Sunday, August 22, 2010

Warrior Dash 2010

Any race that promises a mudpit, jumping through flames, and a furry horned helmet has my adoration from the beginning. And from those first giggles of "could we really do this" at the gym in the cold early hours of the day back in March, we knew we didn't want it to happen without us. I was almost breathless from excitement (the leg press having nothing to do with that, no nothing) as I introduced Sylvia to the idea way back then: "It's a race. And it's only 5K! But it involves a ski slope and 12 obstacles and we get to climb over junky cars and hay bales and run through tires and a bunch of other cool stuff - did I mention the mud pit? - before we, and I'm not even kidding, jump over FIRE!" And Sylvia solemnly nodded as perhaps her life flashed before her eyes and, accepting the challenge, said, "We HAVE to do it."

the babes:myself, Auryn, Janine & Sylvia

So we did.

the dudes: Mark, lover, Eric

As time has passed and the date approached, I wondered if I was expecting too much. I mean, "the craziest frickin' day of your life!" - really? I dunno. On Friday I found myself on the Warrior Dash Facebook page and started scrolling through pictures. And the giggles welled back up again and I figuratively patted myself on the back for signing us up, especially since the Saturday event sold out months ago. I had originally considered a mini-toga of sorts, but when Janine called me Friday night to ask if a t-shirt reading "Mean Girls Finish First" would get her punched, I asked her to pick up two more. Afterall, if she's going to take a punch, what kind of friend would I be to just stand idly by?!

Once we arrived at the parking lot and prepared to board the shuttle buses to take us into the village, Janine's husband Eric said they had driven through the village and he was kind of disappointed that he didn't see a lot of muddy people. Maybe they had already showered? Or hadn't raced yet? But then we stepped onto the shuttle and beheld that the seats were all entirely wrapped in plastic. And then we saw the two girls disembark looking pretty dirty. And then when we de-boarded we saw someone resembling Swamp Thing. I asked him, "Was that muddy enough for you?"

applying a sweet 'stache

There were a lot of really great costumes and themes. Janine and her gorgeous sister Auryn (I may or may not be biased based on hair color) brought face paint that we happily applied to ourselves and our children. Donovan asked for a mustache so I did my best. Unbeknownst to most of us, Gemma decided to apply her own face paint by sticking her finger in the blue and then sticking it in her eye. Bad move parenting of the day was when we used baby wipes to get the paint off/out of her eye (wait for it...) and did such a good job that we managed to remove the sunscreen in that area and neglected to reapply. Doh.

hold still, Gemma!

It was just a general party atmosphere as more people in costumes and paint arrived and more finishers caked in mud streamed by. We took the kids over to see where the fire was (by the finish line) and couldn't get too close because it was too dang hot. That's when Donovan and Ainsleigh both started to voice concern. "Mom, are you sure you want to do that?" "Mom, what if you get burned?" "Mom, do you have to do that?" "Mom, can I wear your helmet?" Answers: Yes, I won't, Yes, No.

you didn't want a mustache, Ainsleigh?

We had a good view of the incline before us and, I'll be honest, the wind kind of went out of my sails. It appeared that the course, which I had studied/mapped diligently, had changed. Instead of running straight up a mountain and then switchbacking (I've made it a verb) down, we were now switchbacking up the mountain and running straightish down. This now meant that we were running uphill for about three times longer than down...ruh-roh.

Warrior Children

Our fab friends Bobbi and Angie and their families arrived to watch our kids while we headed to the starting line. They didn't have a start gun, of course not. They had starting flame throwers. Of COURSE. I was so glad we met up with the gorgeous Christina at the starting line who, even though she was diagnosed with mono (hello - are you 16 or what? she's got the smokin bod of one, that's for sure - did I just cross the line?), totally dominated that course like a true warrior. (but seriously - get some rest now!)

And to think it all started a year and a half ago with her asking, 'You wanna run together sometime?'

