I did it!!!
What a race. I am pleased to report that the Spartan Race VA super was back in full force this year. While I didn’t finish with a great time in 2015 I still left feeling like it was just a little too easy and watered down. This was certainly not the case this year!
It was a great day for a race. A nice cool morning followed by a warm, but not too hot afternoon with plenty of sunshine. A brief but perfectly timed rainstorm came through to cool us off in the early afternoon. Everything was stacked in my favor, which was greatly appreciated. I don’t know that I could have made it through that race had it been a very hot day.
The race itself was very well laid out this year and actually had the fewest number of bottlenecks I’ve probably seen at any Spartan Race. I felt like the obstacles were well placed and definitely a challenge. For anyone that was there I need but to mention the first barbwire crawl (a very steep incline after a long, steep climb). Sadly, I ended the race with a cumulative 150 burpees, the most I’ve done in a race so far. This was due to the fact that the tyrolean traverse was uphill and I got to it just after it rained and the rope was very slick. Otherwise I failed my normal obstacles: Rope climb, Multi-Rig, Spear Throw, and Monkey Bars. I am pleased to report that despite eventually failing the Monkey Bars I very nearly completed them! I think I only had 3 or 4 more rungs to go. This is a huge achievement considering I’ve never made it past the second bar before. It’s these moments that you look back and realize that despite the fact that you might not yet look better and the needle on the scale isn’t budging that you are still making progress and that you should keep going. I also toyed with some stuff on the Spear Throw and I think I might be able to conquer that one on my next go around. It stands to reason that if I could do the Monkey Bars that I could do the Multi-Rig but I didn’t make it past the second ring here. This is mostly that it was the second to last obstacle, about 50 yards from the finish line and I was spent. The Rope Climb I am going to need to work on.
I actually ran very little in this race. There are multiple reasons for this but the most obvious one was the terrain. Almost the entire course was sending you up and down very steep and sometime treacherous slopes. Also, I know how this course can be and I think I was trying not to go too hard too fast and get too tired to finish. I was trying the whole race to just keep it slow and steady. This strategy worked pretty well for me. There were parts where even going slowly was too fast, but as a whole I think I stopped a lot less often this year than in previous years. I also was very proud of how little energy I needed to supplement with on the course. I will get more into this in a later post but I didn’t have to break into any gels until around mile 7. This is where I felt myself bonking and I needed the extra boost. Maybe it was too little too late… those last two miles were the worst. Not because they were any harder, but I was pretty burnt out. I was finishing the race at a pretty respectable pace, in my opinion, but once I hit mile 7 things started going downhill. It was during these last two miles that my race time started creeping up. It also didn’t help that they had a good number of obstacles right near the end. Of all my burpees 60 of them came in the last half mile. At this point I was pretty much running on instinct and just trying to get the end, all considerations of my finishing time were left on the top of the mountain.
This reminds me of something that has been bothering me for years and I have to be very careful how I say it because I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way. Every year there are moments during the races (especially this one) where I can’t take another step, my heart is pounding out of my chest, my lungs are on fire and I feel like I can’t take a deep breath. Regardless of the symptom I can sense it coming and usually pull off to the side of the course to catch my breath and give my body a chance to recover some. I usually take a pit stop before I get to any of the points I described above. In the past recovering from pushing myself that hard takes twice as long and it adds more time. So, I take a couple of minutes to regain my composure. It could also be the situation that the trail is narrow and there if a git group of people that are fast approaching me from behind. It’s the polite thing to do to step aside and let them past. It would be great if one day I can get through a race without someone stopping to ask “Everything ok?” or “are you alright?”. I think if I were flat on my back or vomiting it might be a little reasonable, but I am always upright, on my feet and have my wits about me. Now, I don’t want this to be taken like I am ungrateful for the kindness of others; nothing is further from the truth. The actual truth is I wish more people care about their fellow man and would stop to make sure everyone is doing ok. It’s not the kindness of the people, that part I love, it’s the fact that it’s calling to my attention how poorly I am performing. Whenever someone asks if I am ok it makes me think about how far I’ve let myself go, how far I’ve fallen from the athlete I once was. All of those cheeseburgers and late nights definitely made their mark and I wear it everyday. Sometimes you don’t feel quite so fat and you are more confident. Some days you step on the scale and it’s a couple pounds lighter and you get a pep in your step. But being repeatedly told you look like there could be something wrong really gets me down. This year I am trying to use it as a positive though, and not let it bring me down like I did before. This year even though I am not currently in shape I am heading in the right direction and that’s what matters. When they ask, “are you ok?” I reply “Yup! I’m doing great!” and it’s the honesty truth. I am not where I want to be, but I know that I will get there and that in and of itself is enough to keep taking each step forward regardless of how slow or difficult that step might be.
Despite everything, at the end of the day, I still finished the race and that is what matters most. I had a great time and the race really pushed me physically and mentally. I am very excited to race this course again next year when I am hopefully much lighter and in much better shape. Things are looking pretty good though recently and it makes me even more excited for the Carolina Beast coming up at the end of the month. A couple of weeks following that I have an 8k which will be my first street race since I got back into the fitness game. It will be interesting to see if I am able to beat my times from previous years. Stay Tuned!!