Beyond the Course with Alan

posted in: Beyond The Course | 2

In this interview you’ll meet Alan. He is another original member of The Running Dead team. Alan races with his wife, Katie, who you’ll meet in a later interview. I’ve known Alan since the first grade and we met through a running race in gym class. He beat me, of course, and now I’m always out for revenge in any race we are in together. One thing about Alan…he may be short, but he is fast when it counts!

What is your current occupation?

I’m a Paralegal at a Products Liability and Complex Tort Litigation Law Firm.

How many years have you been doing OCR? 

Since October 2012 (Run For Your Lives race in MD).

What are some of your other hobbies besides running?

Anything automotive related.

What is your “comfort” food?

Cheeseburger(s), wings, and Mac & Cheese.

What would you say your nickname on the team would be?

The Leprechaun.   


1.       What was your first OCR event? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it?

a.      The Run for Your Lives 5K in Maryland in October 2012.

b.      I enjoyed the obstacles and the mud. I also really enjoyed the electric shock obstacle.

c.      Tasting the lovely pond water after I fell in and the number of people. My asthma also was in            full force at this race and it was especially tough for me on that front.

2.       What made you sign up for another race? 

You (Jeff) did. That was the “what” factor. I also found these races to be ones that both Katie and I enjoy and can do together. 

3.       How many races have you completed?

Not too sure on an exact, but I think around 9-ish total? I did the 5k Foam Fest with Katie, the Conemaugh Que Classic with Katie, the Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, the Turkey Trot in Downingtown (a few times) “This Run is Personal, 5k” put on by CMMD – twice and the Zombie Run.

4.       Do you do other races besides OCR? (Example: road races, trail runs and etc.)

Road races. The Turkey Trot, the CMMD run, and the Conemaugh Que Classic.

5.       How would you say you train for these races? Do you feel it helps? 

I train using the tried and true way:

(1) Sit on the couch.

(2) Contemplate training.

(3) Mentally prepare to train the next day.

(4) Forget to pack my bag for the gym and opt out of training that day.

(5) Repeat until race day.

6.       What is the hardest (non-obstacle) challenge you face on race day? How do you overcome this challenge? (Example: fear of heights, being intimidated, being embarrassed and etc.)

Asthma – Plain and simple. It’s incredibly hard to overcome asthma and the toll that it physically takes on me. It is the number one reason why my performance suffers and outweighs my lack of physical training. I’ve found that no matter how hard I’ve trained for any activity; my asthma bites me during the activity. When I trained for wrestling in high school, my asthma was put in check and minimized, but when I needed to give it my all, my asthma usually barred me from that. The only thing I can do is to be aware of it, which is the worst part about OCRs for me.

7.       Which obstacle is your favorite to attempt?

Water obstacles are my favorite. I also enjoy obstacles that make you rely on your lower body for strength, since I have limited upper body issues due to my plate in my shoulder.

8.       Which obstacle do you wish you didn’t have to attempt?

The Arctic Enema at Tough Mudder. I still blame that ice bath on killing my gastronomies.

9.       Which obstacle has been the hardest that you completed?  

The high walls at the 5k Foam Fest that Katie and I did. I pulled my shoulder out a bit immediately upon beginning the obstacle. But my wife was literally my inspiration for going forward. After all, she was already at the top of the obstacle and she gave me the encouragement I needed.

10.   Which obstacle have you not completed but are determined to overcome? 

Not a specific obstacle, per se, but instead, all obstacles that rely entirely on use of your upper body. Think monkey-bars. Total reliance must be placed on your shoulders and arms. It’s taken me years to get to the point where I can count on my shoulder to actually work but it has been a steep uphill battle to try and get my shoulder to hold up my body.

11.   What do you enjoy most about race day?

The calm before the storm and the finish line. I enjoy watching everyone’s reactions before the race. It brings me to a level of Zen and really keeps me focused (as odd as that seems). I also enjoy the finish line. The minute I see it, everything in my body kicks into overdrive and I literally push to the brink to make it across.

12.   Would you recommend OCR to someone? What would you say to them about it?

I would, indeed. It’s a lot of fun, especially with another person. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. I would especially recommend 5k’s to people. They tend to have a lot of obstacles and due to the limited size, those obstacles tend to be closer together. So usually, if you can jog a mile, you can handle a 5k. Mainly the first mile is usually void of any major obstacles. Then after that, there is limited running in between.

I would detail the above. I can honestly say that my favorite run was the 5k Foam Fest with Katie. It was more of a fun run with AWESOME obstacles and lots of foam/water obstacles. I would also say that two things occur during these races:

(1) Your running buddy(ies) become more than that, they become your support system and cheerleader.

(2) You find a different side of yourself. It’s a side that doesn’t take no for an answer. The “I’ll die trying, but I will try it” mentality kicks in and you really do find yourself.

13.    Why do you run these races? 

I enjoy being with my friends and family. I enjoy the person I become when I run OCR. I enjoy how I feel when I finish the races. And finally, I enjoy physically pushing my limits.

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