On Oct. 25, as part of my best friend Lisa's birthday celebration, I reluctantly agreed to participate in the NYC Zombie Run, a marathon race involving 3.1 miles of running, surprise obstacle courses, and, of course, plenty of zombies.
These were my thoughts:
1. I never understood why zombies are considered so scary.
2. Aren't they supposed to be slow? Can't you just run away forever? Or just build a stone fort?
3. They also seem kind of clumsy and not particularly well-balanced, like you could just topple them over.
4. I got this. I totally got this. My two times a week on the elliptical and occasional Pilates classes have trained me well.
5. OK, they're debriefing us in a tent. I still don't understand why we're— OH MY GOD ZOMBIES JUST RAN INTO THE TENT.
6. Fear has caused my vision to blur.
7. I'm in the woods now, still running, Lisa at my side. The five other people in our group are somewhere ahead of us, the lucky souls.
8. We're both struggling to breathe, but are too afraid to look back or stop.
9. We ran about 15 feet and we can't anymore. We'll take our chances and slow down.
10. Phew. Coast is clear? Maybe?
11. We're walking through a nice wooded area. It's actually a picturesque autumn day.
12. ...Until we come across a zombie taking up the whole path, a bandanna obscuring his mouth. He is growling. And waiting for us to dare cross.
13. We both take either side and try to run around. But it's futile — we each just lost one of our three lives. It's been five minutes.
14. Zombies are popping out from the trees left and right and it's pretty terrifying.
15. The trick is to slow down before trying to dodge, but to also wait for another group to catch up behind you. Then, when someone else tries to go first, you run around the zombie while they're distracted.
16. Oh god, I'm a terrible person. I'm literally waiting for other people to serve as sacrifices because I'm a sub-par runner.
17. But, let's be real: Running is THE WORST. I'd rather have shady moral values than do something like jog consistently.
18. Lisa is one of those people who genuinely just tries to run by the zombies, and now she's infected.
19. And on her birthday too!
20. However, though she may be a zombie now, she's a pretty chill one. We have a pleasant walk through the woods talking about the existential crisis that comes with turning 23.
21. Do zombies have souls? Can they feel? Can they love? I've always wanted to know.
22. There are a lot of child/preteen zombies here, making it all the more embarrassing when I scream and just barely dodge them.
23. Lisa, putting our 11 years of friendship to the test, decides to crusade for me and shield me from the other zombies.
24. There's a Where's Waldo-dressed zombie. I shriek, "Where's Waldo??? What IS this?" and he shrugs and goes for the attack, but misses.
25. Distracted, Lisa and I separate, her running a bit ahead. "Hey! You're supposed to shield me!" I shout into the abyss. She tries to run back, but I motion for her to just go.
26. A zombie corners me. "I forfeit!" I blurt out unexpectedly, disappointing even myself. "It's OK, just go," the zombie replies under her breath.
27. ??? Did I just find the humanity in a flesh-eating monster?
28. I suppose I do have a certain charm. She probably thought, Oh this poor, pathetic, overly sweaty girl. I have to give her a free-pass.
29. Imagine if I survived a zombie apocalypse simply from making zombies pity me. I think I could do it.
30. We've finally caught up to our group. Everyone is in surprisingly strong spirits.
31. Well, until we reach a blood-soaked wall we have to climb with a rope.
32. Five people make it over. Lisa and I promise that if one of us doesn't want to do it, we won't.
33. I go first. YEAH, NO, absolutely no way. We both skip it immediately.
34. I once told a co-worker during my BuzzFeed job interview that I was "really into rock climbing." That was a humongous lie. I did it a maximum of four times, and I had a mini-panic attack every time I reached the top.
35. Now we've reached a smoke-filled school bus that we have to run through.
36. Three little kid zombies just leapt out from the backseat. I hate this — I hate when things pop out.
37. ESPECIALLY SINCE I FLAILED MY ARM AND JUST NARROWLY AVOIDED SHOVING A SMALL CHILD.
38. It is I who is the real monster.
39. Now out of the bus, we have to run through a cage maze. It's cramped. I can't use my usual technique of blending into a big crowd and dodging a zombie. This is a true test for the athletes.
40. Predictably, within seconds, my two lives are snatched. I am now ~*~infected*~*.
41. I don't feel any different. Out of us seven, there are three remaining who are still human. We must protect them.
42. We're running past an open field now, the sun setting to our right. The last day on Earth is really quite breathtaking.
43. We run through an igloo-like fort of zombies. But it doesn't scare us now — we are one with them. We understand the zombie life, but we don't live it.
44. We reach our final obstacle, a net we have to crawl under.
45. Everyone else is moving faster than me. This is embarrassing, but I legitimately think my butt is too big for this net. It's inhibiting my movement.
46. We've reached the finish line, at last, with three survivors. We celebrate with photos and some much-needed beer.
47. Same time next year?