Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Warrior Dash!

There are a lot of things that I’m scared not overly fond of. Clowns. Heights. Swimming in water such as ponds, lakes, and streams where I have to share space with creepy crawly things. (I’ve mentioned this before, as I am a fan of swimming in nice chlorinated pools where the water is crystal clear and there’s no risk of being bitten by a catfish or a crab or whatever else lives in muddy waters.) I’m also not overly fond of large crowds, Porta-potties, or mud. And I’m slightly claustrophobic. (I’m not neurotic, I swear. Really. Just maybe a bit picky.) But when my friend Jen and I discussed doing a race called the Warrior Dash, I immediately said yes. The Warrior Dash is a 5k obstacle course based on military training that is often seen in boot camp. There’s 10-12 obstacles that involve swimming, climbing up and over things (heights vary from 4 feet all the way up to 20-30 + feet), crawling through underground trenches where the sun doesn’t shine and there’s little wiggle room, and jumping over fire. Did I mention that I’m not a fan of open flame? There’s a reason I have an electric fireplace as opposed to a gas fireplace and I will never cook on a gas grill.

Anyway, Jen more or less told me how fun it was, as she had already done a few. So we signed up for one in North Lawrence, Ohio at some place called Clay’s Park Resort. A resort! Sweet! Initially I thought it was the type of place that had swimming pools complete with swim-up bars that I could belly up to and order a frothy adult beverage (with an umbrella, of course). However, I did a few minutes of research AFTER I committed to this race and I learned that Clay’s Park Resort is a campground. It didn’t have a nice chlorinated pool where I could see the bottom. No bar, either. That is NOT my idea of a resort.

The race weekend finally arrived and Jen drove the seven hours to my house from the Land of Cheese. We hopped in the car on Saturday afternoon and drove the 3 hours to North Lawrence. (No camping, we stayed at a nice hotel about 10 minutes from Clay’s Park. In beds that had clean sheets and within walking distance to a nice little place that had decent food and adult beverages. That’s how I roll.)

As we woke up at the buttcrack of dawn on Sunday, my nerves started going a little haywire. Okay, a lot haywire. As we inched closer to our start time, my palms started getting sweaty and my stomach tied up in knots. I’m no risk taker! What if I couldn’t do the obstacles? What if I got stuck way up high on something? What if a giant mutant fish/crab/waterzombie/snake wanted to eat me? What if I had to be carried off the course because I fell and bonked my head and slipped into a coma and a Lifetime movie was made out of my life? All of those thoughts and more struck me as we were waiting in the starting corral. Jen’s main concern was my hair. So as we were waiting in the overly packed starting corral surround by hundreds of people we didn't know, she French-braided it into two supercute pigtails. At least if I fell down, I’d have good hair.

When the starting gun exploded, something inside me clicked and we took off. All of the obstacles are in the last two miles of the course, so we ran on the rocky, hilly, wooded trail for a mile before we hit obstacle one. It was a little daunting, with an over/under concept that required upper body strength and flexibility. (Yay for all the yoga I’ve done, it really came in handy!)

I was really starting to get into the rhythm of things – until we hit the first water obstacle. It involved sliding feet first down a muddy embankment into water that was brown. No visibility whatsoever. Someone around me made a joke about malaria. Fabulous. As I slid into the water and started swimming, I concentrated on not swallowing any of it and just kept looking forward. I made it through to the other side and crawled up the muddy banks. Then I started running again. Whew.

Some of the next 7-8 of the obstacles were harder than others. Some required concentration and balance, others required us to use all of our muscles and rely on our partners. Only one was claustrophobia inducing. More than a few were in water. I’m happy to report that I did not get stuck on top of any obstacles, nor did I go around or take a pass on any. And just as we ran up yet another hill, I saw the final 3 obstacles. I followed Jen up a large rope netting, shimmied over the top and climbed back down the other side. Next, we jumped over a few rows of fire. Finally, we crawled on our stomachs through a massive mudpit, trying to avoid getting snagged by the barbed wire overhead. And by the time we climbed out of the mud, covered head to toe in grime and muck, I realized that I had FUN. Yes, it was a test of strength and determination. Yes, some of the obstacles were scary. But isn’t that what life is about? Finding out where our strength reserves are and digging into them so that we can move forward?

Overall, it was a fun weekend. Jen and I came in 120 and 121 out of 879 females in our age group that day. We drank cheap beer after the race and posed for pictures in our ultra-fashionable thrift store sunglasses. We were muddy, sore, tired, and exhilarated. It definitely wasn’t a typical girly weekend. And I’m still on track with my marathon training and only suffered a few scrapes.

But just for the record, I avoided the Porta-potties. They might’ve had clowns in them.