Friday, April 27, 2012

“If you’re not bruised, bloody, and muddy, you’re not doing it right” – Warrior Dash, Part III

Have you ever taken a swim with your tennis shoes? Yeah, before the Warrior Dash, me neither.

After the hurdles and cargo nets, we had to walk over narrow planks. I have awful coordination generally, and the planks were narrow and went up about six feet, stretched out for probably 20 more feet, and then you had to walk down. I made it to where you had to walk down and then, because of my shoes being coated in mud, I just jumped down because I was worried that I would fall.

Kyle, on the other hand, has the balance of a squirrel. He made it over in record time, I am certain.

We had a little lull until the next obstacle, which was probably a little less than half a mile away. And it stunk. A twenty-foot tall rope wall.


I have little arm strength anyway, but couple that with the rope being muddy, and I was very anxious about climbing. I tried and got a little way up (like a foot) and then decided this was not an obstacle for me. Call me a quitter all you want, but I didn’t want to get halfway up and then slip down.

The tunnels were next, and, surprisingly, they were hard. I don’t know how the guys made it through, because they were narrow and tiny for me. You really had to put your elbows into it and crawl under. And whatever you do, when you see light, DO NOT GO UP. There was barbed wire right above your head. Yep.

Within sight of the rope wall and the tunnels stood the rock wall. AWESOME. I was so psyched about the rock wall, but it was a lot harder than I thought (as I’d actually never climbed UP a rock wall previous to this – oh, and, unlike the ones you see in the mall, this one had no rope to hold on to you). However, some guys up top called down to me and said, “Give me your hand!!” So I did, thinking they were just going to help me as I navigated the rocks. Nope. Pulled me straight up. Well, that works, too.

So once you’ve climbed the 12-foot rock wall, you may ask, how do I get down?

Fireman pole.

Believe it or not, 12 feet looks a lot higher from the top than the bottom. I stared at the pole for a few seconds in a slight fear, but then I realized at some point, I had to get down, and I figured the pole was a lot safer than climbing down the rock wall.

I thought the pole would be a lot more slippery than it was (as everything else on the course was super slippery from mud), but it was not. So not only did I pull something in my arm, but I also hung there at the top of the pole for a moment before realizing that I had to loosen up my grip if I wanted to go down. And you know what? Turns out that was super easy and fun.

Then another balancing obstacle. And we ALL know how awful my balancing is. There was a rope you had to walk on and another rope higher to hold on to. I was, without a doubt, the slowest one to finish. The fastest? My husband. He probably could have gone over it without the higher rope to hold on to.

The next obstacle was swimming. In tennis shoes. In 50 degree weather (because, while it had been around 85 degrees EVERY. DAY. FOR. A. MONTH. all of a sudden, we had a cool snap. Fabulous.). By that point, though, I didn’t event feel the cold of the water. Seriously. I don’t remember freaking out about the water temp. Maybe it was adrenaline or sweating from the running and obstacles, but I liked swimming as much as a retriever.

Now, not everybody was all into the swimming like me. One of the guys in our group jumped in the water without hesitation, and the coldness was such a shock to his system that he couldn’t breathe and therefore was unable to complete the obstacle. So if you’re planning on doing this, be warned that the water is colder than you might think.

After the swim, there was ANOTHER swim. This time, it was over logs. I’m sure I looked crazy trying to crawl over the logs, because every time I tried to get over them, they’d just spin in the water. However, a guy came by and had more strength than I did, so as he pushed the logs under, I just piggy-backed his success and jumped over when he pushed them down.

By the final three challenges, I was exhausted but still had some adrenaline coursing through my veins. We had a fairly large (15-foot maybe) cargo net to climb over and climb down. The athletic tape had mostly fallen off by this point. I didn’t know it at the time, but my knees, despite my precautions, were scraped and bruised from the various activities.

