Warrior Dash - 9/15/12 - 1:06:56.05

To say I was looking forward to my first Warrior Dash on the final day of my 20s is an understatement ... I was PUMPED to FINALLY be able to participate in a Warrior Dash! Especially since this would be my wife's third and I had yet to run in one. Okay okay, I was always working when they were hosted in Illinois so I had a reason behind it, but still. I was ready to finally be a Warrior. I was so wrapped up in planning The Dani Ryan Holmes-Kirk 1st Annual 30th Birthday Run-Walk Ramble that I sort of forgot to plan out the Warrior Dash logistics until the day before the event ... very unlike me.

But thankfully I left myself enough time to buy some running clothes at Old Navy that I didn't mind getting completely covered in mud and dug out an old pair of running shoes that had treated me well.

Then I finally looked up where in New Hampshire the race was held - Gilford - a nice 2 hour ride from Boston. Wooo - NOT.

Eh, we made the best of it.

We had an 11am wave time so we left the house at 7:15 to have enough time to stop at Dunkins and navigate our way up to Gunstock Ski Resort, where the Warrior Dash was being held.

This meant an early Saturday alarm:

But, it was worth it! :)

We had decided that we would run it together no matter what. I mean there was no reason to push through - not like I was looking for a PR at this thing. I was doing it for the experience.

So we made it to the parking lot around 9am. Okay super early for our wave, but we were able to make it into the main parking lot - thus avoiding a ride on what would become a muddy muddy shuttle bus! Score!

The first wave went off at 9 so we were able to see quite a few people start the run...

... and we had enough people around to snap a nice pre-race photo for us!

Once we got there, got our bibs and got our wristbands for post-run beer, we headed back to the car to chill before it was time for our wave. It really was a blessing having the car so close to the race area.

Who doesn't love a timing chip that doubles as a beer token ;)

At 10:20, we headed back over to the party area so I could see what the Finish - and the mud pit - were all about. :P

Seeing the people diving into the mud and walking around with their medals made me want to start ASAP. :)

But alas we had to wait til 11, but we were ready.

We finally made our way over to the Start Line with 20 minutes to go to stretch and get into the corral.

The last 10 minutes seemed to take an hour to pass. I just wanted to start.

Even though the beginning of the race was DIRECTLY up a ski slope. Yes, you read that correctly folks. The beginning of the race is basically a vertical hill.

They counted down, hit the pyrotechnics and we were off!!

I tried to buckle down and push up the hill to the best of my ability. But quickly noticed the wife was walking up.

So I changed my attack plan to run up the hill a little then wait for her to reach that point.

I really shocked myself with how strong my legs felt going up the hill. I thought I would've been completely dead, but the legs felt good and strong! A promising thing while marathon training...

The course was 3.21 miles long and the first 1.5 miles were directly up that ski slope.

At one point we saw the top of the chair lift and I thought "this has to be the top" ... but I was WRONG! It just kept climbing higher and higher.

The course markers were actually in 0.5 mile increments so I only saw them at 0.5, 1.5 and 2.5 - which threw me off.

So I would say our first obstacle was around Mile One: "Storming Normandy" - where we climbed under the barbed wire. Of course the guy in front of me got stuck on the barbed wire and one of the posts ended up falling on his head. Thankfully he was okay, but that definitely helped speed up my time through that spot. :P

Finally - some downhill. I knew there had to be a down at some point.

As we made our way down the first decline, we hit the second obstacle: "Barricade Breakdown" - where you hop over a hip-high wall and then under a hip-high beam - five times. Once you got in the rhythm it was a pretty easy obstacle.

I was more nervous on the downhill than the uphill since that is how I hurt my knee running in Hawaii in November 2011.

So I took it nice and slow because there was NO way I was going to hurt myself during marathon training!!

The third obstacle was labeled: "The trenches" - there is nothing like having your butt in the air for an entire obstacle. Thankfully I had capris and high socks on so I didn't get the cuts on my knees that most other people did at that point.

Before we hit the fourth obstacle, we had to head further down the hill and I noticed a girl bent over with her friend looking like she was in pain. So I grabbed the first EMT I saw and made sure they went to check her out.

