Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Am A Warrior!

As I wrote about last month, the Hy-Vee Triathlon got reduced to a sprint-distance race and then they wouldn’t let me finish due to the weather. I wasn’t just upset with the race; I was angry at the whole Hy-Vee corporation for “crushing my dreams.”

Okay, so I couldn’t really blame Hy-Vee for the weather, but I decided I wasn’t going to set foot in a Hy-Vee store. Well, Hy-Vee Drug does have a good wine selection so maybe they could be the exception. I do really like Hy-Vee cake (love that frosting) so maybe there was a loophole for eating their products. Okay, so the ban on Hy-Vee was not going to work.

I guess I needed someone to blame. The harsh reality was that if I had pushed myself harder in the swim and the bike, I would have been out on that run course when the storm hit and I could have finished. I had approached the swim and bike like I was still doing an Olympic and pacing myself.

I heard a movie quote recently that really struck me. It was in “Evan Almighty,” the Steve Carell comedy about a man who is told by God to be a modern-day Noah and build an ark. God was played by Morgan Freeman. Morgan Freeman has this wonderful voice; every time he speaks he sounds like he is imparting wisdom. In the film he says, “If you pray for courage, does God give you courage or does he give you opportunities to be courageous?”

I couldn’t get that quote out of my head. Maybe Hy-Vee had not taken away my dream. Maybe I had not taken advantage of my opportunity. In every race we are given an opportunity. It’s up to us what we do with it.

The week after Hy-Vee I participated in the Warrior Dash. Club member Jody Rausch had talked me into doing it. It didn’t take much convincing…it was a 5K race on an obstacle course that included crawling through mud and jumping over fire! It was just what I needed—a fun race with no pressure.

The Warrior Dash is held all over the U.S. so the Midwest Region race was near Chicago. You signed up for a wave time so we drove over that morning for the 11:30 wave start. We parked at the Chicago Speedway and they bused us to the race site.

“You can smell the turkey legs cooking,” said Jody, “or maybe that’s the smell of burning flesh.” Not a pleasant thought. As we stood at the starting line the announcer got us fired up and we gave our best warrior screams. Two torches shot out fire and it was so hot we could feel it.

We started out by running cross country. Jody ran off ahead and I ran with club member Julie Kann. Soon we were running down a dirt hill into the woods. This race is big into mud so I had a choice of running through mucky mud or through a large mud puddle. At first I chose the path, but I almost lost my shoe. I figured I was going to get muddy anyway so might as well splash through the mud water.

I climbed over a large wooden spool and then pulled myself up a mud hill, followed by crawling through tunnels. It was on to the car junkyard where I climbed over the hoods of multiple vehicles. I was having a ball, but this course was also demanding!

There was more climbing over walls, wading through muddy waters and over straw bales. The tough part for me was the cargo net. I had forgotten I was scared of heights and here I was, climbing up a rope fence, my muddy feet slipping as I pulled myself up. Please don’t fall, I told myself.

It was then on to running up and down a million little hills. I was getting tired! I was approaching the fire jump. The fire was taller than I expected so I really needed to propel myself over. No charred legs; that’s good!

The final obstacle was the mud pit, where we had to crawl under barbed wire. This was the spectator area and they yelled for me to dive into the mud. All the guys were doing it, but I really didn’t want to go face-first into the mud! I crawled on my hands and knees and then up one final mud hill.

At the finish line they gave me a medal and I put on my warrior helmet (complete with horns) to signify I was a warrior! I think this warrior attitude is going to carry me for the rest of the season…