What sane person, who doesn’t know how to swim, climbs 2 stories to a height of 30 ft, to slide down an inclined plane at high velocity into a large muddy body of water that’s 2 inches less than their height?
Yes, me. I did that. And I am still not sure what made me do it. Call it brain fart?
When the website said one needed to know how to swim to partake in the Warrior Dash, I thought it was all hogwash. When I signed the waiver and it was mentioned again, I started to think maybe they were mildly serious but that the water wouldn’t be that deep. Ha!
Good news is, I survived. Barely.
I ran the Warrior Dash on September 10, 2016 and I was majorly freaking out about it before the race. However, I decided that come what may, I would have fun- and that’s what I did. The Warrior Dash is an obstacle race on a course about 5 km long with 12 different obstacles throughout. The organizers of the event raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Here are some of the lessons I learned.
Get your game face on!
Literally. This adds to the fun experience too. I had seen the stick-ons on the website while registering but being my
cheap frugal self, I didn’t purchase them. The day before the race, they had been reduced to $1, but I figured shipping would take too long and probably cost too much. So I hoped they would have some to purchase on site. And they did- lucky me! You can also make up your own version of warrior face paint; the more creative the better :).
Put your best foot [shoe] forward- NOT!
Do NOT wear your running shoes for this race. I repeat, do NOT wear them. Especially if you are like me and your running shoes cost >$120 and you have >$300 custom orthotics in them. This is because you will be soaked in mud from head to toe from the race and it will be wet and soggy. You might even lose the shoe in all the carryings on! I didn’t have any old shoes lying around at home so I went shopping. Thanks to Payless, I got a pay of shoes for $15 the day before. Not the best shoes for running, obviously, but I figured I could endure for a ‘little’ 5k.
A little rain never hurt nobody- or did it?
It started to rain as we were in the starting corral. I have never run a race in the rain before. Training runs, yes- but not races. It seemed like this was a good one to get rained on because I was going to get wet before it was all over anyway, and muddy. This did not help matters because everywhere became muddy. At the first splash of mud on me, I almost lost it but I tried to keep calm, knowing more was inevitable in the near future. The bad part was it was also sticky and kept grabbing on to my shoes so I couldn’t run fast and everyone kept slipping and sliding into each other, and my foot kept slipping out of my shoes and I’d have to go back to get them. Yes, I slipped and fell in the mud- more than once. And that wasn’t even an intentional obstacle for this race. The rain didn’t last too long but the mud was there the entire time.
Do NOT train for this race.
Yes, you read right. I mean, you can train if you want- I’m not sure how much good it will do you. I didn’t train. I didn’t even run consistently prior to the race. Maybe one day, I did a lot of squats and tricep/bicep work. Ok, one day I did a lot of lunges too. The thing is, it was so muddy that except you were brave and didn’t mind falling at all, only then did you [attempt to] run seriously. As for the obstacles, most of them could be skipped. Also, it wasn’t timed (I wasn’t in the competitive wave. I’m not sure what happened in that one). So what I am trying to say is, you can get away with not training. Don’t let that be your reason not to do it. Don’t sweat it- just have fun.
Bring a trash bag.
For your dirty clothes. Oh, and some clean clothes too to change into afterwards. You could also take it a step further and actually throw the dirty clothes away. However, me being me, I stuffed my dirty clothes in the tiny plastic bag that the race shirt came in and brought them home to wash. I think my washer and bath tub are still recovering as well as the clothes themselves. So my advice is- find clothes that are old and you can afford to part with, run in them, and don’t bother trying to resuscitate them. Same for shoes- which, by the way, I saved. I had intended to donate them after the race (they had a place for this) but after a brief rinse, I saw potential left in them and brought them home. They are still undergoing rehabilitation.
Have a Buddy!
Without my buddy, Alex, it would have been much tougher. He pulled me up when I had to climb up muddy, slippery areas, held me steady in deep muddy waters, gave tips on how to jump over stuff and how to not land on my tailbone, how to not hold on to the rope till the other person with the rope had let go, how to go through fisherman’s catch on my back, instead of my belly … Basically, have at least one person who won’t leave you. If you don’t have a buddy, others on the course will likely help you, but it’s just better when you know someone will always be there.
Keep your head low.
Thankfully, not the whole time. But there was an obstacle where you had to crawl in the trenches and for whatever reason, I thought I could get by without going on my hands and knees- the pebbles and rocks really hurt. So I did the crouch method- and bumped my head. Twice. The massive headache I got the next few days after that were surely as a result of this. And maybe the ear infection.
Know your math.
Yes, math is kind of essential in this race. At least it was for me; almost a life and death thing. So we get to this obstacle, a small lake, and the sign says it’s 40 ft deep and there I was trying to divide by 12 and convert 40 ft to feet and inches! I was like hold up, something ain’t right. So I asked the volunteer how deep it was and he said it was 25 feet, so I was happy. I proceeded to redo the math, again dividing by 12. Finally, I gave up, it was too hard to figure out and it didn’t seem worth the risk so I skipped the obstacle. People were like but there is a rope you can hold on to. I said no thanks and kept it moving.
If you can’t swim, stay out of the water.
No brainer, right? Well, you would think. To be honest, I think by this time, my brain was shutting down. LOL. So I had successfully avoided the first water obstacle, and then I got to Goliath. I actually did more investigation this time. I walked around to the other side to see how it looked. I even asked how deep the water was and I was told it was 5 ft 5 inches (or was it 5.5 ft? either way). And my very smart brain decided that since I was taller than 5’5”, I would be ok. Even though I can’t swim.
So I climbed up to the platform, looked down, sat at the top, imagined I was on the baddest roller coaster at Cedar Point, closed my eyes, and let go. Just like that. I dived into the water feet first and waited to float. I thought it would happen automatically. That’s what people say. It didn’t happen. I tried waving my hands frantically, nothing. No one came. Alex can swim so we had parted ways at the lake. So I gave up and just assumed I would drown there. No one could see me as I was completely under the water and it was muddy. Finally, I felt someone dragging me. I was alive! I was safe! After a few seconds of coughing and trying to catch my breath and people looking at me like I was crazy, I continued on my way.
God saved me!
Apparently, my friends who were yet to come down the slide were screaming for those at the bottom to come get me but they didn’t realize this. Until the one person did and went back to get me.
What I should/could have done, is what one of my friends did. Confess to someone at the top of the slide that you can’t swim, hold their hand as you slide down together and when you get to the bottom, they drag you out. Or just skip the obstacle entirely.
Oh, and I got a lovely ear infection from that deal. I just now finished my dose of antibiotics. My very first ear infection; how about that?
This was the biggest lesson of the day for me, folks: if you can’t swim, stay out of the water.
So anyway, that’s my Warrior Dash experience. I had a LOT of fun. And I would do it again, I would just be smarter about it :). If you want to see videos of the race, you can go to the warrior dash website or just YouTube to see people’s personal videos.
Here are some more pictures from race day.
Have you ever done the Warrior Dash or any other obstacle race? How did it go?