Then I hit the "Teetering Traverse" - which freaked me out. It was basically a balance beam about 5 feet off the ground. Usually I am fine with balance beams, but since my back surgery last year I tend to lose my balance a little easier these days so I was having some heart palpitations at this point. Thankfully I just kept it slow and steady and the wife was there at the end to make sure I didn't slip getting down.

Following that obstacle we ran downhill a little longer then took a right that led to - wait for it - an UPHILL!! Yaayyy!! :P

I actually liked it and there was a photog on the uphill so I had to focus on getting a good pose in. Obviously.

Plus as you ran up, there was the next obstacle: "Great Warrior Wall" ... and now we meet my fear. So I saw this wall and immediately freaked out. I got up to the wall, grabbed the rope and tried to pull myself up and immediately thought I couldn't do it so I hopped out of line.

I told myself I could just walk around the obstacle. Then I told myself "Hello no! You did NOT drive 2 hours just to walk around an obstacle." So with the wife on the side, I went back in line to try it again. And as I climbed up, carefully moving my arms up the rope and slowly moving my feet from grip to grip, I thought what if my arms give out and I fall. As that crossed my mind, I realized I was at the top. I, Dani Holmes-Kirk, made it to the top of the wall.

Then I froze.

My batman sock's cape got caught on the rope at the top. Well there you go, I was going to have to live on the top of the wall for the rest of my life.

Thankfully the girl next to me told me to breathe and I slowly freed myself. Got myself over the wall and climbed the ladder down on the other side.

Woah! That was a rush and a moment I will take with me. I was SOOOO proud of myself for facing and conquering a fear!!

Take that wall...

We continued back up the second-largest uphill of the day. But, I made sure to stop and take in the AMAZING views we had of the foliage and Lake from that vantage point. It was breathtaking...

We made it to the top (for the second time) and hit the sixth obstacle (Mile 2.5): "Chaotic Crossover" - which was a horizontal cargo net about 4 feet off the ground. Normally it wouldn't be that bad, but there were a dozen people trying to do the same thing at the same time. :P

Then we got to make the final descent to the Finish Line and hit the seventh obstacle: "Deadman's Drop" - yup another chance for me to freak out. Thank goodness one of the volunteers from the race was by my side talking me through the obstacle. I climbed up without a problem, but when I looked over the top I noticed that it was one bar then just a wall. You were supposed to hang from the bar and just drop down to the ground. Sounds easy, but I was nervous. Thankfully I just took a deep breath and did it. High-fived the volunteer and I was off. :)

As we continued downhill, we were getting excited since we had been looking forward to the next obstacle: "Petrifying Plunge" - but it was a big letdown. :( I thought it would be a giants slip-n-slide, but instead it just soaked your butt as you tried to shuffle down on the big tarp. I wanted more slide, but the water was refreshing. :P

We had just three obstacles to go and the final two were the ones we had been waiting all day for!!

After the Plunge, we hit flat land - FINALLY!! :)

We quickly knocked out the ninth obstacle: "Cargo Climb" and took a little walk before going full strength into the final leg of the run.

We started jogging again and came up with a game plan for the 10th obstacle ... we would karate kick (like she had done the previous year) over the "Warrior Roast." Well we have yet to see the pic, but I think my karate kick was more like throwing my legs in the air so I'm hoping I didn't mess the whole pic up.

But, before I could get upset, it was time for the FINAL obstacle of the day: "Muddy Mayhem" - and it was AWESOME. Since we were kind of in the middle of the pack, the mud pit had time to get deeper than earlier in the day. It felt like quicksand. As I pushed through, I got a nice spray of mud to the right side of my face from the wife, which I quickly had to do right back. :)

We made it through and crossed the Finish Line holding hands ... and picked up our medals.

We finished in 1:06:56.05 - not that that really matters to me at all. :)

We picked up our bag and made sure to snap a few muddy pics before heading to the "shower" area.

The "shower" area consisted of two volunteers spraying people with big fire-type hoses. It felt great, but didn't really get rid of too much mud.

Plus. my Activelink survived the entire trek as well:

Oh wow, it was such a COOL experience that I recommend to everyone.

The coolest thing on the mountain was seeing people of all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities and athletic abilities. This truly was a race that you could alter to fit your athletic abilities/desires.


Will I do this again?