Last weekend I went to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa to participate in the Insane Inflatable 5K with my sister (LJCANNON) and my son, Alan. We had an AMAZING time, and made memories that I am sure will last a lifetime! Dad (AIRFORCEBOB) went along as our chauffeur, bag check, and photographer. He was not allowed on the course so my blog will have to include "our" pictures, "their" pictures and a few I borrowed online.
In the weeks prior to the event, Oklahoma has had uncharacteristic amounts of rain that left the course very soft and incredibly muddy. Mud is not supposed to be a feature of this particular 5K, but on this day it definitely was.
Upon arrival, we got the best of parking places and had time to look around. It is a beautiful campus!!
This picturesque photo op came up just feet from where we parked. We had NO idea that this lush, green, beautiful area was the prelude to the MUD BATH that awaited us!
This statue of praying hands is the centerpiece of the campus. Alan is sitting in front of it and that is Jeannie coming around the side.
After our tour and before time to begin registering, Jeannie announced her desire to visit a row of little blue stalls lined up at the edge of the road.
When she did, Alan said that he needed to go to the pickup which was just past the "Necessary" blue sheds. He asked Jeannie if she wanted a ride. I won't say that she jumped at the chance, but she did enjoy accepting the offer. Here is a picture of Alan carrying her up the hill!
Once they began lining us up, the corral area was underwater. This photo shows the actual area and conditions we stood in.
The starting line is to the left and the corral is directly behind the fence in the center of the picture. We stood in water deep enough to completely cover our shoes! The water was cold, muddy, sticky, and smelly. Anytime the group came to a stand still, your feet sunk in and getting pulled free without losing your shoe became the first victory.
And here you have the view from the corral. Ugghhhhh!
Once we were in front of the starting line, this is what we faced.
Now, I am not sure if those tubes/steps look as big as they really are or not. I can tell you though, they are ginormous!! Alan went up them like a gazelle! Then, it was my turn. I was significantly slower. In order to get my foot that high, it required a bit of bouncing and then slinging my foot onto the step. I also had to be sure to get my foot secure enough on the step that when I put my weight on it to bring the other foot up, I did not go sliding back down. It was a tedious, time consuming task but I was making it. Then, Jeannie, who was right behind me, decided to get helpful. Without warning, on one of my bounces, she PUSHED!!! Well, that was all it took to send this ol' girl face first, hiny over head part, spread eagle onto the step! Her intention was great, but the results nearly killed me!! Hahahaha Here are some pictures of us coming off the slide on the other side.
I am going to take a minute here to brag on Alan. That boy is amazing. He waited at every obstacle to make sure I was making it. He was beyond supportive. His encouragement was a major part of what got me through the course. On the simpler obstacles like the start, he waited just to help me off. On the more difficult obstacles, he waited at the top until I got there and he was sure I was ok. He was a superior coach and incredible inspiration to keep going.
After we left the start, it was on to the next obstacle. It just so happened that this was the only obstacle that Alan was worried about. When I saw it, I could not believe my eyes or ears. It was a mattress! No climbing at all, and THIS was the one that worried Alan?!?!?!?! That was hard to wrap my brain around. He explained that it was the only one on the course where his desire (and ability) to go quickly was apt to get his feet tangled up and wreck him. We assured him that he could go ahead and we would be along. He took off at a sprint and was gaining speed. Then, right before our eyes and BEFORE the mattress, he busted! Catapulted himself face first onto the mattress before he even got fully to it!! Later he explained that he had hit a muddy spot on the approach. This of course sent his feet flying ahead of him, until his legs hit the side of it and his upper body kept going! Without trying his fall lined up perfectly to one of the holes and he face planted the dirt below. He was woozy for a minute but rebounded quickly. Then he looked and saw us coming across. I was very carefully stepping in one hole after another, making my way across.
