Since 2012 was my first year as a "runner," I tried all sorts of runs to see what kind I would like best.
A friend pointed out the Groupon for an event called the Grand Rapids Mud Run. It was a smaller event, organized by a local company, and held in my hometown of Kentwood.
The price was only about $20 (I can't remember what I ate yesterday, much less how much I paid for a race that long ago!) and it seemed like it would be a good time!
So I showed up the morning of the race with one thing on my mind... Ok, several things, but first and foremost: Find a running buddy!!!
So here I am, lining up and hanging around the starting line... Scoping out the crowd and looking for that one person or group of people who look like they would be open to having a running buddy join them... And I notice this one girl, about my size, who seems to be doing the same thing! SCORE!
So, awkwardly, like it can be approaching random strangers, I walked up to her and said...
"Hey, this might sound weird... But... Are you running by yourself?!?"
"I am," she said, "Are you?"
"YES! DO YOU WANNA RUN WITH ME?!?!"
**Side note: The caps are not an exaggeration. Pretty sure I yelled that with excitment!**
She said yes and we went about making introductions.
"My name's Jessica, what's yours?"
"You have got to be kidding me... My name is Jessica, too!"
I don't know if you believe in fate or not, but right then and there I did. I had found what was probably the only other girl who was running the race by herself. And her name was also Jessica. It was destiny. I kid you not!
Number 1: The course was muddier than I had anticipated. It was deep. Like, waist deep in some places.
Number 2: There would be big clumps of people stuck at certain obstacles that would back you up, so don't worry about time.
Number 3: Tie your shoes tighter next time, you fool.
I'm not one who does the whole duct tape thing. I see just as many shoes laying around with duct tape on them as without, but at that point in time, it did seem like a good idea. My first big mud pit within the first half mile I lost a shoe. I managed to dig down and pull it out. But there was no way it was going back on my foot. So I tossed up into the spectator area and yelled "I'll be back for that!" to anyone who was listening...
So there I was, running... one foot with both sock and shoe and one foot with just sock. Except that lasted only about 30 seconds before the sock was gone, too. Now, I was totally lopsided. I gave in and pulled the second shoe off and ran with it for awhile, until I reached the end of the first lap, where I tossed it with all the other lost soles. (Get it? Puns are FUN!)
And you think those slides down a muddy slope look like a good time? Not unless mud enema's are something you enjoy. Or cuts down the back of your thighs from the sandy/rocky parts...
But here's the thing: Despite the feet, despite losing my shoes (I did go back and find them after the race. Ran with them for a whole 'nother year after this event!), and everything else, I still had so much fun!
Second, and more importantly, it was a confidence boost to
know that I could go out and find a race I wanted to do and
run it. Even if I didn't have my usual gang of delinquents to accompany me. I could make new friends at the event and didn't need to let something like not having a planned running parter stop me from doing something new and exciting.
And that was a really good thing to learn, as I've gone on and done it several times since then. I like going out and meeting new people. And running has given me that opprotunity to make new friends at every event I go to. Even if it's just a friend for the day, or a friend that I stay in touch with after the race, it's always a good experience.