Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sweat, Fire, Mud: The Warrior Dash

This Sunday I ran the Warrior Dash in Thompson, CT with Laurel and her brother, Bren.  Ian came along as our moral support/ photographer.

Ian and I were up early and out the door around 6:30am to meet Laurel and Bren at a park and ride about an hour from the race.  The drive was mostly Connecticut back-roads, which was great because the leaves are starting to look really pretty.

The race was at a Speedway in Thompson, CT which is in the Northeast corner of the state.  We got on site with about an hour to get settled and pumped up for the run.

Two tough butterflies!

We got to watch them setting up the fire.  Which was a little intimidating.

My wings framed my tattoo nicely. 

This was probably the biggest race I've done.  Its hard to tell because it was waves of 500 people, every half hour, all weekend long.  Whereas races like the Hartford Marathon is just thousands from the start. 

We were in the first wave of the morning on Sunday. We took our spot near the back with about 10 minutes go.  It was a fun starting line, with everyone playfully chatting about the run and commenting on our wings.  

It took a minute or two to really get going once the gun when off, but soon enough we were off and running onto the course.  The course started with a rather long stretch of just running.  We ran around the actual speedway course- which was a bit weird because there were bits of blown-out tires everywhere.  Once we ran around the speedway we were off into the fields behind the track.  That is when things got interesting.  

First obstacle was scrambling over tires and two broken cars.  The crowd hadn't really thinned out yet so this was pretty slow going, but fun because everyone was in a excited, helpful mood. Lots of offering strangers a hand and plenty of moral support.  The whole race was like that, everyone was super supportive of all the other runners. 

Next we dodged tires on ropes.  That obstacle wasn't too difficult,  you just had to keep your head up to not get bopped by a tire someone else moved out of their way.  Then we were off to the barbed wire crawl.  The barbed wire kept getting lower and lower until you were forced onto your forearms in an army crawl under a large net.  I thought that was fun, it made me feel very butch, and miraculously I didn't snag my wings or antenna :)

We then headed to a cargo net climb, which I thought was no trouble.  I was glad I wore my vibram five finger ksos, I think they gave me good flexibility that people in regular sneakers might not have had.  After the cargo net was another stretch of running until we came up to the big wall. I think it was about 20 feet high.  It felt enormous. The side to climb had a rope with knots, the other side had a sort of ladder to get down.   There was a bit of a line at this obstacle, since only one person could be on a rope at a time.  So there was plenty of time to get nervous, but again everyone was supportive and encouraging.  This was super hard.  The knots on the rope were really far apart, my arms were barely long enough to get a good grip, and if I didn't keep my body close to the wall it felt like all my weight was on my arms.  It was pretty scary, especially the tricky bit of feet shifting to get over the wall.  But I did it! My heart was pounding by the time I got back on the ground, more from the fear of falling than the physical stress. 

The order of obstacles gets a little murky at this point.  I think the next thing we did was cross a muddy pool on a vertical wall with tiny foot and arm holds. I'm proud to say I stayed out of the water but Laurel and Bren both fell in.  I credit my ability to grip with my toes in my ksos and my long arms. 

We then came up to my nemesis!

It was another huge wall to scale, except this was an A frame with a completely flat side with a rope with no knots for  the climbing side.  I tried twice, and both times I got all the way to the top but didn't have enough upper body strength to pull myself over the top.  I just couldn't figure out how to get my legs over.  It was no big deal though, people still cheered me on and there was no issue with not completing an obstacle.

My nemesis. 

There was more running, this time through the woods- up and down steep, muddy hills.   There were portions of the trail where you were wading though hip-deep mud.  It was cold and felt so gross.  I just couldn't stop laughing... because it felt so ridiculous. Then in the muddy trails there was a rope bridge to cross.  This was tough because everyone was muddy and wet so it got super slippery.

Here we are still fairly clean about to enter the super muddy stretch.

After the muddy trails, we came to the home stretch.  The last three obstacles were back to back.  It started with three more walls to scale, that got progressively taller, then it was leaping over the fire (which wasn't really that scary since it had burned down some), and finally the crawl  under barbed wire through the mud that led to the finish line.  This last area had a spectator area, so there was lots of cheering and excitement.  It was awesome.

Scaling the walls.

Climbing out of the mud.  I lost my antenna somewhere in the last muddy stretch. 

We crossed the finish line and got our "I survived the warrior dash" medals.  We finished in 1:10:50.  Which is about double our normal 5k time.  I think that is pretty awesome. I was surprised... it felt like we were out there forever.   It was a blast.

Once we crossed the finish line it was time for celebratory beer, and attempting to get cleaned up.  We hung around the post-race party for little bit and then met up with Michy, Micah, and the Munchkin for lunch. 

I had such a good time.  I can't wait to do it again.  I will definilty have to do more pushups prior to the race.  My arms are not up to all that upper-body work! It still hurts to lift my arms above my head 3 days later!

Two muddy butterflies.

This was the "shower"  Getting sprayed off by a fire-hose. brrr!

Ok, so when can I sign up for next year?

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