Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pink Wigs and Mud Pits

When I signed up for the Warrior Dash back in August, I had no idea what life had in store for me. I guess it decided that if it were obstacles I wanted, it was obstacles I was going to get. So, by the time I joined the 499 other brave souls at the starting line that day, the 3.2 miles and 14 obstacles that lay ahead of me didn't seem like much.

I decided to tackle this event as a challenge. I haven't pushed myself physically since the days of college cheerleading, and I just wanted to see if I could do it. Throughout my two months of training, I had one goal: finish. I knew it wouldn't be pretty. I wasn't trying to beat anyone. I had nothing to prove to anyone other than myself. And I was ready.

I didn't really know what to expect as I rode to Warrior, Alabama, on October 6th. But, I knew that whatever it was wouldn't defeat me. And after 50 minutes of battling mud and freezing cold water and barbed wire and temperatures in the 40s, I saw what I needed to see. I'm tougher than I look. In fact, it was more fun than anything. I wasn't even out of breath as I crossed that finish line. I was, however, covered...I mean COVERED in mud. It's like someone replaced my clothes with mud. And my hair. And my skin. But, I'd finished. And I didn't beak anything but a sweat and a fingernail.
The second obstacle of the day was an alternating series of mud ponds and mud hills that we had to maneuver through. It was the hardest one to me. It was impossible to get a foothold and the water was super cold. A random guy stood at the top of one of the mounds, offering to help others up. I didn't accept his help. I was being a beast. Two mounds later, I wish he'd been there, but I finally got over the top. It was great to see someone so willing to sacrifice to help others who were struggling. His finish time will hardly reflect what he did that day. In a world where most people see someone struggle and sprint to the front of the line to be the first to throw stones at them, the kind, Super Mario-dressed stranger inspired me. Thanks, whoever you are. It was amazing to see how perfect strangers helped each other out and cheered each other on. It was a great experience. It renewed a little of my faith in people. And thank goodness. I've had to think about those mud-plastered strangers a time or two lately, as a reminder that there are some good people out there.

The Warrior Dash was awesome. So much fun. But, the obstacle courses in life aren't often as enjoyable. Still, the goal is the same. Finish. You'd like to do it with as much dignity and grace as possible. But sometimes, you've just got to put on a pink wig and army crawl through 12 inches of muddy water. And, you can't worry about what everyone, or anyone for that matter, thinks. In the end, it's your life. The people who want to see you fail, who delight in your trials, who kick you while you're down, they don't matter anyway. They're pathetic. But, there are a few people waiting for you at the finish line, encouraging you along the way. Those people matter.

Which one would you be? When someone is going through a hard time, are you secretly rejoicing in their failures, encouraging them and cheering them on from the finish line, or are you Super Mario offering them a helping hand? I don't know about you, but I'm going to invest in a pair of blue overalls and a red hat.