I do have art coming! I just haven’t gotten to my scanner yet. But for now, here’s the tale from my experience at the Run For Your Lives 5k last year. :)
I Ran From Zombies… A True Story.
So I ran a 5k.
Save the cheers of empowerment for just a moment because this story does get weirder. Lets start at the beginning.
The 5k I ran was called Run For Your Lives. It’s a novelty 5k for charity that travels throughout the United States. It’s a 5k obstacle course where the obstacles are mainly… and here’s’ the weird part… Zombies.
I kid you not.
People dress up as zombies and attempt to keep you from finishing this 5k. The runners are given flag belts much like the kind you’d find in flag football games and the zombies attempt to grab these flags. When you’re out of flags, you’re infected. You can still finish the course, but you finish it as a sudo zombie. Being the nerd I am, I really had to try this.
The adventure began almost a year ago with my friend Schellen. We started the couch to 5k program to even comprehend doing this sort of thing. This was a grand idea since both of us are out of shape and we wanted to run a few feet without completely wheezing ourselves to death. Keep in mind we’re both asthmatics with old ankle injuries. Oh yes, just call us Speedy and the Flash. I really believe the other joggers around us snickered when they saw us trotting by, panting like puppies on a hot summer’s day. Regardless of our set backs, we made a go of it, which led to one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life.
On October 21st 2012, Schellen, my husband Max, and myself showed up in Temecula California on a rainy morning to test our prowess against the zombie hordes. My husband was only there for moral support mind you. He shattered his ankle years ago in Navy boot camp and has been unable to run or walk extreme distances since. So I armed him with my camera to take plenty of photos of our humiliation. Schellen and I registered, picked up our flag belts, then got ready to rumble. I’ll admit I was nervous. After all, it was not only my first 5k but also my first time chased by mobile zombies.
The two of us headed to the starting line Schellen and I were herded into a makeshift chute made from garbage bags and wood labeled entrée’. That was encouraging. We were shut in to our cubby with some rather frightening rusty metal. It was akin to an adult sized baby gate which actually made the entire situation ten times creepier than it really should have been. There was a massive nervous energy in the air not only from Schellen and I but the other 150 people who were shoved into this little chute getting ready to run. People pacing, jumping, twitching, and all of them deathly silent with tension. I really couldn’t take it anymore so I threw up my hands and screamed; “WOO! Who’s ready to die!?” That was when Schellen confessed to me that she was claustrophobic. To keep her from clawing my face off in a panic, I reminded her the walls were just plastic and she could tear them open and fight her way out the need be. I also pointed out the various tears in the bags to show her it probably had been done before. It seemed to help somewhat. The flag waver for the run came by the announce that there were ten seconds until we were off. We all stood in anticipation counting down and in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, the monster baby gate was opened, theatrical smoke was blown out at us and the horn blew announcing ‘Run Like Hell!. So we did.
The theatrical smoke was a nice touch. It disoriented me enough to make me nervous as well as make me want to run faster. Unfortunately the smoke cleared to reveal a insanely steep hill we had to hike up. I skidded to a halt, turned to the flag man and shouted “Are you KIDDING me?!” But I really didn’t use the word kidding. I might have used a very unsavory, unladylike like word. And I may have repeated that word several times throughout the race. The flag man just smirked and waved me along. I walked my way up in protest. Running on flat ground is enough for me. Uphill is like asking me to juggle babies while riding a unicycle. Honestly, after climbing that dang thing, I found the rest of the obstacles to be a piece of cake.
After several minutes of panting and swearing, all accented by the sound of my husband’s laughter echoing from the nearby hill (the pictures he took were not pretty) we made it to the peak, and our first round of zombies. Schellen and I stared at them for a long while with a long exchange of “Who goes first you go first no YOU go first!” before I decided I best go first. I was the least winded. That was when I discovered my untapped talent for dodging zombies. Seriously, when you need something run across a horde of zombies, I am your girl! I vaulted over a bush, tucked and rolled, and managed to get past with my flags in tact. First batch down. The second batch approached and I sprinted like I was on fire. Unfortunately they snagged a flag from me, and two from Schellen. The third batch we got through Scott free. I was a freaking super hero! We were luckily blessed with a long empty stretch of road that we half ran, half walked.
