Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Warrior Dash" Report: This One's For You, Lindsay!

(Lindsay guilted me into writing this report)

Please go to my Facebook page for pics. Also, the Warrior Dash website has pics of me. My bib number is 96227. I don't know how to post pics here-Help!!

Due to time limitations, and the fact that you really don't care what I did leading up to the "Dash," I now present for your entertainment, my Warrior Dash report.
As I stood in the roped off starting line area, waiting for the 12:30 start, I felt butterflies in the pit of my stomach. Ahead, as far as could be seen, was an uphill course. A very hilly, uneven, full of rocks and potholes, ski slope course. The course being described on the website as "3.23 hellish miles" should have tipped me off ahead of time that this event wasn't going to be easy. My 3 months of preparation in the gym, plus occasional 4 mile runs on the flat linear trail certainly hadn't included any hill work or adequately prepared me for the "hell" that lie ahead. Yup, I was more scared than I ever was running a marathon. The course consisted of not only the rough, uneven terrain, but also 13 obstacles that had to be overcome. I most feared obstacle 9, the "cargo (net) climb. Back in 1971, while in 9th grade gym class, we had a physical fitness test. Yes, THE dreaded physical fitness test. The one part of it I failed miserably at was the rope climb. I couldn't get more than a foot off the floor. Now I was going to have to climb up and over a 10 foot cargo net. Failure was not an option...but I'll get back to that. At 12:30, we began. At the start banner were flamethrowers, meaning these things that reminded me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where they meet the great and mighty Oz, and he has these massive balls of flames that scare the shit out of them. Well, as my daughter, her boyfriend, and I went underneath them, they let out a roar, flames shot in the air, and it felt like we were already in hell. I jumped, and nearly had brown colored shorts before I even hit the muddy course. So off I ran. I was a warrior, and warriors run up hills. Even steep ski slope hills. Yup, that idea lasted about 100 yards. You know how you run a race, any race, and as you're running up a hill, you psych yourself up by telling yourself that once you reach the top, you'll be rewarded with a downhill part? Well, no such luck here. As I turned the corner, all I saw ahead was more steep uphill terrain. There wasn't a downhill to be seen. Oh, did I mention that a mountain goat would have had trouble walking up this terrain? I walked, I sweated, I laughed, and I swore. It was obvious that time wouldn't matter. Not falling down and killing myself was all that mattered. So I walked, and ahead in the first sorta level place lie obstacle #1, "Knee High Hell." Knee High Hell was about a hundred or so tires that I had to do the quickstep through. I was surprised at how easy it was. One down, 12 more to go. Shortly thereafter, I came to "Warrior Wall," a.k.a. a wooden wall. It wasn't too tall, and with my long legs, I easily climbed over it. Finally feeling better due to more level terrain, meaning not so steep but still lots of rocks and potholes, I came upon obstacle #3: "Tunnel of Terror." It consisted of two long, end-to-end black corrugated pipes that I had to crawl through. I'm guessing they were about 100 feet total. I got on my knees, looked ahead, saw no one was close by, and started my crawl. Almost instantly, I started to get claustrophobic. I felt confined; trapped. I forced myself to look at my hands, and crawled as quickly as I could. At the midway point, I got bruised where the pipes joined. I couldn't get out of them quickly enough. From there I went through the "Black Forest," which meant running through the woods and across muddy, rocky and slippery areas. I turned a corner, and could hear splashing noises ahead. Up over a small hill lie the "Slithering Swamp." As I went over the hill, I stopped dead in my tracks. Ahead was a pit filled with an unknown depth of water, and mud. LOTS of mud. The pit was about 100 feet long, and about 50 feet wide. Everyone ahead of me let out a blood curdling scream as they entered the "swamp." I was no exception. As soon as I entered the water, my feet sank into the mud on the bottom. The water was about 4 feet deep, and the coldest water I've ever been in. I quickly headed to my right, as the swamp didn't seem to be as deep there. My shoes were filled with mud, and it felt like cement. My clothes were weighed down from the water and mud. Traction was bad, and it was a struggle to get to the end. As I neared the end, I heard my daughter behind me calling for help. She was having difficulty moving, having already fallen in the swamp. I helped her reach the end, where there was a board or a mud-bank we could climb up and out. She couldn't get out of the swamp, so I did what every good father would have done. I put my hands underneath her ass, and pushed as hard as I could, while another person grabbed her arm and helped her out.I then somehow managed to climb out. Five obstacles down, 8 to go. Obstacle 6 was "Walk the Plank." My wife had been very "supportive" by telling me there was no way I could make it across without falling off. OK, so my sense of balance does suck. But that's mainly when I'm at Happy Hour. But that's another story. Anyhow, luckily for me the planks were short and wide, so I easily navigated them. Somewhere around this time, insanity began to set in. I could see the finish area, far below, and also hear the song "Domino" by Van Morrison playing. Yes, I started singing along very LOUDLY. Yes, people gave me strange looks. Anyhow, next came "Rip Van Winkle Way." Who makes up these names?! Rip Van Winkle Way was a series of wooden plank bridges with chicken wire on them for traction. It was challenging due to the wetness from all the swamp monsters going across it before me. Obstacle 8, the "Rio River" was next. It was supposed to be a dash down a river, but I don't recall even doing it. Perhaps it wasn't there, or perhaps I was more insane at that point than I realized. I do remember running what felt like across, rather than down, the slope. Down to my left I spied the dreaded cargo net. I took note of the fact that no one seemed to be having difficulty climbing up and over it. A downhill run, a left turn, and there was Obstacle #9. I was going to own it. I was going to redeem myself for the failed attempt at rope climbing. The f-in' cargo net was going to be my bitch. I took hold, started to climb, and was relieved that it was tight and easier to climb. As I neared the top, I was trying to figure out how I was going to do the up and over part. I decided on what a person at the top called a "combat roll." That's a polite way of saying I did a beached whale flop onto the top landing. Hey, it worked. I concentrated on grabbing on and finding a solid footing for my descent. A short time later, I was back on earth. I had conquered the cargo net. Obstacle 10 was supposed to be a flagstone wall. Ummm, I don't remember scaling a flagstone wall. Perhaps I was too pumped from Spiderman-ning the cargo net; perhaps at this point I had lost all sense of reality; perhaps the wall didn't exist at all. I'll let you pick one, and we'll move on. Next (#11)was the "Catskill Skid." That's a fancy way of saying a giant Slip 'N Slide. It kicked ass! Basically there was about a 50 yard long thick black plastic slide that was fed water by extremely large hoses. I was told that the recommended way to go down it was on my belly. I did, and was greeted by ice cold torrential downpours of water. But WOW, did I slide fast. I was yelling out like a child, and LMAO the entire time. As I hit bottom, I had to hurry up and get out of the way of other slip 'n sliders. The Warrior Roast was next, meaning I had to leap over hundreds of Duraflame-type logs. Ahead lie the final obstacle: "The Muddy Mayhem." That meant getting on my hands and knees and crawling underneath barbed wire and through a muddy water pit that was constantly kept muddy by a pay-loader dumping buckets full of dirt into it. It hurt like heck, because the plastic lining underneath was coming apart, so my knees were scraping on bare rock-infested ground, I still have the warrior wounds from that. Once I was through the pit, all that was left was to laugh a lot and stumble across the finish line. It was truly a fun and rewarding experience. Fun, for the reasons described in my report; and rewarding due to having received a warrior hat, swag, t-shirt, and one free beer for competing the course. As I was running the course, I was thinking about how difficult it was. Any road race I've run, there's always been points in the race where I could "rest," regroup, and let my guard down. That wasn't possible for the Warrior Dash. Even running downhill meant watching every step I took, in order to avoid rocks, slippery mud, potholes, and falling on my face. At no point did I feel like I could let up or let my mind wonder. When I completed it, I told my wife, daughter, and her boyfriend that it was more challenging than running a marathon. In some ways, I still believe it to be true. Bottom line is, if there's a "Warrior Dash" near you, go give it a shot. You'll be glad you did. Also, make sure you wear clothes that you're willing to throw away, and running shoes that you don't care about. I threw my entire running attire away, except the shoes, which they collected for a charity. P.S. A special shoutout to Jill aka onelittletrigirl for giving me the idea/motivation to enter a Warrior Dash. P.S.S. I just registered for next year's event!!


