Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dirty Dozen 5k Obstacle Race

In my quest to compete in the Warrior Dash Obstacle Race World Championships in October, I headed over to Albany, OR to compete in another training race, the Dirty Dozen 5k.  Appropriately named, this race was all about getting dirty AND muddy.  Now in it's 2nd year, the race attracted over 500 competitors. There were 5 heat waves of 100 people, each wave starting 10 min. apart beginning at 9am.

cargo net climb
photo credit:  Ariel Wasson

When I signed up I was planning to drive over the day of the event, race, and then drive home.  So I opted for the later start time, 9:40am.  As itr turns out i drove over Friday night and spent the night in a hotel near the venue, the Albany Motorcross Park.

The motorcross park made for a great location to have the race as the constant undulating terrain and mud kept you from getting comfortable.  Over the course of 3.1 miles, there were 12 (dirty "dozen") obstacles to navigate.  The obstacles were not very challenging, was definitely hoping for more of a challenge, but combined with the technical section of singletrack mud through the forest, there were enough to challenge even the fittest. Along the course there was the Anytime Fitness "Hill of Hurt", a man-made sand hill each competitor had to navigate while carrying 1 (women) or 2 (men) sandbags up and over 3 times.  Each sandbag weighed roughly 20 lbs.  It was located near the finish so it was the perfect obstacle to separate those close to each other.

Other obstacles included were several water crossings, a couple tight tunnels to crawl through, a monkey bar, cargo net, three 12-foot walls, several barriers to go under (in muddy water of course), and about ten 3-foot concrete walls to hurdle over.

In my wave (9:40am) I was in the front with 3 others for most of the first 1/2 of the race.  Then slowly 2 riders began to fall back and it was now myself and Brian Fahey battling it out.  We kept a good pace going and once we reached the "Hill of Hurt" I passed him and seemed to gain some ground as I noticed he had fallen back a few seconds.  I finished 1st in my heat wave, but finished 4th overall.

There were a couple places were it bottle-necked a little in my wave; as my wave caught up to others that started in the waves before us.  This cost myself and a few others about 20-30 seconds at each spot.  After looking back, i wish I had selected the 9am heat wave as this would not have been an issue.  Looking at the result the top 3 were all in wave 1.

Overall I was very happy with the event and would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for an inexpensive obstacle race that has enough to challenge the fit, but also not too much that most can do and enjoy.

Here are the full RESULTS.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sunriver Mudslinger Obstacle Course Race - a must do!

So my latest hobby has been competing in Obstacle Races.  Since retiring from mountain bike racing, I have found a new sport to keep me motivated to challenge myself.

Obstacle course racing requires many skills from the athlete; you must have endurance, strength and agility to name a few.  Not only do you need to run for the length of the course (anywhere between 3 and 13 miles for most) you also have to navigate the many obstacles (anywhere between 10-25) along the course.

The town of Sunriver hosted their 2nd annual Sunriver Mudslinger Obstacle Race event over the spring break weekend (March 23rd).  The weather was perfect, high 50's low 60's and sunny.  The course consisted of about 13 obstacles over the length of 1.5 miles.  Looking at the course on paper (or for that matter the internet), it didn't appear to be that difficult.   Wow, I was completely wrong but pleasantly surprised at the same time.

And we're off!
photo credit:  Sunriver Resort Photography

That's me, #14, with my friend Gordon wearing lucky #13
photo credit:  Sunriver Resort Photography

We started off by having to run around the outside of all the obstacles on a horse pasture (lots of ruts and bumps) for about a 1/2 mile.  Then it was time to crawl in the mud under wires, then over several walls, run through the tires, run along a couple balance beams, traverse a rope, and then on to the endless log barriers.  After feeling totally gased, we then had a few logs to navigate in water, run up a steep little hill, then more mud and water to go thru, crawl through a tunnel and then over some hail bails to the finish. Oh yeah, and how could I could I forget the 15 pushups.  Yeah only 15 pushups, easy right.  Yeah I can do 50-60 in a row no problem when fresh, however, at this point in the race, doing 15 was challenging.  I made it to 10 before having to stop and take a breathe.  Then did the next 5 but they were not easy.  Damn pushups.

Running 1.5 miles at hard pace can be challenging alone, but doing so with an obstacle every 50 yards is much harder than you think.  I was very impressed with the quality if obstacles they used in the race, and the amount of walls to climb over.  The hardest obstacle for me seemed to be having to jump over the 15 or so log hurdles spaced roughly 10 yards apart from each other towards the end of the race.  By that time my legs were already feeling tired and having to jump over the 2 foot hurdles 15 times just about put the finishing touches on them.  

I wasn't sure how long it would take me to finish.  The fasted I have run 1.5 miles was about 9:30, so I was guessing 12-15 minutes with all the obstacles.  I was shocked when I saw my finish time was only 11:22, good enough for 3rd place.  The winning time was by Matt Wright with a time of 10:44

first place finisher, Matt Wright, on the podium
photo credit:  Sunriver Resort Photography

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Are you just working out or training? Why you may be wasting your time

Have you heard this before, "I'm going to the gym to workout".  Going to the gym to workout can mean many things but for many it means walking on the treadmill and lifting a few weights.  Doing this will not get you the results you want.

So, what's the difference between "working out" and "training"?  Working out means you probably don't have a plan or a goal, you just slapped together some exercises you found on the internet.  Working out also means that you probably don't pay attention to your rest days and recovery between sets.  I've heard numerous times of people "working out" 7 days a week.  When you are "training" you carefully schedule rest days (both active - easy walk with your dog, and passive - complete rest days), you play close attention to your nutrition (pre, during and post), and you are going to the gym with a plan to reach a specific goal.

Training is about improving yourself everyday, focusing on specific exercises that will help you improve your performance and reach your goal.

Finding a good coach can also help you  reach your goals and keep you accountable.  If you are not doing the things you need to do to reach your goals, a coach can help keep you on path.  I remember the biggest impact hiring a coach had with me.  Everyday I would think what I needed to do but kept getting confused or frustrated thinking I wasn't doing enough.  Then I would receive weekly training programs and I followed them religiously.  All of a sudden I wasn't questioning what I was doing, I had the confidence in my coach to help me get where I wanted/needed to be.  I was no longer just working out, I was training with a purpose.

It's easy to get caught up in all of the latest and greatest workouts published in magazines.  Take Men's Health for example.  Every month they come out with  a new workout that promises to get you ripped by summer.  Sure they are good workouts (put together by some of the best coaches in the country), but are they helping YOU reach YOUR goal.  Odds are that they are not.  They don't know what your goal is.

One of the hardest things to do is stay consistent with the program.  You can't change after a few weeks, or worse, quit.  If you are working with a coach it should be simple, just follow the program written for you.  Yes it's that simple, just follow the program.  If the training is geared towards your goal you WILL reach your goal.

Another important aspect of "training" is to keep a training log.  This can be as simple as recording your sets, reps, and weights for each workout.  A good progressive training program will increase one of those every few weeks (if not every week).  I have some of my athletes track their daily sleep (quantity and quality), bodyweight, their mood, and their willingness to train each day.  Tracking your physical and mental progress will only help you further your career as an athlete.  Tracking your progress is only useful, however, if you look back on it to make adjustments.  Otherwise, you are just working out without knowing if what you are doing is working or not.

If you are an athlete reading this, stop working out and start training.  Hire a coach.  Before you know it you will become the athlete you want to be.

For more information on training or to hire a coach, check out my website, Elevated Sports Performance.