Yes. ANOTHER post that has nothing to do with writing. Sue me.
I signed up for Warrior Dash this year. Exactly 6 months from today I’ll be begging for the sweet release of death.
What, you might ask, is Warrior Dash?
Well, let’s break it down. Basically, me and several dozen perfect strangers will all be going on a 3-mile run littered with obstacles. And when I say obstacles, I’m not talking cones. There will be rock climbing, scaling a rope bridge, wading military style through the mud and under barbed wire, and (my personal favorite), leaping over fire pits. There’s climbing up into a waterfall and sliding towards a watery doom. Then there’s more barbed wire.
At the end (assuming you live) you get a fuzzy Viking helmet, and, in true warrior fashion, you drink a lot of beer.
Yep. That’s what I’m doing.
Why would anyone in their right mind do this? Well, if I knew that…chances are I wouldn’t be doing it.
I don’t exactly have a history of physical fitness. Grade school? Yeah, I was the last one picked for every event. The most involvement I had with football was when one flew out of the field and smacked me on the head, sending me bleeding and dizzy to the office. (That actually happened to me twice…in the same day.) In middle school, while all of the macho kids were playing basketball, I went and hid.
Things started to change a little bit as I got into junior high. I wasn’t totally unattractive to girls anymore, as I’d gone through a nice growth spurt that left me tall and lean. I actually started competing in track, and if not for an ill-timed family vacation I would have gone to a cross-school sports challenge, sort of like a miniature Olympics without the international appeal.
(I was the fastest track runner at my school. The second fastest runner from my school took the competition in my absence. My 15 minutes of sports fame, lost. I could have had Nike deals, countless admirers and buns of steel. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for taking me to the Royal Frickin’ Gorge. Thanks a bunch.)
In high school, I was a smoker, so it was more or less nada in the fitness department. (Although I did spend many weekends with my Dad – who was renowned for his short temper – putting fences up around our 10-acre property, or else shoveling horse shit with my Mom. Good times, good times…)
Even when Lib and I relocated from Denver (where, at best, we went for the occasional walk) to Bellingham, WA, a breathtakingly beautiful place where we spent weekends hiking all over the woods and around the lakes and trekking across the stony beach, the fact is I still burned my way through half-a-pack of whatever awful cheap cigarettes I could afford. Yeah, I dare say I could have behaved healthier, even if we were spending a lot of time outdoors…
I smoked for over 13 years before I finally called it quits in 2008, shortly after I went to work for Wizards of the Coast, and that was when I decided to finally get healthy.
In the grand tradition of ex-smokers, I failed miserably, at least at first. I managed to work my way up to 200 pounds (the heaviest I’ve ever been), with practically zero physical activity aside from shoving the next donut into my mouth. Eventually, however, I finally got my act together and started making regular trips to the gym.
I am, unfortunately, sort of an “all-or-nothing” kind of a guy. If I devote myself to something, I am THERE, 500%, totally (ahem, obsessively) focused. Unfortunately, it’s easy for me to charge ahead on one thing and ignore everything else, so now I make an effort to try and balance the many things that I need to be doing at any one time.
Anyways, I roared right into fitness, maxing out my cardio, biking everywhere, and eventually getting into weight training and trying to tighten up my so-called abs. I’d managed to lose almost 20 pounds over a span of 3 months…at one point I actually got too thin, and Lib said I looked like a cancer patient. (It’s amazing what not eating anything and burning 1,000 calories a day will do).
Since then, I’ve found a bit more equilibrium with both my workout and my diet. We do our best to eat low-fat and non-processed food (very difficult, sometimes, and give my wife credit for not giving up on trying to get the family to eat healthy after we’d ignored her for 10+ years), and I’ve tried to reduce both my caffeine and my sugar intake while not going quite so ape-shit in the gym. I’m hanging pretty steady around 175 pounds (about right for 6’1”), and my body fat percentage is pretty low. I can run a little over 2 miles without dying, I have something resembling abs (though my dream of becoming Ryan Reynolds’ body double is still a ways off), and I regularly bike or walk several miles as part of my commute.
Hey, I’m in better shape now, at 37, than I have been my entire life.
But none of this answers the question…why Warrior Dash? (I mean aside from the obvious: that fuzzy Viking helmet is MINE!)
Strangely, I think the answer is because it scares me. I have never been involved in any sort of organized run or sporting event outside of high school. I’ve never been involved in any sort of marathon or relay or even a charity walk.
The point of the Warrior Dash is simple: make it through. I don’t care about finishing near the front of the pack or the rear. I just care about finishing. Even 5 years ago, there was no way I’d have even considered doing something like this. Exercise was a 4-letter word, and the thought of willingly subjecting my body to a grueling multi-mile trek (complete with the potential for injury!) was about as likely as me volunteering to go work as a Chippendale dancer in Calcutta. So what changed?
Well, for the first time in my life I think…maybe…I can pull it off. And while I may be in pretty good shape now, I may not be in a few years, so no time like the present, right? Doing Warrior Dash is something I never thought I’d even try to do. I’m pretty much scared shitless, but I’m going to give it my all.
My wife and I are all about moving forward, about breaking out of our admittedly rock-hard shells and trying new things. I may never have the moxie to do something like this again.
And even if I don’t plan on being the champ, I still want my 15 minutes, damn it. ;D
What have you done to challenge yourself lately? How will you get your proverbial 15 minutes? And what are the odds I’ll actually live through this?