Let me begin by saying that I am not that girl. You know who I mean: the chica at the gym in the sports bra and booty shorts doing squats in perfect form, the one who can even make crunches look sexy. That is NOT me. I am, however, the gym rookie who must form an emotional relationship with a machine before I try to use it. On day one, I will walk past the machine and silently say hola with a quick glance. On day two, I will walk past it again, but this time I might let my hand brush against it, flirtatiously. On day three, I will casually stand next to the machine and read the instructions on how to use it, just in case I feel brave. Then on day four, I make my move and jump right on that sucker! Needless to say, it was a shock to just about everyone in my life when I decided to sign up for Warrior Dash, a 5k outdoor race, with several man-made and natural obstacles. But the truth was that I signed up in a moment of bravery. I was also wearing my Rocky Balboa t-shirt at the time I registered for the event, so this may have added to my imagined bravado.
My nerves were at an all-time high the day of the race. I felt strong and inadequate, brave and reluctant, fearless and fearful all at the same time. Once the race began, the thought that kept going through my mind was, “I am here. I am definitely in worse shape than I thought I was, and I might die of a heart attack in the woods, face down in mud, but damn it. I am here! And that makes me awesome!” One of my warrior-mates was a veteran of mud races. He offered words of advice and encouragement, and kept me going for 3.1 miles, while my other warrior-mate and I pondered how easy it would be for a serial killer to jump out of the woods and drag us away, never to be heard from again.
Between the encouragement and the fear of being kidnapped, we climbed muddy hills, jumped into mud pits, waded through some sort of lagoon-type body of water complete with mosquitos and the stench of stagnation, scaled barriers and rope walls, crawled through dirt tunnels and under barbed wire, jumped over fire, and crossed the finish line. Our reward was a survivor’s medal (which brilliantly doubles as a bottle opener), a t-shirt, a fuzzy Viking hat, and a token for free beer. But my true reward was my 11-year-old daughter, who was there to see me cross the finish line, hug her muddy mami and tell me, “I’m so proud of you! You were awesome!” It was a moment of bravery that led me to sign up for Warrior Dash, but the feeling of accomplishment at the end was priceless, and I cannot wait to conquer my next one.
By Being Latino Contributor, Lissette Díaz. Lissette Díaz is a Cuban-American writer and attorney living and practicing law in New Jersey. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.