“Nope. I’ve only run one actually. I do run half marathons though, but what I really love are obstacle races, mud runs, and all sorts of adventure races.” Then I told her about having done the World Famous Mud Run, the Warrior Dash, the Gladiator Rock n Run, and Tough Mudder. She’d only heard of that last one.
I’d come to the school to lead several sessions with the kindergarteners to get them all prepped for an upcoming running fundraiser. I guess the assumption was that “people like me” (fitness fanatics, personal trainer types, and fitness coaches) run a lot of marathons.
While I’m glad I ran one, the LA Marathon back in 2010, the memories of “pooping out” (LITERALLY) are still too vivid in my mind to even think about doing another. Maybe someday, but in the meantime I’m having a total blast doing these other races and events – weirder ones, dirtier ones, ones more off the beaten path.
Doing events where there are obstacles, challenges, and problems to solve just feel more real-life and more functional than just running for hours on end. And they are damn fun. On March 31, Shauna and I added the Great Urban Race in Santa Monica to our race resume. This was our second urban adventure race. Having kicked ass in Race LA last year (meaning we didn’t get totally lost and we weren’t the last to finish), we felt like old pros, ready for anything.
So confident was I, that I decided to wear my new Merrell Barefoot shoes for the race. This one, unlike Race LA, would involve no driving. Just foot travel and public transportation. Turns out it was all foot-travel. And for Team Cookie Monster (who didn’t dress up, didn’t even wear blue, and consumed absolutely zero cookies that day) it meant we ran everywhere we went, which turned out to be 6 ½ miles.
They said to bring a smart phone, but we decided to just use our phones of just-less-than-average-intelligence instead. Besides we were allowed a “phone a friend” and that was my brother – the ultimate Google-master, the expert on all things Santa Monica, and the owner of one I-Phone. And he insists his “girl,” Siri, is indeed as smart as they come. So we put him to the test.
At the signal, we were given our clue sheet. 12 clues, to destinations in Santa Monica, to be completed as quickly as possible. We picked up the phone and read most of the clues to my brother. We began on a task we knew we could accomplish on the Santa Monica Pier, the starting spot: take a picture with an official Route 66 sign, give a stranger a piggy-back ride. By the time we were done with that, my brother had our route planned, and we were off and running. As we completed a challenge, after finding the location, we would find that he had already texted the directions to our next spot. It was seamless. It was beautiful. It was perfect.
Teams were allowed to skip on one clue. Shauna and I, being the totally vegan Team Cookie Monster, opted not to eat the duck testicles offered to us at the Segway location. We completed every other challenge. We flapped like birds, shot ping pong balls into cups, used water colors to create replicas famous paintings, drove Segways, solved logic puzzles, donated supplies to a school, played with dental floss, and learned some history.
What a great way to get in a good workout. Out having a blast, competing, being a bit crazy, that we never realized we’d run over 6 miles. Well, we might have noticed it a few times. There were a few long stretches that really got the sweat rolling down our faces.
Team Cookie Monster completed the course in a respectable 2 hours and 58 minutes, coming in 42nd out of 286 teams, and didn’t even have to eat duck testicles to do it.
I’ll leave the marathons to other folks (for now). I’m loving the crazy races. Next up? Are You Tough Enough in just a few days. This will be my second time at this long distance relay, and the answer once again will be a resounding YES!