Category Archives: Badass Dash

Farewell 2015

Oh, golly gee, an end-of-year wrap-up. How original!


Looking back at my goals for the year, things didn’t go all that well. So instead, I’ll focus on the positive.

Some accomplishments for the year:

  • I learned to climb a rope. Not quite well enough to do it under muddy race conditions, but it’s a first time ever.
  • I added bouldering to my workout mix. It’s not my main gig, but it’s a lot of fun and good for my mental state to do something cool and learn a new skill. It’s hard to gauge precisely its impact physically, but I think there’s some benefit.
  • I did two Spartan Sprints, a Spartan Super, and a Badass Dash.
  • At one of those, I successfully climbed a 6-foot wall unaided. It’s not the Big Wall that gives the site half its title, but it’s a start.
  • I improved my 5K time by 15 seconds.
  • I upped my longest running distance to about 7.5 miles.
  • I was part of a team that completed a 200-mile running relay.
  • After a year, the blog is still going fairly consistently. I’m still trying to figure out precisely what the site is and what I want it to be. Originally I intended it to be a pure comedy site, and I definitely still enjoy that—but I also like writing legitimate thoughts (and even approaching journalism on a couple occasions) and event reports and using it for more personal goal-setting-type stuff. The multi-billion-dollar book deal that was supposed to come out of the blog (all of my publishing experience tells me that’s how things are supposed to work) hasn’t happened yet, but it will.
  • I’ve done some periodic contributions to a couple other sites, Obstacle Racing Media and Sportody.
  • I’ve demonstrated, without a doubt, that isolation isn’t a good environment (I work at home, where I live alone, so…) and am taking steps to fix that, though they’re slower than I’d like.

I’m sure you’re deeply excited to know that I’ll be posting goals for 2016 tomorrow, but until then, don’t be stupid and drive if you get wasted at a New Year’s party tonight. And don’t kiss anything at midnight that has visible sores.


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Filed under Badass Dash, Climbing, Goals, Metapost, Running, Spartan Race

Monthly Goals: Turning the Ship Around

As of the beginning of August, things had been sort of in free-fall for me for a couple of months. I feel like things have sort of turned around a bit—although the two races I did last month did take a bit out of me. Nevertheless: Here’s my review of my goals from last month.

Weight: Goal was a 7-day average of 253; I didn’t make that, but I did reverse the increases of the past couple of months slightly, with a drop of about a pound and a half.

Success at the Spartan Rope Climb: Being able to climb the rope in the gym didn’t turn out to be the key to success on the course. I wasn’t even able to get up out of the water pit.

Enjoying the Spartan Super: While the start of the Spartan Race was brutal, and the overall race was a bit more grueling than I absolutely needed, I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than Indy. I’ll count this one as a win. And as a bonus, I definitely had a lot of fun at the Badass Dash.

Climbing: Mixed to near-success here. My goal was to complete two of the yellow (easiest) problems in the cave, and to succeed at one green (the next level up) problem. I succeeded at one of the yellow problems, which really shocked me, and I was one hold away on each of the others. Considering I couldn’t get off the starting holds at the start of the month, there was a lot of improvement. The one slightly disappointing thing about climbing: It doesn’t really make a great goal. I only went four times last month, and that’s actually a fairly high number for me. For me, climbing is more of an extra thing—it’s a lot of fun, and it’s really wonderful to learn a new skill, and it’s great to work muscles in a new way, but it will probably never replace my normal workouts. Also, another new climbing gym just opened in Chicago, and I’ve got passes at it and the original one, so unless I develop a clear favorite I’ll be going to both. (I also should try the new outdoor city-owned climbing park before too long.) Which will mean that I won’t have a lot of chances to even identify goals, let alone work towards improving them. So probably no more climbing goals for a long while, which is too bad, because I really do enjoy it.

Monkey Bars: My goal was 40 rungs, but I hardly practiced at all. There’s a bit of defense for this: I usually try to do this at my gym before class starts, but if there’s equipment set up it often blocks the monkey bars, and this seemed to happen most days.

Dad’s Little Book of Rage pictures: Not even close. My goal was 15, and I only did 3. The central conceit of this work is that, due to a fairly cult-like environment in which the author has lived his entire life, there are rather a lot of flagrantly absurd things that he believes quite fervently. Such as that this:

Sermon on the mount from Dad's Little Book of Ragewas an accurate depiction of the Sermon on the Mount.

Goals for this month

Weight: A classic, a broken record, whatever. Goal will be a 252 7-day average.

