Warrior Dash 2011 (I Survived!)

Today I changed the item in my daily to-do list from ‘TRAIN, MAGGOT!’ back to ‘exercise’.

The fastest time on my day was just under 22 minutes, which is amazing. Only 66 people finished under 30 minutes, including the top female competitor. I finished at 3951 of 9319 (9292 with posted times) with a time of about 51 minutes. 413 of 782 (777 posting times) in the 35-39 age group.

But perhaps I get ahead of myself. Back in January I signed up for this ‘race‘, a 5-km obstacle course. On a mountain. Warrior Dashes have been happening all around the country, and I have been pleased to see many friends and acquaintances on Facebook take part in the races in their areas. Most, however, are not on mountains. I’m not sure those should count, at least not with the same weight. Oh sure, it was hot as hell in some places, while the weather for my race was actually quite comfortable, but was theirs on a freaking ski slope?

I was initially reticent about committing to the race. Not because of the mountain, but because I knew how hard it was going to be for me to find time to train. Fast forward to June and I still hadn’t started training. Oh, I’d thought about it a lot, and was beginning to panic, because of the mountain, but had not yet coaxed myself into my running shoes for their intended purpose. I had heard about the Couch-to-5k program earlier in the year, but it wasn’t until about this time that I learned that there were iPhone apps for that. Of course there were. I used Get Running, which is billed as ‘The Human Running Coach’. It really is; the recorded voice prompts are very encouraging and seemed to be timed to play at difficult points in a given interval. I had eight weeks left, just enough time to be able to survive a 5-km run.

But maybe not one set on the side of a mountain.

Warrior Dash is an awesome experience. It does not take itself very seriously, and therefore encourages people of every age and ability level, who are just a bit crazy and not afraid to get dirty or a little burnt, to participate. So I lined up in the starting chute that Saturday afternoon, with two friends and a company of soon-to-be-grizzled warriors, feeling mostly comfortable that I would survive in good company.

Naturally, the start of the race was at the bottom of the slope. The first mile, which started as a jog, quickly became a hike up the steep, rocky face of the mountain. There was a point where I wasn’t sure I would make it. But then there was the water station, and I have never experienced such refreshment from a paper cup before. After that, though exhausted from the climb, the real fun began. I could write about it more, but instead I’ll let you experience the run yourself…

Warrior Dash 2011 (Team Blood) from Alexander Turoff on Vimeo.

The one thing missing from Turoff’s most excellent video is the view from the top. There was a section of the race that crossed a run near the highest point of the course. It would have been easy to miss the view, delirious from the ascent and concentrating on the uneven and slippery terrain, but for some reason I was curious enough in this open section to turn my head and regard the glorious vista beneath me. I was tempted to stop and take it in, but I figured that was just my wracked body trying to goad me into a rest, so I continued on. But that view was as refreshing mentally as that precious cup of water had been physically.

I was separated from my friends early on in the ascent, but I cheered for them when they crossed the finish line. In front of me, as I crossed the line, a guy dropped down to one knee. At first I thought he was just exhausted from the ordeal, but then I saw that he held, in his mud plastered hands, a box with a diamond ring in it. I’m not sure how he managed the race with that concealed on his person, but his girlfriend said yes. I imagine they will be back next year…

As will I. And my little brother. Which means that while the mountain may be the great equalizer, I still need to change ‘exercise’ on my to-do list back to ‘TRAIN MAGGOT!’

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