Monday, February 28, 2011
I was stressed out yesterday. A string of unfortunate events with work combined with some bad luck in the past month has left me on edge. Feeling like I should be working rather than playing I was not in my normal "thrilled to be going surfing" mood when we decided to make it a beach day.
The weather was perfect -- sunny and warm. A sense of Spring and a hint of Summer is in the air.As we pulled up to the inlet and assessed the situation (playful little thigh high glassy sets rolling in with the incoming tide) I noticed some commotion in the water. Fighter-jet colored fins breaching the water. Fishing flinging themselves airborne in a desperate attempt to escape. White water splashing about.
No not sharks. Another visitor to New Smyrna Inlet that is even more common than sharks believe it or not -- The common dolphin. An entire pod to be exact!
Dolphin are one of my favorite animals. Intelligent, playful, skilled and the undisputed best surfers in the world. Many times I've shared waves with them, locked eyes and sensed a common bond of "let's have some fun on this wave!" I grabbed my camera and snapped off some shots before grabbing my noserider to join the fun.
Stressed out or not, a paddle out with the dolphins and fun surfing session at New Smyrna Inlet is a cure all!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I'm going to rant for a bit.
It's going to be about the Boston Marathon and big marathons in general.
If you don't want to hear it stop reading now and go to the next blog on your reader.
First, let me say that I'm not a "Boston Qualifier" and probably never will be. The fact is I'm slow. I'm tall at 6'7" and I'm prone to injuries. Although I've been jogging for years, I only consider myself to have become a runner in the last 2 years and still consider myself "learning." The qualifying time for me is simply out of the question at this point given my circumstance. However, I am an above average athlete when compared to similar males my age. Boston Marathon isn't important to me. I've visited the city. It's fun. It's historic. It's also a northern city and I prefer to have more fun in southern or western cities, but that's just me and my upbringing. That being said, maybe I shouldn't talk about Boston.
However, you see, Boston Marathon is important to the people that are important to me; my friends and my girlfriend. So it's a free country and I'm going to talk about Boston. Today I got the following email from my girlfriend, which was a forwarded piece of information about Boston Marathon and what the BAA is doing now that they seem to have more demand than supply for their little prestigious event.
2012 rolling registration dates - Day 1 (Sept. 12) - Qualifiers who have met their age and gender qualifying standard (3 hours, 10 minutes for men aged 18-34 and 3 hours, 40 minutes for women 18-34) by a margin of 20 minutes or faster may apply for the marathon. - Day 3 (Sept. 14) - Qualifiers who have met the standard set for their age/gender by a margin of 10 minutes or faster may apply. - Day 5 (Sept. 16) - Qualifiers who have met their age/gender qualifying time by a margin of 5 minutes or faster may apply. - Day 8 (Sept. 19) - Open to all qualifiers to register. - Day 12 (Sept. 23) - Registration closes for qualified applicants. Registered qualifiers will be notified of their acceptance by Sept. 28. For 2013, there are new qualifying times. The times will be 5 minutes tougher than they are currently. For example, men 18-34 currently must run 3:10 and women 18-34 must run 3:40 to qualify, but for 2013 these groups will have to run 3:05 and 3:35 respectively.
My girlfriend's only remarks?
"I may have to run another marathon!"
I would normally say running another marathon is a good thing. One should never quit with only running one marathon (it would be my girlfriend's 4th marathon). But, saying you have to run another marathon to qualify for Boston when you already ran your heart out and qualified for Boston is a load of shit. Yeah... that's right. I said it. I understand the BAA is trying to solve the problem in a fair manner, but there has to be a better way. If you want your race to be the most prestigious marathon out there don't screw the people that have shed tears, lost blood and sweat their asses off obtaining that qualification.
I'm starting to hate the Boston Marathon more and more. It started last Fall when the damn thing sold out in only a few hours, which happened to be only a few days before my girlfriend ran her qualifying marathon. And by the way, she ran her heart out on a tough course with little or no support that turned out to be a complete FAIL on that race directors part. See Running for the Bay Marathon for details. Despite that adversity she still obtained a qualifying time knowing she'd have to wait until 2012 to actually run Boston.