Hills: The races this month exposed just how weak my hill running is. Ironically, it was the mostly flat Badass Dash that proved it: The Spartans were awful, but I assumed they were awful because of the mud and slickness of the hills. But the small amount of hills in the Badass Dash took way too much out of me, so that’s an area that definitely needs to be addressed. And the Bourbon Chase, coming next month, will definitely have some, so I’d best prepare. My goal will be twofold. First, after every class at my gym, run the stairs to the roof (a seven-floor run.) Hopefully I’ll find that I have to do multiple stair runs by the end of the month. Second, once a week, I’ll do a hill workout in place of my normal run. This is surprisingly difficult: The nearest hill taller than I am is about 5 miles from where I live. I did the first one yesterday, and it was awful. I’m not sure if it was because of the heat, or the bike ride there, or the fact that I’m terrible at hills (probably that one) but there’s a lot of work to do.

Burpees: September 26 my gym is doing a 1000-burpee workout. So I’m going to try to not die at that.

5K: My next race is a 5K to benefit the museum where I volunteer. My time last year was 26:24, I think. My goal for this year will be 26:00. I have no idea if that’s feasible or not. It’s technically October 4, but I’ll count it for this month.


Filed under Badass Dash, Climbing, Goals, Metapost, Running, Spartan Race, Training

OCR Report: 2015 Chicagoland Badass Dash #2: A Most Suburban Race

Today I ran the Badass Dash in Rosemont, Illinois, a near suburb of Chicago and one that’s accessible via public transit, more or less. It’s the first OCR I’ve done outside of the big 3, but I’m really glad I did, because I enjoyed it a lot.

There is no mistaking Rosemont for anything other than a suburb. This is the sight you get when you’re coming off the train:

Suburban RosemontThe Race

The suburban Chicago nature of the race definitely showed through in the course. It started and finished inside the Ballpark at Rosemont. Stadium races have plenty of precedent, but this was a bit of a different animal.

The Ballpark at Rosemont is home to the Chicago Bandits, a professional fast-pitch softball team. So the park is not anything resembling the scale of Citi Field or Miller Park. That meant that most of the race was in the environs of the stadium rather than within it. (In fact, only three obstacles were actually within the stadium itself, although we did start and end on the field. The field, incidentally, was entirely turf—not just the outfield, but also the infield and the warning track.)

The environs aren’t terribly stadium-specific. I’m not sure exactly what was around it, but it had that standard suburban office park feel to it.

As a result, the terrain was quite flat—though not entirely, as the course designers did use some of the banks that led to roadways to add a bit of climbing and descending. Still, if your primary interest in OCR is rough terrain, this isn’t the race for you.

On the other hand, the lack of rough terrain had the happy side-effect that a lot of the course was visible. Here’s an artsy little shot that I took of my first sighting of the course:

Badass Dash Course from across highway

Look at that framing!

And yes, that’s an interstate I had to cross to get to the race. (There was a bridge; I didn’t play Frogger with the semis or anything.)

The race was advertised at 7K with 33 obstacles. Some of those obstacles were actually activities—push-ups or sit-ups or pull-ups or the like. The obstacles were not, on the whole, extremely difficult: if you’re looking for really hard obstacles with high failure rates, this also isn’t your race. I did have to do penalties on two obstacles. There was a tall and steep A-frame that you can sort of see in the above photo that was a problem—there were ropes to help pull yourself up, but the rain made both the ropes and the ramps slick; the second time I fell down, in a not-terribly-controlled way, I was thinking better of it. The other I failed was a set of monkey bars, which was the last or second-to-last obstacle (depending on if you count a run through bleachers as an obstacle or not). I actually got about halfway across, but the wet conditions hurt. I also managed to hurt my hand on the previous obstacle, which didn’t help much.

That said, there were several notably interesting and fun obstacles. The Australian Back Crawl was a plastic sheet positioned on a hill, with a cargo net above it. We laid on our backs and used the net to pull us up, all while a guy with a hose sprayed the sheet and us down with water.

Australian Back Crawl

Australian Back Crawl

(Unfortunately, after the Australian Back Crawl was one of the biggest backlogs on the course. There was a single mudslide to get down the hill, and I don’t know why it took so long, but I wound up bypassing it and just walking down the hill. I don’t feel like that was a bad decision in the slightest.)

This run on floating bins across a pond was also pretty cool—I made it about three steps before falling in spectacularly and having to swim the rest of the way across.

Feared Float

Because most of the obstacles needed to be alliterative, this was called the “Feared Float.”

A climb over stacked pallets wasn’t terribly physically difficult, although some people had some minor panic about the height and weirdness of having to climb over them. Meanwhile, the Claustrophobic Crawl—a narrow tube to travel through—was surprisingly difficult. There wasn’t nearly enough room to actually crawl, and there wasn’t a lot to grab onto, so I kind of had to pull myself forward with my forearms and then push myself with my toes. Surprisingly taxing. And there was a dodge ball section—really not terribly difficult, and the ball-huckers weren’t throwing terribly hard, but it was kind of a fun thing. (Except that this is where I jammed my thumb, trying to be fancy and catch a ball so I could send the thrower to prison.)

