Will I be Fit by Forty?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Warrior Dash Race Report

Here's my race report from the Warrior Dash this past weekend.  I haven't posted much lately because....well....things haven't been great.  My exercise has been wonderful.  I'm still doing my kettlebell class, and I've started running again.  The food - not such a good thing.   I'll get more into that later.

Warrior Dash Indiana - 2011

When the young, fit people that I work with started talking about doing the Warrior Dash, I thought it sounded like lots of fun.  So, on a whim, I signed up to run it with them.

I mean, how hard can it be?  It’s only a 5K!!

There was a total of 10 of us from my work that were going to be leaving with the 1:30 group.  We had matching t-shirts made and we were pretty excited.

Day of the Race

Because most of the people that I work with are young and single (or without kids), 6 of them (plus a pregnant co-worker) were going up together and spending the night on Saturday.  One person and his wife was going up Saturday morning with their young son, and one co-worker and her partner were also driving up on Saturday but they had been on vacation the whole week before.  So, that meant that I was traveling by myself.  I wasn’t exactly happy about it as it was a good 3 - 3 ½ hour drive from my house one way.

I left the house at 8:15 and started the drive.  I made sure that everything I had on I was willing to throw away.  I also had towels, a sheet, a couple of large garbage bags, a change of clothes and baby wipes!

I had a very uneventful drive to Crawfordsville (which is in the middle of nowhere, by the way).  It actually was kind of nice to listen to the music I wanted to and not the Disney or Hannah Montanna channel on Pandora.  

I talked to my co-workers just as I was coming into the town and found out they were about 30 minutes behind me.  I told them I’d check everything out and then give them a call.

Followed the traffic and signs back to the marina.  I was seriously waiting for the banjos to start playing!  Pulled into the parking lot and realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.  There were TONS of cars, tents, a big inflatable warrior helmet, beer tents, food tents, port-a-potties and the start and finish line for the race.  

It did cost $10 to park which I thought was kind of a crock (but something I was aware of beforehand).  I thought the volunteers did a good job of moving the cars into the parking lot and getting everyone parked pretty quickly.

I grabbed my ID and waiver form (did you know that I had to initial that I understood that I would be running through water that hadn’t been tested for chemicals or diseases as well as that there may be wild animals and insects on the course!) and headed to the packet pick up.  There was no line and I got my race bib, timing chip, t-shirt and warrior helmet.  I headed back to the car to drop everything off and went back to wait for my co-workers.

There was absolutely NO cell service so I had no way to contact anyone and let them know where I was or to find out where they were.  I stood out, in the sun, for about an hour.  You know it’s bad when you are sweating even before starting the race.

Eventually everyone showed up, got registered, hit the potties and had our pictures taken.

It was then time to line up for the run.  Our strategy was to just get to the obstacle and then everyone would wait for the whole group and do the obstacle together.  This turned out to be a very good strategy for me.

Race Time

The count down started and we were off (underneath a bunch of fire).  Although I totally understood that this was going to be a trail race with obstacles, I don’t think I truly understood what that meant.

The “trail” (and I use that term VERY lightly) was insane.  I’ve never even hiked on trails like this before, let alone trying to run!  I took off way too fast as I was just trying not to get run over.  I was so afraid that I was going to fall, or sprain something.

We came to the first water crossing.  I was walking through the water, hit a tree stump and down I went!  My sunglasses (prescription) went flying off of my head.  My first instinct was to grab for my glasses (which I did - and caught).  A guy behind me took my hesitation to get back up to mean that I was hurt.  He stopped his running and helped me up.  I have no idea who that guy was - but I want to thank him!  I wasn’t hurt at all - just soaked from head to foot and I wasn’t even ¼ of a mile into the race.

I kept running until I came to big hills.  At this point, everything is kind of blur.  I was having a really hard time catching my breath.  I think it was a combination of going out way too fast, the rough terrain, and the hills.....oh dear my the hills!!!!

The first major obstacle was a wall that went straight up.  There was a “ladder” type thing to get up the wall, then a pretty tall top part to get yourself over, then a couple of slats on the other side then large pieces of plywood to slide down.

