"I've decided that perhaps I'm bulimic and just keep forgetting to purge."

-- Paula Poundstone

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My God, I'm a Warrior


I had given up on it about a month ago. Well, I had given up on myself about a month ago.

That's when I decided I wasn't going to do the Warrior Dash.

I had signed up for this "mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from hell" back in January. At the time, I was a few weeks into a renewed commitment to weight loss and exercise. I was in a groove. I was winning. An adventure in which "warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push their limits and celebrate with kick-ass music, beer and warrior helmets" sounded right up my alley.

And then March hit.

I made the St. Patrick's Day 5K Walk in Bay City (my second 5K in the past year, in addition to the 5-mile Mackinac Bridge walk) the grand finale to a weight loss challenge between a co-worker and me. In the first three months of the year, I lost nearly 30 pounds (a total of around 50 since last year).

And then I stopped. Screechingly, if such a word exists.

I didn't start gaining weight, which is remarkably different from all other times in my life, including last year, but I did stop all weight loss efforts after three months, which seems to be my M.O. for some reason.

For three months, I have the dietary discipline of a devout nun and the training regimen of an NFL pre-seasoner. And then … nothing.

So, it was during this March-through-July period of, uh, maintenance (sure, we'll go with that) that I decided I must've been high when I registered for the Warrior Dash. There was no way I could scale walls, belly crawl under barbed wire and slosh through mud throughout a 5K in FREAKING JULY. I still can't run much without getting dangerously winded in any type of weather.

I decided I wasn't going to kill myself. Or even worse, embarrass myself.

And then Friday hit. Facebook friends started talking about their excitement, their nervousness, their giddiness about the next day's race. "The Craziest Frickin' Day of Your Life," organizers claim.

All around, there was Warrior Dash camaraderie. Pep talks. Smack talk.

And I felt like a loser.

I said as much in a status update, and my friends came to the rescue. They reassured me that they were nervous. They were out of shape. But they were going to try.

So would I.

I hit the Warrior Dash trail at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. I had heard one report of a broken leg near the fire jump. These things happen, I reasoned. Then about a mile into it, I moved to the side of the trail to let an emergency cart pass as it carried a woman on a stretcher, her leg and ankle in a makeshift brace.

A skinny woman. A woman in much better shape than I am. I trudged along, saying a little prayer now.

God answered my prayers right afterward when friends Tim and Ilona came up behind me, asking if I wanted company. A few minutes later, my pal Kristy yelled my name. She had decided to hold back and wait for me.

Any of the three of them could have finished a lot faster, left me in the mud. But they stayed beside me.

The four of us cheered each other through each of the 12 grueling obstacles. Together, we rolled over junked cars, climbed walls, jumped fire and trudged through mud that sucked at our shoes with amazing force. (I saw four abandoned shoes near my waist at one point. There had to be many more sunk deep near my feet.)

Of the dozen obstacles, I abandoned only one: The Great Warrior Wall. It was here that an ambulance was parked, lights on, as emergency personnel worked to hoist a Warrior on a gurney, her neck in a brace. I grabbed the rope and made it a good third of the way up, having promised myself that I would attempt every challenge.

Then I looked at the woman on the gurney, who obviously had fallen off the wall on the way up. My arms shook. I couldn't get sure-footed. I heard my heart pounding in my ears. And I looked back down at the woman on the gurney.

I accepted my limitations and went around.

I went on to finish the race in about an hour and a half. That is damn near the worst time I saw. I did nothing with grace. My friend Matt said my entry into the last obstacle, the "Muddy Mayhem," was the ugliest and most awkward he saw all day.

But I finished.

As I sat in the sun afterward, listening to music and celebrating with friends, I sipped a beer and looked around. Every single person there was smiling, most especially me.

For on this day that I was sure would kill me, I realized that for the first time in a long time, I felt alive.


