A lot of people wanted to know how the Warrior Dash went on Saturday, so I figured I’d let you know.
First, a quick rundown of my schedule that day: I TRIED to go to bed early that Friday, and mostly succeeded. I was in bed by 9:30, but a combination of coughing (I was a the tail end of a cold which is way gone now) and the fact that I was getting to the climax of Koji Suzuki’s Ring meant that I only succeeded at going to sleep by about 11.
I got my ass up at 5 a.m. the next day - Saturday - took a quick shower to wake up, then hopped in the car and drove the hour and a half to Clayton, GA, where I parked and strolled up the hill to meet my friends and do the Dash.
Running with me that day was Jeff Jarvis, the guy who told me about this adventure, plus my friends via Jeff - Jimmy Liang and Luis Uribe. Our “wave” started at 9:30 - early, but when they explained WHY they liked to do it early, it made sense. If you go early on, the trail is less muddied, and so’s the inside of the shuttle bus, should you need to shuttle back down the hill to your car. Mmmm - muddy shuttle bus - just like the inside of someone’s colon.
See? Makes sense to go early.
As we stood around waiting for our wave to start, I vowed silently to myself that no matter what, I’d try to keep up with Luis, who’s training to join the FBI next year. I figured if I could hang with him, that meant I’d make good time and I’d have a buddy to help me with some of the surprises in store for us.
As it was, I DID hang with Luis, although I think several times he hung back a little to let me keep up with him. We left Jimmy and Jeff behind in a crowd and didn’t see them until they finished a few minutes behind us.
For the most part, the race was fine. I’d been running three miles several times a week for several weeks, so the running didn’t phase me at all. What GOT me, ultimately, was a couple of the obstacles. The climbing? No big deal. I just wasn’t expecting quite so much SWIMMING. In 50 degree water. After running a mile. More or less fully clothed. Cold water in such circumstances makes your heart race, folks. It’s tough.
Still, the only time I got a little scared about whether I could finish was when I made a miscalculation regarding one of the watery obstacles. At one point we had to jump off a pier into a pond, then swim across to a pontoon thing in the middle. We then had to pull ourselves onto the pontoon, cross it (it was really slick and you had to take it easy crossing it), then jump back into the water and finish crossing the pond.
I watched several people plunge into the water ahead of me, and saw that none of them went under. So I figured the water was maybe five feet deep, and I jumped in thinking I’d just touch bottom, then bob my way across to the pontoon.
Fucking water was waaay more than five feet deep, and I went under without a good breath. Now, I’m a good swimmer, so I recovered, but when I got back up I was winded and a little shocked by the deepness and coldness of the water. I swam over to the pontoon and tried to pull myself up onto it, and… couldn’t.
Other people were trying to get by me, so I backed off of the pontoon, treading water and trying to gather myself. I thought about swimming around, but I didn’t want to be a pussy. I thought about swimming UNDER it, but then wondered if maybe there was a net. Finally, I felt better, so I tried at last to do the obstacle the way I was supposed to - and this time I was able to get up and over it. I had to pause though, after I got to shore. After a minute or two, though, I was ready, and I started running again.
In the end, I finished the 3+ miles in 42 minutes, 15 seconds. I was 419th out of 851 males in my age category - so I was in the top half. Also, I finished 2646th over all, out of 6186 participants. So yeah, top half all around. And I mostly kept up with Luis. Oh, and I jumped over the fire at the end without setting myself alight - something my son Eli was very scared of happening.
Finally, I managed to raise over $400 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As a St. Jude Warrior, I got access to a shower facility after the race, which meant I wouldn’t muddy up my car. Yay!
Let me close by sending a shout out/thank you to all the people who donated to St. Jude for me: Chase Bass, Keri Bulloch, Chris Hartley, Linda and Vahe Najarian, Charlie Nealey, John Porter, Jerry and Allison Rhodes, Joe Shorter, and Caleb Wynn. You guys rule.