Warrior Dash 2012: Conquered… mostly.
First, some off topic notes.
1. Today’s Green Monster smoothie – 2 bananas, 1/4 cup 0% vanilla Chobani, 1tbsp hot fudge ice cream topping, 3 cups baby spinach. Awesome.
2. The Activia experiment went awry. Unless I had a smoothie, which doesn’t happen every day, I would forget to eat the yogurt. I do think it was helping, but I didn’t love the taste and hated having to eat a certain food every day. I’ve switched now, per the advice of a pharmacist, to Phillips Colon Health. I leave the bottle next to my bed and take one every night before I sleep. It’s been almost a week now, and I am seeing a small but significant improvement. So… yay? I’m giving the pills a month to make a difference, and if I don’t see big changes in that time, I’ll start elimination diets to see if I have a food trigger.
Now… on to much more important things.
We left my house at 8am on Saturday morning to make the one hour drive to the event site, since we’d been instructed to get there at least an hour and a half before our 10:30 wave time. We’d also heard that you could start in earlier or later waves if you wanted, so we figured we’d just get there, pick up our packets, pee, and get into the first wave we could.
The drive was quick and easy, and we didn’t actually hit traffic until we were a few car lengths away from the parking lot. We got in easily, parked quickly, and made the walk down to get our packets. The atmosphere was already crazy and awesome, and we could see the crowd around the huge tanker trucks where the morning’s first waves were already getting hosed down with the COLDEST WATER ON EARTH. Music was loud, muddy people were everywhere, and the whole place was downright festive. Everyone looked happy. A surprising number of people had already started on beers, which was weird for me since it was 9am. All the same, everyone was super happy.
We stood for a while watching the finishers leap over fire. Interestingly enough, from where we stood we couldn’t see the final mud pit, so we started out pretty confused as to how the fire jumpers looked reasonably clean but people all over the place were totally covered in mud. We figured it out soon enough though…
We picked up our packets, pinned on our race bibs, and donned our super awesome furry warrior hats. I was still super excited at this point, and ready to conquer the whole thing. There were a lot of people around us in the parking lot, and everyone was pretty amped up and ready to go. I was pleased to see that although there were a TON of super fit people, not everyone looked like an Olympian. People of all shapes and sizes were there to be warriors. It was super inspiring, and made me feel like the whole thing was slightly (just slightly) less insane for me to be attempting.
Once we felt reasonably settled, we jumped into the corral and waited. My excitement was quickly switching to MAJOR nerves. Man, I was getting SO nervous. There was an MC who was trying to get us engaged, but everyone was so focused on the starting line that it wasn’t working very well. He launched a beach ball into the crowd, and it promptly fell down over and over again before being totally abandoned. As we stood there, I looked around and noticed we were completely surrounded by super fit looking people, which got my nerves going again. The clock finally counted down, and we passed over the start line and under huge towers of fire. Man, they gave off a ton of heat. I remember thinking as I passed under them that maybe I should be afraid of the fire at the end, which was scaring my race partner but hadn’t been an issue for me, just because of the heat.
So… first off was a trail run. I’m not used to trails and I was wearing terrible shoes for running, so I was slipping a lot. There was a TON of mud and several (probably intentional) huge puddles in the middle of the track. It was very narrow for how many people started in our wave, but it thinned out soon enough as fast people took off. It felt like everyone was passing us, which was making me feel a little bad about myself…. but I was trying. I probably could have run all of the distances between obstacles, but we’d made a pact to stick together so we walked a far amount. I ended up charging right through the mud puddles instead of trying to skirt the edges. I figured the faster I got dirty, the easier it would be. Plus, the edges were super crowded and people kept falling.
And then came the obstacles. I’m going to try to talk about them in order, but I don’t really have a clear memory of what happened when, so I’m sure they’ll end up jumbled.
