Marines, mud, and mad dash

What person doesn’t want to run 6 miles through sand, mud, rivers, hills, and other various obstacles? And what girl wouldn’t want hunky Marines encouraging you, smiling at you, cheering you on, and just being nice eye candy along the dusty/muddy way?

This was me before my Camp Pendleton mud run:

Ah, how fresh faced and completely clean and unmuddied I am. My hair was clean, there was no mud or grit or stray dried grass piece flecking my teeth. I could still smile and not be totally self-conscious.

Those of us participating as individuals lined up first, ready as the clock began to count down and a very verbal and boisterous Marine named T.C. screamed encouragment from a megaphone. It was slightly chilly (high 50’s) and the mist was still hanging heavy in many parts. I was shaking and really just wanted to get running to warm up.

As soon as 9:00 a.m. hit, the individual group took off while those organized into teams lined up behind us to get ready. I was enjoying the first 1/4 mile – until I came around a bend and saw a huge water truck thoroughly drenching ALL runners as they passed by. Oh my goodness. I was already freezing and now to add excitement and an even greater chill to the mix, I was about to be consumed by a downpour akin to throwing yourself over Niagra Falls. BOOOSH! Down came the water and so much for staying dry for a little bit.

I gasped from the cold water and wiped the excess from my eyes, all the way still running but starting to pick up pace to continue my quest for warmth. These Marines are tricky, however. Barely another 1/4 mile away, another water truck was ready and armed. Personally, I think the Marines were just getting a kick out of making the race a massive wet t-shirt contest.

Soon I hit the sand and everyone’s stride had to adjust. Ever run in sand before? Soooo not easy! But the trick is to keep your stride short and quick. Otherwise you waste all this energy trying to move forward. After having the sand beat the heck out of your quads and calves, you came to your first muddy area. Not so bad but you had to be careful to not slip and twist your ankle.

The hardest part of the race? The HILL. You climb and climb and climb and there are a few points you think, ‘I’ll right, I’m finally at the top!’ Um, nope, not so much. Climbing that high means one thing: going down is one steep ride. I was nervous about this part because my knee has been having many issues and downhill running just exacerbates it beyond belief. Well, thanks to the ski slope I descended on the course, I am currently sporting a lovely limp. Dang runners knee.

But I am no quitter and I kept going, even when my knee was throbbing and swelling and bringing tears to my eyes. I just had to adjust my pace a little bit. Sounds like a bucket of fun so far, doesn’t it? 🙂

The river crossing was an entirely welcome part of the race. One, because you were hot, sweaty, and needed to cool down by that point. Two, because the frigid river water froze my legs which meant I couldn’t feel my knee pain anymore. Three, because I ran next to a man (probably in his 50’s) who was extremely friendly and talkative and wore teeny, tiny running shorts with tight black spandex on underneath and a sleeveless Mighty Mouse t-shirt. He was most awesomely mighty.

Near the end of the race, you go up an extremely steep muddy hill and get ready to jump over two 5 foot walls, scamper through a short tunnel, slosh through mud pits, and then head on to the final obstacle: a giant muddy pit that you had to crawl on your stomach to get through. The women were jumping right in and crawling away but a few men jumped in the pit and tried to “walk” through by lifting up the banners that hung across to keep you down on the ground. Cheaters! And boy, did the Marines let them have it.

This is me at the end of the race. Yes, I edited it a bit for B&W purposes because remember how I said it all became a wet t-shirt contest? But as you can see from the pic below, I had some mud just about everywhere – like the lovely slice of it across my chin.

The hardest part (besides the hill) was running in wet shoes that would fill a little bit with mud. Slighly painful on the ole toesies. But it’s only 6 miles and you can do anything for 6 miles. Now a marathon…

See the mud? The dark line where my sock begins? Little tip: make sure to wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty – as in totally dirty and nearly destroyed. Some people put duct tape around their toes to avoid mud seepage and also around their ankles. It looked too bothersome to me and I noticed most people tearing it off along the way. I grabbed the oldest pair of running shoes I had and they held up pretty well. I think I might use them again next year for this race. Which brings me to this point: IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!! Despite the chill and the hill, this race fit the bill for my running need thrill. Participate next year? I think I just will.

(my toes are still in recovery – along with my knee; but it was all worth it!)

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