And now this load of crap from the BAA. I highly doubt those poor runners that have to wait until day 8 of registration with their hard earned qualifying time will have any chance at all of running the 2012 Boston Marathon.
I can see it now... my girlfriend is already conspiring to run a summer marathon to attempt a time 20 minutes faster than her actual minimum qualifying time of 3:40:00. That means a 3:20:00, which is a huge jump. It'd be about a 15 minute jump for her. I'd say that kind of jump in time is awesome and everyone should strive for it, but not because some jackasses in Boston are punishing those already qualified runners to run faster. That's all the wrong reasons.
So what's the deal with all these marathon's selling out so quickly? Our epic summer adventure plan got shattered due to Ogden Marathon selling out. Is the sport of running gaining in popularity or is it more and more people are realizing the health benefits of running and taking to the road? I think it's great. I really do. I love being surrounded by health-conscience athletes like myself. Most of the time I look around and see myself surrounded by out-of-shape future cardiac and diabetes patients. I just worry about the sport and where it's going. The more and more I think about it the more and more I'd rather run an obscure little known race that benefits a charity. Some of the most fun I've had have been races with less than 100 participants. Last weekend was the 26.2 with Donna Marathon and Half Marathon to benefit breast cancer research and care. This race fielded about 6,000 runners and felt like a big race like Disney or a Rock 'n' Roll event (I've run both). The difference? It was better organized and benefited a charity. I was going to write a review of it now, but this news about Boston made me so angry that it'll have to wait. Maybe I'll become a trail runner. Maybe I'll stop running races all together. Sure would be cheaper. Maybe I'll go run these race courses on a different day and provide my own support. It's a free country. Stick it to the man, ya know?
Getting back to Boston....
Prepare to disagree with me if you like.....
How about do away with ALL runners that are not time qualifying runners? Yes, that means charity runners, celebrity runners and "special" invitees! I mean, come on, if I got invited to run the Boston Marathon for whatever reason, but I hadn't run a 3:10:00 marathon or faster I'd have to decline the invitation on general principal. I mean seriously, if the field shouldn't be increased in size because it can't accommodate it and the demand is there, yet you still want to be prestigious, how about catering to those that really deserve to be there? There are plenty of other charity races out there. Let the charities go. I know it sounds horrible, but considering the situation it seems the only charity the BAA is serving is itself.
I was at a carnival about a year ago with my girlfriend (the undisputed BOSTON QUALIFIER!) and a Carney called me over to his booth. It was one of those classic throw the baseball at the three bottles stacked on top of each other forming a triangle games. Simple game. Knock all three bottles down and win a teddy bear. I gave the Carney a few dollars and he gave me a baseball. Little did he know I used to be a pitcher. I threw that ball dead center into the three bottles. A perfect strike. It hit so perfectly that the two bottom ones exploded left and right at 45-degree angles behind the stand they were resting on and the top bottle fell straight down onto it. It fell so perfectly that it remained standing where the two supporting bottles were before it.
I looked at the Carney and was ready to give my newly won teddy bear to my girlfriend. He hesitated and then claimed that he couldn't give me the teddy bear because I hadn't knocked all the bottles down and one was still standing. He immediately asked for another few dollars so I could try again with another ball. I started to argue with him and then stopped. It wasn't worth it. It's just a freaking teddy bear and my girlfriend doesn't want it anyhow. I know in my heart that I threw that baseball perfect. It was so perfect it not only knocked all the bottles down, but allowed the top one to fall right into place as if I yanked a table cloth out from a dinner arrangement. I simply told the Carney that I wouldn't buy another chance on general principal and that I had won his game on the first shot; fair and square! I walked away and left him standing there.
Hey Boston Athletic Association! YOU'RE ACTING LIKE A CARNEY!
My name is Sylvan McElroy and I will NOT be running your race anytime soon!
