mud is lovely, germs are not

Thursday, April 01, 2010

My immune system has played a cruel joke on me. What I thought was simply a bad case of allergies has turned into a rip-roaring, full-fledged, nasty-pants cold, complete with sore throat, hacking cough and stuffy nose. In the past 24 hours, I have gone through almost a quart of chicken broth, and my new best friends are a box of Kleenex and the NeilMed squeeze bottle sinus rinse, which is as awkward as it sounds but does bring a lot of relief.

But that's not the worst part. I'm sidelined. No running. I have absolutely no energy (today was spent in pajamas and slippers, with harvesting my virtual crops on my virtual farm game serving as my sole physical activity), and I'm doing my best to be good to myself and follow the "neck rule" -- no running with symptoms below the neck.

Therefore it's only appropriate that I dwell on this past weekend's race, the Big Sur Mud Run. I captained a team made up of myself, Jessa, Cynthia, Larissa and Ashley. These girls all represent different parts of my life -- journalism, moving to San Francisco, the past year at my current job -- and it was really amazing to get together with all of them and talk about topics such as pre-race pooing, slightly unripe bananas vs. slightly overripe, and whether regular running shorts or spandex capris are the better choice for crawling through mud pits.

We took a pretty non-competitive view of the mud run. Our goals were to work together on the obstacles, have a good time and get as dirty as possible. As you can tell by the smiles on our faces in the photo above, we achieved what we had in mind.

I will say, however, that even though we weren't really taking the race seriously, there were parts of the course that were challenging. For example, the first part of the race had only one mud pit to break it up -- everything else involved running uphill on pavement or running in sand or running uphill in sand (which just may be my new nightmare). So we were working hard. (Note to self: More trail running is needed.) And a couple of the obstacles involved five-foot-high plywood walls that we had to boost each other over. I completely ate it when I went over the first wall -- landed on my feet, but then lost my balance and fell forward onto my hands and knees. And the drill sergeants made us do push-ups at several points along the course, which only served to emphasize my lack of upper-body strength. And the mud pits had sticks and gravel in them -- all of us emerged with scrapes, bruises and bloody knees.

Yet it was so unbelievably fun. There is something so cathartic about diving face-first into a pit full of mud, crawling along on your belly and coming up -- laughing hysterically -- with a mouth full of grit. It's like being 3 years old again and not caring what people think -- if a hair is out of place, if your outfit is flattering, if you've "done it right." An awesome, joyous, wonderful feeling.

We crossed the finish line together, arms raised, clasping one another's hands. All of us are already talking about doing it again. I just have to get well soon so I can get back out there!

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