If you had seen the enormous wet slide ending in a pool of filthy water at the end of the race, you might have cringed too. You might have clenched your teeth together and wondered why you let your husband talk you into such a foolhardy idea. You might have realized it was too late to change your mind and secretly cursed the yahoos who come up with these obstacle/race courses, who think “rugged” or “maniac” is a title you aspire to achieve.
I have achieved neither. Oh, I ran the race and I finished every one of the obstacles, but crawling through soupy mulch and carrying a 25 lb bag sack of grain for a few feet hardly bestows me with the title of rugged. Stupid, maybe. Fun, possibly. But not rugged.
It was all fun and games until a man twice my width and size wearing a shirt that said “I love boobies” passed me on the course. I mean, really. That’s enough to take your ego down a notch.
Three-quarters of the way through the race, just when I started to feel like it wasn’t such a big deal after all, we reached the rings suspended over a small pool of dirty water. Lying beneath them a woman writhed in pain, while two volunteers held her down to immobilize her body. A shard of white bone protruded from her shin, and every part of me seized up at the sight of it. The rest of the race was a blur after that, I couldn’t erase the image of her face contorted in pain, flesh broken, bone revealed.
Obstacles have a way of revealing what we’re made of, don’t they? One minute we’re having fun, crossing through a few rough patches, full steam ahead through muck and mess, until we slip up on something so simple, so innocuous, we can’t imagine how it took us down with such ease.
It made me hyper-aware of how little control we have over the course of our lives. How easily situations slip us up and trick us into believing we are more than we really are.
The final obstacle required us to run up a huge curved wall and attempt to leap up and heave ourselves over the top. Teammates waited at the top, hands extended, ready to pull one another up the final few feet. I ran as fast as I could, gaining momentum, and at the last second I raised my hands for help. My husband, a friend, and a total stranger reached out, grabbed me, and hauled me over.
When I begin to think I’m more than I really am, I hope I remember Mr. I love boobies. I hope I remember the fractures, the outstretched hands, the help and hauling over. I hope I remember that even in my imperfections, even in my need, it’s ok to have a little fun.