My last post was chock-full of information on the Muddy Buddy experience, but didn't get into a lot of race-specific information. While this may bore the living crap out of you, it's important for me to get this all down in writing, so that next year, I have something to compare it to. We'll go over the 5.7 mile course, leg by leg. Sound boring? Stop reading. Here goes.
Sunday morning came early - 4 a.m., to be exact. I crawled out of bed and into my gear - capri workout pants, good sports bra and a hot pink tech tee. (I always wear pink for races; makes it easy for others to find me, post-race.) Put on my crummy shoes, after inserting my heel lifts, and I was almost ready to go. Just had to stop in the kitchen to feed the cat, take my morning supplements and drink a glass of water. Christ, did I want coffee, but I didn't want to have to stop to poop half way to Gilberts, so I headed out the door.
First stop: the bank. Needed a little money in case we went out for breakfast afterward.
Second stop: Dunkin Donuts. Needed a little sustenenance for the race, and I'd totally forgotten to grab a Luna bar.
And off I went. Funny how little traffic there is at 4:45 a.m. I arrived at Indian Hills Farm in Gilberts, IL when the sun was not quite all the way up yet. Time to put the front wheel on the bike and meet up with Mike. He got there a little before I did, and met me at my car. Soon, we were on our way to the official race grounds.
We registered, picked up our t-shirts, met up with John and Linda and I had my pre-race meltdown. Soon, it was time to line up! I was taking the first running leg, and Mike was biking (the opposite of how we did it last year). The bikes took off first, and then the airhorn sounded for the runners ... and off we went.
Right away, I took my spot in the back of the pack. Soon, everyone was pulling away and I was on my own. But that's okay; not in it to win it, folks, just trying to finish. I was feeling great for about the first half mile, running (slowly) consistently, and then my calf told me to stop. The knots tightened up and just would not (knot?) let go, so I took it at a walk. I limped for awhile, and at that point I knew it was early enough in the race that I had to make a decision: finish, or quit. Easy choice; I pressed onward, being careful of my form so I didn't get injured.
I arrived at the first obstacle, the low wall climb. I knew this one from last year, so up I went, no issues whatsoever. Up, up, and over. Then it was time to find my bike, drink some water and head down the path. WATER! God, did it ever taste good! It was about 85 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, so it was damn hot. Splashed a little water on my head, downed a couple glasses, and got on the bike. (Mile marker 1.1).
And got OFF the bike. SHIT! Off-road biking is fucking hard, pardon my French. Hilly, muddy, bumpy, difficult. Walking the bike was really my only sane option. At one point, John RAN past me. He started 12 minutes after me, and passed me on my biking leg! How is that fair? Shortly, Linda caught up to me, too, on the bike. She dismounted and decided to walk it, too. (Mental note to self: you have to train for off-road riding, or you might as well accept the fact that you'll be walking the bike.) Together, we approached the second obstacle, with our partners waiting to cheer us ever forward! What great guys! This obstacle was a maze you had to crouch down to enter; not a big deal. The fog machine at the end was pretty gross, though. We came through the other side, stopped for more water, and headed off on our second running leg. (Mile marker 2.1).
Run? Screw you. We'll walk this leg, thanks. My calf was screaming at me, and Linda was tuckered out from the cycling, so we did our best speed-walk together. It was nice to have someone to chat with and compare notes. We came across our first "hurdle", which technically we were meant to jump over. I took a moment, acknowledged the hurdle, thanked it for being there ... and walked around it. (Blissfully, however, the hurdled was in the shade. Time to catch our breath.)
We made it to Obstacle 3 - the Military Assault Course. Stupid inflatable piece of SHIT! Couldn't get my footing, so there was no way I was getting into this glorified bouncy house. I walked around, and it's a good thing, because Linda made it through only to discover that someone had bled all over the inside! Hello, blood-born pathogens? Glad I bypassed that bad boy. More water, then time to get back on the bike. (Mile marker 3.1).
Hills! The hills are alive with the sound of me panting and crying! I did as well as I could, but ultimately got back off the bike. Smart thing, really, because this leg of the journey included a hill like none other. Swear to sweet Jesus, just walking up it - and knowing I'd eventually have to go down the other side - scared the crap out of me. At this point, I met up with a woman who told me she was Buddied up with her sister, whose partner backed out at the last minute; that's how she ended up here! So with no training, she was doing her best. She asked if this was my first time, probably because I looked like a total novice dragging the bike up the hill, and I said no, I had done the race last year, too. "Is it always this hard?" she wanted to know. Um, yeah; if it were easy, they'd call it "Shopping."
When I reached the top of Killer Mountain, I looked down, and there were John, Linda and Mike, cheering me on! John and Linda waited for me, when they could have pressed on and gotten ahead in the race. Seriously, I have incredible friends. Mike had a glass of water for me, and I drank it down while he got on the bike and took off. Then it was time to tackle Slide for your Life. It's a 20-foot inflatable slide you have to climb to get to. Climb 20 feet of cargo net? Sure; I got that. Up ... up ... up I went. Linda, not being a fan of heights, was not happy with this obstacle. I waited for her at the top, and we slid down together ... WHEE! We were on the last leg of the race, running. (Mile marker 4.3.)
Time to do our best walk/run combo. We stepped up our walk to really push forward and make up for lost time, knowing the guys would be waiting for us at the end. Not much talking now, just trying to finish strong! Trudge ... breathe ... and there it was, the bike drop off. Only one more obstacle before the Mud Pit!
I met up with Michael, and we ran for the Buddy Blockade, a high wallk you had to climb over using ropes. I got halfway up and banged my elbow pretty badly. I know when to say when, and it was time. I circumvented the wall, ran through tires, and it was time to approach the mud.
Mike reminded me to loosen my wedding ring, so I was SURE to lose it, and sploosh - in we went! I must admit, it felt GOOD to get in there after the hot sun! We laughed and sputtered the whole way, until we crawled out and ran for the finish line. (Mile marker 5.7.)
We got our medals, and wandered over to see Stephen, Lorna, Adam and Robyn, who had come to cheer John and Linda on. What a rush to have finished! What a mess we were! Not for long, though; it only took us a few minutes to make our way to the pond, and jump right in. No better way to rinse off the mud!
It was a tiring morning. It quite literally wiped me out. (Seriously, I was in bed by 8 p.m. that night!) But what an experience. What a series of intense moments. I did it!
Time: 1:34:54, about 11 and a half minutes faster than 2010. YAY!