This Mom Is on Fire

How to Know When You Are Too Old to Run a Mudathalon

“You cooked that chicken well,” my husband said the other night at dinner.

“You sound surprised,” I replied. “Not something I really want to hear after 20 years of marriage and cooking.”

“I meant it… as a compliment.” He replied sheepishly.

For the record, I had just stayed with my cousin Theresa while visiting my Dad in Charleston and watched her effortlessly cook up omelets for a weekday breakfast. Omelets. So instead of my usual chicken casserole, I’d sauteed onions, mushrooms and wine with chicken. 

Voila, I tried a something new and got a compliment. Sometimes change can be good. And sometimes it can be the only road forward.  

Born to Run

When a postcard for a Harvest Dash/Mudathalon crossed my path last fall, it seemed just the kick in the butt I was looking for. My son and I signed up right away. 

The Harvest Dash is a 3.2 cross country run with obstacles and mud pits galore. One notably called the Pit of Despair. I hoped that was an overstatement.  

So the day of the race arrived, we drove out to this 300+ acre summer camp out of town. The place was bustling with enthusiastic uber-fit people, plus average people like me. But everyone was high on life. 

It had rained the night before and the staff was super excited that this was going to be “the muddiest mudathalon ever.”  I wasn’t so sure this was a good thing.

The race is timed and you stagger starts in groups every 15 minutes. Volunteers are placed throughout the course to show the way.  So my son and I signed in, put on our numbers and handed our jackets to my husband and daughter who had come to cheer us on. They blew the horn and we were off. We started through a corn field and then to a hay bale obstacle. At any obstacle, you can opt out and simply get a mark on your race number that subtracts from your time. Since I wasn’t going to win anyway, I figured I’d just opt out of that Pit-O-Despair if necessary.

Sink or Swim

I was able to hang with my son for the first several obstacles. We came to the lake crossing where you could walk across on canoes tethered together or swim. My son and I donned life jackets and started for the canoes. But that proved too slow. So we jumped in and waded across instead. It was fun to see him in action, figuring things out and simply going with the flow.

Right after this, we climbed a hill and his speed kicked in. He was gone. I had to run the race at my own pace. I navigated ropes, tire obstacles and a long dark slide. Eventually, I came to that Pit of Despair. I was going to opt out, but the volunteer encouraged me. “The water’s pretty warm.” She said. What the heck. I tried it and made it through the chest high trench of mud easily. 

Continuing on my way, I asked the volunteers I passed, “Did you see a boy wearing an orange shirt,” At every turn they confirmed, he was doing great, making his way.

Reaching New Heights

Eventually, I came to a volunteer by the river. She seemed to be pointing straight upwards. The race course went up, yes straight up, a tumbling waterfall/creek bed for an entire half mile. Now if you’re asking me to name stuff, that’s a Hill of Despair. But as in life, be it a fitness rut, a bad choice or a bad job, when you get to the bottom the only choice is to dig in and climb. And climb I did. It was breath-taking in so many ways. Get it, breath taking?

At the top of the hill, I was elated. There were several more obstacles I finally saw my son at a spider like web though he was still ahead of me. Then after coming out of the last woods, he was now behind me. I ran back to him. He had gotten lost he said. We joined hands and ran the last wall and slide together to cheers from my husband and daughter near the finish line (already eating bagels). Hmmm.

My time was not great, but I never opted out of anything. I ran a Mudathalon at 40+, proving you are never too old for change. Likewise in life, when I feel uncomfortable in a job, or unhappy with a routine, I’m going to dive in and make changes. Pits of Despair are sometimes nothing more than muddy obstacles.   

Margee Moore is a marketing manager, mother of two and author of Sleeping with the Laundry available on Kindle.    

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