MUD CHRONICLES: Trying to Race Less

Racing is fun. That’s why we do it. But it’s also expensive and time-consuming. And there are other exciting, fun things to experience in the world.

Each year, before the heart of racing season begins, I find myself in the same predicament: Telling myself I’m not going to sign up for so many races this year; that I’m going to carve out more time for kayaking, hiking, camping, getting stuff done around the house, etc.

Yet, somehow, by the time the warm weather arrives, my calendar is packed again with obstacle races, trail races, and, nowadays, occasionally even ninja events.

Well, not this year. This will be the year I practice my saying “no” skills. This will be the year I only do big events and save the rest of my weekends for other things.

Of course, I’ve said this before. And I have yet to succeed. There are too many good events out there, and too many friends who want me to do races with them. It’s a constant struggle.

Tomorrow I have my first race of the season, and it might be a sign that already my goal of fewer races is slipping. I’m running the Fit Challenge in Rhode Island. It wasn’t a race that was on my must-do list, and I hesitated signing up, not pulling the trigger until just the other night. But it’s a race I haven’t done before. It’s an independent 5-mile obstacle race that I’ve heard good things about. And I have a group of friends running it who want me to do it with them (including The Wife). I won’t be running elite, or multiple laps. Instead, I’ll be taking my time and sticking with friends, which is a lot of fun to do and something I think all racers should try to do at least once over the course of the season – both for their own enjoyment and to remember that it is a lot of fun to help other people and share in laughs and the experience of others out on the course.

Other friends have asked me to run other races with them this year. Fearing that I’ll come off as rude, it’s been hard to say “no.” But I’m trying to stick to my guns. My racing habit – as much as I love it – has begun cutting in to some other things I love, namely my outdoors habit. The way I see it, I can get out to enjoy the outdoors while also challenging myself the same way I do with obstacle racing, but without the pricey fees.

Need a challenge? See how fast you can hike the Presidential Range. Or spend three nights in the central Adirondacks. Or take on a multi-day padding trip on the upper Connecticut River or in western Maine.

You can challenge yourself in big ways without spending a $150 entrance fee. Plus, the reward of my own cold beer, a warm fire that I started and a clear starry sky beats most of the medals I get anyway. It’s a way to recharge my soul . . . which I thing, long term, helps me be a better racer.

I just need to be better at handling the obstacle that is saying “no.”

(You can check out my race schedule here.)

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