How My Personality Landed Me in the Mud!

I need to have some fun with today’s blog – so I hope you’ll join in!  Here goes…..

If you’re like me, you’ve got a personality trait or two that impacts most areas of your life, for better or worse.

My Trait #1:  If you give me a good challenge, I’ll probably agree to do it.  Even if it’s something most people in their right minds wouldn’t. For example…..

In 2012, my friend Amanda challenged me to do something called the Warrior Dash – a 5K Mud Run with various insane hurdles to get over.  First she told me it would be fun, and that I didn’t really have to be a runner to do it.  I wasn’t convinced, so I suggested perhaps people my age don’t do things like this (surely not, I thought!), to which she replied (and I quote) -“sure, plenty of old people do it”!

Did she really just call me OLD?  With that, she had given the challenge – and I accepted!  I would show her!

I was off and running, literally, to get ready for Warrior Dash.  I took a running class.  I pushed harder than any middle-aged non-athletic woman in her right mind should.  As a result, a few months later, I was sidelined with a stress fracture.  Warrior Dash was not to be – that year.

But that didn’t mean the end of the Warrior Dash!  Of course not, because….

Trait #2 –  Once I tell you I’ll do something, I keep my word – period.

Fast forward 2 years.  After recovering from my injury and doing a lot more running, I signed up for the 2014 Warrior Dash.  And this time, I finished!  3.4 miles running – lots of hills, barbed wire and mud – climbing cargo nets – even swimming across a lake.  The best way to share it is with pictures, so here goes:

The "BEFORE" Picture

The “BEFORE” Picture

I figured my clothes would get trashed, so I wore the most hideous clothes I had available.  When were those shorts EVER in fashion?  I can’t imagine why I ever bought them….15 years ago.

The rest of my sporty ensemble:

Ugly white shirt with red dots, which turned into my very own wet t-shirt contest shirt (thank goodness for sports bras!)

Garmin sports watch – which, fortunately, IS as waterproof as they say!

The shoes I never wear because they don’t fit right.  Kudos to my trainer friend Todd Soura for telling me to put holes in my shoes before the race – otherwise my wet shoes would have been even heavier and I probably would have drowned in the lake.

I LOVE my hat, so I took it off just before the race started.

WD2014 younguns

I did this race because Amanda told me plenty of old people do it.

See all the old people?  Yeah, me neither….


The start of the Mud

The start of the Mud

At the start of the race, there was a little mud.  I’d heard you should stay up off your knees to avoid scraping them.  That worked when we were going under netting.  Later on, it changed to barbed wire closer to the ground.  If you didn’t get down on your knees and elbows, you ended up with holes in your shirt from the barbed wire.  Yes, I learned the hard way….and ended up with holes in my shirt AND sliced knees.

More mud

More mud







wd2014 goliath1

Near the End!



WD2014 balancebeam









race collage

As I was running this infernal race, I have to admit I wondered if I’d finally taken things too far.  Was it possible there are things people my age just should not do?  I was two years older than when Amanda originally challenged me – if I’d just let this thing quietly die, I don’t think she would’ve ever noticed.


But I did it – because I said I would.

I couldn’t let myself off the hook.  And by the time it was over, I had two gashed knees, one less toenail, and a bruised tailbone.

But I did it…and that’s what counted.

It all comes down to those traits that drive my entire life.  Give me a compelling challenge and I’ll do it – no matter what.  Just ask my second grade teacher, who I’m lucky didn’t march me straight to the principal’s office after I accepted an (inappropriate) challenge.  Or the people that convinced me to go rappelling down cliffs.  Or to be the target in the dunking booth at work.  Or spend my vacation with people living in poverty.WD2014 fire

These personality traits have worked great for me – they helped me finish my education well, they helped me in my career.  They helped me honor commitments to God, even when the going got rough. They’ve helped me be there for people when they needed me.  They’ve been a real plus.

Yes, God gave me some pretty good traits when He made me, but the problem is that Satan knows just how to exploit them.

DONE - The "After" Picture

DONE – The “After” Picture

Because the ugly truth is when I’m challenged and I tell you I’ll do something, the ME inside my head kicks into high gear.  I can slog my way through lots of things – by myself – no God needed.  That’s my natural tendency.  And sometimes that means I end up covered in mud – literally or figuratively.  Over the years, I’ve been reminded countless times how I can take the toughness and feistiness God built into me and use it in ways He never intended – as self-reliance, rather than determined reliance on God.

