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Helmets Up! (with many pictures)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Saturday, my sister and I competed in our second Warrior Dash ever. Last year, our first race, was fun but at the same time disappointing, because I had to walk most of the way and I had to skip one of the obstacles. So I was determined this year to do two things: beat my time of 1 hour 38 minutes and complete all the obstacles.

I had an ambitious training plan that started out well but petered out after a while. I did start S90 with the hope that it would increase my arm strength, which I knew was my weakest point last year. But that was about the extent of my training, so needless to say I was a little scared.

My sister helped me practice the night before by climbing trees, and I think that did help a bit.

Unlike last year, we decided to go in costume.

We actually made the shirts ourselves. Painted an old pair of knee high socks from our Catholic school years for the "boots" and cut off the cuffs of old socks to make the "gloves". I was really proud of our efforts. Even if the clothes I ended up having to buy were WAY too small for me; I'm mildly embarrassed to post them.

At the race, we spent a while wandering around and taking pictures, since we had to check the camera along with the rest of the gear during the actual race. That's where I got this cool photo of the starting "gun".

That was a big surprise the first year, so I really wanted a picture of it this year.

While we were waiting to take pictures of the starting fire, the starting line announcer was teaching people how to make a Viking helmet out of their hands (it's too hard to explain how to do, and unfortunately I don't have a picture of it), he also said that the announcer at the finish line was none other than Sione from Season 7 of the Biggest Loser!

The actual race went way better than I expected. I was able to jog for somewhere between 0.3 and 0.5 miles - I don't know exactly how far, but it was less than 0.5 miles because I was already walking by the time we got to the half mile marker. Which was okay, because the farthest I've ever jogged on regular ground (and not a treadmill) was about 0.3 miles, so it was an improvement.

The first obstacle was a set of balance beams. They were much lower to the ground than last year, and much less muddy, so they were much more manageable. Next came the tire forest - basically tires hanging from a wooden frame that you had to blast your way through. After that was an obstacle where you crawled on the ground under some netting and barbed wire - not bad, you just had to keep your head down.

Then came one of the hardest obstacles of the race, a giant slanted wall. It was a variation on the obstacle I couldn't do that I thought would be easier. It was definitely equally as hard as the vertical wall. I also bruised the palm of my hand pulling myself up on the rope. But I did make it to the top (getting over the top required the help of my sister).

Next came another crawling low obstacle - crawling through sand under some logs and branches. Right after that, some muddy water about shin height. Nice, but not as fun as last year's water obstacle which had water up to my waist. That would have been way more satisfying in the heat (though I preferred the heat to last year's cloudy-and-chilly weather).

The next obstacle was new to me and tough. I'm not sure if I can describe it accurately. It was a series of plywood Vs with some decently high walls in the valleys. High enough that you couldn't step over them. Some people were shimmying across with one foot on each side of the V, basically doing a split. I was way too short to do that, so I ended up planking it - planted my hands and feet on opposite walls and spidering across. It was a pretty graceless descent but an interesting obstacle to be sure.

After that came a wall of sorts. You climbed up and over, then all there was was a straight drop. You had to slide down on your belly. Let me say, not female friendly, if you get my drift. That was rather painful. Right after that was another climbing obstacle. It was sort of shaped like a house - straight up, then angled to the top, angled down, then straight down. Not really difficult, although the footholds were kind of far apart for a shorty like me. :)

Now came the fun part: The Great Warrior Wall. 20 feet high, with footholds about 3 inches wide and two to three feet apart, and a rope with knots. I couldn't conquer this one last year, and I had to psyche myself up to make it, but I got it done. Of course, I needed my sister to push me upright and closer to the wall at first, but I got the hang of it and managed to make the top without too much trouble. I would have cried happy tears but I was too tired!

After the wall was another new obstacle that was really fun, a wall with a small ledge at the bottom and handholds like those on rock climbing walls interspersed along the way. Oh yeah, all of this suspended over a pit of muddy water. I was nervous, but it was actually really easy. After that came the cargo net. You could see this obstacle from the spectator area, so I took a picture. I know no one in the shot.

I thought the horizontal portion of the cargo net would be easier but it so wasn't. I made it through eventually though.

Then comes the fire!

Again, I know no one in the picture. And the flames were higher when I hit them. :)

Then the mud! Spark is not letting me post the picture of the mud, but yeah, you're basically swimming in it. Under barbed wire. It's awesome!

Crossing the finish line, my sister and I did our "helmets up" for the camera like we were supposed to, and Sione called attention to us as we did! That was pretty neat!

This is long enough, so I'll quickly summarize the rest of the day. I ran into some friends of mine from college, quite a feat considering there were 20,000 people there that day. Our time came in at 1:20:26, a good 18 minutes quicker than last year! We participated in the costume contest, but we lost to the Ghostbusters (who deserved it, they ran in jumpsuits and inflatable proton packs!). We drank our free beer and ate our giant turkey legs. And then we went home, where I took pictures of my war wounds:

You can't see all the bruises in that picture, and a bunch only just showed themselves today. My muscles have gotten less sore but are still a little tender. Oh, and the last little bit of that thumbnail came off somewhere along the track and I didn't even feel it. Thank god for that!

I am super proud of myself for meeting both my goals for this race. It all still feels a little bit surreal.

Helmets up!
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