Monday, March 12, 2012

The Savage Race

Saturday, March 10th, 2012 was the date of the Savage Race.

The Savage Race was the first event I've ever signed up for. I don't know why exactly I decided to do this before something simple, like a 5K - but there it is. I did it.

I set my goal: Finish.

You know what? I finished.

I did every single obstacle. I skipped nothing. I ran the entire way, and I gave that beast everything I had in my body.

It was exhausting, and it was hard. More than that though, it was probably some of the most fun I have ever had. I did not expect to love it so much!

The day started easy enough - two friends of mine came with me to take photos, pump me up, and be my personal cheerleaders. I was running as a part of the team for my local CrossFit, CrossFit Lake Mirror. I drove seperately and arrived very, very early (I am very nervous, and so I do things like skip breakfast and arrive super early when I'm nervous) so I barely met up with them before the race... and shortly after it started, they quickly pulled away from me. Not a problem though, I was going to take it at my own pace and make sure I finished.

Here I am at the start of the race. I have my bib attached to my shirt, my race clip on my ankle. I am clean, and ready to go - albiet nervous. I knew there would be swimming, so I wanted to wear tight fitting clothing - and as few as possible. I am still nervous about my body shape, however, so I elected to wear light shorts over my leggings because it made me more comfortable. Although tight clothing wasn't all that flattering - I am incredibly glad I thought to do this. My clothes gave me no problem, and held onto very little mud and water.

I also decided to wear my Zem shoes because I did not want my shoes getting sucked off in the mud, or becoming heavy when water logged - or worse, sand in my shoes around my feet rubbing my skin raw. This ended up being another excellent choice - they were perfect on the trail running, they were light enough that I felt barefoot, and I didn't have to waste time taking them off for events like swimming. They held up well, and were insanely comfortable the entire time. I will officially consider then a success.

I also made sure to warm up pre-race. I know warming up is essential before a workout, but I was so fidgety and nervous I almost forgot. Thankfully my friend Daniel was present, and he reminded me and pushed me through a warm up - some push ups, a light jog, and plenty of stretching.

My wave started at 10:30. Everyone bolted out of the gate , but I decided I would jog and save my energy. My friends weren't able to get photos of all of the events due to the way the race was set up - but I did find a video on YouTube to give you an idea.

Some obstacles are more physically demanding than others - the ones that involved crawling really wore me out fast. Some challenged me more than physically - I am deathly afraid of heights for example, and more than once I had to climb to heights that nearly paralyzed me in fear.

I am not exactly sure how high this was, but it was pretty high, and the structure wobbled a bit - nevermind the rope moving around as people crawled on it.

The water slide was exceptionally enjoyable - and refreshing, after a 35 foot sand dune to get up there. It was also one of the few times you felt... clean.

Here is one, the Nut Smasher. I fell off of this after just a few steps. What you don't see in the photo is that I am also being pelted with water balloons! I don't think I saw anyone clear it, but I'm sure some did effortlessly.

Then there was of course, the ice bath. When I tell you this hurts, I mean it hurts. It almost burns your skin, and you can fell all of your muscles immedietly tight up and it becomes incredibly hard to move. And it's not as easy as just getting to the other side, no, you must go completely under water to clear the obstacle in the middle.

Once you are fresh out of your ice bath, you get to climb this wet, slick wall while your body is still numb and tingly. I did slip at the top, but fortuantely another competitor caught me and pulled me over.

Towards the end, there are small fires to jump over. I managed to clear them, and this photo is half a second before I fell. I landed hard on my hip, bruising it quite badly - but at the time I was so pumped up that I barely felt it. Instead, I managed to push myself up and finish.

In case you had any thoughts of staying clean after your ice bath, your last obstacle is a crawl under barbed wire though the mud.

Finally, there is payoff at the end. My medal, my t-shirt, and my free beer.

My final stats had me finishing the race in 2:03:21. I came in 230th place in my division, and 2310/2506 overall. I don't care about that. I finished.

I had trouble with some obstacles I don't have photos of - the 8 foot wall, for one. If not for the other very helpful racers, I don't know how I would have gotten over it. Someone gave me a boost to the top so I could pull myself over.

The tower of hay bales also nearly stumped me - I was almost too terrified to move once I got to the top! I had three people talk me down slowly and gently on the other side.

This event was not easy - but I loved every minute of it. I was dirty and nasty and sore at the end, but I've not felt a sense of accomplisment like this before. I did this.

I did this. I could say it all day and I am still going to be in awe when I hear it. I finished.

Now what?

There are several 5Ks coming up in my area I am going to run. Then, there is Tough Mudder. The Savage Race was 4.7 miles - Tough Mudder will be 13. I am hearing Tough Mudder as a huge step up in difficulty, and somehow I'm hearing this and I'm not afraid - I'm excited.

I will return to the Savage Race next year - and I will be better. Faster, stronger.

If you ever plan to compete in an event like this, here are a few things I'd like to mention:
  • Wear sunscreen. I rarely do, and I am burnt on the tops of my shoulders, face, and neck.
  • Wear SNUG shoes. There is a reason the Vibrams are so popular - sneakers will get sucked off your feet in the mud.
  • Wear clohtes you don't care about. They will be filthy.
  • Wear tight fitting, nylon clothes. The less water they hold, the better. It gets pretty heavy when you're soaking wet.
  • If your thighs touch (mine do), wear tight fitting shorts or leggings. You don't want to rub yourself raw.
  • Work on your upper body strength. You'll be pulling yourself up - a lot.
  • Work on endurance. It's 4.7 miles of trail running.
  • Help others who need it. If you can clear an obstacle - great. If the person beside you or behind you needs a hand, lend it. I'll be forever grateful for those people who took a few seconds to help me with some of the harder obstacles.
  • Drink the water at the water stations, but don't drink too much.
  • Practice swimming.
  • When you run through the mud, land on the balls of your feet. You're less likely to lose your shoes.
  • There is sometimes waiting for obstacles. Use that wait time to catch your breath, but don't stand still. You'll feel yourself stiffen and fatigue if you don't keep your blood pumping.
  • Cover your legs. There is a lot of crawling, rolling in the mud, over hay bales, and various other opportunities to cut or scratch yourself. If you like your skin, cover it.
  • Bring a set of clean clothes, including shoes and underwear. And a towel.
  • Eat well the day before, and eat breakfast. You'll need the energy.
  • Do not skip your warm up.
  • Don't quit, and don't be afraid to be dirty.
Lastly, remember that if I can do this - you can too. The race is built to be hard. It's a challenge. Challenge yourself - do something amazing. Feel proud of yourself. Hang the medal on your door, wear your hard-earned t-shirt.

Oh, and enjoy it. It's amazing.

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