Hello all my OCR and MunRun followers! February 6 was the kickoff to the 2016 OCR season in the Florida area. Two races were held and both were a mere 45 minutes from each other. Many of my friends and team mates jumped at this opportunity to run both races and be able to claim two medals in one day. My husband Paul and I decided to only run one, The Warrior Dash held in Clermont, FL.
In 2012 I ran my very first Warrior Dash in Virginia with one of my best friends. It wasn’t just my first Warrior Dash, it was my first mud run ever. I had seen the promotions for these type of races, and knew about the Tough Mudder, but really didn’t know exactly what to expect at this smaller race. I knew 3.2 miles was doable and worst case scenario my best friend and I would have a good time laughing at each other covered in mud. It just so happened that is exactly what we ended up doing the entire time. The obstacles were fun, we laughed the entire time, made awesome memories, and will always look back and think “we did that, together, as a team”. During this first race I specifically remember some obstacles just looked too scary for me to do, I skipped about 2 not wanting to hurt myself and lacking the confidence to complete them. It was at that point the addiction to become better, more confident, and complete more of these races began.
Now, fast forward to 2016…..not only have I gotten stronger I have an estimated 20+ races/OCRs under my belt. I would never claim myself as an Elite racer yet, but I knew that in 2016 I wanted to push myself as hard as possible. When Warrior Dash announced they were coming to Florida in January of 2016 I jumped at the opportunity to sign up, and not only sign up as a regular participant, enter the COMPETITIVE WAVE…. EEEEKKK!!
The day began in the mid 40’s finally rising to the low 50’s just before the first wave was released. To say it plainly… it was cold… it was cold as crap… but my commitment to the sport kept me smiling and I eventually warmed up and was ready to run. As my husband and I were stretching and waiting in the start coral I started observing some of the other competitors. The “Elite” crowd, whom many are my friends, walked there way to the front and somehow I felt out of place wearing my French Fry socks and non-name brand long sleeve shirt… heck, even shirt… most of these racers went shirtless, and the ladies had nothing but sports bras on showcasing their very hard earned abs. (I don’t know anything about abs yet because sadly mine are being very strongly protected by chub cushion!) Paul and I of course began joking back and forth with each other and eventually making the small crowd around us giggle and smile… after I realized I could crack them things began to feel doable again.
The race started with a big bang of a canon and fire coming from the top of the Start Line. Here we go! After taking a second to regret leaving the warm fire of the start line … I ran… I ran like I’ve never ran before and right about where I thought I was going to die… I didn’t… I kept running… The first obstacle was Alcatraz where you jumped in a lake, swam to some boxes floating, climbed on top, and jumped back into the water to get to the other side…. 2 things happened at this obstacle. 1) I suddenly and regrettably remembered that fresh water does not have the same buoyancy as salt water and I sunk like a rock and 2) I can successfully swallow at least a half-gallon of Florida lake water and still run 3 miles….even though I wanted to puke.
The remaining race was exactly what I remembered from the first Warrior Dash I did. Obstacles were spread out, and there was plenty of running. Compared to other races the obstacles are not extremely challenging but they can be for some people and beginners to the mud run world. I was very excited to be able to complete 100% of the obstacles which I can’t say is a given for me in other races. I still have plenty of improvement but I thoroughly enjoyed being able to run in the competitive wave. There was even one point when I looked around and I had athletes in front of me and behind me. (I had an “Oh Crap…I’m ACTUALLY keeping up” moment) Another added bonus to running the first wave was zero lines at the obstacles making the race flow smoothly and allowed you to get an accurate time. Sadly this race did not have timing chips, and only the top 10 male and female winners were documented. I would have loved to see how my rankings were with my friends…. Only for sheer personal improvement purposes. I did however have my Garmin on and it clocked me at 40:30… half the time it took me to do my first Warrior Dash in 2012.
All in all it was a great day...definitely cold...at some points did I want to die?...YES, but I didn't! Paul and I stayed around to be able to run a second lap with our friends and MudRunFun teammates. We were then able to play on the obstacles, act silly, participate in shenanigans, take pictures and encourage others during their run. Warrior Dash will always hold a special place in my heart and I recommend it to anyone new to obstacle races. I can say that it was definitely my gateway drug into this sport. It was my beginning and will always remain special to me. I definitely have improvements to be made but I know they can be accomplished with hard work. This was an epic beginning to the OCR 2016 season and I cannot wait for the races scheduled this year. I will see YOU there! MUDRUNFUN!