And my suggestion to all those duly qualified runners that will inevitably be left out on the 2012 Boston Marathon?
Organize yourselves. Revolutions have occurred in the history of this race. Google Kathrine Switzer if you don't know. Wouldn't it be funny to see a huge group (I'm talking thousands) of runners that have all qualified for Boston, but were denied their registration, to bandit run the race*??? That would be total mayhem.
Just something to think about.
*TallGuySurfing does not condone or support that act of bandit running.
4th Annual 26.2 with Donna (The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer)
Quote of the Race: "This race is great! It's like a Boston Marathon atmosphere! This is what it's all about. I'll see you on the road running (in the future!)" - Bill Rodgers, Four time New York City Marathon winner and masters world record holder for 5k, 8k, 10k and 10 miles - said to Jenny and I after Jenny recognized him in the chute after our half marathon finish and approached him to congratulate.
Location - Jacksonville & Jacksonville Beach. Race is an out-and-back that begins and finishes at the MAYO CLINIC.
Cost - Full Marathon: $75-$125 depending on pre-registration date.
Half Marathon: $55-$95 depending on pre-registration date.
Marathon Relay: $250-$300 depending on pre-registration date.
Year of Running - 4th Annual
Sponsor/Race Directors - Donna Deegan and The Donna Foundation, Jeff Galloway Training, The MAYO CLINIC, Publix, Genentech, Amgen, Eisai Oncology, Sanofi Aventis, MENTOR, VitaminID.com, Coffee Perks, 97.9 KissFM, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Macy's, Key Buick, Firehouse Subs, First Coast News, Winn Dixie, GU Energy Gel and more.
Charity - Proceeds go to breast cancer research and care. To date the race has attracted more than 26,000 runners and raised more than $2 million dollars.
Number of Participants - I'm a bit confused about this. According to the announcer at the race start they claimed to have 10,000 participants in this year's race. According to the official race results on the website there were the following:
Full Marathon - 670 Male, 942 Female = 1,612 total
Survivor Marathon finishers - 2 Male, 42 Female = 43 total
Half Marathon - 983 Male, 3,049 Female = 4,032 total
Survivor Half Finishers - 3 Male, 181 Female = 184 total
Relay Marathon - 153 male, 215 Female = 367 total
By my math that's about 6,238 participants not including the 5k runners that raced the day before. Regardless, it's an awesome event with an awesome race field.
Available Races - Full Marathon, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay on Sunday with a 5k on Saturday.
Course Condition - Asphalt paved road with about 2 miles being on hard-packed beach sand along the Atlantic Ocean. This course is flat and about as fast as they come with no hills except for a medium incline bridge that passes over the Intracoastal Waterway.
Pace Groups - Yes, for both Half Marathon and Full Marathon.
Expo - One of the best in the region; hands down. Located at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in downtown Jacksonville, Fla. There were more than 100 vendors and tons and tons of free stuff being given out. First Place Sports was also there selling just about anything running related. The atmosphere is definitely "Female" orientated, but any male runner can find plenty of goodies here.
ORGANIZATION, SUPPORT & SPECTATORS:
To date this is one of my favorite races in terms of superior organization, tons of support and plenty of emotion all around. Being a breast cancer fund raiser and awareness campaign everything is pink from the mile markers to the race t-shirts. This is also the only race I've ever attended of this size where there is never a wait for a restroom before, during or after the race. I suspect because it's a race with many more female participants than males they really score on making sure there are more than enough restrooms EVERYWHERE. From packet pickup to checked bags to race day transportation to checked bag pickup everything flows seamlessly without stress or frustration. For being only the 4th year this race could serve as a model for any other race in terms of organization.
The support is excellent. There are plenty of aid stations armed with more than enough volunteers handing out water, Gatorade and GU gels all along the course. Did I mention there are plenty of bathrooms along the course as well??? Medical personnel roam the course on bicycles and this is a closed road course.
