A Hero's Run 5K
When I signed up for this event I truly thought it was just a 5k trot through mud and slop, but with three days to go to the event I was enlightened with the knowledge that logs, ropes, hay bales, manure, cold water and electric shocks, in addition to the mud and slop, were just some of the ammenities I was paying for. While I am not totally opposed to logs, ropes, hay bales, manure, electric shocks, mud, and slop (please note that I am, however, opposed to cold water), my enthusiasm plummeted with this new knowledge in large part because I had not trained for this type of activity. Ugh!! What to do?? Well, I am not one to make a commitment and not keep it, plus my husband and our ex-marine buddy (both of whom I had to convince a month ago to do this event with me) were totally digging these race enhancements....so...in for a penny, in for a pound! I was in....all in. Gulp.
Race day started out with frost on the car windows. Fortunately, the race did not start until 1pm which allowed the temperature to creep into the upper 40s. With the sun shining and not too much of a breeze blowing, race conditions were certainly tolerable. After check in, stretching, potty breaks, and brief instructions about the course, the three of us decided to participate in this as a team endeavor and not worry about going for any medals, which meant that we'd be heading off in the second wave as the first wave was stacked with the "competitors" and the third wave was comprised of the "just want to finish-ers". As the first group was gathering at the start line, my husband and our marine buddy decided between themselves to throw me into the competitor category so they pushed me down the hill and into the middle of the pack. There I was....and the pre-start army chant was being recited (did I mention that this was a charity event for the military and their families...and that an army troop was present, which was totally cool??)...and then the gun went off....and competitive instincts kicked in.
We ran down a dirt and gravel road to our first obstacle - walking over logs in the water. It was a breeze as I have pretty good balance, thus I did not fall in. Next - running up a hill that was laden with hay bale after hay bale that we had to hurdle. Good grief, did that take the punch out of me! I'm not a very big person and the bales were quite huge, so it took significant momentum for me to throw my body up onto the bale for me to get over it. More than once did I have to back up and start again with greater speed. Then more running up hill...then onto a gravel road....and then into a field. I was making pretty good time during this section of the course and was passing a few participants. I figured I'd make as much time as I could on the run. We then had to scurry up and over a pile of cow manure......and then dive into a muddy covered trench and crawl on our bellies under a plastic tarp.....and then under a blanket of electric wire on our bellies again (not so bad for me, but for some of my bigger comrades, not so much). Then we ran down to the icy cold stream where we had to run through freezing cold water for at least 100 yards. It started out at knee level, and I was able to run, but once I reached waist level depth, I took a cue from the fella I was behind and just walked it. The current was coming at us and it was too deep to run, so we conserved energy while we froze our legs off - but we chatted and encouraged each other, which was part of the point of this event, so that was lovely.
Once out of the stream it was hard to make our legs move. My companion yelled at me to keep going, but once I did get my arse moving I realized my shoelaces had both come untied in the water - even after double knotting them. Note to self: use those clippy thingies whenever an event calls for wading in water. Really. Double knotting is no use. And do you have any idea how hard it is to double knot your shoelaces when your fingers are frozen?? Any way, I digress. Next up....running to a football field where we had to get down on all fours and, without letting any other part of our body touch the ground, we had to go halfway up and back doing a bear crawl. This was murder. Exhaustion, numbness, fatigue....and we had to bear crawl 100 yards. I was passed by a very tall and lanky 20 something year old male who was cruising along like nothing else. Once upright, it was another run up a hill, around a telephone pole, and then back down to the football field where we had to get back on all fours and leap frog (yes, leap frog!) halfway up and back without letting any other part of our body touch the ground. Well, at this point I knew that I was in the lead in the ladies division, and, as I'm moving a minuscule distance with each one of my sorry leaps, I cursed under my breath that I will be quite pissed if I lose this race because of this dreadful leap frog. As I neared the end of the field, still on all fours with my fanny up in the air, I yelled to the course official asking if I could get up yet. Once I was given the go ahead, it was a sprint back down to the stream where I went splashing through to the other side where three ropes at various heights were waiting for me to use in my climb up the very steep cliff. I had on cycling gloves, and my adrenaline was on high (only about a mile left to go in the course at this point - yee haw!) so this climb was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. In fact, I was worried that this would be my undoing, but to my pleasant surprise it was not.
Next, it was a trail run through some gorgeous woods with a beautiful carpet of leaves, then over a big round obstacle (had to hurdle it), and down to where the logs were waiting to be carried up a hill and back down. Women were allowed to pick a log that was 20 pounds or less, while the men had logs that looked to be 30 or 40 pounds (or, but the way the veins were popping out on a few of the gent's necks, perhaps heavier than that). I decided that since I was the first woman to reach this point that I would reward myself by choosing a small log...which I did....and was quite pleased that the run up and down the hill with my log was not too terribly bad. Certainly no red face or popping veins from me. I placed my log back in the pile, then had to go diving back into the icey cold water for a complete submersion, and then upon my return to dry land, two young children threw flour on me (huh??). Yep, they were waiting for me as I left the water and tossed a cup of flour (the baking kind) on my wet body. Okay. Whatever.
At this point, I knew that I only had some more running and one more obstacle to complete before I crossed the finish line, so I took off up the hill, over the stream, and out of the woods at a mad dash. After I crossed into the open field, I could see the finish line - woo hoo - but I had to cross more water to get there first. As I approached the water, I could see an orange netting material that ran the entire width of the murky water I had to cross. Once I got to the netting, the official raised it up and explained that I'd be crossing on my belly under the net. As I was moving forward under this net, my pony tail was getting caught in the openings, thus making it difficult for me to move ahead, so I had to reach out with one hand/arm, lift up the net and hold it up til I had moved myself one stroke forward with the other hand/arm, and then I repeated this motion over and over again until I reached the end of the net. It was very much like doing the backstroke, but on my hands and knees and with my belly to the mud. Once out of the net, and sufficiently muddy, I scurried up the last steep hill to cross the finish line in 34:53.
I had two friends greet me with big smiles and lots of clicks of the camera. After warming myself up by the massive bonfire the organizers had going (thank you!!), I waited by the finish line cheering all the others on and encouraging them to finish in style...and gave huge whoops when I saw my hubby and our marine friend in sight of the completion. Grand smiles from the two of them!!! Such excitement. We hung around until the last person crossed the line....had a group photo with all the athletes....and then I collected my uber cool Hulk-like trophy. Smiles all around.
I rewarded myself today (the day after the mud run) with a 15 mile LSR. Prior to today, the longest I'd ever run was 13.1 miles - and today's run kicked my butt at the end. Per my garmin - 15 miles, 2:08:30, 1281 calories, 8:33/mile. I'm tired, my upper body is sore, and I have bruises all over my knees. I think I'll pour myself a glass (or two) of wine tonight, pop some vitamin I before bedtime, and take it easy tomorrow.... and if you read this post in its entirety, you may need to do the same as it's length is a bit on the upper end of acceptable. Pardon my lack of brevity..but this was such a fun event!!