Thursday, May 27, 2010

Arica And I Warriors For Life

Sunday, May 23, 2010 was a hot day in Athens, GA and it was only 9a.m. How hot would the sun beat down on us by 3p.m. which is when Arica Ebersold and I would be meeting our destiny competing in Warrior Dash Southeast. Arica drove to Mountain City, GA. We arrived in plenty of time. Plenty of time to allow nerves to truly kick in. Whatever nerves were left. We walked to the bus which was shuttling people from the parking area to the location of Warrior Dash. As I sat next to Arica pensive about the situation staring me in the face, she informed me that there was a line of medical personnel, ambulances, and helicopters along the route. Once again, what were we thinking tackling this event? We arrived and walked around for a bit. Arica described the area, layout, and some of the stranger outfits participants were sporting. We signed in and received our bib numbers. Now, time to play the old time favorite waiting game for our wave to begin at 3p.m. We had almost two hours to kill before we would get killed. There were some pretty buff men and women which served to dishearten me. There were also some individuals who clearly had not pushed themselves away from a meal nor have pounded any pavement to get into another shape other than round or pear. These people gave me hope. Now we were under an hour. Then less than thirty minutes. Every few minutes, Arica would ask, "Are you ready?" I would shake my head. Neither was she. Arica attempted to look out over the course to ease her and my mind, but other than a flat opening path, she could not see much.. As we joined the others set to go off as part of our wave, the public address announcer mentioned that we were standing just ten miles away from where the movie Deliverance was filmed. That was not a good thing for "a yankee" like me. The man said, if I heard banjo music start running. In fact, as Arica and I were walking to the Warrior Dash grounds after jumping off the bus, she told me of a very old man sitting on his front porch with a sign which read "You Better Run I hear Banjo Music." A minute away! Then ten seconds away. Time to go. The opening stretch was a flat winding path. We ran for a bit before coming to the first of many obstacles. My best description is that it was a muddy pool across which we had to walk, but if we hesitated, our shoes would get stuck and would sink. A few feet into it, I hit a wooden divider and I fell back hitting my ankle and cutting it or so I thought. It began to sting. We made it through and ran for a bit more before coming across muddy slippery tires. I hit my ankle and with water still dripping from the previous obstacle, I felt a stinging sensation as mud entered my eyes. Oh great. As we pressed on, I relied heavily on Arica's instructions and encouragement. I also found myself holding on to her for support when I was losing my footing, but it hit me, what if she loses her balance or footing? I felt it was not right for me to rely on her to support my weight so I tried to avoid having her do so, but some times, I could not help, but cling tightly to her. We ran through uneven terrain. Up hills then down hills. We crossed logs, climbed over walls, used ropes to climb other walls, went up then down rope ladders, ran through a junkyard of old broken cars, crawled through a shallow tunnel, and did our best to not get hurt. Every step of the way, volunteers also shouted support and instructions. While Arica was the only one with whom I maintained physical contact and from whom I received help, the volunteers and course officials were helpful verbally. There were other difficult obstacles which we overcame, but the two which jump out as we neared the home stretch were the event where we crawled through muddy waters while just a few inches from our heads were real live barbed wires and the final event which was the fire pit over which we needed to leap prior to racing to the finish line. Arica said, "This is the last one. Do you want to do it?" She said all we had to do was leap. How far? How high? As far and as high as possible. What were we doing here again? Living. Then let's live! We jumped. High and far then I heard her gasp, say no, and felt Arica grab me. We had cleared the fire, but there was another hotter larger one and my momentum had carried to me towards it. I spun on a dime and was able to hold on to Arica. That is it. We had completed Warrior Dash. We slipped over the finish line to make it official. There we were. Arica and Israel. Warriors!! We had stared down the unknown and had conquered it. Bruises, cuts, and blood, but we had lived. I would have never dreamt in a million years I would ever do such an event, but Arica had motivated me and had been there every step of the way. I will never forget that. We walked around meeting some wonderful people then departed from Atlanta the next day. I was happy to be home as I looked towards the next weekend's race, but I can not get rid of a smile which appears on my face each time I think of how the Warrior Dash gang was right that it was the best freaking weekend of my life. I had spent time with Arica and had done the once impossible. Again, a special thanks to all who played a part in making this happen. Laura Colvin, the crews of United and Delta, Adriana who first posted a link about WD, Patti who sent me a message saying WD was something she thought I would try, the folks at Red Frog Events especially Courtney and Ali who answered all my questions and concerns while encouraging me to give it a try, and of course, Arica!

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