Thursday, May 16, 2013

Race Re-Cap: REI Muddy Buddy Richmond

This race took place on Saturday, April 20th.

Last year I ran an obstacle course race and had a blast so when I saw an email come through for the REI Muddy Buddy in Richmond I jumped at the opportunity.  I had originally signed up for this race with a buddy that wasn't able to attend with me.  Thankfully, I have great friends who are willing to be spontaneous.  Elizabeth, a Red Felt buddy and good friend, stepped in to save the day for me.  She is a life saver.

I had been through a pretty rough couple of weeks when this race occurred.  Since it was down in Richmond I booked a hotel near the park where race was at.  Elizabeth and I went to dinner at a lovely Mexican restaurant in Alexandria, my favorite type of food, and then headed down to Richmond.  I feel bad for her because she had to listen to me vent and complain the whole way down. It was wonderful to have someone to talk to.  She offered some fabulous advice and really helped me work through a few things as I talked them out.  It was just the girls weekend I needed.

The night we drove down was also the same night that Boston police and the FED's were tracking down the Boston marathon bombers so we were definitely talking about those jerks a lot too.  I'm so glad they caught them.  (On a side note, I'm super annoyed they buried the older brother in Virginia.  He needs to be cremated or dumped in an ocean somewhere).  We had some Red Felt friends who were in Boston and running that race.  Only one was able to finish, the rest made it to about mile 25 and had to stop.  I would be devastated after making it 25 miles and then not be able to finish.  Stupid people!  I'm so made they took safety and peace away from a sporting event I love so much.

Race Day:
We were able to pick up our packets in the morning before the race so when our alarm went off we got up and headed to Pocahontas State Park where the Muddy Buddy was.  We were fairly early so we had no issues getting in and finding a nice parking spot close to the start.  We were in the first race wave of participants, which I'm thankful for because later waves had to park in another area that was a quite far to walk.  It came in handy being so close because I went to my car a few times to drop things off.  There was also no lines to get our race numbers or to use the portapotties, which is always nice, especially for me since I ALWAYS have to use one before the race.

When it was time we headed to the start.  Our group was small and we were right in the front.  Both Elizabeth and I felt odd being at the front of the pack.  That's usually where elites go, but since this was a small group we were not in anyone's way.  The course was 4 miles with lots of fun obstacles and a few challenging one's too, at least for me.  Many of the obstacles were designed to be completed with the help of your buddy and that made it fun.  It would be a great race to run with a significant other and see how well they support you.  Elizabeth was an excellent buddy!
Throughout the race we talked a lot about life and lessons we've learned.  It was really helpful for me considering the personal strife I was dealing with. In the grand scheme of things, my problems are what I would call, "first world problems."  It really isn't the end of the world, but it caused me some emotional stress.  During the race there were two things she said to me really stick out.  The first was, "Stop apologizing for existing."  I realized I kept apologizing for too many things and many things weren't my fault and didn't merit an apology.  The second thing she said that stuck out was, "I'm the hero of my own life and I don't need saving."  This was in reference to me being unmarried and sometimes not too happy with that fact.  She was right.  I'm a strong woman with a lot of good things going on in my life and though I may need help from time to time, I'm fully capable to function on my own.  It was nice to be reminded of that.  It's easy to forget.  I'm surrounded by people in my life that sometimes treat me like there is something wrong with me because I'm 29 and not married.  You know what?  THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME BECAUSE I'M NOT MARRIED!!  Being coupled/married doesn't make your life complete.  You have to complete yourself and be happy with yourself.  Being single has allowed me to do some pretty amazing things.  

Back to the race...The obstacle course ended up being a physical manifestation of what I was experiencing emotionally.  You run along and every so often there are obstacles in your way.  Some of the obstacles were easy and even fun, some were very challenging and some I needed some help.  I was unable to do the rope climb.  I have weak upper body strength.  I tried, but had no luck.  I didn't feel bad about it at all.

Right before you reach the end there was a wall climb (pictured to the left).  It was my arch nemesis on the race.  They sprayed it with water so it was slick.  It's only about 12 feet high, but it was a huge challenge for me.  I would get so close to the top, slip, proceed to slam down on the wall and slide to the bottom.  It was quite painful.  I fell 4 times and started to get a little teary eyed.  First, I was embarrassed because it was close to the finish so there were a lot of people around watching.  Second, I was annoyed I couldn't do it.  
Elizabeth made it on her first try.  She's a rock star.  Instead of waiting on the other side she came back up to encourage me.  She gave just the right amount of encouragement, but also tough love.  I was getting to the point where I just wanted to walk around it, but she said, "Don't let this wall beat you!  Get up here and get over it."  That statement had many subliminal messages for me.  She was right.  I can't let some silly obstacle get in my way and I'm not willing to let anything or anyone trample on my dreams and my happiness anymore.  Been there, done that.  It's not worth it.  Never give up the things that make you happy!  To the right is a picture of us right after I made it to the other side.  I was so grateful to finally get over that stupid wall.  Even though I had help I had to be the one to have the will power to keep trying after many failed attempts.  Your friends can support you, but unfortunately you have to make the climb yourself.
The final obstacle was the mud pit.  It was my favorite part of the course.  There was an announcer that dared me to flip on my back and do a mud angel and if I did I'd win a free pair of wool socks from one of the vendors.  I like free stuff and was already planning to throw my shirt out so I did it.  It was awesome!!  When I made it out of the pit Elizabeth was waiting (she's so speedy) and we ran across the finish.

Post Race:
After the race was over we took a muddy picture and then cleaned up a bit.  I changed my clothes and got my wallet and we walked around to see all the vendors.  I saw one of the vendors had a big turtle on the top of their tent.  If you know me, you know I have a massive love for anything with a turtle on it.  We made our way to the tent and found out about the Life's a Beach Triathlon.  The vendors said, "this is a triathlon for non-triathletes."  It's a 200 meter swim, 5 mile bike ride (on any kind of bike) and a two mile run, that includes a turtle crawl.  They had a special deal to sign up there so we did.  I want to break into the triathlon world and I thought this would be a really fun way to test it out.  It seems like it's going to be a lot of fun and no pressure.  

After looking at the vendor tents we went back to our hotel, cleaned up and then drove home.  I love the obstacle course races and felt like this one was the perfect distance.  It was 4 miles, which I felt like was a manageable distance.  Some of the obstacle races are 8-12 miles and I think that would be really intense to run that far with obstacles.  I'll stick with my short mud runs for now.  It was a great event and I was happy to have a great buddy with me and help me in more ways than just getting through the obstacles :)  

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