Another weekend of racing in the books! Savage Race Maryland is a venue I've attended since (let me look it up) 2015. It was my 8th time at that venue, and the 10th time I'd raced there (since they added the Blitz at both events this year).
Saturday's Savage Pro:
I love running Savage Pro because it's not too early (9:00am) but it's early enough that you have the whole day left after it's done! At least, that's one of the reasons I like it. I get to "sleep in" compared to doing a Spartan Race competitively.
For the first time since I started running OCRs, my Mom came and got to watch, so that was pretty cool! She said she had a blast - so that's a plus!
The race started well! Within a few seconds I was up with the front four athletes. I thought to myself, "I didn't go out that fast, did I?". My question was answered within moments as I began to get passed by about a dozen athletes. It was actually relieving because it meant I hadn't forced my pace too soon and everyone was already forcing theirs.
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The obstacle called Barn Doors was the first one, I believe, and it did a great job of breaking up the whole front group. I am overly-risky (by my standards) at Savage Race because I know what it takes to finish well now, and that requires extra speed on obstacles. While others were "climbing" their way up the Barn Doors, I jumped up to the middle and quickly dropped over the backside. A quick move like that can take you from the teens to the top five. It's worth it.
I felt pretty good during the race! Didn't have any lingering fatigue that I could tell, and I was moving at a pretty normal pace for what I'm capable of. They dramatically changed up the direction of the course compared to previous events at this venue which actually made it far more fun; not knowing for sure what was coming next and getting to run through "new territory".
Two new additions to this venue:
1: They had a barbwire crawl going up a hill - that was new and challenging
2: They had a log carry go under a barbwire crawl - not hard, just a curve ball
About half way through the race I was in an awkward position where I couldn't see the athletes in front of me, and I didn't see anyone behind me either. It's an odd feeling running a race and feeling alone.
Coming up to the finish line, I was in 5th place. They had 4 obstacles in a row right before the final Rig at the finish line. As I came up to that rig, I saw the 4th place athlete struggling to get through. I climbed my way through the rig as fast as I could and was able to finish 4th overall - which was also good for 1st in my age group.
Sunday's Savage Blitz Pro:
The lead-up to the Blitz was just...not fun. On Saturday I tore my compression pants on an obstacle. Couldn't use them again. I also forgot my shoes at the venue, and couldn't find them the next day, which meant running in a pair that I just keep in my car as a backup in the event of some dumb mistake like that. I was also dealing with a very sore achilles tendon. It didn't feel good and I'm not about risking long-term progress for momentary gain.
I warmed up in my less-than-stellar not-Salming-so-not-as-good shoes, wearing baggy shorts, and just testing movements to see how my achilles felt.
I had my bib and timing chips ready in case I decided to give it a go. With less than 10 minutes left, I thought I'd start the race and see what happened. I was prepared to stop at any point if I felt it was going to cause long-term problems for my achilles.
Thank God, I didn't feel a single bit of pain or strain in my achilles after the first 20 seconds of the race. The race started well! Just as the day before, I made up some ground at the Barn Doors; getting over and back down faster than most people. The course was much muddier than the day before, which wasn't ideal with the shoes I was wearing since, not being my Salmings, didn't have anywhere near the grip I wanted. I did a good bit of sliding.
A 3 mile course goes by very quickly! However, 20 minutes into the race I felt fried. I didn't feel like I could move fast and my breathing was very strained. I was pushing pretty hard and I didn't feel like I was getting any return out of my body for it.
In most races, there is a time when I'm pushing and I think to myself, "It's fine, just slow down a bit. The place doesn't matter that much." I don't know if everyone has thoughts like that during races, but they always crop up for me. I have to push those thoughts aside and remind myself that I Never Stop.
I got to the final "gauntlet" of obstacles. After I'd completed Colossus, Inversion Therapy, and Chopsticks, I ran up to the final rig in 5th place to find that the 3rd and 4th place athletes were both still at the rig trying to complete it. I took my shot, just like the day before, and got through it fast enough to cross the finish line in 3rd place. I landed on the podium.
I have to say, the 4 athletes in front of me were much faster. But, as someone after the race reminded me, the last rig is still a part of the race, and I finished it faster. That being said, I try not to count on the misfortunes of other athletes. In fact, I always try to assume that they'll run perfect races and expect myself to do the same in order to have a chance to compete. But when someone else struggles, I plan to always capitalize on the situation.
Had I stopped doing the best I could, I wouldn't have gotten back on the Savage podium. So, as a reminder to everyone, and myself, Never Stop.
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