Close Call: Gearing Up for a Competitive Race

close call: gearing up for a competitive call

Welcome to Ben’s Chronicles

Hello! I’m Ben from EINSURANCE. Trust me, I know there are plenty of things we’d both probably rather be doing than discussing insurance. But although insurance gets a bad rap, it does have its benefits; especially when you find the right coverage and carrier.

Unfortunately, throughout my life I have had a knack for being at the wrong place, at the right time. Given my gravitational pull toward bad luck, I wanted to share a few of my life experiences with you in hopes that my bad luck could benefit you. So, bear with me over the upcoming weeks, because I’ll be sharing little nuggets I’ve learned through navigating the insurance world. If my mishaps and theories don’t directly help answer any of your insurance related questions, I promise they’ll make you laugh, albeit at my expense…

If you would like me to discuss a specific topic, feel free to email me at

Today our topic is:

Close Call: Gearing Up for a Competitive Race

Lately, it seems every commercial or billboard is somehow connected to a person’s health. Whether it’s the latest energy drink, or the new kickboxing class that opened in your neighborhood, I’m sure you’re inundated with material that may place you in a mild case of self-loathing.

Well, you’re not alone. The increased marketing efforts of getting the greater public to focus internally on their health and appearance impacted me as well. Unfortunately, the form my health focus took on was not that of joining a gym, or going to a healthier supermarket, but it was signing up and then gearing up for a competitive race.

In retrospect, it wasn’t a bad idea given the fact that in order to properly engage in a competitive race, one needs to train. Ideally, training would include gym visits, perhaps outdoor running or some form of cardiovascular training, and dieting, or at the very least changing one’s nutritional habits. Of course, I did not abide by any of these suggestions. Instead, my mind nestled in the notion that a competitive race was a discreet activity which would simply take a few hours out of my weekend. I was terribly wrong.

I Think I can, I Think I Can!

Like many in the workforce, I had my daily routine, which included random visits to the gym, but was not centralized on nutrition or fitness. That said, I was once a collegiate athlete, so at the time I signed up for this particular competitive race, the thought of it being physically challenging wasn’t even in my mind. In fact, I thought it would simply be fun. You get to crawl in mud, race across beams, and after everything is said and done and you’ve crossed the finish line, you get to have a beer with your fellow race participants. Not a bad way to spend a weekend afternoon.

This rosy idea of the race was with me all the way up to race day. The first hint that I may be in over my head was the shear amount of people that had made it to the race. Not only was the race well attended, but people were prepared. I saw people with small backpacks full of hydration, fanny packs around their waists with several different compartments for gels, and more braces and headbands than I could imagine. And there I was, in shorts and a t-shirt. Once the race started, nothing else really mattered, I simply wanted to make it to the next obstacle, and above all, finish. The first few obstacles were fun and happened quickly in the race; somewhere between mile two and three. After that, everything went downhill, and fast. After about a half hour of racing, I began to get a clearer picture of the expansiveness of the event. I encountered signs around mile three stating that racers were arriving to ‘obstacle 4,’ and that’s when I recalled reading when I originally signed up for the event, that the course boasted over 12 obstacles.

That’s Why Those Ambulances Are There!

After the first flurry of obstacles, there was a stretch of uninterrupted running. As I recall, this is precisely where my competitive race career took a dive. I had already had my fill of fun for the afternoon, and knew I wasn’t even halfway done with the course. As I approached the next obstacle, I wasn’t sure how I was going to the finish the race. To make matters worse, the next obstacle happened to be the hardest: stadium stairs. Racers were ushered into the stadium where the city’s NFL team held its games, and promptly thrusted up and down the stands. This was certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back mentally and physically for me and I am gearing up for a competitive race. Upon leaving the stadium and embarking on the rest of race, my calves and knees began to buckle. In addition to this, I began to cramp in my side, hands and hamstrings.

Unfortunately, the competitive, stubborn, former athlete in me that had been dormant for quite a while, began to surface. As such, stopping was not an option. Albeit at an extraordinarily slow pace, I labored through the rest of the race. In efforts to provide an exclamation point to the event, the organizers even had an obstacle at the end. You could literally see the finish line, hear the band playing, smell the beer your fellow racers were drinking, but you had to complete one more grueling task in order to join them.

I now understand why there are so many ambulances parked and waiting at every racing event. Not only are there people who adequately prepare for the race, sometimes in need of medical attention; just think about the number of individuals like me who are ill-prepared for the rigors ahead of them.

That day I should have certainly stopped halfway through the race. It’s through sheer luck that nothing extreme happened to me. A testament to this is that I couldn’t move after the race, even go to work for the following three days. I also moved at a tempered pace for at least a week and didn’t return to the gym for several weeks. Incorporating more health-conscious decisions into your everyday life is a great goal. However, if this includes signing up for competitions or races with any rigor, make sure you properly prepare; because the medical staff you see at these events scattered throughout the city are certainly there for a reason. Me not being whisked away in an ambulance was a close call. I hope you never have to experience it and are better prepared and that’s my gearing up for a competitive race experience. Best of luck in your next race!

About Dale Williams

Dale Q. Williams, MBA, is a well-respected financial executive whose experience spans from insurance to investment banking. Dale has first hand underwriting experience through working for one of the largest U.S. based insurance carriers, and advisory experience from working for several bulge-bracket and middle-market investment banks. Dale also received his MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business, with concentrations in finance and accounting.