I completed my second Warrior Dash last week, this time alongside my incredible brother. I was super scared heading into it as I hadn’t trained the way I had before my last one, and I knew the obstacles were going to be tougher. I’m not running like I was before the last one either, and my fear of heights is no better than it has ever been.
Essentially, I was incredibly nervous and scared. My brother wasn’t feeling much more confident, but we went into the day trying to focus on the excitement, the fun, and the INCREDIBLE pride and gratitude that we’d managed to raise money for St Jude’s and get access to the special Warriors tent (yay showers!).
This year’s race was…really, really hard. A lot more mud, a lot more soggy, squishy distances, and a MEGATON of super steep hills to navigate. It was incredibly difficult before we ever saw the first obstacle. I managed a pretty hard fall down a very muddy hill, so I was scraped up on my right side and feeling a little tweak in my back.
First up? I’m not sure I remember the right order anymore, but I’m pretty sure it was crawling through a tunnel. I was fine with it, except the rocks hurt my knees a little. Another obstacle involved crawling under a tarp (there was a little light) and then over a wall – it was called Shocktop Unfiltered thanks to the awesome sponsor. Got that one too. Crawling under barbed wire? Done. Crawling through the Pipeline-a raised tunnel made from rope-was actually sort of fun and resulted in a pretty cool photo.
It’s entirely possible that this is my new favorite picture of me. I was coming out of the Pipeline and I felt awesome. I felt strong and happy and I was kind of having fun. Now that I’m thinking about it, I think I skipped something in there. In short, it ended up that there were obstacles I skipped. The first one was a height thing…I got a little over halfway up and just couldn’t make it over. I froze and shook and my brother had to help me down. The second one was the Warrior Peak, which I should have tried and didn’t because I was afraid I didn’t have the upper arm strength to make it happen and I didn’t want to fall again. Number three was Diesel Dome, which was where the frustration started to set in. Again, it was the fear of heights that got me on this one, but I’d managed to complete a slightly lower version of the same one in my previous WD and not getting through this one was where I started to struggle. I was mad at myself, and kept going back again and again in my head to the idea that I should have done more or tried harder.
I kept pushing through, and I got through the Trenches just fine. My brother was amazing and stayed with me through everything, and I am so happy he was there with me. I skipped Deadman’s Drop, mostly out of fear of heights but at this point also out of a bit of deflated confidence. We got through the Mud Mounds without anything more than another good layer of dirt, which… who even can tell, right?
Finally we were down to the end of the race, and stood facing the biggest, highest obstacle yet. Goliath. up a super high cargo net, down a much shorter one, across a narrow plank over cold water with water jets hitting from all sides, down a water slide and into a super muddy pool of very cold water. Honestly, I was sort of looking forward to the water slide.
I stood looking at the net for a bit, and maybe that was my mistake? I don’t know. I felt like I could do it. I started climbing. I got about halfway up, and I froze. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t go up or down or sideways. Honestly, I wasn’t even freaking out. I’d just gone entirely blank and utterly immobile. My poor brother stood beside me and waited it out. I finally managed to get back down from the net, where I stood off to the side shaking as my heart rate finally dropped a little. And then I cried.
I was so disappointed in myself. I was frustrated with the fear, mad at my body, and certain I could blame a fair portion of my lack of stellar performance on my failings when it came to nutrition and/or weight loss. I hadn’t trained. I hadn’t tried hard enough. I hadn’t…I didn’t…I couldn’t…I wasn’t.
Did I even deserve this? Does it even count to wear that finishers medal? I was coming unraveled, and the only reason I made it through was because my brother was there. He took my hand. He reminded me how awesome we both were for even showing up. He made me smile, maybe even laugh a little, and we went around the obstacle. But internally? I was still so MAD at myself. I tried to shake it off, and we made our way through the last two obstacles, by far the most fun.
We held hands as we jumped the fire for the Warrior Roast. In that moment, maybe I did forget the rest of the crap. I was having fun. We were laughing and smiling and being silly. We could see the finish line and we knew we were moments from crossing it, collecting our medals, and enjoying our showers and free beers.
We jumped right into the Muddy Mayhem mud pit, and happily dragged ourselves through the muck as everyone got kicked and squelched and spattered. I honestly love that part. Like so much. Yes, it’s gross. It’s also awesome. And at that point you’re so tired and wet and muddy and sweaty and sandy that you don’t care anymore.
We did finished. We crossed that finish line. We stood on the other side of that mud pit and laughed a little. We’d done it. We’d finished the race, imperfect though it may have been. We’d collect our medals, get clean, grab some food, and revel in our official status as 2014 Warrior Dash finishers.
As I always do when I finish a WD, I felt pretty darned awesome. I felt strong and amazing and energized and wonderful. I loved knowing we’d done it. We drank our beers (we had Shocktop Honeycrisp Apple Wheat and it was INCREDIBLE) and had some hot dogs. I’m not a huge hot dog fan, so it was probably the fatigue that made these taste like the Best Food Ever.
We got cleaned up, drove home, took real showers… and then it set in again. The doubt, the disappointment, the frustration. Do I get to be proud of this if I completed it imperfectly? Can I claim WARRIOR status if I didn’t conquer every obstacle? It took me a few days to finally find my answer.
Yes. HELL YES. I conquered a lot more than a few obstacles. I conquered ME. The doubt, the disappointment, even the fear. I faced them up, the best I could, and I finished the race. I’m incredibly proud of myself, of my brother, and I WILL be doing another WD sometime very soon.