Just a Little Dance with Dirt

When you think of Mother’s Day, it’s usually a scene of light, airy colors, flowers, and tasty brunch. It’s not like that around here. About 20 years ago, my mom hung up her airy colors and exchanged them for bright red. If you know her, you might think I’m talking about the crimson red of Indiana University, the site of her college years and now retirement. That red, however, is too deep. This red is the bright bold red of the Ironman triathlon symbol, a goal of my mom’s to complete since her early 40s.  

In my recollection, my mom has always been an active person. She ran her editing business from home, played the cello in our local orchestra, and certainly was kept busy by my sister and me. It didn’t surprise me when she decided running, triathlons, and biking would be a new, or perhaps renewed, focus of her life, and when the freshman 15 set in in college, I decided to join her. It was then that we started racing together.

I should clarify, my mom and I are not fast. We are not at the front of the pack, and I don’t know the last time either of us have PR’d (sorry, Mom, if it’s been recently!). Mom would be the first one, however, to tell you that she does hold the standing record for the Hoosierman for her age group (a race that was discontinued after her last run being the only, or one of a few, in her age bracket). We may not be fast, but we do have a great time.

To date, we’ve run in snow, rain, and desert-like conditions. We’ve run for corn boils, festivals, turkey trots, and more. We’ve been sprayed with color bombs, and tackled legendary hills. We’ve even run in the Happiest Place on Earth. So this Mother’s Day, it was no surprise that we found ourselves half an hour from home in the Indiana countryside outside of a close to run-down shack called Mike’s Dance Barn about to dance with dirt. Who’s idea was this anyway?

The Dance’s With Dirt website is written to make the average runner think twice. A 10k trail run through a former ski slope in Southern Indiana, the altitude map is nothing short of intimidating, and when I told my very seasoned runner friend what we were up to, he shuddered. He then systematically revealed unflattering tidbits of the race throughout the months before. His biggest warning – hope that it does not rain. Two weeks prior to the race, we had non-stop rain and thunderstorms. It was going to be a muddy mess.

But, the day before Mother’s Day, my mom and I showed up with our game faces and then headed promptly to the port-o-potty line. If you’ve ever run a race, you’ll understand. We stretched and then promptly headed back to the port-o-potty line. Finally ready to go, we headed to the start and the race official sent us off! Mom, bless her heart, was nearly taken out by the first tree of the course, a trunk in the center of the starting line that was holding up the “Start” banner. Crisis averted, we carried on. We slid down mud hills, climbed back up the other side, and waded through rivers. Mom ran the downhills that I can’t, and I ran the uphills that she couldn’t. We were an unstoppable team.

After two hours and our last river forged, we sprinted across the finish line. Another mother-daughter race completed and the best way I know of to spend a Mother’s Day.