23 August 2013

We Call This Fun

It looks so peaceful and serene. 
Before we go any further, there's just a couple things you should know about me.

1. I have an unfathomable fear of zombies - a burst into tears, freeze up, have nightmares for a month because someone mentioned 'zombie' kind of fear.

2. The only shape I'm in is a rough equivalent to the Pillsbury Doughboy's Sister. I will occasionally go for a 3-4k jog/walk with the dogs, but it's more rare than it is common. The only weights I lift have to do with moving remodeling equipment around the kitchen and laundry.

Ok, so we're clear on those two points? Because those two points are very important to this story.

Saturday morning, Jeff and I got up at the wee hours and got ready to make the three hour trek up to Batavia, NY to do the Run For Your Lives Zombie 5k. It was my first 5k ever, Jeff's second and his second obstacle course race (first being the Tough Mudder, Philly 2013 this past June).

I am not in the best physical shape I could be. I am soft, squishy, and generally value my time sleeping rather than dragging myself out of bed for a much needed run/walk/jog. I have my own issues with how I look and feel. It's not just self image; I had a health scare earlier this summer that knocked my perceptions of myself around pretty hard. I decided to do better for myself. And honestly, after spectating for Jeff at the Tough Mudder, I realized that I would much rather be in the thick of it than standing on the sidelines.

But zombies? Jeff swears up, down, and sideways that a 5k running into zombie hordes was my idea and I swear that I have no recollection of this event and I had obviously taken leave of my senses. I am fairly certain I said something to that effect when we climbed the 4' wall and were met with the first zombie throng.

From the view of the spectators, it was like watching Mutual of Omaha Nature Programme, just with humans playing gazelles (some more gracefully than others I'll grant you) and zombies playing the lions.

Zombies were FAST. NOT FUN. 

To be completely truthful? I sucked. First two hills wiped me out. The dust was intense and thick in my mouth, I had the wrong sneakers for the course, and as soon as Jeff tried to be encouraging with getting me to hustle on with the group I turned into my own version of a half human snarl fest (bless him). I sent him and our other friend joining on the madness on ahead and told them not to worry about me.

This was the point that I realized there was actually someone who had fallen behind even myself and wasn't looking good. The woman - we'll call her M - looked like she was actually in decent shape. She told me she's run other 5k's and hadn't had a problem, but this time she didn't bring her inhaler with her. Road Dust + Run + Asthma = Bad. So rather than run on ahead when I got my wind back, I stuck with her to make sure she didn't die (literally in this case) in between aid points.

We renamed our team Stragglers, especially after we caught up with two other females who lagged behind and had some issues with the messiness of the obstacles (Did I mention the mud? 12"+ in some sections) and just took everything as it came: zombies who ran faster than we did, smoke houses, low crawls, poison ivy. All of it.
It really was *that* disgusting. 

The zombies were pretty awesome. Some were actually quite terrifying. At the point that they became terrifying I had already lost all my flags so there was no point in getting overly stressed. We danced to thriller in one of the sections as a distraction to the zombies, and everyone had a really good time. The obstacles were pretty awesome, although the voltage low crawl and electric shock to my tookus was ... ahem. Rude. (it did put pep in my step, I'll grant everyone that)
The FX team really did an awesome job.... creeeeeeeeeeepy! 

At the end of the race, Jeff and our friend Kory waited for me near one of the obstacles and we ended together -- all of us infected as we had no flags, exhausted, muddy beyond anything, and chomping at the bit for the next race.
Chivalry is not dead. We are of course. 

Despite the poison ivy, mud in places that ought to never have mud, and my lagging-butt time, I'm thrilled I did the event and really looking forward to the next one.

If you decide to take up the Obstacle Course Running as a hobby, here's a few things to keep in mind:

1. Registration is always cheaper further out from the event. These events can be pricy (but worth it, really!), so be sure to get on the email list for your event of choice so that you can pay when it's the cheapest. A lot of places will also discount your race if you volunteer at the race itself. If you're looking to meet people, this is a really awesome way to do it.

2. The Right Shoes Are VERY Important. I was an idiot and took my urban trainers which had NO tread on them. It's a miracle I didn't snap my already banged up ankle. Train in trail settings with trail shoes for these things.

3. Bring a change of clothing. And a towel. And be prepared to have mud in places later that night when you get home.

4. Bring spectators. They are awesomely helpful to have around with picture taking and watching stuff. A lot of sites will have a bag check, but most places charge for it. Bring friends who aren't entirely convinced of how awesome an idea these things are and they will - nine times out of ten - want to join in on the next one.

5. If you are not in the best shape of your life and are using this as an excuse to not do something like this, do it anyway. Have fun with it and use it as motivation. No kidding. I felt a hundred times better about myself at the end of the race despite being 'infected' and despite having to walk. I completed it. I want to get better. I can actually see it happening now.

And most importantly, really, have fun.
Tired, filthy, and ready to go again. 

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