Embracing my competitive spirit & mud to boot!
Most people who know me would say that I have a competitive side. Some might argue that is the understatement of the year! I like to think of it is a “healthy competitive spirit” (smile) and I KNOW it is one of the qualities that led to my success in losing 200+ pounds over the past 18 months.
On July 4th, that competitive spirit thrived. I competed in my first ever 10K race – the Tofte Trek Wilderness Run/Walk – on my beloved North Shore. For months, I have watched others compete in 5K and 10K races, even half marathons and a half ironman. I waved it off thinking the “race” scene was not for me.
A couple of months ago, I was convinced to sign up for the Women’s Half Marathon in Bloomington, MN, this August. I plan to walk it to preserve my knees and must walk faster than an 18 min mile to finish the race before being kicked off the course. The “lower key” Tofte Trek on my beloved North Shore trails – six weeks before the Women’s Half Marathon – seemed like a good training idea.
So, I donned race #17 and competed in the Tofte Trek 10K Wilderness Walk on Independence Day. I coaxed my friend and client, Sally Nankivell, into doing the race with me on the agreement that we would walk for fun, not competitively, and catch up personally and professionally in the process. Sally had some concern about signing up to be my walking partner and discussed my competitive spirit with me the day before the race. I assured her that I would rather have a partner than compete, and that my goal was just to finish. I didn’t care so much about winning or even finishing in the top rankings.
Or so I thought! As we prepared to make our way to the starting line, I could feel the adrenaline and was pretty darn excited. And well, as it turns out, I LOVED everything about my first ever competitive race, including…
- The fact that you get a cute little race number and a bag of goodies, including a fun t-shirt;
- Friends, neighbors and locals cheer you on along the route;
- Many healthy and fit people – including good looking single men – run the race;
- It involves spending time outside on nature trails in a gorgeous place – trails that I have come to love;
- You get to cross a finish line and hear your name called while people cheer for you;
- I am competing not only with myself but also with others;
- And, perhaps best of all, you get to run through mud puddles and get all dirty! Who knew this girl would LOVE that?!
Sally, her friend Linnea and I started out at a nice reasonable clip and, while I led our group of three, we all kept a nice conversational pace up until about 3-4K. Admittedly, I wanted to pass up the single file line of walkers in front of me and had to quiet the internal voice that wanted to take off. At 3K, I got distracted from this urge to forge ahead at the first watering station where we knew the crew and they cheered us on and handed us water and sport drinks (FUN!). Not long after that stop when the trail opened up, Sally urged me to go for it and do my competitive best. Really?!
Feeling just a bit of guilt about choosing my competitive side over friendship, I picked up the pace and started to pass walkers one by one, turning it up a notch and then two. I worked the second half of the course as hard and fast as I could through the rough terrain, tall grass, mud holes, and, yes, moving aside constantly so the more competitive runners who had the right of way could run on the single lane trail. I saw one guy lose both shoes in a big mud hole, and as we approached the biggest, widest mud hole of the entire course I had 10 runners on my tail and had to move off into an even deeper mud hole. Yes, indeed, I fell and was in mud up to waist. FUN!
Covered in a waist to toe coating of cool wet mud, I picked up the pace and pushed on. As we got closer to the finish line, there were even more cheering fans, including some really cute guys from the US Forest Service whose station we passed along the route! Locals sprinkled cool water on us…while telling us we were doing a great job and we were almost there. It was so much fun!
As I pushed past the finish line and they read my name and city – again to resounding cheers and kudos from clients and work colleagues on the sidelines – I knew I was now hooked on this whole racing idea. I decided to embrace my competitive spirit knowing that indeed there will be many more races in my future, and hopefully, many with mud! As I walked back to meet up with Sally and Linnea and walk them to the finish line, I realized that I wasn’t even tired. Yeah. Mission accomplished.
I finished the race #8 of 33 women walkers at about a 15.40 min mile. For a wilderness trail with mud and obstacles, all the while stepping aside to give the right of way to the runners, I was happy with that time. And I think it bods well for the half marathon which is nearly twice that distance but on more solid ground. What a way to start the day, uncovering not just my competitive spirit but a passion for fitness, health and anything where people stand on the sidelines and cheer for me! oh, and playing in the dirt! 🙂
Some people might be hesitant to admit to their competitive nature or their fondness of what it feels like to have cheerleaders on the sidelines supporting you. Not me. I KNOW that both of those things helped me achieve my weight loss goal this past year. And so I celebrate that competitive spirit and thank all of those who cheered me on – Wednesday in the race, and in my race to lose 200+ pounds.
If you had told me two years ago that I would be competing in athletic races of any kind – let alone a wilderness trek or a mud run, after a week of climbing some serious mountains in Maine, I would have laughed at you. And yet, look at me now! I am, having so much fun embracing the new, active and fit Lori that I can’t wait to see what is next. The truth is, I am considering actual rock climbing up the side of cliffs with ropes! But for now, bring on the mud.