Then he called out "NO!, Mom! You are supposed to AVOID the holes!! Hahahahaha" I immediately adjusted my course and finished "correctly". However, in my defense, I must add this picture I borrowed online.
Apparently the holes are an individual choice. I may have been lazy, but I was NOT wrong! Lol
Next, we came to the "Wrecking Balls".
After ducking under the tube that keeps the balls from rolling away, all bets are off! You can roll them at each other, pick them up and throw them, or simply walk around them and out the other side. Alan was having no part of that last option. He ran ahead and got hidden behind one of the balls. As we went through, I playfully (and innocently) rolled one into Jeannie's back. This began a back and forth thing that completely distracted us from wondering about Alan's whereabouts. When we were getting close to the side to leave, Jeannie began to turn back around. It was in mid turn that Alan saw her feet and realized she was close enough to launch his attack. He (a defensive lineman for 4 years on the football team) burst up from behind the ball with a R O A R, then dropped his shoulder and speared/tackled that big ol' ball right into his defenseless aunt!! (I cannot even type this without laughing until I cry!) Poor Jeannie! She NEVER saw it coming!! That ball and all of Alan's force and weight hit her and sent her flying!! Now, most people in this situation would flail their arms, holler , and land hard. Am I not right? Not Jeannie! Her arms went down to her sides, hands pointed straight out as if in a curtsy and she pulsed them alternately with every delicate, careful, but very RAPID step! With each of these steps you could hear a soft ooh, ooh, ooh! Finally, she got fairly close to one of the monster balls, launched herself onto it spread eagle, and hung on in the tightest bear hug I have ever seen! When everything stopped and she had her wits about her again, she stood up, pulled her shirt down, and said WELL! Without another comment, she calmly headed to exit the area. It was without a doubt, the funniest thing I have seen in a very long time!
Not far from this hysteria we met with what will forever be the obstacle I refer to as my nemesis.
Inside this crazy thing are more tubes connected together to make a "maze" of sorts. It is all up and over. You do NOT pick your path and just walk it through like in a corn maze. You have to decide which of many paths you will use, but they all go over. The first tube was too high for me, but already dirty from Jeannie's "help" at the start, it was an easier decision to get down and crawl in the mud to get under that one. That was the end of the easy. The tubes now rested firmly. too firmly, on the ground to be crawled under. You HAD to go up. The problem was that the first level hit me about chest high. There was nothing to step up on. It was all upper body strength (of which I have none) or an ability to jump straight up with no running approach. Yep! You guessed it. This girl can't jump either. I was sure I should go back out and go around it. Alan wouldn't hear of it. He worked his hind end off trying to get me over that. He pulled, pushed, wedged, and lifted every way he could but to no avail. That is until a perfect stranger stopped on his way through and went in front of me to pull while I jumped and Alan pushed. I don't know how, but we got me over. I want very badly to go back next year, able to make my way over it alone. (Bucket list?? I think so!)
I was a bit light headed leaving that obstacle and had no sooner got my "land legs back than I looked up and saw this coming up!
The only difference between this picture and the actual obstacle in front of me was that ours had five or six lanes instead of two. I had been apologizing to Alan and Jeanie every little bit for being so slow. During one of those apologies, as they assured me that they were here to have fun, not set a time record, I came up with our new motto. "We came to COMPLETE not to compete. I could not, however, believe this wall. It was straight up, no handles, only a rope to hang onto. I felt I had seriously met my match. Alan was once again having none of it! He reminded me of our motto, assured me I could do it and urged me not to give up. The worker at the obstacle heard the conversation and added his support. He assured me that the whole "trick" was to lean forward, never, EVER lean back. I told him that IF I did this, which ever lane I chose to use would have to be closed for about an hour.
