Warning: the following blog has as least two bad words. Oooops.
In just under 30-days, the Arizona Spartan Sprint is coming to a course near me. And to use a gnarly term from the 80’s, I’m fucking stoked!
Ever since running my first Warrior Dash in 2012 — and twice more Illinois, twice in Nebraska, once in Arizona — I’ve been hooked on obstacle course racing. The hills, the dirt, the mud, the obstacles and — perhaps more importantly — the OCR community have made the notion of ever running a regular 5k truly mind-numbing.
From podcasts to WODs (workout-of-the-day) to the collection of bling (aka finisher medals) — it’s probably borderline obsessive. It’s also, however, become a lifestyle change.
In the past year or so, I’ve ditched the gym membership and started working out outside. The stationary bike was replaced with a real bike. Dumbbell exercises are now done with a wreck bag and a kettle bag. Workouts often consist of push-ups, leg raises, bear crawls and all those exercises we all despised as kids in gym class.
Recently, I’ve undergone a diet change and am doing a pretty good job of eliminating process foods, sugar, pop, gluten while eating more meats, vegetables and fruits. I’m not perfect with my diet, but the difference in how I feel has been incredible.
And don’t get me wrong here: I’m far from being a top-level, highly conditioned, athlete. You won’t see me competing in the elite heats for any prize money nor will I ever qualify for the OCR World Championships. And as much as I’d like to earn a Spartan Trifecta (completing the Sprint, Super and Beast courses in a single calendar year), I don’t see it happening anytime soon.
I don’t workout daily, I’m 40+ years old, have twins, a bad back, plantar fasciitis, a 9-5 desk job and a long, shitty commute. Essentially, I don’t have the time nor energy to be more than an average obstacle course athlete.
It’s weekend-warriorism at its finest and I’m ok with that. For now.
Too often people think that they have to be “all in” or not at all. You don’t have to train a couple of hours a day, multiple days a week, to do a mud run. You don’t need to be able to run long distances without resting or walking. You certainly don’t need Hulk-like upper body strength.
It’s not about completing the race in a fast time. It’s simply about completing the race.
You’ll know at the finish line.
Last year I ran my first Spartan Sprint and my wife told me something I’ll never forget. Just before hitting the starting line, she looked at me in the eye with concern on her face and in a Rocky’s-wife-to-Rocky moment simply said, “Be careful. This isn’t Warrior Dash.” (Cue Eye of the Tiger.)
Her meaning was clear. Despite different mud runs having their own flavor; their own character — some are simply meant to be fun as opposed to challenging. The Spartan Race is clearly the latter.
I don’t know if Spartan still uses the tagline “You’ll know at the finish line.” but when it comes to obstacle course racing — and in life I guess — there is a lot of truth in those six words. To know you covered x-number of miles, completed a 15+ obstacles, crawled through some mud and perhaps jumped over a little fire — when you cross that finish line, you know what it means to be pushed out of your comfort zone and to succeed where perhaps you never thought you might.
It’s just another example of the old adage where the journey beats the destination.
2016 mud run schedule
For 2016, I’m currently registered for three races: Spartan Sprint, Rugged Maniac and the Terrain Race. I want to sign up for at least two more — after all, the Warrior Dash finisher’s medal looks really frickin’ cool this year (it’s sort of a Viking helmet shaped bottle opener!)
The highlight, however, will probably be the Terrain Race run in Flagstaff in July. The then 8-year old twins are registered to run with me; and not the “Little Monkey Course” mile run for kids, mind you, but the full 3.2 mile distance.
They’re either going to smoke me or I’ll have to personally carry one or the other across the course. But I look forward to helping them over the ropes, climbing some walls, flipping a tire or two and definitely getting wet and dirty.
We won’t be setting any course records, but I can’t wait to see the memories we’ll be making at the expense of a little mud.