Ahead of us we found a lady walking all by herself looking a bit defeated. This was a grand time for a team up. Her name was Michelle and her son, a marine, who was doing the run with her took off to test his endurance. Being a good mom, she let her son take off and show his stuff. So she was on her own until we stumbled into her. And behold! The three zombi-teers were born! The three of us made fast friends and decided that we would all cross that finish line together come Hell or High water. Our alliance was born! It was a slow-moving alliance, but a stubborn one!
We had a few more hoards to pass, which we managed to with some effort. We were walking on air. How hard could this be? We were complete super women! …until the first non zombie obstacle, two huge mud pits that were about 6 feet across. Now I’m not a lady who is afraid to get dirty but I really don’t go out of my way to wallow in waist deep mud puddles. Schellen and I stared at the murky water a moment then linked hands, counted to three, and dove for it. The puddle wasn’t so much waist deep as chest deep. Oh and it was cold. You know that sensation got get when you put on a wet bathing suit? Imagine that but more filthy. The squeals were epic to say the least. When we crawled out on the other side, we were feeling rather proud of ourselves. That was until we saw Michelle who just walked along the perimeter of the pits and made it across clean as a whistle. I think it was her motherly instincts finding the least dirty path as possible while her children made a mess. Schellen and I were obviously the children.
The race continued on and we moved on our way, dodging and ducking the undead masses when possible. We came upon a maze obstacle, where Schellen suddenly froze up in fear. Michelle brilliantly threw her sweatshirt over Schellen’s head and we lead her blindly like a horse threw the maze. I may or may not have accidentally lead her into a wall. But I swear it was an accident! At the end of the maze, the three of us scrappy heroes were faced with an entire field of zombies. Schellen told me “You go first! You’re fastest!” with the intentions of me plowing the field. I took a breath, steeled my courage, and sprinted across the dusty field, jumping, ducking, and screaming so many obscenities, I probably made the entire U.S. Navy blush. Then there she was; that little tiny zombie girl in purple striped tights. She was small. She was fast. She was not going to leave me alone. I dodged left, she was on my tail. I dodged right, there she was again. We stopped and locked gazes. I narrowed my eyes and told her; “My, you’re a slippery little minx.”
She blinked “What?” She asked.
Then I dodged to the left and ran around her with my arms in the air. I heard the zombie beside her yell “Go get her!” To which my stripe stocking opponent replied “No. Let her go. She was a worth adversary.” Around the middle of the track we were feeling confident. I had two flags left, Schellen had one. Michelle unfortunately lost all her flags in the last run through the zombie gauntlet but she was still sticking with us as backup. The three of us dashed across the field towards what looked like a small house built out of ply wood surrounded by a moat of mud. We kicked it into high gear and sprinted. I was feeling a bit on the invincible side so I vaulted across the moat, hearing the theme from Chariots of Fire in my head while airborne. My triumph ended when I didn’t stick the landing. I fell on my right hand wrong and felt my thumb twist backward, hearing a faint crack. The rest of me nose dove into the pile of mud. I looked up from the lovely pile of slop my face buried itself into long enough to see a zombie snag my second flag. Another long string of curse words was let out as I held my hand by the wrist, hissed from the pain, and climbed through the window of the plywood house.
Now this structure became affectionately knows as the electric house. Why? Because there were long wires hanging from the ceiling that if touched would shock you. Not in a painful way of course, more in a cheeky and somewhat unpleasant sort of way. We discovered this when the people who came in the window before us jumped and squealed in shock. They also filled the house with smoke so you couldn’t see the wires very well. Michelle turned out to be a whiz navigating through this gauntlet so Schellen and I stuck to her. A large man entered the window behind me:
“Hey what are these wires?” He asked.
“Don’t touch them” I replied ‘They’ll shock you.”
“They’ll what? OW!!”
“Dude, I warned you.”