I know y’all are thinking now “What did they talk her into doing in second grade that almost landed her in the principal’s office”?  Or better yet…..”What crazy NEW challenge can we give Diana – do you think she’d really do it?”

You never know friends, you never know.  I just might!

But be forewarned.  Because I’m not the only one with these quirky little character traits that can be both good and bad.  No…..You have some too. (Yes, I’m talking to YOU).

SO – here’s the deal.  If you’ll share a brief story in the blog comments about a wonderful character trait of yours that’s landed you in some funny or awkward situation, I’ll consider a new challenge.

So bring ’em on!  Let’s have some fun :-)  We’d all love to hear your stories in the comments!




4 Unforgettable Lessons from Running the Race!

Having Fun Before the Rain

Having Fun Before the Rain

Last week I ran my first half-marathon – an exciting, miserable morning I’ll never forget.  The weather forecast had been glorious – 57 degrees and sunny.  But 48 hours before the race, everything changed.  The temperature dropped into the 40’s, with wind and rain all day.   In the end, it was a record-breaking 3 inches of rain – a monsoon.  The great adventure I’d so looked forward to became something just to endure. During my hours of running I pondered, reflecting on things I’d learned – all about running, some about my life as a follower of Christ.  I will never forget…..

Running Lesson #1 – Garbage Bags are a Girl’s Best Friend!

Never Underestimate the Ability of a Garbage Bag to Keep You Warm!

Never Underestimate the Ability of a Garbage Bag to Keep You Warm!

When I heard it was going to rain, I frantically searched the internet to see how best to cope. I soon got the magic answer – garbage bags!  They keep you dry, they keep you warm.  You can tear a hole in the bottom for your head, and then holes for your arms when you’re ready to run.  And if you ever get too warm (I didn’t!) and want to get rid of it, you can just toss it!   I kept mine on til the end – I’m convinced my trusty garbage bag was one of the main things enabling me to finish – and it certainly kept me from catching pneumonia!

Running Lesson #2 – Hydrate, But Not Too Much!

Well, this was a new problem for me – a delicate topic, but here goes.   It’s always wise to visit “the little room” – or in this case, the Porta-Potty – before you line up to start the race.  I did that.  But I’ll admit the length of this race – a first for me – had me a bit stressed.  My mouth was dry as cotton.  And so I kept sipping at my water bottle, hoping to get rid of the dry mouth.

Nothing worse than a LINE at the Porta-Potties!

Nothing worse than a LINE at the Porta-Potties!

Unfortunately, I failed to take into consideration that it takes a lot longer to line up 10,000 runners for a half-marathon in Philly than it does a mere 300 runners for a local 5k race.  Lots of time to be nervous and sip water – in retrospect, way too much water.  And before the race even started, I knew I was doomed.  I tried to convince myself it was all in my head, but to no avail.  I was trapped in the starting area with no relief in site.  When the race finally started, off I ran, hoping to find a Porta-Potty before things became critical. At last, I found one!  Only to find out there was a slow moving line – a 15-minute wait! I eventually gave up and ran another 2 (very desperate) miles to find a shorter line.

Running Lesson #3 – Train Tough – Beat Your Body!

half marathon yet more garbage bagsIn my mind (and actually, in all my prior experiences), all races were accompanied by beautiful sunny skies.  Whether cold or hot, it was always sunny.  But not this day!  At the start of the race, I managed to stay fairly dry.  I knew running in my garbage bag would generate enough heat to keep my torso warm.  But the rest of me?  Well…..

By mile 5, I started to feel cold water seeping into my shoes.

By mile 5 1/2, my shoes and socks were soaked.  My feet started to go numb.

By mile 7, my fingers were getting stiff.

By mile 8, my fingers were totally non-functional.  I had brought gummy bears in a zip-lock bag for snacking to help keep my blood sugar up, but by this time I couldn’t open and close the bag any more, let alone pick up gummy bears and put them in my mouth.  I resorted to sticking my face in the bag to get at the bears, and just held the bag closed to try and keep my gummy friends dry.

