For some reason I wasn’t my usual pre-race nerve wreck of a self at the start line. My mood was more, “tea and snuggles” than it normally is – even before an easy run. Only the reality of the situation was that I was an overly-caffeinated and overly-competitive runner standing at the start line of the Warrior Dash with a bunch of spandex clad elite athletes foaming at the bit to run away from me with all manner of physical and mental challenge on route. So, no cuddles.
Usually when the gun goes off, I blast out of the gate as fast as my little legs can muster and sink into a pace that probably won’t blow my heart up. Today, I leisurely jogged out… and up the steep little hill to the sand track that separated the boys from the men so early on.
I entertained myself by trying to find some footing that didn’t sink when I stepped on it. Sometimes the hard pack was on the side of the path, sometimes in the middle on the tractor rut. But every time, the footing gave way to a deep enough sand that would not let you run with any sort of power or grace.
“Wait, is that guy wearing jean shorts?”
Time to get moving.
When the sand turned to grass on a long flat section, I made a strategic decision to get ahead of said guy in jean shorts (and whoever else I could) so I wouldn’t get stuck behind at the obstacles. It would have been interesting to see how tight wet jean shorts worked out for him but alas…
The obstacles were good and fast – not too technical: walls with ropes, cargo net climbs, trail running on a rooty little trail. Easy enough.
I had a solid enough lead, was comfortable and hadn’t even let one mom curse word out.
I did take the pyramid climb a little fast and sloppy. Being the “obstacle clutz” as my husband calls me, I slipped and nearly came off at the top. I’m pretty used to slipping and as such, normally just catch myself and move on… like it was all part of the plan. I’m pretty sure the poor man beside me was thoroughly terrified though… if I’m to judge by the primal noise that came out of him when he saw me nearly slip off head first.
I then ran into a series of dug outs with dirt piled up between. Maybe more accurately, I fell into a series of dug outs with dirt piled between. Having “done this one before”, I thought the water would be about knee deep, give or take. In reflection, this is usually where my OC races go very very wrong: when I think I’m stepping into a shallow pit.
As I swam across and started trying to claw my way up the slippery mud pile, a herd of people (including the two much smarter ladies behind me) leapt across and scampered up. See ya later sucka.
Slew of mommy curse words ensue. Well, fudge it all, so much for not cursing out Ned Flanders style for once.
That’s the thing about OCRs. Things can (and so often do) change fast. In road racing, it’s unlikely that you’ll fall into a giant hole of mud or water and get stuck.
That’s the best and worst part about OCRs. The unknown. Just about anything could happen out there. All you can control is how you react to what comes at you. And you can never be sure how you’ll place until you cross that finish line.
I finally managed to haul myself up the crumbly dirt bank after a number of unsuccessful strategies and one barely successful one.
There were more walls, climbs and crawls. There was more running. There was a neat circular tube net that you had to drag yourself through which was a lot of fun once I realized that one should be upside down and really propelling with their legs.
As soon as I saw the Warrior Roast (fire jump), I knew the end was near. They never just throw a random fire jump in midway. No, it’s near quittin’ time.
The barb wire crawl was really more water than mud… so more swim than crawl. It was hard up figure out exactly what was the fastest way. A lady behind me even got up to run since the barb wire was really spaced out. That definitely would have been the fastest way.
At this point I realized that she was really close, and that being passed would knock me off the podium and my shot at the World Championships.
The last obstacle was a net climb up and a plank walk over a large drop with ropes on either side. The plank was much wider than my foot and didn’t require much in the way of balance… but it was slippery (and more to the point) a really long way down. I ran the rope through my hands as I crossed – just in case.
The last part to that obstacle was flying down a giant slide. You wouldn’t have guessed that I have a childhood fear of slides the way I hurled myself down. Seeing the slide pre-race, John and I discussed various methods of desensitizing myself to slides. I think I may have found a new style of therapy that consists of being seconds from a finish line with fourth place seconds behind you. You man up pretty fast.
All this followed by a really ugly sprint out of the water from the slide pool to the finish. I’m not a good looking sprinter as it is – and through water with someone chasing me does not flatter my form. It may not have been pretty, but I got it done.
It was boat loads easier than the Edmonton Spartan I raced a few weeks ago and I think I might have actually been smiling after I crossed the finish line. Hey, who cares if you’re sprinting like the first ape that fell out of a tree if you’re smiling right?
I also earned that spot at the Warrior Dash World Championships – so now we get look forward to a road trip to California in the fall… and another battle in the mud.