30 Before 30 is a list of 30 new things that I'm trying to accomplish before my 30th birthday. Today I'm checking one off the list!
On Saturday morning, I jumped in the car and headed 3 hours north into the Poconos to the site of the 2012 Pennsylvania Warrior Dash. The weather was gorgeous. The scenery was gorgeous. The whole trip was lovely and I was feeling super optimistic about the whole day.
We rolled into Pocono International Speedway in Long Pond, PA around 1pm with a flat tire, but we decided to deal with that mess later and headed inside to get our Warrior on.
The inside of the Dash grounds is organized chaos. The crush of people is what you would expect at a music festival and red tents speckle the entire area with giant banners jutting up into the sky denoting what each is for. We signed our waivers, picked up our packets and headed off to the St. Jude's tent to drop our bags.
Ok guys, here it is. I am friggin' thrilled to report that boyfriend and I raised a combined $600 for St. Jude Children's Hospital. I am so proud. If you helped us out by donating, thank you, thank you, thank you.
We had about an hour before our 3pm heat, so we wandered around, located the beer and watched the mud-people from one of the earlier races come barreling through the finish line. No one seemed to be bleeding or weeping. Good, right?
At 2:45 we headed to the Start to warm up. There was an MC getting everyone fired up, and I'll admit that I was more than a little relieved when he asked for a show of hands from people who were running for time and about six people at the very front raised their hands. The rest of us were just there to get dirty, have fun and hopefully finish with all of our teeth.
At 3 o'clock, the crowd surged forward, passing under a giant pair of flame throwers mounted overhead (note: Ouch. That shit is hot.) and we were off!
I am not a great endurance runner. Under the right conditions (pavement!) with carefully measured breathing, I could pound out the 3.38 miles of the Warrior Dash course pretty easily. But over gravel, rocks, through the woods, over and under fallen trees, through mud with heavy, wet shoes... I was counting on the obstacles to break up the distance and let me catch my breath. Mostly, they did.
I really had no idea how well I'd do on the obstacles. I haven't climbed a rope since high school and while I'm not afraid of heights, I do have a healthy fear of falling a great distance and landing on my face, as everyone should.
|Boyfriend is auditioning for the remake of "Predator."|
Little did I know that the PA course was almost all climbing. Up fifteen feet and over a rickety wooden balance beam! Up and over a sheer wooden wall with a rope! Up and over another completely vertical but much higher wall with a rope! Up and over a giant wooden arch with 25 other people on top of it at the same time! Shuffling horizontally pressed between two walls so as not to fall into the pit underneath! Up and over a giant cargo net!
And there are no safeties. There are no spotters. There are no cushy bags or rubber mats underneath to catch the fallers-off, ala American Gladiators. There is just hard, hard ground and lots of two-by-fours to smack on the way down. If one were not sure-footed, one could absolutely eat it on any one of these things and seriously eff oneself up in a very unattractive way. I can only assume that all of this was covered in the waiver that I initialed in 65 places and signed without reading.
By the last leg of the course, I was praying for mud and fire. Just no more climbing. I vaulted the flames, ran headlong into the mud pit, slogged underneath the barbed wire (it's real and has a lot of hair stuck to it) and sloshed across the finish line at 49:24.
Under any other circumstances, I would probably be pretty disappointed in that finishing time for a race just a shade over 5k, but considering that I had to queue-up and wait to cross several of the thirteen obstacles and you know, fire and mud and shoddily constructed wooden jungle gyms and stuff, I'm actually pretty A-OK with it.
Raising money for St. Jude Children's Hospital and qualifying as St. Jude's Warriors proved to be hugely beneficial after the race when I got to use the private shower trucks and port-o-potties reserved just for fundraisers. Don't get me wrong, by my late 3pm start those things were already fully wrecked. The showers all contained an inch of mud and there was not a scrap of toilet paper to be had in the entire compound. But it was still way better than being blasted in the face by a fire hose in the middle of a muddy field or trying to use the corral of 100-something communal potties (also sans T.P.) that had surely achieved chemical weapons-grade nastiness baking in the hot June sun. So again, donors, thanks for helping me avoid the gross!
I scarfed a complimentary veggie burger in the St. Jude's tent and drank a well earned beer or two. The event wrapped at 5:30, and after a tire change, a flat spare tire as well and a lot of of phone-tag and cajoling, I finally found someone willing to put a new tire on the car at 7pm on a Saturday in the middle of nowhere. We treated ourselves to dinner at the local greasy spoon and headed home.
I am still nursing my cut and bruised knees, which look like I crawled through glass, a slightly strained thigh muscle from when I threw myself over the top of some damn thing and general soreness in pretty much everything.
And yes, I'm running it again next year.