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Running the race

Published May 11. 2013 09:02AM

In an effort to have some quality mother/daughter time with my teen (and much to her chagrin), I recently experienced a moment of temporary insanity and signed us up for the Dirty Girl Mud Run, a 5K run and obstacle course with lots and lots of mud. A portion of the proceeds aids in the battle against breast cancer.

At first it seemed like a really fun idea despite my daughter's intentions to ditch me early on and run with her friend, quickly putting a halt to the quality mother/daughter time for which I had hoped.

My plan was to start working out in the months leading up to the big day in order to condition my body for the challenge, because after all, I needed some serious, serious conditioning.

That never happened and as run day drew closer, anxiety started to set in.

Being a large woman (and no longer a spring chicken) I started to have second thoughts about taking part in this madness.

I envisioned the many ways in which this day would cause me great physical and emotional pain and before the run even started, I wanted to quit.

When the big day came, we made the trip to Montage Mountain in Scranton. I brought hubby along under the ruse of serving as our photographer; but the truth is, I wanted him there to wheel me off the course when I collapsed from exertion into a mud-filled pit.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived was the sheer number of women who had chosen to participate in this event. (I later heard that the count for the day was around 10,000.)

Some were dressed up in funky outfits and tutus, and there were two women there who were going to do the run in wedding gowns!

As we walked toward the registration area, I was able to see some of the obstacles and while they looked like they could be fun, my bubble quickly burst when I remembered the poor physical shape I was in. I instantly felt defeated.

We walked on and came to the finish line. I stopped and watched as runners of every age, shape and size ran through the inflatable arches that marked the end of the run and gazed upon their smiling faces and thought to myself, "I can do this."

We met up with the rest of our team and got in line with the rest of the women who were running in our "wave."

Almost instantly, my daughter and her friends were ahead of me and I was quite certain I was going to be the last one to cross the finish line, arriving at those inflatable arches sometime after nightfall.

Every so often my daughter would look back to check on my progress. I waved her on that it was OK to continue without me but instead and to my heart's delight, she stopped and waited for me.

Half of our group raced ahead and the other half decided to stick together.

As we happened upon some of the more challenging obstacles, I started to witness something beautiful.

When runners became tired, there were other sisters there to cheer them on. When one became afraid to complete an obstacle, another encouraged her to press forward.

We came to an obstacle called Get A Grip. It was a 20-foot high structure covered with a cargo net. The object was to climb up and over it and then climb down.

Admittedly, it was a bit intimidating, but when it came my turn (and quite surprisingly), I flew up that thing like Spiderman climbing a wall. It was invigorating!

After making it over the top and almost to the bottom on the other side, I noticed one woman stuck at the top and immediately recognized the signs of a panic attack.

She was sobbing, shaking and hyperventilating; unable to move from the peak.

I climbed to her right side as another woman came over on her left and together we guided her down one slow step at a time.

When she finally reached the bottom, about 100 women cheered and clapped for her.

I started to well up with tears at the outpouring of love and support that friends and strangers alike showed for this woman.

This was the overwhelming theme of the day; women, united in a common goal, supporting and cheering each other on and leaving no one behind to go it alone and others bravely staying the course even when they were afraid and when things got tough.

I learned a lot that day and had a blast doing it.

I saw first-hand what someone can accomplish when they have someone along side them to help them through it. I learned that we are capable of so much more than what we think.

As we trudge through the daily obstacles in our life, do not fear and do not quit.

Most important, always be willing to take the arm of someone who is struggling and help them run their race to its completion. You will both be blessed.

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