Saturday, November 5, 2011

It Is Time.

   I spent Saturday morning running 4 miles, wading across creeks in 40 degree temperatures, crawling through mud, scaling 10' walls, swinging across gorilla bars and climbing towering cargo nets. All in the name of fun. And I paid a tidy sum for this opportunity. And I wasn't even being chased by mad dogs or wild assassins! It's called the Ruckus, a new obstacle course-run in selected cities. And I'm so glad they selected ours!
   The excitement was palpable as I met up with others from the KC Adventure Club and lined up in my heat. Much to my joy, I realized in talking to others that they were as nervous as I was—many of us were attempting this type of event for the first time—and many of us hadn't studied the course to even know what we were in for.
   The course began with a sprint, jumping over downed trees, and leading to a series of 6 walls, alternating low (3.5') and high (4.5'). Then we jumped through a series of 3D wooden Xs. Then it was off into the woods and the icy-cold creek crossing. Getting up and down the bank was rough; though I was in the second heat, the ground was already a slick, muddy mess and the banks were very steep. I pulled myself up using grasses and tree roots which made great handles. Then it was a long run through very thick mud, and a series of mud hills and mud pits.
   There was a bottleneck of people at the next big obstacle, in which you had to latch onto 1 of 5 ropes, lock your legs together, reach up and drag yourself across the pit, while upside-down and backwards. As I was waiting my turn, a woman named Vera turned and looked at me and said, "You are WAY too clean!" and used both thumbs to give me some very intimidating dark stripes under my eyes. War paint. Her friend, Laurie, laughed.
   I shinnied across the pit fairly easily and was off running again, with about 5 pounds of mud caked to each foot. With leaves stuck in it—a veritable tar-and-feathering. It was as difficult to move as it sounded. Back up and down a 5', then a 10', then a 20' mud hill. It was a struggle to keep the mud from stealing your shoes—and there was at least one contestant who lost hers, and had to run barefoot!
   We then tackled the 10' wall—for which the rope was already so slick and muddy, I couldn't get a grip, despite wearing weight lifting gloves! A nice guy boosted me up by my feet, then helped his girlfriend up. As I launched over the wall, I peered back over and shouted, "Thanks for the help, man!" and was off and running again.
   The next obstacle was the only one I skipped: a thick pole high above the ground that you had to shinny across. I couldn't reach it due to my stature, and I knew I would have slid off and probably injured myself (seriously) if I had jumped to grab it. I didn't have the arm strength left to hold on, and wasn't dying to fall 10-12' on my back. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid!!! Turns out MOST people skipped this one anyway.
   After this part of the course, we ran around the speedway itself in a large oval, then got back on a muddy straightaway to the start area, where the last half mile or so snaked around, crossing over itself with a ton of obstacles: cargo nets, tires to crawl over, walls to scale, gorilla bars, air loops, hoisting up on to slippery, muddy shipping containers, and more. I kept running into Vera and Laurie, and we cheered each other on.
   My overall finish place was 508 (our of about 1800 who ran), and my time was 50:41.9 (12:40 per mile). My time would have been much faster (about 5 minutes faster!), had it not been for the bottleneck of people at certain obstacles. Had I started the race at the front of my wave, I would have been in much better shape. Anyway, I may have only placed 68th in my age group, but I came home with all my teeth and no broken bones, so really, I'm a winner.
   It was fun to run with Michal, Andy, Krysia, and other members of KCAC, and to hang out with Christy, who organized the event... and brought us homemade atomic brownies to warm us up. (They're full of habanero peppers! YUM!)
   Apparently the event was also held this year in Columbus, as well as Boston, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis. Heck, if I had known that, I might have gone to Columbus in August to run it, under the guise of visiting family. This was a tough event, but I'd do it again, but not before I did some hardcore upper-body strength-training. I am sore (especially my pecs, tris, and knees) and bruised (especially my arms and shins) but otherwise happy and unscathed.