I am a week late in writing this. In my mind I’ve written in a 1000 times but the words were never enough…they didn’t portray the sheer emotion of the day. I kept thinking I would wait and write this when I had it just right in my mind. Yeah, right.
There is a lot of preamble to the day before the big event. A lot of it poignant, though only to me. One phrase sort of sums it up though. As Phil was driving me to be dropped off he said, “you are about to go and do the most un-Libby-like thing imaginable.” I asked to what he was referring to…the Warrior Dash or going away for the night with friends. “Both” said my man of few words.
The most un-Libby-like thing he could imagine. Yep. That summed it up. Wasn’t that the point though? After 40 some-odd-years doing only Libby-like things I needed a change, a challenge and an adventure. And I was giving myself one.
The cabin was awesome. Courtney made a truly homemade dinner and we sat and laughed and talked until bedtime. Success one.
The next morning dawned early. We garbed up in Warrior attire and made the trip over, around and around and around Lake Burton to arrive in Clayton.
Wow. People were everywhere. In costume, couples, groups, athletes stretched and pranced. I saw more boy shorts and knee socks on long, lithe, athletic bodies then I really wanted or needed to. Moments of panic but to be honest, the crowd was so diverse, so eccletic and the atmosphere so electric that I didn’t really feel the sheer terror that I expected to feel.
A little before 9:30a they announcer gathered our heat up to the starting lane. I had a race bib on. Something I NEVER, ever, expected to wear. Ever. As rehearsed, we gathered at the rear. Our plan was to be amoung the last to start so we didn’t feel like we were holding anyone up. The DJ began playing JUMP and had us all throw our hands in the air and jump up and down to pump up for the start. About the 2nd jump I realized something. I was participating. I wasn’t looking around to see who was watching this old, fat body jump up and down. I was nervous and I was scared but I was doing it. I have to admit to getting a little teary eyed. One way or another I was going to feel very differently about myself in mere seconds.
“GO” was yelled, music blared, fire shot from the stage. The crowd of 500 merged it’s way like cattle into the cattle shoot and off we went. One-foot-in-front-of-the-other was my cadence. Thru the gate and up the hill. Contestants pouring toward the festivities watched us jog by. One-foot-in-front-of-the-other I thought as I ran by the studs and divas. We jogged up a hill, down a hill. Locals sat in lawn chairs and yelled, “go warriors,” as we ran by. I was a warrior, I was jogging! We jogged beside 441. We jogged down a hill. I was doing this!
First obstacle, into a lake for a swim to a sandy shore under which we had to crawl and scrunch our way under barbed wire. Oh the water was cold. Mud seeped into our shoes and weighed us down. Clothes became heavier and heavier. Still I trudged along. At some point I started a glorified doggy paddle. I was passing folks. Young, old, toned, tanned…I was passing some folks. I drug myself onto the sandy shore and took a deep breathe. Slimy mud had us all slipping and sliding as we crawled toward the first low line of barbed wire. Nightmares of me not getting my ample rear low enough to clear the wire and having my shorts snag and be behind bared danced in my head but there wasn’t time to dwell because waves of people were rushing the shores behind us. There was nothing to do but scurry on. Sand cut my knees. My eyes teared, “oh god what am I doing” I was in the midst of thinking when I heard Ashley whoop from behind me. “It smells like a barn up-n-here.” I started laughing and found some gumption. Under over, pull, shimmy. I was thru!!! Under the net and we were done. One obstacle down.
Water squished out from our shoes. Up a hill, around a bend we sloshed our way with the crowd. Around a building and there stood the 2nd obstacle. Holy, I would have thought holy shit, but someone behind said it aloud for me. “I am going around.” I heard April say. Ashley too. I turned, “No. No. Don’t give up before you even try it. We didn’t come out here to quit before we try.” Was that me? Beside me Courtney, who was terrified of heights, nodded. Crowds thinned out as we got closer. Finally it was me, a sturdy rope and a 20ft wall. ‘no upper body strength, can’t do this, no way’ thoughts swirled in my head. I remember physically shaking my head and thinking, “SHUT UP” to the negative little voice. I grabbed to rope and yelled to Courtney, “We can do this!”. She tried. One-hand-one-foot I thought as I grasped the rope and hauled myself upward. I think I heard shouting from below but I couldn’t be sure. About halfway up my muddy, sandy hands started to burn. I briefly thought about letting go but then I thought of Colton. There was no way I was going to tell him that I quit. No way. I pulled harder. Feet found footing and I literally hauled myself to the top. Sitting there on the 3 inch ledge I almost cried. Ashley, Courtney and April stood at the bottom. I don’t remember getting down, I was still so amazed at getting up. This wall was my obstacle. My biggest fear. The biggest ‘can’t’ for me. But I could. I did. Now I was crying, tears cleaning streaks down my muddy face.
There wasn’t time for much more celebrating. Another obstacle was steps away. Under more barbed wire and then there stood a wall. A miniature version of the one I just defeated. This was a solid wall about chest high. How? I thought? How in the world was I going to get over this thing? I thought of the kitchen counters I climbed as a kid. Jump a bit. Get the ledge to my stomach and then hurl my leg around. I did it. It wasn’t pretty but it was done. Under. Over. Under. Over. Really? Who designs these things??? Under. Over. Through.
Sheer adreneline drove me to the tire hill. I got up. Courtney right beside me. Jog. Don’t think. Move.
