by Thomas Nastasi
On June 15, 2013 I competed in the Rock Solid Mud Run in Englishtown, NJ. The race consists of 5 miles with 30 obstacles. This event is a local race held twice at the same location. Small local events are usually hit or miss, but this event is excellent. It is well run and very organized. It also helps that this location hosts multiple mud runs each year. They have a standard course set up already for each event to use. The obstacles vary depending on the event. Tough Mudder hosts its World’s Toughest Mudder event at this location. I competed in the Rock Solid last year and finished in 7th place. I was hoping to do well again this year.
My cousin John met me at the event along with other members of Team Braveheart. Again, at each event I am meeting a few more members. Everyone is extremely cool and shares the same passion I do about each race. We took some photos and got ready to roll.
We ran at 9:00am which was the first wave of the day. The race started with a short run to a big ramp. It was about 20 feet high and you had to run up and over. It was deceivingly steep and a little more dangerous than I thought while running up it. I took care and made sure I didn’t slip and fall in the race’s early minutes.
After a short ways, the true test of endurance came. You had to swim about 100 yards each way through a manmade lake. This had to be done 4 times. Each time you hit the shore, you jumped out, ran along the shoreline for another 100 yards and jumped back in. At one point, the shoreline had the barbed wire obstacle which was extremely low. Shirts were getting torn in this one. Luckily it was sandy and rolling was the best option.
I wear contact lenses and had a problem with my left one in the water. I kept my eyes closed while swimming to avoid further problems. This is an excellent idea if you ever want to become extremely dizzy. When the swimming was done, I adjusted my contact and continued with the race. The swimming killed my upper body. My arms were heavy and I was fatigued.
A few obstacles immediately followed and then a mile run through the woods. It was very hard to regroup during this run. I tried slowing my breathing to calm down—wasn’t happening. I started to cramp up and really was in pain in my side. Dave Wilson, a member of Braveheart, gave me motivation during the early stages of the race. It helped me push on and continue to compete hard.
After the woods, there were a series of obstacles back to back. The first were two 7-foot walls. Then a weird one consisting of metal pipes. You had to pull your body to the top of them and shimmy your way to the end. Some up-and-over 5-foot high logs and then a wire traverse up a hill. Talk about exhausting. First of all, your arms are dead from the swimming, and getting through these at a good pace was extremely important. The first 2 miles set the tone of the race; this helped you grab a lead and maintain it.
Next was some running through the woods again and then the lake crossing. This is my favorite obstacle. You have to cross a lake on a wire with one wire overhead. I think this is extremely fun and not that hard. For some reason, I love it.
At this point most of the obstacles were done and the rest was running through trails. This is where I got into my groove and maintained a good pace. The last obstacle was a huge wooden structure that consisted of a 12’ wall with a rope that brought you to a cargo net crossing. Then you had to climb up to the top of a platform and dangerously descend down. It all worked out well, but that obstacle had injury written all over it. I crossed the finish line and finished in 7th place again. We waited for all members of Team Braveheart to finish and took our group photo. It was a great time and a great race. They will be holding this same event again in August and I can’t wait.
I have been doing some sprints when I run and tried jump roping with a heavy rope. I feel my cardio is better, but I was displeased with the cramping. I was definitely hydrated. I need to get to the bottom of that because it was like having a thorn in my side for a good mile. Also, my shoulder was pain free throughout this event. Swimming, walls, wire traverse: none cause me any shoulder pain.
Again, I am grateful to be a member of Team Braveheart. Running with individuals that share the same passion and goals as you helps you run harder and faster. Obstacle course racing is great, but even greater to do it with friends, family, and teams. Next up: Rugged Maniac Brooklyn.
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