Regret

Total Warrior soon seemed to have come around again and as we got closer to the day of the event it became evident that I wasn’t going to be as prepared as I would have liked. I’d been struggling with a knee ligament injury for a couple of months that needed rest (not sure how this would be possible when I still have to move around) and that had stopped me training as I would have liked in the run up to the big day. The team had been assembled again from people I work with and there were a few new faces compared to the previous year. After making it through the past 2 years at Total Warrior I had set out to have a better go at it this year but unfortunately the injury had put a stop to that plan and I was wondering whether or not it was a good idea to try it.

As I had been the one persuading everyone else to join me, it didn’t feel right to pull out so I joined my team mates at the start. Spirits were high as everyone warmed up with many of the team trying to beat their times from the previous year. My main concern as the starting gun sounded was about whether I would complete the course. I set off at a brisk walking pace but the uneven ground was soon starting to cause me issues with my knee as I watched the rest of the team head off into the distance. The hill climbs were the first obstacle we came to and that further emphasised that I was going to be in for a tough day. Part way through the hills, I persuaded Steve that he would be better off catching up one of the other groups and leaving me to it as I was just going to hold him back as I was already struggling. As he set off into the distance, I got my head down and tried to find a pace that I could stick to and I felt more confident of getting through it as I passed the over and under logs and then it was time to head into the woods and towards the mud. As I crossed the first water obstacle I felt another twinge in my knee as I temporarily lost my footing. I managed to stay upright and trundled on through the water towards the first mud obstacle.

TW2017

The log bog jog was just as muddy as I had remembered and it was going to be a long slog to get through it with sections of mud that reached the top of your legs. I was making steady progress and caught up with some of the people who were in front of me. As I made my way through the thick, sticky mud, I had to stop and try and help another competitor out of the mud as they were stuck and couldn’t move. After what seemed like ages getting them out, disaster struck as in getting my own legs free I twisted my knee. It was the same knee that had been injured prior to the event so I took a little bit of time to compose myself before getting moving again. It was hard getting going especially as the slippery nature of the course underfoot was causing me a lot of discomfort but that was forgotten when I got into the cold water for the Channel Crossing.

From there it was back into the mud with the Cement Mixer, I was now starting to doubt whether I could finish the course as the pain was continuing to build. The smell in the Cement Mixer wasn’t as bad as I remembered but it was still hard going getting down and dirty in the mud. That continued as the next obstacle was the Worm Muncher so I was back to being face down and trying to avoid the barbed wire. I strangely enjoyed crawling through the mud but then it was back to reality as I needed to make my way up the steep muddy hill that was Death Valley. It seemed to be never ending as I slowly made my way up the hill, trying to ensure that I got a good foot position so that I could keep moving forwards. I was out of breath and struggling by the time I got to the top but tried to get myself back together as I headed for the next muddy section which was Off Road and involved a lot of ups and downs and another water section. The next obstacle was Back It Up where you go up a hill on your back by pulling yourself up a cargo net while being soaked with water. It was a bit of a struggle to push off with my left leg but I managed to pull myself through and then it was back to the path to keep going and head back up the hill towards the event village and the Plunge.

The further up the hill I got the more my knee was hurting and I realised that my time on the course was coming to an end. I jumped in the ice bath that was the Plunge and when I got out of the freezing water I headed towards the event village as there was no point in making my knee any worse by continuing when I was struggling to get to the halfway point.

After two successive years of making it around the course I was really upset at having to pull out but it was the sensible decision. I joined my teammates who had already finished and watched as the rest triumphantly crossed the finishing line. My joy at the others finishing was slightly tempered by my disappointment at not being able to finish. With the benefit of hindsight, it wasn’t the best decision I’ve ever made to attempt the course and unfortunately, I paid the price but had wanted to try so I didn’t let my teammates or sponsors down.

Epilogue

It is with a heavy heart that due to the injury that I suffered and made worse at Total Warrior, I’m going to call time on the fund-raising events for 2017 even though I still have an entry for Born Survivor in the Lake District. After physiotherapy on my knee it is feeling much better and I have now started training again but after three years of playing catch up and not being fully prepared for events, I’m now going to back to concentrating on getting fit and healthy and will then come up with a plan for next year to work up to. Training over the last two weeks has gone well but there is a long way to go to be fully prepared for future events but I am determined to be ready to smash 2018 and help raise awareness for mental health issues.

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