As I scaled down the grassy bank I saw the two plywood stations set up at the bottom of the hill. It was the second obstacle of the race, and I was in second place of my heat after carrying a cinder block through a coned course and winding our way up a steep and grassy hill.
But this second obstacle, which seemed to be the easiest for some people, was the one I had feared the most heading into the race.
The wall traverse.
The wall traverse is a simple side-to-side, lateral climb, along a wall with foot and hand holds. But for some reason, whether it comes down to hand strength, core strength, or a coordination issue, I’ve never been able to stay on the damn wall for more than a movement or two before I slip off.
And of course, as I went to move from my very first position to the second one, my foot slipped off, and I fell to the ground.
Now, at the beginning of the race, the speaker told us that us in the “elite” heats (Amber and I didn’t realize we had signed up for an “elite” heat in the beginning) that we had one attempt at each obstacle, and if we failed, we could choose to do either 15 burpees or 15 air squats as punishment, and move on to the next obstacle.
Now, to me, burpees and air squats are vastly different levels of difficulty, and in a race, I’m going to choose the air squats EVERY. DAMN. TIME.
But when I fell off of that traverse, the jubilant instructor nearby yelled, “Fifteen burpees, let’s go!!!”
In my mind, I said: Fuck you! I’m doing squats!
But my years of being part of organized sports and being conditioned to jump when told to jump when in an athletic setting, I went to the side and did my 15 burpees as about 15-plus people passed me by either easily completing the traverse or doing 15 air squats in less than half the time it took me to do 15 burpees.
Not only did I get passed by a plethora of racers, but now I was breathing like a chain smoker who just climbed the stairs to the top of the Empire State Building.
Although I briefly experienced a “Hey! That’s not fair!” moment I quickly told myself to stop crying about it, and kept on trucking, adopting the “slow and steady wins the race” mentality.
Well, I wouldn’t win the race, however I would eventually catch up to and pass nearly everyone else in my heat group, and a few in the heat before ours. All-in-all, it was a huge success in my mind, and I’m proud of the job I did. Amber also did a kick-ass job, and here’s our results breakdown:
Time: 37 minutes and 23 seconds
24th of 118 total participants
17th of 56 male participants
Time: 38 minutes and 31 seconds
30th of 118 total participants
8th of 62 female participants
Both of us were pleasantly surprised at how well we finished in our gender groups as well as overall. We were expecting to be top half, but certainly not in the top quarter, and Amber of course was top 10 among women in the race. As I said before, that’s kick-ass!!!
The more encouraging thing is the fact that both of us felt like we were going to die at different points in the race, and personally felt like we struggled considerably in certain obstacles. In other words, there was a TON of room for improvement, for both of us. And now that we’ve done a good beginner’s obstacle course race we have an idea of what things to train for and be prepared for in future races like this one.
Now that we conquered the Rugged Coug Race 5K quite successfully in our minds, and we’re not so sore that we couldn’t walk the next day, we’ve got more audacious goals of one day competing in a Spartan Race, or something to that extent. Although a Spartan Race would be far more challenging than the race we did this past weekend, with the right training and hard work, it’s undoubtedly something we could accomplish.
In the first post of this two-part Rugged Coug race series I talked about being quite nervous about how I would do, and I’m happy to say I conquered those fears and accomplished what I set out to do: work hard, have fun, and not get down on myself. And I certainly couldn’t have done it without Amber by my side.
So with that, I challenge YOU, happy reader, to challenge yourself physically, and try to overcome a hurdle that you weren’t sure you’d be able to overcome. And if you fail once, just remember to try and try again.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash
Stay active, everyone! And feel free to share your stories of success, and failure, in the comments below!