Warrior Dash

I Am a Warrior!

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything either as a blessing or a curse”

-Carlos Casteneda

sThis past weekend I did the Warrior Dash with some friends from boot camp (including my best buds Kelly and Meghan- love them!!!!).  I didn’t train (or taper) ahead of time because I really just signed up for fun, not any kind of PR.  I was definitely looking forward to some quality times with my girls, and that fact that we would be beasting through mud and obstacles only made it that much better.

I was initially a little skeptical about how much I would enjoy a 5K now that I’m so used to running 10K or more.  I’m one of those people who tends to run close to the same pace no matter how many miles you put in front of me, and that pace is not particularly fast!  As such, I figured I was going to be slow as heck. That is not exactly what happened…

Instead, I channeled all the aggravation and hurt I’ve been feeling into propulsion.  In short, I  hauled ass… at least I felt like I was. lol  I definitely took off like a shot… only to get slowed considerably by some incredibly sticky mud that kept pulling off my shoes (and everyone else’s). I had a lot of fun with the obstacles because they were easy enough to do without the help of a team.  They even had a little climbing wall!

Because our start time was so late in the day, and it was a long (2 hr) drive, I had not eaten beforehand.  I was STARVING!!!!! However, given that I was not in a position to do anything about it, I kept pushing anyway.  I just wanted to get through as quickly as I could- bonking or not.  Whenever I felt tired, I reminded myself of what I felt like the last 5 K of every other race I’ve done, and how what I was feeling in that moment didn’t even compare.  I knew I could hustle through it, even if my body was rebelling.

In the end, I was surprised to find I had finished ahead of the other girls in the group.  I even came close to finishing ahead of Mike (our trainer)- mostly owing to the fact that he had walked part of it (YES MIKE! You knew it was coming!)  Overall I came in 352nd out of 6877 and 13th out of 1168 in my age group.  Considering I have always been a middle of the pack runner at best, I was both shocked and thrilled.  It made me want to go do one every weekend- especially when I knew I could have run faster!!! I even joked on my Facebook page that I might have even made the top ten in my age group if I hadn’t done 90 min of P90X yoga in the morning and actually ate beforehand. lol

The real rock star of the day, though, was Meghan- who completely destroyed her first obstacle race.  She also managed to look completely fabulous while doing it and got hit on so many times, we all lost track.  In fact, she even got a marriage proposal and hit on by a chick. GO MEGHAN AND YOUR HOT, BAD ASS SELF. I can’t blame them; the girl has it going on!

Once the race was over, we ended up tail gating in the parking lot with some people who were parked close by.  Meghan, of course, immediately started up conversation with them and within minutes was taking part in their photo sessions.  We shared our beer, they gave us doughnuts, it was all good. They were definitely a fun group, and we ended up staying until it was late and getting dark.  On their way out of the park, the youngest of their team asked “which one of you ladies is going to give me your number?” and we all laughed.  He clearly looked like he was right out of high school. It turned out he was only 19. After establishing that we would be more appropriate as babysitters than dates for him, they were again on their way, and we headed home.

It was definitely a great day and a great time!  I was so happy for Meghan and grateful to spend time with both her and Kelly.  Sometimes I think we need a babysitter (or chaperone) when we all get together. 😉  It’s definitely always an adventure!!!!

With great friends and family, really what else do you need in life? (other than exercise…. we all know I could never survive without exercise 😉 )

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Earning my orange…

To do anything truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in with gusto and scramble through as well as I can.
-Og Mandino

That’s right! I made it!  Through mud, freezing water, electric shock (I didn’t actually get shocked, but I did run the risk of it!), rough terrain, under barbed wire, literally up and down a mountain for over 11 miles (probably over 12).  There were times when I was terrified, hyperventilating, and completely frozen- in the shivering, teeth chattering sense-, but I made it through!    Adam was right there with me the whole way.  He helped me over the tall Berlin walls and up the ropes.  He also made sure I didn’t drown after I jumped 15 ft into freezing water, and it literally knocked the air out of me.  He even offered to pull me to the other side of the water, but I told him I could manage. I think I may have worried him a little.  lol  Casualties included my “Say Yes to Endorphins” shirt 😦 and black hair band, which got caught in the barbed wire on an early obstacle.

The views were spectacular!  I wish I could have taken pictures from the top!  It was completely breathtaking- both in the sense of being awe inspiring and the altitude literally making it difficult to breathe.  If nothing else, the trip and race were worth the scenery alone.  🙂 We saw lots of crazy costumes, some awesome stunts, and great signs posted by the Tough Mudder Staff.  My favorites included the Warrior Dash finish marker with the reminder that you still had a hell of a way to go, and smaller signs reading things like “Remember you signed a death waiver” and “Chuck Norris never ran a Tough Mudder”.

There was also a lot of camaraderie.  Well, that is at least until we hit the last couple miles and things came to a grinding halt.  The course narrowed dramatically and it caused a lot of standing around and waiting- not exactly a fun time when you are tired, starving, soaked, and freezing.  The sun was already fading, and the wind on the mountain made the temperature seem incredibly cold.  I imagine waiting in long lines with the finish line in sight was not exactly what people expected.  There was a lot of vocal complaining and heckling going on.  People were getting down right nasty, but I guess not everyone handles general discomfort the same.  By the time it was all over with, we were all  a happy Mudder tribe again…it may have had to do with the free beer and snacks.   Overall, I think the course was fun, but might have been improved if the paths were wide enough to get around the people who insisted on walking (incredibly slowly, the entire way- I still give them props by the way).

All that being said, I didn’t let any of the temporary grumpiness or physical discomfort drag me down!  Normally, I tell people my three criteria for happiness are to be warm, dry, and well fed; by the end of the race I was none, but I was still upbeat and enjoying Adam’s company- even if I was too cold to feel my legs.  I was proud of myself for still having energy at the end of the race to sail down the hill, while many other people were dropping out and complaining about fatigue and pain.  I set out to do something I knew would be challenging and followed through- despite my better, self-preserving judgement.  I also raised over $70 for the Wounded Warrior Project just in bottle and can donations (Thank you to my awesome co-workers and family for all your help!!!).  While I may not be in a hurry to rush out an sign up for my next one, I would definitely do another obstacle race in the future.  In the meantime, I have realized that what I truly enjoy most is just running on the trails- no crowds, no obstacles, no pavement- just me and nature, and the wide open path.  🙂  The whole time I was running (mostly hiking- the attitude made it difficult on the way up, and crowding did the same on the way down) the race I kept thinking of how much more fun it would be if I could just run the course without all the interruptions -including the obstacles- which were fun, but not quite as much fun for me as just running.

I would strongly encourage anyone to try an obstacle race, especially if you find just running boring.  They start as short as 5 K, which is completely doable- even if you walk the whole way.  It’s a great opportunity to get dirty, exercise, and meet some new people.

Tonight at Boot Camp I will proudly be sporting my orange Tough Mudder sweatband and T-shirt!  Go Mudders!

I am very happy to have completed my first big challege this fall.  The Diva Half Marahton is in just 2 wks and the Hartfod Marathon in 4 wks!  I can’t believe how quickly this is all happening!  Thank you everyone for your support and well wishes!