Here we are just before the race, all clean and stuff (and practicing for the “carry your partner” obstacle).

I was so nervous the night before Mudderella that 10PM found me pacing around the house, packing and re-packing my tote bag, checking and double-checking whether I actually owned running sneakers (somewhat surprisingly, yes), and obsessively drinking water just in case I arrived at the location of the run only to discover a desert filled with race organizers who had been replaced by water-depriving gremlins.

I was actually less worried about the obstacles themselves – climbing over walls and mud-hills, crawling under nets, sliding into pools of water (mud) – than I was about the running…because for real: I am not a runner. I feel like I look ridiculous doing it; I’m virtually guaranteed to get a stitch in my side after .5 seconds; treadmills are my Angry Place; et cetera.

Three minutes into the course – which involves about a zillion times more full-on running-through-fields than I had anticipated – I gave Morgan my very best “I don’t think so” look. Because seriously: five miles is a LOT of running for…I don’t know, isn’t it kind of a lot of running for anyone? Regardless, it’s most certainly a lot of running for someone who puts themselves firmly in the “does not run” category.

But here’s what was cool, and what I discovered very quickly: Mudderella, as challenging as it is, isn’t about killing yourself. Because making yourself miserable – or even “winning” – isn’t the point; the point is, very simply, to push yourself to discover your own limits, wherever they may be.

If you want to walk, you walk. But if you can run, you do.

I expected to walk a bunch, you know. But then I started running, and it actually wasn’t that terrible (a little terrible, but not terribly terrible), and then I just kept running, and then it felt good, and then bad, and then good again, and then all of a sudden it was over and done, and I realized I’d I’d gone ahead and done it:

I’d run the whole damn thing.

I ran with Morgan (who came with me because she is the best) on Team St. Ives, who sponsored the very muddiest of the obstacles (and my by-far favorite one)…and then provided finishers with extremely wonderful rinse-off stations with products to restore mud-splattered skin to its former radiance. (P.S. I’m absolutely positive you have used the Apricot Scrub at some point in your life – it was basically a main character in the movie of My Teenage Years – and now that I’ve rediscovered the stuff it’s firmly planted on my bathroom sink, along with the spray-on Oatmeal & Shea Butter Hydration Lotion, which is all sorts of lovely.)

You know, I knew going into Mudderella that it was “about teamwork,” “women coming together,” et cetera et cetera…but the truth is that when faced with these kinds of situations, I get shy. I was never on a sports team in high school for various reasons, but mostly because I’ve always felt sort of awkward and silly in groups; the idea of running and jumping and dancing with total strangers isn’t just “not my thing”…it’s kind of terrifying.

And yet: by the time we hit the mud pits, I was planting my hands on the butts of those total strangers, helping them get to the top, and then reaching up for a lift myself. I was cheering for them while they hauled themselves up ropes and over walls. And when we finally reached the top of the last obstacle – a dizzyingly high slide that ended in a pool of mud – and I saw that the woman in front of us was practically paralyzed with fear, I was the one yelling “YOU CAN DO IT, GIRL!”

She was terrified, but she did it. And then Morgan and I sat down at the top, grabbed each others’ hands…and did it, too.

Later that night, I was putting Indy to bed, and he asked me, “Why did you slide down that slide into the mud?” I thought about it for a second – “because it was fun”? “because I said that I would”? – and then I said the answer that was the truth:

“Because I wanted to see how brave and strong I could be.”

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This post was created in collaboration with St. Ives.

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