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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm a WARRIOR!

I did it!

Yes, after 7 months of waiting, I am finally worthy of the Warrior title.

I signed up for the Warrior Dash back in January. Right before the new year, a friend told me about it and said I should do it. At first I thought Yeah Right, but that thought was immediately replaced by Heck Yeah I Should!!! I thought it would be a great fitness goal to work toward, so I convinced Hubby it was a good idea, and we signed up.

As far as preparation, I planned to get strong by running, weight training and adding in lots of plyo-type body weight exercises. I figured pulling my own weight would be the best way to prepare for, well, pulling my own weight up walls and over obstacles. I also intended to drop 15-20 pounds but, well, that didn't happen. Moving on...

Prep went well up until THREE WEEKS before the Warrior Dash. One morning I went to the gym and loaded up a bar with 100 pounds to do some standard squats. No big deal, do it all the time. I'm generally very careful with form, too, so I don't get injured, but for some reason this day I was at the bottom of a squat and SOMETHING gave. My back wrenched in pain and for a while I couldn't even stand up straight. I hurt myself. It was really painful.

I went to the chiropractor and she took X-rays and found I'd compressed a lumbar disk. The adjustments she did on me over the next three weeks helped a lot, and I also was basically forced into resting. No real workouts. The back pain was (and is) still there but I'm trying to take it easy and it is getting better slowly.

Still, I was very, very worried about what this would mean for the Dash. I figured I'd still do it, but take it easy. Especially since Hubby and I had planned to leave right after the race for a 4-day backpacking trip. My goal had gone from rocking the race to just finishing without further injury, even if that meant walking it. I was kind of bummed but told myself it could be worse.

July 30 arrived and Hubby and I headed to Mt. Morris. We were running at 11 a.m. and it promised to be a very hot, steamy day. We got there and it was NUTS. Like a mix between Renaissance Festival and Lollapalooza. Loud music, mud-covered people drinking beer and eating turkey legs at 10 a.m., Viking helmets, people in costumes... Pure chaos. FUN!

I think the best costume I saw was Lt. Dangle from Reno 911. It was awesome! I ran by a dude in a wedding dress and another dude in full hockey goalie gear. There was a couple in front of me who had matching shirts. His said "It's not mud, it's shit" and hers said "it's not shit, it's mud." Personally, I think at times it was a little bit of both!

We met up with a couple friends and lined up for our race. I was representing the girl power in my pink camo shirt I'd found just for the event.

Here we are before the race, still clean





It was already so hot out, and when the race began, the first leg was on this sandy, sunny trail. I now call that the Desert Obstacle and I honestly think it was the most difficult part of the race. The crush of people running (they allowed 500 to run per wave) kept me from going too hard at the beginning and I think that was a good thing.

The obstacles began about a mile into the race. (3.1 mile race, 13 obstacles). The first one was a lot of tires to run through and then you had to scramble over some junk cars, then more tires, then more cars, then more tires.

Then there was an over-under obstacle that was made up of a chest-high wall to go over, then knee-high barbed wire to go under, wall, wire, wall, wire. Being a short girl, this obstacle was pretty easy for me. I think my upper body strength helped because some other women have reported having trouble getting over the walls. I was pleased that it wasn't hard.

Then came a refreshing dip in a lake. We ran into the lake and had to go over huge floating logs. I don't remember how many of them there were. Six or seven maybe? The water felt SO GOOD!

I don't remember the order of the next obstacles, but there was a big wall to climb (maybe 16 feet or something? There was a rope and some boards to help. It was cool. I did well here, too.

There was a "blackout" obstacle that was covered in black tarps. You had to crawl 30 feet through pitch blackness. It was like a SAUNA in there!

There was a sort of up-down-up-down-up-down platform covered in cargo nets to get across. I'd heard a hint beforehand to ROLL across it, so I did, and blew past everyone else who was trying to pick across it on their hands and feet.

There was a series of planks going up and down that you had to balance walk across. Easy Peasy.

There was a giant deep mud bog in the woods and a log to cross it on. Many people were opting to skip the log, but the mud was so deep. I saw a lot of people get stuck and a lot of people lose their shoes in there. Being only 5'4", I waited for the log. I had to WAIT too. It was kind of annoying to stop and wait in the middle of a race. After the logs, there was a very slick, steep mud hill to climb (got to see lots of people lose it here!) and then a bunch of up-down hills in the woods. This mud obstacle section was just a lot of fun! You got to get dirty and it was challenging.

"Arachnophobia" came after that. It was a big tangle of ropes, from head to feet, criss-crossing in all directions, and you had to make your way through that. There was this really tall guy in front of me and I actually just kind of slipped through behind him. I didn't intend to, it just worked out that way.

There was another really high wall to climb, just with pegs, and on the other side, your option for getting down was a knotted rope. I hear this one gave people some trouble too. I was good, though. What got me was after I dropped off the rope into the hay and started running, the hay was DEEP and I stumbled for a second.

The last obstacles came right at the end of the race. A big cargo net to climb--my FAVORITE! It was awesome! I guess I am made for cargo nets because I scrambled up and over and down that thing like a spider monkey. Felt so good!

Here's a photo I snapped of some people on the net after I finished my race



Then you had to jump a couple sets of Warrior fires. The fire was actually kind of weak when I hit this obstacle. I did a big ballet leap over the flames. The on-site photographers got a shot of me going over, but at the price they charge, forget it!

Here's a shot of some random dude jumping the fire.



The last thing was the mud pit. It was deepish, but as some poor guy learned, not deep enough for crazy diving. He was paralyzed from the neck down on this obstacle. It's so sad that someone's life could be so altered from a fun event.

After you plunged into the deep mud, you had to crawl under some more wire to get to the finish.



After I stood up I was so heavy with mud and the ground was so slick, I couldn't really run. I kind of lumbered to the finish.

And... here's Hubby and me, covered in mud!





Afterward, they had this huge tank truck shooting out water. This was the first time I've ever showered in public with 500 other people. Weird. And I wasn't all that clean afterward.



Hubby and I headed to the car to change into clean clothes. We found there were some water spigots in the parking area (this was held at a fairgrounds) so we got a little more cleaned up there.

I still wasn't very clean though. I know this because later, I used an outhouse and when I wiped... MUD. Ugh.

After changing our clothes, we went back in and got our free beer and took in the sights. Mmmmm refreshing!



The timing chips we tied to our shoes were our free beer token.



We also donated our abused shoes. Somehow, they take this mountain of muddiness and reuse it to provide footwear for people who don't have any.




Hubby and I enjoyed the Warrior Dash more than longer, endurance-style racing. Neither of us are built to be real runners, but we both had an easy time with the obstacles. We have already signed up for next year's Warrior Dash and are looking into the Dirty Dog Dash in September. It looks to be a similar setup as the Warrior Dash.

As for my injury, I ended up OK for the race and the backpacking trip. I didn't have any resulting pain other than the normal nagging been-kicked-in-the-back-repeatedly sensation I've had since the day I hurt it, so that was good.

I am looking forward to getting into even better shape for next year's race and seeing how much better I can do. I wasn't happy with my time for this year's race. It took me 49 minutes and 57 seconds, making me #242 out of the 879 females age 35-39 who ran it. This was a 16:07 per mile pace (OUCH!) A lot of that was due to waiting at the obstacles and walking after the obstacles, too, though, not just my general slowness! :)

My goal is to beat that time next year by as much as possible.

Oh, and the pink camo shirt? Didn't make it. The only thing I saved that I wore was my shorts. Everything else was beyond salvage.

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