Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Best of the Pack

The Back Best of the Pack

The majority of the OCR (Obstacle Course Race) events I've done have been in the competitive (sometimes called elite) division. And let me be perfectly clear-- the only qualification to enter an elite heat is to cough up an extra fee (I've seen everything from $10-$30). 

My decision to run in the competitive waves came after my first Spartan. I ran with a team in an open heat and encountered some back ups on obstacles. I just wanted to find out fast I could go in a race without having to wait in line. And so began serious training for OCRs and focused races. They've been fun and difficult and rewarding and frustrating at times. I've broken into the top 10 in some big races and reached the podium in some of the smaller races. 

But this weekend I discovered the joy that I've been missing all this time racing for the podium. I discovered the thrill of racing selflessly. 

I registered for the competitive wave of the Miami Terminator 2.0 produced by the Trojan Race Series on October 24, 2015. It was going to be my annual birthday race and would be good obstacle practice for World's Toughest Mudder. I planned to race the first lap and then continue to do multiple laps. 

The obstacles (40 total) were much tougher than I expected. In attempting the first of 3 steeply sloped walls, I failed twice and humbly did my 20 burpee penalty. At that point, I knew I was out of the race. The course was packed with walls-- shorter ones that were fairly easily hopped over, and much taller ones, including about 4- 12 footers. Grip was tested by rings, monkey bars, sawtooth-type monkey bars, a rock wall climb and a lateral traverse with pegs and rock wall hand holds. This course was easily the most impressive small local race course that I've done. 

I crossed the finish line in 11th place, really gassed and not sure that I wanted to go back out. But I grabbed my Camelback, ate half of a Kind bar and headed back to the course. I jumped on the course about 100 yards in because the wave had already been released and there were no runners in sight. I caught up to the crowd at the first sloped wall. Somehow, the same wall I'd failed on my first time through proved fairly easy, and I was up and over without burpees. 

When I caught up with the back of the pack, I had a blast! We encouraged each other over obstacles, and offered to boost each other physically. Two ladies and their trainer really made my day. It was their first race. The women were quite uncertain about their ability to complete the obstacles. But they had a lot of heart. When I met them, the man was completing the wall, helping one of the ladies over, while the other one waited, and then coming back around to help the second lady over. I offered to give a boost and the four of us made a great team. We chatted and high-fived through the last mile and a half of the course. I'm not sure I've ever had more fun during a race.

And I realized all that I've missed in the races I've done. 

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