In March, when I entered the Children's Hospital writing contest, I put myself out there in many ways. I wrote openly and honestly about how hard being married was when faced with challenges. I talked about how the last year was the hardest one yet, which it was. In essence it was because Jack and I had to face issues head on, without any protective lenses. We spoke some harsh words and learned through communicating poorly, how we also knew at the base of it we are a great team and can communicate beautifully. While daunting, it taught me a lot about my marriage and how strong our partnership is. After posting the piece, I received emails from friends sharing heartfelt messages about feelings of now not "being alone", and "I thought my husband and I were the only ones who had challenges like this". The honesty in my essay helped open communication among others, and within my own friend circle. For that I am grateful. How life continues to have great things come from challenging situations...not being a finalist in the contest after opening my soul was hard, but the element of open communication amongst friends supporting one another is a forever gift.
|Before the mud and obstacles|
|Ready to rock the race|
To me, the dirty part of the mud didn't seem daunting, but invigorating for some reason. It made the event seem a bit more adventurous compared to regular runs and triathlons, which seemed exciting. I wanted a lot of challenges to take on and overcome; bring on the ropes, muddy tires and sprints. We lined up for our 12:30 wave at the starting line and the music blasted all around. Some people looked stiff and nervous, while others looked intense like warriors on a mission. The three of us looked like 30-somethings who didn't give a flying poo about their rhythm, but wanted to dance, race and laugh. Emerson, Makenzie and Linda watched and waved laughing at us and the girls were dancing too. The energy in the air was that of FUN. Everyone was to have FUN.
After the tires Jack looked at me with a smirk, "We're not muddy enough. Where is the MUD?? Erin, I think we're the first in our wave now too." Ah, the competitive boy is always there, and funnily enough I had already noticed the same thing. We embarked on more groups of runners and passed them as we swished through the obstacles and on the trail. Up one hill we heard screaming and cheering. Two big walls, and I mean big. The outline of some people standing at the bottom just staring up with feet paralyzed in the dirt. As we approached, we saw their faces that had fearful expressions. I yelled to Jack, "Just do it! GO". The first wall had 2 inch pieces of wood ledges you could grab onto that were spaced about 4 feet apart. If you didn't grasp well, you'd fall down to the bottom, or on top of the person below you. There was a strong guy, about 25 years old and 6 feet tall, climbing next to me, For each wide stretch my legs took to reach the ledge, he glided up, but was nervous looking down to the ground. We teased each other and raced to the top. At the top, flipped around and climbed down the rope net ladder. At this point I heard Makenzie and Emerson yelling, "Go Mommy! Go, race Daddy, GO FAST Mooooom!". It felt great to high five their little hands and continue on to the next part...a steep down hill to more up and down. I have to admit, the downhill scared me with my knees. I wanted to mentally feel "normal", but after double knee surgery this is my "new normal" and while I climbed down it was OK! Jack was in front looking back with a gleam in his eye and yelled, "How are they now? Feeling good? Should we push through the mud?". "Sure!" I cheered back. I didn't realize what he really meant until I saw the mud pit in front of him.
|Want a hug Girls??|
At the end, the three of us were covered head to toe, in mud, and huge smiles. Linda, Makenzie and Emerson took pictures of us and the moment immediately etched in my mind as a favorite of all time. It could have been the camaraderie, the physical challenge, the support, competing outside the traditional running box, overcoming new races post surgery and the partnership with Jack. We washed off the mud with huge water trucks that just sprayed us down. We were still a bit dirty with mud gobs in places they shouldn't be, but from the outside looked rinsed and ready to start again.
It is parallel to where we are in life. The entire mud run was. Jack and I are an incredible team, especially with the cheering on of our daughters. We have run through one mud pit after another, but always put a hand out to help one another get through it. Sometimes our entire bodies are covered in layers of mud, but we know it's an obstacle we'll get through. We leap over puddles, run through them, sometimes fall down and climb over walls. At the end, through companionship and teamwork, we get washed off and get to run a new race. It may take a few washes to clean us off (my sports bra still has some dirt in it!), but we'll get there and be ready to leap and laugh. Our life may be muddy, but our LIFE IS GOOD!
|Life is GOOD!!|