When it comes to weightlifting, lifting weights, and strength training in general, the barbell is the signature tool we think of, and for a good reason. Various strength-training movements with the barbell can produce phenomenal results when done correctly. However, traditional barbell training can come at a cost. Learning Curve Understanding how to perform various barbell movements such as the deadlift and back squat takes a fair amount of skill. From the set up to […]
The Race is Done!
My long anticipated race is now over. Since July, I have been awaiting the challenge of the Men’s Health Urbanathlon in Chicago. If you want to read how it all started, you can check out my first blog entry about the race here.
I started out letting everyone know that I would have an unorthdox style of training to prepare for this race. Well, I held to my word. I did not run nearly as much as I wanted to, or needed to for that matter (more on that later). I even ended up competing in a CrossFit competition a week before the race. Did my unorthdox way of training for a running race work in the end? I would argue, yes.
My Results and Pain From the Race
Overall I was very happy with my finish. I always want to do better if I did not finish in first place, but like any competitor, if you are not first you are last. I am not a runner, nor do I plan to become one. I was just looking to challenge myself and finish in the top half of the competitors. Without running a whole heck of a lot (about 2-3 days a week for the first two months, then minimal the last month), I finished in the top tier of competitors. I finished in a time of 1:56:13 coming in 782/2,079 overall, 698th/1,642 male, 156th/376 in my age division. Not bad for hardly running! My original goal time was 1:30, but that was based on a different course length. After finishing better than 1,297 competitors I was very pleased but not satisfied. Could I have finished higher if I ran a little more? I think so. I knew if I ran 20+ miles a week I would have neglected other aspects of my training, lost muscle and possibly got injured. Without having a tremendous running volume, I still finished higher than some people that I know who were running 30-40 miles a week! I like to lift weights way too much to dedicate a significant amount of time to running!
If you want to see all of the race results you can click here.
My Eating Before the Race
If you practice healthy daily eating habits, I see no need to have some “special” meal before an athletic event. Just stay hydrated and everything should be fine. I just stuck with my usual regimen. I took 2 scoops of BCAA’s, creatine, green food pills, cod liver oil and plenty of water. Had my last meal around 8pm and had nothing to eat in the morning until well after the race. I think it was about 11am when I had a huge breakfast burrito with eggs, steak, cheese, peppers, onions, mushrooms and some potatoes. I never felt tired, or had the need to eat food.
As I mentioned, I was in a CrossFit competition a week before the race. It was a killer of a competition. I was EXTREMELY sore up until the day before the race. Luckily, I felt fine in the lower-body, but most of the soreness resided in the upper-body from the insane amount of chest to bar pull-ups that I had to do. I did not feel 100% the whole week, but I had to keep going.
The day of the race I felt pretty good. I did not feel too sore and I was full of energy. I started out at a pretty good pace. The first obstacle I came across was a cinch. As I continued on, my body started to get a little bit tight. My hip flexors, in particular, were fatiguing around mile five. This was not a good sign, but wasn’t too bad. As the race progressed I could feel my running gait starting to change. I looked down at my right foot around mile 7 or 8 and noticed it was pointing out quite a bit. I was getting even more fatigued. It wasn’t my cardiovascular system that was being compromised, nor was I mentally tired. My muscles were just not used to this long of a distance and they were letting me know.
As I approached Soldier Field, I was actually excited for the stairs. I had heard that this would be a tough part of the race, but I was ready to tackle this obstacle. Having my body perform some different movements at each obstacle seemed to be a good break from all of the running. My body did not seem to like the repetitive nature of the running, so I was more than happy to climb some stairs. I hustled pretty hard though soldier field. Running up and down the stairs of a football stadium gave me the renewed motivation to push hard until the end despite my fatigue and increased pain in my right foot.
I made my way out of Soldier Field and started to see other competitors feeling the demands of the race. There was a guy sitting down with leg cramps. Another was limping as hard as he could to continue. In addition, I noticed that peoples facial expressions were starting to go from excited to mentally drained. I just kept on going and used that as motivation to not stop running! I was determined never to walk any part of the race, except when I was waiting in line to go up the stairs, or when entering an obstacle course.
At this point my right foot was in quite a bit of pain. My running gait was compromised even more and I was ready to cross the finish line. The second to last obstacle was approaching and it looked like an easy one. This obstacle required some crawling, tires and small barriers to jump over. After finishing that obstacle I heard a guy say, “one more mile everyone! Keep Pushing!” That was just what I needed. I just wanted to know the ending point. I just put my head down and ran as fast as I could. I pushed the pain in my foot out of my head and focused on finishing strong. As I came upon the final obstacle I was relieved. The sound of the loud music and the roar of the crowd gave me the push to climb the net to get over the bus. I then jumped the 9-foot wall with ease and finished!
After the race was done my right foot was hurting pretty bad. Everything else was just tight and sore. As I write this a few days later, I am pretty sure I just have some fasciitis and not a stress fracture. This probably happened for two reasons. First, I did not run enough to allow my body to acclimate to the constant pounding. I felt my body was in good enough shape to do the race and finish well. If it wasn’t for my foot, I could have shaved off 5-10 minutes from my time. Second, the body is just not made to run long distances. Our bodies can withstand the demands of walking for miles and miles at a time, but not running. My injury is prevalent amongst runners.
If you asked me today if I would do another one, I would have to say no. I loved blogging about it for Men’s Health and am glad I did it. I just do not enjoy running long distances. I loved that the race involved various obstacle courses, had lots of energy, tons of sponsors and was in Chicago. I am just into training for more sports than just running. If I was going to do another Urbanathlon I would choose to do the relay with some friends. I think that would be fun. Running 10.8 miles is just not that fun!
Quick Thoughts on Long Distance Running
To date, I have ran two 1/2 marathons, about 6 or 7 competitive 5k races and now the Urbanathlon. I am pretty convinced that the majority of the population should not run more than a 5k at one time. Most people are either not in good enough shape to run, a little to overweight to run, or have pre-existing issues such as imbalances, pain, and injury that prevent them from running properly. If you are in shape and have no pre-existing conditions, you can probably get away with running a long distance race 1-2 times per year. Most people that are in descent shape can do multiple 5k races with no issues. With anything in life, you need to have a balanced attack. Too much of any type of fitness modality will always come back to bite you.
I have not committed to any other fitness events just yet. I am thinking about competing in powerlifting again. I haven’t done that since 2002. I also really enjoy competing in CrossFit competitions with my wife. Time will tell what I will do next, so stay in touch!
Thank you for all following me during my training for the race!