My heart slides to the bottom of my churning stomach like a walrus traveling slowly but inevitably down a ridiculously long and terrifying water slide culminating in a pit of lava.

Hitting ‘submit’ on this internet transaction has more than the usual ramifications of extra charges at the end of the month. Hitting ‘submit’ means committing to 8 months of training, committing to a team (only one member of which I actually know), and committing to myself.  Not hitting it, though, means never knowing if I could have done it, never finding a cooler way to motivate myself, giving in to fear of the unknown. So, in true Amanda fashion, I hit submit.

I then sit shaking senseless in my chair for 30 minutes, mentally reprimanding myself over and over. “What have you done? What have you done? Ohmydeargodandeverythingbeautifulandsane what have you done?”

What I’ve done is register for the Spartan Sprint Race in Charlotte, NC. This 5K mud race — which takes place on March 23rd,  2013 — is a bit unlike other mud runs in that my team, Team Hot n Dirty, won’t get a race map, and generally will have little idea what we’ll be facing when. If you watch the videos (I have; over and over, while sobbing into my trail mix), you know that it will probably involve mud, climbing impossible obstacles using arm strength (what’s that?), getting hit in the face with tools of medieval torture (or training tools for football players, I can’t tell which), mud, being knocked to the ground, belly crawling under barbed wire, mud, ice-cold water, rope climbing, and mud, mud, mud.

I’ve done 2 races in my entire life, both after the age of 32, and both more than 2 years ago. One a sprint triathlon, the other a hilly 4-miler. The only reasons I completed them were because a) I was determined and b) they had very, very supportive environments, designed to encourage beginners. If at any point in time, one of the officials or volunteers had thrown a bucket of cold, muddy water in my face, I would have melted, wicked witch style, right into the hot pavement, never to be seen again. Not even for the wretched, poorly made sequel.

On top of that, my baseline of fitness has dropped dramatically over the past 6 months, coinciding directly with my taking a new job, causing me to sit down more than I stand up. My ability to run 10 minutes without stopping has been greatly compromised; this race will be 35-40 minutes of a different kind of hell.

And the mud — well, I don’t exactly enjoy getting dirty. It’s okay, it happens, I’m not all Emma from Glee about it or anything, but mud? Lots and lots and lots of mud? 3 miles of mud? I don’t mean to be a stick in the …but, well…

Ack. Perhaps this wasn’t the best choice. That, and the fact that I’m terrified of all things physical (it’s my tiny arms; I blame everything on them! I can’t open an already opened jar of jam without grunting.)

Then again, I do have 8 months, and I have been looking for ways to shake up my fitness routine — you know, something beyond doing a couple of crunches or yoga stretches and walking quickly up and down the stairs before eating an energy bar and chilling with a book. I’ve even looked into trying parkour. I’ve never taken an actual fitness class of any kind …no martial arts, no drop-in yoga sessions, nothing beyond that psychotically peppy Richard Simmons VHS tape I tried with my mom the summer of my junior year of high school.

Yeah, I was one of the cool kids.

This race feels like a chance to be one of the really cool kids …overlooking the fact that I’m joining an already established movement. If I wait much longer, they’ll have mud races at the senior centers.

And, except for ballet, opera, rocket science, and car repair, I don’t like to think that there’s anything I can’t do.

That’s why I hit submit, why I’ll train my behind off (hopefully literally), and why I’ll register for a trial intro to parkour class at Fifth Ape in Chapel Hill. I don’t expect that transaction to leave me huddling in my dining room, sad and full of fear, both because it’s free and because it’s one class. One free INTRO class.

There’s nothing scary about that, right?

Here’s the thing. The one thing I’m really good at is being dramatic. I can be dramatic about anything. So, if you like ridiculous, outrageous tales that raise the mundane to the melodramatic with the greatest of ease, join me each week as I chronicle my rise from pseudo-couch potato, 36 year old mother of 4, with puny, puny arms to Spartan Mud Goddess and Parkour Mistress Extraordinaire.

Or if I fail, Mother of 4 Who Was Last Seen Facedown in a River of Mud and Shame.

Either way, it won’t be a boring ride!