Warrior Dash Part 3 – The Epilogue

It’s your just reward for a job well done. A $7 turkey leg and, if you like, a free beer for turning in your timing chip. Immediately following the race we were greeted by a finishers medal, a couple paper cups of water and a mountain of bananas. From there we wandered, dazed and exhausted to the “showers” which, I have to admit, I had thought would be like the misting booths at Canada’s Wonderland but were, in fact, two firemen taking an inordinate amount of pleasure in spraying the participants with massive fire hoses. The water was freezing cold and the only thing that really didn’t work for me. It could have been done equally well by feeding the hoses into an overhead tanek and just letting the water cascade down over people like an open shower. The way they did it was inefficient and borderline barbaric which I suppose fits with the theme but was a bit of a harsh ending to an already taxing event. The mud wouldn’t come off without the water and so changing was really the only option. None of these ‘complaints’ dampened my enjoyment of the day I have to admit. The pride I felt in finishing was enough to make me happy no matter what and I think has led me to a new chapter in my life.

Although every male in the 60-65 age category was quicker than me!

That said, if you are going to do this at age 60 or above my bet is you are pretty confident in your ability! This weekend did open my eyes to one thing though. For the last 10 years I have been the guy who had back surgery. I have often used it as a reason, occasionally an excuse and, very rarely, as a crutch. However, the reason for it is only because of the fear of a repeat performance in the hospital. I was never really sure that I had recovered and even though my legs are different thicknesses and probably always will be, it seems that is the only legacy of the event. I can no longer claim that I am not capable of the same things a person who hasn’t had surgery is and although I may still occasionally get sidelined by a careless shoe tying incident, I think I am just as capable and resilient as I ever was.

If this weekend left me with scars, and it definitely left it’s physical mark, then I am also left with an indelible mark on my psyche. It’s the kind of boost no person could ever give me, an undertone of confidence that no fit test could ever provide. It is a shot in the arm for my physicality that could only have been gained by facing up to an epic challenge and regardless of the pain, the exhaustion, the bruises and scrapes, getting up every time I fell down. It’s the raw adrenaline rush gained from crawling through mud to the finish line, getting up and standing proudly over the body of my felled opponent.

It’s a sense of pride that will replace that little piece of herniated disc they took from me so long ago. I’m no longer the guy who had back surgery, I’m proud to call myself a Warrior!

R7D36/7 – Warriors Part Deux

I had my heart rate monitor on but the incessant pounding in my ears was enough to tell me that I was hovering above the 160 mark pretty much the whole way around the 5K course. After we extracted ourselves from the darkness (including bumps on the head) we climbed and descended, jogged and walked our way to the spider obstacle, so called because it resembles getting stuck in a spider web. Unfortunately I was particularly out of sorts when we got there and kind of bulldozed my way through tripping and tying up my fellow runners as I went.

That really outlines my one frustration with the day, I was really looking forward to the obstacles but there was so much damn running that when you got there you were too tired to really enjoy the challenge. I guess being a “better” runner would help but I am so unwilling to go down that training path I would rather find another way.

So far, it was great, we were pretty much completely in the forest, out of the hot sun and still having fun. When we got past the spider webs it was a long run up and down and around to get to the wall climb (I’m pretty sure that was next) which was really a simple 10 foot wall with foot holds and ropes, making it ridiculously easy to traverse. After that came the first really tricky obstacle which was the rope cross. It was a matrix of ropes strung across a frame that you had to navigate and although it was made easier by hanging onto the frame, it was by no means a piece of cake. I would have liked it better had it been a closer mesh that you could actually run across with some spring to it, those are deceptively hard to cross and far more fun. Especially since there was another rope based obstacle later in the race, something slightly different would have been cool.

By this time we were all silent, breathing hard, there were people standing around before and after each obstacle getting their breath back and the race was well and truly taking it’s toll. As we exited the rope nets the really tough climbs began, out in the sun, running up very steep ski hills, the fun part was definitely over. I admit I had to stop halfway up one of the hills, my heart felt like it was about to explode but more than that, I was starting to overheat. Fortunately, at the top of that hill was the water station, where they gleefully told us we were HALF WAY ROUND!!! Excited by the news and the added information that it was “all downhill” from there (a blatant lie!) we barrelled across the top of the hill and towards the first really big descent. Usually this would be a piece of cake, but with the distance already covered, going down a steep hill is just as painful as going up. Quads on fire, pulse racing and feet occasionally giving up their grip it was a harrowing and challenging change of pace. Of course, what goes down must once again go up and the long climb that lay ahead was almost too much to bear. There were participants littering the steep slope, the barely available shadows on the hillside crammed with exhausted and overheated victims. I was soon one of them! Nicole and her friends were racing ahead of me now, of course, Nicole didn’t leave me to suffer, she held herself back to keep me company. If not for me, I am sure she would have finished a good 10 minutes ahead such is her athletic prowess! At the top, we were welcomed by more obstacles, which for me was a welcome change from the monotony of running.

