My First 5K -or- Further Proof That I Am Not Made of Glass

About nine weeks ago at the beginning of summer, this was brought to my attention: The Apache Troop Gauntlet, sponsored by The Matt Light Foundation (for those of you not from the Greenville area, Matt Light is a local muckity-muck who’s played for the New England Patriots for the last decade-and-change, meaning he’s got a couple Super Bowl rings… *Begin Sarcasm* but only, like three, so he’s not really THAT big a deal *End Sarcasm*) and our local National Guard company, and it was a 5 kilometer/3.1 mile slog through mud, muck, creeks, over obstacles and through tricksy traps in a sort of Tough Mudder Jr.

Me being the fool that I am, I professed to the world (read: “Facebook”) that I was totally going to do it. I had a whole 9 weeks to prepare: I can run 3.1 miles after training for 9 weeks, so why not?

I ran twice, and then forgot about it for a few weeks. (Woo! Stick-tuitiveness!)

My Previously Mentioned Girlfriend saw my Proclamation of Intent and made her desire to run it herself known to her family; her sister gifted her the $45 entrance fee, so now she’s doing it and I no longer have the ability to back out quietly. (*Begin Sarcasm* Thanks babe. *End Sarcasm*)

So, every time she comes over to my place from work, we go down to the track and run a mile or two, steadily increasing our pace or distance.

The best parts were:

1.) hilariously snide-but-good-natured comments from spectators as she totally smoked me, and 2.) slyly watching her limber up before and limber down after (I have no shame regarding this, as I am dating a total fox).

The worst parts were 1.) Running, and 2.) Also Running.

My complaints aside, I was actually in better shape than I had originally anticipated. *Begin Bragging* I’ve lost quite a bit of weight in the last 7 months *End Bragging*, and it was driven home to me how different I look when my brother, who I haven’t seen since Christmas, looked at me like I was a different person when I saw him on Friday. Feels good, bro.

So, anyway, fast forward to Saturday morning, and we’re in the third heat at 9:40 a.m. The trail is like 15 minutes out of town, a lot farther than I was expecting but not unreasonable, and my mom is kind enough to drop me and the lady off, then pick us up afterwards in the pickup truck (since, y’know, we’ll apparently be covered in mud and stuff).

It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, it’s not balls-meltingly hot, and, surprise surprise, a good friend of mine is in the same heat as us! What more can a guy ask for, huh?

After an introduction by our multiple-championship-winning host himself (doing a pretty good job as MC; the man knows how to rile up a crowd) and a pyrotechnic mishap that started a few of the heats off with more of a smoky fizzle than an actual bang, we’re off into the woods.

The first thing we come up against after a quarter-mile jog is three of these guys:

This is apparently known as a “Jersey Barrier”

We hop over them, then almost immediately get introduced to something we’re going to become intimately familiar with for the next 2.5 miles:

This happened more than once, lemme tell you

Mud. There was mud friggin’ evverwherr. After the first leap, your shoes end up about 5-pounds heavier due to water, but with every slogging step you’re picking up several ounces of silt that seems to lodge itself in the most irritating areas possible, adding another couple of pounds.

A surprisingly accurate representation

And yet, shoes full of mini-beaches, on we slog.

Next is something kinda like one of these guys:

Picture it at more of an angle, with no rock-climbing hand holds,
and periodic spaces between the slats

Easy peasy, except for my enormous feet which didn’t fit in between the slats, so I’m climbing this thing like one of those wall-scaling goats.

Apparently these spider-like goats have nothing to do with my previously stated fears regarding spider-goats, but this coincidence
is getting my fight-or-flight juices flowing, lemme tell you

Over the wall, then more climbing, then more mud, then a rope “bridge” (actually a rope suspended over the water with another rope about 6-feet above it and you’ve got to shimmy across; I failed the shimmy and got more soaked), then more mud, and more mud, and a rope ladder, and slogging, and mud.


Throughout this whole thing, we’re jogging up and down hills and around corners and slipping on ground that isn’t quite mud but doesn’t have all the purchase of actual not-muddy dirt. I was (surprisingly) better at the running and my lady was better at the obstacles (she’s a slippery one, that girl-o-mine) and we stopped to wait for each other, so our times weren’t what they could have been, but this event had always been more of a “let’s just finish it” than a timed event so we didn’t mind.

Finally, the last half-mile is almost a straight-up jog, capped by a balance beam made up of three telephone poles laid end to end in a zig-zag pattern, then the one obstacle that I was better at than my girl: muddy pits and slimy hills. It looked kinda like this:


The “—“s are level ground, “v”s are filled with water that washed most of the mud off and the “^”s are the dirt that they’d taken out of the “v”s. I don’t know if they started out completely frictionless, but by the time we got to them, the “^”s, they were so slimy and packed in that it was dern-near impossible to get any purchase on them, so people ended up perched completely still on the “^”s for fear that they’s slide back into the “v”s, and that was where I eeked out my victory: for some reason, I got in there after her and got out before her, and crossed the finish line (after leaping over the last obstacle, a line of fire!) a solid couple seconds ahead.


And she followed close behind…


… but I still claimed victory.

I look ridiculous, but the amount of fun I had was evident, I think

It was excellent. 10/10 Rating, Would Slog Through Again. And you may notice a complete lack of Sarcasm in that statement.

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