Well, it’s been a really, really long time since I’ve taken the time to sit down and write a new blog post. For my loyal readers, my apologies. It’s been quite the busy summer. I’ve taken on a new teaching challenge which took up a good chunk of my summer, plus a couple opportunities to travel, and the adoption of a sweet black lab puppy (yes, puppy; four months old when we adopted her), it hasn’t left me much time for writing. But I’ve decided it’s time to get back to it and catch you all up on the happenings of the year, especially as I continue my trek for a Spartan Trifecta.
A week and a half ago, we took a leisurely eight-hour drive up to Fayetteville, North Carolina, so I could take on the second of the Spartan Race challenges: the Spartan Super. The official stats on this race: 8.3 miles, 27 obstacles, and a fine day to be in North Carolina. This race not only represented my second of the Trifecta distances, but my first out of state race.
I have to say that North Carolina did not disappoint. Not only was the weather excellent the terrain challenging, but the people there, both working/volunteering for Spartan Race and running the course were awesome. I haven’t spent a significant amount of time in North Carolina in quite some time, and if you haven’t either, you definitely get a great taste of Southern hospitality from the good people there. It took me three hours and 48 minutes to complete the Super, and since I barely trained over the summer, I’m very happy with the result.
The Spartan Super put forth the challenges I expected, but the best part of it were the challenges I was able to overcome. Two of the obstacles I struggled with during the Sprint were finally beaten.
On the Rope Climb, I managed to make it to the top on my first attempt. I have to admit, getting to the top of that rope and hitting the bell was possibly a highlight of the race. I was so excited, I asked the volunteer if he would be bothered if I let out a celebration. He said he didn’t mind, so I let out a yell that slightly echoed through the woods.
On the Atlas Carry, I decided to try a new technique for picking up the Atlas ball. I saw a Spartan training video that showed the method of getting down on my knees and rolling the ball up my legs. The technique worked fine, but I found I had a hard time getting back up once I got the ball on my legs. I felt my hamstring tighten almost to the point of cramping, and rolled the ball back to the ground. This is when the Southern hospitality kicked in. One of the other participants stopped to help me pick the ball up. I found that once I had it off the ground, carrying it the short distance was no problem. Thanks to the gentleman who gave me a hand. It was nice to beat that obstacle for the first time.
What to Work On
This wouldn’t be a Spartan Race experience (or blog post) if I didn’t talk about the challenges of the course. That’s just the way it is.
One of the big parts of this course that I went through most of the course without many mistakes. In fact, I didn’t have my first problem until passed the eight-mile mark. As I was traversing Twister, I slipped with just a few handles away from the bell. My grip just gave out, and as I was doing my burpees, I saw I had opened a blister on my hand. This made burpees way harder, but I finished them.
When I got to Olympus, I found my girlfriend on the side and borrowed a water bottle to rinse my hand a bit. Then I put on one of my gloves and took a swing at Olympus. Again, I came to within one or two grips of the end before I slipped. So again, I was doing burpees. This was my problem in the Sprint, and it turned out it’s still a problem: letting mistakes get to my head. Sure, I had barely trained for the Super, and I was tired from completing my longest distance thus far in an OCR. But still, I should have been able to knock out the burpees faster than I did. Even just taking a breath and talking to myself (“It’s okay. Just a slip. You’re almost there.”) could’ve helped a great deal.
But I let it beat me up. When I came up to Spearman, I found my confidence shaky, and so was my aim. Another 30 burpees. That was three penalties in three of the last five obstacles. I probably wouldn’t have managed to finish those last 3o if it weren’t for my girlfriend. She did them right along side with me; didn’t have to, but did it anyway.
After my last penalty, it was just a short A-frame climb and a fire jump away from the next step in my challenge. A completed Super. Another wedge to go in my Trifecta Delta. Two down. One to go.
What Happens Now
I’m not doing the same thing I did with the Super. I went in pretty cold. I am not letting that happen with the Spartan Beast. For those who don’t know, this longest Spartan Race starts at 12 miles. Over 30 grueling obstacles. And I’ll take it on in December right here in Central Florida. It’s the last step to the Trifecta. I’ve started an interesting tradition of buying two extra pieces of merchandise when I go to Spartan Race. The first is a flag that’s the same color as the wedge of each race. I have Sprint red and Super blue flags. All that’s left is a Beast green. And the other thing is just something I’d like to have. At the Sprint, it was a Spartan Race key chain. At the Super, it was a Fayetteville Super t-shirt to remember my first out-of-state race. For the Beast, I’ve already picked it out. It’s the Delta. So I can put together the wedges of my Trifecta and display it in the glory with which it is meant to be displayed.
Perhaps the best part about doing the Super and training for my next races, which include a Mud Titan this weekend, is the realization of how far I’ve come since I started not just my Spartan journey, but my OCR journey. But more on that later.
So don’t call my Spartan Super completion a comeback. For the first time, I feel like I’m just getting started.
Until next time, there’s only one thing left to say: AROO!