The Warrior Dash. It’s what got me started running in the first place. Back in 2009 I did my first race just outside Chicago, Ill. and I’ve done one every year since. Back then I was just doing the Warrior Dash for fun with my family. I still do the race for fun because winning is fun, right?
This year I was going for my 4th consecutive win at the Grand Rapids location of the Warrior Dash. Last year was a BATTLE and I barely pulled off the win against a couple of former collegiate cross country runners from Grand Valley and Eastern Michigan. Would this year be another fight to the finish? In short: no.
As I was getting ready for the race, I was scouting out the competition to see if I recognized anyone from previous years that might give me a run for my money. There were a few guys who I recognized, but no one that was going to push me like last year. This might sound bad, but once we lined up at the start line I knew I was going to win. After the first tenth of a mile I knew I was going to win by a lot. Reason: as soon as they said, “GO!” I took off at what I thought was a comfortable pace and heard the guys behind me say, “Yeah, there’s no way…” Although now that I look back on the stats, my pace for the first 1/2 mile was well under 5:00/mile.
The rest of the race I was trying to decide between one of three options:
1. Go all out like I would at the World Championship race
2. Take it easy to save my legs
3. Make the day kind of like a hard workout.
In the end, I chose to make it like a hard workout; not going as hard as I could, but definitely not going easy. I tried a couple different techniques on the obstacles to see which was fastest and most efficient.
The first mile only had 2 obstacles and I went through in 5:46. The second mile started just after the two obstacles and I thought, "Okay don't kill yourself, just keep it nice and comfortable." I then took a peek at my watch and it read 4:58/mile pace...well that's good news that a sub-5 minute pace doesn't feel hard!
The second mile had another 2 obstacles and another sub-6 mile (5:54) showed up on my watch. I kept thinking, "If I can keep sub-6 minute pace without pushing it too much, this could be good news for the World Championships in a few weeks."
The third mile had 5 obstacles so it slowed me down a bit (6:27) and the last 0.80 of a mile I started to feel a little fatigued, but tried to keep pushing so I could earn my cinnamon roll after the race :) Coming to the finish, there were 3 obstacles in succession and I tried to push through these as they are a staple to end any Warrior Dash event. After I came out of the mud 20 yards from the finish, I finally allowed myself to chill out and I jogged across the finish line to take my 4th GR Warrior Dash title in 4 years! I finished in a time of 23:12 which was nearly 5 minutes ahead of the next competitor.
Link to Garmin Connect file
Finish time- 23:12
Finish pace- 6:05/mile
Number of obstacles- 12
Finish place- 1st
Being the first wave of the day meant that I really didn’t get that muddy...just a little wet. I got a cool plaque at the awards ceremony which was much better than the plastic mug they gave out last year, but still not as cool as the warrior helmets they gave us the first couple years.
After the race, mom, dad, and I did a little shopping at the French store, Target (pronounced Tar-jay), and then went to eat. Since we were keeping it European, we decided to go to a nice little Italian restaurant. You may have heard of it, it’s called Olive Garden. Since I wasn’t going to get a cinnamon roll (they don’t serve them at OG...I asked) I went with the pumpkin cheesecake. 1 word: delicious! Three more words: it was free! After the waitress saw my Warrior Dash shirt, she asked if I ran it this morning. I told her yes, to which she asked how I did. My dad jumped in and said, “He won!” The waitress was kind of taken aback and said, “Like the whole thing?” haha yes. The whole thing. Apparently she told her manager about it and he gave us the cheesecake for free along with a mountain of whipped cream and a mess of mints!
Thanks to everyone who wished me well and sent me congratulatory messages today. Thanks to my parents, as always, for making the trip to watch me play around in the mud for 20 minutes. Special thanks to Nick and Becca Van Liere for letting me stay at their place the night before the race. Double-special thanks to Nick for making this bomb a$$ cake for me (okay not really for me) the night before the race (seen above with the rest of the food!) This is the second time he has fueled me to a race win with one of his cakes. Seriously, he makes the best cakes in Grand Rapids. Rise Bakery. If you live in the GR area, you have to check him out! Thanks to Nathan and Jana English (who the cake was really for) for letting me enjoy your company one last time before heading off to England. Thanks to James and Alexiana Fry for letting me come see your new apartment (even if it was a little messy :P). I can’t wait to stay in my new room :) And thanks to YOU for reading this. It’s with all your support that I am able to have such a good time racing and sharing my experiences.
Next up is the Warrior Dash World Championship in Pulaskiski, TN on October 10th. I’m hoping to build on a 15th place finish from last year and maybe even crack the top 5!