When my boyfriend and I decided to sign up for the Warrior Dash I knew I was going to have to hit my workouts harder. I started my training in June. I started pushing myself to take less breaks when I ran, eventually getting to the point where I could run a mile without stopping. This may not sound like a huge deal to seasoned runners, but for a veteran sprinter-like myself-forcing myself to run at a constant pace for more than a few seconds was a challenge.
Sound familiar? Pick a speed that’s a 6 on the spectrum of running like a snail and running like a cheetah. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. I started running at 5.4 mph, which felt almost ridiculously easy, but after a minute or two I felt myself begin to sweat. I relied on focus and a playlist filled with David Guetta to work through the hump. As time went on I would speed up and do interval training on the treadmill. If you didn’t know, Warrior Dash isn’t your ordinary race. Like I said before, it’s extreme. You have to climb, crawl through mud, run through fire, and pretty much fight your way through the elements to cross the finish line.
I felt comfortable going the 3 miles, but I wasn’t sure I could climb. It was clear I would have to start strength training. I have always done toning exercises using my own body weight, but in preparation of the event I decided to start working with more weights. I’ve already detailed my full-body workout before in previous posts.
Want to start strength training but don’t want to bulk? According to experts, the majority of women don’t have the ability to get bulky like a man. However, they do have the ability to gain muscle mass. A small percent of women are easy gainers, so if you’re freaked out about hitting the weights I completely understand. I’m an easy gainer, so the only way I could get stronger and stay lean was to watch my diet and keep my reps light. I did a full-body strength training workout once a week, and every day after doing my cardio I did strength training exercises that used my own body weight, like lunges, crunches, and things of that nature.
Onto The Event I knew that I was going to be running through mud, so I picked an outfit that I didn’t care about ruining. You already saw one of these photos but what the hell?!
The event was held in Windham, N.Y., a town popular for skiing. We were running late because somebody-I won’t say who-had to update her blog. Whoopsies. Windham is all hills and mountains. The town is quaint and sleepy looking. When we got closer to the campgrounds we passed a group of people having church service outside in a tent.
Parking cost $20 bucks, which sucked. A school bus was there to take event goers to the ski mountain where WD was being held. I hadn’t been on a school bus since I was in middle school. Can’t say I missed it. The place was swarming with people. After my boyfriend and I checked in we headed over to line up for the noon race. Races were held every thirty minutes. Technically we were suppose to be racing at 11:30, but we had to sneak into the next one since we were late. Like I said, the place was packed. There were men and women in warpaint. Some came dressed in costumes. During the course of the day I passed people who looked like they were rejects from The Insane Clown Posse, ballerinas in training, and I even saw two wannabe-felons. There was lots of cheering and whooping. Speakers had been set up around the park to play Top-40 dance tracks. I raced to Lady Gaga and Pitt Bull. When the MC gave the countdown everyone put their hands up and made little viking signs with their fingers. I stretched and hooted, almost salivating with anticipation. And then suddenly we were off in a mad dash, but that quickly came to an end when we realized what we were up against.
The event took me up a steep freaking hill and then into an even steeper mountain. Sections had been hosed down so the terrain was slippery. When I wasn’t tiptoeing for my life I was climbing down slippery rocks, crawling beneath barbwire and doggy paddling through mud. There were several balance and climbing obstacle courses, which thanks to my strength training, I managed with ease. “You’re making me look bad,” my boyfriend said catching up to me after I tightrope-walked across a stream. I admit, I was feeling like a boss when I scaled the climbing walls, which were wet from spray and mud. All I had was a rope to help keep my leverage. Even with all the mud pits, which got progressively deeper as the race wore on, the course took me through some beautiful sights. The water that was sprayed on us during certain obstacles mixed with the glaring some caused rainbows to spring up against climbing walls. We were surrounded by higher mountains and richly green trees. I felt one with the earth.
By the end of the race I was drenched in mud, and rumor had it that it wasn’t just mud they used to create those pits. I don’t know if I believe that though, because that wouldn’t be sanitary. I slid and fell along the way, and I skipped jumping through the fire. But I crossed the finished line so proud and exhilarated. There was such a sense of community during the race and at the entire event. When people fell others would stop to help them up. I talked to other racers while we hiked up the mountain, trying to avoid pockets of mud. When I crossed the finish line I know I looked like a swamp monster, but I didn’t really care. I was given water and a I Survived Warrior Dash 2012 metal with everyone else who crossed the finished line. It felt pretty sweet.
Because my boyfriend and I ran for St. Jude we were allowed to use their personal shower station and hang in their tent. We were given free food and drinks, which was much appreciated because I was famished. Oh, and they offered veggie burgers!! Pretty swag. After my boyfriend and I were clean we put on our Warrior Dash helmets and walked around to see the vendors. A DJ was on a stage and those who had finished racing were dancing like it was a rave. Even though we got a chance to rinse off we were still pretty dirty. We hung around for about an hour and then headed home. Let me tell you, a shower never felt so good. I still had tons of mud in my hair and on my body. When I looked down in the shower I was literally standing in brown water. I sort of felt like Sissy Spacesak in the movie Carrie, during the bath scene. I just scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed some more till the water ran clear again.
Have you done Warrior Dash or another extreme race? Would you? Let me know in the comments.