When I told my Thai friends about doing the Tough Mudder Race, this is how they responded: “Tough mother?”; “What is it?”; “What do you have to do?”. After explaining the hardcore, ten- to twelve-mile obstacle mud-run, they thought I was crazy. I felt the same. Who on “Asian-born” earth at the age of 42 would do such a crazy thing like this? Definitely not a scrawny Thai woman who has never once had proper workout training.
It was last spring when I first heard of the race from a girlfriend who plays soccer with me. She told me about running through electric shocks, diving in ice-water pools, and climbing high walls. She described the electric shocks as therapeutic shocks for the body and I was sold! I signed up for the race—my first one ever—to take place at Whistler. I don’t like running. I had never run or worked out prior to signing up for Tough Mudder. But that wasn’t going to stop me.
The training part was hard for me. Not because I couldn’t do it but I had to motivate myself to run and do my workouts in the typical west coast climate. Where I grew up, children were not encouraged to play outside when it rained. Running in the rain or snow, especially, was out of my element. As it is never grey, cold, and wet for several consecutive days in Thailand, I was used to waiting until the sun came out to play outside. But—surprise!—that is not an option here in Canada.
However, I was motivated to play soccer with other soccer mums and to swing on the monkey bars with my children at play parks. These two activities kept me in shape. They also brought back the fond memory of playing soccer in bare feet with my cousins and climbing trees in my grandparents’ orchard in Thailand.
On the weekend of the race, my teammates were excited and nervous about the obstacles that had been placed for the Tough Mudder Whistler 2015. I, on the other hand, was concerned about how my skin would look after racing in the mud and sun for five hours. They looked confused when I asked them about skin products for anti-aging spots caused by the sun. “I am Asian and I like to have white skin without any black spots” I told them. We also all laughed while I was sewing my friend’s sport bra so it would fit my chest and not make my breasts look too flat.
There were more than twenty thousand participants on race day. Many of them looked very athletic and were bigger than me. I was nervous, but told myself: “You gave birth twice! You can do it!”. And I did it! My small build actually made it easy to climb up the rope and crawl through tunnels. Having no fear of heights or small dark spaces also helped me get through obstacles.
At the finish line I was cold and tired but I was really proud of myself. It was not because I proved that I am strong, but because I once again tried something new, something that was unfamiliar and unheard of in my cultural background. If you have moved to a new country, you have already tried something new once—time to do it again!
Kedsanee (Aoy) Broome immigrated to Canada from Thailand in 2004 and is a Registered Clinical Counsellor with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors, specializing in cultural diversity. She is a mother of two and wife of a Caucasian-Canadian in a mixed-culture marriage, raising her children in two cultures.
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