Our team decided to go boy-girl-boy-girl so that we could help each other.  Climbing up the wall wasn’t too bad.  But this is when my fear reflex took over.  I have a HUGE fear of heights and I also have a horrible sense of balance - I’m always afraid I’m going to fall.  I got one leg over the top part, but I wasn’t tall enough to have one foot on either side.  So, I had one leg over the top of the wall just hanging there and my other foot on the other side on one of the slats.  I needed to just push myself over and put my dangling foot on the slat on the other side.

Instead....I froze.  Seriously - shaking and so scared!!!  Luckily one of my co-workers as hanging at the top with me and another one was right behind me.  One held my arm and the other gave my rear a push and over I went.  I crawled down the two slats hung on with my arms and let go!!!  I did it!!!!  My first big obstacle!!!!!

On we went - but I didn’t run for any of the rest of the race.  I realized pretty quickly that I was not prepared to run in that type of terrain.  Plus, I knew that I needed to save ALL of my strength and stamina for the obstacles.

I won’t bore you with tales of all of the obstacles - let’s just say they were insane!!!!!!!

(Rappelling up and down hills, crawling over cargo nets, crawling under a tarp, running though a river, crawling over wrecked boats, climbing up and down a cargo net, etc.)

I will talk about a couple more.

We came to another wooden wall.  If I had to guess, I would say that this one was at least 14 feet tall.  (I may be exaggerating, but I don’t think so)  Again, this one went straight up.  There were slats on the plywood but they were only wide enough to brace your foot - not wide enough to get a hand grip or use it like a ladder.  There were ropes hanging for you to use to pull yourself up.

Most of my co-workers had already finished this obstacle.  Again, one of my co-workers was waiting for me at the top.  I put my foot up, grabbed the rope and immediately realized that this was not going to work.

I didn’t have enough upper body strength to keep me up against the wall, so my body fell back and my arms were completely straight.  This also meant that I couldn’t pull myself up the wall.  I tried about 10 times and just couldn’t do it.  I told my co-workers that it wasn’t going to happen and I was just going to skip it.

They weren’t going to let me.  :)  So, a couple of them came back over to me and decided how to help.  I had one person on each side of me and as I got myself in position, they held me against the wall.  That gave me just what I needed to move up to the next foot hold.  They keep climbing with me helping me stay close to the wall.  The guy that was waiting for me at the top was still there talking me through the whole thing.  Luckily it was just a ladder coming down the other side.

I did it - and I can’t even begin to tell you how that felt.  In fact, just typing this up I have tears in my eyes!  I’ve never felt so bad-ass as I did right then and there.  And I’ve never felt so grateful for my co-workers.  

We continued on - a few more obstacles including jumping over fire!!!

Then I got to the last one - the mud pit.  This was about 3 feet of sticky nasty mud that I had to crawl through.  And I had to crawl because there was barbed wire over the top of the pit.  The best way to get through it was to lay on my stomach keep my feet up off the bottom and propel myself with my hands.  It was NASTY.

As I crossed the finish line I got my medal and some water.  We then posed for after pictures and then headed to the “Warrior Wash” to get cleaned off.  Think about the nastiest, muddiest pond you have ever seen and that’s what we got to go into.  It smelled like pig mud - but it was better then what we were covered with.

I then headed back the car, changed my clothes in the middle of the field (oh yes I did!) and then we went back for food/drink.

I headed for home at about 4:30 - and because of a DQ detour, a stop at Wal-Mart because my driver’s side windshield wiper decided to fall apart, and dealing with a shut down 64 because of the storm that blew through, I didn’t make it home until about 8:30.

I have bruises, scrapes, puncture wounds, contusions and other gross medical stuff I don’t understand.  I’ve counted at least 10 places where my body is beaten up.  I’m sure more will be making themselves known over the next few days.

My Thoughts

If I would have know then what I know now, I don’t know if I would have ever done this race.  It was 10X harder then I thought it would be.  

That said, I did finish it - and I did every single obstacle.  I do feel like a warrior.  I do feel empowered - and strong - and for the first time in my life - I feel like an athlete.  (I still had a hard time typing that sentence)

I did something on Saturday that couldn’t have dreamed about doing a year ago - 6 months ago - and really - 2 months ago.  The kettlebell class I’ve taken for the past 2 months is the only reason why I was able to do this.

I finished in 1:05:36 - 5,951 out of 6.726.  (Yeah!  I wasn’t last!!!)

Just for reference - the guy who won finished the course in 21:51:35 - Seriously - I don’t know how that was humanly possible