It was getting hot…. But I was ready. I was at the start line of my first obstacle race, the Raw Challenge, taking place in the picturesque Numinbah Valley on a cloudless, sunny day on the Gold Coast.
I felt quite nervous. It was a combination of the feeling of the unknown, as well as the pressure I put on myself. Although it was not technically a race, in my mind it was a race, and I ensured that I was positioned right up the front of my wave. No group of women in tutus and headbands was going to slow me down!
I could see the first obstacle ahead of me as I was waiting for our wave to start. Would I trip over the first obstacle?? Surely not, as I had been training specifically for this race for the past 4 months. My training consisted of kettlebell circuits with 200 – 400m sprints, sandbag workouts, hill sprints, running, as well as weights and body weight exercises. No time to reflect on that now. We were off. I took off at a decent pace and managed to stay at the front of the pack. The first obstacle was fairly straight forward, as was the next few. Crawling under ropes (note to self – do not wear hair in a high bun as this gets caught when trying to crawl under ropes!), climbing over walls – I was loving it and feeling like I was getting through each obstacle without too much difficulty!
Then I approached some large wooden reels, which were quite high for me being a short girl. I ran at them and threw my arms up to pull myself over, however, I have issues with my left shoulder and it dislocates very easily. As I was pulling myself over the first reel I felt my shoulder dislocate out of place. I had no choice but to use my protocol to put it back in place. The pain wasn’t too bad as I am fairly used to it now. I approached the next reel and the same thing happened. Again, I managed to put my shoulder back in place and carried on. One more reel to go. A friendly guy who I was chatting to at the start line noticed what had happened and assisted me with the final reel. As I said, the pain was not too bad and there was no way I was going to stop!
I continued on. The rope climbs were challenging but fun. I have to admit that I was not stopping to help anybody out, which is not true to the spirit of the Raw Challenge, but I am a competitive person by nature. I was determined to get through this obstacle race as quickly as possible. As I was the fourth wave out on the course, some of the obstacles were backed up with people. If (and when) I do another race I would aim to start in the first wave to avoid this.
The race was going well. I was wadding through mud, running with tyres, climbing through tunnels and running on hilly terrain. I was thinking to myself “This is my thing – this is great!”. I saw other competitors stopping to walk, but that is not my style and I ran between every obstacle.
I got to the final obstacles with the finish line in sight. There was a set of monkey bars over muddy water. I waited my turn and began traversing the monkey bars. It was tough but I felt like I was managing. I was about ¾ of the way across and my arms were feeling fatigued. And then it happened again. My shoulder popped out, this time all the way. I dropped into the muddy water below and tried to get my shoulder back into place by leaning forward and brining my arm forward. It was not working. I tried to pull myself out of the water but I was struggling. I had to get assistance to get out of the water. Once I was out, I thought, “I am so close – I am going to finish this”. I looked down at my left shoulder and could see the deformity that occurs when it is dislocated. I got it back into place, finished the last obstacle and crossed the finish line! I was muddy, my shoulder, in fact my whole left arm felt weak but I had finished!
My first feeling was disappointment. How could I do another race with this shoulder issue? That is something that I will have to figure out. I will most likely make an appointment with a good physiotherapist and find out my options. This is the 6th time in the past 6 months that the left shoulder has dislocated.
In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole race, except the shoulder dislocations. I would do another one in a second but not if I encounter the same issues with my shoulder. It was an all round great experience. In the future I would enter the first wave and I would wear better shoes, as the old shoes I was wearing began to come very loose near the end of the race. If you are thinking about entering an obstacle race I say go for it. Your training needs to include some high intensity circuits with sprints in between and weights or body weight exercises to increase upper body strength. I will provide workouts in future posts.