On October 29, I competed in the Men’s Health Urbanathlon NYC, a 9.5 mile obstacle course. There was a lot of drama that day but the real drama started the day before. I took the bus from Arlington, VA to New York. The 4 hour trip turned into a 6 hour trip because of an overturned tractor. My legs started to cramp at hour 4. My lower back joined the party at hour 5. The only good thing about the trip was that the stranger sitting next to me didn’t try to start a conversation. I was able to suffer in silence.
At Penn Station, I took the train to Leah’s house and went to sleep. The next morning, the weather went downhill. It was cold, gloomy, and wet.
Determined not to lose focus, I pulled out my hand warmers and did the Harlem shake until the gun went off. The first two miles had no obstacles. Then the fun began.
I got to crawl under jeeps, jump over police barricades, swing on monkey bars, climb over a bus, and much more.
Most of the obstacles were fun but there were two that had me calling on Jesus. The first one was the marine hurdles. They were too tall! To tackle them, you needed height and strength. If you didn’t have the height, you needed jumping skills and strength. If you didn’t have the height and couldn’t jump, you were out of luck. I was able to get through them but it was ugly. Most of the girls struggled on this one.
The stair climb was the other tough obstacle. It wasn’t the stairs themselves that caused me heartache. It was that I had to climb the stairs of two different stadiums, the second of which came at mile 8. By that time I was soaking wet, exhausted, and my feet were numb. I was in a state of shock.
See? I wasn’t exaggerating. Look at my face! I hurried to the final obstacle.
When I approached the wall, I told a volunteer that I would need a boost. He nodded and put his hand on my booty to lift me. But I didn’t go anywhere. I was pressed against the wall, his hand was cupping the goodness, yet I wasn’t moving. I said, “Are you gonna help me up?”. He woke from his stupor, then pushed me up and over.
After I crossed the finish line, I headed to the tent for sustenance and a change of clothes. I met a group of girls who competed as a relay. They were lovely and one of them saved my life.
When I mentioned that I couldn’t feel my feet, Jess (far left) dropped down to the floor and made magical booties for me.
The girls left but I stayed to wait for the results. Hours went by. My feet got worse. I drank tea. The tea ran out. I drank coffee. The coffee wasn’t good. I drank hot chocolate. I’m lactose intolerant. They refilled the tea. I drank more tea. That cycling of hot beverages continued until I could no longer ignore the pain in my feet. I decided to go to the medical tent. Before I made the trek, I asked a volunteer to take my picture. I was afraid this would be the last time I’d see my feet attached to my body.
I shuffled to the medical tent blinded by the pain and the snow. Did I mention the snow storm? Yeah, that happened. I told the staff my problem and they said they didn’t have a heater. If my face hadn’t been numb, they would have seen the scowl and the gnarled lip. I didn’t want a heater, I wanted medical attention! When they saw I wasn’t going to leave, they went to work. They dried my feet, wrapped them in gauze, put a silver bag over the gauze, then put my shoe back on. They did their best but it didn’t help. Exposing my naked feet to the cold air turned the numbness into a stabbing sensation. I walked out of the tent with tears in my eyes.
The good news is that despite the cold and the frostbite, I had a ball. The obstacles were fun and I ran strong. The great news is that I won 3rd place! This marked the first time I have placed in the top 3 overall. It was a big accomplishment. I was happy and miserable at the same time.
Would I do the race again? Absolutely. I will be there next year but I will be more prepared. I will be wearing a snow suit and heated sneakers. And I will win.
Have you done an obstacle race? Would you?