Yesterday I competed in the Charlotte tour stop of the Metro Dash. This is an event combining all the "fun" of CrossFit training, and mud runs (minus the mud). The event features a giant obstacle course with elements like rope climbs, tire flips, wall climbs, monkey bars, and carrying lots of heavy implements like logs, medicine balls, and sledge hammers.
Ideally I would have rested and taken an early morning heat, however I was a guest instructor at a charity fundraiser boot camp in the morning. I was able to get into a later 1:30pm heat (which can also be taken literally, as it was ridiculously hot). The schedule meant I had about a two-hour window to cram fast-digesting carbs (rice cakes, bananas, Gatorade, Gu gel) into my system to replenish muscle glycogen.
When I arrived for check-in, I was immediately intimidated impressed by the apparent fitness level of the other competitors I saw. Even the female competitors looked like they could pick me up by my feet and hold me over a balcony. As I sat in a shaded part of the stadium I definitely had a few voices going through my head wondering if I should even go through with this. My training wasn't ideal leading up to the event (more on this later), however I felt far more prepared for this event than my horrible showing at the Duke Energy Stair Climb this past March.
My waiting time flew by quickly, and after a few last-minute trips to the water fountain, I downed a Gatorade Prime and another Gu gel and headed over to the holding tank for my heat to begin.
I ended up finishing the course in 11:39 (unofficial) which certainly was not the best time of the afternoon, however mostly I felt good about the performance. Overall, I was pleased with how I did, since there was no point during the course when I felt the challenge was so great that finishing was in-doubt.
My worst challenge was the first one out of the starting gate - the ladder climb. One of the tough aspects of an event like this is that unless you have tried a Metro Dash before, you're bound to face an implement for the first time ever. I had never climbed a rope ladder of this nature before, so after getting my foot caught for the third or fourth time, I just took my legs out and climbed it with upper body alone.
After the subsequent sled push, during the crawl through pipes I paused for a brief moment to catch my breath. My body definitely had its first "woah this is insane, we should have stayed home and watched TV" moment.
After that, I was able to largely push through the rest of the course. (*note - the one other scary moment was nearly racking myself at the top of one of the wall climbs, which momentarily put my baby-making future in serious jeopardy.) As I said, I was not the fastest competitor there, but definitely came away encouraged enough to be a lock for next year's event if they return to Charlotte.
I would HIGHLY recommend this event to anyone who thinks they are close to having the necessary physical skillset. Here are a few other scattered thoughts and points of analysis from Metro Dash:
Train specifically for this event
Much like the Stair Climb events, this event requires event-specific training, or as reasonably close as one can accommodate. If considering an event like Metro Dash, the check list of training disciplines would be:
- Rock or Wall Climbing
- Bootcamp or Athletic Conditioning classes
- Pull-ups & Dips (should be able to complete 8-10 reps)
Guys - if you like fit women, this is the place to be.
Sorry but it has to be said. I've never before been in an atmosphere where 75% of the females in attendance were probably better athletes than me (and I ran college Track & Field for 2.5 years). In all seriousness, ladies if you spend an hour on the elliptical or stairmaster everyday and think you are getting the most out of your fitness, the women of events like Metro Dash (and CrossFit) would encourage you to branch out a little more.
Get comfortable being "one of the worst"
That's a bit misleading, however I was serious about my earlier point regarding comparative fitness of the ladies group. Among the men, I would safely put myself in the bottom 25% of overall performers - and I'm a former two-sport college athlete, and certified fitness trainer who works out 5-6 days each week with targeted dietary habits. As I said, I was happy with my performance, but was far from the top of the group. And I left this event feeling even more motivated (in a positive sense) to attack my training and diet moving forward.
This is a lesson to anyone who stands on the perimeter of a group fitness class feeling too intimidated to jump in, or skips past P90X or Insanity infomercials on TV because they know they're out-of-shape compared to what they are seeing. Once in a while everyone should be in an atmosphere that challenges them to improve. Even the best and the fittest of recreational athletes should challenge himself or herself in an environment where they look around and wonder if they can keep up with everyone else. Leave your ego in the bag with your car keys and wallet, and go compete. Chances are one or two of the "all-stars" might end up giving you some encouraging words or helpful tips along the way. And you might find yourself hungry to come back for more.
As I said, an event like this requires total body fitness, which is why groups like the Navy Seals endorse this style of training. I will definitely be signing up for the 2012 event, and highly recommend this event to anyone who may fit within the necessary fitness range.