The first action movie that I ever saw was XXX. I remember watching Xander Cage jump cars off of bridges and fight terrorists. He wasn’t scared when a drug lord was holding a machete to his face, and he didn’t flinch when he noticed that he was in the crosshairs of a sniper. The man could operate tons of different vehicles. He had no fear. He got the girl. Shit, the dude even used a bazooka to kill one single terrorist. He made it all look so easy that as a 3rd grader, I heavily considered a career path as a stunt man.
But after a few attempts at similar stunts (scaled down to a 3rd grade level, of course), I came to the quick realization that I am not Xander Cage. The combination of not being nearly athletic enough and also being 9 led to that conclusion. The spirit of adventure never left, though. I spent my adolescence going on snowboarding trips and trying to run through any trails near my house that I could find. I even did a stint in college where I got really into crossfit because it felt more extreme than just regular working out.
As an adult, though, it’s becoming more and more difficult to scratch that itch. Having to pay actual bills and gym membership fees cuts deep into the “feel like a bad ass” budget. Plus, when you factor in the amount that I drink and order food, the odds aren’t exactly in my favor to be physically capable of winning a slight disagreement, let alone a fist fight with a terrorist. This is going to sound lame, but if I could describe how I felt when I had that realization with one word, it would be “uncool.”
Enter: motherfucking mud runs. A few weeks ago, one of my best friends texted our group chat to see if we wanted to join him for a Spartan Race. Apparently, he had some promo code to get us a discount, and all of us shrugged and said, “Alright, let’s do it.” Sure, I did a little bit of light training, but really nothing that could fully prepare me for this sucker.
I’ll be honest, I was a little apprehensive come race day. Sure, I can run a good amount, but I have less muscle definition than Spongebob Squarepants and the pain tolerance of a 10-year-old. When I walked around the race grounds, I was seeing people that looked like they could be contestants on The Bachelorette. Almost everyone had on some indicator that they had run a race like this before, whether it was a headband, a tee shirt, or just a sense of unintended arrogance that comes with being in really, really good shape.
All of that—all the apprehension, all the anxiety, the nerves, the self consciousness—it all went away the second the gun went off. For the next hour and a half, my crew and I were a group of five Xander Cages. Like bats out of hell, we were jumping over walls and climbing cargo nets like they were nothing. We hoisted really heavy shit on pulleys and swam through mud. It was an invigorating, visceral experience that I can’t compare to anything I’ve ever done before.
There are mile markers throughout the race to tell you how far you’ve gone. The course was roughly 4 miles long, and shockingly enough, we didn’t lose our adrenaline rush until we crossed the finish line. Once my heart rate slowed down and I had a chance to look back at what I just did, I realized that it was the closest I’d ever been to actually being an action hero. Seriously! In what context would I ever be able to hoist myself over an inverted wall without looking like a freak? Where in the city am I going to find an opportunity to jump into pits of mud and use ropes to pull myself out of them? There’s nothing.
I’m sure it sounds either pretentious or stupid, but the fact is, I got to star in my own action movie last weekend. I lived out my 3rd grade dream of being Xander Cage (which, in retrospect, is kind of a weird dream for a 3rd grader to have), and that’s enough to convince me that this is the new trend I want to take part in..
Image via Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com