I’m not going to sugar coat anything about this race experience—it was a scorching hot day and I was cranky. Who knew the heat would turn out to be my biggest obstacle in a Pretty Muddy 5K?
Michael K. Farrell and I woke up early for the drive to the start line at Granite Park in Sacramento, CA. (Thanks to Michael K. Farrell’s lead foot, we covered those 127 miles in just under 2 hours. Whoa there, speedy!) I had signed up for an 11:00am wave, thinking it would be a good idea to have extra time to get there (just in case we hit traffic, took a wrong turn, got a flat—none of those scenarios happened, but I like to be prepared).
Once there, I checked in at the registration tent and got the lay of the land. It was 9:00am and racers and their families were already jockeying for position in what little shade they could find as they waited for their waves. (Clearly, I didn’t consider the heat of the season when I registered for this shindig back in February.)
I volunteered to participate in an Old Navy fashion show, so I quickly changed out of my clothes into a cute pair of shorts, sports bra, and tank. (I can’t say, “No,” to the spotlight—or a free outfit.) I hammed it up with a few squats and jumping jacks, and then put my own race duds back on.
Pretty Muddy is designed to be a fun run. There are no clocks on the course, and women come out with their girlfriends for a day of running, challenging obstacles, and mud. Everyone was super friendly, but I was insecure about not having a partner. I didn’t have a BFF by my side when I lined up at the start that morning, and I felt a little left out.
Instead of relaxing and having a good time, I started to obsess about getting the whole thing over with and going home. I pushed myself to run between every obstacle and up every hill—even though the 94-degree heat was demanding that I slow down. I just kept looking at my watch and moving on.
Then something magical happened: My watch got “pretty muddy” while crawling through one of the pits, and I wasn’t able to read the numbers anymore. No matter how many times I tried to wipe it away, the dirt remained. There I was a mile from the finish without a friend, without a clear watch, overheating. I realized I had two choices: I could keep scowling and slog my way to the finish, or I could accept the situation, stop worrying about splits, and try to make some friends out there. I decided to smile.
I gave out high-fives, thanked the volunteers, and cheered on my fellow runners during that last mile. Michael K. Farrell got the biggest smile of all as I came across the field toward the finish arch. He deserved a hug for being my BFF and cheerleader on such a hot day—but he refused my embrace until I’d hosed off.
All in all, this Pretty Muddy was a pretty awesome experience. Getting dirty while running a 5K is oddly satisfying, and it’s a great way to break up your standard training routine. Will I do it again? Yes, but next time I’ll recruit some friends and pick a cooler time of year.
Have you ever done a Pretty Muddy? What’s your biggest obstacle on hot days?