On Saturday, I got forced out of my comfort zone and into some mud. Lots of mud. Lots and lots of mud.
Some running friends have established a new obstacle course race – Renegade Playground Challenge! With the tagline “Recess Uncensored” they’re hosting 5 races in the next few months all over New England. I was recruited to help spread the word as a Renegade-in-Training by participating in the F.I.T. Challenge in North Attleboro while wearing my sweet new renegade shirt. F.I.T. stands for Fortitude, Integrity, and Toughness. I think the idea is that you’re supposed to feel those three adjectives while you compete… but I’m not sure I quite got there…
If you’ve been reading, you know I’ve been working on incorporating more strength training into my weekly routine. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to make me strong enough to climb over 10 ft walls. And that’s what the FIT Challenge involved. I struck up some conversations with the other people at the start line. There were two women who had never done an obstacle course race before… let alone a a regular race. There was the woman who was getting ready to complete her third loop of the FIT Challenge THAT DAY… and she was planning on running her first half marathon the following day. She was a member of the New England Spahtens, a group of die-hard obstacle race runners who seemed like a LOT of fun.
We started by running up a steep hill and the first obstacle was a 8 ft wall that we had to climb over. There was a side post that I tried to use to climb up, but it didn’t quite work out… so I skipped it (yes, I skipped the first obstacle, so sue me). The second wall was probably only 6 or so ft, but I still only managed to get up about half way before I shimmied around the wall and back down – rather than going over. The third wall was only 4 ft and I was able to get over it – it was a proud moment.
After jumping over some walls, we did some more running. With the majority of people actually attempting the walls, I got a pretty decent lead since running was definitely my strength. There were a couple deep mud pits – ankle deep – that we ran through. There were some tunnels to crawl through. I knew going into it that one of the most challenging obstacles was climbing up a super steep hill with a 25lb sandbag. No thank you. Instead, I skipped the bag and ran up most of the hill. It was really comforting that most everyone didn’t question it or judge me. It was totally not comforting to watch children carry bags up the hill.
Right after getting back down the steep hill, we immediately had to run up an even steeper ski slope. I was able to go up at a fairly quick pace, passing by a few guys who were taking some breaks to catch their breath. One of the major things I learned was that obstacle races are designed for cross-fit fans who also sometimes enjoy running – NOT runners who also sometimes enjoy obstacles. So it was pretty cool to excel at the running aspect, even if I couldn’t get through all the obstacles.
What else did the race include? Monkey bars (slayed it), teeter totter (scarier than expected), rope wall (slayed it), and going over/under some hurdles (again, I slayed it). But then I got to the cross fit section. I have never done cross fit but everyone I know who does cross fit LOVES it. I’ve been encouraged to try it. The cross fit section started with carrying a weight across a field. I opted for the (second) lightest option – 25 lbs – and got through it just fine. The second part was lifting a 45 lb barbell. I couldn’t even pick the damn thing up, so the guy made me do burpees instead. I felt ridiculous, but got through it… even with my horrible form. Finally, there was the whole “push a tire through a mud pit” part. Pushing a tire is pretty hard when you’re in a pit of mud and slipping all over the place.
The race ended with climbing an 8 ft ladder wall, climbing over a tire/hay filled dumpster, and then climbing over a final 12 ft ladder. And I did it! Overall, I started off fairly weak but as the race continued, I got more confident in my ability to complete the obstacles and I’d say that I at least completed close to all of them. I completed the race in an hour and got medal #4 for 2014.
I’m not someone that really enjoys being dirty. When I got home, Eric made a little bit of fun of me because I was tip-toeing around the house, visibly uncomfortable about the amount of mud caked on and covering my body. It was good to get out of my comfort zone though, and I think I’d even do it again… BUT I would need to have friends with me. It was kind of lonely to do the race by myself. The people who had friends with them also had moral and physical support, whereas I had to awkwardly make jokes and try and strike up conversations with the other people. Eric says he might be interested in running one with me, so who knows – maybe I’ll try it again… and maybe I’ll be able to get over those walls next time!