So as I've mentioned several times, my co-workers somehow talked me into running the MN Warrior dash on Saturday. Why I agreed to this I'll never understans, but I'm so glad I did because it was a BLAST. The Warrior Dash was definitely one of the most fun experiences I've had in recent memory.
For some reason, I was not nervous for this race at ALL. I think it was partly because I just had no idea what I was getting into, and partly because I had virtually no expectations for my performance. My only goals for the day were:
1) Don't die
2) Don't get carted away in an ambulence
3) Have fun
(Ben came up with the last one - he thought it would be lame if I stopped after those first two, and he is probably right. What's the point if you're not having fun??)
Ben and I got there a little early so we had time to hang out, survey the grounds and nosh on some free granola. As the group started to arrive, we all got together for the required "before" photo:
|Me with about half of our group. That purple shirt was not purple for long...|
And then we lined up to start! We ended up pretty close to the back of our wave because it took us so long to get in line, which has impacts that I'll get to later... but finally, we were off!
|Getting ready to start!|
While we ran, Ben sat duitfully in the spectator area, waiting to take photos. Poor Ben - one thing I should mention about the Afton Alps course is that there is no shade, and no covered areas anywhere. Literally none... except for a few shady areas on the course itself. If you're just a spectator you are in the sun the entire time. Being that it was 90 degrees on Saturday, I almost felt worse for Ben than I did for those of us who were running. Almost.
Since Ben's camera obviously did not capture anything between the start and the finish, I'll try to provide a brief summary what happened in the middle:
I started out with the group and the plan was to at least attempt to stick together. The first two obstacles were cake, and the first hill was challenging but not too bad. After the third obstacle I stopped to wait for people, but after that I got tired of waiting and decided to just go on ahead with a couple of others who wanted to keep running. I had told myself before the race that if I could run, I would and sticking together as a big group would have meant not pushing/challenging myself very much. Plus, there were two others whose names I will not mention...we'll call them Shmavid and Shmob... who didn't even try to stay with the group and had left us in the dust a while ago.
My co-worker and I stuck together for the next couple of obstacles, but then we hit the woods. This was maybe the most annoying part of the race, besides the ridiculous hills. The woods were right after this killer hill, hence many people were too tired to start running again and wanted to walk. Unfortunately, the path through the woods was very narrow and cut into the side of a steep hill, so it was basically impossible to pass anyone. If you should know one thing about when running or walking anywhere with me, it is probably this: getting stuck behind slow people annoys me like nothing else. I wanted to start running again but because of the woods/path situation, I literally could not. I finally resorted to asking people if I could sneak past them, and risked life and limb to get around all of the slow walkers. When I looked back I had totally lost my co-worker...oops...so I just kept going.
The rest of the race was basically a lot of hills...like really, a lot. Most people (including myself) started just walking up the hills at a certain point because 1) they were so long and steep and there were so many of them, and 2) it was so effing hot.
The obstacles themselves were not that bad. Mostly they felt like a welcome break from the damn hills - after hiking against gravity for a quarter mile in the blazing heat, doing an army crawl through the gravel is pretty much a cakewalk. There was only one that made me nervous - the "Dead Man's Drop", which I can't even describe...it was just high and steep and near the end of the race. I saw several people go around it, which was probably a good choice if you were fatigued. I went over it...and I'm still alive so yay.
After the last couple of obstacles, it was pretty much run down the ski hill, slide down the slip-and-slide, jump over the fire, crawl through the mud and you're done! I may have gotten a little overenthusiastic with my speed on the slip-and-slide, realizing about halfway that there was no way to slow down before the end. Needless to say I did not land gracefully and I have a couple of awesome bruises.
|Just leaping over the fire...no big deal|
|Crawling out of the mud like some crazy swamp monster|
|The whole gang! (most of us at least...)|
|Work should be a piece of cake after this...|
|Clean, sort of...|
Even though Warrior Dash is totally about fun and it's kind of a joke that it is even timed, I was really proud of my performance! My goal going in was basically to not look like an idiot - but even with all of the stopping/waiting for other people and not pushing myself 100% I still finished in the top 13% of my age group, and I was one of the first three people from my work group to finish (along with the two aforementioned rebels...)!
I'm honestly not trying to brag or pat myself on the back, but I was genuinely surprised by how well it went, as I don't necessarily consider myself a "runner." I'd be really curious to see what happened if I actually pushed myself hard for the entire race. Here are a few tips/takeaways if you're thinking of signing up:
1: Don't Wing It
Seriously, I know a lot of people don't really prepare for this because it's supposed to be a "fun" race, but I'm guessing that if you were not in shape or didn't work out at all beforehand, this race would not be fun AT ALL. It is challenging - I can't speak for other courses but the MN Afton Alps course with the multitude of hills is killer, and the sun and heat made it even worse. Running three miles was the easy part, to be honest. I saw a lot of people who looked like they probably just went "Warrior Dash woo! Whatevs it's only three miles I'll be fiiiiine..." I'm guessing those were the same people who rested under a tree for 10 minutes and finished the course in an hour and a half.
Not to mention, some of the obstacles present the potential for serious injury if you're fatigued or aren't being careful. You can always go around them but then you're kind of missing the point of Warrior Dash...meh. Anyways I guess I am probably a massochist because I loved it anyways.
Below is my "training regimen", such as it was:
- Yoga 4-5 times a week (at least 2-3 of these were hot classes)
- Running 3 times a week (2-4 miles each time)
- CPY Bootcamp. I am seriously so glad i did this...it gave me so much more confidence in my overall fitness level, and I think the circuits helped improve my strength too. And as tough as warrior dash was it sort of paled in comparison to last week's outdoor workout...
...so as you can see, not exactly akin to that of an Olympic athlete, but at least I am in decent shape...
2: Don't worry about your time
....and if you are worried about your time, make sure you start at or near the front of your wave. We started near the back and ended up waiting in a huge line for the first obstacle becuase the crowd still hadn't thinned out. There were about five lines waiting to climb over the wall, and when you actually got over it depended on a) which line you picked, and b) how fast the people ahead of you in line were. That combined with the whole 'being stuck behind slow people in the woods' make the timing kind of a crap-shoot if you aren't in the front to start with.
3: Have fun!!
Ben was totally right about this, by the way. You get to be a bad ass! You get to leap over fire and crawl through the mud like a champion, and in this setting it is completely socially acceptable to do these things. Do not underestimate how awesome this is. Enjoy it!!
Anyways, Warrior Dash was awesome and I am SO glad I decided to sign up. I will definitely be doing this again.
Another takeaway from this whole experience is that I realized I probably don't hate running. I also realized that without some external motivation, i.e. an upcoming race during which I would prefer not to die, I probably won't run that much. So, I'll be making running dates with my husband/sister/whoever just because someone needs to hold me accountable for these things.
That's really all for today! Only one more day in the office this week, and then I am out until July 9! We're not going anywhere, just hanging out at home but I'm pretty excited because this is the first real "vacation" time I've taken since Jaunary and even then I was sick for half of it. Unfortunately it will be 95 degrees and humid the entire week, and we only have one AC unit in the bedroom...so I might end up wishing I was in my air-conditioned office building. Either way, it will be nice to relax for a few days.
Happy almost 4th of July!