What's So Great About Your Comfort Zone Anyway?
February 7, 2018
By Rebekah Boggs
Class of 2020
Buzzing, live electric cables was the vivid image that haunted my mind from the end of school into my first summer break from UVA. My dad had always gone on and on about these hard-core obstacle course races called the Tough Mudder. “Why would anyone do that?” I would think to myself. I played several varsity sports in high school but those sports never demanded the absolute recklessness my dad described in the Tough Mudder. He would always laugh describing the last obstacle, a 50-meter run through live electric cables that sent athletes plummeting into the mud paralyzed by shock, literally.
Dad would prod me and my siblings saying, “Man I would just love to have my four kids do a Tough Mudder with me.” I would think, “That’s never gonna happen, Dad” with the image of electric cables engulfing me in a billow of voltaic energy. However, I remember sitting in class one Spring day when I decided to face my fears and do this for Dad. It was time to train.
All summer, my brother and I would google the terrifying obstacles. The Ring of Fire where you have to climb through a literal ring of fire or The Artic Enema, which featured a water slide into icy water. It was safe to say I was completely spooked.
As the days before the Tough Mudder slipped away, my body and my mind were both unprepared for the 10+ miles and obstacles. However, my brother Josh raised our spirits with T-shirts he designed that said “Boggsteam” on the front and “B.G.H.F” on the back. “Be Good Have Fun”, the slogan my dad would say to us every morning before dropping us off at school. Though terrified, I had confidence in our family team.
On race day, my hands were shaking. As we checked in, I saw racers covered in mud from head to toe. It was too late to find an escape. Before I could breathe we were at the starting line with a boisterous man wearing all neon hyping us up. Then the gun went off.
We charged through a serious of obstacles, all requiring true grit and serious teamwork and of course—being ok completely engulfed in mud. My favorite memory of the whole race had to be overcoming a seemingly impossible obstacle that required you to flip yourself upside down and climb upward – thankfully, I got a little help from my dad and brothers. We helped other teams too. There was a point our entire team had to hold a large man midair and run a half pipe then jump over a ledge. The whole crowd cheered us on.
These arduous but exciting obstacles could not keep my mind off the grand finale. I exchanged countless looks with my sister’s boyfriend throughout the race, each glance carrying the question “Where does this thing end?” The answer would come soon enough.
I watched in terror as the hanging electric belts leveled athlete after athlete. By the time we walked over to “Shock Therapy”, my mind couldn’t think about this obstacle anymore: in school, over summer and during the race.
Without a word to any of my teammates, I ran through the electric cables, the youngest in my family, and the youngest on the course and I ran like hell. I got to the other side and I could not believe what happened. Not one shock! It was a miracle.
But my sister wasn’t so lucky.
The values I learned from the Tough Mudder transcend deeper than just learning how to run ten miles, or gaining upper body strength or even overcoming my fears. I learned to be truly selfless. My Dad was beaming with pride looking at each of us in our FINISHER shirts. The smile on his face made the whole thing worth it. All that training had some other nice rewards as well.
When Dad mentioned the Tough Mudder, I immediately thought, “That’s not for me, it’s not my thing”. If I am honest, that was fear speaking inside me. If I stayed in my comfort zone, I would have missed that moment with my family. That is why it is so important to push yourself to try new adventures, or to challenge yourself.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
As we loaded up to head home Dad asked, “Who’s ready for the next Tough Mudder?”
“Too soon, Dad. Too soon.”
Looking for ways to start training? Check out our spring Fitness Workshops.