As those of you who follow my blog know I had been training to get back in shape to run in the Warrior Dash that occurred this past weekend in New Jersey. Well, I have to say that it was an absolute blast! It was probably the most fun I have had in a long time. Physically demanding, mentally taxing, and I totally loved it! By the time I was crossing the finish line I was banged up, tired, cut, scraped, and bruised. Yet, the feeling of victorious accomplishment had me fully exhilarated. Call me crazy but I wanted to do it again!
The Warrior Dash was everything I hoped it would be. I had read about these mud runs and they have become the hot new thing for those with an adventurous athletic fervor, and taste for something different from the typical fitness regimen. Talk about taking it to the next level! Even though I have been going to the gym for years, lifting weights and jogging the treadmill, I knew I had to prepare with more intensity to get ready for this. I added in actual running outside (and I usually hate running), along with a more advanced weight training plan and proper nutrition over the eight weeks leading up to the dash. Plus, it had been many years since I actually competed in an actual athletic event. I looked at the Warrior Dash as a way to coax my mind and my body back into the athletic arena, and get back into fit shape. I didn’t want to embarrass myself out there!
Also, I had another major reason to do well. I wanted to give back. I decided to put my body on the line as a St Jude Warrior. As many of you know I ran this for charity and raised close to $1,500 for St Jude Children’s Cancer Research Hospital. They are an amazing organization and such a worthwhile cause. I applaud all those who participated as a St Jude Warrior, and also thank those who supported me with donations. It was an honor for me to have run this for them. If interested, donations can still be made to my personal link –https://waystohelp.stjude.org/sjVPortal/public/displayUserPage.do?programName=warriordash&eventId=333037&userId=986170%20
As I stated before, this was more fun than I could have imagined. It had rained all morning making the course even more muddier and slippery than it already was. As we arrived at the race grounds the festival was in full swing. Music was blasting, contests were going on, people were eating, drinking beer, and partying it up! The race waves had begun at 7:30 and were going on every 15 minutes up until 6pm. It’s basically a 5K combined with a boot camp of obstacles spread throughout. I heard this one was actually closer to 3.5 miles. Thousands of people were here this day. Some in fun costumes. Some ran it seriously to compete. Some as couples and groups of friends. My start time was at 2pm and just as I was about to run the sky cleared up and sun came out. Talk about divine intervention! I just wanted to finish this thing and be in one piece at the end. The thought of broken bones did not amuse me as those images crept into my head as we were about to start. Oh, heck, as the saying goes – “Just Do It”!
Man, the first obstacle was a huge hill with a tough slope to climb up on, and it was all muddy and slippery as Hell. When finally reaching the top of that then there was a mile or more run, followed by more obstacles, and then more running. The running seemed to go on forever, and much of it was in deep woods over narrow trails, rocks, tree roots, streams, and muddy terrain. It was incredible. The obstacles did help to break up the monotony of running and many of them were challenging but a lot of fun. Some were a bit scary, especially for those afraid of heights, but most just required being a bit physical and determined. All the runners were great, and helped each other out along the way. There is a wonderful communal spirit among the participants of these events. I can now see why so many people enjoy this.
When coming back down the hill to the final three obstacles I got that second wind knowing that the finish line was in sight. The last one was a mud pit that bogged everyone down. It was nuts and almost impossible to swim through. It felt like lead quicksand and smelled like pig slop with barbed wire overhead. After making it through to the other side we were laughing like mud encased crazy people then stepped up to receive our finisher medals. Victory never tasted so muddy!
I finished with a respectable time for my first ever event and ended up in the middle of the pack. I’ll take that, especially considering most of those around me were much younger. With around 8,300 participants this day I think I did pretty well. It made me feel like a kid again. Well, I am really just a goofy big kid still.
Some tips for the first time mud runner –
Get in some training leading up to the event. Run, run, run. Lift weights to get your upper body strengthened. Even though it’s just a 5K you will need the arm and shoulder strength. Wall climbing and cargo nets are a big part of this.
Run it with a friend, as a couple, or with a group. Support is a big motivator. Have some spectators there to cheer you on and help out a bit if needed. My gal Stacey was there all the way with me as I trained for this and took some killer pics day of event. She’s boss!
Bring towels and a change of clothes. You will be a sweaty muddy mess when done. There are spots to get hosed off and being a bit cleaner helps to enjoy the festival atmosphere a bit more. Believe me, mud gets everywhere, including spots you never imagined. I’m still discovering some!
Wear an old pair of sneakers or ones that you won’t mind chucking after this as they will be unwearable. Bring a pair of flip flops or sandals. The dash here had an option to donate your sneakers so they could be cleaned up and given to those less fortunate.
Pack a small first aid kit in your bag with your after-race supplies. Leave the medical tent for those with more serious injuries. Most cuts and scrapes just need to be cleaned off and a few band-aids usually do the trick on boo-boo’s. My knees looked like chopped meat afterwards!
Include a few protein bars in your bag. Even though there are food and drinks sold at the event it’s a good idea to have something nutritious to re-fuel the machine after finishing the race.
Make sure to leave major jewelry and watches at home. There is no need to wear any of this while going through the course, and most of it would get ruined along the way.
Bring extra cash with you. You’ll want to buy beer, food, souvenirs, and event t-shirts to take home. Also, as a St Jude Warrior we received special treatment – access to their tent, bag check, free food, drinks, and hot showers.
Enjoy everything about the day and have fun! Drink a beer from a giant mug! Feast on a big smokey turkey leg! Check out the Warrior contests going on or jump in on one. Play in the mud. There is a lot going on all day long. Plus, you normally get a free beer, shirt and funny hat to wear just for signing up!
Everyone should try this at least once in their lives. It’s like a bucket list thing and something I am so glad I did. I’ll always remember this day, and the feeling of success after all the hard work I put in. It makes you believe that you can achieve anything! I might even do another in the future – Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, or one of the many others out there.
Yup, this old kid still has some crazy in him!
Come get some!