August 3, 2008

My Muddy Buddy and Me

I forget how I first heard about it. I probably overheard a friend of a friend at some gathering talking about this race. Well I mentioned it at some point to my friend Jenny, and before I knew it, she and I had agreed to race the Muddy Buddy together.

For those of you who haven't heard of the Muddy Buddy, it's a race that mixes running, biking, obstacles and a giant mud pit. The race works with two people racing as a tandem, with each buddy biking or running and switching off when they reach an obstacle. In the end, you meet your buddy to run the last 100 yards and then crawl through a pit of mud together.

Neither Jenny or I had done this race before, so we didn't really know what to expect. When her bus rolled into town Saturday night, we became aware of how wholly unprepared we were. Official race rules stated we should decorate our bike to make it stick out from any one of the other 1,400 bikes on the course. Rules also stated we needed a hydration system. While pulling up directions (directions that got us lost the morning of the race), we also read how there were costume contests and chances to win trips to Finland or Land Rovers. This was all news to us.

Aside from being unprepared in these ways, I felt very physically unprepared. As is par for the course with my race training, I did not train. I ran once this past month and the distance was less than 2 miles. The Muddy Buddy's course is between 6 and 7 miles. I wanted to train but just never really got around to it. The closer it got to the race, the more I thought moving would suffice as my exercise. (I guess it kind of did.) Honestly though, if Jenny had not bought her ticket into town, I probably would have skipped the race entirely (like I did with the last race I entered). Our early departure time wasn't helping to raise my spirits either. My and Jenny's day began very early. We needed to sign in by 6:15 a.m., so that meant leaving home at 5 a.m. and getting up at 4:30 in the morning.

Given our general unpreparedness, our race theme became to complete, not compete. I knew I had no competitive edge whatsoever. I planned to try and enjoy my morning biking and running through Indian Hills Farms.

Honestly though, I still was a bit blah about the whole thing, so I was surprised when upon finishing I realized I really, really liked it. It's possibly because my expectations were so low. But really I think it was because there was so much variety to the race. My number one complaint with running is that I get so bored from the repetition of it. The course was a variation of dirt roads, grass and woodsy trials with mud pits and steep hills. I began biking and biked three out of the five legs of the race. I ran the other two (while Jenny biked them) and I'm not going to lie, walked a bit. I really never ran much more than a mile at a time and the obstacles were a fun way to mark the transitions from biking to running. There was a small rock climbing wall, balance beams, cargo net, and inflatable slide. Oh and of course the giant pit of mud at the end.

Jenny and I crossed the finish line at one hour and 18 minutes, a respectable time I think, especially since I'm still not really sure how long the race was. And we were certainly covered in mud from head to toe as we crossed. The race staff places six rows of flag across the pit. You and your buddy must crawl under all of them in order to finish, so there is simply no way around the mud. It really was the perfect way to cap this crazy, fun, frenzied race. And I guess I learned that I need to stop complaining about these races and just do them. I seem to always pleasantly surprise myself in the end.

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