly different than last year’s. A huge part of me was just excited for a challenge. To be a part of a group of crazies all over the nation and world who do TM. A smaller part of me was nervous. I was afraid that 1) my previous case of pneumonia was still be able to affect me and 2) I didn’t want to get sick again. Since last year’s Mudder I had put on weight (a bit more than 10 lbs) which made me kind of upset. I wasn’t able to cardio to quickly get rid of it [because of my recovering lungs], and let’s be serious… I hate diets. I’ll eat relatively healthy, but I don’t want to diet completely. I knew the combination of everything I was feeling- negative and positive- were things I just had to work through and deal with. For the second year in a row, there was no turning back. [At the beginning of the year] I paid my $107 entrance for the Tough Mudder 2013, and that was my goal to work towards.
That gets me to last week. I was so hydrated – it was awesome. I was drinking so much water, orange juice, gatorade, and of course coffee while at work (barista life, what can I say), but none of that fatty delicious crap, not right before the Mudder. I was determined to not get sick again. I was determined to do every obstacle without skipping anything or backing down regardless of whatever excuse. Saturday morning I woke up ready. The Tough Mudder may not ever be the hardest thing I do- in fact I doubt it will be greatest challenge.
But I woke up ready. This year the Mudder to me was more than running 12 miles or doing the 20+ obstacles. It was symbolic of my kind of mid-twenties life crisis. Last month I quit my primary job at a church to pursue a job more in line with what I am passionate and skilled in, and of course where I feel the LORD will lead me. So far, I got nothing. I work ridiculously early hours at Starbucks to only exhaust myself and still fail at paying my bills. Just yesterday I decided to terminate my lease and move back in with my parents end of next week. I pretty much don’t have a car- I am driving my sister’s Jeep while she is deployed and in about 2 months I’ll have to figure out how to get myself another form of transportation. I have student debt that is the forever thorn in my side. I am in a crazy place of faith and trust in God believing that I am following what I believe to be His leading. Facing the Mudder this year was my way of control- pushing through, trying [even if failing] every obstacle, and trying not to complain along the way.
This year, my team of 6 completed the Tough Mudder in 4 hours [which is the average- we weren’t going for time so much]. I did not skip any obstacle. Of course there were obstacles that were way more challenging. Let’s be serious… I am five foot nada and those obstacles are designed for the average height of five eight… at least. But I had fun. I grit my teeth on some. I got cut and bruised on others. I had a blast with others. All I know was that this year was just fun. It was exciting. It was motivating. And because of it, I decided I want to run a half-marathon then a marathon while still training for one, maybe two Tough Mudders next year.
The whole time during the Mudder, I couldn’t help but thing of my position in life right now. I am almost 26 and yet I am down to a mediocre job at a coffee shop [though fun, not ideal], not using either of my graduate degrees. I am about to move back in with my parents. My singleness is about as certain as the rising and setting sun- constant.My life is not even close to what I would have pictured. Yet life throws curveballs. It puts obstacles in your way. You can face them or quit. Sometimes you can get around them, but if you choose to face the obstacle in front of you, the character, the determination and strength you get is not something you are born with, but something you get by facing and overcoming difficulty. I don’t know what my immediate future holds… job, housing, relationship, but I know my God is able. He is with me and able to help me overcome anything that comes my way. I can push through. I can hold on and remain steadfast. I can trust that, just like crossing the finish line at the Tough Mudder, twice now, I will feel so accomplished and victorious, not on my own power and will, but by knowing it was He who was working in me along the way.