This Saturday I’ll be in the stadium of the Dallas Cowboys doing the Spartan Sprint. I am so excited to be able to compete in the stadium of my all time favorite sports team!! This will be the shortest distance Spartan Race I’ve ever done, but I’m betting that the obstacles and bleachers will make up for the 3 mile distance, still providing a fun and challenging course. I am a die hard Dallas Cowboys fan, and always have been. This race represents an opportunity to sweat, struggle and perform in the same arena as the Cowboys on Sundays. What a wild and awesome experience. My first ever stadium race and I hear they are a different animal. Without the necessity for long distance endurance, more explosive athletes may have a better day. This week I’m getting prepared to race my best race, I have nutrition and training at the best they’ve been so far. I’ve been really honing in my training and improving the consistency. I know that after my races in May (posts and videos to come) that I will have to really continue to innovate, improve, and invest in my training. I want to be at a true elite level, not just paying the extra money to sign up for the elite heats, but really being at my best and competing at a level worthy of the title elite. I have a long way to go and mountains to climb on my journey to the pinnacle of my own performance. But this Saturday I’m going to enjoy how far I’ve come and the chance to Throw Up the X on the Jumbotron at JerryWorld. I’ll be capturing and creating content over the weekend to showcase this unique and exciting experience. Wish me luck!
Suddenly I’m thrust into an unexpected challenge. A friend of mine contacted me on Tuesday, informing me that a teammate for the Texas Independence Relay had dropped out, would I care to take their place? I said yes with little hesitation, even though I’m arguably “out of shape” presently. I chose to accept because I need this. It is well within my capabilities, and the only thing separating me from rising to the challenge is utilizing my time now for proper preparation, and adopting a positive mind-set that accepts the challenge and believes I can accomplish it. This will be a good spark to ignite my training for the May/June Spartan Races I plan on doing.
This is also a really cool race: historic, and requiring strategy and advanced planning. The race goes from Gonzales, Texas to Houston.
Fortunately the team I’m a part of has everything worked out, all I have to do is prepare myself, my equipment/supplies, and show up to run. All totaled I’ll be doing 3 legs, spaced out pretty generously…totaling 16.65 miles. That will be a new personal record for most miles in 24h, but there is a substantial break between my first and second legs. I plan on foam rolling after all my legs, with some good stretching and I should be good to go. Nutrition and hydration are also key. I plan on starting hydrating extra today (2 days out), and even more so the day before the race. I’m learning that hydration is a pre-preparation priority, and that hydration during a competition should be never from a depleted state–starting saturated with water from the prior 24h seems to have a very beneficial effect, and I find myself less thirsty, and performing better. For some performance hacks, I’ll be consuming pickle juice, coconut water, and various supplements. I plan on using: Shroom Tech Sport by Onnit Labs, it’s a great energy supplement that actually uses your bodies natural ATP production system rather than being an external energy boost, Beet Elite–a natural Nitric Oxide boosting supplement made from real beets, lastly to take before sleep ZMA–a mineral based mix of Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6–helps the body during intense training to recover (click the link to find out more about ZMA).
In last-minute preparation I’ve been wearing my Training Mask, often even when sedentary
. Warming up my lungs a few days out and working my diaphragm to hopefully enable me to get more oxygen during the race. Other than that, just made my final packing and shopping lists. A deep stretching and yoga session tonight will be the last step to prepare adequately for the short time frame I’ve had.
Follow along on Twitter, and Instagram @multitude27 to see Behind the Scenes.
Time has certainly flew by since I last posted about my pre race preparation, fears, and excitement leading up to the 2013 Texas Spartan Beast. I never got around to publishing a follow-up, or any posts whatsoever until last week, due to my new job and the demands required of me (another post on this to come).
All that aside I want to share what it was like that fateful day—December 15th, 2013.
What was it like?