I reached the top of the cargo net and had to swing my leg over to the other side and climb down. My hands were a little shaky, my camera was strapped around my wrist, and I was tired. My husband looked at me and I think could tell that I was getting tired. He said, “I’m right here. I don’t have a Plan B.”

In other words, don’t fall.

So as I swung my leg over and started climbing down, I stopped caring about rope burns, scrapes, bruises, or splinters. All that mattered was holding on to that muddy, slippery rope and not falling down.

Easy peasy.

The fires were the obstacle I had been most terrified of. And when guys tell you, “Oh, don’t worry about that; they’re only like six inches high,” do NOT believe them. They don’t know and are lying. Those fires were about two feet high, seriously (as the guys admitted after jumping them).

I made a judgment call and didn’t jump the fires.

I’ve actually thought a lot about the fires because, unlike the rope wall, that was one obstacle I didn’t even try. But I am fairly terrified of fire, and I am not the world’s best jumper. WHEN I do the Dash again, I think I’ll focus more on my jumping skills so I will feel more confident jumping them. But at that time, I do feel I made the right call.

So I thought we were done; I thought the fire was it. Nope. There was one. last. mud pit. And, in case you thought you could slop through it like the others, barbed wire had been placed up.

How do you get through? Belly down, crawling under.

It was fabulous.

Our group
Showing off our Dash bling
With our Warrior helmets!
After party! (AKA waiting in line for the shuttles)
The last cargo net obstacle. I'm in the green on the other side of the nets, and Kyle is beside me to the left.

It’s been a full week now since I competed in the Warrior Dash, and I finished (while goofing off) in an hour and 13 minutes. My bruises and scrapes are still here, but I would do it again.

In a heartbeat.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

“If you’re not bruised, bloody, and muddy, you’re not doing it right” – Warrior Dash, Part II

So we started running.

I forgot that Mississippi was hilly. Granted, my home is fairly hilly, too, but I try to avoid those hills. So running up and down hills is not my favorite activity. But that was the easy part.

Our first obstacle was running through tires placed on the ground. Every one else in our group did perfectly fine and left me in the dust. I’m sure they thought I could get through faster than I could.

They would be wrong. I am clumsy and uncoordinated, and it took me double the time it would take a normal individual to get through the tires. No matter, though. I run fairly fast, and I certainly run faster than some of those guys. ;)

I caught up with them around the second obstacle, which was about 30 seconds ahead of the first – more stupid tires. I thought we were going to get to climb over junker cars (as the website said), but if you’re reading this simply to get an idea of what the Warrior Dash is like, let me give you this advice: Whatever they say will be on your course, don’t believe. It can/will change.

Marla is in the blue, running through the tires.
 And, of course, there are dozens of mud pits that you cannot avoid – plus, really, why would you want to avoid them? That’s why you’re there! Granted, I saw a few people face plant in the mud, and I tried to go slowly through the mud pits (which would vary from being knee deep to waist deep in an instant and without warning), but by the fourth mud pit, I did fall down. Thankfully, I kept most of my balance and didn’t face plant, but my camera was a wreck. I had a waterproof camera, but that doesn’t necessarily mean mud proof. In fact, I only got pics for the first part of the race because by the second half, my camera and I were caked in mud – and a mud-coated camera will not take pictures until you wipe the mud off. Turns out.

See that huge mud pit? Looks shallow, right? Looks can be deceiving...
Anyway, back to the race. So we went through the tire swings, and then we had Stormin’ Normandy. What’s that? A really boring obstacle where you move underneath nets. Moving on.

See? Just go under the nets. Lame.
My dedicated husband was running in his Rick Flair robe and doing his very best to keep up, despite his lack of training. He did awesome, too. He wore the robe til about Mile 2, when a mud pit pulled it off.

With his spray-painted blond hair, it was actually hard for me to quickly spot Kyle after he lost his robe.
One of my favorite obstacles were the hurdles, which was in the first half of the race. Up over a hurdle, under barbed wire. Rinse and repeat (actually, don’t rinse).

