Monday, June 06, 2011

I Survived the Warrior Dash -- Woo Hoo

(Edited June 7 to add finish times and fix typos.)

Yesterday I completed Ohio's first Warrior Dash and I am a Warrior! (I will not remember all of the obstacles or the order of them, so just bear with me.)

Nestled in the hills (mountains?) of Logan, Ohio, the course was extremely challenging, but I think the obstacles supplied by Mother Nature were worse than anything the Red Frog Company thought up.

The participants start the race in heats of 500 every half hour beginning around 8 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m. We started at 3 p.m., and it was sunny, very hot and very humid. As you cross under the official starting gate, flames shoot from the top of it. It was surprising that being under the gate we could feel the heat from the flames!

The start was a bottleneck as everyone tried to run, but the course immediately funneled to a trail just a few feet wide. Walking and jogging a little bit, we soon hit the first obstacle -- a huge hill, and the trail was covered with several inches of mud. I'm not a strong runner and I knew it was silly to even try to run up hill like my team all did. I think I started walking first, but my husband and our friend Curtis were soon right there with me. (OK, they were way ahead of me, but I caught up since we were all walking.) This hill was grueling -- my heart was pounding, I was gasping for air, it was hot and humid with no air in the trees -- I pretty much was ready to quit. To me, this hill was as horrible as the worst hill in the Big Sur Marathon -- with the addition of several inches of mud.

At some point it flattened out a little, there was a somewhat dry trail, so we (from here on "we" will mean Lenny, Curtis and me) jogged to a bend in the trail, and then just a little farther to the first obstacle. We ran through a bunch of tires hanging from ropes. Easy, it slowed us down, we caught our breath.

More up and down hills and lots of mud.

We came to walls and barbed wired. The walls were about 4 feet high, so they took a little effort to climb over. Between the walls were strings of barbed wire we had to crawl under. Being short, I took a little longer getting over the walls, but I had the advantage going under the wire.

Eventually we came to a water hole. There were logs across the water chained in place so you had to go over them. I anticipated walking through the water, but realized after a step of two I was going to have to swim. Ugh! It is not easy to swim in shoes.

When we got out of the water, my legs felt like lead! And the soggy shoes! The good thing is we got cooled off, we washed the mud off and there was a water stop which we desperately needed. Turns out, this was the halfway point.

As we went along, we climbed over wrecked cars separated by large sections of old tires, then more cars, then more tires.  Somewhere along here was the tunnel of doom which ripped up my knees pretty good. There were bungee-type cords strung through some trees we had to get through at the top of a hill.

The course looped near the starting line to a two-story cargo-net wall. While we were waiting for our heat to start we watched people climb over it and I was a little bit nervous about it. It looks a lot taller when you are standing next to it. I thought -- what will be worse, saying I didn't try or getting to the top and being scared to death. I made it over and Lenny even waited at the top for me to be sure I could get over. 

We jogged a few feet to some planks that went up and down. My knees were so shaky from successfully climbing the cargo net, I thought I would fall off. I ended up having to crawl for part of it. (Oh, well, I got over.) We came to a HUGE wall that required ropes to climb. I was exhausted and couldn't do it. (After the fact, Len said he could have gotten me over, but he was a few steps ahead of me during this part and didn't notice when I was lagging behind.)

There were more cargo nets hung horizontally, we waded through a deep creek, turned the corner and we were at the fire pits. After the creek my legs were heavy, but I ran, leaped over both fire pits, crawled though the mud under more barbed wire, ran the last few yards through several more inches (feet?) of mud and we finished to the cheers of the crowd!

The race was a lot of fun! Some of the obstacles were harder than I would have expected. For example, that final rope wall -- much higher than what I saw on the website and I just didn't have the strength at that point to do it. And there is a real knack to going across horizontal cargo nets -- I don't have the knack. The hills were really horrible -- and I do lots of races that have hills.

Red Frog did a great job with this race. Though many of the obstacles were different from what was advertised, the course had plenty of them. I like the fact we could watch people do the cargo-net wall and the planks while waiting for the start. They also set up the final leg so spectators can watch participants leap over fire and crawl through the mud. The cheers at the end kept me going.

There are a few things I would do differently: 1) work on upper body strength, 2) plan to do it earlier in the day before it was so hot and humid, 3) protect my knees (they are SO scraped up!), 4) zoom ahead of my husband when I had the opportunity, 5) start my annual hill workouts earlier and 6) wear a costume.

Finish times (Added June 7, 2011):
Angel was 47 in his age group with 29:15
Cathy was 36th in her age group with a time of 42:19
I was 61st in my age group with a finish of 58:53
Lenny was 99th in his age with 58:35
Curtis was 101 in the same age with 58:55

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