Before we get into MuckFest MS, I need to tell you about the day before and the AirBNB where Tristi and I stayed. It was a little apartment-type place in Bastrop. Super cute; more than what we needed for just one night, but great. By the time we got there, it was dark (we shopped out butts off in San Marcos). I read the host’s instructions a few times. It all sounded easy enough.
We get to the place and get into the driveway. We enter through the gate, like the instructions instructed. Once in the backyard, we could turn left and enter a house or turn right and enter a house. We turned left. That was the wrong turn. We turned left and entered a home. Creaky screen door – creaky like creaking is its job. We enter the home and are two rooms deep before we realize THIS IS NOT WHERE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE. WE ARE INSIDE SOMEONE’S HOME. So, we backtrack and exit through that god-awful creaky screen door. At this point, we have a perfect view of the apartment where we are supposed to go. Good grief, people. We were inside a stranger’s home without their permission. It was dark. I maintain that we were lucky not to be shot.
We settle into the apartment-type place and find a place to get grub. We drive to Roadhouse for food. We eat the food and each leave with a Salted Caramel Cupcake because you do not resist the cupcake that is advertised on the door of the establishment and on the chalkboard inside the establishment. Not gonna lie – it was a good cupcake. I ate mine for breakfast the next morning. Speaking of the next morning….
On 10.15.17 I participated in MuckFest MS in the Austin area. I had this image in my mind – beforehand – of myself crying intermittently through the course. I expected to spend a lot of time remembering my mom and feeling the weight of her death. I expected the emotional weight of completing the course for her to be in the front of my mind all day. While I could feel her with me and I did draw courage from that when an obstacle was particularly daunting, I didn’t cry once. I literally slithered on my belly through muddy water for my mom because she died from complications related to a disease that robbed her of the ability to move or even speak. I climbed over things without thinking about how high they were. I slid down a hill of mud. I slid down a wet slide that threw me right into a pit of muddy water. I went through 2 obstacles that I shouldn’t have gone through because I lack swimming skills. I got into water over my head and struggled my way to the other side of those pits for my mom.
While we were at the starting line waiting for our start time, the MC asked us to recognized all those people who have MS who were participating. I learned during registration that persons who suffer from MS are given a special bandana to wear to indicate that they are “mucking with MS.” There were several of these participants in our heat. I did get emotional about that. If I had not been trying to get myself ready for the course, I probably could have just sat down and cried about them. It’s my understanding that, even fore someone who suffers from MS but can still function independently, a 5k would be tiring and trying and stressful. But, there they were, and not just in our wave. While on the course and afterward, I saw more people wearing those bandanas. I’m not sure exactly what I felt. I was happy to see them there. I was happy to see them on the course. I just wish I could take all the bad stuff away for them. I wish I could have hugged all of them. They kicked ass that day, just like they do every day. End of story.
I assume it comes across as being very cheesy to others to learn that I think of my mother when I am trying to do something that is physically demanding. In my past, I have completed 2 half-marathons (13.1 miles/each). I thought about mom during both of those. In the gym, I often think of my mom. I know I’m not serving her by doing difficult, physical activities. What I watched her endure keeps me from taking my physical health for granted, even if we’re talking about something as simple as walking up a flight of stairs. I can do it. Not everyone can. In addition to completing all of the obstacles at MuckFest MS, I also walked the course with some of my team members (Go Lucky Muckers!). We talked. We laughed. We enjoyed seeing the horses on the grounds (the course was on a horse farm – pretty rad). The point is, I was physically capable of walking the course. I’m grateful for every day of that.
After completing the course, rinsing off, changing clothes and having a drink and a snack, I wrote about mom on the shoelace display. I don’t remember what it was for, but it was an opportunity to tell “the world,” this is why I’m here. I also wrote about mom on the official MuckFest MS orange backdrop doo-dad. Mom, her name, the year she was born and the year she passed.
I used to think I would get a tattoo in memory of mom. I had this great idea that I would get that tattoo when I was the age she was when I was born. That ship has sailed. When it was close to “go time,” I realized that I’m never going to forget mom. I’m never going to forget what she went through. Why get a tattoo for her? I have shared about her here, and I will continue to do so, but you’ll never get the whole story. You’ll never get the details that I struggle to choke out when I need to tell them. That story is so personal to me. It’s not entertainment. It’s not a way for me to get attention. It’s a part of my life and my life story, but I only share all of it with important people. While I appreciate your readership (I truly do; you are incredible), the full story about mom is in line with sharing my deepest, darkest secret. It’s not for you.
Let’s address MuckFest in another light: It was FUN. I have never done anything like it, and I will do it again given the chance. I will recruit a team and hopefully do better fundraising. I feel genuinely excited to do it again next year. I want to try to raise enough money for my team to have a tent and maybe our own changing area. I want to have a larger team. I want to be bigger and better next time. I think we will keep the same team name. It served us well. I had a great team. Everyone was so nice and we brought in money for the cause. I am planning to write notes to everyone to thank them. I wish I could do something for them or give them something, but I’m not particularly wealthy. Nor am I particularly social. I hope a nice note will do the job. I’m not even sure how to express my appreciation, but I’ll figure out something and hopefully not cry while doing so.
We came up short on photographic records. Tristi, Aubrey, Austin and I got to the course site with just enough time to check in and get our bags to the bag check area before we had to be at the starting line. So, no “before” photos. We didn’t have a spectator to take pictures everywhere. We have some photos from event photographers, but I wish we had more. Next time, we’ll plan better, arrive earlier and have someone traipse around just to take pictures.
I am going to write notes to my donors. People really went above and beyond, and it is so meaningful to me. MS hasn’t effected everyone’s life or hasn’t effected their lives the way it has effected mine, but they gave anyway. I guess they gave for me, in a way. At any rate, I am still feeling the love. I know some truly caring, generous people. I’m thinking caring and generous people are the people who get things done, or at least help propel things along.
This is me on the Swing Set obstacle (with Tristi in the background): the first obstacle that required me to jump into water that was over my head and propel myself to the other side of the pit. Later when a teammate asked me how I did it, I said I just tried not to die. Success!
This is the team: Lucky Muckers. This was during the course, but we were slowed down by a line that had formed at the Flying Muckers obstacle. We did good.
This is part of the team after crossing the finish line. You can see the Crash Landing obstacle in the background. The photographer said something about us being “done,” so we tried to pep it up. Just so we’re clear: you bet your ass I rang the bell at the finish line.
Click here: My MuckFest MS Fundraising Site to read a little more about how MS has impacted my life and to donate to the cause if you’re feeling like you might want to do that (fundraising continues until 12/13/17).
To learn more about MS, MS research, MuckFest and how you can help:
National MS Society
Official MuckFest MS Site