All members of our group (except girl with red shirt). Notice Adam with the helmet cam (easier to see in the bottom pic). Gotta get the money shot. ;)
Kyle hurdles over.
By this point, all of us were coated in mud, head to toe and even a little in our mouth (yep, it gets that nasty). But after running through tires on the ground, running through tires on ropes, Stormin’ Normandy, and the hurdles, we still had nine more obstacles to go, including walking up and down thin planks. We quickly found out that I have NO balance (though I did somehow make it across) and Kyle has amazing balance. Any obstacle having to do with balance he did without blinking.

We also had a lot of fun goofing off. Our group had a motto of “No man left behind,” so if someone was going slow, the others would wait. During one of the lulls, two of our “wrestlers” got into a mud pit wrestling match, to the glee of some of the other participants. The guys also changed out the helmet cam so no one had to wear it too long. So we played around.

Quote from Chris: "Aren't we here to get muddy?"
I also need to point out that we had FIFTEEN obstacles. I thought it was fewer, but when I started counting them up, I ended up with fifteen, not including the mud pits.

The last obstacle of what I deem as the first half of the race (i.e. when my camera quit working because it was so muddy) was the cargo nets you had to climb across. Do you know how hard it is to climb across cargo nets? Me neither. ;) I actually rolled across. We had read articles about the Warrior Dash before and found that rolling was actually easier than going across it. However, it’s also a lot more painful (providing if you crawl, you don’t fall through), as my knees and elbows can attest to.

So that’s where I will leave you today, at the halfway mark. But I’ll give you a preview of the last edition of my Warrior Dash review:

Lie No. 2 that I told myself: If I’m careful, I won’t get any rope burns or splinters.

Why that’s a lie: Because, by the third to last obstacle, I realized that rope burns AND splinters were a lot better than falling twenty feet.

Monday, April 23, 2012

“If you’re not bruised, bloody, and muddy, you’re not doing it right” – Warrior Dash, Part 1

I tell my students that when they write how-to features, they should not tell the reader how much fun will accrue from doing the activity explained. I’m about to go against my own teaching.


Warrior Dash: an event that grown men and women pay money to run 3.5 miles covered in mud, filth, and at least twelve (and in our case, thirteen) obstacles. When Kyle and his (male) coworkers signed up to participate in one two hours from our house (seriously, I drive 3.5 hours to attend my university, so, really, what’s two hours?), he asked me if I wanted to join, too. Naturally, I said yes. This is right up my alley: obstacles and running!

Even better was a (female) friend of mine was participating in the same wave as us. Why do I keep highlighting the male/female ratio? Because I was one girl in a group with twelve guys.

Oh, and those guys decided to dress up…as wrestlers.

Granted, dressing up as wrestlers is a cool idea…for guys. Kyle suggested I dress up as a WWE diva, but then he googled WWE diva. Hint: Don’t google WWE diva. Especially not in the picture category. Needless to say, I did want to wear more than a bathing suit to this event – even though, in practicality, a bathing suit would have suited this event quite nicely.

In the end, Kyle bought me a cheap running shirt at Walmart and ironed on the WWE diva logo. Simple and sweet.

He, however, as well as his colleagues, put effort, energy, time, and money in their costumes.

My husband and his coworkers


I’d tell you the names of the wrestlers, but to be honest, I don’t know them. Kyle was Rick Flair. That’s as good as I can get.

We actually arrived at the Dash parking lot an hour and a half before our wave. Five hundred individuals start racing every 30 minutes. In each Warrior Dash event, there are around 10,000 individuals who compete.

YEAH. Crazy, right?

On the "shuttle" going to the site
Again, we got to the parking lot ninety minutes before our 2 p.m. wave. And we missed our wave. It took us about 45 minutes to get on the shuttle to go to the actual Dash site, another 20 minutes for the shuttle to drive TO the site, and then 20 minutes to check in and check our gear. And by that time, 2 p.m. had come and passed.

