I'm stuck straddling a wall, legs thrown over each side and perilously balanced on my tippy toes so I don't crash vagina-first into a metal rod. I'm frozen in terror, caught in a momentary flashback to my senior year of high school, when I got stuck in the exact same position on top of a chain-link fence. That time, my crocheted purse from The Gap — the same one everyone had in 1997 —was caught in the wires, holding me hostage as my friends and I attempted to flee cops busting a party. But this time around, I climbed the wall voluntarily. And I dragged my friend Sophie with me.
We are on the second-to-last obstacle in the Muddy Buddy Mud Run, an adventure race that has transformed LP Field into a human-sized version of the game Mouse Trap. We, along with hundreds of other people assembled in teams of two, have scaled multiple walls, earning splinters, skinned knees and catcalls from a group of guys racing alongside us. We ran back and forth across the pedestrian bridge — you know, the one they use for really deep conversations on the TV show Nashville — and up and down the ramps that encircle the stadium. We crawled through tunnels, slid down a massive waterslide, and got entangled in an enormous spider web.
Despite my current predicament, we're elated at what we've accomplished so far. Midway through the course, Sophie climbed the rope, that old nemesis from gym class, faster than the burly guys who watched in amazement. When running the brutal incline of the stadium ramps, we passed several teams, earning enough time to pause momentarily at the top, enjoying the stunning view of the Nashville skyline on this cloudless summer morning. We blazed past a bunch of Army dudes, one of whom slowed his team down by squatting over a pile of dog poop and making loud groaning sounds. (Charming.) I've lost my ponytail holder, but I've managed to keep on my hot pink lipstick, which matches my hot pink leggings, for the duration of the race.
"Sophie, I can't do it!" I cry.
"Yes you can! Just swing your other leg over," she yells at me as she shimmies down the other side of the wall. I wince, arms shaking, and — driven by the fear of permanent damage to the genital area — heave my left leg over the wall to meet my right. We drop to the ground and run toward the final challenge, the aptly named "Slippery Mountain," a sharp incline with water running down it. This mountain is impossible to scale without the assistance of a rope, requiring an incredible amount of arm strength that I'm not sure either of us have right now.
After sliding down Slippery Mountain twice and accidentally kicking Sophie in the head in the process, I find myself stuck yet again. I'm hanging on for dear life, my blistered hands wrapped around the rope so tightly that I'm afraid it might snap in two. It's not a far fall to the ground, but I don't want to have to climb Slippery Mountain again. I will not climb Slippery Mountain again.
The idea of having to climb Slippery Mountain again in front of a crowd of spectators motivates me to somehow propel myself over the top, where I see the finish line in the distance, which I think is in parking lot G. But who knows? There is so much sweat running in my eyes that it all looks like a mirage. But before we can cross that blessed line, we have to crawl through the mud pit, the pinnacle obstacle of this particular race.
Because that's the whole point of this, right? We can go for a jog any day of the week, but today is the only day when we can play on a giant playground inside the Titans' stadium and dive in a giant mud pit. Today, we get to act like kids. A kid would not worry about getting mud all over the car seat, or ruining a perfectly good pair of hot pink leggings. A kid wouldn't be grossed out by the fact that hundreds of sweaty, disgusting people have already crawled through that mud pit this morning. A kid would look at this entire experience as playtime, not exercise. A kid would just go for it.
So we go for it. Well, kind of. We remove our shoes and socks first. But then we dive in and slither through the warm, sticky mud. Mud is in my ear. Mud is in my mouth. Mud is in every place you'd expect it to be when you are immersed in it.
As we climb out of the pit, we race barefoot toward the finish line. I feel like an ancient Greek Olympian, strong enough to traverse the rocky ground with nothing but my calloused feet, mud flying off my hair into the wind. Did somebody start playing "Chariots of Fire"? We triumphantly cross the finish line, passing two more Army guys in the process.
At the end of any physically taxing activity — like climbing slippery mountains or dodging guys who are pretending to defecate in the middle of the road — you're a bit dazed at the end. We shuffle over to a group shower area, where total strangers are offering to hose down other total strangers in what is usually the middle of the road you get stuck on when going in or out of a Titans game or a concert. It looks like a really dirty waterpark, just a bunch of big kids spraying each other with hoses.
"Hey, can I wash your body for you?" a guy offers, leering at us. "I'd really love to wash your body."
OK, adults spraying each other with hoses. Definitely adults.
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