If you’d told me a year ago this was going to change my life I’d have laughed at you!
I am out with friends one night in April 2011; Matt is trying to convince me to join him for the Warrior Dash race that is coming up in a few months. I am hesitant, as I have never run in my life. I can count on my fingers and toes the number of times I’ve run for a bus, let alone run for a race. A person at the table pipes up, “Matt, Sara would never make it, she’s not the athletic type.” I can feel my blood pressure rising as I’m not about to be told by this marathoner girl that I can’t run a mere 5K over a few obstacles – who does she think she is telling Matt I can’t make it?
I go home that night, sign up for the Warrior Dash race and then advertise on Facebook, that I’ve signed up and want people to run with me. Within days, I have a small team assembled. Team consists of a seasoned female 10K runner (Amanda), an outdoorsy male athlete (Brian), a coworker who seems reasonably fit (Greg), the coworker’s girlfriend who I’ve met only once (Mies), and myself. I am still thinking I’m the least fit, least prepared for this, but we girls make a pact to stay together.
The day of the race arrives; the weather is cooler than anticipated with lots of thunder, lightening, and raining to beat the bands! It has actually been raining for about 3 days.
My housemate & I have spent the night prior to the race in a Holiday Inn near the course so we don’t have to drive as far the morning of the race. My friend Brian had driven down from NY and slept in his car the night before, so he came into the Holiday Inn to have breakfast with us. He was dressed & ready to go, but was just as confused as I was about if the race would actually go on with this type of weather. A few minutes later my dad arrives, we all have breakfast & then it was time to go.
We head out in the torrential downpour, GPS saying it’s 15 minutes away, we’re doing fine till we get off the exit and suddenly the traffic comes to a DEAD stop. My phone begins to blow up with texts from Amanda and Greg about how they’re being shuttled in from random lots, worried where will we meet and how will they get the shirts? Did I mention my housemate had made us all team shirts; girls got neon pink “Grizzly Girl” shirts and for the boys got blue ones with “Grizzly Girl’s Guy” on them.
After goodness knows how long of being directed every which way, we eventually pulled into a parking lot and were told to wait for a shuttle bus. We did as told, while watching my heat time come and go. Being my first race EVER, I was of course beside’s myself at the thought of missing it, but Brian calmed me down saying there would be a chance to run later.
We all pilled into the muddy bus and headed to the Amesbury Sports Park. Luckily once we arrive there were not many people probably since the weather is still heavy rain. I immediately saw Amanda, Dom (Amanda’s boyfriend), Greg and Mies. Caylin (housemate) handed out our shirts; we all changed, collected our race bibs, pinned them on, and attached our timing chips to our shoes. We got a few pre race photos, and next thing I knew we were headed over to the start line. At this point the rain had actually stopped but it was still rather cloudy, so we were a bit chilly in our shorts and t-shirt, but not for long! Dom, Caylin and my dad stood in a large puddle of water in order to get photos and cheer for us. At this point I am totally unaware of what is going on – I’m so nervous as I look up this hill I’m going to be starting my run with!
The gun sounds, the mass of people begin to move, Greg and Brian are about halfway up the hill when Amanda, Mies and I begin to run. The boys has told us ahead of time that they would not be waiting for us and we were okay with that. By the time we hit the top of the hill, the large mass from the bottom of the hill is rather spread out! Soon I realize that Amanda has even taken off without Mies and me. There goes the “girls will stay together no matter what” pact out the window. I start to panic as I’ve only met Mies once or twice before and so I was sort of banking on Amanda sticking with me.
Over roots and through thick mud, Mies and I giggle, mostly I think out of fear of what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but I kept hearing that voice in my head, “Sara would never make it, she’s not the athletic type” and I was going to be damned if she turned out to be correct. I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge! The mud, hills, slipping and sliding is the theme for the day, but Mies and I are now chatting about this and that. To be honest I have no clue what we talked about, but also don’t remember it being awkward – we seemed to get alone really well.
About half way through, as we were walk/jogging through a muddy track, we saw Amanda, but she was in competitive mode and was not about to wait up for us. At this point, Mies & I are fine with that; we’re having a blast. We’re not necessarily fully prepared for what we’re doing, but we just keep chatting and climbing over the obstacles like it’s our job.
As we jump over the fire, the smiles on our faces are priceless!
A few minutes later we were crossing the finish line . . . 1 hour and 6 minutes DONE! Not the greatest time, but considering it was our first race ever, let alone race with obstacles, we were just ecstatic to have completed it.
We were greeted at the finish line with finisher metals, water, bananas, Monster drinks, beer, turkey legs, music and of course our awesome “fans”. Who would have thought that seven months after this day Mies and I would be flying to Arizona for the first of many races in 2012? Who would have thought that we’d become best friends? I can tell you, not either of us! At every race we drive or fly to (Warrior Dash, Rugged Maniac, Rock Eater Adventure, Monster Mud, Spartan) the conversation of “who’d have imagined . . . “ comes up at some point.
Not only have these races introduced me to my best friend, but also opened up a whole new family of fellow races across the country to me. I am so thankful to each and every one of them. I am still not the fastest obstacle racer and may never be, but I’m okay with that. I’m not in it to win it, in the sense of speed or cash prizes. I’m in it for personal satisfaction, finishing the race, and having fun with my friends in the process; whether I’m a part of a large group who fly from New England to Texas to race together or if it’s just Mies & me running in a smaller local run – it’s all about having fun while we do it!
For those of you who have never seen a run or been a spectator, I highly recommend it!! If you would like to see what the course in Arizona which we just ran in looks like here is a video. Obviously that is not us in it, but we ran the same course, just at 6am with headlamps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ymNFdrPc-w&feature=youtu.be
Labels: best friends, family, obstacle racing, spartan race