  1. Love this story. So proud of you for facing and conquering your "fears". You are an inspiration. I love reading your stories and you status posts. They always bring a smile to my face no matter what kind of day I may be having.

  2. Thank you so much, Lori. Bless you for commenting. It means the world to me.

  3. LOVE this! This sounds exactly like my story!!! Yesterday I was signed up at 4pm and luckily when I went to check in, within 20 minutes we were able to find and buy 2 extra tickets for my cousin and brother to go through with me. I had the 2 or 3rd worst time of the day, but I FINISHED! which was my goal! They both could have gone on but they stayed and put their foot in my butt a few times (which was well needed) and we finished....The feeling afterward was SO great to look around and realize that I, in the round shape i'm in, finished the same course as the athletic people standing around me and I was so proud to have that metal around my neck! congrats to you! (my time was just under 2 hours so you beat me)

  4. Congrats to you, too, Cortney! How great. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. Great job! Identical story to yours but I GAINED 20 of the pounds back, did the race with my "barbie" sister who has been training for a ten mile race! I almost barfed jogging for the first few minutes, not wanting to seem like a wimp right out of the gate. Realized I had to walk but was determined to do it... skipped the climbing obsticles...will get them next year! :-)

  6. Marcie: Thank you! I'll see you there.

  7. Congrats to entering and finishing. I have to admit now that my friends have completed it and all the rantings and raves and hell, accomplishment I feel like a loser. I tell myself I'm in training for Warrior Dash ummmm....2012. I'll see you there!

  8. Heather, if I can do it, ANYONE can. See you next year.

  9. WONDERFUL, Misty!! You inspire us all!

  10. Right back at ya, Liz.

  11. I don't know you, but Congratulations on a job well done. You just voiced 90% of my feelings about doing it as well. Scared to death, excited, but scared. Then the feeling of accomplishment is amazing. I didn't really get that feeling so much until the next day. I was glad to be done and didn't feel like I really enjoyed it right after. But now, in hindsight, I'm proud of what I did. Oh, and I'm pretty sure I saw you out there on the course! I was wearing a pink polka-dot skirt, but it was so muddy you couldn't tell anyway! LOL

  12. Misty - I am so proud of you!!!! You rocked that course.

    Oh, and now that the "cheater guy" is long gone, and I'll never see him again to tell him this, I've thought of the perfect response to him:

    Cheater Guy: "you can call me cheater when you can keep up with me"

    Me: "I'd rather not keep up with you because apparantly your pace makes you an ass and I'd rather finish with friends than finish all alone"

    I'm glad we all finished together.

  13. Carol: Way to go! For me, it really hit when I came down from the cargo net. I knew it was the last climbing obstacle and that I could make it through fire and mud. I hit the ground from the cargo net and I was shaking. I started to tear up. It was amazing. Way to go. There are so many people who didn't accomplish what you did.

    Ilona: He was a king dick. Alone is how he'll stay, in his Kingdom of Suck. You and I are bonded forever, sister.

  14. I stumbled onto this on the Warrior Dash Facebook page and was so happy to see your pics. My friend Kelly and I were right there with you through the start of the race- she was in a grey t-shirt and I was in a white tank top with mickey mouse like hair. I have so much respect for you and the other warriors that braved the course, accepted limitations and got out there and did it (even though you weren't sure you could)!!! You ROCK! hope to see you out there next year shaving minutes from this year's time!

  15. Oh wow. Thanks so much, Jessica! You rock, too. Don't you feel like we're all bonded in some completely awesome way now? See you next year!

  16. Living warrior
    Your mantra regardless of the weight loss results
    Keep at it
    Your health is not always measured on a scale
    Neither is your emotional well-being
    Not an out
    Just telling you like it is
    At least from my vantage point
    Keep kicking ass
    ... and uh, maintaining

  17. Nick! I've MISSED you. Your support always means so much to me. I'm walking the 10 miles in the Crim later this month. Hope to see you there.