This race has a very big emotional factor for thousands when it comes to breast cancer or cancer in general. Hundreds and hundreds of spectators line the course to watch and cheer on participants. Residents living along the course in different neighborhoods sit out in their driveways playing music and sometimes offering their own aid stations stocked with food, water and I even saw one with beer. Even along the more isolated sections of the course there are spectators along the highway and bridge.
This race is set up for easy access by locals or out of town visitors. Jacksonville is accessible by Interstate 95 from the north and south and Interstate 10 from the west. For those flying in there is an International Airport just outside of town with shuttles to many of the race sponsored hotels that have shuttles to the race start before and after the race.
Oh my God! There's tons of swag to be had at the EXPO. For participants there are long sleeve tech shirts (white for male and pink for female), draw-string race backpacks that double as checked bags on the day of race and the normal race sponsor items and coupons inside these bags when picked up at the EXPO. Race finishers get a super cool medal and two beverage tickets that can score beer in the family reunion area.
POST RACE AWARDS & FOOD:
Plenty of volunteers line the chute after the finish line with everything a finisher could ask for whether it's water, an emergency blanket, ice packs, post race photographs and oh, don't forget the medal. All finishers get a really cool medal. As the chute funnels out into the Runner's Village there's a first aid station and lots and LOTS of food. Panera Bread serves hot soup, Publix serves fruit (bananas, oranges & muffins) and various sponsors give away their products. Runners easily claim their checked bags and then can filter out into the Family Reunite Area where there's more food for sale, beverages and live music being played. Each participant gets two beverage vouchers on their race bibs good for beer or soda or water. A lot of Jenny's friends that don't drink gave me their vouchers so I had a beer or four! At noon they gave out awards on stage. Top finishers in age groups get backpacks!
MY RACE STORY:
This is a race that I will hopefully remember for the rest of my life. It was one of those times when all the planets and stars align just perfectly and create something wonderful and special and memorable.
First off, it's the day before Valentine's Day and last year Jenny and I (only dating for a few months) ran a marathon relay (Five Points of Life) together on Valentine's Day. We decided after that race that we should always do a race on Valentine's Day. Screw going out for an overpriced meal at a fancy restaurant with a long wait and bad service!
Secondly, it's a Team Hot Legs event (a couple dozen of Jenny's female runner friends call themselves Hot Legs) and by my count nine of them are here on race day. Then there's myself and one other male, Don, who happens to be a 50 Stater (has run 1 marathon in each of the 50 states) and is a father of one of the founders of Hot Legs, Katie. So this race is almost a girl's weekend for Jenny, except I'm here and a few other husbands, boyfriends, fathers are too.
Lastly, Jenny and I are both dealing with on-going injuries so this is our first longer distance race in a few months. We're only running the Half Marathon and everyone else is running the full including three girls running their first full marathon.
Jenny asks me several times in the days before the race if I want to run together? My answers were vague, but consistent; I'd like to run with her, but I'm not sure I can keep up with her with my Achilles tendon being a little bothersome and I don't want to force her to run slow (which can be equally painful). The day of the race comes and we're standing in the corral trying to keep warm and Jenny asks again, "what's the plan?"
I answer with let's run together and see how it goes. Let's make this a fun run. No pressure. Enjoy the course. We find Michelle and Tracy in the start corral, but have lost everyone else in the exciting few minutes before the start.
Jeff Galloway and Donna Deegan both give speeches and then there's the countdown. I'm tall enough to see the 30 or 40 yards in front of me where the elites are toeing the line. There's a purse in this race so the Kenyans and Russians are here. There's a countdown and then the gun fires, music plays and pink graffiti goes everywhere!
Like so many races there's some weaving and passing for the first few minutes, but after the first mile everyone has spread out into the proper paces. I would later learn that our first mile is our slowest at 8:48 average pace. Jenny and I fall into conversation. We talk in detail about how cold our extremities are, the Intracoastal Waterway we are seeing along the course and many other random subjects. Before I know what's happened we pass the mile 5 marker. I'm feeling really good at this point.
