This weekend, in what I’m beginning to believe is a healthy sort of midlife crisis, I finished the Warrior Dash. What a great time! Here’s a list of things I’d recommend, which goes to 11.
1. Just because it’s called Warrior Dash doesn’t mean they are anarchists. Wow, what an amazingly well organized event. Kudos, Red Frog, KUDOS. I can’t imagine it’s easy to cart this stuff around the country, setting up these events and keeping people from killing themselves, but that is exactly what they do. And not only that, but there’s never a time where you feel overwhelmed or that you’re having to wait forever or even wait for a port-a-potty. At an event where people are drinking beer and using the port-a-potties to change, that’s really saying something. They’ve thought of everything, even down to the tanks full of water and dudes sitting on top of them to spray the mud off people.
2. Mud washes off tyvek and nylon, but in cotton and shoes, it’s forever. Whoops, forgot to take the number off the shirt, but that stayed intact. The $1 nylon soccer shorts I nabbed at Helping Hands came out like brand new. The cotton shirt is permanently brown. If I do this again, maybe I’ll wear a shirt with a boat or a motorcycle on it and give it a ground when I crawl through the mud. Big lesson here: don’t wear anything you want to keep. Your socks are going straight into the trash. And your shoes? Forget it. You are SO giving those shoes away.
3. You’re going to embarrass your kids, so do it in style. My preteen found my behavior mortifying. Oddly enough, she was mostly horrified by my bandanna. I wore the only one we had in the house, a Harley Davidson my husband got from someone, 20 years ago. Close second was a shirt I nabbed out of the go to charity box that used to be hers. She didn’t enjoy watching me destroy an old favorite. Ultimately, however you dress, just be yourself and enjoy it.
4. Come in costume if you like, but save your knees. My knees took a lot of surface bruising. Somehow you envision the mudpit being full of soft, gushy mud, especially when you live around a man-made lake like Hartwell Lake. But this one had a ton of grit at the bottom and owie on the knees. Don’t run in hard knee pads necessarily, but if you could find a little something with padding. (Does this make me less warrior-like? It’s just that my legs look like I’m married to a domestically violent midget.)
5. Bring an entourage, friends to share the race and chairs. And sunscreen. You’re going to want someone to document the silliness and believe me, you will not be in any shape to handle electronic devices while covered in mud. Plus, there’s lots of entertainment (a cool cover band that played the 80s, Green Day, ACDC … it made my husband happy to sit and wait for his wife to make a fool of herself.) Even though you’re running, they might want to sit for the 40 minutes you’re cruising around the course. The friends are to compare notes and to hug when your entourage won’t touch you.
6. You can change in a port-a-potty and still not touch anything. Use the lock as a hook and you’re set. Take as little as possible in there too. Bring plastic bags and a towel, maybe 2. Oh, and bring your stuff with you. Leave it in the car and you’ve got a loooong walk back outside to get your stuff. Then a long walk back to a port-a-potty to change. Leave your bag with your entourage. (Or use gear check.)
7. You will happily jump into a pool of fetid water (waist down anyway.) If you bring nothing else, BRING FLIP FLOPS. It’s going to feel so amazing to jump into that pond. But it’s going to feel even more amazing to take your shoes off when you’re done.
8. Be prepared to walk. I thought this would be a simple 5K with some obstacles in the middle. Turns out the running was some of the hardest part! For one thing, it was hilly as hell. For another, it’s August in NC and it was H-O-T. For another, you’re not used to stopping, hopping over barrier walls that are nearly as tall as you are. (OK that’s me but you get the idea. Believe me, you hop off an obstacle and your heart is probably beating a little faster than you thought.)
9. Think of the obstacles as a playground for adults. I had that thought, probably around the rope thing that came after the tire thing. The silliest thing was hoping in and out of (very clean but used) dumpsters. I wasn’t impressed with crawling in the dark. Just not terribly challenging. I had expected to have problems climbing up a rope, but had no problem with it. I thought the hopping over fire would be fun, but in the end, it was kind of scary. Then I did it and it was fun. Oh, and surprise surprise … you’re going to be sore. I run 3 miles on a slow day. I’m sore. In my legs.
10. Enjoy it! Revel in the utter silliness of the event. If dressing up is your thing, do it! If you don’t want to compete in that arena, just beat your demons. I was surprised what was easy for me and what was hard. The climbing up a wall with a rope? Way easier than I envisioned. The horizontal hike? That scared the shit out of me. The top was three boards, separated by two feet of … nothing … air I guess.
11. Results? Who cares! This is just a big old party, honestly. (But for the record, 9th in my age division for Sunday (out of about 100), 182 for females (out of 2102) and 958 overall (out of 4500).) But who cares!