Barricade Breakdown – this was a section of alternating barricade and barbed wire, so you had to go up and over, then down and under. It was pretty easy for me and made me feel good about moving forward. I’m short, so I had to really work to get my leg up over the walls, so my goal for next year is more upper body strength so I can just lift myself up instead of climbing. The barbed wire bits were super easy, but super dirty.
Cargo Climb – Oh man. Have I mentioned my fear of heights? Well, apparently it’s worse than I thought. I got all the way to the top of the cargo net, then froze and was completely unable to move. At this point we were surrounded by the serious racers with time on their minds, so people were getting pissed. I finally just crawled back down the way I came up, shaking and in tears. I was pretty embarrassed at this point and seriously considered bailing… but my race buddy was going strong so I kept moving.
Giant Cliffhanger – This was HUGELY challenging for me, since it meant pulling myself up a considerable incline on a knotted rope in slippery shoes. Note for next year: grippy shoes. I made it up, but barely. Then I promptly froze at the top again when it was time to transition over and down the other side. Thankfully this time I was surrounded by helpful, supportive warriors who helped me up and over. I came down, shaking and relieved to be back on the ground. Being the second climbing obstacle, at this point I was super thankful for the gardening gloves I’d tucked into my waistband. For next year? Don’t forget gloves.
Deadman’s Drop – in which I sustain my first injury… this one involved climbing up a lower wall then dropping down the other side. I made it up and over, terrified but managing (I think this one was much lower), then managed to successfully snag my shirt on the wood of the drop wall and drag my bare stomach along the wall all the way down. It hurt. It still hurts. I covered it in Neosporin and now instead of looking like the plague, I just look like I was attacked by a particularly stomach-favoring horde of large, angry mosquitoes. I wore my gloves on this one too.
Warrior Wall – Another one I didn’t finish. I just didn’t have the upper arm strength, and there weren’t enough people around to offer help. This one was straight up with a rope, and straight down the other side. I sweated and pulled and tugged and just couldn’t do it. I think my approach might have been wrong, but again… need more upper body strength.
Hell’s Hill – Meh. Big hill. Go up. Go down. Was it tough? Sure, but cardio is my sweet spot. Bring it on.
Storming Normandy – Okay, this part was straight fun. Army crawling under lengths of barbed wire. Awesome.
Petrifying Plunge – Dude, this was a huge water slide. AWESOME. The water was unimaginably cold. About halfway down I was going so fast that for a moment I felt a touch of fear. Then I hit the huge, freezing pool at the bottom and scrambled up, laughing like a drenched hyena, to hop out of the way of oncoming warriors. That part rocked. Lesson for next year: wear fitted, non-cotton clothing since the cotton stuff I had on got so bogged down with water that I felt like I gained twenty pounds.
Trenches – logs were laid across long trenches. Everyone in front of us was just hopping over the logs, so we did the same. It was super easy. As we were going through though, one guy dove down and went through the trenches. Maybe that was what you were meant to do? It certainly looked fun and probably wouldn’t have been harder, though it was significantly dirtier!
Teetering Traverse – this was a zig zag path (side view –> /\_/\_/\) over creaky, shaky boards. I froze in a crouch at the top of the first peak. There was a staff worker on that one (most had been empty of staff) who held my hand to get me across. Thank God for him.
Weirdly Spaced Out Up&Over – not the actual name of this one, but I couldn’t find it on the site. Climb up (freeze at top, get help/support from beefy guys of awesomeness), climb over, climb down. Scared, but done. Glad for the gloves again.
Chaotic Crossover – cargo nets stretched over wooden frames. I wore the gloves again. I moved slow, putting hands and knees on the knots for stability. I was nervous, but got over just fine, if quite slowly. My knees, however, are a mess. Both are one giant bruise now. Battle scars, right? Note for next year: try bear crawling instead.
We went down one final crazy steep hill, which was best conquered by just running as fast as we could, before we could see the end in site!
