Last summer, my husband, several of his friends from high school, and I started the 3.1 mile course of Rugged Maniac on an overcast July day. At over 250 pounds, I struggled through most of the obstacles, but fought my way to the finish line. Despite my excitement at finishing the course, I remember my disappointment at having to skip several obstacles that I just could not do because of my size.
The final challenge was one of those obstacles that I had to skip, but not for a lack of trying. It was a large structure like the Aggro Crag from Guts, featuring a vertical wall you had to climb using only a rope. Muddy, bleeding, and exhausted, I desperately struggled to pull myself up, with a crowd of fellow runners cheering me on. But unlike the movies, I did not get an extra surge of energy and make it to the top. Instead, my feet slipped and I face-planted into the wall, sliding down the whole way. I walked around that final obstacle, but I made a promise to myself that next year would be different.
After surgery, my husband and I would talk about Rugged Maniac on our long walks around the neighborhood, and how this year would be so much different. Based upon the estimates of my nutritionist, I guessed I would be down 50-60 pounds in the 8 months between surgery and the event. In actuality, I was down 84 pounds. However, even knowing that I had already done a Rugged Maniac, and that my weight loss had far exceeded my expectations, I still could not shake the pre-race nerves. Could I do this? Would I have to skip obstacles? How would it feel?
As I pinned on my bib number this July 12th, I mentally chanted “I got this,” over and over. This year, I would not only have my husband by my side, but also my mom, who didn’t want to be left out of the fun. As I approached the barricade that is the “first official obstacle” into the waiting pen for my heat, my nerves turned to excitement. Without help I was able to push myself over the wall, an immediate improvement from 2013. I knew then, that no matter what happened along the course, it would be a success; I had already done something that I couldn’t do one year, and over 80 pounds, prior.
But the differences didn’t stop there. This year, I ran most of the course, only stopping to walk when my teammates needed it, while I could barely keep up in 2013. This year, I pulled myself up through a tube using only my upper body strength. And – what I am possibly most proud of – this year, I did every single obstacle.
As B and I drank our celebratory post-race beer, we couldn’t help but get a little giddy about how well this year’s race had gone. We excitedly chatted about our favorite obstacles, and proudly bought extra Rugged Maniac gear to wear throughout the year to come. And, although I was a little bruised and sore, I was amazed at what my body could do. Weight loss is great, and I will never scoff at the progress I made on the scale, but more than anything else I loved how strong and fierce I felt. I may not ever be a size 0 – and honestly, I’d never want to be – but I sure as hell can kick some serious ass at a mud run.
Moreover, I realized as I was trudging along the course, waist deep in sludge, that this was only one stop along my fitness/weight loss journey. Back in November, I could not imagine anything past this year’s Rugged Maniac event, and thought of it as the “be-all, end-all” goal marking for my progress. Now, I know that my new healthy lifestyle is forever, and I’m ecstatic to see what’s next.
My favorite part of the race was doing it with the one I love – my partner in everything, whether it be 3 am walks around the neighborhood or 3.1 mile mud runs. Kissing B at the finish line this year, I reflected on how far we had come and what we have in store. And despite all the mud, I know our future is looking bright.