Down the course we went and first up was climbing over a bunch of junky cars. Up over the hood I went, jumping with some fresh skater moves and some un-fresh landing that kind of sent shockwaves up my legs. Guess I'm not as light on my toes as I hoped. The second line of cars proved more entertaining as a Superman-clad dude ahead of me scrambled over and I heard someone from the side taunt, "Hey Superman - you jump like a SALLY!" I just about fell off the car from giggling. Because, you know, I'm climbing over a car with a superhero and someone is spewing insults from the 1950's. Classic.

really flattering stretches

Up we began, as we used a rope to haul ourselves up a rather steep incline/wall and then ahead stood the mountain of hay bales. Joel almost did a faceplant coming down the other side and I opted to high-step it down. On to the tires. I don't know why, but I have always wanted to run through tires. How many times have I seen it on tv shows or movies that involve training for some kind of sport, usually a montage of clips with some totally amped song in the background that makes me, from the sweet comforting embrace of my couch, believe not only that I could do it, but that I want to do that? (was that the most poorly constructed sentence ever?) Anyway, I've always wanted to run through tires. And some people chose to walk over them. And some people were stepping in them slowly. And all those previous montages flashed before my eyes and my knees pumped up and down as I high-stepped the crap out of those tires. (note: there wasn't crap in the tires - that would be unsanitary)

Sylvia and Mark

And then the mountain. Let me back up and say that Sylvia and I have actually been running inclines on treadmills to sort of prepare for this. That was smart, except that we also, you know, breathed. Which is totally doable at 6000 feet. But at over 9000 feet...and then to climb another 1000 feet...

Eric and Janine

Joel was a little frustrated that the trail was so narrow that sometimes you were forced to walk if people in front of you stopped running. I was more like, relieved. Because within a few feet it would open back up and he would say, "Let's go!" or "You've got it!" and like a stern taskmaster whipping the horse, I'd giddyup. Except for those times I didn't. Every time we cut back I'd think, "Are we there yet?" and every time I'd look up and see approximately 37 more switchbacks. That's when the mud started to sound enticing.

very proud of ourselves

We finally hit the peak and started our descent down a service road. That was when I saw the wisdom of the narrow, gouged trail going up when people were less likely to be going at top speed, and the wide, still-kind-of-rough road going down. As I began to pick up my pace, my legs reverted back to the wild cartoon-ish circular blur of my youth when you're still dumb enough to not even consider the possibility of gravity. I think Joel might have even said, "Whoa, Sarah," at some point. But we made it down without kissing the dirt and that's when we came upon the mudpit.

Ainsleigh and her weird poses

Signs and volunteers with megaphones screamed about the barbed wire across the top, which I thought was kind of overkill since of course I had read about that and I have eyes and can SEE the deadly spikes. I wondered just how sharp they really were, but wasn't about to test. As I stepped into the wet pre-mud, my feet were swallowed and weighted and instead of wading into it and crouching down, I had to immediately go to plan B and just start crawling. I gotta say, those first few seconds were actually quite lovely. Then the pain receptors in my brain started firing as the nerves in my knees screamed, "What are you DOING?!" Turns out, the mud pit had gravel on the bottom. But not nice smooth pea gravel. Razor sharp ninja-star gravel. Or something like that. That's when I straightened my legs and had my arms pull me across. I looked over and Joel, who had done some kind of dive into the pit and now was doing his version of the butterfly. He's actually lucky, since later I saw some people who dove in face first and emerged with some serious head wounds. Come on, people - it's not dirty WATER. It looked like they were mixing cement.

Cara, Sylvia, Bobbi and moi

Later, my question about the sharpness was answered as I saw some dude in an awesome viking outfit disregard the megaphones and signs and try to walk through it, hunched over. He came out of that with some serious lacerations across his back, blood highlighting his shame. My sympathies went out to the guy who comically wore a gorilla suit. I mean, come on - that's an amusing picture but first of all, aren't you hot? Second of all, how can you really move? And last, how much weight did all that mud add, when clinging to each fiber? I actually saw him at the end and asked how he fared. "Oh man, that was so heavy," he said, disgust etched all over his face. I don't think he'll go with that wardrobe choice again. I do look forward to seeing pictures of the dudes in speedos and mascot heads (one panda, one bunny!).

um, don't take this the wrong way...I think you need a shower

As we stood up out of the mud, I think I had gained about fifty pounds. My feet were like moonboots. I dragged myself up to Joel and he promptly wiped his hands on my face. Thanks, babe. I've always wondered how mud in my eyelashes would feel. Next up: the cargo net climb. Are you kidding me?! I weigh approximately 500 pounds and my eyes are kind of glued shut and I could totally fall and break my neck! Oh wait, is that why I signed some kind of waiver?

