I said I wasn't going to do any more obstacle course races. I've been doing them for years now, long before they became the popular phenomenon they've become. I set a goal to do an Iron-man, which is quite different than these races. So how did I end up buying a season pass for the Spartan race series?
Why Sparta? Why now?
I've done practically every race on my own with no friends or family there before, during or after the race. I was OK with this. It was my thing and so ... But some of the best times I've had at races, be it marathons, 10k's or obstacle courses, has been when I've done it with someone. One of my favorite times was doing a Spartan Sprint with Skye and the folks from our gym, X-3 in Atlanta.
When I saw the Spartan race schedule, it coincided with mine enough times to maybe make it cost effective. I figured I could get someone to do it with me while we were in LA, because several of my friends did them last year so... And then I thought I could get up to Atlanta and do it with Skye and the X-3 team again. And well, why not?
Best Laid Plans
Unfortunately the Southern California season opener was almost 2 hours south of Los Angeles and was a Super Spartan which is more than 8 miles long and pretty brutal. The Spartan most of my friends had done was in Malibu and a Sprint, which is around 3 miles and not nearly as rough. I wasn't anywhere near the physical shape I wanted to be in but I'd already paid for it, so I signed up for both days, just in case any of my friends did it I would be there on whichever day they signed up for.
As it turned out no one I knew would be joining me for the adventure.
I was concerned, dare I say, worried about how the weekend was going to play out.
You can see little tiny figures like ants on the crest of the hill. I would be one of those ants in not too long.
I was running late. I was not in physical condition I wanted to be. It was cold and I was alone.
Standing in line to check-in my bag, mentally checking off my list of the many pre-race formalities and preliminaries, such race bib pickups, registration, race markings and of course a trip to the porta-pot, I realized I didn't have my GoPro camera.
I retraced my steps to the Porta-pot where I had hung it up on a hook.
It wasn't there.
I raced around to find the Lost and Found.
Someone had just turned in a GoPro they had found in a Porta-pot.
And someone else had just claimed it.
This had all happened in the span of maybe 10 minutes.
Lucky for me the girl at the lost and found was on her toes and remembered who had picked it up. Amazingly within a few minutes she had returned with my camera.
Wow. What a way to start the day.
I had been concerned about how cold it was going to be.
It was in the 40s which was surprisingly comfortable.
I was worried that there would be a water obstacle towards the beginning of the course and I would be cold and wet for 4-6 hours.
I was particularly leery of the ice pier jumps mentioned in the Race Directors notes.
In Tough Mudders past, I've had to jump off of a 8 foot platform into a bracing, heart-attack inducing body of near-freezing water, where I was completely submerged and then had to swim across alpine lake, climb out with the aid of a rope, only to have to jump back in this time by way of a slippery slide and then make my way back across near frozen body of water.
The last time, in fact the average temp was just 32F. So the 40 degrees of the water actually felt warm .
As it turned out the water obstacles were near the end of the race and not nearly as challenging as I had made them to be in my mind.
The water was still bracing and sliding in was no fun matter. But it wasn't a long distance to swim and flotation devices were provided.
I didn't use one on Saturday, but gave in and grabbed one on Sunday.
I have worn a GoPro head-cam for many of these races with varying degrees of results. Inevitably, its the time-consuming task of editing that dooms the footage from becoming public.
And then there are the many and varied operator error components that make for um, not ready for prime-time clips. That would certainly be the case for most of Saturday, which usually had me shooting high over the heads of the runners in front of me and mostly looking up at the grey sky for minutes as a time.
Add to this a nice mud smear on the lens for the last half and you end up with a lot of unusable digital nonsense.
Sunday went better. But like I said its the editing that takes so much time, so for now, it's just stills that I took before and after the race.
I was being pretty careful in trying to only film stuff that might be somewhat interesting, trying to save the battery.
This odd post-balance obstacle was one I was looking forward to replaying. I made it through successfully on both days.
The battery had died long before I arrived to this on Saturday, but Sunday I had been extra diligent, and....
The battery died literally 10 feet before I made it to the first pylon.
This is actually more difficult than it looks because the posts wobble and because its at the end of the course, your legs are already shaky.
I did even worse on Sunday.
30 burpees of penalty and punishment were extra tough and painful.
Final Time & Place
Age 13/106 top 12%
Gender 525/2882 top18%
Overall 565/3872 top 15%
Not bad all things considered.
I'm excited to get back to training in earnest.
It's going to be tough, with the upcoming road trips and work but this race series is a good motivator.
In fact, Skye is doing the one in Phoenix with me in less than 2 weeks.
Saturday's race was the longest distance and most time I'd ever done in my Vibram 5-fingers. And I felt great.
So good in fact that I decided to get another pair. I'd been thinking about it for a while now.
I knew what a task it would be to get all the mud out of, and as good as a job as I could do, they'd still be wet and cold. Not a way to start off a run.
I was already scratched up, had a bunch of bruises and was pretty sore. But I knew what the course had to offer and could pace myself accordingly.
The weather was ideal on Sunday. Not to hot and not too cold. It was sunny and beautiful.
Final Time & Place
Age: 22/56 top 39%
Gender 398/1191 top 33%
Overall 440/1626 top 27%
Less than 3 minutes difference between the two days. I was shocked at the consistency and thrilled to have done both days.