Fitness Challenge: Getting Down and Dirty For Your Dream

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Heather’s dream is to share with the world her success at becoming healthy after age 40. Heather lost over 88 pounds through changing her diet and incorporating exercise into her busy life. She would like to take what she has learned about becoming fit after 40, and using her Metabolic Training Certification to help others struggling with weight issues mid-life. Heather’s post day is Monday.
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Heather: I run because I'm tired of waiting for next year for my Fitness Challenge

Hello health and fitness dreamers! Do you want to get down and dirty with your dream? The joy of having mud caked under your fingernails may not be the idea of your ideal fitness challenge. I didn’t think so until I tried it myself.

Sometimes the path you take to get to your health and fitness dream can be quite amusing. For example, take a look at my latest health and fitness challenge – an obstacle mud run.

Fitness Challenge: Want to be a Dirty Girl?

I came to find out about the concept of the obstacle mud run in a very roundabout way. As my constant new obsession of pushing my own limits, I wanted to make sure I had a few events scheduled before the end of the year.

It was pure chance that I caught a post on Google+ about a the Run for your Lives zombie run. What the hell? Yes, this is a 5k mud run with obstacle course, but the extra fun is that Zombie volunteers with Hollywood level makeup pop out and chase you!

This was right up my alley… exercise, the element of surprise that will make me want to run faster, and Zombies which is one of my favorite film genres. Unfortunately the closest event was in San Diego.

I know, it sounds completely nuts, and I’ve had mixed reactions from those I told about the event. But my friend KB saw that and immediately replied “You know about Dirty Girl, right?”

And a new obsession with obstacle mud runs started right there.

Go Dirty Girl - Mud Run & Obstacle course for women only


What a delightfully dirty day.Run, walk, climb, crawl—you will experience it all. With obstacle names like H2OMG and PMS (Pretty Muddy Stuff), you can expect to laugh until your cheeks hurt. But don’t worry, if you get to an obstacle that’s more than a challenge for you—hey, take one of the detours. Also expect safety throughout. Expect the competition to go on rain or shine. Expect not to be timed. Expect some crazy team uniforms. Expect to leave with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

I started chatting about the Dirty Girl fitness challenge at various parties and events, to both friends and family, and managed to talk a few into actually experiencing the insanity with me! Cecelia and Sherry agreed to join me. They are both photographers in Sonoma County Photography Group run by fellow dreamer Remy and my husband Ray Mabry.

Before getting muddy at Dirty Girl 2012

We arrived at the Alameda Fairgrounds a couple hours before our scheduled wave and the party started as soon as we got out of the car. All around were teams with costumes, outfits that seriously decked out.

We are ready! Dirty Girl 2012 a great fitness challenge

Wandering into the main event area we got a preview of a few of the obstacles and watched throngs of women running and covered in various levels of mud, head to toe.

Ready to get dirty - Wave 15 at Dirty Girl 2012

The dance mix was pumping loud and the energy gaining speed while we found the registration area and made the event official with our race number and complimentary Dirty Girl t-shirt to commemorate the event.

The shirt is white, of course, and I tucked it away immediately since we were surrounded by groups of mud drenched women heading off the course.

We chatted and speculated on when and where we would get as muddy as some of the girls crossing the finish line. I stretched out a bit and had to laugh when I caught myself wiping a dirt smudge off my butt. I had no idea just how dirty that would be in a few short hours.

Off at the start of Dirty Girl 2012

We had plenty of time to check out the starting area and watch as groups headed out to get muddy. The energy and excitement was easy to get caught up in as we checked out the first few obstacles within view and watched as groups posed at the last “clean” spot they would have on the course that day.

The first of many obstacles at Dirty Girl 2012

My official photographer and husband Ray was there to capture the craziness and fun while we trudged into the first mud pit.

Ah… cold!

The shock of the first step into cold and wet with old running shoes I wouldn’t be caught in rain with was hilarious. Stepping out of that first mud experience woke up my inner kid and I stomped through the mud, squishing  mud through my running shoes.

Heading around the corner and down a ways, I started seeing the groups coming back to finish their fitness challenge completely covered in mud. This must be where the crazy muddy stuff was happening. Unfortunately Ray got blocked off from following us, and I had no way to get back to let him know to find his way over to us. I reached for my phone and realized he had it in his pocket. No iPhones allowed around mud and water, thank you. It felt so weird being cut off!

The obstacles got harder as the course wound around. High walls with narrow foot holds covered in slippery mud from all those crazy Dirty Girls that went before you. The mud crawls were the toughest for me just from a slogging perspective. Pulling your hand from mud while trying to drag your soaked pants and shoes along with you is an experience!

I kept up my personal challenge of the day by lining up for the hardest options at each obstacle. The vertical flat wall that was 6 feet tall was the only place I almost damaged myself. The first run at the wall proved fruitless as I tried to forcefully pull myself up and drag myself over – ouch! Not the smartest choice.

Of course, now it was a real challenge and I followed suit of several women, using a cross brace to step up and boost myself over. I loved how everyone was cheering each other on, offering a boost up, and a well placed shove on a butt to help each other over.

It was official. I was as dirty as I had ever been, at least that I can remember. And there was a more fun to be had! We made our way to the final leg of the course and toward one of my fears – the cargo net climb. I am not comfortable with heights, and the added non-stable surface and slippery factor had me worried.

Stepping on with the encouragement of the girls, I focused on my hand and foot holds, not on the receding ground. Once on, it was all good as we weaved our way up and over the net.

The cargo net climb at Dirty Girl 2012

Only one more big mud pit to go for this crazy fitness challenge! We lined up and waited for it to be clear, hoping Ray could get some great shots of the last splashing obstacle.

Final Mud Pit at Dirty Girl 2012

A few steps in, all I felt was a tug, and looked over to see Cecelia completley in the mud, laughing hysterically while Sherry and I tried hard not to join her, head first.

Dirty Girl 2012 - Muddy fun!

We did it! Passing through the finish line, the layers of drying mud pulled at our skin as we high 5’d and grabbed a cup of water to rinse out the mud before getting a refreshing drink.

Wandering through the after party of food and beer booths we joined the throng of women in line to clean up. I found the shoe pile the Dirty Girl gang recycles for you and added my drenched used-to-be-white running shoes to the pile.

The aftermath - Muddy shoe pile at Dirty Girl 2012

The process of getting clean was almost as entertaining as the event. Women in various stages of dress tried their hardest to keep the muddy stuff away from the clean stuff. If I thought the mud was cold, the shock of freezing fountains of water fed from PVC piping lying on the ground was an awakening. It got the job done well enough so that I was confident in getting back in the car without dragging the mud pit with me.

For those who don’t mind getting a little dirty for a cause – a percentage of Dirty Girl event fees benefit breast cancer research – I highly recommend this as an amazing women power event.

Down and dirty – what’s next for your dream?

At times, the term “getting your hands dirty” can be a literal thing, especially with a fitness challenge. Do you have a dream goal you’ve been avoiding getting down and dirty with?

Share in the comments and I would be happy to cheer you on!

~ Heather