Last week we were getting ready to leave Humboldt for the Warrior Dash...
We DASHed out of town wearing our Lost Coast Brewery tie dye shirts (thanks Barb), our painted cars, and our Humboldt Hippie accessories (no, not that accessory; just peace signs and flowers) and were ready to take Hollister by storm. I felt like I was in High School again. I had also forgotten how long it takes to get to that part of California from here ... oyyyyyyyy.
As we made our way, I grew more and more excited about the event, but I had a big surprise coming, and this was a happy one. What I didn’t know is that before a race you have to load up on energy. YOU GET TO EAT CARBS! Remember, I have been living on egg whites, chicken breast and birdseed for forever and a day. At first I couldn’t believe it. When Andy handed me a tortilla - I pushed it away. Then he said “Eat it or I will not help you over the wall!” I took some tentative bites, half expecting to explode. When nothing happened, I sighed and relaxed.
Then I eyed the adult beverages. “Do those count as carbs?” I asked. When he answered “yes” I could almost hear angels sing. We had an entire evening of Carbs ’N’ Cocktails. There was never so much of a whisper of why why why, not until morning anyway.
I was quiet on the drive to the event. Maybe it was a carb n cocktail overload or maybe I was just nervous but thoughts of WHY WHY WHY began to make my head pound. No, I’m sure it had nothing to do with the lemon shots consumed the evening before, NOPE I was scared REALLY REALLY SCARED!
I looked over the liability waiver with a fine-toothed comb, it said stuff like “I understand that some of the obstacles may go through water that has not been tested for chemicals or disease,” and “I assume risk of wild animals and insects that may be present on the course” or my personal favorite, “I agree to not dive into or enter the mud pit head first” DUH! Maybe some people drink more than me.
To calm my nerves, Andy said that we’re gonna have a ton of fun and it’ll be a great way to improve my confidence level by overcoming obstacles. More advice from “the Devil.” I’m wondering why I just can’t just read a “self-help” book!
I turn in my waiver and get my packet loaded with “Warrior Gear” including a cool Warrior shirt, a Viking hat and my participant number, which needs to be pinned to my shirt, but my hands are shaking out of control, my heart rate is elevated, and I’m already out of breath. All of this BEFORE I’ve done any kind of physical activity other than making numerous trips to the porta potty.
I manage to get my number pinned on with only minimal blood loss as our race is about to begin. Andy says some super encouraging words to me leading me to believe that I can do anything and my nerves turn to an adrenaline rush. The “Fire” blows and we’re off. At first it’s lots of walging and juning and I’m starting to wonder if this is gonna end soon. We finally reach the first of 12 obstacles, a teetering traverse. “I can do that” I think, and scramble over it.
The obstacles seem to come one after another now. I scale up a rock wall and prepare to slide down a pole. We practiced this move at the playground though the pole wasn’t as high and I’m getting a little tiny bit scarred. Andy goes first and yells to me “just jump to the pole and hang on really tight” I trust the Devil and jump. I figured if I fell, I’d either crush Andy or he’d catch me. I nail it and my confidence grows.
The next rock wall included getting sprayed with a fire hose (which was fun) followed by crawling under barbed wire then jumping hurdles and a cargo climb. So far so good. Then it happened. The giant WALL, Slippery feet and a rope with knots-not a good combination. Andy quickly assessed the situation and chose my rope (three knots), he mounted the rope next to me and with Kathryn and Anthony on the other side we began to climb, small steps hand over hand.
I was about seven-eighths of the way to the top when I heard Kathryn say that she was having trouble. I glanced over for a split second and lost my concentration. My legs straightened out instantly and sheer panic set in. We were up about 20 feet and I completely froze. The word cliffhanger took on new meaning.
Andy scrambled to the top and instructed me in a very soft but stern voice to focus ONLY on him, his voice and his words. I wasn’t afraid of a little tumble but didn’t have a clue as to how I was going to change my position without falling. I had to trust myself to get out of this situation under my own power. Andy couldn’t throw me over OR catch me if I fell! CRAP! I had to totally trust his voice and more importantly, I had to have faith that my ability AND body would work together and get me over the wall. I blocked out everything around me and focused on the intensity of his words as he guided me to the top. By that time Kathryn had made it up and Anthony was trying to “help” me. A few seconds later (though it felt like hours) I was straddling the top of the wall and once I stopped shaking, began my descent down the other side.
I had faced my biggest fear and with the help of good friends and a great trainer named Andy Salatnay I had conquered IT. The WALL was behind me. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I walked over the cars, jumped over fire, and crawled through the mud without a second thought. We reached the end of the race, got a medal and were sprayed clean of mud with ice cold water from the fire truck.
We were told to trade in our “time chips” for beer and directed to the survivors party. Lots of muddy hugs, laughter and kisses ended our race. Andy’s mom took a ton of pictures and Anthony has all of it on video so I can relive this experience any time I want.
This project was so inspiring it spawned an idea in all of us. Why not bring this kind of event to Humboldt? Andy, Kathryn, Anthony, Kirk, Revolution Bikes, Greenway Partners, the Jogg”N Shoppe, True Motion Fitness, Far North Climbing Gym/North Coast Adventure Centers, Edward Jones Investments and several other Humboldt County businesses along with ME are committed to creating our own version of the Warrior Dash to benefit the Humboldt Trails Council (because we NEED safe places to ride our bikes!)
If you or your business would like to help out or create an obstacle course just let Mr. Hooooover know and he’ll find me. Personally, I want everybody that thinks that they can’t overcome obstacles to move outside their comfort zone and participate in something... ANYTHING especially a Mud Dash, I promise you that it WILL change your life.
Funny, I have always respected Andy as a trainer and have loved him as a friend but now I see him in a whole new light. He has changed my life and I am forever grateful. A few years ago the thought of running a 5K in the mud with obstacles would have been impossible but with his guidance, patience, a ton of hard work on my part the sweat and tears have paid off and together we have overcome way/weigh more obstacles than a little Mud. I am strong both physically and mentally and am ready for the next challenge – the Arcata Eye Ball and San Francisco to Los Angeles, 565 miles on my bike with friends from Humboldt... If I can do it... anyone can!
Debi Farber-Bush is helping organize the 16th Arcata Eye Ball in January, which is going to be a little different. You’ll be hearing from her.