Yet another race review for Muddy Race (here) means I’ll try (and probably fail) to keep this post short but a little more personal.
As Judgement Day approached I was really getting excited, mostly because I was road-tripping down to Bordon with some of my favourite people, Vince James, Chris Williams and Linda Zeberga, and for the first time in months we were all running, Chris having recently recovered from a broken ankle. As the race got closer I received messages from a few other people who wanted to join us, so by the time we hit the start line, Kevin Coda, Graeme Harrison and Ben Weeding were by our sides and we had a little team of 7 doing the race for giggles not time.
There is always a danger when you are really looking forward to something that it wont live up to your expectations and will leave you disappointed, but Judgement Day is not one to disappoint and the race was fantastic, great obstacles, and a fun course.
For almost the entire race I was having an absolute blast, my enjoyment only tempered slightly when I had a bad landing off a high wall jarring my weak ankle and all up my body particularly hurting my ribs, but this was luckily very near the end and with the constant encouragement, support and care from my friends I was soon jollied back into a good mood and the injury was short lived and soon abated once I had stopped running and rested for a while.
As we trotted around the sandy course, conversation flowed and the day was filled with laughter, although Linda and I now know way more than any women need to about male genitalia and topics associated with them, which is one of the side effects of running with boys, if you think girls like talking about boys, its nothing compared to how much boys like talking about (their own) boys!
I had a wonderful day with great people and I wish I could do it all again next weekend.
Yet again I was privileged to be asked to write up this race for the awesome Muddy Race website (which can be found here), so I thought on this occasion I would take a look back. Warrior Run was my first ever OCR back in October 2013, and I have now run it 3 times.
Warrior Run Attempt 1 – October 2013
We turned up, with not much of an idea of what to expect, and the noble thought that we would stick together as one big team (which lasted about 10mins before the first long run split us up into three smaller groups). I remember starting, going down the bank into a stream, out again, over some hurdles then hay bails then up a hill and feeling exhausted already, and I remember thinking to myself that I was not as fit as I thought, and perhaps I had underestimated this. I wasn’t sure if I would even make the finish line.
I was wearing a cotton vest, a pair of running shorts and my oldest trainers, ones I didn’t mind getting dirty. They had no grip at all and I was sliding around all over the place, particularly struggling up the steep bank at the end that you had to climb up using a rope, I think the marshals at the top had to give me quite a lot of help.
Of course I did finish the race, and experienced for the first time the buzz of crossing the line, made extra special as I had run this first one with my brother (Still his only OCR to date, he is more into cycling).
I was quite pleased with my time of 1h09mins for the 6km and I knew when I finished that I was absolutely doing that again as soon as possible. It was also the furthest I had ever run at that point.
Warrior Run Attempt 2 – March 2014
Back again a few months later, I now had a whole two more OCR’s under my belt and had learnt a few things, like ditch the cotton and wear quick drying technical material, I had brought my first pair of trainers with decent grip, a pair of Inov8 Mudclaw 300s and I had also discovered that all socks were not created equal and had a pair of Inov8 mudsocs too.
I made no rash promises to stick with anyone this time, I had decided I wanted to beat my time from October, but my body had other ideas this time and I was feeling awful, I actually felt sick while I was running and during the long run out at the start of the race I had already changed my mind about beating my time, I just wanted to finish in more or less one piece as I was doing it for charity and I didn’t want to drop out. I still ended up enjoying the race, and the obstacles, and was pretty surprised that despite not feeling well, and the fact that the course had been made tougher with more obstacles, I had knocked 11mins off my time and had come 9th Lady over the 6km distance. I had really noticed the difference the right pair of shoes could do as well, breezing up the end bank that I had so struggled with in October.
Warrior Run Attempt 3 – October 2015
So now it’s two years later, I think my current OCR count is at about 47 including this race, I now own 4 pairs of different trail shoes and my wardrobe holds more sports/race kit than normal clothes, so this time rather than 1 lap, I thought I would do 3 (the longest distance Warrior Run offer). Each lap is now 7km rather than 6, and they have added in a lot more obstacles too, this would mean 21 muddy kilometres, so basically a half marathon with obstacles thrown in.
I started quite badly, and had to tell myself to try and ignore everyone else around me and run my own race. I knew I needed to settle into a maintainable pace and not push myself too hard on my first lap. This time I didn’t have a goal like beating a time, or getting a good position, despite joking on Facebook that it was looking good for a top 20 as it only looked like 15 girls had signed on to do three laps, I just wanted to prove to myself I could do the distance, having been hit by one of my frequent crisis of confidence!
By the time I got to the Obstacle field on my third lap I was feeling so tired, I really wanted to be finished, but I pushed on trying to keep up at least a slow jog, up the bank at the end, which seemed to have more foot holds this time, only to be confronted at the very end with a huge half pipe. I grabbed a hug off the amazing Muddy Highlander Mark Leinster who was MCing the race, who told me I looked exhausted. I said I wasn’t sure I had the energy to get up the ramp, be he told me to be confident, and to head to the far side where the guys at the top were having more success helping to pull people over, so I took his advice and ran as hard as I could up the wall, the guys at the top grabbing my arms, while I was being cheered on over the mic, and suddenly I was at the top, the two guys there having managed to lift me up. I waved down to Mark and then headed off over the finish line. I had no concept of how well I might have done in the grand scheme of things, I just knew I was glad to be finished.
The following day when the results came out I was pretty stunned, I had been the only girl to complete 3 laps, giving me 1st place girl for 21km.
Warrior Run, having stolen my heart in 2013 and spawning an obsession with OCR, is still up there as one of my favourites, and I’m sure I’ll be back for attempt number 4 one of these days.
In Conclusion – Looking back.
A lot has changed in the past couple of years, and a lot of it has been amazing, some of it has been difficult, and last year in particular was emotionally draining, but overall I wouldn’t change a thing.
So I no longer turn up to a race in cotton and road shoes, but the smile is still the same, when it comes down to it, I still love the buzz of knowing that I’ve pushed myself hard, even if that takes a few extra laps nowadays.
I’ve met a lot of new, lovely, people, some of whom have become very close friends, and all of whom I am grateful for now being in my life.
Some things don’t change though, and I still have no confidence in my own ability, but I have learned that I am too stubborn to give up, not one race goes by where the thought doesn’t enter my head wondering if I can actually do it, but I keep pushing myself to prove to me again and again that I can.
In the past two years I have learned that people can care about you and be unbelievably generous even when they don’t know you very well, I have learned that you can do anything with the right support and that it is possible to achieve more than you ever dreamed was possible, I have learned to find something to do that you love and I have learned that it matters what socks you wear!