As I stood glaring angrily into the morning sun peeking over the top of the registration tent, I turned to The Boy and said “Sweetie? Pumpkin? Why the fuck do we do this?”
“This” was the Rugged Maniac, a 5K obstacle race. That’s right. 3.1 miles, 25 obstacles.
Here’s the thing. I used to run half marathons on impulse, because I was visiting friends and had a couple hours to kill. 3.1 miles is a warmup run. Since Crossfit, a few rope climbs and the occasional balance beam walk are a piece of cake. There’s no sense of “hooray for me, I can do this” at the end of an obstacle race, because I never doubted it in the first place.
I’m also not going to win.
People who win obstacle races have thighs that don’t touch, and ass cheeks that move in entirely separate orbits connected to their slender hips. Their abs have spare abs in case they run out of abs. They run shirtless, in case you might need to borrow some abs.
And, folks, I’m a touch competitive. I like litigation, I like mountain climbing, I drive too fast (within my capacity, Dad, I promise). So entering a competition I stand no chance of winning? Not my thing.
The Boy stared at me blankly. Finally, he shrugged. “I do it for the chicks.”
It kept me from killing him right there at 8am on a Saturday morning, which was probably his immediate goal.
The race started with the usual DJ cheerleading, calculated to get your heart pounding. My heart? Not pounding. I could not summon the palest “yeah” in response to “who’s ready to run.” On the course, it was even worse. The first obstacle was a cold muddy ditch. I’ve been struggling with Achilles tendon issues for a year, and icing my legs a hundred meters from the start line is not part of my recipe for a good race.
Then I got “London Bridge” stuck in my head. Not the rhyme, the Black-Eyed Peas song. And just the part that says “my London-London Bridge wanna go down.” Over and over. I tried everything. Cadences. Talking. My Sharona. Nothing worked. My London-London Bridge wanna go down…
Somewhere between the tunnel crawl and the teeter-totter run I found my groove. My legs hurt less. My lungs were working. There was enough mud in my hair to keep it out of my eyes. My London-London Bridge still wanted to go down, but that was bothering me less and less. And that bitch in the orange shirt with the cutout sides was less in front of me than she had been before all the wall climbs.
By the time I hauled myself over the ladder wall and slogged through the bubble pit (gosh, sorry, spectator lady, I didn’t see your toddler there, he was covered with bubbles) the endorphins had well and truly kicked in. The way I don’t get from just running anymore. The way I only get from Crossfit after Murph. That “I just got the living shit beat out of me and I could not feel more alive, I can eat fire and breathe hard vacuum” way.
The way that apparently makes me not care that I’m in a sports bra and not-actually-boyshorts pouring a gallon of water over myself in a parking lot.
As I car-danced to every song on the way home, The Boy asked sarcastically if I ever figured out the reason I race.
“Yeah,” I replied giddily. “I do it for the chicks.”