I had a little bit of fun this Saturday, but to keep in good form, things are always funny.

I’ve mentioned previously that I have been trying to regain some semblance of shape for a while now. I will never forget how out of shape I allowed myself to get and how I got started. In fact, looking at my closet is always a reminder in itself because I don’t own much clothes anymore. during my relocation I minimized what items I brought with me, and by the time I left in the end of February, most of my clothes didn’t fit anymore. Not only did I want to be healthy and look better, I also wanted to impress a girl. Three very strong motivators for any type of change.

You gotta go there to come back. – Stereophonics, Maybe Tomorrow

When I originally started running I barely did .4 miles as a total workout. I remember being exhausted from that. Bad food, smoking, booze and no exercise seems to do that to you. Go figure.

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I like the ability to look at the past workouts because it reminds me how far I’ve come. I’ve gone on significantly longer runs, but my latest workouts look much different. You just shift the decimal.

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These days I’ve gotten back in touch with my love for running. Sure, some days it’s tough to come home from work, walk the dog, change and head out for a run but most of the time I do it regardless. Not only do I enjoy the run, but it helps with any anxiety/stress and, well, I like how I look today versus, say, two years ago. Sure, I’m not in the shape I want to be in yet, but I don’t have the same insecurities I used to. In fact, recently I found one of the pics I took to track my progress back in January and compared it to one I took in May. It became a post in my blog because as it tends to be, it was progressive enough that I hadn’t noticed the difference in a little less than 4 months (of course I post this as I finish off a glass of wine with full intentions of at least one refill).

I finally had been toying with the idea of doing my first 5K, but I was intimidated. Even when I was young doing track (math isn’t my strong suit, but I estimate that it was about 57 years ago) I usually stuck with sprints: 100, 200 or 4×400. When I played football I would always run with the linemen to avoid having to put in more effort. My older brother eventually simply signed us up for the 5K so I had no excuses. I felt confident I wouldn’t die on a 5K, but I was intimidated by this 5K Foam Fest since it included some type of obstacles. I really had no clue how well or how poorly my body could hold up to it. I have basically no arches and at least 3 injuries from my knees to ankles that make it tricky to do things.

This run required that you sign a waiver. Having worked in an area heavy on contracts, details and shady behavior and technicalities I read it all. I laughed at the fact that you had to agree to not sue even in the event of negligence. That was incredible. I guess they could hide a land mine somewhere along the trail just for fun and not be sued. Hell, since part of the waiver also had you allowing them to use your photos/video, they could also record it and distribute it. The waiver, as it is, is a requirement so for the pleasure of running you must have it. It’s a bit shameless, but screw it.

The day started with me having to meet at my brother’s house so we could car pool. Out of character, I found myself running late – the traffic in the DMV area (I’m speaking like a local) sucks gigantic triceratops ‘nads. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is or what time it is – you are guaranteed to find traffic. What I found odd was that we could go a few miles in heavy traffic and suddenly it would pick up. I was unable to see any accidents or anything that would cause traffic. The jam seemed to just happen and disappear for no good reason. Regardless, I made it to my brother’s house and we eventually made it out.

I really wanted to wear something silly for this event, but I didn’t have enough time. I did, however, make it a point to match my blue running socks to the blue trim of my shorts to the blue in my shirt to the  blue of my sunglasses. Flashy and Fly Lizzle.

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In an unusual turn of events, I ran late to my brother’s house. Once I arrived it didn’t take us too long to head out. It did turn out that the drive was far longer than we had anticipated. We accounted for less than an hour drive and it turned out to be about 2. Of course we ran into traffic which was so bad at one point that my brother suggested we turn around as we expected to not make the run on time. I refused to turn around, though. We had already gone through so much trouble that I figured if we missed the run we could at least find a decent place to grab coffee (scrapple, anyone?).

We managed to make it and although our wave started at 12:30, we were allowed to participate with the 1:00 one. We barely had any time so we were jogging to the starting line. On our way over we could hear an announcer giving instructions to contestants and then it hit me: This was going to take us at least 30 minutes and I needed to pee. I didn’t care if they allowed me to run or not, but there was no chance I could go half an hour without peeing. I jogged right into a port-a-potty. We did manage to reach the starting line just before they started. We were back on track.

The start had some weird contraption that dropped foam on the contestants. Pretty cool. We were told that there would be photographers throughout the course, so we were to keep that in mind (look like you’re having a good time so we can use your photos, I guess). I felt a little less apprehensive when I realized there were people of all ages, shapes and sizes. I mean, that’s not to say they would complete the course and wouldn’t keep over, but it made me feel better. This was, after all, about fun and not competition.

The obstacles were not as intimidating as they appeared in the website, but they were still tricky. There was as set of 3 wood barricades that you had to climb over. Easy enough, I thought. There was a section with some sort of lines where you would go “over and under” alternating each one. Not too bad. You had to cross some inflatable area that had some giant fake lemons – no problem. There was something like a slip ‘n slide sitting on a mudpit – there was a slight issue as it wasn’t watered well enough for you to skid down all the way. A section also came up where lines were criss-crossed and one had to high-step through. I nearly busted my ass on this one because I went a little too quickly. This meant that I had to make very quick decisions on where to stick my feet next and some places had very small holes. I managed to complete it without hurting myself.

One of the sections had some lines above a mud pit and you had to belly crawl through. No problem. I tried to do so as quickly as possible. Another area had some sort of platform floating on water where you had to run quickly or the water would make you fall. I managed to get through it as well. We reached a giant mud pit, but it evidently was tricky (as evidenced by people standing in the middle of it figuring out how to get out – one lady opted to walk around it). I heard that the best thing to do was to sprint through it as going slowly would make it nearly impossible to get through. Once the area was clear I sprinted through. They were right. As long as you kept moving quickly and high stepping, you wouldn’t get stuck. Or so I thought. Right at the last minute my left shoe was sucked from my foot – I  immediately turned so that I wouldn’t lose sight of where the shoe went. The consistency of the mud left no marking as to where the shoe went. I thought I would see something, but couldn’t. My brother and I stuck our arms elbow deep into the mud trying to locate the shoe.

Not long after, but tons of mud later, my brother came up with the shoe. We weren’t sure it was mine as it was completely covered in mud, but I would take my chances. It wasn’t a guarantee as there was a single sneaker sitting outside the pit and it seemed to have been left behind. I tried to exit the pit and couldn’t. My right shoe was stuck in the mud. I pulled with as much strength as I could and it would not budge as my brother looked on. I had no option but to wiggle my foot free of the shoe and brace myself so that I could use all my weight to pry the shoe from the pit. I finally got it out. I was able to keep my socks on and I left the pit. I put on the shoes and the mud oozed out as it ran out of space. It was a gross sensation for my toes, but I had to keep going.

Water stations were great too. We asked where the vodka station was as we sipped our water. They must have heard it a million times, but it was funny to us regardless. We reached a very tall inflatable section where you had to slide down. A bit intimidating as I am not fond of heights, but I wasn’t backing out. You barely have time to regardless. “Slide up to the edge, cross your arms and push off” is all you hear before you slide. Once again this would have been more pleasant if it had been properly watered – the rubber hurt a bit from it.

Once it concluded we headed to the wash stations to change, had a quick bite and a drink. It was a great experience for a first 5K AND I got a medal. I love getting trinkets. I heard the company will do another one in DC. I’ll be there too. I have another 5K coming up this Thursday with my job and although it’s a straight forward run with no obstacles or hills, I’ll be there and will try to have fun with it too. I’ll keep you posted.

Run, Lizzle. Run!

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