See that photo above? That's the look of victory! That's the look of accomplishment! That could also be the look of me saying, "Ow! You're standing on my toe!" In actuality, that's the look of redemption, at least for me. If you remember my post from my last Spartan Race I was on a mission this time. A mission that I prepared for and felt confident with at the starting line. A mission that took me almost four and a half hours to complete. Yep, four and a half hours!
The map below is the entire course that I ran. The course was 8+ miles and over 20 obstacles in 100 degree heat. This year I had a few goals in mind: getting through the monkey bars, climbing up the rope and ringing the bell, and the main one, finishing the race.
Before we get into my story, let me tell you about my little spartan. Since finishing the Spartan Kids Race last year, my daughter has been asking when she can run it again. When I told her that I signed us up, she was so excited that she could not wait to run it.
This year the location of the course was closer than the previous year so we got there with plenty of time to relax, stretch and get psyched for the run. My daughter was all business while she waited in line. Before the race, there were no jitters or nerves like the previous year, she was just ready to go.
The kids did a few warm-ups before the race, but once they shouted out go, she was gone. I had to run to catch up with her just so I can get a few good pictures. One thing that was different about this course was that there were some water/muddy obstacles and my daughter was at first hesitant, but I told her she is going to get dirty anyway so just go for it.
My daughter amazed me as she ran, crawled, jumped and climbed her way through the obstacles. It was a lot of fun seeing her push herself and try her best to complete the course. She was so happy when she received her medal that she wanted to run the race again. She was actually crying on the ride home later that day because she wanted to go back and run again. Maybe next year we can do that and maybe her brother can join her.
I started my race a little later than the scheduled time because I ran the kids course with my daughter. When I got to the starting line, there was no one there except for a few stragglers that were also running late. I did a few stretches, kissed my daughter and my wife for luck, jumped over the four-foot wall and started running.
I ran about what felt like a mile before I ran into my first obstacle, which were simple hurdles to jump over. These were about four feet tall, so I had to push myself over and just run until my next obstacle.
Now I am not going to give you a play-by-play about each obstacle I encountered, but I will highlight a few that I did.
TIRE FLIP - I have always seen this done on television and always thought how I would fair if I ever encountered it in real life. It was pretty easy.
BUCKET BRIGADE - This one I have seen on television too and man it was a lot harder than I expected. Think ice challenge buckets filled almost to the top with gravel and then carrying it for about 50 yards up a hill then over a muddy hill. Yeah, I had to put it down a few times.
MONKEY BARS - Ok, I know what you are thinking, "How are monkey bars hard?" Well, these are not your normal playground issued monkey bars. The bars are thicker and are spaced out pretty far apart from each other. The first year I encountered them my grip slipped and I fell down to the ground.
This year while running to the monkey bars I encountered a few guys who were running their first Spartan Super. We talked about the run and the heat and how difficult some of these obstacles were. We all ran up to the monkey bars together and cheered each other on as we took turns.
When it was my turn, I jumped the first bar and used the momentum of the jump to help me get across to the halfway point. I almost lost my grip, so I grabbed on to the nearest bar with both hands. I tried swinging my body to get the rocking momentum again, but almost slipped off. Hearing the guys cheer me on, I tried again and this time I was able to move forward and I was rocking in such a way that I was able to kick the cowbell to finish the obstacle.
Mission one accomplished.
ATLAS CARRY - I don't know if the ball was heavier or if I was putting too much thought into it, but I couldn't lift the stone ball no matter how hard I tried. As I stood there I noticed some of the other people around me picking up the ball like nothing, carrying it to the other end that was about five yards away, drop it and do their ten burpees and pick it up and bring it back to the starting point. I focused and carried that ball to the checkpoints and continued with my run.
ROPE CLIMB - Sadly, I was not able to climb up this rope. I tried two different methods to climb the rope, but my arms were not that strong enough to pull me up. Mental note: work on upper body strength for next year. After slipping off the rope, I walked to the penalty zone and did my 30 burpees.
Mission two not accomplished.
ROPE TRAVERSE - This one was pretty cool. The rope was about 6 feet from the ground and I had to use my hands and legs to slide myself across until I touched the cowbell. I did this one pretty fast and I had a guy wearing a Captain America shirt walking next to me cheering me on as I slid across the rope. I love the camaraderie that forms here with all the Spartans running the course.
MUD - There was a lot of mud everywhere. I'm not just talking about little mud puddles here and there, I am talking about mud that went up to your knees. The last mile and a half of the race was just "running" through this thick, deep mud that was taking down racers left and right. It was so thick that I started to cramp up and fell down in the mud. I used a stick to smooth out the cramp and just pushed through to get to the finish line. I was not going to get a DNF again this year.
As you can tell from the picture above I crossed that finish line. It felt amazing to jump over that fire and see the finish line. I think I jumped a little too early before the fire jump and actually was scared that I was going to land on the burning logs.
When the medal was placed around my neck, I felt my eyes starting to tear up. Crossing that finish line is something that takes a lot of dedication, spirit and determination. I was determined to cross that finish line no matter what condition my body was in. I wanted to show my daughter that even though last year I was unable to complete the race, I did not give up and faced it full on this year to give it my all. Plus, seeing my wife and daughter watch and cheer me on for those last few obstacles gave me an bigger drive to finish big, and they got to witness that medal finally going around my neck. They didn't get to see that last year.
By the end of the race I did about 120 burpees, which is not bad when you think about it. 30 burpees for each failed obstacle meaning I only failed 4. Note to self: do more burpees everyday.
After that picture was taken, if you have a weak stomach skip the rest of this sentence, I went into a port-a-potty and threw up. The combination of the heat and exerting my body caught up to me at the end and as gross as it sounds, it felt good to relieve myself. I know, that's pretty nasty, but sometimes during these grueling races, people break down and have to find a way to keep going. I saw people throwing up on the sides and just sitting down trying to catch their breath. You have to do what you have to do.
Driving home I kept staring at my little girl in the back seat staring at her medal and feeling proud that I had my own medal around my neck this year. While I may have taken a long time to cross that finish line, it felt great to know that I did it and will be back next year.
Mission three accomplished.