(And it gave it right back to me)
Ready for this one? (It’s a long one, but stay with me here)
As I mentioned last week, months ago I had registered for the Superhero Scramble, an obstacle race being held here in MA. Similar to the Spartan Race and all of the other obstacle races out there, this one was 4 miles of rough terrain, almost all hills, tons of mud, and 21 obstacles. I was a little bit nervous because I had not trained to run 4 miles, but was hoping that my weekly stadium runs would give me a leg up since I knew the course would be hilly.
Then all of a sudden it was Friday, the day before the race. Now I was not only slightly nervous for the length of the run, but I was super excited as well. That is until Friday evening when my racing buddy and friend told me that she had to bail on the race due to a recent injury. They say bad things come in 3s, and if that’s the case, that was definitely bad thing #1. At that time, I definitely considered not going, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the race solo, especially since it was an hour away. I quickly decided to stick with it though, for no other reason than I had registered and I like mud, so why not?
Saturday morning rolled around, and I was off for the race. I gathered my things and hit the road… or so I thought. Literally one block from my house, my car’s engine just shut off while I was driving.
Bad thing #2.
Now, at this point, the race is an hour’s drive away, and there’s no other way to get there than to drive. I really should have realized at the time that this was the Universe’s way of telling me loud and clear that I shouldn’t be doing this race.
It’s as though the Universe grabbed me by the shoulders, shook me a little, looked in my eyes and said “DO NOT GO TO THIS RACE”
And I, in my stubborn determination, looked the universe in the eye, spat in it’s face, flipped it my middle finger and said “I’m racing. Damn it”.
I am a big believer in signs and gut feelings, but I’m also a big believer in finishing something that you’ve started. Guess which one won out on Saturday?
So while Will and his brother were so generous to wait with my car for the tow truck, I hopped into Will’s car and hit the road once again so that I wouldn’t miss my wave. I got pumped up on the way up there, was ready to run, and was pretty proud of myself for sticking with my guns and heading to the race, even though I was solo and without my own car.
Here I am, pre-race, all smiley despite the car troubles.
My wave began and the race was incredible. It truly was 4 miles of up and down hills, through “trails” (that weren’t really trails, rather a course through the woods mapped out by ropes and course markers). We ran through mud puddles knee deep, and at one point I was sliding down a slope so slippery with mud, I was literally sliding down from tree to tree, hoping each time that I would be able to catch the next tree and not go careening down the entire muddy path.
We army crawled through muddy water underneath barbed wire, swung on rings across more muddy water, scaled multiple 10 foot walls, climbed up and down cargo nets, took a 15 foot high “leap of faith” into a deep pool of muddy, cold water, dragged cinder blocks and carried sand bags, among other awesome obstacles. I felt great, I was keeping up a pretty good pace, and quite frankly was dominating most of the obstacles (the rings were a total fail. Into the drink I went!). I was even passing a lot of people who started in the wave in front of me (which took off 30 minutes before my wave). Needless to say, for a non-runner, I was doing pretty well!
Pause to brag: (**Results just came in, and I came in 95/677 females, 21/151 in my age… Not bad for someone who’s “gone for a run” exactly twice in the last year, eh?**)
And then I got to the last two obstacles. The first of which was my arch nemesis – a free hanging, vertical rope climb that I would guess was 15-20 feet high. As I was waiting in line to complete this obstacle, I saw a couple of women complete it, but many women try very hard but come up short. I really wanted to prove to myself that I could do this, and that all of my pull-up training would be of good use.
This is a borrowed picture from the Spartan Race, but this is what it looked like. A straight up, gym-class rope climb… all over a pool of muddy water.
And you know what? I DOMINATED that rope! I climbed all the way to the top, the only really tough pull was the very last one, and I was so proud of myself. I rode that high as I crawled/swam underneath more barbed wire, and ran down the final hill to the very last obstacle. The very last obstacle that was right in front of the finish line.
It was a rope wall. You know, climb up the rope, using your feet against the (very slippery) wall, up and over the top and then to the finish line you go. I had been watching people do this all day before my wave, many climbing with ease, many having a lot of trouble, and I also witnessed a few injuries.
This is the obstacle. I was on the farthest rope to the right (I am not in this picture).
I thought to myself “I just climbed that other rope. With this one I can use my feet! Piece of cake!” Not taking into account the fact that I was starving, my legs were shot and my arms were spent from that victorious rope climb about 2 minutes before. But, since I was feeling on top of the world, I took about 30 seconds to gather myself, and then grabbed a rope and hopped onto the wall. I was doing pretty well, and made it a little over half way up the wall…
…when all of a sudden I lost my grip, my feet slipped off of the slimy wall, and down I crashed. Hard. My right ankle breaking my fall by being jammed in between the hay bails and the bottom of the wall. I felt a crack, let out a very loud F-bomb (I’m sure the spectators standing right next to me appreciated that one), and literally rolled off the hay bail.
Ding Ding Ding! Bad thing #3.
The pain was searing, the kind of pain that takes your breath away. I was too close to the finish line to not finish though, so there was no way I was going to give up at that point. It took me a good few minutes to get up, but unfortunately had to be helped across the finish line, because putting weight on that ankle was out of the question.
Now here I sit, with a swollen and painful ankle, hardly able to walk, hoping there’s no fracture, and with the hindsight that tells me I really shouldn’t have gone to the race that day. The universe told me so, and I ignored it. The universe said “Hey shit head, I’ve given you two very clear signs that this is not a good idea, just wait for the 3rd… Muhahaha”
Evil universe. Evil.
Lessons Learned: Listen to the signs. And don’t think you’re Super Woman simply because you just successfully climbed a rope. And elevate that foot, darn it.
Additional (and more important) Lesson Learned: The people at the Superhero Scramble were amazing. I was helped out by so many people, from the two men who helped me across the finish line, to the two women who helped me get my finishers medal and to the first aid tent, to the woman who spent time going to find my bag at the bag check because I couldn’t move, and the two amazing men who kept me company for almost 2 hours, and then literally carried me to the bus back to the parking lot. The universe may be evil, but people are good, especially those that were at the race on Saturday. Superhero Scramble, thank you for being so awesome on such a shitty day!
And there you have it. The worst day I’ve had in a while, mixed in with a totally awesome race and an amazing group of people. Silver lining?
Do you have any race-day horror stories?