~Saturday, October 08, 2011


Since the first Warrior Dash I ran in May had changed my life, I immediately signed up for the next closest race in Tennessee in September. After that first race, I believed I could do anything. I was confident enough I had even taken a Crossfit class. I told myself I was going to train harder than I had for the first one and that I was going to do better.

The best laid plans.

After the 10k race in July, I made the decision to quit running for the rest of the summer. I'd still tie on my sneakers and make it out about once a month for a 3-mile jog, but it was simply too hot. I've been told time and time again that endurance dissipates after a week and a half of inactivity. I had stretched my running pause well beyond that.

Lawyered had talked me into joining his Saturday morning boot camps with him. It succeeded in building up the arm strength I never had. I could now at least support my own body weight.

Then the cruise had happened and then work became busy with 60-hour weeks. And then it was September.

I piled in the car not with the group I had run the first Dash with, but with several friends from kickball: Lawyered, his best friend and a girlfriend from my second kickball team. We drove to the Bonnaroo site in Tennessee, which happened to also be the Warrior Dash site.

It was hotter than I expected. And whereas the first Dash was in the North Georgia mountains, the second one was in a giant open field with no tree coverage. There was no lake to swim. There were no water obstacles at all. It was running on a flat dirt surface punctuated with obstacles built in the dirt. Approaching every obstacle felt like approaching a playground.

As I was running the mile or so towards the first obstacle, I got winded much more quickly than I ever had before. We rounded a bend and approached a trail run through gravel and stumps. I looked down at the path below me. I dodged a veritable hole in the ground.

Whoa, I thought. If I would had stepped in that, I would have fallen. That would have been embarrassing.

And as I'm having this thought, I tripped over something entirely else. I did that thing where you try to recover by going into a jog, but since I was already running, my jog became a sprint. I was running too fast. And I didn't have control of my run.

It was the longest fall I've ever taken in my life.

I had tripped and recovered into a sprint, but it was a sloppy sprint. I knew I couldn't keep it up. As I ran, I slowly felt my body weight push forward and forward until I went ass over tea kettle and bit the ground. This whole process had to have taken 20 seconds. When I actually fell, I was nowhere near the spot where I tripped.

There was blood streaming down my leg where I hit a rock with my knee. I laid flat on my back and tried to breathe from the epic fail I just had in front of so many people. About 5 guys stopped and asked if I was okay and pulled me up from the ground. Fantastic.

My knee throbbed as I ran again. Instead of mud, there was blood pooling in my sock. Lawyered and everyone else were so far in front of me. After the first obstacle of climbing a hay bale tower, I said "Fuck it" and started walking.

The over-unders of the previous dash were set in mud. Climb over the wall and fall into a pit of mud and slide under the barb wire. But in Tennessee, there was no water and therefore no mud. It was climb over the wall and land gently on Mother Earth and crawl under the barb wire.

The 18-foot wall that had scared me so much in the first Dash was an early obstacle in the second one. And as I approached the painted black tower, I thought No big deal. I already know I can do this. I didn't need to ask a stranger to grab me by the ass and lift me up. I grabbed the rope and was up and over the wall. No big deal. The time I lost in running/walking, I made up for in my quick execution of the obstacles.

Then the next 6 obstacles were variations of that wall. There was that wall, but at a 20-degree angle that required you to run up it and use your upper body strength. Then there was the wall that you climbed up and then slide down a fireman's pole. And then there was the wall you climbed up, but the back was covered, so you had to jump off it or slide down it.

Every time I approached another big black wall, I thought, You've got to be kidding me. I didn’t think that because I was tired, I thought it because I was bored. I already knew I could do it. I wasn't learning anything. I wasn't being challenged.

And that's how the second Warrior Dash went. I was unimpressed. I spent the summer chasing that high I had with the first one, only to realize I couldn't reach it again.

I do that a lot. I find something that works for me and then I chase the exact replica of it. After Valdosta, I was (and still am) attracted to men that look like him. Valdosta will never be found in the pages of GQ, but I'll always have a fondness for beards because of him.

I spent the summer hibernating in my comfort zone. I was hanging with the same group of people. Drinking in the same bars on the same nights of the week. Doing the same thing I always do.

I'm going to have to find yet something else to drag me out of myself and get that resulting high. But—as a testimonial to myself—the list of adventures that can accomplish that for me are growing thin. I've already done Warrior Dash, a 5k, a 10k, whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, rock climbing, rappelling, and so on and and so forth. I don't know what else is out there for me. I don't know who else is out there for me.

It's time for me to just fucking try.


V said...

The second time is never like the first, but there are indeed a lot of firsts that await you. :)

Anonymous said...

I am going to run my first 5K in over 2 years next week. I didn't train for it and I know I'm going to suck. I really need to start running again. I used to love. Damn.

Unknown said...

You could try a tri.
Or you could pick a sport/event and then try to do it better than you did before. That's what I do, I am constantly pushing myself to beat my best. Longer distances, better time, etc sometimes I will just be happy with a faster recovery!
I also routinely switch my sport every few months, both for mental and physical agility and because where I live the weather changes a lot.

Je m'appelle Danielle said...

Well, I hate running, so I have no advice for you on that, but looking for dudes with beards is never a bad thing, I love me a guy with a beard, makes him seem manly-er for some reason.

Anonymous said...



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