The RAID first had the pleasure of meeting Wes Meserve in 2013 at the first annual Urban RAID Boston. He has become a force to be reckoned with at every RAID race and quite frankly, is a freakishly good runner. This year, he is on the top of the Urban RAID leaderboard and is on track to become our 2nd male Urban RAID Champion. Wes took a break from his busy schedule to tell us his story on falling in love with running and dished out some secrets on how he keeps fitness and running incorporated into everyday life.
1) First things first, when did you begin running and competing in races?
In eighth grade, my gym teacher pulled me aside and told me that I should try out for the Cross Country team in high school. My first thought was, eh I don’t want to run Cross Country, I want to play Football like a lot of other guys wanted to do. However, I tried it out my Freshman year and absolutely loved it! I ran varsity and made number 6 on the team as a freshman. We also won our division that year and made states and did very good in states. I moved up to number 3 on the team my Sophomore year and number 2 on the team my Junior and Senior years. Where my love for running sprouted in high school, I really fell in love with running during college. I met many amazing people including my teammates and coaches whom helped propel my passion for running. Now, you are only allowed to compete in NCAA sports for 4 years in college and I was at college for 5 ½ years where I graduated with my undergrad in Accounting and Finance and also graduated in 2012 with my MBA (graduate degree). Even though I could not run for the later 1.5 years, I still ran and helped out wherever I could. Running has become a part of my life and has left a major imprint on me. It is like a drug as some people like to say. After running for about 13 years, I have noticed how much I do adore the sport. It is extremely good for your health and keeps you happy, energetic, and looking young. Once you feel that runner’s high, I’m telling you, that you would never want to stop smashing the pavement and burning some rubber.
Now, after school I still wanted to compete and stay active in the running community so I decided to take part in many road races where I compete in anything from 5ks to marathons. I have met many fellow runners who have been great friends to me and will be for the rest of my life. I have had many friends and strangers come up to me and ask what I do and how to get into running and I have taught and mentored them. It gives me great pride to coach individuals about running and how to get and stay in tip-top shape.
2.) How did you hear about the RAID Series? Particularly, what attracted you towards it?
I had never heard about the RAID Series until one of my fraternity brothers in college asked me if I wanted to take part in the 2013 Boston Raid. I checked it out and it looked great so I signed up with him and a few other brothers and I had a great time and was extremely hungry for more. The thing that attracted me towards it is that it was a very unique obstacle race taking place in a city which I had never done before. It was my first 5k obstacle race that I had ever done. I took part in a few Tough Mudders before, but never a 5k obstacle race in a city.
When the race was over, a guy by the name of D.J. Vaughn came up and introduced himself to me. He told me that I did a great job and he would love to recruit me onto his team “The Real McCoys.” And since then, the rest has been history.
3.) What do you believe sets the RAID Series apart from other obstacle course races?
The RAID Series is different from other obstacle course races that I have run before in that they take place in cities, beaches, and previously mountains. Running an obstacle race on a beach is very tough and beautiful at the same time. It was also such a huge coincidence when I noticed the RAID Series had races that took place in Old Orchard Beach. My family and I used to go on vacation every year to this beach on a condo. It is my favorite beach and when I found about this race on the beach, I signed up immediately for it. The Raid Series also has a great after party with Shock Top Beers and an awards ceremony. I also look forward to watching every race’s official video on Facebook.
4.) It looks like your on track to take home the Urban RAID Championship award this season! What does your training routine consist of for the RAID races?
It would be a complete honor to take home the Urban Raid Championship award this season as I have been working extremely hard for this and am ready then every for the race in Boston next weekend. I stick to a pretty strict routine when it comes to my training. Life is very busy and I know many things get in the way, however it is very important that we all get our daily cardio or exercise in. There is always room to work out and stay healthy no matter what the excuses are. I tell everyone to just turn the TV off or wake up 30 minutes early just to get a nice workout in and you will feel so much better! There are many obstacles in life you must overcome on a daily basis but just remember to always get some sort of exercise in!
