In April, I celebrated my P90X2 results by running my first obstacle race, The Indiana Spartan Race. What turned out to be a comedy of errors was also a good wake-up call. If I were to do another obstacle race, I needed to be better prepared (and not just physically). So I was determined to have better Warrior Dash results, which was the next available obstacle race in my area. However, by the time I registered, the earliest heat available was 11 AM. Strike one.
Now I had been doing a fair amount of running over the past few months and had recently started a marathon training program for a race I’m doing in October. So I was feeling decent about my running, as well as my strength conditioning having recently completed Insanity: The Asylum. But every obstacle race is different and I didn’t know 100% what to expect as compared to Spartan Race.
The day of the race came and I was committed to not having the same wardrobe malfunctions this go around, so I wore my New Balance Minimus Trail Shoes, over the ankle synthetic blend socks, and a much tighter-fitting synthetic blend shirt. Nutrition-wise, I had my favorite pre-run snack, peanut butter on banana dipped in granola. I also had been drinking a fair amount of fluids as it was going to be very hot, but in hindsight, I should have done a better job hydrating the day before.
The race location was a good hour and a half from home, so we left bright and early. We finally arrived at the race destination, only to have to stand in a ridiculously long bus line… no parking at this race so you are bussed over. Close to two hours later, we arrived at the actual race location. But there would be no dilly-dallying (that’s the first time I think I’ve ever written that word… and probably the last) as my heat had taken off 40 minutes earlier. So I put on my bib, laced up my timing chip, snapped a picture with the kids, and headed off to the starting line. To my surprise, because my heat had already taken off, they let me go lickity-split (another word I shan’t write again… along with shan’t) which was nice… no elbowing for space.
So just like that I was off and just like that I remembered, while I had brought my asthma inhaler, I had forgotten to take it. Strike two.
The first mile there were zero obstacles and zero mud, which made it feel like a blend of cross-country and trail running. Sweet! And that’s how most of the race played out. Very little mud and very little waiting on anyone. In fact, I was never passed, I only passed others, even on the obstacles. So while I still would have preferred an earlier heat, it worked out relatively well timing-wise.
My Warrior Dash Results
27 minutes and some-odd seconds later, I was done. The 2012 Kentucky Warrior Dash was a dash indeed. I came in 51st overall, 12th in my age bracket (30-39), and 3rd for my age (38). There were over 5,100 racers so I was mildly pleased.
Of the changes I made, the shoes/socks were the most important and the most noticeable. Not only were my feet so much lighter even wet, I never once had a traction issue, while the poor schlumps I was passing had a lot harder time navigating the trails. The shirt was the right call too. I could have gone shirtless, but having a little protection from the obstacles, I felt, was worth the trade off. And physically, I felt pretty good from the running I had been doing (though most was road running) and from going through Insanity: The Asylum.
Now to be fair, Warrior Dash is the largest of the obstacle races competitor-wise, for a reason, it’s the most accessible. Hundreds of thousands run this 3-mile race each year, in part, because the course is less muddy and the obstacles are a bit easier. So it’s less daunting and you end up with a lot of weekend warriors who are walking after the 1st half-mile. They would be well-served by reading my obstacle race course training article.
But I told myself I’d be happy with a time under 30 minutes, and I was well below that. I didn’t make any of the clothing errors. And my overall placement was respectable.
That said, I’m not one to rest on my laurels. And now that I know this course, next year my Warrior Dash results will be better… I’ll be gunning for a top 10 finish. I’ll do more trail-work in preparation, I will register for the early morning heat on the day registration opens, I’ll bring my asthma inhaler AND actually take it, and I’ll do a bit better on the hydrating.
Until then, I’ll take satisfaction in my improvement from my first obstacle race. You see, I don’t think with your fitness you ever really “arrive.” There are always things to do better. And that’s good! (As Tony Horton of P90X fame says, “Work on your weaknesses!”) It gives you goals to aim for and discourages complacency. So remember this in your fitness journey: it’s about progress, not perfection.
You’ve been challenged… now GO!