Dodge Ball


The Organization

The race was pretty well organized—but you could also see a few rough edges that might not show up in a bigger race series. On the good side, racers were released in fairly small sub-heats, which mostly kept backups down. Getting in, packet pick-up, and bag check were all pretty easy, although I’m not sure the bag check system was ideal. We got a numbered tag for the bag, and the attendants wrote the number on our hands, which they checked after we had picked the bag up after the race—but my ink came almost entirely off during the race. I got my bag back no problem, but it’s not hard to imagine that the system could have broken down in a bad way without truly permanent markers.

The race did cross some roads with traffic on them, but they all had attendants to ensure safety, and there was no point at which I felt any concern on that front. The volunteers at obstacles weren’t quite as good, though. There were a few points where it wasn’t entirely clear what the rules were. At one obstacle, for example, we had to potato-sack-jump down a path and back. Everyone seemed to be jumping backwards on the way back, but I’m not sure if that was the obstacle or just something that people were doing. A couple obstacles later, we had to either roll or carry a tire down and back a similar path—I’m still not sure which. And the cargo net also had a bit of confusion: It was divided in two sides by a flag on the top, and I think we were supposed to climb over it once on the left side, and then turn around and climb back over it on the right, but no one was shouting instructions so some people were coming down the up side.

The floating bins obstacle was one of the points where there was a backup, and it probably didn’t have to be. When I arrived at the obstacle, people were generally waiting for the person in front to finish—a polite thing to do, since the bins were all connected to one another—but also a time-consuming one. A more aggressive volunteer telling people when to go to give the person in front space but keep the line moving might have made it go faster.

I’m inclined to pin volunteer-related issues on the organizers: a volunteer, after all, is there for the day, and won’t know what issues there are unless the organizer explains them. Fortunately, the issues that there were were pretty minor and really didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the day.

One other area where the scale of the race really showed was in the free stuff. We got a backpackish thing, a medal, and a headband (not shown, since I wore it during the race and when I finished it was gone). Swag Hags, this is not the race for you. (Fortunately, I’m not one, but I include this information out of interest of completion.)

Badass Dash swag

The Badass Dash Medal and backpack.

(By the way, did I just coin the term “Swag Hag?” I feel like someone must have used it before, but I don’t remember seeing it elsewhere.)


I feel like there’s been a lot of negative in this report, which is too bad because my overall impression of the race is really positive. I really had a lot of fun. It was definitely less difficult than an outdoor Spartan, and even a notch lower in difficulty than the stadium sprints, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It is really nice to be able to race an entire race, rather than have to slog the majority of it. Both have their place (I do believe there’s value in doing something grueling and completing it) but as I’ve done a lot of slogging this year, I’m pleased to get through a course running the whole thing.

Even the small amount of hills in this course demonstrated that that’s something I need to work on. That’s a problem, since the nearest hill that’s taller than I am is about 5 miles away. It will probably entail lots of stair-climbing at the gym. Ugh.


Filed under Badass Dash, Funny, OCR Report

The Missing Badass Dash Obstacle

The Badass Dash has released its obstacle list for its Chicagoland race on Saturday, which I just happen to be running. Being someone who works with the English language—you could arguably even call me a professional grammarian—something jumped out at me right away.

Badass Dash Chicago obstacle list

Badass Dash Chicago obstacle list

I mean, besides the typo. I noticed that too, but really, who the fuck cares? It’s worthwhile to try to spell words right, but if you use enough words, you will eventually spell some not right. Whinging about it is just boring. Plus, I’m drafting this post on my phone, so there’s at least a 99% chance I’ve got a typo or two. Like, the phone just tried to change “two” to “tow.” It may very well have tried to change “Badass Dash” to “Betty White” and I wouldn’t have noticed. (Or minded.) So let’s ski right past that.

More interesting is the propensity—let’s have some fun and call it a fetish, even—for starting both words in an obstacle’s name with the same letter. Some 25 out of the 33 obstacles follow this naming convention.

But I think they missed one. So, fur future consideration, let me propose:

14.5. The Alliterative Assault.

What would this be? Simple. Racers would simply hold a plank, while Parker Posey plunks them with Ping-Pong balls in their posterior.

Badass Dash, you’re welcome. Royalties will be graciously accepted.

(I’m pretty sure Parker Posey is still around somewhere. Right?)

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Filed under Badass Dash, Funny, Obstacle Course Racing