My daily commute consumes about 3 hours and 40 minutes of my day which is very long, but I still find many ways to get my training in. I usually go for my runs in Boston after/during work around 5/530 and then take my commuter rail train back to my home area. Then I go to my gym from around 8 – 10 and finally arrive home around 1015PM. I usually run from 4-6 days a week. It is also very important to take some time off from running and do some cross training like swimming or biking which can also make you into a stronger runner.
5.) Fitness and Nutrition seem to go hand in hand. Do you follow a strict diet regime to stay in shape for races?
You couldn’t have said it any better! Fitness and nutrition definitely go hand in hand and I do follow a pretty strict diet regime to stay in top shape. I have usually been a pretty healthy eater but my whole world opened up to nutrition just a couple years ago when both my mom and sister got pretty sick for some unforeseen reason. They have both been sick for about 2 years now and come to find out they both have some sort of Lyme disease along with a disease known as Sjorden’s Syndrome which effects your muscles and makes you extremely tired. So, all that being said, my mom has been following a very strict diet in order to improve her situation. She has been seeing a natural healer and nutritionist and has learned a lot from him where she has shared her knowledge with me and buys healthy foods for us to eat. We buy mostly organic foods especially with produce since non-organic foods contain many pesticides. I watch what I eat very carefully and try to get all nutrients and vitamins in that I need on a daily basis.
I eat a lot of fruits, vegies, and nuts on a daily basis. Nuts are a great source of energy that keeps you feeling full longer. On days that I run, I usually cook up some oatmeal or eggs but most of the time just oatmeal since I am on the go throughout the day and don’t have a stove at work to cook the eggs. I also enjoy Fage greek yogurt or homemade granola bars after a nice hard run and/or workout. At night, I usually prep a nice salad or pasta/rice or anything different. I also have pea, hemp, chia, and rice protein powder which I have maybe 3-4 times a week at night (along with dinner) with a smoothie mixed with juice/almond milk and frozen fruit. I used to have whey protein, but realized it was real bad for your body and switched over to the organic protein. Honestly, it’s the best to get sources of protein and all nutrients through whole foods which is why I only have these smoothies a few times per week. I also do not drink dairy milk that much anymore and have been noticing many improvements in my skin and the way I feel! I drink milk here and there but tend to stick with almond and coconut milk that is Non-Gmo. The Silk Company is what I buy. It’s good to try different recipes to keep things interesting.
It is extremely important to not skip breakfast since it is the most important meal of your day. It “breaks your fast” throughout the night. Eating at breakfast helps speed up your metabolism and skipping out on this meal slows it down. I also don’t eat “3” big meals a day but more so graze throughout the day. I eat healthy snacks throughout the day every hour or so and then don’t eat anything for at least 2 hours before I run as to not make my stomach upset.
6.) What has been your favorite RAID race so far?
My favorite RAID race so far this year would have to be the NYC RAID. My friends and I stayed overnight the night before and it was such a great experience to adventure around the city the night before the race. We all ate out at a very nice Italian restaurant and enjoyed the night. NYC was also extremely busy this particular weekend since the Pope was in attendance as well as the UN Meeting taking place all week. NYC was by no means a quiet place this weekend. The views from the island during and after the race were just absolutely breathtaking. After the race, we went back to Manhattan and checked out the 9/11 Memorial as well as the Freedom Tower. We waited in line at the Freedom Tower to take the elevator trip all the way to the 103th floor to see the breathtaking views of the entire city. It is just such an amazing experience to compete in a race on Governor’s Island with such spectacular views!
7.) You seem to take part in all kinds of races, is obstacle course racing your favorite?
I do take part in many kinds of races but I do not consider obstacle races my favorite. I do love to do them because it puts a whole different spin on running and makes it very interesting but I love to road race. I love running 5k’s, 5 milers, and half marathons are a great time as well. But I like to switch it up and run in obstacle races because the atmosphere at these races is incredible with all the runners and the fun you can have at one.
