First of all I want to apologize for how late this post is. Things have been a little busier than normal for me and it’s been hard to find the time to sit down and write. Regardless, here is the post!
Wow! This was a great race.
I’m not even really sure where to start off with this one… Oh well, why not the weather. The weather for this race was absolutely perfect. It was a nice cool morning, but not so cold that anyone needed to keep warm. The temperature rose steadily through the day capping off around a nice and warm 80 degrees. The sun was out but it did not feel oppressive. It was a great low-humidity day. It was some of the best racing weather I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
I arrived early enough this year to not know if the parking situation was as much of a mess as it was last year, but I suspect it was at least somewhat better. The event was sold out though and as I was leaving I noticed that they did a very good job putting a car anywhere they could. This is a very popular race. I actually arrived early enough to walk around and check everything out and get ready slowly and with adequate time to stretch. I always mean to arrive with enough time for that, but lately it just hasn’t been working out. I will have to make sure to get there with enough time going forward. With the exception of the bag check being placed on the opposite end of the festival area as the showers/changing area I thought the festival area was very spacious and well laid out. There was a good view of quite a few obstacles including the Z-Wall, Monkey Bars, Herc Hoist, Barbwire Crawl, Dunk Wall, Rope Climb, Inverted Wall and the Slip Wall.
The festival area was not the only thing that was well organized. The race itself was extremely well thought out. The first few miles were mostly flat trails that you could easily run/jog. It was great scenery and was really enjoyable. Around mile 6 things started to get much more steep and much more technical. It was here that I really had to slow down a bit. I’m not in good enough shape to run up hill yet and the downhills were a little too steep for my knees. This was a welcome change this year though. The past two years this course was almost completely flat. These elevation changes really added a different element to the race and I am glad they included it this year. Apparently the course designer from last year was insulted that people were claiming his race was easy, and he definitely stepped it up this year! At around mile 9 the course changed again and it sent you through a good amount of shallow water and sand. After you cleared that the course gave way to quite a bit of thick, slick mud. It was nice to get dirty again, I feel like Spartan has really moved away from the term ‘mud run’ and it was great to see it return to it’s roots. Around mile 11 you came back closer to the festival area and while there were still a good amount of hills it also had some more flats. Overall it was great having the race flow the way it did; it always kept you guessing and was never boring.
As for my performance I have to say I am very pleased. Of course, it’s not where will want to be, but all things considered I did quite well! I handled the first 6 miles with no problem. I wasn’t trying to kill myself but I was trying to move a little quicker than I have been in my recent races. I didn’t feel like I needed any fuel for the first 6 miles and was feeling pretty strong. At the mile 6 water station I decided to have a Quest bar. I wasn’t feeling super fatigued yet, but per the advice I got from a fellow racer on this blog I took it early, before I bonked. I am glad I did too. Without it the hills over the next few miles would have killed me. Also, there wasn’t any water between mile 8 and 11. While the hills did slow me down I was still moving at a good pace. That is until mile 9. I try to be as polite as possible on the course and if I hear a fellow racer coming up behind me I try to step aside and let them by. I did this during mile 9, but wasn’t watching my footing carefully enough. I stepped off to the side of a downhill slope and stepped in a nice patch of slick pine needles: I fell. Not hard, but hard enough. As soon as I got up I knew there was something wrong with my knee. I’ve hurt this part of my knee before so I was familiar with it. It wasn’t a bad pain, but it was still there. It was just enough that I wasn’t really able to run the rest of the race. I was able though to power walk a bit without pain. I did try to jog a little here and there, but I could tell I had a limp and figured it was best not to push the issue. It’s a shame because I know I would have finished with a better time, but at the end of the day it’s more important to have a good time than it is to seriously injure yourself. Despite the injury everything was going fine and I was moving at a good pace. With the exception of the Atlas Carry I did no burpees until around mile 11 at the Tyro Traverse. Now that they have made the rope more slack and made the traverse an incline I can’t get more than half way before I fall off. It’s definitely something to work toward. After that things started getting bad for me. They packed all of the burpee obstacles into the very end of the race and I was already feeling pretty gassed at that point. I really slowed down those last few miles. I was proud of myself though, the only times I stopped moving was to prepare for an obstacle. And even when I did I took far less time than I usually do. I also did my burpee sets much faster than usual. Lately I have been needing to do them in sets of 5, but I busted out a few sets of 10 and the recovery time between each was greatly diminished from previous races. All of the racers agreed that Spartan lied about those last 2 miles though. It was WAY longer than 2 miles. It was almost even comically so. It’s about the only thing people were talking about for the duration of the race. I even heard a phone conversation as I was leaving where one of the top elite finishers was telling someone about it. I can’t really complain though, the point of these things is to be difficult and challenging. I finished the race with my standard 120 burpees. It’s funny because as I get better and overcome one obstacle they change/add/improve another one so that I fail. I love the constant push to always be better and stronger. It is really quite motivating for me.
Everything considered this was a really great race. I hope next year is something similar. I also can’t wait to come back in better shape and slash my finishing time. Things have been rough, but they are getting better every day and I am getting super pumped about what the future holds. I’ve already signed up for almost all of my races for next year and I can’t wait for race season to begin!!
I snagged a picture of the course for this year, check it out!
Until next time!