By mile 9, my gummy bears were all wet and had become “Slimy Bears”….and more and more of them eluded my mouth, slipping out and landing on the street.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned I was very naive about running.  Sure, it’s a physical sport, but it’s also a mental sport.  As you run, your mind keeps telling you to stop.  Like the serpent in the garden of Eden trying to derail Eve, the mind says it’s ok to stop – just for a little while.  It says you’ll never finish.  You will die of cold.  Yes, you might be able to do this in good weather, but how could you ever finish this under these conditions? Everyone will understand if you don’t.

And as I wrestled through these mind games, these lies told inside my head, I suddenly realized what Paul meant in I Cor 9:24-27 when he says “Do you not know know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  

I’ve read 1 Cor 9:24 more times than I can count. I generally think of it in terms of watching the Olympics. I sit on my comfy couch and think “Yes, it’s just like these athletes.  I can envision them training so hard!” But this day I realized I’d never really personalized what it meant for me. During my hours of running through the cold soaking rain, it hit me.

I had failed to train correctly.  

Oh sure, I’d put in the miles. I’d even run in the cold. Since this race was so early in the year, I’d run through the winter, much of it outside. I’d worked on developing the mental toughness to will myself to keep running when I wanted to quit.  But when it rained….I ran on my treadmill.  In my very dry, very warm  house.

And this was my downfall.

So when the race-day weather forecast changed, I found myself scrambling to figure out what to wear, how to prevent blisters from waterlogged socks and shoes.  And as I ran, I thought about the importance of trying to anticipate the various situations I might encounter, and then making sure I incorporated some of the most probable challenges into my training program.  I needed to train tough!

Because if I’d trained in the cold rain as I should have, all this would have been a non-event.  Cold and miserable, I could told myself “no problem – I’ve done this before.  I know how to get through this.”  Instead, I kept trudging along hoping I would make it to the finish before I froze.

Which made me wonder over my hours of running…..when Paul talks about beating his body in I Cor 9:24, he wasn’t just talking about running – he was talking about life. What does that look like for my life as a Christian?  To intentionally put myself in very uncomfortable situations – over and over and over – so that I’m assured of finishing well, attaining the prize waiting for me?

I’m still pondering this one, but here are some thoughts.  Getting up early to spend time in God’s Word….Every. Single. Day.  No matter how tired I am.  Intentionally spending time with the unlovable – the unpopular, the controversial – listening to them, befriending them, sharing with them.  Wading into areas of desperate poverty – sharing life with those in poverty, understanding what it’s like for them, sacrificing time and resources to help them lift themselves out of poverty.   Following God’s leading, even when it doesn’t conform to society’s expectations.

I need to be more intentional about doing this, because I believe it can really grow my faith and transform how I live my life for Him.  I believe because I’ve seen first-hand.  The  trips The Hubbie and I have taken into areas of deep poverty  in Latin America and Africa have transformed my perspective on my ability to live on next to nothing.  I know I could survive financial ruin, because I’ve seen God provide in dramatic ways for my friends living in poverty.   That’s one worry I don’t have anymore – where my faith is sure.  What other worries need to be trained out of me by training tough, beating my spiritual body?

Running Lesson #4 – Stay Focused on the REAL Prize

I started out thinking I was running for personal satisfaction, a t-shirt, a coffee mug and a medal.  In the end, none of that mattered.  Honestly, what really motivated me

Crossing the Finish Line! (still in my garbage bag)

Crossing the Finish Line! (still in my garbage bag)

to keep going was the thought of a warm shower back at the hotel.

In the race called life, we anticipate many rewards – happiness, success, family.  During life’s tough training, sometimes it looks like we’ll never finish, we can’t possibly last.  And that’s where keeping our eyes on the prize  – the one that REALLY counts – makes all the difference.

Don’t ever give up hope – and don’t ever stop pushing and beating up your spiritual body.  We will finish, and it will be worth it – because it will be glorious!  

How about you?

What kind of races are you running?  Maybe you’re a “real” runner, and like me, you need to consider a different kind of training to help you prepare for your next race.

Whether you’re a runner or not, we’re all running that other race called life.  How would God have you “train tough” to be ready for the challenges you’re likely to face?  If you’ve already stepped into uncomfortable situations instead of staying comfortable, how have you seen your faith in God grow as a result?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!