Monday, 6 August 2012

Lesson Learned...Finally??!!

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

You would think I would have learned this lesson before...alas, if last week was any sign...I had not.

What lesson you ask?  Not to be afraid of the big bad UNKNOWN!

Fear of the unknown. Seriously, it must be one of the things we waste SO much time worrying about!  When I was a kid I would be paralyzed by that fear.  It held me back in so many ways.  As an adult I stood up to fear.  I challenged it.  And most times I came out on the positive end of that challenge.

Perhaps it was because the last time I competed in an organized sport was Ironman Cozumel in 2009.  And perhaps because that race was a total FAIL in so many ways that this fear of the unknown crept back up.  Who knows.  What I do know is I wasted precious time worrying about a little event I decided to try with my friend Kari.

The event - the Warrior Dash.  It is a mix of trail race and obstacle course.  These types of races seem to be popping up here and there nowadays.  Kari and I had finished a trail running clinic so this seemed like it would be a fun thing to do.  Of course after I signed up I started to look at the teeny tiny photos on the site which illustrated the obstacles we would have to get through.  This is when I started to worry.
  • Holy crap, that looks really high, how I am going to climb over without falling?
  • Vicious Valleys?  I have to bounce through it??  Huh??
  • Hmm, those flames look pretty high...I am white girl with no vertical, how the heck do I jump over that without catching on fire??!!
Alas, that is a sample of the thoughts going through my head as I would try to sleep every night.  That coupled with visions of my being trampled, snapping a femur, or knocking teeth out.  Did I mention I have a brilliantly vivid imagination?  I would do better to put that imagination towards visualizing my career goals...

Anyways, the day finally came and we headed to the venue. First up, to survive the 1.5 hour long wait for a shuttle bus to take us up the mountain - the email received said there would be no parking allowed up there.  Thankfully most of the wait was in the shade. Plus it gave me time to check out most of the peeps up there.  Unlike triathlon, most of the people looked quite fit.  Not to say triathletes aren't, but triathlon is a wonderfully inclusive sport where you will find people of all shapes and sizes not to mention young to older.  The average age here was likely somewhere between 30 - 39 and slim but muscular.  This didn't add to my worry.  I wasn't here to race for a time or anything, just to have fun and not break anything.  

Finally, we got to the race site, the first thing we noticed was it was getting really really hot out.  The next thing we noticed was it was hard to figure out where to go to next!  The organization of the site was not well done.  I'm used to Ironman.  Every move you make is choreographed for the most part and there are a ton of volunteers kindly ushering you this way and that.  

We made our way to the finish area as we were able to see a couple of the obstacles.  That's when all fear of the obstacles drained out of me and I chastised myself for having been worried in the first place. We could see the "Warrior Roast" where you are to jump over 'flames'.  I am going to assume something happened with the propane supply because these 'roasting flames of death' were about 2 inches high.  Seriously.  We laughed.   Then we noticed the last obstacle, which was "Muddy Mayhem".  The online photo shows major mud that you crawl through underneath barbed wire.  Reality:  Muddy water and barbed wire strung about 3 feet above the water.   Huh.  Nothing scary about that!

The race start was in waves and really, although we had assigned times, you could go whenever the heck you felt like it.  No one checked.  I am sure they looked to see you had a race bib, but that was about it.  The race itself was pretty fun once we got past people afraid of a) hills and b) mud.  

The hills....this race took place on a ski hill.  Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this race was simply having to run up and down the friggin ski runs. down, and hoof it back up.  No one, not even the fit of the fit, where running up the hills.  Oh, and the down???  I am convinced 99% of the people that were in this event do NOT trail run.  We got to a bit of single track switch back and they all STOPPED and WALKED!!!  UGH!  Kari and I did our best to run past them.  Not to mention people were tip toeing around the mud.  AROUND.   AGGGH!!!  Warriors run through mud people!  At least this allowed us to pass more folks, not to mention get a little mucky.  

The obstacles...these were completely misrepresented on the website.  The website photos show well engineered obstacles.  Reality were a bunch of contraptions thrown together with 2x4's and plywood.  The health & safety engineer in me was wondering if they were going to come apart as we climbed up over and across them!  However, there was one obstacle I couldn't have gotten over if Kari wasn't there, it was a wall of angled plywood about 7' high that one had to run up and grab onto the 2x4 at the top then hurl themselves over.  I am too short, and as mentioned above, have no vertical ability.  She was able to give me a foot up and then another girl shoved my butt up so I could climb over.  I then reached down to help the others.  Actually several people were doing that.  It was a really nice moment of camaraderie.  Needless to say we made it through these with flying colours and it did add a nice break from running up and down ski hills!  Oh, and not all the obstacles shown on the website were even there!!

Eventually we made it to the end and did our flying leap over the 2" flames...actually I almost tripped trying to make sure I didn't drag my foot.  Why is it so hard to jump over teeny tiny things??  Too funny.  Now that the race is all done I do wonder if I should write to the organizers to voice my thoughts on what I feel is some misrepresentation of the obstacles....

I was glad I did the race and I did learn a valuable lesson.  Rather, I relearned a valuable lesson - not to waste time on 'fear of the unknown'.  Eventually you will get to the time where you have to face the unknown and you will figure out what to do.  Not to mention it is never scarier than what our imaginations make up!  Plus...the unknown can sometimes deliver some incredible adventures!

Some photos after the race...the viking cap will be a great addition to a Halloween costume!  

Peace out my lovelies...and keep challenging yourself!

PS No injuries other than a scrapped knee from crawling in the grass and a sunburned scalp.  Ouch!

Starting with a smile!

 The lovely finishers medal...

 Gortex shoes...great for keeping water out...and for keeping water IN!

Kari and I enjoying the "Flashdance" style washdown!

 The coveted viking cap!

The view from the top - Mt. Baker in the background.