I have always thought that I was brought up in a safe bubble where I can be always protected, cherished and nourished. Cannot complain really as it is a truly comfortable zone, literally. However life is not as sterile as I have always been. Although I still carry a hand wash in my purse, I finally decided to let it go and get dirty!
No my car did not break down and I had to push it for a hundred kilometers, although it easily could have been my case (giggling). I sighed up for Raw Challenged I mentioned about before. I had no idea what this fitness challenge is going to be like. Therefore I browsed Facebook talking to different racing communities as well as Raw Challenge, Obstacle Racers Australia and many others. I finally got something – an invite to the race practice weekend in Doyalson which is something about 2 hours from Sydney. I had no idea what to expect. To be precise I have been running like crazy the week before the trip thinking I will need to get my “running” fitness level high enough to at least be able to complete the course. Interestingly the race prep was not only about fitness (and not really about it to be honest) but mental state.
For a control freak and clean freak and a total princess like me it was “awful” or PERFECT 🙂 I picked another very excited racer up on the way to the race site (who made my trip so much fun); we got lost but we made it to Doyalson at last where I met many very interesting people.
Now I must say my trip buddy has already done Tough Mudder – the challenge I initially got interested in. Although certain obstacles Tough Mudder includes in its track totally discouraged me from starting my obstacles racer “career” I am planning to sign up for it now!:) Meanwhile I decided to go softer and my choice fell on Raw Challenge. I hope the guys won’t take it as an offence!
In fact, they should definitely not because it was TOUGH! I am much more chilled about actual running now by the way. Although I do 10km in just under 2 hours I am not too bad and can sprint for a while as well. What scares me the most is breaking something, bleeding throughout the course or getting up so high I cry and can’t get down (giggling)! Ultimate fears! I believe that human’s brain needs to be taught. Let me explain what I mean. When you learn how walk you experience a fair number of failures at the very beginning of your journey. If you tried to learn a foreign language you know how hard it often gets at the beginning. When I first sat behind the wheel, I lost 6 kg in a week because of the excitement and fear. The bottom line if you have never done something your brain does not have any information of how this task needs to be done either it is eating with a spoon, going on the toilet or learning physics. And there I go, The Wall! One of the first obstacles on my way is three walls – a baby wall (about 2 meters or at least felt like it), the middle one and the highest one. In the heat of +40 in the bush all I see is burning my skin Sun rays and those crazy walls. I have never had to climb a straight wall (or anything really) hence I had no idea how that gotta be done. In fact I was sure it is impossible. And believe me or not I saw guys pretty much flying over the walls. AMAZING! And here I go! I approached the baby wall first, one of the racers offered me his knees. I took the offer, climbed the knee while being hold by two other guys; and there we go I am on the top. Sitting on the top thinking that now I need to hop over and lend on the ground (preferably safely:)). Boom! Done! And I felt strong! But there it comes – the tallest wall. Again I get a knee help but then some strong shoulders to step on as well. Here we go I am on the top! Boom! And here the fear comes. It is really high and I need to flip my leg over and jump. I am sure I am about to fall and I do not even know how it is better to jump not to break both legs. All I think is OMG Why Am I Doing It, Just Give Up And Go Home! Fear is a bloody powerful feeling. I eventually jump hitting my right hand thump (you should have seen the size of it after the fall), both palms getting both of them bruised (I had no idea they CAN bruise) also leaving several scratches and the entire length of my leg bruise on my both legs. Thank God my mother did not see me (giggling).
The Wall obstacle was tackled. It was scary, hard physically mentally and physically. Note: Upper Body Needs A Lot Work To Be Done. Chin ups are going to be my number one friends. Chest needs much more attention and shoulders with arms a little more work.
The pain of the freshly earned bruised was reasonably hard. If I stopped making jokes about my blue hands I’d most likely fall on the ground and cry. Bloody painful. Everyone where really shocked how easily I bruise. Do not forget it is 23 years in a bubble before I arrived to Sydney 🙂 I do bruise easily though. A hard enough grab and I am left with blue spots for almost a month. It is just the way I am.
