"The timorous may stay at home."
~ Murphy v. Steeplechase Amusement Co., 250 N.Y. 479, 483 (N.Y. 1929)

Friday, February 24, 2012

These races should be everything I hate

T-minus one week til Winter Death Race. And I feel like I'm missing something. It's this weird nagging feeling, that something isn't exactly right.

So as I've been fighting that, I've realized that it's a theme that I've come back to time and time again: preparation.

Confession: I'm about as Type-A as they come.
Ha--that didn't surprise any of you, did it? So I plan everything down to the last details: my workouts, my grocery lists, my social functions. And while I've fought it most of my life, I'm a certifiable control freak. WHAT YOU DO YOU MEAN I DON'T KNOW WHAT I AM GOING TO DO FOR THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

My closest friends and family are well aware that is my worst nightmare. I test, I plan, I do trial runs, I plot my running of tangents on the course map, I pack and repack. I NEVER "wing it." And if you throw off my routine (especially my 4am gym time), you better be prepared to incur my wrath. So it's rather odd that I have been drawn so magnetically to adventure races, and especially races like the Death Race, where anything goes. I'm not an "anything goes" type of gal.

You think I would be more suited to, say, marathons or triathlons, where you put in the mileage, you follow the regimented program, and you know exactly what you are getting.*

But (A) I'm petrified of going fast on bicycles (that will be a subject of another post sometime); and (B) running on concrete gives me stress fractures.**

Boring. I am so bored right now.
More importantly than (A) and (B), road races are a snooze fest. Training looks like this: run in a straight line. Run faster in a straight line. Run slow for a bit and then run really fast in a straight line. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I also have an adverse reaction to timing myself. I've never owned a Garmin. I only learned last year what a "negative split" is. I'm still rather mystified as to what a "tempo" run is, and I giggle at the word "fartlek." Don't get me wrong--I love to run. In my mind, there is nothing better (ok, maybe a few things) than a pre-dawn 20-miler along Lake Michigan. But the pacing, timing, and pressure to finish in under "x" time takes all the fun out of the sport.

Enter obstacle/adventure races (can someone come up with a catch-all term?! please?!). Way more laid back, and way less stress. People go out there, kick ass, but also enjoy fun things like booze and red meat. I remember the first time someone asked whether anyone was using their Garmin for World's Toughest Mudder. I just about fell over laughing (as did everyone else I believe). Seriously, dude? (1) You are going to destroy it; (2) what are you going to track? Negative splits between obstacles? Yes, there are winners for (some of) these races. But finishing is a big enough honor on its own.

Perhaps adventure racing has brought out another side of me. Perhaps I'm not as type-A, control freak as I thought. Or perhaps adventure racing is teaching me how NOT to be like that. I'm growing--growing as an athlete, growing as a professional***, and growing as a person.

So maybe what is really bothering me lately is that the unknown and lack of preparation...isn't bothering me at all.

Oh hey 10-day forecast. You look unseasonably warm.
I'm not complaining. Just sayin'

 Pittsfield, I look forward to meeting you in a week. Let's do this.

*"Yay, I got a 26.2 sticker. So has everyone else, including my 300-lb neighbor
**Yes, I AM doing the Chicago Marathon this year just to check it off the bucket list. I don't really plan on "training." Training is when injury happens.
***And by growing as a professional, I mean trying not to get fired for taking so many Fridays off and telling people I'll be out of pocket and not able to answer my email for 24+ hours. 


  1. Have fun at the WDR. I'm sure you'll remember what you forgot... halfway through? :)

  2. You seem to be organized...need some advice...was thinking about doing the Winter Death Race next weekend...never have done an event like this before...other than an obstacle course race in middle school...and that was a long long long time ago. I'll be good mentally and physically....I think...but have no idea what type of gear to bring...do you have a race prep checklist that you could be kind enough to share with me? Many thanks!! Phillip Theodore, Nashville, TN PLT4668@aol.com

  3. I love reading your posts -- So proud of you :)

    Question: When training (or not "training") -- when trying to avoid running on concrete, where do you go? Let's assume we don't live in Portland, where trails are abundant and at your doorstep :)

  4. Love your posts as well. You're athletically hilarious!!(is that a word?)
    Congrats on your finish....I'm looking fwd to reading your posts on the race. I don't know how you do it...really amazing!!!

  5. I heard you were the only girl to finish the Death Race, looked crazy! Congrats!