From Casual to Competitor 7: Changing My Vocaburlary


Two weeks ago, I thought I closed out my From Casual to Competitor series. And then, I somehow pulled out a personal pinnacle: completing three obstacle course races in three straight weekends. After that, I had a conversation with my girlfriend, and I was talking about being a casual obstacle course racer. She then made the very obvious point I’d been missing: “You probably should drop the word ‘casual’ from your vocabulary.”

Since I’ve already written about my first competitive wave at Warrior Dash in my last post, I’m going to skip that one for now. From there, I took on two more races, plus my second stint as a volunteer.

Terrain Racing

The first experience took place due to forgetting to mark my calendar. A couple months back, I signed up to volunteer at Terrain Race. After Warrior Dash, I realized I forgot when this race was supposed to happen. So I double checked…turned out it was a week after Warrior Dash. So then came decision time: do I want to go volunteer and then race or take the weekend off? Well, after a day or so thinking about it, I decided to honor my commitment and volunteer. If anything, I didn’t have to run the course to still volunteer. But then again…why volunteer and not run the race?

I showed up that Saturday morning at 6:30 am to check in. It was a brisk morning, and I opted to leave a jacket at home because I knew it would eventually warm up. It took about an hour before a realized that was a mistake. The crew had a good handle on what they needed from the volunteers, and I was assigned to help out at the starting line. Mostly I invited each wave into the starting area (which was one of three large pools; the only race I’ve been to thus far that makes racers start in water). After the competitive waves started their runs, we started herding the casual runners in. After the first hour, Shea (the MC at the starting line) asked if I wanted to provide Terrain Racing’s signature start signal: fire their mini-cannon. Seriously…how could I say no to that?

After spending my time at the starting line for the day, I was asked just before noon if I wanted to race. I was definitely set to get on the course. In fact, I was the last person to get on the course. Seriously…the LAST person. They wrapped the waves shortly after I got off my volunteer shift. But thankfully, Shea was not going to let me miss my chance to get out there.

I did get one valuable lesson from this volunteering experience: going on the course after nearly five hours was not something I was prepared for. As crazy as it sounds, I felt more tired after standing around the starting line all day than I thought I would be. Because I was the last person to start the course, I decided to make it easier on the rest of the crew and volunteers by getting through it as fast as possible. This meant doing something I’m not fond of doing: skipping obstacles. Looking back, I probably could’ve handled them easily. (Scratch that: I know I could’ve handled those obstacles easily.) But all told, it was just nice get on a course for fun. And to collect another medal.

Overall, the course was fun and challenging. And they weren’t kidding about their name; they picked one heck of a terrain to attempt to conquer. I got through in just past an hour. Not as good as my Warrior Dash time, even with going past obstacles, but still a fun course. I’d be interested in doing it again.

Bonefrog Challenge

I wrote about my first volunteer experience at Bonefrog last year, so when the race came up again, I was already interested. To add to my interest, several students from my school were set to volunteer and run the course, plus the event would be a different location, making it a different race than last year’s. I woke up early the morning of Warrior Dash, and unable to get back to sleep, I decided to just go ahead and sign up. (This was before I remembered I had Terrain Racing, so I figured I’d have two weeks to recuperate.)

I was looking forward to going out on Bonefrog again. They had several of the obstacles I remembered from last September, plus a few new ones to try. The time on this course was also longer than planned; I finished at about an hour and 10 minutes unofficially. But, I can brag about one thing: 100-percent obstacle completion with no help and zero penalties. In fact, I went through several obstacles with such a high level of ease, that even I was surprised. The Drunken Monkey, the Cargo Net Climb, Black Ops, even the Rope Climb and Dead Weight. All of these obstacles were much easier to accomplish without any assistance. (I even joked after getting through Drunken Monkey with such efficiency that I hoped someone would tag me on Twitter.)

This was a unique moment for me. Realizing that these obstacles were becoming easier and finishing these races at steadier times made it clear that I’m getting better. I’m getting stronger and faster and clearly capable of handling multiple races within a short period of time. (Plus being featured on Bonefrog’s Instagram the morning of race made me feel all the more awesome.)

New Vocabulary

So back to the title of this post: changing my vocabulary. I don’t think I can label myself as a “casual” obstacle course racer anymore. Does this mean I’m now a full-on competitor? Not quite. While I’m interested in doing another competitive wave down the road, it won’t be right away. But if I’m certainly passed the “casual” label, then what am I? Well, there is a label in between the two that I’ve taken up. I’m now a serious obstacle course racer. I care about doing well and pushing myself, but I’m still out to have a good time. Maybe one day I’ll be racing with the big guys and trying pull down some podium time, but for the time being, I’m happy where I am. And I’m looking forward to what the future holds.

And for my regular readers: don’t worry! I’m not abandoning my stance of writing for the casual racer. Just adding another layer to it. I’m still the same fun-loving mud runner I was when I started this crazy journey! Trust me! Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter and see for yourself!

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