After setting the same goal for the past three years, I finally completed my first 5K! I've been saying I wanted to do one forever, but the thought of actually committing to a race terrified me a little bit. See, I'm super passionate about fitness and I LOVE working out, but I'm by no means a runner. I do love cardio, but it's usually on my treadmill, with fans blowing and my music blasting. I like being in control of my workout, and the unpredictability of a race made me nervous. I dubbed 2016 "the year I lived", so it only seemed fitting to go ALL IN and sign up for a Rugged Maniac race! What is a Rugged Maniac, you ask? It's an epic obstacle mud run that takes place in various locations throughout the country every year.
I didn't prep for this race nearly as much as I should have. This summer I've been doing a lot of HIIT workouts, hiking, and bootcamp style workouts. While those are all great, I should have definitely been working on my running game more!
Of course because we're in the Midwest, on the day of the race we were in a extreme heat advisory. I don't remember the exact temp that day, but it was 95+, and the humidity was really high. I had been drinking a lot of water to prep for the weather conditions, but I still wound up feeling dehydrated.
When it came time for race day we made the drive to the race location, signed in, and made our way to our "heat". Because literally thousands of people race in the Rugged Maniac, they have to break us up into heats. We were in a later heat, which if I would have thought it through, I would have realized that we were racing in one of the hottest parts of the day.
They played great pump up music while we waited for our countdown, and I was feeling so much adrenaline to start running. When that horn sounded, I took off at a really good clip, because we were in the front of our pack. Unfortunately, our race took place at a ski slope, and they thought it would be a good idea to make us RUN UP the hill where the ski lift was, to start off. About 50 feet in, and I slowed down to a power walk.... which eventually slowed down to a labored walk. I kept looking up and thinking I would never, ever make it to the top of that hill.
I'm on Accutane and I've been suffering with a lot of side effects, which is part of what made this race so hard for me. Accutane literally sucks the water out of your body, so you're really, really prone to getting dehydrated. Also, I've suffered from fatigue, sun sensitivity, joint pain, back pain, and crazy dryness. So you take my side effects, the heat, the humidity, my not-so-great level of running, and that stupid hill and you get- I truly thought I was either going to throw up or pass out. Either way, I didn't think I'd make it to the top of that hill. But I did, and I was about in the middle of our pack, which wasn't too shabby for me! By this point my feet had went numb though, my vision was a little fuzzy, and I was breathing so hard I thought my lungs would explode. Unfortunately, this was only the first of like eight hills they threw at us. Our first obstacles were the barricades and Jacob's Ladder, and I was simply not feeling it. I was wondering why I ever thought I could do this, and I was feeling like I wanted to lay down on the side of the path and not get up for a long time.
Then it clicked with me. This was exactly why I had signed up for this race! Because I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be challenging. That was the point! To get far out of my comfort zone, and have an epic experience! About this time we came to the "head scratcher", which is where you crawl through mud and water, while barbed wire is over your head. I looked at that obstacle, and thought, "I've got this!" I crawled through the head scratcher so fast, and came out soaked from head to toe and covered in so much mud. It didn't get any easier after that, but my attitude had changed, and I was determined to have fun no matter what. I did have to stop and rest a few times during the race, but so did everyone else racing! Out of the 30 obstacles, I completed 22 of them. There were a few I struggled with because of me height, plus I skipped the monkey bars, because I knew I wouldn't make it past the first rung.
I broke through so many mental barriers though, and completed things I never thought I would be able to. I crawled under barbed wire, swam through muddy water, slid down muddy walls, crawled through dark tunnels, balanced on beams surrounded by muddy water, climbed ladders, and carried sandbags.
At the end of the race we slid down this freaky, but super fun water slide, and we all screamed like we were five-years-old. Running through the finish line was such a triumphant moment for me. We were greeted with water bottles, medals, and orange slices. I actually hate oranges, but I swear an orange slice has never tasted so good!
After that race I felt like I could conquer anything. I had accomplished something that I thought I never would, and it was a really proud moment for me. We finished the day with French fries, lemonade, and some very long showers! All in all, it was an incredible experience, and my greatest physical feat to date. Will I race again? Who knows what 2017 will bring!