Running is not my thing; in fact I kind of hate it with the fire of a thousand burning suns. But I do it because it’s really efficient calorie-burning… and because it feels so good when I stop.
For the past few years, I’ve done the Warrior Dash. The first year, the one in Southern California was held a month after the marathon I’d trained for and finished, so running a 5k (in a beard, with two friends dressed as Xena) was no big deal.
The second year, I did it with my husband and we learned that, even if you have breakfast four hours before your wave starts, it shouldn’t be IHOP country fried steak with gravy. I rationalized it as “protein-rich” and “carb-loading,” but really, I felt like I had rocks in my stomach the whole time.
This year, I wanted to mix things up a bit, so I registered for the Warrior Dash in Las Vegas. I ended up running it with my husband Alex, my coworker Ingrid, and my friend Guy. We were so clean at the start!
My favorite part of the race is, obviously, the obstacles. You get to do things like climb over junked-out cars, crawl on your belly under barbed wire, traverse mud pits, climb walls and structures covered in cargo net, and leap over fire. You get filthy and they give you a free beer afterwards. It’s kind of amazing.
The craziest challenge this time was a clay pit: participants had to get through about 50 feet of thick, heavy, sludgy, makes-a-sucking-noise-when-you-touch-it, muddy clay. A race volunteer warned us to remove our shoes and socks before going through, because they’d get pulled right off our feet.
Some people were gingerly tiptoeing through at the edges of the pit – that’s not really my style. I plunged in, laughing and screaming about the thick, slimy clay that instantly claimed me up to the knees. I’d decided to wear yoga pants because I wanted to protect my legs from scratches and scrapes. As I progressed, I noticed my pants (already damp and heavy from a previous challenge) were getting dragged down a bit. I pulled them up, held them at my waist, and soldiered on… but with every step, the situation worsened. The clay was saturating the fabric, the pants were getting unbearably heavy, and I couldn’t help but step on them as I moved forward, pulling them down further. When the crotch of the pants got to my knees, I fell down. My friends were ahead of me and couldn’t come back, so strangers were trying to help.
There was no getting around it; the pants had to go. As I sat there, sprawled in the clay, tugging desperately at them, someone yelled, “Just take ‘em off!”
“I’m TRYING!” (I don’t know if my reply was intelligible, I was laughing so hard.) Someone helped me pull the second pant leg off, and there I was in my t-shirt, race number and underwear, carrying my shoes, socks, and 50 pounds worth of muddy pants. Time to finish the race!
Luckily the clay stuck to and completely covered my lower half, so I wasn’t feeling too exposed. I got a lot of shouts and kudos along the way – apparently it’s pretty impressive to lose your pants and keep going. One obstacle had us crawling on hands and knees over tires and under a net, and a support beam came loose and fell down on top of us. I was near the side, so I pushed it back up and into place. Someone near me said “she loses her pants and keeps going! She fixes the course on the fly! No pants girl is badass!” I felt like a grimy, half-naked superhero.
In the end, our time was about 1 hour, 33 minutes – possibly my slowest 5k ever. No Pants Girl doesn’t mind, though – she had a blast!