Having not run since June, after the whole ‘pelvis thing’ I’ve been flitting between excitement and dread over this weekend.
My training hasn’t been where I’ve wanted it to be and July saw me withdraw from three races that I had been looking forward to all year.
Morale has been low of late.
However, Total Warrior has been the race I have participated in the most. It provides some of the best obstacles out there, the organisation is by far the best I’ve come across, and as such it has cemented itself into a special place within our house.
So off to Shap we went; myself, #1 and #2. Last year #1 fell in love with all things obstacle racing over this weekend and she was very excited to be going back, especially as the Race Fitness gang were going too and she’s self appointed number one groupie.
I had removed myself from the pressure of Saturday and decided I was just going to run on the Sunday. Which seemed like a good plan, until I got into the race and realised that a course churned up by 5000 runners from the previous day makes for a very interesting time indeed.
Standing on the start line the game plan was purely to start, do the obstacles, and finish. That was it. No ‘racing’, no trying to prove anything or beat anyone, just going out and proving to myself that I could still get myself round.
Which was all well and good until the count down started and the smoke grenades went off and suddenly we were running and we were half way down ‘leg it’ and I was the first female. Down, up, down and up again, it is my least favourite obstacle and the one in The Lakes is always the steepest. Today was no different and by the time I reached the top of the second incline my legs and lungs were burning.
Down the hill we went and towards the water jump, our first submersion of the day. I exited still in first and headed towards the river crossing. The Lakes is ‘undulating’ to say the least and coming out of the river we were presented with our first slope of the day. Uphill running is where I always struggle and after 8 weeks out I knew this was where I would come unstuck today.
However I reached the top and then it was into the first mud obstacle of the day, Warrior Crawl. I managed to get myself stuck and suddenly first place became not first place as we exited the mud and headed towards Grand National, a series of 8ft walls for us to climb. The first one was easy enough but I got a bit wrapped up on myself on the second and wasted some time. Between Mud Moguls and the The Hangover I just wasn’t really feeling it in all honesty, I couldn’t seem to get my breathing, I was feeling pretty dehydrated and I kept wondering what on earth I was going to get out of this.
Niamh and Erin were waiting for me at The Hangover, which again seemed much steeper than last year but after a small foot up from the lovely marshal I was over and away. Seeing them really boosted me, they were so excited and definitely the loudest spectators of the day!
Shaking off my low point I stuck my head down and just got on with it after that.
Reaching Worm Muncher, Steeple Chase and Cement Mixer was an eye opener. And for the first time ever in any race I got stuck in the mud. This was mud like I’d never seen and I ended up ‘chest deep, can’t move, not sure I’m still wearing shoes’ stuck.
After very ungracefully dragging myself out it was time for the big water obstacles – Human BBQ, High Jump and Dunking Time.
I have a delightful way of convincing myself stuff is going to be shit and so when I get to said obstacle I’m all in a tizz about it. However, today was all about the challenge again and getting over the fear and so with four strapping lads behind me watching I strapped on my big girls pants and I threw myself over the fire and into the water without a second thought.
Staple TW obstacles such as The Alps and Widow Maker were next and then it was suddenly 9km in. Just a small matter of Death Valley to get up first. This obstacle destroyed the last remaining energy in my legs today, a near vertical climb up a net left me feeling like I just wanted to see the finish line.
8 obstacles to go. I always worry about obstacles that then prove to be fine, ‘Swinger’ was numerous rope traverses across an A Frame which I was convinced I’d never manage – I did. The Shocker didn’t electrocute me, and I once again descended the slide without dying or breaking a bone. Having volunteered at Peaks of Pain on the Saturday I was worried about slipping down, again it looked so much steeper than last year, but I grabbed the rope and got up first time.
The log carry did it. I was done after that, my lack of running had left my lungs screaming for air and I hated my log with all of my being.
And then, just when I figured I would stop and not finish the girls were there shouting on me that I was nearly done.
Pulling myself up Back It Up I knew I only had one more climbing wall to do and then I was done. There were two girls right behind me and it took everything in my legs to just keep going and get over the last wall.
Except this year, Total Warrior and plonked the monkey bars right in front of the finish line so the arms, with nothing left in them, had to work just a little bit more. Surprising myself, I got over and then just a 10m run and I was finished.
I’m not ashamed to say that finishing made me emotional. So many times recently I have worried if I would ever run again let only take part in a race. I lost a lot of faith in myself and my abilities, and I don’t ever have much of it to start with.
Today was about proving to MYSELF that I could still do it, regardless of what time I finished in.
Having led for a little bit, I knew I’d let positions go, and that was ok. I had slowed down during my ‘bad’ kilometer and I walked a lot of the uphill during the last 3km. There have been races where I have been bothered about positioning but today wasn’t one of those days. However I was pretty surprised to see I finished this year faster than last, and I came away with 11th female overall. Sometimes though, it’s not about the winning. It’s about going out there and doing something that pushes you, that makes you work for it, that makes you hurt, but that is oh so worth it. That’s what Total Warrior is.
After I finished we waited and watched Tim, who was doing the Ultra Warrior, come through to finish his third lap and start his fourth. Having done one lap I can safely say that anyone who completed more than one lap today was amazing, to complete four was absolutely outstanding and he was rightfully crowned winner of the Ultra Warrior today, further cementing himself as Niamh’s absolute hero.
All in all it was a very successful weekend. The course, as is typical with Total Warrior was completely flawless. Excellent, challenging terrain mixed with hard, technical obstacles meant that every warrior this weekend had to work hard for their finishers t-shirt.
So we’re four races into the series. The plan was to have done four, but plans change and I’m currently at one finish for the year. But with a pelvis that seems to be playing ball and upper body strength that is coming back readily I am very very excited to see what the Edinburgh instalment has in store.
Thanks for restoring the faith Total Warrior..until next time.