My first Spartan Race really blew me away. These races are large-scale undertakings, and nearly a festival atmosphere. Music, food, merchandise, and ongoing fitness challenges throughout the main event area, along with a great view of the finish line and last few challenges. You see the apprehension and nerves on competitors about to embark onto the course, and you see the look of exhilaration, satisfaction, and exhaustion on those who have already finished. Arrive and pick up your race package…with the warning YOU MAY DIE in loud bold print. The contents includes bib/number, tracking and timing bracelet, headband, and other pertinent race day documents/items. I’ll never forget lining up at the start line and seeing those surrounding me with the mix or excitement and trepidation. A master of ceremonies ignites the crowd with a Spartan speech enticing “Sons and Daughters of Sparta” (racers) with glory. A loud response of “AROO!” is given in reply. A remote control aircraft with GoPro camera captures the action for promotional and social media purposes. The MC then pops the tops on a couple of smoke grenades and throws them directly in what will be the first few steps of a 15.5 mile journey. The signal is then given that the race has begun and the first obstacle is the obstructed vision from the grenades. Once out of the starting gates the strong runners and those who chose to be at the front quickly separate themselves from the pack of average racers. I was advised (and thankfully so) to maintain my own pace, and not get caught up in the foot race aspect of this event. It will be a long day and my energy reserves will be needed for the last miles. I am keeping a decent pace, fueled by adrenaline and the substantial nutrition packed fuel I’ve ingested. Others pass me, I pass others as we enter the first real obstacle. Balancing on small tree trunk sized logs and jumping between them. My shoes are already pretty muddy, and the poor fellow in front of me looks to have the same problem. He makes an awkward attempt to leap from one log to the next and slips out sideways…impacting his ribs on the log as he plummets. Wow, I think to myself…too early in the game to hurt myself like that. Once I’m up on there and noticing traction problems myself I’m quick to jump down and voluntarily take the 30 burpee penalty and not potentially end my race 3/4 of a mile in. Running after those first burpees was tough, but I soon regained my steady pace. The next few miles were some of the toughest in the race when it came to running…about 5 miles of hill climbs and descents over treacherous terrain. To me the hardest obstacle of the day, and what really killed me was at the end of the hill section. The Bucket Brigade: fill a 5 gallon bucket to the top with around 75 lbs of gravel, then ascend a steep muddy hill, and descend another route. I messed up on this, and due to the non honest nature of another racer ended up having to repeat it (30 burpee penalty not an option). At the top of the hill it was common practice to put the buckets down and catch ones breath before the downhill portion. I witnessed some people with less than allowable levels of gravel grabbing dirt and sticks and anything they could find to add to their buckets to reach the permissible level. At the time I thought little of this, due to being quite tired, and aiming to recover. My bucket was then grabbed by one such racer, and I was left with a less than full bucket. I didn’t notice until the bottom when I had to repeat due to a level of gravel that wasn’t acceptable. I was totally pissed off because I knew mine was full when I started. (Pro Tip: Sit on your bucket to avoid this) Repeating this obstacle probably took me 25- 35 minutes and drained plenty of my energy. All I could do was to push onwards. However, the hill section also held one of the coolest obstacles of the day…the memory challenge. Based on the racers bib number they must look up a code on a large board, and then memorize it for later recital. I saw other racers bust out the pen and paper to help them, but I chose a different approach. I would recite the code sequentially the steps I took and my breathing. I ran nearly the next 8 miles expecting to have to recite it, and eventually gave up, annoyed by constantly repeating this code in my head. I figured it would be a few miles after the board, maximum…but it was around 10 miles later. Many miles and obstacles later I came across and open area where people were doing burpees for what looked like no reason. No monkey bars, no gravel buckets, nothing that gave an indication as I approached. “What’s the password?” No way. Really!? I just tried to stop reciting it about 3 miles ago and now I’m prompted to remember. Somehow I remember it and pay no penalty. Great! I did well on most obstacles…failing only 2 entering the home stretch—the first obstacle of the log jumps, and then I failed the rope traverse (next time I’m letting my arms recover after the Hercules Hoist). Another bucket brigade of a less dramatic incline was included in the last few miles and that was a tough one! I ran through a creek bed with water in it and was wondering how much longer this was going on for when suddenly I popped out and could see the finish line…but some of the toughest obstacles remained between me and my medal. The traverse wall, and climbing a rope from a submerged in water starting point. I failed both, the traverse wall—30 burpees!(I just had bad technique as I’d later learn). I also had bad technique on the rope climb and was forced to dyno for a higher knot but failed to grip the rope, so I plummeted into the muddy waters below. Disoriented and exhausted I emerged to do another 30 burpees doubling my previous total in the last 500 feet to the finish. I was dragging and suffering at this point. Then something happened. I heard a faint voice of encouragement from the crowd: “Do it for Canada!” I suddenly spun around to see my friend and race mate standing in the crowd watching me. A few things all flowed through my head “how long has he been waiting for me?” “he certainly must have had an easier time then me.” “How long have I been out here on the course?” but overall the encouragement powered me through the last half of the burpees and then it was on to the finish. Pretty simple obstacles of the slippery wall and the fire jump stood between me and the end of a hard day. As I was climbing the slippery wall a volunteer offered his hand to help me overcome the obstacle…I refused, determined to use my gumption to get to the finish or pay the penalty. I drew up the last of my reserves and beat the wall, jumped the fire and sprinted the rest of the distance to the finish line.
