This winter has been pretty rough. I don't remember having seasonal depression like this in a good 7-8 years. Cold, darkness, pain (arthritis) and work-related anxiety have all been pretty hard to handle.
Now, slowly but surely, I'm rising from my winter-long withdrawal. It's a bad place for me to be; I am an introvert, and I like my quiet time, but my mental health suffers when I isolate myself. I'm not staying here. I'm not Luke Skywalker and I didn't come here to die. It's time to find myself again.
I'm still trying to find my consistency from a training standpoint, but I can't just force-project myself back into goal shape; it takes consistent work, and I need to continue to put in that work, consistently.
I'll be competing in the 2018 OCR World Championships for the second year in a row. In 2017, I qualified as an age group competitor twice during the season and raced in a group of similarly grey-bearded men. I'll be traveling to the United Kingdom this year to race again, regardless of whether I qualify, and will run as a journeyman if necessary. However, it's my goal to qualify to race against other 50-and-over men again this year, and this time, I don't want to just show up and be happy I'm there, I want to finish closer to the middle of the pack than the back, and I'd like to leave with something more than just a finisher medal and a tee shirt: I want to keep my band.
I lost mine on Stairway to Heaven. It was humbling.
Most obstacle race series (With the exception of my first OCR love, Spartan Race) expect pro and competitive racers to COMPLETE ALL THE OBSTACLES in order be podium-eligible. Everyone else is an official finisher, but those of me in the other category are not eligible for podiums - overall or age group.
To make sure officials can tell who falls into which category, racers get a band, which is removed when one cannot complete an obstacle, usually after multiple attempts.
Some race directors take pride in the bands they capture. Freaking Canadians. For the record, I completed this thing at OCRWC after 4-5 attempts.
I'm pretty obstacle proficient, and have been for some time, but this year, I'm aiming for 100% completion at the World Championships, and that goal will take consistent work to achieve. Anyone who's been around an EricMN challenge over the last three years knows what they're about to see below:
I have gone from "I'm not a runner" to "I enjoy trail running." The problem is, our trails have been frozen for almost five months and the cold aggravates my psoriatic arthritis. Also I just plain hate the cold. We're having a good thaw right now, but I'm still running on the Dreadmill until I know I won't kill myself on the trails.
Last year I hired a running coach to give me a running improvement plan. It works. I'm working back into this plan; right now I'm still building up my mileage from a winter of slacking. "Long" runs are relative. I know this works. Consistency will get me there.
Plan: Run a minimum of 3x per week, including 3-mile VO2 max interval training, 3-4 mile lactate threshold training, and weekend long run.
Without consistent strength training, I turn into a limp dishrag. Besides, I enjoy weight training. I need to supplement this with training that includes pull-ups and other raise-my-bodyweight exercises. The group classes I attend don't incorporate pull-ups basically because the instructors and most of the other attendees can't do them and are intimidated by them. I need them because arms, shoulders and back will help with obstacle proficiency and efficiency.
Plan: Strength training 3x per week: Weight training Tuesday, Boot Camp Thursday/Saturday, Grease the Groove pull-up work every day.
I've learned over the last four years of competing in Obstacle Course races that while one could probably power their way through many obstacles with sheer strength, there is a certain degree of skill necessary for things like rope climbing and rigs and Devil Steps and zip lines and whatnot. I bought a membership to Obstacle Academy, and they just finished a remodel. It's time to get on this.
Plan: Weekly obstacle workout at Obstacle Academy. Have a specific training plan every time instead of just going in and goofing around on the toys.
I lost a bunch of weight five years ago by tracking my nutritional macros and I've kept it off by doing the same. I've occasionally dropped five to ten pounds in between that has not stayed off because when I'm not tracking macros, I eat junk. Right now I look more like Kung Fu Panda in my race jerseys than I want to admit.
Plan: Log my food daily. Stick to my macros.
This is even more important right now than it was last time around. Work is a hot mess and I'm along for the ride. This is not a quantifyable, SMART goal, but it's on the list to remind me to be mindful and spend some time in self-care daily.
I Race. I do it because I enjoy it. A bad day on an obstacle course is still the happiest day of my week. I've got two race weekends bookending this challenge cycle:
Savage Race Florida, March 17
Wheel World, my nemesis. We meet again.
I really like Savage Race. It's obstacle-dense at around 30 obstacles over 6-7 miles. Any course in Florida is by definition going be pretty flat. These are things that work in my favor in the Open Waves. Based on both Spring and Fall results from 2017, I have a legit shot at an OCRWC Age Group qualifying finish.
Seattle Spartan Super and Sprint, April 14-15
Jesus, that jersey was too small for me. Also, I miss that bandana.
I loved this venue when I did it back in 2015. The course is fairly flat and runs out along the Snohomish River, which is gorgeous. Also, I will be visiting my middle daughter, who moved to Seattle a year ago. Best of all, she and one of her friends will be on-course, volunteering during the weekend. I'm glad the jerseys stand out so she can see me as I shuffle on through. The Sprint race on Sunday is another legit shot at a qualifying time.
It's been a long winter of self-imposed semi-isolation. I'm ready for it to be over.