On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Zombies and ultras and two questions for you

The other day I got a tweet from a former student:

Zombies! I gather this is the latest in the mud run/warrior dash/spartan race fad. An expensive fad. Occasionally a deadly one.

Truth be told, the event kind of sounds like fun. I probably won't do it, partly because of logistics (it's outside of Baltimore and I'm in NYC - although my smug urbanity forces me to pretend like my car-free status is not  a hindrance but instead something that makes me better than all of you oil dependents) and partly because of the price: $67 for a 5k? With "obstacles," so I won't even PR? It's for fun, right. Fun.

But if I understand correctly, it's not really a race per se. If you want to know how I feel about racing for "fun," read this post of Sarah's and my comments on it (I'm the first commenter).

So, question 1: what do you think of these "adventure" races - would you do one or have you done one (and was it fun)?

Zombies aside, you know what I might do? An ultra. I mean, I will do one at some point, but I'm starting to creep out of the dreaming stage and into the planning stage. Also on twitter, I was bantering with two friends about upcoming races, and this came up:

Obviously I'd have to start with a 50k like the Swamp Stomper, and the best thing to do would be to piggy-back it off of marathon training... like this fall's marathon training. I feel like I keep waiting to do things like this for a time when I'm much, much faster than I am at present.

Clue phone, it's for Tracy: you're never going to be that much faster. Plus, ultras have really good food at the aid stations.

So, question 2: Have you ever done an ultra, and (whether or not you have) should I do it?


  1. Check out April & Amy at http://26point2ers.blogspot.com/
    One of them did the Stmpjump last year - she does the Monkey most years, too. You can at least get some race report recon.

  2. I did the Down and Dirty Mud Run this year and am dying to do more races like that. I had a blast! I like the challenge and enjoyed just getting out there and enjoying myself. (At one point I wondered if I could finish. I was that exhausted.)

    IMHO, this is the type of race to do for fun. If people want to dress silly, take pictures, hold hands crossing the finish line this is the place. Not when I'm trying to run a fast time at a "real" race.

    I have never done an ultra and have ZERO desire to do so. I'm finally admitting to myself that I don't like training to run long. This will likely change in the dead of winter when our high is 70.

  3. Ok, there is NOTHING wrong with racing for fun as long as you are NOT blocking the people that are there to race (against others or themselves). I've done races to get my best time (like the Army Ten Miler last year that I pushed as much as I could) and I have done races for fun.

    Honestly, most of the time I DO think races are fun (though I admit I only feel that after it's over... It's like "this sucks, this sucks, this sucks, I hate running!... Ooooh, that was SO MUCH fun! When is the next race?").

    Anyway... I have run the Muddy Buddy one year, and the Marine Corps Run Amuck twice. They were a BLAST. Were they hard? You bet! (The Run Amuck you're running on the same field where the Marines train, and it's a dirt trail with a shitload of hills, the Muddy Buddy was also on a VERY hilly trail in a park near Richmond, and I'm always lucky enough that it rains a lot leading up to it so the trail is also muddy and slippery.) But doing the obstacles is also part of the fun. The mud part was cool, and I took it easy as I wasn't there to win (but many people are!), plus my last one was the day before a 17 miler.

    See my pictures of the Run Amuck (sadly, my last mud run). Unless you hate getting dirty (I don't mind when it's on purpose), doesn't it look like a blast? http://irunyourun.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/run-amuck-recap-3/ (plus the firehose on a super hot day? YES PLEASE!)

  4. Oh, Carla, you raise a good point and I should clarify - I'm not adverse to running races for fun. I think I sounded really harsh in my post. I AM adverse, like you say, to blocking people. I'm also anti-costume, or anything that else that makes it YOUR race at the expense of others.

    I do think races are fun, otherwise I wouldn't do so many (even though I'm bad at them...).

  5. A friend send me info about that Zombie race! I think it sounds really funny, and a lot more appealing to me than the muddy races. But I saw the first obstacle was through some sewage tunnel or something... hmm... :) And the price seems high too.

    I have done a few races just for fun, and not to compete. I don't want to try to PR every time, so when I am not doing that (or when I am pacing someone), I consider it being a race for fun. I thought that post was funny - when she called out HTP talking about how to pose for photographs. LOL - I agreed with Anna's comment - living for blogging vs the sake of living. Oh gosh. All of the comments are cracking me up. Thanks for sharing that.

  6. I have a friend who is driving up from Tennessee specifically to run this race. It does sound fun.

  7. Ad 1: Adventure races...would love to do one, but $67 for a 5K? Are they serving champagne at the finish line or something? Nope, wouldn't do that one. Plus, a mountain ultra can be some kind of obstacle course. ;)

    Ad 2: Uhm, yes! Yes! Yes! I'd start with a trail race...As for the distance: 50K, or just jump to 50 miles? :)

  8. Right, I think people above hit on it already, but there are races that are designed to be "fun" - zombie runs, Krispy Kreme runs, that horrible-sounding pizza run. When you run seriously in those runs, you are a douchebag. I would probably do an adventure race (I did a tiny one in college), but as a short, pretty weak person, I would likely suck at them.

    Ultras...no. Never had an interest. I can't rule them out, though, and honestly could see myself running one before I tackled a marathon.

  9. 50K isn't an ultra. It is just a longish marathon. Do a 50 miler! :) haha :)

  10. Hold up, back it up: Sarah, you've never run a marathon? How can that be?

  11. You're contemplating paying $67 to run a 5K. I've run a 50-miler for as little as $20. That should answer both of your questions.

  12. Heck no to marathons! Too much running.

  13. Some friends of mine did Tough Mudder and had a blast! I declined because I was afraid I'd wreck myself for marathon training, but I would absolutely do one of those fun mud runs in the future.

  14. Q1. Some of the runs I run for fun end up being my best runs. Maybe it takes the self-imposed pressure off. I'm pro-fun run.

    Q2. I've run two 50Ks (well, the same one twice), which does not at all qualify me to say I think you should stomp the swamp.