I love a good challenge. And I love to have fun. Recently, those two things collided and it was amazing!! I grabbed a few friends from CrossFit and a couple of pastors who work with Scott, and we headed down the back roads of Oklahoma to the Warrior Dash!
For those of you that don’t know what the Warrior Dash is, it’s basically a 5k on steroids! Imagine an over the top 5k with 12 messy, muddy, challenging obstacles along the way. Walls to climb, army crawls under barbed wire, crawling through muddy trenches, climbing cargo nets, jumping over fire… all kinds of awesomeness!
The first time I ran (ok, mostly walked) the Warrior Dash was in August of 2013. I had been at boot camp with Extreme Weight Loss for about a month, and the entire cast was thrust into the challenge of completing the Warrior Dash. I was a nervous wreck then. I was still very overweight, 250+ pounds, and had no idea what to expect. I was afraid that I would embarrass or hurt myself. Or, even worse, that I wouldn’t be able to do any of the obstacles.
I conquered most of the obstacles that day, but didn’t get them all. There were two very tall walls that were muddy and I was just too scared to get myself over them. I also couldn't get over a few lower walls that you had to both jump and climb over. They were only 4-5 feet high, but high enough that I couldn’t push my weight up and over them. I was also alone for a good bit of the course. We started as a group but got separated. I felt like if I had some help or encouragement, I might have been able to do more of the obstacles.
But, even though I didn’t do all the obstacles that day, I felt accomplished and was proud of what I could do; just a few months before I had been 315 pounds and completely inactive. Even though I walked most of the 3.1 miles, and had to go around a few obstacles, I was so glad I did it.
Fast forward a year and half, and it’s a whole new ballgame. I am in much better shape, and had a great group of friends join me on the course. The Dash was on a ranch out in the boonies, about 45 minutes outside of Tulsa. The whole event is a huge spectacle. People walking around covered in mud, some in costume, grilled turkey legs, free beer for when you finish (I don’t drink, so none for me!), a live band, and of course, huge messy obstacles lurking in the background. It’s like a little festival celebrating the muddy mess that is the Warrior Dash.
There are waves of runners starting every 15 minutes. Our start time was 10:30 am. Sunny and 75 degrees made it a perfect day for a run. I was the slowest runner in our group. I tried to not let all of my self-doubts get the better of me. I knew that they would have to wait on me at times, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. There were nine of us running together and it definitely made it way more fun. The first bit of the race was just a trail run, leading up the first obstacle. It was almost a mile in before we came to an army crawl under barbed wire. I made it through just fine, although I did snag my pants once. I guess that’s what happens when you have a little junk in the trunk!
We jumped and climbed under several walls. The same ones I couldn’t do before, I easily maneuvered through this time. It felt good to know that I am stronger and more fit than before. It didn’t take long to be covered in mud, as we were soon crawling down into trenches with mud up to our necks. Coming out of that made me realize that I should not have worn socks! The weight of the mud in my socks made running a bit more challenging.
I don’t remember every obstacle we tackled along the way. But I do know that there was the same wall that I couldn’t climb before. It is called “Deadman’s Drop”. That’s really encouraging, isn’t it? It’s 20 feet high, and the top ledge angles towards you, so it’s difficult to get your leg over. I remember last time; I climbed up, but could NOT make myself get a leg up on the top ledge. It was so scary, and I just felt like I would fall. But, this time, I scaled right up and over!
Along the way, I had to fight off feeling like I was disappointing the people with me. They were definitely faster runners, and at each obstacle they pretty much always had to wait on me. I still struggle with self-doubt and being hard on myself, so at times when we were running and I couldn’t keep up with them, I had to remind myself that I was doing the best I could. Just being there was way more than the old me would have ever done. Other than some very steep hills that I walked up, we ran for the majority of the three miles.
There was one obstacle I didn’t complete and it’s still bugging me today. It’s called the “Warrior Wall”. It’s 14 feet straight up and straight back down. There are ropes and a few 2x4’s for footing, but I just could not get a good grip. The ropes were super muddy, I kept feeling like I was going to fall back off of it. Scott was helping me, but I finally just walked around the wall. It was definitely a moment of defeat for me. I fought back tears of frustration, as I tried to just run and catch up with my group. I saw everyone else fighting his or her way over and I was irritated with myself for not being able to make it.
But, as we continued on our run, I just let it go. It was too much fun to let one obstacle take the joy out of the day for me. Running with a group of friends was a blast. Even though they had to wait on me, they were super encouraging. Scott always made sure I was safe and doing ok with each obstacle. We continued running, climbing, getting muddy and we soon were closing in on the last few obstacles.
The last three challenges were the most fun! Crossing a 30 foot tension line with water pouring on us, straight into “Goliath” a two story cargo net climb, crossing a two story balance beam into an epic 30 foot slide into the mud! It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Scott and I went down the slide together with our hands up, smiling the whole way! From there, we had to finish with one last crawl through some mud to make sure we were covered head to toe in mud as we crossed the finish line.
At the finish we were greeted with a protein drink from Rockin’ Refuel. After slopping through the mud, running three miles and working up a good sweat, getting to recharge with a nice cold healthy drink was awesome. I am normally a “get me some food” kind of gal, but being able to just down some healthy calories was great. Rockin’ Refuel is a milk based protein, so it was like just getting to chug some chocolate milk, but healthier. And bonus points! It’s Lactose free. Since I am lactose intolerant, I am usually leery of milk products, but not this one! It was delicious. We even brought a case home and have been refueling after CrossFit.
After a little refuel, we took some awesome muddy pics and laughed about how crazy we looked. Jess, who ran with us, somehow managed to keep her hair dry. I have no idea how she pulled that one off! Ian had a nice “mud beard”, and the rest of us were pretty much mud from head to toe.
Doing the Warrior Dash again was an incredible chance to prove to myself how far I have come from the scared, obese person I had been. I had the best time, surrounded by some great people. There is definitely a sense of community as your race. Everyone is rooting for everyone else. There is a great sense of camaraderie that comes with this race.
The Warrior Dash allowed me to challenge myself. It reminded me to not be afraid of getting out of my comfort zone. Maintenance after major weight loss can be tough. Finding ways to not get bored with my workouts and challenging myself is a big priority for me and keeps me motivated to keep the weight off.
If you are like I used to be…afraid to try new things, afraid to get out of your comfort zone, afraid you’ll embarrass yourself, afraid of life!! I challenge you to try something new! Do something crazy. You may not do the Warrior Dash, but I highly recommend it. There all so many types of 5k runs that can be fun. There are color runs, neon runs, inflatable 5ks, and Dirty Girl mud runs. You name it, you can do it! So, find a group of friends, find a race coming near you and get after it! I know you won’t regret it and you may just find that it’s fun and you can do more than you ever thought you could!!