Wide Awake: A Good Try
There’s only one way to find out all you can do

When Marirose was about 2, she refused to taste ice cream even though she had never tried it before. She would wrinkle her nose and shake her head if you offered a cone or cup. Maura and Klein – who were 4 and 6 – were beyond baffled. It was enough to blow their 4- and 6-year-old minds.

They tried to convince her she was making a big mistake. “Marirose! You’re gonna love it! Try it!” Eventually she did, and you know what happened after that.

Sadly for all three of them, I’ve used this real-life anecdote throughout their lives whenever I was trying to get them to do something new, like try out for travel soccer or audition for a part in the school musical. “Remember when Marirose wouldn’t try ice cream…”

When you watch your sister miss out on eating ice cream, how can you go through life and not give everything a try? You can’t. It is cemented in your brain that if you don’t give things a try you might never taste mint chocolate chip. It was a parenting gift to me – my kids saw for themselves how you miss out when you don’t try something.

So when Marirose told me she wanted to register Joe (and herself) for a Warrior Dash as a Christmas gift last year, I saw my words coming back to haunt me. A Warrior Dash is a 3.1-mile course filled with challenging obstacles, like climbing through a tube made of cargo rope and suspended 12 feet in the air. You run and climb and crawl and finish caked in dirt and mud with maybe a few bruises. Oh my. I’ve encouraged this, so OK, Joe was getting a unique Christmas gift.

Last month on a cool and cloudy Saturday morning, we arrived in upstate New York with a few hundred other “warriors.” Maura and I tagged along, and none of us had any idea what to expect. We found all kinds of people, not just super-fit athletes but also participants who clearly hadn’t exercised in quite a while. There were complete families (including grandparents), packs of girlfriends (often women over 40), personal trainers with their clients and lots of couples. You could tell some couples worked out together, but others had one member who was looking at the other like, “What have you gotten me into?”

After Joe and Marirose took off for the course, Maura and I spent about 45 minutes near the finish line watching people complete the last obstacle, which was crawling through muddy water under barbed wire. The water was disgustingly dirty and, from what we could tell, ice cold. But watching was fascinating. Some people who you would never, ever think could run a race, jumped in, reacted to the cold and then started plugging away through the mud. They struggled, but they kept going. Sometimes, one of those fit couples would breeze past them. But they kept going.

One young woman lost both sneakers in the mud. She crawled out wearing just socks. Plenty of times we watched one person turn around to see their partner was struggling, so they held out their hand or went back and crawled next to them. Another time, a guy’s shirt got stuck on the barbed wire, and he couldn’t move. His buddy was several feet ahead of him, almost out of the pit. He stopped, but he didn’t go back. A woman trudged over to the trapped guy and freed his shirt. She was mad, and she yelled to the guy ahead: “You never leave your friend. You always go back.”

Joe and Marirose had a good run. They finished muddy and happy. Maura and I had a good morning too. We saw firsthand people trying with all their might to do something they didn’t know they could do. They triumphed. And as you know, that wouldn’t have happened unless they tried.

June 2016
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