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The More the Muddier—Finding My Grit in the Dirt

The More the Muddier Finding My Grit in the Dirt

The morning of my first mud run (well, my first run ever, really), I had been painfully persuaded into adventuring into the world of the somewhat competitive and athletic. Neither of which I am. Not in shape, not prepared mentally or physically.

During the weeks leading up to the run, I had been trying my hardest to not outwardly display the constant nightmare going on inside of my head. A war zone of self-doubt and panic over the unknown—if I was even close to being physically capable of keeping up with my team. I didn’t want to be the last person holding everyone back. But I knew I would be. I was overweight. I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want to be “that girl.” So I ignored the problem and prayed for miracles. Perhaps I would show up and the Cinderella-like moment would happen where I’d become a hardcore ninja warrior.

There was a constant nightmare going on inside of my head. A war zone of self-doubt and panic over the unknown.

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Yeah, that didn’t happen.

The cold truth is that I was running for the wrong reasons. I had a boyfriend at the time who wanted to be more adventurous in terms of being physically fit, and that was for my benefit, yes. But it was not helpful or encouraging to my self-esteem. My confidence levels were basically in direct proportion to the way in which he treated me. Not his fault, all mine. In the words of Rachel Hollis and the book basically written about all the lessons I need to learn, Girl, Wash Your Face, “People will treat you with as much or as little respect as you allow them to…”

5ks later, it was over. And there was no one more impressed than me that I had not only crossed the finish line, but did so without any broken bones (especially when factoring in that I am just about the most uncoordinated individual on the planet). Obstacles and mud do not a graceful woman make. More like a mouthful of grit and dirt.

One Team, One Fight. No one left behind.

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But I survived. I persisted. And I fought hard to get there. I couldn’t have done any part of it without my team. The group of people who not only encouraged me to go and helped me every step of the way but also celebrated hard with me when I finished. Our mantra was: One Team One Fight. No one from our team is left behind struggling at an obstacle, and we cross the finish line together.

I had fun the first year, but I wasn’t satisfied with my performance. I wanted to do better; I wanted to be better. And I was inspired by those who created that experience for me. I wanted to do that for someone else.

The first year I ran to make my boyfriend happy. Round 2 was for me. 50lbs shed, a regular routine of agility-training exercises, and friends running with me who felt the exact same way I did the previous year and I was ready. I couldn’t wait to push myself and see what I could do. For Mud Run 2.0, I wanted to celebrate an anniversary of one full year of recovery from bad health, bad thoughts, bad vibes, and bad baggage.

Even in my weakness, I could inspire others.

Two friends ran with me that year because they said they were inspired by my story. They saw me overcoming my fears, facing my struggles, and showing my scars. I didn’t want to let them down. We didn’t beat any world records, but we made it to the finish line. Frozen, bruised, muddy, and bonded together by an experience that I will cherish.

Together. One Team, One Fight. And there was absolutely nothing more rewarding than hearing from first-timers that they were just as proud of themselves for their personal accomplishment. Bruises and all.

They saw me overcoming my fears, facing my struggles, and showing my scars. I didn’t want to let them down.

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Cortney's found beauty in the warriors from around the world—from those who’ve had to fight tougher battles and still smile. When it comes to life, she’d say sweating the small stuff only makes you smell bad.

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