5 hours flat was my time.
My friend placed 6th overall in the open category beating me by 2 hours with a time of 3 hours flat. A medal and a banana were pressed in my hand as I crossed, and I couldn’t help, but think of the branding Spartan Race has used—“You’ll know at the finish line.” That is the most apt description of how I felt. I definitely knew. I realized I had much more capabilities than previously known, and I also knew that this wouldn’t be the last time I finished a spartan race. And it hasn’t been…
I have my work cut out for me as I’ve committed to The Spartan Beast. This race will be a substantial physical and mental challenge: over 12 Miles and
25+ obstacles to complete. I signed up in late June, and will be competing as part of a team, calling ourselves—Heroes United. The event is taking place December 15th/2013 in Glen Rose TX. Weather is another consideration and prospective challenge during this event. It could potentially be cold, windy, or (very unlikely) snowing and that makes certain potential obstacles even more difficult, mainly any involving water. Freezing water, coupled with cold wind sounds terrible during a grueling physical activity. But, I am not deterred, I’m determined.
Why did I choose to participate in such madness?
Sometimes I need to challenge myself. Who am I kidding, I ALWAYS need to be challenging myself. I’ve learned that embracing change and creating positive change are essential parts of adult life.I think you’re supposed to do a ‘sprint’, then ‘super’ then ‘beast’. But I’m diving into the deep end and fully committing to something that is arguably beyond my capabilities. Or at least it was. Training for a challenge like this has already been a great learning experience and I think my fitness has greatly improved already. My goals for this race are to first and foremost FINISH the race in good health, secondly to complete 80% of obstacles without penalty, and thirdly to enjoy the experience, while learning and improving myself. I had originally intended to finish with a high placing (top 25), but have recently decided that my main competitor is myself, and that’s the way I’m looking at it. I’d rather go at my own pace, pushing my own limits then compete with the pack mentality for a place number, and see where I stand at the end. However, with that being said I wouldn’t be opposed to a top 40 finish as a bonus to my own internal competition. One of the cool things about doing an event like this is that it will be a force multiplier for lots of my other goals; and an actual evaluation point for a 2013 goal I set at the beginning of this year. “Train and Push myself to be in the absolute best shape I’ve ever been in.” That’s how the goal on my wall reads. What better way to cross that off then finishing off the year with a challenge like the Spartan Beast. It’s also helping me achieve more specific goals (Force Multiplier) that I have such as: have a 6 pack(then an 8 pack), and train in a dynamic & balanced way. Leading up to and doing this event are both ways of making those goals realized. So there’s a lot of aspects as to why I’m participating.
Fortunately, I’m tracking myself in a few different ways so that can be actually analyzed to a degree. I created a lift habit on Oct. 27th (actually pioneered this one–see photo) for Spartan Beast Training. I’ve got 17 checkins since October 27th. I used notes to record what I did for a workout too, often with details. I have 39 Checkins (but that is with a solid month and a half of not tracking anything on lift) since signing up for this on July 2nd. That’s not a lot, to some, and lots to others—I know I could have been more disciplined and trained more. Looking at the data charted over a calendar you can see some cool things. Also I’ve had my Jawbone UP band for 77 days as of today, and have recorded runs and workouts through the app as diligently as possible (didn’t have the band for about 7 days waiting for replacement to arrive…it just abruptly died one day). Longest run I tracked with the UP band was 10.44 miles at 8.9min/mile. In the last month I’ve been doing a lot of total body workouts with compound movements, and medium to heavy weight. Lots will argue against the total body workout, but I’ve found pretty effective results (in my mind) using them.
Overall, I’m excited to take this on. With proper hydration, nutrition, stretching/warm up, and recovery I think I’ve got a good chance. December 15th I’ll find out.