Her voice was despondent. Full of self-hatred. Pure disgust. My teammate was beating up on herself bad and yet she kept walking, her face looking down at the muddy ground trying to hide her misery.
I had gotten a team of 5 women together from work to do the “World Famous Mud Run” in Camp Pendleton. “It was going to be fun!” I swore. “We’re going to have such a good time!” I promised. “We’ll be rockstars!”
Tons of people showed interest. I had to keep the team to 5. I got the CEO to sponsor our registration. Morale was at an all time high!
Well, that was in January. By May, I had lost 2 team members to other priorities and everyone else was afraid because they felt ‘too out of shape’ to do something that ‘crazy’.
But here was ‘Stacey’, a tall and ornery blond who sat next to me in the office. She was the kind of girl who made observations on life that made me laugh all day in my seat, and such a good team player, I knew she’d make a great replacement. She was hesitant at first, but the rest of the office wanted her to come (we all knew she’d be amazingly entertaining) that we peer pressured her to being team member #4. (#5 went to a tall lanky guy in our office. Yeah it was an all-girls team but we were desperate.)
She was game all the way up to the first mile. Then her smile disappeared. Her look became very labored. She started to look angry and then sad. It was the most painful thing to observe someone who is normally so happy, to look so deflated.
As a team, we decided to walk it. “No man left behind,” became our motto. At first, Stacey struggled with our decision. You could read it on her face, “Everyone’s waiting for me,” “It’s my fault,” “I’m slowing everyone down.” But we were firm; we wanted her on our team because she is fantastic and we wanted her to know that.
After 4 miles, the mud obstacles started. And she started to crack a smile. Team members were tackling each other like a bad porno with girls in ponytails slinging each other in the mud.
Then at the last quarter mile, you could hear the roar of the crowd at the finish line. She looked up, muddied and surprised. “Look here! Look here!” Our collective boyfriends had gathered to the left of the last mud pit and were snapping away on their iphones. She started to laugh. Her boyfriend beamed at her from the other side of the net fence.
“Let’s go! We have to pretend to run for the cameras!” I joked and we scrambled now more quickly through the mud pit and under the flags and past the screaming Marines.
We see the rest of our team at the end of the pit urging, “Come on, come on, we’re almost there!” And with arms linked, we RAN. We hooted, we hollered, we laughed so hard that pictures of us were blurry from our excitement. We forgot the self-doubt of the miles behind us…
…all we saw was our loved ones cheering us on at the other side of the finish line, and we finally knew that we were the rockstars we knew we could be.