by Thomas Nastasi
On August 4, 2013, I participated in the Warrior Dash held in Morristown, NJ. Warrior Dash is an entry level racing series that, in my opinion, can be run by anyone no matter their fitness level. The race was 3.1 miles with 12 obstacles. I participated in this same race last year, but ran it with my wife. I stuck with her and helped her along the way. She liked it, but was “one and done.”
This year I wanted to give it my all. I have been in a funk the past two races. At Spartan Race PA, I had the misfortune of running the wrong way and totally killing my time. At Tri-State Superhero Scramble, I was still recovering from bronchitis and was not in game shape. This race I needed to make a statement to myself. I really needed the mental boost. So I signed up for the competitive wave at 7:30 am along with my cousin and friend, Ron. This would be the first time I ran a competitive wave at any race. The requirement was that you had to be able to run an 8:30 mile, although they never checked. These waves are typically run by experienced racers who are in it for the competitive aspect. I felt confident about my experience and ability.
I had a rare weekend off from racing the week prior. I used the 14 days between races to really work out hard. I also have been very strict in avoiding alcohol. I already see changes to my endurance, physique, and overall wellbeing. Not to sound like a prude, but alcohol really is terrible for your body. You don’t realize it until you omit it from your life and see the changes. I don’t even have the urge to drink right now because I’m feeling great! As a total hypocrite though, I love a good beer. Anyway, no beer until I’m done with the Spartan Beast in Vermont. I need to be in fighting shape for that.
The course was extremely fast. For the first mile and a quarter, you ran through trails and hills. This benefited the good trail runners. The trails at this park were very good, and it was really nice to run through the woods like I’m accustomed to doing. I maintained 9th place for most of the first half. The obstacles then appeared and were extremely tame: very short walls and high barbed wire were the first series. I was running at a consistent pace and keeping up with a small group. I wanted to make sure I stayed with them because I felt like I could pass them at the later obstacles.
I then came up to a tall wooden structure and needed to climb it and hop over. It was, again, very easy. A short run and then you hit the lake. The lake consisted of a short swim in chest high water to a small barge. You had to climb up some netting to it and then another short swim to shore. I was still neck and neck with two other racers.
After the lake, there was a steep hill and some more trails. About a half mile later, we came to a field that consisted of some obstacles: a horizontal wall with a tight ledge that you needed to cross and an underground tunnel you needed to crawl through. Again, it was no big deal. I knew the race was in the final mile so I needed to step it up a notch.
In the final mile, there were three obstacles. The first were tires you needed to high step through. At this obstacle, I passed a well-respected OCR runner. I had determined at the halfway point to stay with him when I noticed I was within reach. After passing him at this point, I felt energized. But there was still one more racer I wanted to catch.
A short run through some more trails and I could see the racer about 250 feet ahead. I started to sprint when I heard crowd noise; I knew the race was almost over. The next obstacle was a cargo net up and over. I jumped on it and flew up and down. I gained serious ground.
A double fire jump and then I dove into the mud for the barbed wire crawl. The mud was incredibly thick. It was grueling trying to pull my body through this mucky mess. I dug down and used my arms to drag my body through. It was absolutely exhausting, but I made my pass and pushed harder. I pulled myself out of the mud and crossed the finish line. I was extremely happy.
I ended up coming in 7th place in the competitive heat. They didn’t give standings for that heat, even though every other race does. As the day ended the final results were posted: 37th out of 8301.
I could not have been happier. This was the result I needed to get myself out of a terrible funk. I’ve been training so hard this whole season, and some bad luck along the way was really discouraging me. I’m pleased to see the results of my training. I know I’m doing it right and hope to continue in success.
I was supposed to attend Hero Rush on August 10. But a week prior, all registrants received an email stating that the company is going bankrupt. This is a shame and has caused many to be very angry, mainly because no refunds will be issued. This race has been around for a few years, so it is a little surprising. I think it is best to be very selective of the races you choose to do. I’m looking at it like it was a blessing in disguise: maybe I would have gotten hurt? Always look for a silver lining. I signed up for a local 5k to fill the void. Next OCR: Rock Solid Mud Run Part 2 - August 17
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