Iron Mike said...

Warriorman runs again!
Thanks for the great report.
I'd submit it to the race organizers, it would make a great testimonial/warning.

I love how, insanity or otherwise-induced, they probably left out 2 obstacles. That's just funny.

Looks like you can use this Dash as a point of reference in the future. Hill looks kinda steep? Well, it's not a ski hill, push forward!

I'll really have to check one of these out.

Anonymous said...

OMG- now I am even more excited to race!!!!!

lindsay said...

Oh sure put all the blame ON me. Like I had anything to DO with it. You look like you are having FUN in the photos with that BIG smile. (I'm being serious, I'm just also making a certain joke-I'll stop now)

Those are some uniquely named obstacles, and I know my weakling self would not have made it easily. Sure I can run but I can't do much of anything else! LOL about your "combat roll". Sounds like you had a blast and I bet you didn't think once about your knee/the past few months!

Oh and I see how it is... Give Jill all the love.

Whitney said...

This sounds like so much fun - hell, yes... but also SO MUCH FUN! I wonder if Utah has anything like this? I'll have to check it out.

Meg said...

Rick-a-Rooooooo!!!! Cool run, I enjoyed the report and it sounds like you are not only back at it, you're actually kicking ass on radical obstacles!! You are such a radical, tough, dude!
Props to Lindsay and OL Tri Girl for supporting you and inspiring you, they TOTALLY rock! I love the blogging love you give and receive, you WARRIOR!!

Cynthia O'H said...

Warrior Dash sounds like a blast. That being said, though, I don't know if I could go through with one; my ponytail would get dirty.

Yes, there were some good cautions in this. I wouldn't have thought ahead about tossing clothes.

You are a warrior!

Erin C. said...

So glad to see that you are back and running again! I teach at a private boys' high school, so I'm not on Facebook (it could only cause trouble as far as I can see...they already try to find out everything about me as it is), so I haven't been able to keep track of what you've been going through lately on your FB page. I'm recovering from an injury myself, and hanging in there, so I feel your pain! This sounded like a really unique event, though, and I'm glad you had fun. Congratulations, Warrior Marathonman!

Anonymous said...

I just re-read this post and cried. I ran my Warrior Dash today. It was a blast. I feel honored that I was your motivation to sign up for your own and that it was such a good experience for you. <3

kizzy said...

Amazing warrior dash report.. Fantastic.

--mountain hardwear