2016 started with the Atlanta Sprint in March and ended with the Los Angeles Sprint in December. With a total of 11 races, and a few months rest leading up to today, I’m ready for my first race in April, beginning with the Charlotte Sprint. I opted to race all races in competitive heats, and I can officially say I like the new addition for people who are a little more serious than your typical open wave runner, but not as talented as some of the elites who devote a lot of time and training.
With a little less focus on running, and more focus on strength and obstacle specific training, I was able to consistently place in the top 10 each competitive race I signed up for. I focused a lot on balance, jumping/landing techniques, carries, and pull up strength. Nothing is more detrimental than injuring yourself tripping over a rock or landing poorly off a wall.
So a quick recap –
The LA sprint takes the cake as my favorite race of 2016. Living in NJ, the typical mountains and horrible climbs get tiring, so it was awesome to have some new views and great trails that are run-able. I’m horrible at climbing, and downhill trail running so this race played to my strengths. Loved the new obstacles, perfect weather, and and views. The trip was worth the cost!
2017 looks promising. The competition between Brad and I will be nasty as usual. We’re sticking to the competitive heats. I’ll never win an elite heat and we have a hard enough time making an 8:15 wave on time. Possibly thinking of going elite for the stadium races. Brad and I seem to do better with the faster paced races!
I’ll never forget the first time i approached this mud pit in Windham, NY at the Warrior Dash in 2010. God I was petrified….
I had no idea what I signed up, but some friends convinced to run this 3.26 mile course with 13 obstacles. I had run 5K’s before this and worked out regularly, but was completely clueless what lied ahead on this ski mountain. Even though this race was about 4 years ago, I distinctly remember how muddy everyone was and how steep the “climb” up the mountain was.
As usual, I was sick to my stomach before the race took off, but once I crossed the start line, adrenaline kicked in, and I “sprinted” up that mountain….It was more like a silly power walk. There was cold water, walls, tires, and a super slippery steep decline, where I prayed that my ankle wouldn’t snap in half. My advice to anyone before they register for an obstacle course race, is to do A TON of balance and agility work, because one wrong move on a trail can give you a serious injury. Finishing in 36:08 minutes, I was hooked…. Mud runs fulfilled my need for competition, endurance, and athleticism.
Since then, I had completed 3 more Warrior Dashes and 6 Spartan Races.
I tell everyone I know to sign up for these races, as they give you a sense of accomplishment unlike any road race, triathlon, or workout. You’ll experience cramping, pain, defeat, fatigue and fear all for some medal and t shirt at the end. Sounds like a good way to spend about 100 bucks, right? My patients and friends think I’m crazy, but there’s truth to Spartan Race’s motto “you’ll know at the finish line”. I encourage people to race these races, but only in a safe progression to prevent injury, because these races are not easy.
I’ve always run these races with friends, but for the first time I truly challenged myself in NY during the sprint in June 2014. I have a strong endurance background, so I went out fast. The competition is great during these races, since someone with slower speed can catch up very quickly if they’re quick over walls, or strong with a carry obstacle. It’s easy to run 4 miles on flat terrain, but to bust your butt over ski mountains and trails, and then attempt a rope climb and barbed wire crawl, will bring the meaning of fatigue to a whole – nother – level. It will be impossible to explain this feeling until you have thee most excruciating calf cramp during the last .3 of a race up a mountain… but for some reason, it’s all worth it in the end. and the pictures… and bragging rights… I finished in 1:32. Solid 4th place age group and 21 female overall (not including elite racers).
So here I am…”somewhat experienced” and people always ask me – which one should I do first? A safe progression is the best way to go – I don’t care how experienced of an athlete you are. You’re not going to sign up for a marathon if you’ve never run a 5K. It’s simple:
Your First Mud Run (2 miles) –> Warrior Dash –> Spartan Sprint –> Super Spartan –> Spartan Beast. Patience is key, regardless how great you feel, because a long mud run “career” is safer than doing too much right away with an injury that sets you back 4 months. People always seem to be fascinated with the longer distances, but refuse to truly “push” themselves running during the shorter events. Far too often – I see people casually walking the courses… Just an observation.
So…follow my story as I get my ass in gear to race elite this season, read about tips on your first race(s), race reports, and stories from my training… Ask questions, share stories, critique me, and get signed up for a race soon!