Sometimes you sign up for something having no idea what you are really in for. That happened to me this past Saturday when I went with several members of my son, Casey’s, wrestling team, the wrestling coach and his wife, and one of their friends.
I did look at the website to see what the Rugged Maniac was, and I did feel pumped up by the wrestling coach’s wife, thinking we would run as a mom group and have a great time in the rear doing our best. So, I went.
I wasn’t too nervous until we got in the line about ready to start. We all stretched and did some jogging in place to warm up. And then it was finally time to start. It wasn’t so bad at first – a light jog, a very simple obstacle. But then it got harder – a lot harder.
I found that I was the slowest out of the three of us moms. My legs were the shortest, so that did not help me with my stride or with a lot of the obstacles that seemed to be made for people with giant legs.
The other moms were encouraging and rooted for me for the most part. They didn’t always wait for me, which made me feel extra slow, and I always was the last out of the three to do an obstacle, but I kept trucking along.
I am not very athletic at all, so you may be wondering, with my slowness and all, how I did. Well, I can say that I did the entire 5k and all 25 obstacles (though at times not exactly as designed – the modified version, if you will).
Yep, I did it. I didn’t think I would. In fact, a couple times I thought I was going to die. A couple times I was about to give up. One time I even started tearing up because the other moms in my group left me behind. What helped me get through?
It might seem strange to say, but I really felt like there were angels along my path – angels on earth. I wasn’t expecting that in a competitive, hard-core race like this that people would ever slow down to help others. But they did. They helped me.
At one point, we had to climb up to a platform (one of the moms gave me a boost because it was really high with no steps) and then go down a fire fighter’s pole. That one was called the Pole Position. The pole was far enough away from me on the platform that I was scared to death that my legs wouldn’t reach and I would fall. The other moms in my group rooted for me. They told me I could do it, but I just didn’t feel it. I couldn’t just go back, though, since the platform had no steps. Then I heard a man’s voice who said something like, “It’s okay. You can do this. I’ll do it with you. Okay, ready? On the count of three, we jump on and slide down. One, two…” And you know what? His voice and his promise to go at the same time as me calmed me enough that I was able to accomplish the task. I was so grateful for him.
Another time, we had to do a very difficult obstacle where we had to run and jump onto black squares on the water. They were tied together but they moved around a lot. That one was called the Frog Hop. The squares were unfortunately spread out enough that I knew I couldn’t jump from one group to the next without falling in the water. So, I just jumped in the water, hoisted myself (super gracefully) onto one of the squares, jumped into the water, and did it again. Unfortunately, the last time I jumped in the water, the water was too high for me to hoist myself out back onto dry ground. I knew I couldn’t get out. But, there was a very nice young woman who jumped back into the water and gave me a leg up. I was embarrassed, but she was more than happy to help. I can’t remember, but I think the other two moms in my group pulled my arms too. There was no way I would have gotten out without that help.
The absolute hardest obstacle for me was this very high angled rope ladder that you had to go up, over and down. It was called Vertigo. I was scared to death. I went a little less than halfway up, really felt like I was going to fall, and started going back down as I said, “I can’t do this.” I kept hearing voices say I could do it, and my son and his friends had finished by that point and were there to cheer me on. I wasn’t so sure, but then a lady who was at the very top said she would wait up there and talk me through my climbing. She was so kind and patient. She talked to me and smiled at me every step of the way. She told me how to get myself over to the other side and then she talked to me until I got down. I mean, what an angel!
Another thing that really helped was the fact that even though many of the obstacles freaked me out, some of them did not bother me that much or at all, like crawling under barbed wire, jumping over fire and trenches, using my strength to pull heavy objects, getting in cold, muddy water during multiple obstacles, going down very tall slides, and being in small spaces. Accomplishing those without help gave me just enough confidence to not give up and the courage to not let me fears overcome me. Interestingly, my favorite obstacle, the Fenced In, was my favorite even though it freaked a lot of people out (it did take me a minute to figure out how to get positioned right, but after that, I loved it).
The stations of water (though few and far between), the encouragement and instruction from the volunteers, and the little prayers I said throughout the race, even if they were just as short as a “Please God, give me strength.” Or “Please help me through this,” also helped get me through. I did a lot of those prayers.
As I said before, I was the slowest person in our wrestling group. I probably needed the most help. But I did it, and I know it was because of the love and kindness of God and His children. It wasn’t me. I couldn’t have done it alone.
We had a break after we ran to get “cleaned up” and refuel with food. Then we got to be volunteers for a while. I was at one of the obstacles with one of Casey’s friends, the Rinse and Repeat. I truly loved being able to encourage, instruct, and be a sounding board for the runners coming through. I thought about how much I had appreciated that help. It gave me a greater appreciation for the event as I saw people of all shapes, sizes, athletic abilities, and confidence. I saw so many emotions, and I realized that the Rugged Maniac experience was different for everyone. Everyone’s reasons for being there were different, but I hope everyone who participated was glad they did it.
Am I glad? Well, I have endured many days of intense soreness and very ugly bruises due to participating (my soreness is just now about gone after 6 days), but I absolutely am glad that I did it. I conquered some of my fears. I realized I can do harder things than I give myself credit for. I built friendships. And most importantly, I saw the good and helpful nature of many children of God that day. And that made it worth all the bruises, mud, and soreness over and over again.