Water. Floating in the water were plastic bouys roped into a freestanding dock of sorts. There were people everywhere scrambling, slipping, falling. Again, an expletive would have been in order here except right in front of my a girl had her hands up and was telling her crew, NO WAY. NO WAY. NO WAY. “You can do this,” I told her. She was wild eyed and panicked at the sight of that water. “Jump far enough and you don’t even have to swim that far,” Ashley urged. We held back the crowd and bit until their group and our group were the only ones on the platform. At that point we had to jump as there were people behind us. Really! Jump. Muddy, sodden shoes pulled me straight to the bottom. I clawed my way to the surface scared to death I was going to be contact less. Sputtered at the time and gingerly cracked open my eyes. One there. The other was there—sort-of—a film covered my eyes but I could still see. Ashley’s spandex covered rump filled my vision. In my underwater adventure they had formed a plan. They were boosting one up so that she could help the others. Wet plastic has no grip. My arms felt like they were going to pull out of their sockets as I tried to grasp something, anything to haul my heavy, wet fame up. I felt like was stranded on the middle of the lake, life preserver-less, trying to get onto a jet ski. I’ve done that. I can do this. So I did.
Next. Rope wall. Sadistic bastards. My hands were rough and raw. Mud covered every inch of my body from getting up the bank after the pontoon obstacle. I had water in places I didn’t think water could go. A flash of pink. Courtney! I knew she was afraid of heights. Would she do this? Up. Over. Down. I landed on firm ground and turned to see Courtney at the TOP. She had done it. This was her personal obstacle. I knew this. “Turn around. Don’t look down. Lay on your stomach. I’ll get you down.” I shouted. Not a single hesitation. She stopped. Kneeled and back crawled her way to the edge. She trusted me. My friend trusted me to get her down. So I did. Step my step she climbed while I instructed her. Never once did she look down. In my warrior memories this will always be a favorite. She trusted me to help her overcome something that terrified her. My heart literally missed a beat I was so proud of her. We hugged. No time for celebrating. Miles to go.
Up a mountain trail. We were walking but we were moving. Down a slick, muddy mountain trail that would have been hard dry but was treachourous wet. Clearing. Really? Another wall. This one had rectangular pegs scattered over it’s girth. Fireman poles were on the other side. 2 girls sat with medics. Both obviously hurt. We were told that we could go up but would have to climb, not slide down. I grabbed the first rectangle. Looked for the 2nd. Grabbed it. Saw another. Stretched out every muscle of my body to grab it. I was stuck. Sideways. On a vertical challenge. I started to giggle. ‘Shit’ was about all I could muster. The ground was too far below. The edge too far above. I couldn’t hold this position long. Giggles gurgled up from a place of hysteria. “Uh…I don’t think you are supposed to be sideways,” quipped Ashley. Oh that helped. Giggles turned to laughter, “I am stuck!” Above me perfect strangers were coming to my aide. “There is a lip on the ledge. Just boost yourself a little higher and you can grab it” came the advice. My arms wobbled. My legs shook. My vision blurred. Please don’t quit, I thought to myself. Deep breath. GO. I don’t know how I found the energy to propel myself up to that ledge. I really don’t but once I did there were hands there to pull me up. I don’t know who they were, will never know who they were but they were there. A cheer went up as I got my feet under me on the platform. YES!
Evidently this hellish design was built at the pinnacle of the mountain. Down we went, sliding, grasping, cursing, flailing. Wham. Out of the mud into a clearing. There stood ANOTER ROPE wall only this one was parrallel to the ground. This little journey required muscles that had never been used nor will ever be used again.
Down we run. Only to hike back up to the mouth of the biggest slip-n-slide I’ve ever seen. 3 slides of heavy duty black hefty bags and a hose hung thru the trees with holes punched in. One, two, three….GO. And go I did. I am sure there is a math formula to account for my weight + mud+ incline, factor in the slipperiness factor to = more velocity then this old girl should ever reach. I ended up backwards sliding through the hay barrier and mud catching pool at the bottom. Hay was in my shirt, down my pants, under my…well….you get the idea.
Hauled up the soggy, saturated pants with one hand and held onto them with the other. Jumped and slide across the hoods of wrecked cars. Jumped thru more tires. Courtney beside me all the way. “We are going to finish strong. We can run this” she said. Had I been in my right mind I would have asked her if she were smoking crack. I was; however, in full Warrior mode at this point. I howled in agreetment, got a firmer grip on my britches and picked up my feet. I was jogging!
Below me I caught sight or orange flames. Fire. Waist high. Right in the path I was jogging on. “I can’t…” started that little voice. This time I didn’t have to think ‘shut up’. I just jumped. High. Once, twice.
No time to celebrate. Barbed wire barred my way. Red, slippery Georgia mud underneath. I dropped to all fours and stomach crawled thru. Mindless of the gooey, icky mess. Swish…I slid down the bank. KERPLOOP. Thick, stinky, slimy mud oozed from all side. Barbed wire was at eye level. GEEZ…did they get a good deal on this crap? There was nothing to do but sink lower into the grime. Here I was, up the my chin, fully clothed, in the nastiest conditions imaginable. Crowds lined the mud pool. Cameras swhizzed. This was the end. I had done it! Dunked under one more barbed wire barrier. My arms raised in victory. I cried. Big tears of joy. “I did it! I did it! This old, fat lady did it!” I shouted, aloud. Courtney waited at the end. As I emerged from the slime a grinning young thing draped a medal around my neck. People cheered. Courtney hugged me. We had done it.
I. Am. A. Warrior.