I am glad they didn't let me quit because what followed was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever experienced. As I started up, I could hear Alan from the top encouraging me....."That's it! You got it, mom! Just one step at a time! You are doing GREAT!! This constant encouragement was punctuated occasionally with a frantic out burst from the man below who would suddenly yell " LEAN FORWARD, MA'Am! MA'AM! LEAN FORWARD!! When I would hear that, I never understood why he was panicking. I never felt like I was leaning back. Regardless, when someone is so frantic, my immediate reaction was to tuck my head, look at the step and lean as close to it as I could. I later realized that every time he yelled at me to lean forward, I was in the process of trying to look up to see how much further I had to go. That move would have automatically shifted my posture back and wrecked the ship.Somewhere around the halfway point, I know I was halfway because Alan starting telling me, "You are halfway, mom! Keep coming! You GOT this!!! I also began hearing multiple voices coming from below me. :WOO Hoo!! Look at her! She's gonna do it! Keep going!! You have got it made!!! You're doing awesome!! I also heard clapping and cheering. The whole time, I kept thinking, "That cannot be for me. They MUST be here with someone on another lane." Once I made it to the top....... (wait a minute) I MADE IT T THE TOP!!!!!!!
Alan showed me where the handles were to hang onto as I maneuvered to get myself seated and then because the top was too narrow for us both, he went on down. Once seated I had to know. I looked back over my shoulder and down at the approach. There was an entire group of people surrounding the bottom of my lane, waving, smiling, and STILL cheering. I went down the slide and was met immediately by the employee who had been so encouraging. He had come around the obstacle to greet me, help me off, give me a high five, and tell me what a good job I had done. He even told me that I was officially halfway and there was a water break right ahead. As I tried to catch my breath , Alan was giving me a high five of his own and praising my effort. Then he smiled and said, "Uh, mom (motioning behind me) your public awaits." I turned around to see that same crowd that had been at the bottom of my lane all coming off their lane and offering high fives, words of encouragement, and praise. I think I may now have a tiny understanding of what it feels like to be a celebrity. It was both amazing and humbling!
Between this halfway point and the end we came across several more obstacles that were indeed their own challenge and a lot of fun, but they just did not have a story to go with them THIS year. Jeannie and I even took the lesson I learned at the wall and developed a chant to get us through several of the remaining obstacles..... "Leeeaaan forward, take a step, leeeaaan forward, take a step, leeeaaan forward...........
In the form of honorable mention, here are a couple of the remaining obstacles.
Posts and X's (I don't know the real name)
We finally made it to the finish line, only to find two more military style walls. They were much smaller scale and less steep, but STILL!! Alan, ever the encourager, told me that I could do it and said ....."Just think, mom. This time you don' have to leave anything in the tank! You have MADE it!!" The big news here was that I still had something in the tank! Until he told me, I NEVER would have guessed!!
Here are our finish line pictures.
Jeannie and Alan
Alan and I. Alan actually came back to the top and went down again with me. You can't see him here, but just wait for it.........
If you know me at all, you know I try to find the lesson/ motivation in everything. This experience is no different. The lessons I will take away from this are many.
From the piggy back ride - Stop caring what a perfect stranger thinks. Have FUN!
From the Start - Something in your past (from behind you) is ALWAYS going to come flying up and knock you on your face! However, what knocks you down does not have to keep you down. You can choose to bounce back up, to COMPLETE!!
From the Mattress - How you get across the obstacle is far less important than the fact that you got across it. Use the "holes/pitfalls in whatever way makes it easier for you
From the Ball Pit - To maintain grace and attitude in ALL attacks!!
From my nemesis - Never be too proud to take a hand extended in kindness. We all need help now and again.
From the Military style wall - Focus, focus, focus...... on the present step not how far you have to go and on the encouragement, kindness, and warmth of people. There really is still a LOT of good people in this world
From the Finish Line - Unlike a car, your "tank" is never empty until YOU say it is empty!!
Keep Pushing Sparkies, we can do this!!!
Lean forward, take a step...Lean forward, take a step.......Leeeaaannn forward, take a step....Leeeaaannn forward............