2016 certainly had its ups and downs. An insane amount of beloved celebrities passing away, an off-the-wall election (that’s all I’m saying about that!), a 108-long championship drought finally ended, and all sorts of dirty things happening. If we learn nothing else from this year, I submit that we remember that anything can happen in this world, and it’s best to constantly push ourselves to be better people. And at least on that note, 2016 has been that for me.
Let’s start out with some new levels achieved. First, I managed to run four races this year that I hadn’t done before. On the local side, I ran the AIDS Orphans 5K Mud Run and the Melbourne Mud Bash, both in Melbourne, Florida. The latter is a fun race specifically for the obstacle racer looking for a good time. The former is put on by Teen Missions International to raise money that goes to build medical shelters and bring medical supplies to African children who lost their parents to AIDS. On the multi-state or national side, I got through the Bone Frog Challenge Sprint and my first ever Warrior Dash. Bone Frog was close to five miles long and definitively tested my limits with obstacles I’ve never done, like a legitimate rope climb. Warrior Dash (which can read my review here) was just a lot of fun. And despite what you read, I’d do it again.
I also ran in two races I know all too well, my third Rugged Maniac and my second and third Savage Race. Technically, I finished Maniac in just over an hour, but I stopped my watch during waits for some of the obstacles, so my unofficial finish was 58 minutes, my fastest for the race. And completing two Savage Races in a calendar earned me my very own Savage Syndicate medal and Florida pin. Pretty sweet possessions to add to my collection.
Speaking of my collection, I’ve had a bad habit since starting this crazy journey of not giving my medals the proper display. So I picked up a free pallet from Lowe’s and turned it into a display for my medals. Now, visitors to my home will see the pride I take in making it through all of these races, and that this is a sport that I truly care about.
So what’s next for 2017?
Well, I learned a valuable lesson with running seven races in a year (which I know is way less than many others do, but remember, I’m not trying to be a serious athlete here). That lesson is to be more methodical in the planning of what races I want to do. Running that third Savage Race really only happened because I had colleagues doing it and they asked me to join. Prior to that, I was considering skipping it. I have typically decided to do races almost on whims. Usually that works if I get notice of a flash deal or a big discount code, but considering this is a pretty expensive hobby, it’s really important to be mindful of my budget and how much I’m spending. (My one big exception to this was Bone Frog, which I volunteered for in order to get my race entry. Volunteering, I can finally say, is a great way to save money on races, and you get to meet the awesome people who run the race!)
With that in mind, I have three goals I’m aiming for in 2017:
- Run in a competitive wave. Yes, I know I said just a paragraph ago that I’m not trying to be a serious athlete. But on the flip side, one of the reasons I do this is to push myself physically and mentally. The logical next step is to run in a competitive wave. Do I think I’ll win? Nope. Will I even make the podium? Doubtful. But how cool would it be to say that I’ve run in an OCR competitive wave? And finished it?! That’s why I want to try it. And I’ve picked it out: Warrior Dash. It’s good race for a beginning OCR athlete, so it will be just right for my purposes of a first-time competitor.
- Complete a Spartan Trifecta. I’ve been reconnecting with an old buddy of mine from high school a bit through our love for OCR. He’s competed several Trifectas for Spartan Race, he’s a founding member of the North Star Spartans, one of the country’s largest OCR groups, and he’s competed in the OCR World Championships. Now I don’t see myself replicating all of that, but I do believe it’s plausible for me to complete at least one Trifecta. Plus I’ve been wanting to try a Spartan Race for a while, so why not shoot for the Trifecta. That only gives us more to talk about…
- Lastly, travel out of state for a race. This goes a little with the previous goal since Spartan Race doesn’t always have all three races in one state. But I was thinking about it the other day. I’ve done all of my 13 races thus far in Florida. Two of them (Space Coast Mud Run and Melbourne Mud Bash) were at the same location, and SIX of them (my three Rugged Maniacs and three Savage Races) were at the same location. That is not a lot of variety at all. And since I’m doing Warrior Dash (which is at the same place as last year), I’ll really need to inject some new places for these races. And if I’m doing new races in new places, who says they have to be in Florida? No one.
The best part about planning out these goals now is that it will allow me to both train and budget better. The competitive wave will demand more of me, plus Spartan has many obstacles I’ve never done. And not only do I need to budget to pay for the races, but I also have to start planning ahead for travel. So overall, being more methodical will benefit me in the long run.
So as we close our 2016 and welcome 2017, throw up your horns, shout out an AROO, and brace yourself. It’s going to be an awesomely muddy year!