No problem! We just ran in the 2:30 p.m. wave. That’s one good thing about the Dash – as long as you’re there and sign the waiver, you can compete.

And let me go over some things you sign on a waiver…

·      I understand that the event course may contain wild animals, insects, and plants.
·      I understand, agree, and accept that some of the obstacles may go through water that has not been tested for chemicals, disease, or contamination.
·      I agree not to consume alcohol prior to the event or use any medicines or substances that will inhibit my mental or physical ability to effectively participate in the event.

It kind of cracked me up.

So we’re there at the site and we’re all taped up. People who hadn’t competed before kind of looked at us (me in particular, because of my weird taping) strangely, as we (especially me) used athletic tape to protect our elbows, knees, and hands.

We taped our shoes so they wouldn't come off in the mud.
 Yeah. We were SMART. My knees look like I’ve been through a car wreck today, and that was WITH athletic tape. Granted, as I mentioned in the title, if you’re not bruised, bloody, and muddy, you’re not doing it right. Don’t worry. I was all three after the race.

Me and Marla, pre-dash
The guys in front of the Warrior Dash sign

Me and Marla

Our 2:30 p.m. wave -- 500 people went out in each wave
We took a few pictures before the race, and there were lots of areas around that were very muddy pre-race…and individuals who had run the course already were stomping around in the mud like it was nothing. And I wondered then…Am I going to get to a point on this race where walking through that mud isn’t going to faze me in the slightest?

Why, yes, I would.

Lie No. 1 That I Told Myself: Those people with mud all over their faces, hair, and bodies had fallen down or chosen to get that muddy. You really don’t have to be that muddy.

What’s my motto folks?

If you’re not bruised, muddy, and bloody, you aren’t doing it right.

And turns out I would do it right.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A thankful heart

I’ve lately been trying to turn every complaint I whine, whether verbally or mentally, into something to be thankful about. I’ve noticed that my complaints really aren’t issues to complain about. I tried, at first, just to say things that I was thankful for – my salvation, my husband, my family, my dog, my house, my job, etc. But it started being a list, and, frankly, even though I looovvveee our big, beautiful house, that big, beautiful space needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. And, as it is three times the size of our previous house, it takes longer to clean.

See how easily complaints can come around? I start talking about how much I love my house, and, within a few seconds, it can turn into a complaint. And I don’t want to be a complainer. I don’t like complainers, but I want to like myself. Solution? Don’t be a complainer. =)

I’m such a problem solver.

Here’s how my yesterday went…

Complaint: Why is it so cold outside? I wanted to wear my white skirt today.
Thanks: I’m so thankful I have warm clothes to wear – and a variety of them – and it feels so much nicer than it would if it were 90 degrees.

Complaint: Why is my silly phone not making phone calls?
Thanks: I am so thankful I have such a nice phone that, on a regular basis, does everything quickly and effectively. In fact, this is the first time it’s tripped up – and it may not even be my phone that’s messed up!

Complaint: I hate waking up so early in the morning.
Thanks: I love my morning times of doing my Nehemiah study, cuddling with my dog, drinking some coffee, and reading my books.

Complaint: I hate working on my dissertation.
Thanks: I love that I have relaxed a bit, thanks to prayer from my parents and my husband, so that I don’t feel as stressed about my dissertation. It’s coming along quite nicely, and it WILL eventually be done.

Complaint: Dinner didn’t taste as good as it looked in the picture on the recipe.
Thanks: I’m so thankful I have a husband who loved what I cooked (and he’s honest when he doesn’t like it, lol!) and that dinner was tasty and healthy.

It’s a good mindset to have. Life is hard. But it’s a lot harder if you (ahem, I) see every little nuance as a negative.

