I very reluctantly ran my first Warrior Dash last weekend. I’ve never had a strong desire to run around in the mud. But when a friend asked me to join her on this adventure, I decided it would be a good thing to get out of my comfort zone and give it a try. What I learned out on that course was worth more than the medal I earned at the finish line. I learned, once again, that I am stronger than MS, and I am a warrior.
I’m in the middle of an MS relapse. I’ve got increased pain in my left hand and foot and the most severe fatigue I’ve ever experienced. My symptoms are exacerbated by heat, so the 90* day and 1:45 PM start time were not a good thing. You know it’s hot when you are dripping sweat while standing in the packet pick-up line.
With a mix of excitement and nerves, we headed to the start line. The first mile was mostly running through grassy fields. There were two obstacles, but nothing too difficult. I thought the running would be easy for me, but I was wrong. The heat, full sun, and uneven field surface combined with my MS fatigue made me feel like I couldn’t finish. Somewhere in the second mile, I slowed to a walk. We didn’t walk long before getting to an obstacle that pretty much saved the day for me. We climbed up a mud mound and down into a pit of muddy water. This was just after turning into some trails that were shaded. So the muddy water was actually a little cool. At least it felt that way. I was up to my waist in mud and it felt so good. I think that mud and the shaded trail were just enough of a cool down to allow me to finish the event.
I was pretty nervous about being able to tackle all of the obstacles. I don’t get much exercise beyond running and the occasional yoga class. My upper body strength comes almost exclusively from carrying babies. The first big challenge for me was the Deadman’s Drop. You can’t see it from the picture, but the top piece of wood is actually slanted towards you, so you have to lean back to climb over. It was also covered in slimy mud, so it was very slippery. The people ahead of us were really struggling with this one. I decided it wasn’t even safe for me to try to go over it. My arms and legs were jello, I had lost all vision in my left eye (another fun side effect of overheating), and I’m not a fan of heights anyway. But then I saw Sarah and Nyna attack it without hesitation. So up I went. And over I went. I had a huge smile on my face climbing down the other side of that one.
The next test came with the Great Warrior Wall. No way was I going to be able to climb a rope over a wall. I was the kid in grade school who couldn’t climb a single inch up a rope in gym class. Not even the knotted rope could help me back then. Several girls in front of us tried and failed to get up these ropes. I figured I’d be in the same boat. Since I learned already that I need to at least try, I grabbed a hold of a muddy rope and began pulling. My first few attempts were dismal. And then I just started climbing. After the initial struggle, I sailed up the rest of the rope.
I was so excited about conquering these obstacles, I even found the energy to run again. When I got close to the end, I knew I would finish this test of strength and endurance. I passed this test. I was stronger than MS. I AM stronger than MS.