Saturday, August 20, 2011

Obstacles to Sanity

There were sure a lot of men in skirts. I'm still not quite clear about the reasoning behind that particular trend.

"You're CRAZY!" is what I heard every time I showed anybody the course of the Warrior Dash. They'd have a perplexed look on their face for a while and I'd say "I just REALLY want to do it!". Yeah, I know, it's not the most descriptive reason to do... a thing.

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There were all kinds of people there, old, fat, fit, very young, smokers, non-smokers, hippies, rockers...this race was pretty much the great equalizer of all races. I thought people were weird at marathons. OH NO, I'm pretty sure the weirdness factor was over 90% at the Warrior Dash in Minnesota on July 23rd and 24th, 2011

The two boa girls were with me for the start of the race. I ran into the green boa girl along the way. She was struggling a little and her friend had left her in the dust. I ran with her for a little bit but I was feeling really good so I didn't linger with her for too long. I feel kind of bad about that.
There were hundreds of people in each wave, one half hour after another, all day long. My wave was at noon. It just so happened that my friend, Nicole's wave was at 12:30 so we drove together and supported each other for the days leading up to and on the day of the race. It was nice to have a friend there to figure it all out and take it all in with me. It was also great to have her experience the whole thing so we could hash it out afterwards. It was very difficult to process, as it's unlike anything I've ever done before. It wasn't a race, it wasn't a run, it was almost like a playground for grown-ups. The mud and the hills defined EVERYTHING about that day!
"At the end of the race, there are water and bananas for you." Um, yeah. Sure. Yum.
I tried to engage a lot of people in conversation, even during the race. Usually, a race is such a deeply personal thing but this was much different. This was almost like a bonding experience. I made sure to try to encourage people who were struggling and sympathize with those who were running alongside me at times. I wanted to take in the beautiful scenery around me (it was in a ski resort in the summer on a beautiful day in Minnesota! What's not to love about that?) instead of focus on the path in front of me, which is what I would usually do for a road race, especially a lousy 5k. This was NO "lousy 5k"!
As we were leaving, throngs of people were just getting there. I would tell them as we passed, "Beware of the hills! They're killer!" I thought that was very helpful of me.
The very first obstacle was just a giant hill. They didn't really tout that as a true obstacle but most people I talked to afterward agreed that the hills were way harder to handle, mentally and physically, than the man-made obstacles.
This picture was of me AFTER I had "washed up". I went to the grocery store like that. I don't think the customers appreciated that very much. I got a lot of very funny looks.
The expression on the faces of each of the people I saw crossing the finish line (before my wave) was very hard to read. I saw them slog through the final obstacle, a giant mud pit covered in a bunch of barbed wire, with dead-pan faces. I couldn't tell if they were enjoying it, just glad it was over, or just too tired to care? Either way, the amount of mud covering each person was daunting. I wondered if I could even finish the race or if I might get hurt. It was kind of nerve-wracking to think that I'd look like THAT by the end of the race. Not that it made any difference at that point. I was already so muddy from the finishers rubbing past me on the grounds before I even ran! I saw the finishers walking toward the end of the grounds where a giant water blaster was shooting water to "wash off" the bulk of the mud. The people were swarming up against a mesh fence in an effort to get just a little bit of the mud off of them. The result was that they were no longer covered in the thick, 20 pounds of goo but that they were still, by any one's standard, VERY dirty!
Me and Weazy on the chairlift
My wave time was announced so I got in line toward the end. I figured that it would be much nicer to pass more people than would pass me and, since I had no actual time goal, I really just wanted to kind of take it all in and enjoy the day.
I gave Weazy and Sara (my only cheering section for the day) tickets to ride the chair lift to see me up on top of the hill (they missed me but enjoyed the ride...I didn't know that they'd have to WALK down the hill! Haha!) and we were off! I knew that I'd be able to handle a light jog for a couple hundred feet but that the first hill would be killer (I had seen it on the way in) so I took it easy. My strategy was to MARCH up the hills, try to jog down them, and at least jog in between all of the obstacles. I did pretty well on all of those goals. I never really "walked" except for up the hills. My legs were pretty much numb from using muscles I didn't even know I had after a while. I did do a lot of the stair climber at home before the race...thank GOD I did! I would have been sore for weeks if I hadn't somewhat trained for all those hills!
Linda, Nicole, and Laura...ALL "crazymama"s!
The walls and things to climb over were many but that part was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. The mud pit at the end was the most surprising. I remember stepping into it and the strange, immediate feeling that this was SO wrong and that I needed to get OUT of that mucky stuff as soon as humanly possible. I remember hearing this giant man yelling at me to "GET DOWN, GET DOWN, YOU DON'T WANT TO SNAG ON THE BARBED WIRE!" and me, in my tired rebelliousness was thinking (really loudly at him) "SHUT UP, YOU FOOL. I'M TIRED AND I'M TRYING TO FINISH WITH THE MOST DIGNITY I CAN MUSTER AND THIS CHICK IN FRONT OF ME IS GOING SO SLOW!"
Unfortunate clinginess of clothing. This is not a very flattering picture, but it's what I looked like, I guess.
In the end, I wasn't content to just finish but I wanted to finish with as much speed as I could and try as hard as I could through the whole thing so I would have a good "control" for the next year's Warrior Dash...which I FULLY intend to enter! I wasn't in it for a good time but rather to HAVE a good time! Maybe next year, I'll actually have a better, faster time than this year and possibly some family members and more friends with me IN the race too!
I was in ‎396th place for our age group (35-39) on the satrun Overall number: 2625 Time:52:09.00 minutes per mile:17:16 I think there were over 800 women in my age group. Funny little tidbit was that Nicole and I ran different waves but she was only three seconds behind me in time and just a few places after me! She was running with another friend and her friend told me that she held Nicole back so I'm sure Nicole (who recently lost a lot of weight and is in way better shape than I am) could've been even faster had she been on her own. I sort of wish I had been with someone who had slightly more ambition than I did so I'd have been pushed just a bit more but I think I did pretty well all on my own.

