In one word - EXHAUSTED! If I add a few more...proud, thankful, blah, blah, blah.
Warrior Dash was EVERYTHING I had anticipated - a hot, fun, exhausting party full of wonderfully supportive people. But, it wasn't without trial. I didn't complete every obstacle, in spite of best of intentions, and therefore - yes, I WILL do it again!
The day was amazing. I got there right as I had planned, time-wise, and checked in while the day's temperatures rose, even up in the shady hills of North Plains, Oregon. Check-in was a breeze, and it was fun to see all manner of costumed dress, muddy post-race warriors (my wave was at noon, and many had started and finished before me). We set up camp for the family, and I set out to find my warrior and weight-loss friends. Unfortunately, with a crowd that large (THOUSANDS), it was impossible to find anyone.
I'd heard there was a WARRIOR WEDDING to take place during my heat, and I headed to the starting line to watch it happen. Upon arrival, I finally found three of my warrior friends. They took off for an up-close view of the nuptials, and I kept a look out for my supporters. Just before my wave took off, I found three separate groups of friends, and hugged and thanked them all. The wedding party took off, followed by the rest of my wave. (Pre-race, I never did find my other warrior friends.)
I found myself running down the first hill with the wave of folks, and felt a bit of a twinge in my knee, so I had a reality check about my pace - and slowed down. There were PLENTY of people behind me, and many walkers, so it was just fine. I'd been forewarned about the first mile - HILLS and more HILLS - very steep - and I was not at all surprised to be extremely challenged. I found myself at the back of the pack - with about half a dozen folks behind me. I kept trudging along, and up and up and up - and made it to the first obstacle - the pond with logs!
The water entry, to me, was refreshing...I was SO HOT by then. Others whined about how cool it was, but I trudged along in shoulder-high water to the first log. I attempted to hoist myself up and over, but the doggone log rolled me back - I didn't have enough "umph" on my own to make it roll over. Along came a couple of other slow gals - and we 1-2-3'd our way up and over all four logs (roll over, splash, dive, 1-2-3, roll over, splash, dive). It was actually quite fun!
Shortly after climbing the muddy slope out of the logs, we approached the tire run (think military school), and the junkyard jam - climbing over junkyard cars! MORE FUN! There were several climbing obstacles in succession, and I breezed through them. I was surprised how "able" I was to complete these - and felt really good about the training I had put in. The "rope" climb was the one I was most concerned about pre-race - but it was TRULY a breeze for me. I was surprised, and elated, as many of the people with and behind me just went around the obstacle.
At the half way point, I was starting to feel lethargic. I was 45 minutes or an hour into the race, and at the water station, I took on a couple of cups. The problem with this race is that it is nearly impossible to carry any nutrition with you (mud, water, and all), and the aid stations only offer water. (In training, I have a small snack every 45 minutes to hour, and electrolytes when I'm out that long.) So, I kept going.
Our family friend (and coach), Jeff, was supposed to start in the 1:00 wave. We had an agreement that he'd "kick my butt" if he caught me. Well, he cheated - and started with the 12:30 wave. I heard him coming around the corner just past the 1/2 way point - and hollering at me all the way. "Cross - I'm going to get you!" A little love-pat as he passed, and he was gone.
The next obstacle was a series of chest-high hurdles (walls) followed by barbed-wire you crawl under (over hurdle, under wire, over hurdle, under wire, etc.). I was zapped for energy, and made it up the wall, and proceeded to fling myself over - way over - landing hard, flat on my back. A wonderfully nice man (a runner) stopped and asked if I was OK. I assured him I was, and since I was already on the ground, proceeded to roll over and crawl under the barbed wire. I got up, and just stood in front of the next hurdle - staring it down! One of the course volunteers said, "You can go around." I looked at her and whined, "But, I don't WANT to!" She laughed. But, truly, I did not have it in me to try to heft myself up again. (Had I been in my right mind, I think I could have figured it out - but that's in hindsight.) I walked around the rest of the hurdle/wire obstacle.
At that point, I was mentally and physically distraught. The next obstacle was in sight, and as I got to it, I just couldn't bring myself to even try. I didn't think I could climb up, or do the jumping required. So, I walked around it, too. I was discouraged - to say the least.
Fortunately - as strange as it sounds - there was a BIG hill ahead. I talked to myself all the way up that hill - about what progress I've made (as opposed to the guys who commented that they should have trained more than two days - who had NO CLUE how far I've come this year), that I'm out there doing it, and so on. By the time I got to the top of the hill (slowly), I'd recovered my brain! I was going to finish strong!
There were several obstacles ahead, and one more LONG hill...but I took them one at a time - a scary one, a fun one, and so on.
Finally, I smelled the flames from the fire - which I knew was the next to last obstacle. That is were my family would be waiting, and I wanted so badly to RUN into view, and really leap over the flames. (Truly, the fire was the obstacle that scared me the most!) I stopped in a shady spot just around the bend from where I knew I'd be in view, took a few deep breaths, and set out for a strong finish.
As I rounded the corner - they didn't let me down. EVERYONE - my family, my WL support friends, my warrior coworkers - were all there hollering for me. I ran for the fire (the lower flames), and leapt over both lines. I walked to the next obstacle, hearing my son's best friend hollering, "That's my friend's mom - and I'm so proud of her!" (My heart melted for that boy!)
The last obstacle, was the one that I most looked forward to - the one that to me said, "This is Warrior Dash" - the MUD PIT! All of the photos I've seen of W.D. events show the mud-covered runners, and I wanted to be that person. I'd finally earned my turn!
I walked to the mud pit, and as I entered (via fanny), they sprayed me down. I splashed in (getting my face covered, and my eye full of muck), and rolled to my belly. They have you crawling under barbed wire - to keep you down in the mud. I did the belly-crawl under, and got to the other end. Getting out was hard, as I kept slipping back in. I finally stood up, and took one giant step out - on to the mud-slide at the end. (Think big, icky, slip-n-slide.) It was SO FUN, and SO FAST sliding down that I nearly took out a guy at the end, who was trying to help his injured wife out. (I had no control over the situation.) He saw me at the last minute, and straddled, and I zoomed between his legs (FOR REAL!) as everyone in the audience roared. I hit the hay-bales at the end (the "stoppers"), and it was over.
The volunteer staff at the end were there with cups of water for your face and hands, bananas and chocolate milk for "recovery" (not this bariatric patient's recovery choice, mind you), and oodles of people offering hugs and medals for finishing. My fellow-warriors had no problem hugging me, but I even had one dear WLS friend who hugged me in her every day clothes! Nancy's a trooper!
The family said they'd meet me at the car, as I headed to the "Warrior Wash" - a communal pond which by that point looked like chocolate milk. It was refreshing to get the first layer soaked off. On your way out, you dropped off your muddy shoes to be recycled, and I headed home. As I was leaving, the missing coworker-warrior group was just heading to the pond for their dip - so we finally connected - and I handed them my "free beer" coupon.
What a fantastic day! THIS is the event that I dreamed about...THIS is LIVING MY FIT DREAMS!
On a final note, the Warrior Wash might have got the outer layer - but under garments hold LOTS of mud! LOL! Nostrils, and ears, too. - Just in case you were wondering!