We run down the beach and it's absolutely beautiful. I was worried there might be good waves to surf and that I might feel like I was missing out, but the Atlantic ocean looks like a lake and there are no waves to be surfed. The conversation continues and we're both feeling great. Part of our strategy is to run a "conversation pace." If we're able to have a conversation then we're "taking it easy," and not going at race pace.
We pass the mile 11 marker and I'm almost dumbfounded about how good I feel. I look at my Garmin and become more confused. After doing the math I figure that if we run the final 2.1 miles at an 8 minute or faster pace I should easily beat my half marathon PR. I tell Jenny this and since we're both feeling so good we decide to go for it. We turn on our iPods for the first time. The first thing I hear is a Spanish lesson. Sh*T! I press forward and get another Spanish lesson. I downloaded some basic Spanish lessons before our vacation to Colombia last month and now my iPod is stuck in Spanish lesson hell when I need it to play something hard and heavy. Finally I get to some music. It's Hoobastank's "Running Away." Fitting. . . so I go with it. Right around mile 12 there is a bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway. It's the only bridge and the only hill. Jenny goes ahead of me as she's better going up and I'm usually better going down so I'll catch her. This is a strategy we used during the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll marathon. Only problem this time is there's several hundred high school kids just before the top of the bridge manning an aid station and cheering us on. It's awesome and I give some of the girls high fives as I run past. Only problem is they are accidentally creating a bottleneck and I get stuck behind several runners and once I'm through I realize I'm not to the top yet. This "hill" ends up taking a little more out of me than I expected and Jenny gets a little further away. I pick up the pace going down and pass a lot of runners, but Jenny still turns and slows down for me at the bottom. We turn the final corner and can see the finish line about a half mile away. Jenny says that Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba" just came on her iPod, one of her favorite running songs. My iPod begins to play "Give it all" by Rise Against. Epic! I look over at her and say "let's do this," and we both start kicking it. We cross the finish line a few minutes later running a 6:55 pace and holding hands! I look at my Garmin and I've shattered my half marathon PR by nearly a minute!
I don't usually buy the race pictures, but this one I might just have to make an exception.
This was one of the most meaningful and fun races to date. Everything about it was feel good! Heck, somewhere between getting water in the chute and getting our photos taken Jenny recognized Bill Rodgers standing over to the side all by himself. He had just finished a few minutes ahead of us and was cooling down. Jenny approached him to say hi and that's when I heard the "quote of the race," at the top of my blog.
After getting some food and icing our injuries Jenny and I spent the rest of the day watching her fellow Hot Legs finish the full marathon. There were quite a few PRs to be had and even a BQ. It's a great race and I'll always be up to run it again.
My official stats (Sunday results only):
214th out of 4,032 half marathon finishers
21st in my age division (30-34) out of 110 (top 19%)
Chip Time: 1:48:31 (a new half marathon PR!)
5-Mile split time: 41:10
Average pace: 8:17 (6:55 negative split on the last mile)
26.2 with Donna TallGuySurfing grade = A
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Central Florida Warrior Dash (Lake Wales) - Jan. 29-30
Quote of the Race: "I'm never doing this again!" - Jenny after crossing the finish line covered head to toe in mud.
Location - Triple Canopy Ranch in Lake Wales, Florida. Also in 27 other locations in North America and Australia.
Cost - $40 pre-registration ($30 if you Google search "promo code for Warrior Dash" and find one that works like we did!) or $50-$60 day of race.
Year of Running - Unknown, but I've heard of it for at least a year or two.
Sponsor/Race Directors - Red Frog Events Production
Charity - Not sure. This venue is out to make a buck. That being said, they do collect your unwanted muddy shoes after the race to be donated to a charity or recycled. I think I also saw something about volunteers and fund raising on the website.
Number of Participants - 6,394 on Saturday. 5,159 on Sunday. Total - 11,553
Available Races - 3.02-mile mud-trail run with 11 obstacles (distance varies upon location).
