Months ago when the ground was still frozen and the warmth of June seemed years away instead of mere months, I received an email invitation to run the Warrior Dash with some neighborhood moms.
Curiosity consumed me. I clicked on the race link and was lured in by the silly hats (I do so love a good accessory) and the promise of beer at the finish line.
I experienced an unadulterated moment of panic when I viewed the promotional video, but I took a deep, calming breath. Surely, the race organizers exaggerated the obstacles and dangers.
If you have ever been (mis)fortunate enough to experience a Disney vacation, you learn rather quickly that only newlyweds hold hands, smile and skip through the theme park. In reality, the masses are sun-burned, sweaty, exhausted and barely speaking to each other by the time they leave the park.
Reflecting on past moments of advertising sucker-dom, I dismissed the race video as a mere advertising tool.
I've always been a sucker for peer pressure (don't tell my kids) so even though I fear heights, mud, water, fire, barbed-wire and half-naked strangers, I quickly hit the "reply all" button and raced to be the first in our group to sign up. As I have the worst timing in the universe, I wasn't.
I paid my money, made a mental note to train for the June 17 race and hibernated through the winter and most of the spring.
I was happy in my little bubble of procrastination and denial until an email discussion began amongst the three other Mommy Warriors regarding our matching shirts. Initially, I ignored their emails. If I didn't reply, it wasn't really happening. This avoidance tactic failed. I felt like a jerk and offered up my house stocked with food and liquor as a t-shirt decorating venue.
Monday night amidst the puffy paint, stencils and bottles of Skinny Girl Sangria, I learned two very important things: 1. My friend, Lori, has amazing t-shirt decorating abilities and 2. That video, which I had dismissed as promotional propaganda, was created from genuine race footage! It wasn't edited! It wasn't photo-shopped!
A red-flashing panic button clouded my vision and a roaring tidal wave of fear swooshed through my veins.
Will I survive this Sunday's Warrior Dash?
My Mommy Warrior friends tried and failed to soothe my frazzled, jumbled collection of fears and anxiety.
As soon as they left, I watched that damn video again. I clicked on the Illinois specific course and saw a perfect road-map of all of my childhood fears: mud, fire, water, heights, half-naked strangers, barbed-wire, tetanus. It is as if the course was designed for me by my villainous arch-nemesis.
In my own imagination, I am tough, strong and fearless. I like to pretend that I have conquered these fears and am a well-adjusted, normal adult woman.
The course is filled with obstacles named The Trenches, Vicious Valleys, Petrifying Plunge, Chaotic Crossover, Warrior Roast, etc. and viewing it terrifies me!
And now, I'm forced to admit my fears were not conquered during an anxious childhood.
I have never climbed on our backyard play-set. Never. Not even once during the 9 years since it has been built. Changing light-bulbs makes me queasy.
The movie Jaws haunts me still, and I only feel comfortable in water when I can see the bottom. I rarely enter water past my knees. I hate it when water is anywhere near my face. If anything touches me while I'm in the water, I scream and flee.
While I enjoy my gardens, the prospect of getting dirty still makes me hesitant. I always wear gardening gloves and need several showers to feel clean again. Bugs unnerve me, so I try to make sure that one of my boys is nearby to help if a bug starts looking suspicious.
And in that lethal anxiety cocktail, add a dash of barbed wire, a splash of fire and plenty of half-naked stinky, sweaty strangers.
So will I survive?
Will I completely chicken out, walk around each obstacle and cheer for my friends at the end?
Will my experience be an inspirational tale of triumph over fears or a cautionary recollection whispered amongst other Warriors?
My fellow Mommy Warriors, Jenn, Mia and Lori, have promised to support me and love me even if I fail. And that is enough for me.
(But I really do hope that I conquer my fears and the Warrior Dash!)
Check the Parenting Without A Parachute Facebook page on Sunday, June 17 for my before/after pictures and race anecdotes. If I do survive, I will also share updates via Twitter @crystalalperin and @PWAPGals.