For 2 weeks before a Spartan Race, I am almost always an excited, nervous wreck. Not so much this time around. I felt very blah about it. It was as if it was some silly little local 5K or something.
Then this weekend came up- I was doing a Sprint on Sunday- and on Saturday I started to feel… no different. It was still just like, “Oh, I have a Spartan Race tomorrow,” thought in the same way you would think, “I’m going to the supermarket tomorrow.” Whatever. No pre-race jitters Saturday night. No wacky dreams about forgetting my shoes. Just blah.
When the alarm went off Sunday morning, Jay hit the snooze. He was feeling blah, too. We stared at the ceiling contemplating whether or not to even bother getting dressed and shlepping out to Tuxedo to do this thing. We weren’t excited so what’s the point? To add to the feeling of blah, we knew that our teammate, Allison, was iffy on whether she’d make it, too. While we weren’t excited about the race for the last few weeks, we were excited to see Allison. Did we want to go to a race we weren’t excited about if she wasn’t going to be there? The answer was a unanimous No, but I knew that there was a damned good chance that this could be my last Spartan Race. I surely didn’t want my last race to be a no-go making my last actual race be a DNF. No effin’ way. Not to mention, if Allison did make it, she’d be there alone. That’s not how Misfit Spartans roll.
We rolled out of bed and headed out to Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center for the Spartan Sprint. Sadly, Allison didn’t make it. It wound up being just me and Jay. We did a ‘just us’ Spartan Sprint in PA in 2012. It was good times, so we hoped that this would be good times, too.
Upon reaching the start line, I realized that I had forgot my inhaler. Again. Oh goodie. That was going to make running up and down a mountain super-fun.
It wound up being a really good course. The utilized the terrain really well. Instead of just making you go up this ski slope and down this ski slope and up this trail and down this trail until they completely exhaust you, they used more technical little bits of ground. For instance, there were spots that were more or less rock scrambles, and then others that were winding paths of rock, dirt, and tree roots where you have to watch your footing and move with purpose, plotting out your next step. I love that kind of thing and I’m good at it, too, so I was able to run and keep up with Jay for a lot more of the course. In fact, we tackled the entire first mile in just about 22 minutes. That is insanely fast (for us) considering our average pace for a Sprint is around 40 minutes/mile.
While the terrain was kinder, the individual obstacles were, in my opinion, made a little bit harder. The weight for the Herculean Hoist was heavier for both the men and the women. I don’t remember what the weights on the old cinderblocks were, but they’ve been replaced by big old sandbags weighing in at 65 and 100 pounds. I typically can fly through this obstacle, but I definitely had to work at it this time around. I had to use all my body weight and strength to haul the bag up and to keep it from falling back down before I could get another pull, I had to step on the rope to keep it from moving. Thank you Inov-8 for making those X-Talons. They clawed right into the rope and I got the bag up and back down again without dropping it. (Unlike the guy a few ropes down from me who dropped his bag from the top and ended up getting burpees. oopsies)
Some people thought the new cargo nets were easier. I found them harder. The rope nets were replaced with nets made up of seat belt-like straps. I don’t know why, but my reptile-mind just won’t trust them as much as the rope, so I had to shove a sock in the mouth of the primitive voice in my head that was screaming, “IT”S GONNA SNAP AND YOU’RE GONNA DIE!!!!!”
Spartan Race must have gotten a really good deal on those straps, too, because they also used them to create a new monkey bar-type obstacle. I couldn’t do it, but everyone else thought it was fun. Asa, the volunteer stationed there, gave good tips on how to get across. Example: If the strap sinks too low and you can’t reach up to get the next one, use the side straps to kind of pull it down.
There was also a brand spanking new kind of wall obstacle. It was a regular wall- maybe 6 feet?- topped with a slatted wall to add a bunch more height. The ladies were given extra slabs of 2×4 to use as steps, but Shorty McShorterson here still couldn’t get up to the slats.
Another obstacle that I’ve done before but I’m pretty sure they upped the weight on was the Atlas stone carry. The ladies’ stone was 65lbs according the volunteer. I could not for the life of me pick the stupid thing up. I tried squatting it, but it would not budge. I put my knee on the ground, rolled the stone up my thigh, then onto my chest. From there, I was able to stand up, resting the weight on my ribcage, and hustle across the little path. Put stone down, do 5 burpees, repeat.After putting the stone back down in it’s original location, I realized my sternum was hurting like a mother. Did I break the damn thing carrying that weight? No. I’m just a moron and rested the 65lb rock on top of the buckle on my camelbak that goes across my chest. I currently have a buckle-shaped reddish purply mark in the middle of my décolletage.
Between forgetting my inhaler, babying the calves that seem to remember their ouchiversary and have been acting up all week, the quad that cramped up because it was doing the work of the calves, and feeling like I had broken a chunk of my ribcage in half, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be breaking any land speed records.
Oh but we did! We busted our personal best time for a Spartan Sprint by nearly 30 minutes!! We finished that course in 2:17:40. Our previous best time was 2:45:56 in PA in 2011 (our first Spartan.) Best time in Tuxedo had been 2:53:16, last year. After years of finishing in the bottom 5-25%, I finished in the top 30% in my gender and age groups! Fucking awesome!
It felt so amazing to have beaten a personal best at what should have been my last Spartan. Now, of course, I’m thinking I may have to repeat it next year- properly medicated- to see if we can do even better!
Not ready for a Spartan Race but wanna earn a spiffy medal? Check out the Virtual Runs tab at the top of the page to see how you can run a race on your own time and help some worthy causes while you’re at it.