Not long ago, I signed up for one of those mud runs. It’s kind of a bucket list thing. I’ve always liked obstacle courses (even back before they became “confidence courses”), and these days it seems like I’ve been doing a lot of hobbling around with stiff joints and sore limbs, so I figured it was time to try an event before my body totally breaks down.

The one I signed up for seems to be more on the fun side, less on the punishment side. It’s essentially a 5K race with challenges every so often. Run, climb, run, jump, run, crawl through mud. It’s something I should be able to do if I push myself.

First a few things about me.

Outside of gym class, I’ve never run a competitive race or even taken part in a fun run. I’ve run five kilometers before, although I haven’t been a regular year-round runner since we had kids, and running was always a secondary form of exercise, supplemental to whatever else I was into. My normal running routine starts in the spring when the outdoor temps begin to thaw. I’ll struggle for a few weeks to get my legs back and my breathing regulated, work myself to a decent pace and then get sidelined by a sore knee, throbbing hip or work interuptions. By the time I can a climb back to where I was, it’s winter, and I’ll do a few snow and ice runs and then get set back with a cold or flu. After that it’s wait for spring to start all over again.

So, months ago, after paying the race admission, I started a running routine peppered with after-dark visits to area playgrounds to swing on the monkeybars. I shuffled along until my ankle messed up. Transitioning to a bike, I found a low-impact way to keep my cardio and legs going. Then came a week of vacation camping out of state. After recovering from the 12-hour van ride home on the last day, I launched back into my jogging regimine and got to a point where I was able to speed up and slow down instead of just limping along.

Not bad. Until last week when work and other obligations overtook my schedule again.

Now, with only days to go, I just finished plodding along my three-mile practice route, lower back and right leg aching, as ready as I can be.