Spartan Sprint – Ft. Bragg

I finished!

That’s about all of the good news to come of this race. Ok, maybe I am being dramatic, but I am a little disappointed in my performance. I am not delusional and I know that getting into great shape takes time, but I thought I would be a little better off than I was. I’m trying not to beat myself up too badly though since there were a lot of unforeseen variables.

First was my sinus infection. Around 3pm on Friday afternoon, just after getting out of a long and boring meeting, I returned to my desk and sat down. It was then I noticed something all too familiar; a slight sore feeling right at the back of my throat. Of course!! Literally hours before my race I start coming down with a sinus infection. I spent the rest of the night chugging water and vitamins to try to hold it off. I was mildly successful in this effort and it did not develop into a full blown infection overnight. Yes, it still hurt to swallow or breathe hard. Yes, I had a lot more mucous than I usually do. But it could have been much, much worse and for that I am grateful.

Next was just getting to the event. Adjusting your life to fit in a young child is apparently an art that we have not yet mastered. There’s always something to do and it almost always takes longer than you expected. I made it to bed an hour later than I had wanted to, I didn’t get to stretch or foam roll, I didn’t even get to finish packing. So, the early morning hours of race day were spent rushing around trying to get everything done. Then there was the 3 hour drive to the race, not usually a big deal, but since we were behind schedule once we got to the race I had practically no time to warm up or stretch before my heat. As mentioned in a previous post I have not been great at keeping up with this and it is definitely working against me. So there I am at the starting line, trying to hurriedly squeeze in a few stretches, but I am barely able to touch my toes because everything is so tight. So no warm up, very little stretching, and off we go on a 5 mile course.

The third and probably worst aspect was the heat. My wife and daughter came to cheer me on and she heard one of the Spartan employees say it had reached 96 degrees on the course while I was out there. It has been a terribly hot summer and I have not spent enough time outside, instead I’ve retreated to the comfort of my air conditioning. The past two months of working out (again, in a climate controlled environment) have not prepared me for such an endeavour. The temperature has actually been pretty nice the past few weeks, so I think that was another shock to my body.

Well, enough with the excuses. The main reason I was so disappointed is that this race is one of the flattest, fastest courses they offer. Even during the race I thought fairly often about how much easier this race is than the other races I’ve done. That’s not to say it was actually easy, but compared to some of the other courses the course itself wasn’t much of an obstacle. I would have thought that I would have been able to trot a long a lot more during that race, but the obstacles were pretty well spaced apart and often right as I was catching my breath from one and could think about jogging again I could see another obstacle in the distance that I felt I needed to save my strength for. I guess it does show that some sport-specific training does help. It didn’t seem that much of my strength training translated to more running stamina on the course. I hadn’t planned on actually running at all until after the races, just so I didn’t overdo the training and hurt myself. I am, after all, pretty much just at the beginning and your body needs time to adjust. I might try a bit of light running just to get my body a little more used to it for the next races. Speaking of the next races, Wintergreen is but two short weeks away. I am terrified. If walking 5 miles on a flat course was such a struggle I don’t know how I’m going to pull off 9 on a mountain. I know I have done it twice before, but thinking about it now, I honestly don’t know how I managed! My only hope is that it is cooler. The forecast has it somewhere in the high 70s – low 80s, but I won’t trust that until we are little closer. Also, my start time should be much earlier so hopefully I can get a good amount of the course done before the heat really starts to build up. We will see…

I do want to take a moment to say that I am glad that I have been training. I know it seems like this post was mostly a big dump on everything, but I could definitely tell in a few of the obstacles that they felt a lot easier than they have in the past. Certain obstacles, like the Atlas Carry, the Herculean Hoist, and the sled pull were almost trivial. A few obstacles, like the bucket carry and the sandbag carry, were a little better in regards to my grip strength. I could tell a little bit of a difference in some of the climbing/wall obstacles as well. So it’s not all bad!! I am thankful that was even able to participate and even more so that I finished. I am appreciative of the progress I am making and I am excited to continue on this path.

Hopefully I will find the time to sit down and knock out another post between now and then, but if not you will hear from me again after the Wintergreen race. Wish me luck!! 2016-sprint

Pulse Check

So, I have been super busy lately and it’s been difficult to even find time to sit down and write a post. I’m going to try to get better at that. This particular post I’ve been meaning to write for weeks but every time I think I will have time to complete it something comes up.

The good news is that part of me being so busy is the fact that I have been doing very well keeping up with my workouts. I have been able to get a good workout in almost everyday since I’ve started this mission and I am definitely seeing some progress. I am now in the middle of a recovery week, which is much needed. At the end of last week I was feeling very beat up and fatigued. My wife was out of town this Labor Day weekend which left me alone to care for my little one. While it was an amazing weekend together it didn’t really afford me much time to focus on my fitness. This week will be spent doing yoga, stretching, and foam rolling. I can tell I have all sorts of trouble spots I need to address; the aftermath of the heavier workouts. I haven’t spent much time dedicated to resolving those issues and I think I’m doing myself a disservice. There are a lot of areas (shoulders, back. hip flexors, calf muscles) that are super tight. I have also started having a bit more pain in my knee. I am pretty sure this is more of a result of muscle tightness and imbalances rather than wear and tear on the actual joint.

The reason I need to focus on it so much this week is that it’s the beginning of race season for me! That’s right, despite having only been focusing on my health and fitness for two months I have my first Spartan Race of the year this weekend! I am super excited and nervous. This will be my third consecutive year running these races and last year made me second guess this tradition. My first year was a blast! I had so much fun! Despite them being the most difficult thing I have ever done physically it was so rewarding and I was full of such pride when I crossed those finish lines. My races that year were right when I started my current job. I went from a fast paced, on-your-feet retail job to a quiet and sedentary desk job. After my races that first year wrapped up I can’t recall a time where I was active in any legitimate way until the next year’s races. I had no idea what a year sitting at a desk would do to my body. Last year the races were no longer fun. I felt like I was dying at every one. My race times were terrible. My Sprint time almost doubled from the year before! Leading up to the birth of my daughter was born had me unsure of whether I’d be running the races or not this year. Time and money were both serious concerns. After some serious discussion with my wife we agreed on two things: 1) That I need to get healthy for my daughter and 2) these races are a great motivator and I need to complete them. So I began my training and here we are today.

My sub-five minute mile ambition has been hanging around with me for years. I tend to be more successful when I have goals. This next year that I will not only help keep me running, but also strength training and watching what I eat. I have three Spartans this year and I signed up for an 8k race that I have completed a couple of times before. I will be sure to write up a post about the results of all of these races. I think that, while I haven’t lost any weight (in fact I’ve gained weight), even this little bit of training could possibly help me do better in all of my races this year. I have big plans for next year as well. I am going to sign up for as many foot races as I can, but I am also going to try to go for my first Double Trifecta with Spartan Race. I also want to sign up and do some of the other OCR events (Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac, etc).

I am hoping to finally finish up a post or two about some of the things I’ve been doing to determine my starting point. I’ve had some tests done and I’ve gathered some data. I have some more tests to complete, and I need to do it soon, before I get too far into my training. Not that I think I’m going to make super-amazing changes in such a short time but I want to get the most accurate information I can. I really like statistics and seeing trends. It’s also really motivating to be able to look back and see how far you’ve come and to realize that all of those long hours suffering where actually worth it. I am going to try to write up those posts and get them published as soon as I can. But until then my desk job is calling…