After having successful completed, that is to say survived, the Warrior Dash with Momma last year, I thought it would be a good idea and parent/child bonding opportunity to have another go at it with the Boy and the Devil.
And so, just before Christmas, last year I signed the three of us up and turned the kids’ registrations into what the Devil quickly described as “the worst present she’d ever received.” Despite my cross country running passion and self-professed success as a young lad, this family is admittedly and decidedly a bunch of non-runners. Perhaps this lack of running prowess as been inherited from Momma’s genes as I can honestly say in over 25 years I can literally count the number of times I’ve seen her in a dead run on the fingers of one hand (and yes, I am excluding my thumb). So when, the Devil opened her gift, of which I was so gosh-darned proud, she exclaimed “I don’t want to do this!” And this was well before she decided to go and let a large hockey opponent break her leg to end her hockey season prematurely. A circumstance which would make her race experience all that much more enjoyable.
And so, last weekend, just five months after her injury, a couple of months after she’d been cleared to begin full-impact activities and with limited “training” we embarked on our little adventure. Training by Boy and I likewise fell under the category of “Limited” despite the best of intentions. I don’t know about you, but I find work, other priorities and general laziness always have a way of messing with intentions. The Devil had participated in a few dryland training sessions I’ve been running once a week for since the end of June for next season’t hockey team. The sessions do include some light impact work and the Devil has noted tenderness around her mended limb, which did not bode well for completing a 5k race up and down hills and over and under obstacles.
The potential for pain and suffering aside, our spirits, including her’s, were high as we prepared our costumes the night before. The Warrior Dash brings out all kinds of characters from dudes dressed in full gladiator regalia to coordinated teams with all manner of themes. Last year’s highlight was a foursome dressed up as a bridal party complete with tuxes, dresses and flowers to boot. This year’s had to be a couple of fellows who strapped blow up sex dolls to their backs as their running companions (now why didn’t I think of that?) Our “look” evolved from simply colour coordinating in white (cuz what else would you wear to run around in the mud) to a retro Osmond family meets 80s Hair Band kinda feel. Homemade white headbands bearing our personal monikers (#imahockeydad, The Boy and The Devil) were complemented by flowing white arm bands fashioned from the same recycled bedsheet. The Boy decided he would be running in simple black compression shorts as a special treat for all the female spectators, while I retrospectively made a tactical error with the decision to wear white longjohns under my red soccer shorts. The longjohns would prove to hold in heat very well, as they were intended, while also providing an excellent mud-sponge. I am sure some will contend my choice of a see-through white “wife beater” (yes, I know the use of this pejorative term will likely gain me some disfavour with my female audience) was likewise misguided. However, I know what I was wearing would not be see-through for very long.
We headed to the starting position where the Devil’s anxiety mounted. The exhortations of a Warrior Dash appointed cheerleader with a mic on the sidelines were doing little to buoy her confidence in the task ahead. I was actually pleased to note the Dash would not begin with a climb directly up the ski hill, as it had the year previous, claiming several early victims who likely didn’t bargain on having to run up a freaking mountain. Ok, not really a mountain in the classic sense, but a steep, ominous hill all the same for those in questionable physical condition. The Boy and I promised the Devil no Warrior would be left behind. Within about a kilometre of the starting the race and after having successfully navigated through the first of a few mud pits, we realized we would be honouring our pledge even earlier than we may have expected as the Devil announced unabashedly “I’m dying…”. Shortly thereafter we entered hilly wooded trails complete with some treacherous footing. I looked back occasionally in hopes of not seeing the Devil tumbling down a hill. To her credit, she soldiered on only blurting out the odd “Who’s dumb idea was this?” Her mood lightened up as we approached the first obstacle and she bounded over it like the proverbial spider monkey she’s been her whole life. She’s always had good upper body strength and balance in spades, so grappling with climbing walls, cargo nets and 2×6 beams were relatively welcome relief from all the damned running we were having to do. It seemed to me there was actually quite a bit more straight hilly running than there was last year. Towards the end of the course, I found some strength to bound up to the top of a fairly long grassy hill where I promptly turned to offer support by shouting “Cmon kids, Daddy loves you,” which had he desired effect of eliciting a few chuckles from those within earshot who were still able to muster a sense of humour.
The final 1/2 kilometre of the course included a welcomed jog down the “mountain”, a quick climb up and over a cargo rope wall, a quasi-dramatic leap over a WALL OF FIRE and a leisurely crawl through a couple of feet of barb-wire covered mud.
After roughly 50 minutes our rag tag trio victoriously scrambled across the finish line and I think I may have noted a brief flash of satisfaction (or maybe it was just overwhelming relief) in the Devil’s eyes. As much as she feigned disdain before, during and after the experience, I’m fairly certain deep down she enjoyed it. In fact, Momma intercepted a collage the Devil shared on Instagram with the caption “Warrior Dash with these awesome guys.” Therein the family bonding moment was deemed a success by yours truly.
Of course, the following two mornings thereafter as I struggled to drag my aching, aging body out of bed I would, with a heaping pile of self-deprecation, ask “Who’s dumb idea was this?”
Now with just over a month before the Devil’s next and final minor hockey season starts, we/she needs to get down to business and get her leg back to where she’s comfortable with the impact. We’ve a few more dryland sessions to go along with work she’s doing at home on her own. I won’t push her, but I will strongly suggest she pushes herself to ensure there’s little to no trepidation when she steps back on the ice. And she’s showing signs of itching to get back at it asking if we can rent ice some time soon. At least part of the Devil’s nickname was borne of her fearlessness, which I’m sure will find her back in the corners grinding for loose pucks in no time. After all, she’s a Warrior!