Now enough of blood! Mud time. It was +40 on the day, hard to imagine where the mud would come from. Therefore there was not much mud. Couple of pits with mud completed the entire course. It will be different on the day but it was the way it was on the weekend. In such heat even princess would like some mud to cool down. Here I go! My new $200 running shoes are now submerged into a puddle with dust, mud and whatever the hell knows is there. I cannot say I totally loved it but again never done it before and hard to judge very first feelings.
And here is some fun! I do not remember the name of the obstacle but you hold to the robes above you while walking on the robe below, crossing the mud pit. To be frank I was imagining there were crocks therefore a fall might end up in some serious injuries so I ran through as fast as I could (of course my fast is nothing close to the racers fast but it was fast enough for my first ever time).
Monkey bars! OMG monkey bars is something I could never do, EVER! I just cannot lift 75 kg of my fatty body 🙂 Many could but some got their palms skinned. A pretty discouraging event for Princess Anna 😛 Regardless the scary looks of skinless racers’ hands I have already gotten pretty bruises and could not hold on to the bars especially trying to carry such massive weight. So I watched the rest effortlessly completing the course. One of the guys in fact advised to engage shoulders instead of arm which I have never thought of before – something to try out in the gym. Couple of female racers were not tall enough to get a good grab on the bars so the boys brought a tyre. It was a hell of a tyre! 🙂 We found it dumped in the water next day – had to get it out of course. And here I am with sore palms and camera in my hands. Slack but it is all I could do on the second day.
Now, many of the racers have done several challenges and fairly familiar with obstacles, training routine and generally reasonably fit. Many people in general live fitter life style then others. It was very interesting to listen to everyone’s story, point of views, pepceptions on life, things and other people…
It is all about people. raw Challenge and many others is all about team work and helping each other. When I was deciding on joining the idea, I was sure it would be filled with steroids soaked, ignorant pricks trying to win the race running over the weakest. Although some people do arrive first somehow everyone help everyone. If you are stuck you are most likely to get pulled out or pushed a little. I was amazed to experience it. Again, my brain has not felt before and had to grow extra wires for this special occasion.
I have many phobias. Darkness is another very uncomfortable state of mind I usually try to avoid. Raw Challenge like any other is about combating your fears. Here I go – a black tunnel I need to climb up. Right before this obstacle I kept wondering why one of the racers is wearing Skins, it is +40 don’t forget. Well, the intensity of scratching I earned on this obstacle made me go to the shops and check the Skins out. Man, I am getting a pair or two next week! 🙂
As much as I am scared of heights and darkness I am scared of pain. When I see next obstacles (while already hurting) all I am thinking about is It Is Going To Hurt. I was sure I was going to fall really silly and hurt already burning body parts. And yes I fell but I got caught by the fellow racers and pulled on the top of the obstacles. Boom! Completed! I must say it is possible to run on the top. Just need to believe and try again and again.
As soon as you tackle one obstacle another one is already waiting. This is why running is not really an issue. Although on the day they do get you to run around a little more. But we did not have anyone rushing us from one tree to another so we cruised from one obstacle to another, trying the out. This net fun look really cool, doesn’t it. This is what I thought. Easy! As soon you are on the top OMG It Is So High. I was thinking Do Not Cry PLEASE Do Not Cry. The net does not sit stable either. As soon as you are to flit the leg over on other side the whole thing moves. SCARY as! Boom! Completed!
We went to the pub after full of games day where I had a chance to chat to everyone getting an idea of what kind of people I was surrounded by. We got back to the site to play freezby and sing some songs sitting around the light source. I was to camp! And my brain went OMG I Should Have Gone Home 🙂
Now I want to say that I was absolutely not prepared neither for camping nor for a hot muddy of day in the bush. I had no idea what to expect hence arrived like a typical blonde, or at least I felt that way. Secondly the hardest bit of the course if tacking issues and fears. I will definitely be back if they arranged another muddy weekend away. Also do not forget to have fun! I took many moments to serious especially the pain and the madly swollen finger… It is not deadly! Of course each single obstacle can be a great danger if you leave your brain at home but there are people to help and support. It will be just fine!
Since I have grown up in the protected and sterile bubble it is very hard to step out of it and not being hurt. You always will whatever your bubble is. But trust me you will LOVE what you find outside the cocoon.
Enjoy the challenge! Embrace your feelings whatever they are! Boom! Completed!