Holy Sh*t. I Totally Did It.

(Please forgive the dirty language, but this is a very dirty story to tell…I hope you won’t think less of me for it.)

I have two incredibly epic adventures to tell you about: the completion of the Corrie Vest and my Warrior Dash run.

I am going to have to start with Warrior Dash because it is fresher in my mind and I have better photos to show you.

I have been planning and training for this since January when it became the closest thing I had to a New Year’s resolution. It was a challenge to myself. A challenge to stay focused on something for almost 10 months. A challenge to get myself physically and mentally ready for this race.

It is hard to describe in words just how proud I am to say I did it. Was I 100% focused all year on the race? No. There was so much in my world that happened over the past nine months that there was no way for it always to be in the forefront of my thoughts. But it was always lingering back there, sometimes filling me with fear, sometimes with doubt, and sometimes with a fierce determination.

By the time I got there, fear and doubt had dispersed, and all that remained was nervous excitement.
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There were twelve different obstacles. The first one was about a mile in, and I was making great time at that point. I called it the over/under. You had to go over a 4 foot wall, then under an 18 inch gap under barbed wire. And you did this 4 or 5 times. It was probably my least favorite obstacle because it just went on and on.

Next was called the Rubber Ricochet, and you basically ran through a gauntlet of swinging tires. This was probably the easiest obstacle.

Third came the Road Rage, which involved running through a bunch of tires on the ground, then climbing over three junked (and crazy mud-slick) cars, then more tires. This one was where I was most worried about slipping and busting a knee.

The fourth obstacle was the Chaotic Crossover. Just a 20 foot stretch of rope net suspended 4 feet in the air, parallel to the ground. You had to scramble over it. This one took a lot of concentration and was very slow going.

The fifth challenge was the most unexpected challenge. It was supposed to be a waist deep dash through the river, climbing over floating logs. Well, thanks to the 10 inches of rain in the past 10 days, waist deep became six feet deep at the center. There was no touching bottom for most of us. I was not expecting a full on swim, but that’s what I had to do. This was the probably most challenging obstacle simply because I was so mentally and physically unprepared for it. I would not have made it over the last log if a very tall man hadn’t laid himself across it and forced it low enough in the water for me to get over it. I helped keep him and his buddy motivated later on through the race and stuck with them a long time from that point on since we had a matching pace.

Sixth up was the Teetering Traverse. This one was a little mentally scary since it was going up a maybe 6 inch wide plank to about 4 feet in the air, and going about 20 feet on a 6 inch wide board, then coming back down. I didn’t think too hard and I didn’t look down a whole lot. Zoom, on to the next one. I was getting really tired by this point.

Seventh (lucky number 7) was Deadman’s Drop. You clambered up a maybe 12 foot wall first. It had rungs on the front side until you reached the top with a solid 4 foot barrier to climb over. On the other side, there was a ledge at the base of that barrier, then you had to drop from there. I had no idea how to safely drop all that way so I chose the dumbest way. I let myself drop far enough to grasp that ledge at the base of the solid barrier, injuring my hand and damn near yanking my left shoulder out of socket, and then let myself slide down the last several feet. Other people were way smarter or braver than me.

You didn’t get a break between walls because next came the Great Warrior Wall. Another 12 foot barrier with ropes and 2×4 beams across the wall to use for footholds. I lost several minutes at this obstacle because I was waiting for the longest rope (I was feeling rather short at that point.). Unfortunately, a woman had used it and reached the top and froze. She couldn’t bring herself over and couldn’t work her way back down. Several people tried to help her and encourage her, but she was just frozen. I really felt for her, but I couldn’t do anything to help. I don’t know how it worked out but I know I finally gave up waiting for that rope and took a shorter one, and hauled myself up and over the wall.

The ninth “obstacle” was the Rio Run, which was just a long splash along the James River. There were sudden and unexpected “drops” to navigate, going as deep as shoulder deep on me at one point, and lots of hidden tree stumps. I probably tripped 5 or 6 times, generating much laughter and mirth behind me as I served as the “early warning system.” This was the most fun (and relatively comfortable) challenge. The water was much warmer than the air and it felt good to wash off a lot of the dirt and mud to that point.

At that point, we were coming back to the spectators and closing in on the finish line. My Mom was handling the camera and caught me as I was exiting the river and heading in towards the last three obstacles.
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The tenth obstacle was called the Cargo Climb and it was at the finish. I will let the pictures my Mom got speak for themselves.
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I could hear Duane, Mom, and Grace yelling “Go, Mommy, go!” from below but I could not stop to look for them. Note the concentration (I swear it is not fear) on my face.
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After the last climb, my legs and arms were mushy rubber and I was beyond tired. I looked ahead and saw two lines of burning wood ahead for me to jump over. By the 11th obstacle, my brain was pretty much mush too. I thought that was the finish line, but also, the fires looked 3 feet high to my worn out body. I aimed for the edge which looked slightly lower and jumped as best as I could. It turned out they weren’t all THAT high. Mom got a great shot of me clearing the first line.
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I thought it was over but I was wrong; my brain had forgotten about the muddy finish. I was directed to turn left and that was when I remembered the mud crawl. I plunged ahead to dive into the mud and under the barbed wire…and splashed straight down into 4 FEET of mud. I had NO idea it would be so deep. I made my way slowly forward, pretty much just swimming along until it got shallower near the end, cleared the last wire, and headed up to the finish line.

They handed me a cup of water and I declined the banana. I took my first sip of water, then the second, and after that, I looked down into my once clear cup of water and saw…
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Only mud. It’s written all over my face. The thought going through my head in that photo runs like this: “Really?” then “Well, it’s only mud and I am still thirsty.” followed by “Holy crap, there must be a lot of mud on my face.”

And there was.
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At some point, someone pushed a finisher’s medallion into my hand. I am guessing around the same time they handed me the water, but I don’t have a clear memory of it. I was gagging and dry heaving a bit between the mud I had swallowed and the gut-busting effort I had put out.

I am still wearing that finisher’s medal today, 48 hours later. Mud-stained and all.

Warrior Dash was insane amounts of fun. Not to say it wasn’t difficult. It was. But I just cannot deflate the sense of accomplishment I have come home with, especially when I look back on the second wall climb. I remember looking at that rope wall and thinking “I really don’t think I can do this.” When my feet touched down on the other side, my internal monologue apparently became external and I said aloud, “Holy shit, I did it.” One of the guys I had been pacing along with said “Hell yeah, baby, you totally did.”

Thinking back, that was probably the highest point of the whole race for me, even though I didn’t have time to give his comment much thought.

Holy shit. I totally did it.

I am already stalking their website looking for signups for next year. Anyone want to come with me next time?

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6 responses to this post.

  1. What a woman! Bravo.

    Reply

  2. I’m totally not doing it with you next year, but brava!

    Reply

  3. […] I posted my write-up on the Virginia Warrior Dash Race over at my regular blog; you can read it all here. […]

    Reply

  4. […] until this year that I found the confidence to run races. It began in January when I learned that Warrior Dash was coming to Virginia and I signed up as a way to motivate myself. Then I discovered the SuperHero […]

    Reply

  5. […] September, I was pretty much back to normal and achieved my goal of running the Warrior Dash. Almost immediately, post-race blues set in and I knew I needed a new goal to work towards or I […]

    Reply

  6. Thank you for writing this! I visit your site fairly often and I always feel more intelligent
    afterwards. I shared this article on Facebook and my friends thought it was great too.
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    Reply

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