My alarm goes off at 7am on this bleak Sunday morning. It’s still raining. It’s freezing cold. Okay, well maybe not freezing, but dammit this is not typical Atlanta weather in early October. My body tells me to hit snooze…no wait…better yet, shut it off and stay in bed. But my mind says “get your butt up and take care of ME for a change!” It is, after all, a “mindful triathlon.” The concept intrigues me, and after a long, stressful week at work, I really NEED this. So I start gearing up for the race, or event rather…I’m not really sure what this is or how to dress. From what I read, it’s a 5k run, 60-minutes of yoga, and 30 minutes of meditation. It’s all outdoors and the ground is saturated. Hmmm…I could run in yoga pants and a rain jacket I suppose but that wouldn’t make a cute finish photo. I’m kidding…sort of. I decide on compression pants and tank. I’ll carry a jacket. Dressed. Coffee consumed. Done.
There was plenty of pre-event, helpful information sent out to participants via email the weeks leading up to the event, as well as updates and reminders on the Facebook event page. The directions to the parking area were pinpoint perfect via GPS, and entry to parking was a breeze. As I walked the short distance to the event area I was already feeling better. Almost in defiance of the weather, the scene was…well, it was ethereal. The crowd (of mostly women, but some men), was buzzing with excitement and anticipation. People were handing me pink wristbands, orange headbands, and there people there painting tribal markings on faces, arms and legs. It was like a scene from a movie. Do these people realize it’s raining? No one seemed to be bothered by that fact, nor by the fact that they were standing in a muddy mess of a field. In fact, steady streams of participants had begun nonchalantly placing their beautiful, multi-colored yoga mats on the muddy field in preparation for the yoga session that would follow the run. As I made my way across the field, I could feel the cold, muddy water seeping right through my shoes and within minutes my socks were soaked and my leggings were speckled with mud from my knees down. THIS I could relate to. I’ve run dozens of “mud races” (as some like to call them…usually those who don’t run them), and in much wetter, muddier, colder conditions. This was going to be AWESOME.
I picked up my registration packet – yep, there’s a bib. I’m definitely feeling more in my element at this point. There was a beautifully designed start/finish area and stage, and music playing in the background. Not the music I’m used to hearing at races, but it was quite appropriate for the event. I had time to check out the many vendors set up in the event area – free coffee was offered in one of the vendor tents, which gave me an opportunity to talk to a few other participants who were already saying they’d be back next year rain or shine. Man, yogis are the nicest people. They really are.
As the crowd continued to grow, and the soggy ground was pretty much covered in yoga mats, the event emcee began announcing the countdown to the start of the 5k. Before I knew it, we were off. The run was correctly billed as a non-race. This wasn’t about competing, it was about communing. People ran, walked, laughed and talked…more like a moving social than a race. And just as quickly as it began, the run was done. This is where the fun really began.
The 5k was more or less a warm-up for the total mind-body experience that was to come. We were lead to a spiritual place in that muddy field. Thinking back on it, it’s kinda funny remembering the scene of people in their perfect yoga poses, eyes closed, smiles on their faces, and covered in mud. Yet, if I weren’t observing for the sake of writing this review, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. Yoga and meditation especially, are usually very personal and introspective…each person drawing from the experience exactly what they need. I was half there, half watching and it felt a little invasive, to be honest. It was a beautiful thing though. There were couples, families, and groups of friends all smiling, laughing, and definitely enjoying themselves. In addition to the yoga and meditation part of the triathlon, there were other activities and classes offered in the event area – acroyoga (combination of yoga and acrobatics), hooping, slacklining, etc…
People were completely digging this, and I GET it. I managed to purge a ton of negative garbage on that field that I didn’t even realize I’d brought in with me that morning. And as I grabbed a hoola hoop, I reverted back for a moment to my 10-year old self when life was effortless and my mind could dream and wander limitlessly. That is Wanderlust.