|My last non OCR half marathon – March 2012|
(and currently still my 1/2 PR of 1:40:15)
That is how long it has been since I’ve participated in a road race. Almost a year and a half since I lined up for a race where the only “obstacles” between the start and the finish line would be mileage, possibly a few hills, and likely the incessant argument between my gastrointestinal system and whatever type of gel or chew I decided to assault it with that day.
Since I began running, I’ve never gone this long, nor strayed this far, from traditional road racing. When I began this blog back in 2009, I was dutifully logging endless miles in suburban neighborhoods, where the pavement was plentiful and the side streets never ending. Obstacle course racing (OCR) wasn’t even on my radar, and my idea of trail running consisted of running the flat, sandy, wide, unpaved 3/4 of a mile loop in the still undeveloped neighborhood behind my house.
My, my, how times have changed.
As I gear up for the Runner’s World Half Marathon Festival, I’m suddenly realizing how foreign a road race seems…and more so, how much I’ve missed them.
- How will these clothes fair soaking wet and weighed down with five pounds of mud and dirt?
- Will this outfit help prevent possible “wardrobe malfunction” if caught on barbed wire? ( This is a serious concern, I’ve seen many a naked butt peeking out beneath tattered spandex in the OCR world.)
- Will this clothing protect me from the inevitable cuts, scrapes, and splinters earned from crawling, rolling, and carrying uncomfortable, heavy things?
- Will I be upset if this outfit never looks the same again? Because let’s face it, if by pure luck the clothing survives without any rips or tears, no amount of washing is EVER going to make it look the same again. (This would be why 95% of the field typically wears black. It washes well).
I’ve forgotten what it is like to have the energy of sidewalks full of spectators, holding signs, ringing cowbells, and little kids stretching their arms out to give high fives. As of late, the only cheerleaders on the course are those athletes struggling by your side, as we tackle brutal courses on sometimes brutal, isolated mountain trails.
I’ve forgotten what it is like to be
a slave to overly aware of the GPS, concerned with pace and mile splits.
I’ve forgotten how much I LOVE pre race expo’s, or the excitement in the air while corralled along side 30,000+ other runners, all waiting for the starting gun to go off.
Yes, the obstacle course racing world is a completely different universe. So much so that I’ve forgotten what it feels like to simply RUN…but I’m looking forward to remembering again (and remembering what it feels like to run 13 miles in less than two hours. Last 13 mile race I “ran” took 7.5 hours…)
Recently, I’ve gotten some criticism from a few anonymous readers about how I used to be a fun, RUNNING blogger, and now all I do are these silly “mud runs”. Guilty…and not sorry.
First of all, with the number of prominent “fun-run” OCR’s out there (see picture to the right), I certainly don’t expect those outside of our inner circle to truly understand how difficult some of our races are. I take no offense to those who mock what we do, for they simply do not understand.
But more importantly: I think as each of us grow as athletes, we discover what it is we are truly passionate about…be it the marathon distance, ultra marathons, triathlons, cycling, CrossFit, OCR, etc. Obstacle course racing has provided me with an outlet to test my physical and mental strengths and weaknesses, spend time in my beloved mountains, to train in incredibly unique ways, and best of all, to RUN. And simply put, I ENJOY what I do. At the end of the day, isn’t that what is most important?
Regardless, I’m looking forward to participating in the Runner’s World festival Hat Trick (5K, 10K, and half marathon all in one weekend). Because no matter how many walls I climb, mountains I trudge up, or miles of barbed wire I roll under, running will ALWAYS be my first athletic love.
As the old saying goes, never forget where you came from. It’s time to get back to my running roots.