Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Warrior in Me

Yesterday, I was not Cindi the mom.  I was not Cindi, the girl in the office who sits at a desk all day long talking on the phone.  I was not the credit girl who all day long, just says no.  I was none of that.

Yesterday I was a Warrior.

Yesterday I ran the Warrior Dash.  6km, 11 obstacles.  Funny, I thought it would be the obstacles that challenged me.  No, I actually FLEW over, under and through the obstacles.  Or at least I would have if there weren't a whole bunch of people in front of me gingerly picking their way over and under, letting out little girlie screams along the way (ever heard a man do a girlie scream?!!).  No, for me the real challenge was in the hillsThe freaking hills!  The event was held in ski country and there wasn't a single stretch of that run that was on level ground.  The uphill climbs were loose sand, as steep as a sand slide every time.  No one ran up those hills.  You couldn't run up even if you wanted to for all the people in the way, slipping and sliding and clawing their way upwards.  I couldn't run.  I just couldn't.

Look how clean and happy we are; we're at the start line.

Now, to all of you Crossfit-box gym rats out there, go ahead and sneer at me.  I used to be a gym rat, too.  I know, you're thinking phhhht, try Tough Mudder, girl!  Try  the CrossFit Games!   may some day, I will.  But not today.

This was my first "adventure race".  I signed up for this event back in February and waited and waited like a little kid waiting for Christmas morning to arrive.  I had to start somewhere.

Now, if you've ever been to a Warrior Dash, you know that this race brings out all kinds of party animals and crazy people.  I saw the whole Justice League of America there running along with me (except for the Flash, no one can see him since he runs so fast).  There were men in wedding dresses and tutus.  There was a very rotund woman running in neon pink leotards and a black bikini bottom with "can't touch this" written across her very ample rear end.  There were plastic army helmets and 1980's era "20-Minute Workout" outfits.  That must've sucked in the 29 degree heat.  It was hot out there.  And it was dry and dusty as all hell wherever they didn't soak it down with a fire hose.  The grass was nothing more than golden hay and I seemed to spend some serious time surfing down hills on my butt. 

When I signed up for this race, my only ambition was to finish the race.  To not be dead-last.  On race day, full of anxiety and excitement, that was still my only ambition.  To "not suck".  At the starting line, in the blaring heat, I was all smiles and bouncing (doing a subtle imitation of the Swedish Australian hurdle racer).  We were all cheering and cracking jokes.  We were bunched up like bowling pins at the starting line.  Someone told me to tighten my shoe laces.  Thank you, anonymous man, but in my excitement, I completely forgot.

Crossing over the start line, everyone was moving at an easy jog.  We stayed stuck together on that narrow path, no where to go but with the herd.  And we were definitely in the middle of the herd.  People started bunching up tight in front of us, only 250 metres or so into the race as we ducked under the first wooded, shady part of the trail.  Girlie screams were starting, giggles and shouts coming from up ahead.  The crowd was too tight to see what was going on. 

And then it happened.  A mere 250 metres into the race.  I dropped knees-deep into the mud, momentum carrying me forwards, and lost my shoe.  I went several steps before even realising it, until I heard someone shout "there's a shoe in the mud".  I had to claw my way back against that herd of runners I'd just started to pull away from to retrieve the shoe, and then stand ankle deep off-track in poison ivy to get that muddy 5-lb shoe back onto my muddy, soggy sock foot.  Only to watch them then pass me by, and to have to pass them again up ahead.

And the rest of the race was just exactly that.  At the next bunch-up, where the mud was even deeper and this time on a steep uphill climb where runners were pretty much swimming their way up, I stopped and cinched the other shoe ridiculously tight before plunging in.

We were both passed by runners, and ran past a lot of runners and walkers.  On climbing over waist-high wall after waist-high wall, the girl beside me caught herself on a nail head.  Coming out of the obstacle, she quipped "I think I just put another hole down there.  My husband might like that."  And that was pretty much the tone of the first half of the race.  Happy, upbeat, silly... 

But by the end of the race, before you could see the finish line, as we were passing the odd person back-tracking against the direction of the race, likely collecting up more of their group members who'd fallen behind, if they dared to mention how many hills were still ahead us us, the tone was more of a "holy f***, shut up already and let us be naive, just for this moment!!"  But we survived it.  We saw the finish line and picked up the pace and dug deep for that final oomph through the mud pit with the barbed wire.  We finished with flair.  And tried to hug each other before getting across the finish line, where Steve promptly slipped, stumbled, and we both went down together, taking out others around us.

At the finish line, trying to get away from my stumbling husband so I don't go down again.

So how'd I do?  In my age category, I placed 367th out of 792 runners.  I didn't win anything.  But I didn't suck, either.  Just a shade above average, really.  But you know what?  I loved it.  It was exactly what I thought it would be; it was fun, and it was hard and it was the experience of a lifetime.

Somewhere along the race, there was a sign saying "Your high school gym teacher would be proud".  Yes, she would.  In high school, I was a smoker.  The teacher told me to run and I refused.  She made me run anyways, and she ran alongside, barking orders at me.  I ran that track, and then promptly threw up.  On her shoes.  Yes, she'd be pretty proud.  Or flabbergasted.  I am not a natural runner.  Running is hard for me.  That's why I do it.

The moral of my story here?  Sometimes you have to do things that are outside your natural comfort zone.  Every now and then, you have to test yourself.  Try something new.  Try something hard.  Do something that makes you uncomfortable.  You may hate it the whole time, or discover you love it and hate it the whole time you're doing it, but then, you'll be done.  And you'll look back on it.  And you'll be pretty damn proud of yourself for doing it. 

I am.

And I will do it again.

And I might even try something harder next time.  Life is short.  Live it fully.

Waiting for our turn under the fire hose after the race.

Getting hosed off by some gratuitous firemen.  They enjoyed hosing the girlie-girls who screamed alot... 

Soggy, but still smiling.
Oh, yea, I earned this!  The muddy fingernails says it all.

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