Course Condition - Take a sandbox and fill it with mud and water. Pack your shoes full of mud and get them soaked to the point they weight three times as much as normal. Now run, crawl and jump your way through that box of mud with 600 friends and that's your course condition.
Pace Groups - N/A
Expo - N/A Packet pickup is day of race and they recommend being an hour early.
ORGANIZATION, SUPPORT & SPECTATORS:
Red Frog Productions definitely has their act together when it comes to moving as many participants as possible through this course while keeping the entertainment value at its max. It's the type of event you see, do the math in your head and say "damn I wish I was behind this money making machine!" By providing an awesome event venue mixed with alcohol and music and a moderately challenging race course to the average person they've created an excellent adventure for the weekend warrior-type. Packet pick up was easy and well organized. The only hiccup I observed was a seeming significant number of participants, including one in my group of nine, found incorrect information about themselves in their packets. My friend was placed in the wrong age division (younger) and told to go to a different tent to have it corrected. That tent happened to have the longest line anywhere (even longer than the beer tent!). We arrived 1 hour early as recommended, but didn't have time for that line so my friend ran the race in a younger age division.
The race is organized into waves starting every 30 minutes with about 600 runners each. There is adequate support with an aid station near the halfway point (mile 1.5) with water. Bananas and water are provided at the finish line.
Spectators have a blast at this race lining the course along the final two obstacles -- several rows of fire that participants jump over and a long trench of mud with real barbwire hanging only inches above the water forcing participants to practically swim through the mud. I did not investigate if spectators are allowed to venture out onto the course at any other points and I did not notice anyone along the course other than volunteers. Regardless, the party is near the finish line.
I found that the event website was very informative and that Red Frog Productions executed exactly what was described on the website.
The Central Florida event is located on a ranch near the city of Lake Wales. You definitely need a car to get here. It's about an hour south of Orlando (nearest International Airport) and was about a 2.5-hour drive from Daytona Beach, Florida. Parking was limited on the event grounds and cost $10 per car cash only, which was slightly steep and annoying. A $5 fee would have seemed more appropriate and less greedy by organizers. Upon reflection, this event is not very handicap friendly as well.
Warrior Dash gets kudos in this department. This race definitely takes the old "I'll do anything for a t-shirt" mentality to a new level by providing each participant with a "Warrior hat" that looks like a viking helmet with horns. They also give out cotton T-shirts. We found that the extra large t-shirts were better quality than all the smaller sizes. This is because they were a gray color while the others were plain white and probably more subject to shrinkage after washing. Other swag included bib numbers, timing chip and the normal various coupons and marketing material.
POST RACE AWARDS & FOOD:
Now that everyone is covered in mud at the finish line it is time to party! Every finisher gets a medal (of average quality) and the opportunity to take a mass shower. I found that Muddy Buddy (a Competitor event similar to Warrior Dash) has them beat hands down in the washing off department. Warrior Dash was nothing more than a large waterfall that participants walked through like a car wash and tried to rub off the mud. Muddy Buddy provides designer shampoo and conditioner at the washing stations. Later we learned there were showers on the ranch located near the camping section, but this seemed to be a secret at the finish line. The best part of the post race party was the beer. All participants (ages 21-and-up) get one free beer. It was Budweiser or Bud Light. Not my favorite, but I guess fitting for a mud event. It still tasted good given the situation. As for food, we brought our own preferred food in coolers in our vehicles. From what I observed they were selling large turkey legs designed to really make you look like a warrior if eating off the bone while wearing the viking helmet although probably not the diet of choice for most athletes.
MY RACE STORY:
This was my race. Those are the words Jenny said to me as we discussed strategy in the race corral a few minutes before starting. I had talked her into this and recruited friends to run with us and she was letting me know that I should run it anyway I like. Yup, this is not her cup of tea. Eleven obstacles in only 3-miles means not much time to set a pace and cruise. Instead there will be interruptions to the pace every few hundred yards. To some that could mean more opportunity for injuries. For me, it's just plain old boyish excitement. Almost like free running or psychotic Fartlet workouts.
