After three and a half years of racing and training, of physical ups and downs, and of personal struggles and triumphs, I am pleased to say that I crossed the finish line of Mud Endeavor 6 yesterday with arms raised high in triumph; I had won!
As a working mother, fitting fitness into my daily routine can be a major challenge. I’ve learned to accept 4:30am wakeup calls, and have also realized that working two jobs while also caring for my family creates significant limitations on what I’m able to commit to with regards to competitive training. I don’t always have the time available to dedicate to the rigorous training schedule that being an elite racer demands, however fitness has become so much more than just an obligation, and is now a lifestyle which I embrace wholeheartedly. Yet it wasn’t always this way.
I initially began my journey with the simple desire to lose weight, and to no longer feel the discouraging, self-conscious frustration of living life overweight. In the beginnng, the early mornings and the battle to teach my body and mind to appreciate a tough workout were a huge struggle. Yet little by little I came to “embrace the suck” as some say, to rejoice in the small gains, and to respect the fact that hard work, dedication, and patience will pay off in the end.
I never in my wildest dreams could have initially imagined that I would one day find myself racing competitively, and running with athletes who I looked up to with a sense of awe and inspiration. Yet as time has passed and my training has evolved, I have been fortunate enough to have honed the ability to toe the line with some incredible competitors. Each individual race brings with it a unique experience, some which are completed triumphantly, while others which leave me feeling doubtful of my true ability to run as a competitive Obstacle Racer.
This brings me to yesterday, a day which marked the eleventh Mud Endeavor race that I’ve had the pleasure of running. This particular event is a personal favorite, and one that my boys adore as well. Being the sixth time they’ve hosted a race at this particular Brooksville, Florida motorcross field, we all knew we were in for a treat as race day approached. This event is a ton of fun, with multiple muddy hills, huge slides, massive obstacles, ample mud, and likely one of the most spectator-friendly races I’ve ever attended; we anticipated a day filled with fun. I had initially attended Mud Endeavor events simply to run for fun, as this race is incredibly family friendly and geared toward the casual runner.
However once I began running competitively, I learned that simply because a race is centered around fun, does not mean that it cannot be challenging. Hill after hill, obstacle after obstacle, Mud Endeavor has regularly left me completely gassed, as I would give everything I had to that muddy course. So when I arrived at the familiar venue yesterday, I had no goal in mind other than to run as best as I could, to have fun, to finish with integrity, and then to head back out with my boys to enjoy a second lap with them in tow. The race began as usual; I focused inward and settled into an aggressive, yet sustainable pace. The first half mile of any race is typically very interesting, as many racers shoot forward in a burst of frenzied energy, only to realize not long afterward that they’ve burned their candle much too quickly. Yesterday was no different, and despite several women blazing past me when the competitive wave surged forward, I methodically picked target after target, and strategically chose my moments to pass each woman in front of me.
Having run this course previously, I had an advantage as I came into this race knowing what to expect. Although the course deviates slightly at each event, I knew that this event comes with the promise of many steep, energy-sucking hills, and so I progressed into the race prepared to battle against my competitors as we tackled each challenge which was placed in our way.
To be honest the first half mile or so of any OCR always sucks… honestly it really does. As I force my body from a hyped, pre-race, stationary stance into a fast paced scramble onto an uneven course filled with eager racers, my body and mind instantly start screaming at me, questioning every decision that lead me to decide to run competitively, wondering if I’ll gain the momemtum to overcome each racer who has blazed past me. With each step yesterday, I gained strength and felt strong, and I began methodically powering up hills and over obstacles. Shortly after the one mile mark, I looked ahead and realized that I might just have moved myself into first place. (Say what?!?) Unsure of this fact, and knowing that those behind me would capitalize on any moment of weakness to overtake me, I surged forward, keeping a pace that I knew would create a challenge for anyone seeking to pass by. It was interesting to gauge my own personal progress as I progressed through the course. I was thrilled to realize that I felt stronger and faster throughout this course that ever before, the hills (although still a major challenge) came easier, the stretches of running had become the perfect moment to cruise ahead and gain ground ahead of my competitors, I reached obstacles with plenty of gas in the tank to tackle them with strength and power, and as I crossed the finish line I raised my arms in complete elation as I realized that I had done it, I had won!
Yesterday marked the 7th time that I’ve earned a podium finish at a Mud Endeavor event, but was the very first time that I could claim a first place podium win. It’s an incredible feeling! To me this is proof that my hard work, dedication, early mornings, and determination to keep training even when life gets busy are so very worth it. I know that this may very well be my one and only overall win, but it will be one that I remember forever. I write this today in the hopes that it might inspire anyone reading this to keep working hard toward their goals. No matter how busy your life may be, no matter how much you might have going on in your life, there is always time to commit to achieving your fitness goals! A few years ago I could never have imagined that I would find myself standing on a podium, ecstatically accepting a 1st place medal, but I did it! So whether your goal is to lose weight, to run faster, to lift heavier weights, to break a bad habit, or to win a race, stick with it and you never know what you can acheive.
Thanks to Mud Endeavor for yet another incredible racing event. My boys and I adore your events, and we look forward to the next one. I’m so happy that my first big win could be earned on your course!