I can't believe how the mud stuck to me in places I didn't even barely know I had places. I had to take a shower and two baths before I could get that stuff off of me and out of every crevice and crack. The worst was my feet and hands. I think because we have so many wrinkles and crinkles on those things. I had to buy a pedicure kit with a pumice stone and nail brush and some of those scrubby gloves and a bath pouf and take a soaking bath to get the final crud off of me.
  I've worn my Warrior Dash T-shirt (the white one you see in the pictures) to a few places since then and I ALWAYS get comments about it. The other day, I was walking out of Goodwill with four kids and these two guys walked in after me then walked out as I was walking out. The one guy looks at me and throws his hands up in the air in an "I am thee champeen" pose and yells "Warrior Dash! Woo!". Then he got into his car and drove away.
  I just smiled and kept walking to the car. I understood he was unashamed to do that goofy, public display because we had a bond (along with a few thousand other MN folks). We are all self proclaimed "warriors" in the battle of the mind and body against obstacles we have placed in our own paths. We actually PAID to slog through that mud and climb those nasty hills and jump over those impossible barriers! We came out on the other side fatigued, grubby, slightly cranky, uncomfortable and with goofy grins. We are all very pleased with ourselves and can't wait to do even better next year!
Most people wore old shoes because they knew they'd be all beaten up after the race. I brought some flip flops and dropped my old shoes in the pile along with thousands of others. They are washed up and donated.
 Nicole lost her husband to cancer almost 2 years ago and is raising 4 children on her own now. She lost a ton of weight and looks better than she did in high school and is working out nearly every day because she needs to be here for her kids. I know that there are far more challenging things to face in life than a silly race where you get to climb over old cars and have water sprayed at you but the whole thing taught me some great lessons about my fellow man. I realized that each person there had a story and a reason for trying to get through the race course and face VERY public humiliation. I pictured the words of each of their stories on their foreheads, like little signs proclaiming their particular battles to the world "My mom died last year." "I have a bad back and I'm overweight." "I have a drinking problem but I'm getting better." "I'm young and healthy but there's diabetes in the family." "I have 7 children and I've been feeling lumpy lately and need a goal to get off my lazy butt and finally do something about it."
These two fire pits are right at the end of the race. I jumped over it with flair for the girls to take a picture. It didn't turn out but I just saw it on the race photo site and it's quite something. I may have to get a copy, just for myself to look at and laugh and laugh.
 Just threw that last one in there, you know, specific reason.
Weazy took this one. It perfectly captures how gross the mud pit was.

Since this is my first and probably last post for the month of August, I'll just end it by writing that it's been a very exhausting summer and that I'm looking forward to fall and school and being a little more organized (for at least a few weeks at the beginning of the school year, anyway) and maybe getting back into checking out how my blog friends are doing. I've been really bad about keeping up with my in-person friends, much less spending any great amounts of time on the computer. I think the magic number of kids is seven. It's the tipping point of responsibility. No more long baths, long phone calls, or sit around in your pajama days for this mom! Time to grow up, I guess.