Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Give Me Your Hand, I'm Right In Front Of You

At the beginning of this year, I set some goals for myself, some small (take a picture of myself doing aerial stuff and make it my profile pic on facebook) some that seemed so big that I didn’t really seriously work toward completing it until I kind stumbled into it (getting a new car).

And one goal was so simple and so vague that I kinda laughed when I set it, thinking I wouldn’t really take it seriously until it was like, December 27th, and I’d be all SHIT!  I gotta knock that one off my list in three days!


As it turns out, that goal turned out to be a 5K.  Which isn’t really anything awful or traumatic like a marathon, or a half marathon, or even a 10K.  It’s 3.1 miles.  It’s nothing.  Nothing at all, really.  It shouldn’t scare anyone.

But I hate running.  The thought of a 5K race DID scare me.  So I had to do it.

I’ve talked about how much I hate running long distance before.  I hate it SO MUCH that there better be a damn good reason for why I would spend money to enter a 5K race. 

And yes, there was.

And that reason was zombies.

The race was Run For Your Lives, and the concept is simple – you run a 5K course filled with 12 obstacles, with three flags tied around your waist.  And there are zombies on the course that try to pull your flags.  If you cross the finish line with one flag left, you’re “alive,” if you cross the finish line with no flags left, you’re “dead.”

Here’s the official promo video:

Now I hate running, but I fully recognized that I would have to run to train for this thing.  For the month of September, I was dogsitting Pepe and Pablo, and was running with them, but them pulling you is kinda cheating, and I’m not going to have them on the course on game day.

So for the three weeks of October I kept running up and down Los Feliz Blvd., trying to increase the distance each time, trying to get my endurance up.  I would alternate between walking, jogging, and sprinting, because I had heard other reports from other racers earlier in the year that said you could walk the course, and sprint past the zombies.

I downloaded this awesome ap Zombies, Run!  It helped SO MUCH.  Seriously, if you hate running as much as I do, this ap takes your mind off running by giving you a new identity as Runner Five, and plunking you down in the midst of an audio story about a zombie apocalypse.  It is so much fun that I’m still listening to it while back on the ellipticals at the gym. 

I was fully prepared to do Run For Your Lives by myself, but luckily I have like minded friends and a group of about 10 of us went down to Temecula to run the race.

And it was there that I gradually became aware that I may have been the only one training for the event.  Everyone else was pretty loosey goosey about it.  What!?  Come on!  I’ve been training for a long time!  I’ve been running up and down Los Feliz Blvd.!  I hate running!  What’s wrong with you people!

So on Game Day, here we all are.  Ready to get dirty (literally, the race in Temecula is at Vail Lake Resort, the trails are dusty, when they’re not watering it down with mud), ready to scream, ready to run, ready to block for others if we die first.

But I don’t think any of us were ready for the freakin’ HILL that greeted us instantly when we were let out of the pen.

Oooookay, so we’re NOT running up this hill.  It’s a great Kate Bush song, but we’re not doing it in real life.

While we’re hiking up this hill, we notice at the top occasional dirt clouds.  This indicates where the zombies are waiting for runners, and where the runners are sprinting to get away from them.   Because it’s not enough that there’s a gigantic hill to start the race, there has to be ZOMBIES at the top of the hill.  Great.

On the whole, it was an awesome, excellent time.  You made instant friends with fellow runners as it became obvious that there was Safety In Numbers.  Meaning if you tried to get past a zombie one on one, you were gonna lose a flag.  If you waited until there was 15 of you, and you all charged at the same time, you had a much better chance of getting through.

Yes, we got dirty.  Yes, I even got shocked on the top of my head under the electric fence (drove my skull down into the dirt, my jaw clicked.  NOT a good time)

I sprinted, I screamed, I gasped for breath.  I did something I had never done before that scared me (a 5K race, not zombies)

But perhaps what was most profound about the whole thing (and believe you me, I was NOT expecting profound) was the mud pits. 

There was about three or four of them, mud hills and giant mud puddles in between  You had to slog through the mud puddles (which were waist high) and clamber up the mud hills, three or four of them in a row.

You couldn’t stop in the mud puddle to marvel at how gross it was, because you’d start to sink.  You had to keep going, and scrabble scrabble up the mud hill, which was, well, muddy, and more than a few people would start up, and slide back down.

I was crawling up the mud hill, wishing that someone at the top was there to lend a hand.  There wasn’t anyone (I had gotten separated from most of my group at this point). 

But once I got to the top of the hill, I decided that I was gonna BE the thing I wished was there for me.  Instead of grumbling about it.

So I turned around and, bracing myself at the top of the hill, started pulling people up.  I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me.   It didn’t matter.  They had hands, I had the stable ground.

“Give me your hand,” I said over and over again, “Give me your hand, I’m right in front of you.”

They weren’t looking because they didn’t know me.  Help was right in front of them, and all they had to do was look up. 

“Look up.  Look up!  I’m right in front of you!”

Finally, most of them did.  They grabbed my hand and I pulled them up.  And I kept pulling people up.  Some of them would actually stagger around to my other arm, and provide even more ballast so we as a human chain could get to the bigger guys.

Sure, it ate up a ton of time.  I ended up finishing the 5K in an hour and a half (still the first out of my group of friends).  But it was totally worth it.

And I survived with a lone single red flag.  That I’m totally taking with me for next years’ race.  Wait and see, ha ha ha.

But this video makes me laugh and laugh.  This wasn’t the Temecula race, this intrepid Panda was running in Baltimore’s race.  He is awesome.  More awesome than me.

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