My finishing time at the Warrior Dash this year increased quite a bit over last year. I added almost FIVE minutes per mile. Normally, that kind of performance decline would reduce me to a quivering mess; in fact, it’s pretty amazing that I’m even admitting to it here.
Today, I don’t care.
Why not? I could justify it by saying the course was harder (it was) and it had more mud obstacles that were difficult to navigate (it did) and that everyone posted slower times (they did), but those aren’t the real reasons.
I don’t care because it was FUN. As much as I enjoyed the muddy obstacle race last year, this year’s event stole my heart. Last year, I took on the Warrior Dash–billed by promoters as “the craziest frickin’ day of your life”–to prove I could. I tackled all kinds of tasks that would normally make my sometimes-prissy self balk, if not turn away in self-righteous disgust. When I crawled out of the mud pit to cross the finish line, all I could think was, I DID it!
My brother and I both agree that this year’s race felt completely different. We had already proved that we COULD do it; this time we actually WANTED to do it. When the starting horn blew fire to launch my 11:00 wave, I hit the woods grinning. I leapt roots and ruts, took the direct route through the stream instead of pussyfooting from rock to rock, embraced the mud, and army-crawled through trenches on the forest floor. I ran hard and felt great all the way through. I loved it. Last year’s race felt like an accomplishment. This year’s race was an out-and-out blast.
I’m pretty sure that’s one of the benefits of expanding your comfort zone. Once you master a task or conquer a fear, it leaves you free to enjoy the experience the next time. You can do it just for fun.