The start horn sounded and instead of fireworks, huge blasts of fire irrupted from the start line. As we shuffled near the start line (in true misfit fashion our entire party of 9 was at the back of the 600-person wave) three of us started the weaving and zigzagging required to pass slower runners and increase our pace. Each time we passed people we'd hear them laughing at our outfits. It was action and reaction! About a half mile into the race the first obstacle came into sight. It was a long mud pit nothing more than a jeep trail full of water. Thinking back at my southern redneck roots I automatically knew it would be deepest in the tire ruts. Sure enough, the runner in front of me falls head first into the water after stepping in the spot that the right tire would hit on a 4x4. I immediately stepped to the right and ran the edge of the water and this allowed me to pass about 20 runners. I went with this strategy for the rest of the race. Simply watch the runners in front of you approaching the obstacle and formulate a plan of attack before reaching it based on the line they take and what happens to them. After racing Muddy Buddy I knew from experience I didn't want to be held up by people in front of me rather than the obstacle itself.
After the first mile it was less crowded and I was alone with the rest of our group somewhere behind me. The obstacles start blurring together. My shoes are super heavy from being soaked and undoubtedly full of sand and mud. For only being a few minutes into a short distance race I'm feeling surprisingly winded. It's gotta be the obstacles I tell myself. They're not hard obstacles, but it's definitely different than running a race at one pace the entire time.
Of all the obstacles the funniest one occurred around the halfway point. It was an incline plank that required balance to run up to a 6-foot high wall with a rope net connecting it to another wall 20-feet or so away. Beyond the second wall was another horizontal rope net leading to a final wall with another plank sloping back down to the ground. I watched the runners in front of me. They went right so I decided to go left. As I reached the first rope net instinct told me to jump into it with my body remaining horizontal and roll across rather than trying to step on the rope and climb across. This was absolutely brilliant as I passed the two runners on the right side of the obstacle in the first rope net. When I reached the second wall I flung my body over it without regard and began rolling across it again. Now for the unexpected. . .
When I reached the bottom of the second rope net I collided with a soft mass at the deepest point. I soon realized it was a body. I was immediately confused. There had been no one ahead of me on the left side of the obstacle as I approached it seconds ago. I was sure I picked a clear line to attack. Then I realized it was a woman. It was a large (obese) woman and she was laying there as if stuck. She wasn't even trying to move! She had made this obstacle into her own personal hammock! She must have been from the wave that started before our wave.
"Oh.... I'm so sorry! I didn't see you here," I said as I was practically laying on top of her. "Are you ok?"
"Yeah," she quietly said.
Not knowing what the hell to do I decided it best to keep moving in the fastest way possible, which of course, was to keep on rolling. I rolled right across her apologizing the entire way and worked my way over the last wall and down the plank. At the base was another large woman yelling some kind of ill-received encouragement to her friend to keep moving. I ran as fast as I could to get away from that obstacle.
By the end of the race I was fairly winded. This surprised me. The obstacles take a little more out of you than you'd expect.
Jenny finished just behind me and as I went up to give her a hug you looked at me, mud dripping down all over her face, and said "I'm never doing this again, " in a disgusted tone.
It was priceless.
We all had a beer and laughed about it later. Warrior Dash is a fun event not to be taken too seriously. It's set up in a way that just about anyone can do it so it's great for groups of friends both large and small.
And by the way... I almost forgot to mention the Hooters outfits. One of my friends worked at Hooters many years ago during college (she now has an engineering degree and thinks teaching calculus if fun) and she was nice enough to allow most of our party (those willing) to wear a bunch of her old outfits. This put us into almost celebrity status amongst the crowd. I literally lost count of how many people asked to have their pictures taken with us.
My official stats (Sunday results only):
307th out of 5,159 finishers
37th in my age division (30-34) out of 518 (top 7%)
Chip Time: 28:17
Average pace: 8:45
Central Florida Warrior Dash TallGuySurfing grade = B+