Sunday, July 19, 2009

I WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Before I got my job with Mizuno, I entered an essay contest to win a pair of Innov8 shoes. I was telling my brother about it, as I mulled through the prose.
"Don't you always wear Mizunos and doesn't Kelley help you out with the shoes?"
"Yes, but the winners get published in Trail Runner magazine."
The light goes on.
"Ah, it's about your writing."
After I sent in my entry I called my brother back.
"I'm going to win. There's no way I won't win."
Yes. 11 years in journalism. My first award winning piece!
Just as I change careers.

And I'm excited to try the shoes. Conflict of interest with my current job selling running shoes for Mizuno? No. Instead, research. I can't wait to see how they stack up against our incredible new shoe, the Cabrakan, (means Aztek god of mountain and earthquake) that hits the market this September.

Trail Runner, published the final portion of the essay.

Here it is in it's entirety.

By, Sophia Wharton
Aka: Original Mud Babe

It was a dark and stormy morning. The choices were: stay in bed with someone you love, or get up and run in the mud. We made the right choice, it was, after all close to my one year anniversary of running in the mud. A mighty group of 6 slipped and slided for 13 miles on the rocky rooty, and very muddy trails of Clinton Lake in Lawrence, KS. The forecast was for a high of 55. The forecast was wrong. It was chilly. Bad Ben, of Kansas City Trail Nerd fame, realized it was too cold for his Ice Breaker shirt alone, and pulled a trash bag out of the back of his Honda Element and put it on.
“Look it’s Bag Ben.” Another pun for me, Sophia. Yup, I love puns, especially when they go with running in the mud. After my first ooey gooey muddy run last spring, one of the other Trail Nerd women and I decided to team up for a 44 mile relay from Kansas City to Lawrence called Brew to Brew. There was a contest for clever team names.
“Hey Coleen!” I was on the phone with her. “I just registered us as ‘Bad Ben’s Mud Babes.’ Is that ok with you?”
“Hell yes! I love mud!”
Bad Ben decided the name was too cute for a one -time thing, and now the Trail Nerd women are all Mud Babes. A movement within a movement was born. Really, what woman wants to be a nerd? And mud is so squishy and fun, plus it really cools your feet down on those hot July days. Like during Psycho Psummer 50k. I was hot, and running again with Coleen who we dubbed “Cynical Mud Babe. “
We were schlocking through a combo of deep mud and horse poo, grateful for tightly laced shoes. We came upon another woman digging a lost shoe out of the mud. She laughed as she saw us.
“Well, I guess now I can buy the Mud Babe T-shirt!”
“You’ve earned it. And we’re the two Mud Babes in the picture!”
As we slipped and slided along I was so hot, I wanted to just sit down in the mud, but resisted that. Instead, I tried something new psychologically uplifting.
“Coleen come back!”
I was standing in mud up to my ankles. When she got beside me, I leaned down, grabbed a finger of mud and painted a muddy heart on her arm. She did the same for me, and the Mud Tats were born.

Smiley faces for guys. Arms in summer, cheeks (on faces) in the winter. It’s tribal bonding at it’s best. After all, nothing quite says “We love you, and accept you,” to a new runner like a muddy heart. And although I only have the science of my experience to back this up, you do run faster with a Mud tat.
One day, I’d fallen back from the pack and was running alone. I needed a pick me up, so I made some mud with my water and painted a smiley face on my arm. I call that, mudsterbation.
“Sophia that smiley face is working.” I’d caught up to James the Trail Nerd lawyer, and was about to leave him in the dust. I suggested his own mud tat instead.
But this was really child’s play compared with my run with Superhero Mudbabe Debbie Webster at Mud and Muck. A 5 k with a full fledged mud pit crawl. We finished and went back for more. More mud, more fun and many, many mud tattoos. Including one on photographer Dick Ross’s bald head. We laughed, we ran, we played. We spanked James, as it was his 38th birthday, that day.
(Trail Runner chose this final piece. Which was the clincher, I knew would land me the prize)
Yes, I love running in the mud so much the words have become interchangeable. It has been a little over a year I’ve been running in the mud. Last March, I sent Bad Ben a text message. My hand was shaking a little, but I pressed “send.”
“Are you falling in mud with me?”
“Yes.” Was the reply.
“Mud U.”
“Mud U, too.”
So, from running in the mud a great love was born.