Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Who is up for the Challenge?

First it was marathons, then triathlons. Some endurance junkies leapt over to ultra running, while others gave obstacle course racing a try. Obstacle course races, like Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, and Spartan Race have become increasingly popular for competitors seeking the newest way to get their adrenaline rush. Unlike running and triathlon races, however, which almost always have shorter races for kids, most obstacle races do not offer anything for the little tykes. Christ Classical Academy (CCA), a private school in Tallahassee, is changing that by holding their first Gladiator Challenge on November 9 at Trinity Community Church.

The race is open to the general public and  features two events: the shorter Mini Gladiator Obstacle Course, for ages 2-6 and the longer Gladiator Challenge, for ages 6-14. The Mini has already reached capacity, but there is still room in the Gladiator challenge.

What can participants expect on race day? This is no simple one mile fun run. There are ten obstacles dispersed over the 1.2 mile course. Inspiration for the obstacles came from parents who have participated in adult obstacle course races. The race begins with a mud pit and goes on to include a low crawl on rope netting, hay bale pyramid, log walk, and a “goo” pit, made of cornstarch and Elmer’s glue. Racers will receive wristbands at two checkpoints on the course, which they must have in order to be deemed a “Gladiator” at the finish. Participants compete as individuals, but helping others along the way is highly encouraged.

According to Head of School Amy Hines, at $4700, CCA has the lowest tuition of any private school in Tallahassee. The Gladiator event is a way to raise funds for the school’s general operating budget. Hines states the entire school is preparing for the event. Each grade level has taken charge of an obstacle, both building the structure and staffing the obstacle with student and parent volunteers.

Students have been physically preparing themselves for the challenge as well. They have Gladiator training days one day a week, complete with Gladiator meals at lunch. Throughout the fall, students have also learned about real-life Gladiators who played important parts in history.

The event is relying heavily on sponsors. Trinity Community Church on Bannerman Road is graciously hosting the race, Nelson and Affiliates is setting up the obstacles, and Capital City Runners has donated gift cards for overall winners. Other sponsors include Radiology Associates, Boyd & Durant Law Firm, Second Street Photography, Juice Plus, Parker Services, Harvest Investment Advisors and Chick Fil A. Sponsors and volunteers are still needed. If you’d like to do either or both, please contact the school.

There are only forty spots left in the Gladiator Challenge. To sign up, go to the school's website, www.christclassical.com.  The race will start at 9am and participants should wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty.

 Amy Hines leads CCA Gladiators in their physical training

Saturday, October 5, 2013

This was my second year racing the Hy Vee Triathlon. Last year’s race was a bit anti-climactic. A strong bike and run could not make up for a poor swim. While I finished in the top ten, feeling that I was capable of a better race, left me feeling a bit disappointed in myself.

I was determined that this year’s race would be different. At a minimum, I was determined to have an aggressive and confident swim, a swim I knew I was capable of having. The race started about an hour late due to a bad thunderstorm that came through about 3am. This extra time allowed for a relaxed warm up and plenty of time to get in the water before my wave went off. The 84 degree water meant I’d be able to use my Xterra swim skin. This swim skin makes me feel sleek and smooth in the water and is super comfortable. The swim started out very fast, with lots of feet and arms kicking about. I ended up swimming most of the course with a couple of other girls. I came out of the water in 9th, much better than last year’s 17th! Goal number one achieved! While I think I am capable of swimming a bit better, seeing my swim time back in 23 minutes was validation for all the time I’ve spent in the pool over the past year. I know a 23 minute swim doesn’t exactly say “super-fast” but compared to times from previous years, I am happy with it.

As I made my way to the main part of the bike course, I saw the pros coming back, looking like they were barely moving. The storm had brought some strong winds with it, along with wet roads, which claimed a few of them; several of the pro women crashed badly on a corner. Keeping all this in mind, I pushed as hard as possible going out, knowing that the headwind would slow things down quite a bit on the way back in. I was able to make up some ground on the bike, starting the run in 6th place.

The wind did not ease up for the run. While the bike course was the same as last year, the run was quite different. Instead of winding through downtown Des Moines and finishing straight up a hill in front of the Capital, the course was flat and finished at Gray’s Lake, not too far from the start. We had a strong tailwind the first two or so miles, which meant a strong headwind on the way back in. I was able to pass a few girls on the run, but wasn’t sure of what place I was in when I crossed the finish. After talking to the first and second place finishers, and not seeing a third place finisher around, I realized I must’ve gotten third.
When I look back at a race, I always ask myself if I would still be satisfied with it, even if I had placed last in my division. With this race, I can say yes, that no matter where I ended up on the results page, I am pleased with my performance. It was probably one of the more all-around solid races I’ve put together in a while. It was also encouraging to see that the hard work I put in over the summer paid off. I do most of my training by myself and haven’t raced since July, so it was good to see that the work was quality work and prepared me for race day.

Getting to the finish line is truly a collaborative effort. I wouldn’t be there without the support of my husband and parents, friends and training partners, as well as PowerBar, Xterra, Rudy Project, Mizuno, Nuun, and Louis Garneau.  Thank you for all your help!

Link to results is here.