The obstacle racing industry has been booming and has seen the most growth than any other sport including half marathons, marathons, and triathlons. Obstacle racing is a great test of cardio, endurance, and strength where you never know if the “runner” or “gym rat” will win. Sometimes a runner will prevail the winner in a race but may have trouble at certain heavy obstacles. However, sometimes the gym rat will win the race since they have competitive advantage on obstacles. I do think that runners have more of an advantage since you spend most of your time running these races and only have a few “heavier” obstacles to command and conquer. Even though I consider road racing my favorite, obstacle racing is right behind and gaining popularity!
My lifetime goal is to compete in an Ironman. I first have to start competing in triathlons and then try for a half iron. Then I can work my way to an ironman but this is something I must complete at some point in my life.
8.) What advice would you give to a beginner who is considering entering their first RAID race?
I would say you need to make sure to get your running and cardio in. I know a lot of people love the treadmill but stay far away from the treadmill! Treadmills are known to injure runners and you don’t even get the full effect of running while you are on one of those machines. When you run outside you are actually propelling yourself forward with every step whereas on a treadmill, you only shuffle your feet up and down without real propulsion forward. If someone trains on a treadmill, you will not see results as fast as you will when you run outside and you are also increasing your chance of injury. Also, when you run outside you have great views, so it seems like a no brainer and a win win!
9.) Where do you want see the RAID go next?
First, I want to start off by saying that I am extremely happy I have found the RAID Series! I would love to see some expansion in the company. The locations now are great: NYC, Albany, Portland, and Boston for the Urbans and Old Orchard Beach for the Beach Raid. I would like to keep these locations & see more locations for the Urbans. Would be neat to have one in another city like Newport or Providence, R.I. or Portsmouth, NH. Newport and Portsmouth remind me of Portland and Boston where they are cities along the water with great views and great RAID Series venues. The Beach event is also a fun time so would be nice to see another one pop up next year. I remember there was one mountain raid I took part in a couple years ago at Sunday River in Maine. That was a blast, however I have not seen a mountain raid for a year or two and would be nice to see once of these in the next year or two.
10.) Other than it being your hometown! What are you most looking forward to about having the Urban RAID Boston Championship in Boston this year?
It will be a very bittersweet moment for me with this Boston race. Of course, Boston is my hometown so I love it there but it will also be a little sad since it’s already the last race of the year! I think it’s fantastic the RAID Series puts on an obstacle race in the middle of a big city and gives you a little tour of Faneuil Hall and some of the waterfront region. I’m also very excited for the band and the after party! Last year I know the championship was in NYC which must have been a great location as well, but I take a lot of pride in the RAID Series moving it from NYC to Boston this year!
MORE ABOUT WES!!
All in all, you can tell running is a very important part of my life. I actually lived overseas in Egypt for 2 years and then Abu Dhabi for 8 years and while it was great living over there, I’m happy to have moved back to the Boston area because who knows if I would have run over there. It was extremely hot and I don’t think they had track or cross country teams out there. When I run, it gives me such a great sense of freedom and escape that nothing else can compare to. I usually like to run for my mom and sister in hopes of them getting healthy sometime soon in the near future. I also run for the city of Boston as this city will always stay near and dear to my heart.
I have been volunteering for the Boston Marathon at the finish line for the past 4 years. April 15, 2013 is a date I, as well as many other runners, will never forget. I was extremely close to the finish line picking up heat blankets for runners when I heard the explosions and witnessed what I saw that day. At first, I thought there were fireworks or something but I knew that was weird because that had never happened before. I looked around and easily could tell these were not fireworks. Something real bad was going on and I was witnessing it first-hand. I did all I could to help until I ran back to my station. This moment will be forever etched in my brain and has given running a whole new meaning to me. I ran the marathon last year and it was such a bittersweet experience to be able to do this. This day woke me up and made me realize how fragile our time on this planet really is. It’s very important to enjoy your life, never take anything for granted and treat others as you would like to be treated. I run with a purpose and am very thankful to have found this hobby 13 years ago and continue to keep it near and dear to my heart.