Don’t want to walk the long (sure, long – one minute-long) walk from the car into my building at work? Pssshhh. I am rocking those 4.75” heels (yep, got ‘em on right now).

Don’t want to work today? Whatever. I love my job. I love my students, my coworkers, and my work. I have a fabulous job.

Don’t want to work on dissy work today? Well…it’s almost done, LOL!!

There’s not always a silver lining…but most of the time, at least with me, there is. I just have to be willing to see it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A few quotes, a baby, a dog, and some fudge

Student: “Could I write an article about the effects of being high…while high?”
Me: “I am not going to advocate you getting high.”

Student: “I thought prostitution was legal everywhere.”

(as students are cleaning out the lab)
Student: “Yeah, I’m mixing bleach, 409, and something else.”
Me: “You know that can kill you possibly, right?”
Student: “No, it can only kill you if you put it up to your nose.”
Me: “Um…no.” (then jokingly) “Haven’t you ever heard of Agent Orange?”
Student: “What’s that? Some super amazing household cleaner?”
I almost told her yes…and then I realized if I did, I would be responsible for her death.

Alumna: “Did you get my email a few days ago about *graduate*? I wonder what happened to him.”
Me: “I do not think I did.”
Her: “I heard *graduate* died. I'm just wondering what happened to him.”
Me: “I had not heard about that.”
Her: “Can you check with the other alumni to find out what happened?”
Yes, I can, but I won't...

Student: Sunrise is when the Easter Bunny comes and delivers my chocolate, so I’m not up at that time.

Student: I’m just saying, I felt crusty stuff by the faucet.

It’s not all been silly quotes and emails around here, though. I also got to meet this three-month cutie who I’ve heard so much about.

Me, Kyle, and my cousin and his wife's little baby

He is a cutie pie!!
He’s just as sweet as they claimed, too.

As usual, the Voo got into the clothes while we were at work…

…and this is why every article of clothing I own has some form of dog hair on it.

Also, I MUST introduce y’all to funfetti fudge. Dear goodness, it is without a doubt the BEST fudge that I’ve ever made – even better than the peanut butter and dark chocolate that is my husband’s downfall.

The picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s so flipping good. And, frankly, fairly easy to make.

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups white chocolate
3 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond (which is where the heavenly flavor comes in)
Rainbow sprinkles
(Okay, seriously, you could probably leave the sprinkles out. But it makes the fudge look so pretty!!!)

Melt the condensed milk and white chocolate together. Add the vanilla and almond and mix together. Then quickly add the sprinkles – you’ve got to do this quickly because those sprinkles like to melt and then it won’t look as pretty.

Transfer to an aluminum-foiled pan and then let it harden in the refrigerator. Or freezer if you’re impatient and licking the spoon’s just not cutting it.

Happy Thursday! One more glorious day til the weekend!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The winner of the Great Pee Pad War

My dog is almost seven years old. SEVEN. In dog years, you’d think she’d have some wisdom. Maybe she does, as she has been declared victor in the Great Pee Pad War.

A few months ago, after realizing that she only apparently “needed” to go to the bathroom during the night at our house (as she rarely had accidents at my parents), we decided to save money and plastic and do away with the pee pads. After all, we debated, she IS six years old. She IS trained to go outside. She obviously CAN hold it through the night.

So we took away her pee pads.

And did she rebel.

Spanking her with a magazine and showing her the problem did no good. And she KNEW what she was doing was wrong. When we’d head near the “present,” she’d go hide. Suddenly we were cleaning up dog presents sometimes twice a day!

Therefore, after a long, stinky battle, I threw in the paper towel and signaled defeat. Last night, in honor of her victory, I placed a pee pad by the door. She accepted our loss with poo…on the pee pad.

On that note, I hope no one was eating a late lunch or a snack. Ha! In case you were, I have included pictures from my alive (surprisingly) and thriving rose bush. Turns out my lack of gardening is the best way to garden.