We made it through in one piece to the next obstacle, fake barbed wire over a running creek of mud. You had to crawl under the wire through the mud to get to the other side. A few of the other runners opted to walk over the wires only to get their ankles tangled and fall into the brown muck anyways. By this time my thumb had swollen up to the size of a drumstick and I was getting delirious with pain and a lack of a full breakfast. I looked to my gal pals, threw my good hand in the air and yelled “No one lives forever, ladies!” And dove face first into the mud. Honestly, I was so crusty from the previous muddy terrain and sweat that at this point, I really didn’t have anything to keep clean. My shoes squished and I was positive my underwear were colors they really shouldn’t have been by now. Do you know what it feels like to have mud down the front of your sports bra? I’m guessing its very close to the feel of cold pudding poured down your shirt. But since I’m not onto that sort of thing, I can only assume. I swam through the slippery creek like a fish and came out the other side a lot stickier than I was before. That when the officials took my team aside. Schellen was looking a bit pale, the smoke from the house having effected her asthma. While she recovered, they looked at my thumb. “You know, we can take you back to home base and splint that up for you.” One of the medics said kindly. But after one look at my pouty tear filled eyes and a sad whimper of ‘But…I want to finish” from me, he shook his head and let me get back on the field. We were only half a mile from the finish line. I couldn’t give up now. We set off again, only to encounter the worse obstacle the course had to offer. Zombie Clowns.
Now I’m not really afraid of clowns. Actually, there is not a whole lot that frightens me other that millipedes and scorpions. If they had zombie scorpions, I’d probably would have started sobbing like a baby. But clowns were Schellen’s downfall. The minute she saw the painted faced horrors went into a panic, grabbed my arm and started muttering ‘No way No WAY am I going in there!” Now I made a promise. A promise to stick with Schellen and Michelle to the bitter end. So I grabbed her arm and told her “Keep your eyes closed. I’ll walk you through.” Slowly, we inched our way through the gauntlet of clowns. One grew rather close. I put up my hand to him and said “Hey, my friend is scared of clowns so we’re going to just walk-” And he mercilessly yanked my last flag from my belt. “You’re a JERK!” I screamed at him… Though I didn’t use the word jerk. I may have used another unsavory word. I’m not a refined lady when zombies are involved. We made it through. Schellen was the last on our team to still have a single flag left. Yes, I nobly sacrificed my life for my friend. I reminded her about that every five minutes too. Because I’m a saint. Saint Cindy of the Mud Filled Sports Bra. That’s me. Michelle looked to Schellen and cheerfully said “Well, at least to have your last-” And the remaining clown snagged Schellen’s flag. She screamed and practically jumped into my arms in terror.
The three of us were at the bitter end now. The last two obstacles between us and the finish line were a water slide, and an “electric” fence we had to climb under. By now I could see my husband standing in his oil skin duster and fedora, watching us from his nearby hill. I had to save face. The husband was watching and I had to make him proud. Squealing like a little piglet going down the water slide probably didn’t inspire pride in him.
We neared the electric fence. The end of the chain link was curled up and the runners had to shimmy underneath to get to the safe zone. The only thing the people who made this obstacle didn’t take into account were boobs and the fact that some of us runners had them. Some of us runners have them en mass, like me. So no matter how flat I tried to make myself, my back was still sticking up and bumping the fence, sending crazy shocks through my butt and into my teeth. All the while, my husband was right along side the running line with the camera cackling “Smile honey! You look so adorable! I think your butt’s stuck on the chain link. Is your hair standing up now?” I vowed to kill him when I got out of there.
Schellen and Michelle shimmied out right after me and we crossed the finish line. Tired, muddy, bruised, but we crossed the finish line. Okay, so we were all dead but we crossed it. I take my victories where I can get them. We hugged each other in triumph, soaked, smelly, mud encrusted, but extremely happy. Then we chased after my husband with threats of muddy hugs in retribution of the lovely photos he took of us. The three of us were rewarded with medals, mine which I proudly have hanging in my bedroom now. After I got my thumb looked at (luckily it was only jammed and not broken) we cleaned ourselves up by diving into a nearby lake. The only thing that was better than that moment, was the glorious shower I took shortly afterwards.
Run for Your Lives was extremely challenging. In fact it was the most trying thing I ever put my body through .My thumb is better but still is a bit stiff and my legs are still sore to this day. But despite all that I have never felt, more accomplished, more proud, or more empowered by an event than that 5k. Knowing I could start something that crazy, and make it all the way to the bitter end tells me that I’m a lot stronger and determined than I ever thought I was. Who would have thought something so ridiculous sounding could make such a huge impact on your life? It was am amazing experience that I would do again in a heartbeat.
Plus, you know… zombies are awesome.