Sand, Sand, and more Sand! How to Conquer Challenges and Have Fun

Running through sand is not unlike, I imagine, trekking through Mordor: it's hot, dirty, and you feel like you're going nowhere fast.

For three years running (pun totally intended), I've competed in the ASYMCA Mud Run in Virginia Beach. It's 8K with at least half of it in sand- the loose, shift-under-your-feet-every-step kind of sand; the other half is through the sandy beach woods with lots of hills. There are some obstacles, but really, the sand is the biggest one. I really enjoy this race because it's a) very challenging (did I mention that it's in sand?) and b) it supports young enlisted military members and their families. As an Air Force brat myself, I'm all over supporting other military kids!

I'll save the pictures of the race till the end of the post, but I wanted to throw out some musing I had about facing a daunting challenge- physical or not.

1. Be disciplined in your preparation

Obviously, life throws curve balls and you can't plan for everything, but as much as possible, prepare for known challenges; have the discipline to follow through with the full amount of preparation needed. If it's a physical challenge, like a race, you need to train for it. It wouldn't be terribly helpful to train sporadically and infrequently. Do you have a large presentation at work or a speech to deliver? Do the research, practice the speech, and double check your work. The more prepared you are, the more easily you'll catch life's curve balls.

2. Be adaptable

For example, last year I broke my toe at the beginning of my training period for the race. Oops. I trained in the weight room as best I could, and got a few runs in once my toe was healed (a grand total of 2). I wound up getting the exact same time as the first year I raced, despite the fact that I didn't really run leading up to the race. Too many people are unable to adapt to changes in their environments and all their preparation goes to waste. So I guess to combine points 1 and 2: Prepare to adapt!

3. Expect difficulties

Life's tough; wear a helmet- then you won't get beaned in the head from the curve balls. Seriously, expect difficulties, get over it, and enjoy yourself. You can either moan and groan about how tough an event or challenge is, or you can choose to have a good time. It's like traffic in the D.C. area- it's always there so just plan for it and choose to enjoy the time in the car instead of raging at the awful traffic. My dad asked me how I prepare mentally for the race and I told him, "I expect it to be difficult, I accept it, and then I can have fun."  

There you have it, a few thoughtful musings spawned by my time on the sand this weekend. As promised, pictures:

 Running up the dunes. See? Choosing to have fun despite how miserable it is to run up multiple sand dunes.

Running up the dunes. See? Choosing to have fun despite how miserable it is to run up multiple sand dunes.

 Getting out of the mud pit and up, yes, another sand dune

Getting out of the mud pit and up, yes, another sand dune

 All done!

All done!

Thanks to my awesome supportive husband and parents for cheering me on and keeping me warm during the rainy, windy start to the day.