{August 31, 2012}   I Like It Dirty!

The truth is out—I like it dirty. And that’s a revelation even to me.

One of the first things I did when I embarked on my 47 and fearless project in April was to sign up for the Dirty Girl Mud Run in August. It combined two things way outside my comfort zone: running a 5K (I’m not a fan of exercise and have not run any distance since high school) and abandoning my girlie ways to get muddy and messy.

The Dirty Girl Mud Run is a 5K obstacle course just for women. Lucky for me, entrants don’t need to be athletes to participate. All obstacles are optional and the race is not timed or competitive. As it says on the organization’s web site, the event is all about “camaraderie, fun and shared challenges.”

If the names of the obstacles don’t have you laughing—H2OMG water pit, Utopian Tubes tunnel crawl, PMS (Pretty Muddy Stuff) mud crawl—the names of some of the teams will.

Dirty was the name of the game for many, such as Mudders and Daughters, 50 Shades of Dirty, Mudlicious, Dirty MILFs (Moms Inspiring Lifetime Fitness) and Flirty, Dirty and a Little Nerdy,

A portion of each entrant’s registration fee is donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, so many teams were clearly thinking pink when they chose names and uniforms. Teams included Bosom Buddies, Save Second Base, Tutus for Tatas, Breast Friends, Muddy Melons, Hotties for Hooters and Boobs and Boas.

Our team represented Gallery of Gourdgeous (“like” us on Facebook!), a breast cancer awareness page I created last October. My husband grows pumpkins as a hobby, so the page uses pumpkins, gourds and other squash in an irreverent way to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer and encourage women to get mammograms. Fittingly, we called our team the Gourdian Angels and wore angel wings, orange diva gloves, silly striped socks, tutus and tank tops (artwork designed by my talented friend Mike) that read “Protect Your Pumpkins!”

When the day of the race dawned, it was easy to calculate how my race prep had been divided: 99 percent uniform creation and acquisition and 1 percent athletic training (meaning, I thought about training…even Googled training for a 5K…but never advanced past the thinking stage.) So, if I was going to fail miserably, at least I was going to look good doing it!

More than 8,000 women turned out that Sunday for the second day of the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Our team included Jen, a sassy soul sister I met when our oldest children were in preschool; Kris, a talented athlete, great friend and post-college roommate; Jane, a beautiful elementary school mate I hadn’t seen in 30+ years; Lisa, my artistic sister-in-law and supportive companion in my 47 and fearless project; and Lisa’s cousin Pam, who I met that day.

Our team, all first-timers at this event, was made up of three runners and three non-runners. Being one of the non-runners, I was nervous that I’d hold our team back.  But it was the perfect balance. The runners motivated the non-runners when we’d have preferred to walk; the non-runners kept the runners from becoming too competitive. Before the race, we vowed to get as dirty as possible and to leave no team member behind. We succeeded at both and had a fabulous time doing it!

There was a freedom in knowing nobody was going to finish the run with clean clothes. We scooped up mud and smeared it under our eyes (to reduce glare, of course.) We jumped in mud puddles, sang and danced to the music blared on the course, cheered on other teams and posed for photographers. We tried every obstacle—climbing a cargo net, high-stepping it through tires, crawling through a mud pit—and succeeded. We revelled in getting dirty, slinging mud at one another, but at the same time helping one another through slippery spots.

It was an hour and 10 minutes of exhilarating, laugh-out-loud fun before we reached the finish line. We held hands as we approached it, our uniforms dripping and our shoes squishing, until one of us slipped and took most of us down. Then we laughed some more.

During the race, I got mud in one of my contacts and couldn’t see for a moment. I got a mouthful of mud near the finish line. My husband and boys wouldn’t get near me for a congratulatory hug after the race. And I was fine with all of that. I felt such a great energy from our group and great sense of accomplishment personally. Like I told Kris, if I’d known exercise could be so much fun, I’d do it more than once every 10 years!

It was the most fun I’ve had in months and is the highlight of my 47 and fearless project so far. I’m not the only who feels that way: three of us have already signed up for next year’s event!

Now I have about six months left—and 28 “firsts” to go—to top this experience. What should I do? Send me your ideas!


et cetera