Race Recap: Warrior Dash

Posted on May 21, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This weekend was very active and I have to say, I loved every minute of it! After a fun (maybe a little too fun) outing to Nationals Park to see the O’s and Nats on Friday night, I woke up on Saturday morning ready to become a warrior 🙂

Nationals Stadium

Go Nats!

My friend Christi picked me up bright and early on Saturday morning and we headed out to Mechanicsville, MD for the Warrior Dash. Once we arrived, we quickly parked, checked-in, bag checked and took a walk through the “grounds.” Then we anxiously awaited our start time. We could see earlier waves finishing by jumping over fire and crawling through a gross ditch of mud under barbed wire. Yup, that’s how you finish the race, crawling slowly through a pit of mud in front of a crowd of people. Oh man, what did we sign up for?

I’ll admit that I was nervous right before we started because it all sounded fun when we signed up but who knows what the rest of the course was really going to look like. I didn’t want to fall off one of the obstacles! But it turned out to be one of the most fun races I’ve ever run. It was a 5k distance and once we were off with the blast of some fire (yup, that’s how we started) we were greeted with some super muddy trail running for the first quarter mile (my estimate) of the race. I joked to Christi how I had never concentrated so hard while running before because I didn’t want to slip on the mud or trip on a branch. I guess I need to add some trail running to my workout routine!

The first obstacle was hopping over wooden walls and then ducking under wooden fences. I felt like my adrenaline was pumping for the first obstacle and after hopping over (or more swinging my entire body over as ungracefully as possible) I was covered in mud and feeling good. The walls got progressively higher and some men were helping women over the last one but Christi and I both did it ourselves. The first obstacle also put me at peace because no one was rushing me or pushing me to move faster. Everyone participating was taking their time, having fun and it was a really smooth-running race. I was very grateful for that!

The second obstacle was the cargo climb which entailed climbing up a roped net, getting over the top and climbing back down. I’ll admit it, I kind of freaked out on this one. It was the first obstacle where we were up in the air and it was pretty high up there. I got to the top and had to flip my legs over to climb down the other side and said something along the lines of, “I don’t really enjoy heights,” to Christi with a panicked face. I’m glad she was right behind me and we made our way down and moved on. I think that first “height” obstacle was all I needed to get through the rest of the climbing ones.

The third obstacle was a run up an angled wall using a rope. It was pretty easy until you got to the very top and had to let go of the rope and cross over the top of the wall and get back down. Are you sensing a theme here? Get to the top of a wall, climb over and get your butt back down 🙂

The fourth obstacle was the “Deadman’s Drop” which consisted of – you guessed it – climbing up a wall, climbing over it, stepping down one step and then dropping down the rest of the way. I think the idea was to slide down the wooden wall but I kind of bumbled my way down and scratched up my knee. Whoops!

Now here is where things might get out of order. We ran for a bit and by ran I mean tried to climb up the huge hills that were in between each obstacle. The race took place on a dirt bike course so it was literally ALL HILLS. But there was good reason for the hills and I’m pretty sure the next obstacle was the best one on the course – the slide! You can’t have a slide without a big hill.

After climbing over a few rolling hills we came to the top of a HUGE slide (aka a plastic tarp over a hill on the dirt bike course). Volunteers were at the top watering down the slide and giving us all a good spray before we slid down. It was an awesome slide down and it felt amazing to get cooled off from the water. It ended in a shallow pit and here is where I had an issue. I slid down the same time as a guy and he sped up and got in front of me and when he hit the shallow pit of water, he bounced right up and stood up and exited. Well, I tried to do the same and instead just skidded to the end and now have a pretty sweet scratch on my right thigh. Sexy, I know. Plus, I got dirty water all up in my contacts. Next year, I’m wearing goggles. Like the the plastic ones you wore in science class.

After (or maybe before the slide) we had two more climbing obstacles. The first one was the hardest obstacle on the course (at least for me). It was a climb up a vertical wall with a rope. There were places to put our feet on the wall for grip but this was all arm strength and carrying your own body weight and it was tough. When I first got both legs off the ground I immediately thought, oh shit I’m going to fall! But I realized I had to stop thinking and just needed to plow my way up this wall and be down with it. And by some miracle that’s just what happened!

The last climbing obstacle consisted of climbing up arched panels of wood. It was really awkward once you were on top, because the beams were very spread out and flat and then you had to go over an arched area again and climb down. There was definitely a pause at the top as I decided what the best move would have been. While I was up there paused on all fours (along with a bunch of other participants) a guy came flying past us all. He RAN over it without putting his hands down once and made it look so easy! We were all in awe. And I think that’s great example of the overall vibe of this race. There were definitely people there who were looking to speed through and have a great time but the majority of participants came with a group of friends, may have been dressed in silly costumes and were out there taking their time and just enjoying the experience. Some people walked around obstacles and you know what, who cares? Everyone’s experience was their own.

We kind of botched the next obstacle and I totally blame the people in front of us. We were supposed to crawl through trenches but the people in front of us jumped over the logs on top of the trenches instead…so we did that too! And so did the people behind us. Sometimes you just have to follow the crowd 🙂

We then quickly ran up and down the balance beam type obstacle and headed for one more rope obstacles before the big finale. The last rope obstacle was the cargo net again but this time it was horizontal and we had to crawl over it. Just when I thought I had the hang of it and was shouting back to give Christi my brilliant tip, I fell over. Serves me right for thinking I knew what I was doing! There was a camera at that obstacle getting great photos of everyone in super-unflattering positions. Can’t wait to see them!

We walked up one more hill and turned the bend toward the end which was a steep incline down to two lines of fire and then the ominous mud pit. The heat from the fire was hot but it was really easy to jump over both of them and then I totally hesitated getting into the pit of mud and with good reason..it was disgusting! It smelled foul and almost immediately I sunk and was barely moving. Christi was blazing ahead of me and I finally got some sort of footing and was able to propel myself forward (all while not getting tangled in the barbed wire above my head). Just when I thought I was going to finish, I completely wiped out coming out of the mud pit and was just stuck. It was a challenge to get out of there.

Once we made it out of the mud, we were Warriors! We were COATED in the gross mud and sloppily made out way to get hosed down. Again, goggles would have come in handy here because being sprayed in the face with a huge hose is really just not good for contacts. After we hosed off, donated our shirts and shoes, we headed back to the car for more cleaning and a pretty awkward deck change…but then again, everyone else was doing the same thing. Once semi-clean and in non-muddy clothes we headed back into the grounds to enjoy some sunshine and the overall scene.

There were huge turkey legs, beer, a DJ and general merriment all around. There were groups of girlfriends dancing, parents with their kids and crazy dudes covered in tattoos – the crowd was very eclectic. After enjoying some sunshine we were ready to head back to D.C. And because I’m from NJ and Christi basically lives there all summer we couldn’t go home without first stopping at a Wawa to load up on subs. It might have been the highlight of the trip 🙂

Like I said before, I really think the Warrior Dash was one of the most fun races I’ve ever run and I’d really love to do it again next year. I became a Warrior this weekend, what did YOU do?

Stephanie

P.S. Muddy and action pictures to come as soon as they’re posted! Capitol Hill Classic 10k Race Recap to follow at some point as well…

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    Two friends living and working in Washington, D.C. writing about life, food, fashion, design and living an active lifestyle…so, basically everything!

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