Janine, Auryn (tweeting?) and Eric

This is where I took my time. Plus, the event photographers were all hanging out there, so I had to reapply makeup and tease out my hair...but seriously, up and over we went. The planks over the ravine were actually pretty easy even though they were warning it was slippery - it seemed fine to me. But maybe that's because my eyes were closed? This was also about the time that I noticed the weight from the mud was pulling at my running skirt. Wow, now is NOT the time for a full moon. Though I suppose I might just look like the guy who was wearing fake buns on the back of his shorts...

I had seen the advertisement of crawling through tunnels, so this wasn't a concern, except that the advertisement didn't say, "You'll be covered in mud and the tunnels are on an uphill so it will be slippery so good luck with that." I'm glad nobody slipped ahead of me and pushed us back out the bottom. Over some army-walls and through a little creek (which was actually wonderful because it washed off my mud-caked shoes to allow for some easier running).

Still hitching up my skirt (Joel: Who cares - you're wearing underwear, right? Me: Thanks, babe. You're super helpful.), we ran the last half mile and neared the flames. Now let me say right here, that I had seen pictures of the flames before and sometimes they looked wimpy. But these were like mounds of dirt with flames on top of them and the volunteers kept throwing on more duraflame logs. And I didn't take into consideration that my hurdling abilities would be compromised what with the new added weight. That being said, I'm lucky I didn't clip my trail leg the first time. The second row of fire was an easy leap and we jogged cross the finish line.

I said this before, but the greatest compliment was when we returned to our staging area and one boy, after seeing us, said to another, "When we get older, we are TOTALLY doing this." And that's what this is really all about: the children.

Joel's arm

As our mud dried, it bubbled and cracked in fascinating patterns that proved to be painful when we tried to sit down. At one point I tried to shower off but the water was so dang freezing that I opted just to let it cake/flake. We sat around eating delicious turkey legs and listening to a surprisingly good cover band as Gemma danced and jumped and walked up to random groups of people and acted like she was totally one of them. All these decked out warriors drinking beer, and then little Gemma casually standing there like she's listening to their conversation. Once they'd notice her, she'd move on to another group.

what boys do, when given helmets with horns

We had such a fantastic time and are already planning next year's costumes. We're going to recruit as many people as we can and they can thank us later. Oh, and we'll get babysitters next time.

The kids had a surprisingly good time, were amused by the mudpit, still a little terrified by the fire, and overall totally impressed by their parents. As we drove home and I looked at my filthy arms and wondered how sore my knees would be from my cartoonish downhill run, I felt satisfied and proud that I had done something my own young self would have (and, let's face it, still does) been mightily impressed with. I haven't been this pleased with a Saturday in a really long time.

You wish you were here.

Like I said, it was for the children.

(more pictures/video of us to come as we obtain it - you're going to get sick of this, if you aren't already)


Lisa said...

Oh my gosh, I love this. I'm so glad you guys did this! But it sounds crazy hard. I don't think I could've done that.

Hal Semmings said...

Whatup fellow gingers!!!!!!! I'm doing Tough Mudder and trying to get a CO team of red headed ballers to rock the course with me!!!

Christina said...

LOVE this post--and I am flattered. Yes I have been napping and resting all week. That really was a blast and I am definitely doing it next year. I think Jared needs to do it too. I am going to try and get that video to you. I've been waiting for Jared to get it to me...

Jennemmy said...

My family is doing this on Sunday in the Northeast. If your kids were older would you let them watch unsupervised or was it like a rock concert? They have watched us race a turkey trot loops, etc but they are pretty family friendly.

Sarah said...

Jennemmy - I don't know how else to contact you! It would depend on how old "older" means. I though it was pretty family friendly. There were a TON of people there, and those who might have been partying are more in the gathering areas, than around the course. And from what I heard, they are pretty strict with crazy drunks. I would say that places like the mud pit or fire jump are ideal places to watch. But it's pretty spread out. If they are more like pre-teens/teenagers, then they can probably figure out some shortcuts to take pictures of you at several obstacles. Have fun! We've already signed back up for next year!

TheKunks said...

supa impressed...totally believe it was for the children. What fun!!