The next few obstacles were a great part of the course, a set of tires, (thanks to Tony for practice with this one!), a mountain of hay bales which was a hoot and a couple of old cars that we got to run across. It was pretty funny watching the boot of one of the cars come open as someone landed witha  thud on the roof, her heart almost jumped out of her chest and she screamed like a kid hearing the ice cream truck! We could sense we were coming to the end, a short gully followed by a sandy hill climb assisted by ropes and wooden footholds once again and we were at the slip and slide, usually a happy and fun activity, this one was more of a plastic covered rock garden where I got multiple contusions and abrasions on my back and butt from the ground under the tarp. Both Nicole and I narrowly missed getting taken out by large out of control individuals whose battle with gravity was obvioulsy completely one sided! Had we made contact, there would no doubt have been copious amounts of bloodshed. Nevertheless it was bringing us closer to the end, which was almost in sight! The end of the slip and slide led us to the rope wall, which to me seemed like it would pose the biggest challenge for most people. Not only the fatigue, but also the fact rope ladders are notoriously hard to navigate. We managed to make it across without issue and were greeted by the sight of hundreds of spectators, two lines of fire blocking our path and the innocuous looking mud pit. We flew across the fire, but on entering the “mud” pit found that much like the rest of the course it was not mud but a muddy mix of gravel and sand which by that time felt like glass shards. The mud was thick, so thick in fact that it took all our strength to make it through. By the time we exited the pit, my shoulders were screaming, my knees were ripped apart but we knew, just by the raising of our tired eyes that we had made it!

58 minutes. About 45 of which was reasonable and the last 15 of which were a complete nightmare. Would I recommend the race? Absolutely! Would I do it again, HELL YEAH! But next time, I’ll be wearing knee protection!


R5D48 – Warrior Dash 2011 and Heavy Day

“When the fight begins within himself, a man’s worth something.”

-Robert Browning, 1812-1889

I am up to full speed now with the RKC Rite Of Passage. It’s week 9 of the workout and finally the different days are actually different. The heavy day has 5 rungs of up to 5 reps on each movement looking like this:

C&P left 1
C&P right 1
Pull Up 1
C&P left 2
C&P right 2
Pull Up 2
C&P left 3
C&P right 3
Pull Up 3
C&P left 4
C&P right 4
Pull Up 4
C&P left 5
C&P right 5
Pull Up 5

Plus 25 swings for 6 minutes with 5 seconds rest between sets. That’s just long enough to put the KB down and pick it up again BTW.

The light day is only 5 ladders of 3 rungs, the medium day 5 ladders of 4 rungs. Now that I am up to full speed, the duration is only a month so I have to start looking for what to do with my KB skills once I am done with the RKC. I am certain there are things to move on to after from Pavel, I just haven’t looked yet. Spring and outdoor workouts are right around the corner and the KB is a great tool for working outdoors anywhere. I am also on to day 48 of Round 5 which means that in about 28 days or so I will be around day 76 which is probably long enough for Round 5. I think this will be the last “round” that I do, but I need another way of documenting my progress. Maybe that is thinking too much and I just need to keep going to R6 and beyond. I like the 90 day thing, it prevents me from getting bored and is long enough to see what changes the workouts make to your body. Maybe Insanity2 “The Asylum” will be out in the next month, or P90X2 or whatever he is calling it. If so, I would gladly go back to that with some KB work on alternating days. I will keep my fingers crossed.

I am also registered for Warrior Dash 2011 which is like a tame, watered down version of Tough Guy or Tough Mudder the latter is considered the  toughest race on the planet and so probably a smaller, more friendly race is the place to start. I am actually really looking forward to it, to having something to really train for and to focus my workouts on. I guess in reflection, round 6 will be the Warrior Dash preparation round. Since there is some running involved, I am going to have to start doing sprints and 400m intervals to get my calves back into shape since the only real issue I have with running is calf cramping. Hopefully by the time the race comes around I will have lost a little more weight and be near my ideal fighting weight. I can’t wait!!!