Friday, June 10, 2011

Playing in the Mud

The race that I have been dreading anticipating since 12:15am January 1, 2011, has been run.  How do I know the exact date and time?  This particular race, "The Camp Pendleton World Famous Mud Run", sells out less than 24 hours after registration opens.  Registration opens precisely at 12:01am Jan 1st.  I sat poised at my trusty laptop new year's eve and waited.  Signed myself, my great nephew Anthony, and my niece Kristine up.  Registration sold out by noon that same day. 

I really didn't need to do this race.  I had already ran it on 2 previous occasions.  The only reason I decided to do it was because Anthony wanted to run it with me.  While I definitely liked the idea of running it with Ant (great nephew Anthony) I still dreaded it.  It's a tough run, and then there's the mud....and obstacles.....A couple of months ago I told Anthony that I'd give up my bib if he had a friend who would like to run in my place.  Nope, he wanted to run it with me.  Maybe I should feel flattered.

Finally the day came.  You've got to hand it to the Marines, this is by far one of the most well organized races I've ever run.  Kristine was not able to run it as she is in Africa.  So my running buddy Alicia ran in her place.  We arrived in plenty of time to pick up our t-shirts, check our bags, take a picture in front of the map of the course with our water proof disposable camera, and hear the National Anthem sung by a 15 year old local girl. It never ceases to amaze me how the National Anthem can shut up a crowd.  Every single person stood in reverence, the only sound was the voice of the singer.  I think the fact that we were standing on a Marine base made it all the more solemn.

In true military fashion (hurry up and wait), we were directed to proceed to the start line....and wait.  While waiting, Alicia and I took a picture with 2 Marines who were standing in front of us.  They were running "Boots & Utility", which means regulation military boots and utility trousers, these guys took it a step further with painted faces and backpacks....the packs were weighing in at 35lbs and 75lbs.  Unbelievable.  You go boys!  If we have the pic I'll post it here later.  I'll also post the pic of the guy in funny underwear....if we have it.....

Finally the race began....or so we thought.  There really isn't enough room at the official start line for all the runners (approx 6K) so they stage us in an area that is large enough, and then we walk and try to run in mass to the start line.  At the start line there is a firetruck getting the race started right by spraying everyone with the fire hoses!  I was going to take a pic of the firetruck, but the water came our way, everyone screamed started running, I was afraid of being trampled, sun glasses got wet, couldn't see anything for about a minute (running blind).  Finally got my glasses cleaned, and realized I had lost Ant and Muddy Running Buddy Alicia.

I caught up to Alicia after a couple of minutes....but couldn't find he in front or behind?  We ran and kept looking back over our shoulders, scanning the crowd ahead for Ant.  So much of this race is up hard to stay motivated and keep running.  What kept me going was the thought that Ant wanted to run this race with me, and I had lost him at the start line!  I kept glancing back to make sure he wasn't behind me, and kept running forward to try and catch up if he was ahead.  Alicia told me to go ahead and keep trying to catch him.  We figured he would be waiting at "The Wall" for us, since he was our designated lifter (supposed to give us a boost up over "The Wall").  I ran till my quads were screaming.  I'd take a walk break and then run some more. 

Finally at approx mile 4.5 I came to "The Wall"....and no Ant!  Where is he?  Surely he wouldn't scale the wall without lifting us over it first???  And now I'm stuck, I promised Alicia I would wait for her at "The Wall".  Finally she came sauntering around the corner (shouldn't have left her alone!)  Down into the mud we went.  Found a Handy Marine at the wall willing to give a hand.  I told Alicia to go first.  I had toyed with the idea of going around the wall (while I had been waiting for her, and looking for Ant because the course switches back after the lake crossing) I had noticed some runners going around the wall. Strong Handy Marine gave Alicia a lift up the wall....she straddled it, and hesitated...trying to figure out the best way to get down the other side.  At that point I decided I was going around, last think I wanted to do was contemplate how do get off that wall.  Denny tells me I have to go back and run the race again cause I didn't complete that obstacle....yeah,.... right.  Going around wasn't nearly as easy as I thought it would be.  It was a drop of about 3 feet from the side, and I fell in the mud.  Alicia helped me up, and I promptly fell again.  If you hesitate in the mud a second too long, your feet get stuck and you lose you balance.

Out of the mud and on to the river crossing.  At the shore there is another of those Handy Marines willing to help out, if you give him your camera he will take a picture of you in the water.  We hand him the camera and gingerly enter the water (it's hell to get old).  Three young ladies toss their camera to Handy Marine, and jump into the water ahead of us.  He takes their pic, tosses the camera......  Was that the right camera?  I shout to the girls, wait, is that yours or ours?  She looks at it and says, it's the right one.  Now from where I'm standing it looks exactly like ours...Kodak, waterproof disposable.  So we may end up with half a roll of pictures of complete strangers instead of the precious ones we took before that river crossing.  Will just have to wait and see what we get.

River Crossed, on to "Wall Number 2"....this particular mud pit had a "Wimp Wall"...since we are wimps.....well Alicia is a wimp and straddled the wimp wall...I'm a super wimp and went around this one too....but again didn't anticipate the 3 foot drop and ended up on my butt in the mud.  Fall 3 more times trying to exit mud pit (the fire hose on the left spraying me in the face didn't help any).  Slide down the mud hill on the way out (onaccounta I'm afraid of falling and breaking a hip) sliding down on my butt...hmmmm, no wonder I had all that mud in my shorts at the finish line. 

Down another mud hill (also on my behind, and mud in my shorts), and enter "The Tunnel".  Duck walk through tunnel...almost falling backwards mid-way through...whew...don't know how I would have managed to get out of that dang Tunnel if I ended up on my ass or back.....nothing to grab onto to hoist myself back up, and quarters too cramped to right myself....visions of rolly polly bugs.....  Tunnel Cleared!

On to the next obstacle "Slippery Hill", a huge, extremely steep hill with another fire hose at the top.....of course those Handy Marines are at the top trying to spray us off the hill.  Thanks guys.

Slippery Hill summited, shoes and shorts a little to mile #6 water station (there is ample water on the course at precisely every mile HOORAH!)  Point 2 miles to go!  And then I see it.  The last obstacle.  I had forgotten all about it.  The - mud - pit.  We have to belly crawl.  Dang.  I thought I was done.  Handy Marine to the right of me yelling at me to GO!  GET IN!  FACE FIRST, GET IN!  Crawling through the mud, Marines yelling at us to STAY DOWN.  As we approach the final mud hill out of this muddy mess the final Marine is yelling "GET OUT OF MY WATER!"

There is a little fountain area where you can rinse your face off, we see Ed and Kathleen.  We all hug, congratulating each other on finishing (technically they finished 30 minutes before us, they ran as a team of 5, and teams start sometime after the individuals).  Faces rinsed, sprint to the finish line, and there is Ant.  Showered and waiting for us.  He finished 40 MINUTES AHEAD OF US.  That's the last time I run a race with him.  He's beat me twice now (last time was the 5K at Angels Stadium)....I don't think he wanted to "run the mud run with me"....I think he wanted to "kick my butt at the mud run".

As we stood in line waiting to take our cold, very public outdoor group shower, the mud baked in the sun on our skin.  Mud rinsed out of my shorts, off to the group changing tent.  Steamy inside tent, wall to wall bodies trying to change out of muddy clothes into clean clothes while standing on one foot, trying not to touch one another.

6.2 race miles completed.  Brings the total race miles to 24.26 with 25.74 to go

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