When Babyface first suggested we do a Warrior Dash last winter, I shrugged it off as one of his crazy ideas. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it sounded terrifying, but awesome. Finally in January, I told Babyface to sign us up and we were officially on our way to being warriors!
I had all these grand plans before my Warrior Dash. I was going to strength train. I was going to build my upper body strength. I was going to keep my cardio up-to-shape after my half marathon. None of those things happened. On Sunday, the Warrior Dash was the first time I’d run in a month, with barely any muscle tone oh, and on top of it, I got another cold (stay tuned for another post on my immune system has been crap lately).
So, things didn’t go perfectly. But I still had SO much fun! And I highly recommend everyone does an obstacle course run at some point in their life. The people, the atmosphere, everything was an absolute blast. Even if I never run one again, I definitely want to go to just hang out with all the awesome warriors.
Race day started with the alarm going off at 6am. Which was definitely a nice bit of sleeping in comparison to a normal race day. While it is awesome that you get to pick your start time in a Warrior Dash, try to still go early. The course deteriorates as the day goes on and there is a fine line between muddy and impossible. After getting dressed and eating a bit of breakfast, Babyface and I went downstairs to wait for our warrior companions and then hit the road. Our fellow warriors-to-be (Russ and Lacey) were in the 8:30am heat while Babyface and I were in the 9am heat. We got there in plenty of time for R&Ls heat, but decided we’d all rather do it together, so they waited until 9am to go with us.
We took a little time to get our packets, watch the finishers from the 8am heat and very, very, very securely strap in our timing/free beer chips. Did not want to lose these.
We headed over to the start line to get ready for our heat. There were about 500 people in each heat and they had music and an MC there to pump each heat up. We took a few last-minute “before” pictures…
And then it was time to roll. Honestly, the first 3/4 mile or so was a total bore. Almost entirely running. I really, really struggled with the running. I was definitely not trained to trail run up hills and the such, but we took it easy and had fun. We hit our first mud spot in the woods.
We had to run down some very muddy hills, splash through a river and then claw (literally) our way back up the other side. We were all having so much fun! The entire heat was giggling wildly as we all slid down the hill together. There was pretty much no way to stay upright it was so slippery. Came out the other side muddy and totally excited about the rest of the race.
And then that excitement quickly faded when we had to run about another 1/2 mile before we hit another obstacle. They crammed all the obstacles in the last mile, so the first two were a lot of running. Or actually, walking. We did a lot of walking. The muddy spots weren’t considered “real” obstacles, but these signs were in front of the real ones.
Our first obstacle was easy peasy. Good ole football drill through a field of tires.
And then climbing over some cars. True story: jumping on the roof of a car is fun times.
Next obstacle came soon after. A bunch of varying height platforms that you had to jump between. I totally rocked the jumping/climbing/leg muscle obstacles.
And then was the only water station. Normally, for a 5K, I’d say one water station is okay, but doing all these obstacles and running through all the terrain made me so thirsty. I would have liked to see at least two stations. Post-water break, we wound down some crazy hillsides (I totally bit it on a muddy curve at one point). And then made our way up to this demon spawn:
The Warrior Dash folks posted a photo of this on their Facebook page last week and I immediately thought, there is no way I’ll be able to pull myself up that. I had pretty much resigned that I was going to have to skip it. But I was at least going to try.
So I started my way up and it was actually pretty easy. I climbed to the top with barely any effort. And then I got stuck. How in the hell could I get myself over the top? I couldn’t get it to work, so I slid back down and decided to watch other people and try again. I went at it again, got all the way to the top, and then did not have the upper body strength to pull myself over the top to the other side. Satisfied I’d at least tried the damn thing (twice), I slid back down again. Only this time, I scraped the hell out of my arms the whole way down. Warrior Dash injury #1.
Right after this one, was a horizontal rope ladder. So not easy. But I conquered it (complete with stinging and bleeding arms).
After that was a pretty easy climbing obstacle (stealing a few of the official photos).
And then there was yet another, pull yourself up and flip over the top obstacle (I was actually disappointed with how many obstacles were similar). I went ahead and decided to skip this one considering my arms were already unhappy.
Right after that is where I pretty much stopped taking pictures. There were three obstacles right in a row that required both hands and the camera stayed put away. The first two were more climbing obstacles. One the opposite of the first one I skipped—you climb up a ladder and the slide down the other side. The second a super high climbing structure where I thought for the first time, “Wow, if I fall, I could totally break my neck and die.”
And then the third one happened.
The third one you climbed up and bunch of stairs and then took a fireman’s pole down. It all went good until I landed at the bottom of the fireman’s pole in a crumbled ball because my ankle gave out. I knew it was busted, but I got up, shook it off and we continued down to a river which we stomped through. My ankle was not happy, but not bad enough to quit. Warrior Dash injury #2. At the end of the river, we had to pull ourselves up a steep and very muddy hill to get to the final few obstacles.
First up, more rope nets…
I thought seriously about doing this one, but decided to just stay back and photograph the other three tackle it. Honestly, by this point, I was pretty beat up and ready to be done.
Next up were the two obstacles I was looking forward to the most—fire and mud!
I love this picture so much, it might be worth the $20 to buy it. Maybe.
And then. MUD.
The pit started off with about three feet of mud and then got more and more shallow as your crawled under barbed wire. The end was the finish line were we got our medals and tried to drink some water without getting more mud in our mouths. We all emerged looking like this:
Then we headed off to get sprayed off. They were ushering people through quickly so we only really got to rinse off our faces. This was after being rinsed off with a fire hose.
Hey look, the shameless plug stayed relatively clean!
My legs, however, did not.
We bagged up our dirty clothes, put on some clean(ish) ones and headed out to drop off our shoes into the every growing recycling pile.
First task post-race? Put on Warrior Helmets.
And then, food and water. I was so hungry and so dehydrated that I was getting all dizzy and light-headed. You know the answer to that don’t you?
Beer and a turkey leg! Don’t worry, I slammed an entire bottle of water before jumping into my Warrior Stein. That turkey leg was simultaneously the most amazing and disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten. The beer made my ankle feel brand new.
After eating, we decided to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere a bit. We ended up back in the spectator section of the mud pit and spent almost an hour heckling people and cheering them on as the went into the mud. It was so much fun getting people to do cannon balls and flips into the mud pool. Some people weren’t into us cheering and purposely splashed us with more mud.
Before heading out, we made one last trip to the shoe pile because Lacey was desperate to climb on top. Babyface joined her. Epic. Dirty. Shoes.
We made our way out of the “battleground” and back to the hotel. Where I showered and started to administer first aid to all of our scrapes, bumps and bruises.
I have no idea how it happened, but I came out of the race with two huge knots on both of my shins. I must have slammed into something, but can’t for the life of me figure out what. Warrior Dash injury #3. I spent the next few hours like this:
My ankle is swollen and tender, but I’ve had much worse sprains and am thankful that is all that happened with how I fell off that obstacle.
The Warrior Dash was so much fun that I really want to do another. But after I work on some serious strength training.
Stay tuned tomorrow for my tips for anyone competing in a Warrior Dash or similar event.