The Resolutions - The Zombie RunWhat are The Resolutions?https://plus.google.com/u/0/109410438942075178330/posts/1F2vQW2V7Kk
This month the original goal was to train for a "Warrior Dash" -- a 5k with obstacles and a sort-of viking theme. But when Lillian discovered there would a "Zombie Run" within striking distance, I switched the plan to that.
The official name of the event was "Run for Your Lives". It's 5k, with crazy (really crazy!) obstacles and, oh yeah, people in full-on zombie makeup. You wear a flag belt with three flags on it, and the zombies try to grab your flags. To find out whether I survived the zombies, read on.
I have to start with my training plan. Back during last month (Style Month https://plus.google.com/109410438942075178330/posts/2Cr44kGPZCh
) I resolved to run 50 miles in training. Turns out, this is not that difficult of a goal, so long as you run a few miles every morning and longer on weekends. So I made it with more than a week to spare, even with a flu that kept me from running for a week.
Training mistakes: I should've actually done more hill training. Normally I like to run in Griffith Park, with all the hills. The zombie run turned out to be exactly like that terrain, and it began with an epically brutal hill. Second mistake: I should've played some touch football. A big part of the course is avoiding zombies taking your flags, which is all about sprinting and quick changes of direction.
So, the day. Lillian and I got up early and drove through some spitting rain to a park outside of Temecula. The event turned out to be enormous, with 6,000+ runners participating, hundreds of zombie actors, volunteers, spectators (like Lillian) and some poor thrash metal bands that were playing on a giant stage for about four runners.
After checking in, I lined up with my "wave". You are put inside one of three dark tunnels labeled "Appetizer," "Entree," and "Dessert". I went in the middle, selected by judging the fitness of those around me. They ended up making good bait.
At the top of the big hill at the beginning of the course were the first zombies. I got around them no problem. Then there was a long stretch of the course with no zombies or obstacles. But we didn't know that, so every blind turn in the course meant people slowing down cautiously to check if they were about to run right into zombies. As it was, we got through one run of zombies and ended up at a fork in the trail. Our defacto leader had become a runner dressed as Abraham Lincoln (Zombie AND Vampire Slayer?). Another runner, dressed as a National Guardsman -- or maybe a real guardsman, for all I know -- addressed him as "Mr. President".
To the left of this fork was what appeared to be a wall of zombies. The trail was not marked off to the right, so we all went thataway. Too bad no runners were dressed as Admiral Akbar, because we should have known -- it was a trap! Around a blind turn of the trail was a sign that said Dead End. The zombies had herded us right where they wanted us.
I managed to run out through them, leaping over another fallen runner for the second time already in the run. (A lot of people were tripping while executing zombie-juking maneuvers. Many ankles were twisted and groins pulled, especially when it got muddy.)
The first obstacle came pretty late in the course, about half-way through by my estimation. It was the most fun -- a series of muddy hills that you had to scramble up, then slide down. There was no going down in a controlled manner, and at the bottom awaited a muddy pit, which had to be waded through to get to the next hill. Repeat six times.
By the end of that, I was gloriously exhausted. My glasses were half-splattered in mud-water. And I was looking at a run of zombies as far as the eye could see. I held back, waiting for a big group to build up, then charged...
All flags intact, but soon we were funneled into a bottleneck, again filled with zombies. These zombies meant business, even chasing you and stealing your flags off your back. I made it almost all the way through this run when -- wham, wham! -- two zombies came at me, grabbing a flag each.
There were several more runs of zombies and a maze obstacle. Having one flag was actually an advantage, since I could wear it to one side and just try to keep that side of my body on the outside of a zombie run.
About 2/3 of the way through was the course's second water station. I wasn't thirsty, so I opted not to stop. In retrospect, a mistake. Not because I wished I had water, but because the group I was with was now small. We didn't know it, but the course was going to be all zombies, mud and obstacles from then on out.
At the next zombie field, I saw a clever trick. Just as we charged, a zombie who had been hiding in the shrubbery just off the trail lurched out.
I went into the center of the trail to avoid him, thus exposing my flag. It was gone in a flash -- I'm not even sure what zombie got it. But once I had lost my last flag, it took me a moment to decide what to do.
I was no longer running for survival. I decided to go for time. I dove into the next obstacle, a cabin-like structure which had to be entered through a hole the size and shape of a window. Inside was pitch dark and filled with smoke. I could see wires were hanging down from the ceiling. The wires were live! As I was taking some painful shocks, people were shouting. "It's electrified! Get down! Get down!"
I dropped to my belly and crawled under the wires. I'm pretty sure this is where my knees got all shredded, but at the time I didn't feel a thing. Adrenaline.
There was another run of zombies, in the most slippery mud yet, a crawl under barbed wire and then another run of zombies, among some sort of moguls like you see in skiing.
At this point is where spectators could start seeing us, and I looked to my left and saw Lillian cheering for me, which gave me renewed strength. There were several more obstacles, including a giant slide into a water pit and an electrified fence which you had to crawl under. (I didn't test this one.)
The few people around me who still had a flag did not make it through the final zombie runs, which featured the most evil and rage-virus-infected bunch yet.
I finished strong and was immediately processed to remove my belt, my tracking marker and get my survivor medal. (I guess everyone got a survivor medal, not just people who made it through with a flag. Honestly, I doubt anyone was finishing with flags, given how thick the zombies were at the end of the course, and how the mud meant you couldn't really do any fancy moves to avoid them.)
I was filthy. But I didn't feel tired or sore. I felt like I could've run it again. It was really fun. Great obstacles and the makeup and acting on the zombies was terrific, really selling the idea that you are running for your lives.
Now the complaint. My tracking marker must've been dysfunctional, because my results didn't show up online. So I can't say for certain where I finished. I do have the pictures to prove I ran the course. And from the time stamps, I can roughly estimate that I finished the course in the top 40% of entrants. I'll take it, considering I only trained for a month.
All in all, I really enjoyed fitness month, and it was a bonus that it included something so random and awesome as a zombie run.