Am I a Warrior Yet?

By Teralyn Sell, PhD

Webster defines warrior as a person who fights in battles and is known for having courage and skill. This past weekend I engaged in my own psychological battle to become a warrior…of sorts.

So this weekend I engaged in my very first Warrior Dash.  For those of you who don’t know what this is I will gladly tell you.  A warrior dash is a 3+ mile run with 12 military style obstacles to go through (well, generally climb over or army crawl under and get muddy).  At any rate I finished my first one.  Since doing this was so far out of my comfort zone, as well as physical league, I thought I would take a minute or two and report my journey and findings.

Several years ago I started jogging with a dear friend.  We started with a 5k and then challenged ourselves to a half marathon.  Once those were achieved the running bug struck me hard core and I ran several more half marathons in a short period of time.  This was until a particular half marathon came a calling (Oshkosh half marathon to be exact).  The race was physically brutal for me.  The weather was terrible and because of that I woke up defeated already.  I went to the race and had my husband pick me up just after mile 8 (or at least I thought).  Turns out mile 10 was just around the corner.  I had missed an entire mile and was almost done before I threw in the towel.  At any rate, I lost my psychological running mind and have since then done some struggling to find my groove again.

In an effort to get back my mojo I talked to a few friends and we all signed up for the warrior dash this year.  I really didn’t think much of it until the weekend of the race when I found I would be running through fire!  Wait…what?!  Well it was too late to back out anyway so I sucked it up and went to the race.  I am certainly not in the best shape of my life, but went into this with the attitude of “I’m going to at least attempt every obstacle”.  I talked to my father about the course and he stated, “be sure to yell Semper Fi do or die! At the end of each obstacle”.  I laughed it off and half heartedly agreed.

I shouldn’t have worried so much about the running as my brain created the biggest obstacle for me to overcome.  There were 3 of us that stuck together and I will forever be thankful of that.  The rest of the group that I was with had run ahead as they were much faster (and younger).  I thought I had would just meet them at the end of the race.  But, there they were standing at the other side of the first obstacle, encouraging us.  They did this every time, which to me was absolutely amazing. I almost cried when I saw them for the first time.

The first obstacle literally found me stuck in the mud.  My team mate in front of me was stuck good which caused me to get stuck as well.  I thought, “this is obstacle one and I just about lost my shoe what else is gonna go wrong!”. Our other team mate jumped in the pit to help our fellow team mate get unstuck.   The remaining challenges were about conquering my fear of heights as well as fear of being drowned due to exhaustion as well as relying on others for a helping hand and for emotional support.  My thought processes were changing from fear to “I can do this!” as I went from obstacle to obstacle.

We were almost done and psychological warfare crept back in my head. One of the last obstacles was climbing up and over a very tall rope net.  Originally I looked at it and walked around to the other side, given up, head down.  I stood there for a minute and heard my mind say, “Are you kidding me?  Just do it!”.  So I ran back to the other side and shimmied up that thing in no time, Sat on the top and for the first time remembered to yell “Semper Fi do or die!” I felt on fire and full of energy!  I even heard someone say that I was going really fast which was ultra encouraging.  I was re-energized to the finish.  I lept over fire and  swam through a long mud pit to end the challenge.  I kept thinking, “wow…I did this thing!”

After many team pictures, hugs and high fives, my adrenaline was pumping all the way home.  Two days after the race my body is aching and I am bruised up and down my arms and legs….but the psychological warfare within myself is officially over!  I feel free from the pain I had in my heart after that darn Oshkosh half disaster.  I cannot believe it took this long to work through it.  But work through it I did!  Generally I had been the encourager….but this time it took a team of warriors to encourage me!

So am I a warrior yet?  I would have to say that I am on my way….but I have some unfinished business to do.  My true warrior status will be proudly earned after I have the courage to conquer the Oshkosh half marathon in 2014!  In the mean time I will revel in my Warrior Dash accomplishment while yelling, “Semper Fi…do or die!”  Thanks Dad!