Warrior Roast – My run buddy conquered her fear of the fire like a boss! I jumped right over. I could feel the heat, but it was super fun. I know there were pro cameras at this point (also at the top of one of the many, many hills and near the chaotic crossover) but I was too thrilled about being so close to done to care. I’m sure the pro pics, which should be out in a few days, are going to look straight up ridiculous. I’m also sure I don’t care and will post them everywhere.
Muddy Mayhem – I saw my race buddy hesitate at this one. It’s the final stretch, just before the finish line, and you have no choice but to go belly down under barbed wire into a DEEP pit of wet, slimy, stinky mud. Everyone was positive it was manure. Trust me (I went to high school in a cowfield, people) it was not poop. It was just silty, mineral laden mud laced with a fair amount of decomposing plant matter. Gross? Not really. It was tough to move though. It was so deep that it was super hard to get a hand/foothold to propel yourself forward. One guy was back-stroking through it like a pool. No idea how he managed that. I pushed and pushed and pushed, mostly using my feet, and made it through. My race buddy was struggling pretty hard, so I stopped to wait for her. Several minutes passed before I remembered that I hadn’t crossed the chip mat yet, so I hopped over it and waited for her on the other side.
I used my hands to push off as much of the mud as I could, then several cups of water to try and clean my hands. Pointless. We had left our cameras/phones in the car, so I stopped a random stranger and asked if she’d use her iPhone to take our picture then email it to me. Thankfully, she was more than willing.
Mud everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I felt like such a total superhero. It was incredible. My race bud was pretty worn out though, so we headed off to get hosed down. The water was insanely, paralyzingly cold and people were crowding in big time. We spent about twenty minutes fighting for time under the hoses before giving up. Here’s what a difference it made:
We look so clean, right? Heh. Note for next year? Be a St. Jude’s Warrior, which means access to private showers along with the chance to support an awesome cause.
That awesome pic was taken by the cool people from Bear Naked Granola, who were handing out free packets of granola along with the pictures. I chose the vanilla almond Fit granola, which was sadly not-so-good. Race friend got the maple pecan, which was absolutely delicious. Lesson learned: choose the granola that sounds good, not the one that sounds healthy.
We picked up our free beers, but race buddy didn’t want hers, so I drank them both. Somewhere, there’s another stranger with an iPhone pic of me holding two beers… but his never showed up in my email, so I may never see the glory of that pic. We were headed out when we figured out we weren’t allowed to leave with the beers, so I chugged 32oz of Miller Lite in like ten minutes while we waited in line to donate our grotesque shoes. Lesson for next year: plan to spend more time post-race. I would have liked to browse the merch tents and vendors too.
We headed back to the car, stripped to our underwear in full view of everyone in the parking lot, laughed about how much mud fell out of our sports bras, toweled off the best we could, and changed in to dry (but now no longer clean) clothes.
I donned my fuzzy hat again (hey, I earned it!) and we headed home. I was pleasantly relaxed (thanks, beer!) and snacked on my sub-par granola for the rest of the ride home. At least the granola was free, came with an awesome photo op, gave me another free tiny caribiner, and had a cool bag, right?
We made it home without issue and headed straight to the showers, then took the kids (and Aaron, of course) out for a nice lunch to celebrate our victory. We ran into two other people wearing their Warrior shirts, which was pretty cool.
The shirts they gave us were super nice. I am totally wearing mine under my cardigan at work today. I’m sore. I’m proud. My only regret/frustration? I honestly believe that my biggest obstacle bar-none was mental. I think I could have done everything on that course if I could have beaten my fear of heights.
Here’s where I need your help! How do I conquer a crippling fear of heights?
In the meantime, I’m already making plans and trying to form a team for next year. I WILL do this again, and I will improve every year. Evi’s already talking about doing it with me and is super pissed that she’s not allowed until she’s 14. I can’t wait to be a Warrior family. Her Future Warrior tee shirt is already on its way.