Many of you that have been following along with my blog for the last year know that running is my main activity, but I have also added in biking, swimming, and even had an amazing morning of doing Zumba with my friend Liz. Another thing I have added lately to mix things up is racing that includes obstacles, mud, and other challenges that require muscles beyond just the ones in my legs. Today I had the amazing opportunity to do the Ridiculous Obstacle Course (ROC) Race in Pomona with my friends Emily and Erin. Now while this race still required us to run a 5K (3.1 mile) distance, there were also seventeen obstacles along the way to keep us on our toes. For the first time, 3 miles flew by and I could hardly believe it when I crossed the finish line. It was so much fun I didn’t once stop to think I needed to walk, that I was tired, or that I couldn’t do it. Making it fun was the key to making my run go by in a flash.
The fun began even before the race started. There was a great party atmosphere: loud music, crazy dancing, and loads of people dressed in the most ridiculous costumes you can imagine. I think my favorites were the guys dressed as babies, including bonnets, pacifiers, and extra large Depends diapers—some people have no shame. I guess I can’t really knock someone else’s costume when we were dressed in neon from head to toe.
Another exciting thing about this day was that it was Erin’s first official racing event. I had somehow talked her into joining us at this crazy race, and despite being in bed sick the night before, she still braved the freezing morning air to participate. It is always exciting to watch someone do something they never thought they were capable of doing.
As we lined up at the starting line surrounded by Elvis, a couple gorillas, even a side of bacon and his partner dressed up as sunny side up eggs, we couldn’t wait to tackle all seventeen crazy obstacles. When we rounded the first corner, we entered a little Mexican village where we were chased by people wielding padded sparring sticks. Just when I was feeling proud of myself for avoiding getting knocked over by the sticks, I turned the corner only to be faced with my weakness… K-rail hurdles. As I slowly and awkwardly crawled over each barrier, I turned to my left and noticed Erin easily stepping over each one of them—curse her and her super long legs.
Luckily, the next couple obstacle did not require arm strength nor long legs. We crawled up two long metal tunnels filled with mud and snow, and then down steep, muddy hills to the bottom. We then headed to the dark stables where, as we ran through the middle, zombies popped out from every corner. It may not sound scary, but just when you thought you had made it through, someone would sneak up on you to make you wish you had been wearing your own pair of Depends.
After surviving zombies, we had to climb muddy walls to jump over a wooden fence and then…monkey bars. At the Survivor Mud Run, I didn’t even attempt these. I just jumped right into the mud knowing that I have never been able to do these, not even as a kid. Today, I at least tried a few bars before falling into the water below. It wasn’t pretty, but at least I attempted this one.
Our next few tasks had us running up and down cement steps ala Rocky and tackling switchbacks through draught tolerant landscape environments all while avoiding being squirted by fire hoses and paint-filled water blasters. Now doesn’t this sound like more fun than running down the streets of Vegas, Long Beach, or Temecula? We also had to dodge inflatable boulders, climb through mountains of tires, slide across and down huge slides, all while running up and down hills between the obstacles. The final obstacles had us swim through icy water and climb up and down huge mountains of slippery mud before finally seeing the finish line in the distance. As I ran toward the rope bridges, I could see Emily cheering me on from the sidelines. While I managed to get across the rope bridge without falling into the muddy water below, I was not so lucky on the final obstacle, the rope swing. I took a running jump and still managed to only go a few feet before falling short and ending up in the mud.
Once I crossed the finish line, I ran back to get Erin because I wanted to be with her when she crossed her first finish line. I met her at the muddy mountains and watched her as she moved easily across the rope bridges and gracefully swung across on the rope landing on the other side without taking a dip in the mud. While she says that running is not her strength, she was definitely good at the obstacle part of this race. As we reached the finish line, it was exciting to see Erin complete her race with a good finish time all while still recovering from her illness of the day before.
It is hard to convey on paper how much we really enjoyed our race today. From the beginning to the end, it really did not feel like working out. Now you may not think that this kind of race sounds like fun, but finding that exercise that you do enjoy is key to making it seem like less of a chore. Find your exercise, find friends who you enjoy exercising with, and you will find that you might actually enjoy working out, too.