I didn’t have too much to say on Friday so I figured that week 34 could wait a couple of days so that I could combine it in with my Spartan race recap, which is really what my training has been focused on for the past few weeks anyway.
So, as I mentioned on Thursday, I got knocked out with a crazy weird fever on Wednesday night that kept me unhappy all day Thursday. By Friday, I was feeling a bit more myself but then hubby was down for the count with the same thing. Most bizarre virus or whatever it was, ever. I was feeling nervous but ready for Spartan. I honestly wasn’t sure if being sick for a couple of days was going to affect me but in hindsight, I don’t think I would have done any better had I stayed healthy.
Saturday morning, I woke up to my alarm (which I checked about 3,000 times the day before like the obsessed mess that I am. In my defense…no one wants to be the guy from Seinfeld that misses the NYC marathon, am I right?!) and got ready. No butterflies at that point but I also knew that with an hour’s drive to the venue, there’d be plenty of time.
After my carpool arrived, we checked in, got marked (tattoo body marking=brilliant!), checked our bags and got to the starting line spectator area just in time to see the elite athletes take off at lightening speed. There was a group from Fukumoto in that heat so it was awesome to see them take off and compete. The next 30 minutes were spent getting jitters and getting eager to get the show on the road. From our vantage point, we could see the final few obstacles in our area so we at least had an idea of what was coming at the end but the entire middle section of the race was in the bush and clearly going to be a surprise for us.
The announcer gave his speech (which, I’m gonna say…SUCKED. Seriously…if your job is to MC a Spartan race that’s all about adrenaline and doing crazy things with your body….put some bloody effort into at least pretending to give some enthusiasm. Dude…), we were off. Right off the hop, we had 3 muddy water pits to jump through. It was a hot, humid day so I actually didn’t mind this at all. Then it was off on the run. The first obstacle was three low hurdles, easy to jump over and a good way to ease into things. After that, there was a lot of running.
I honestly can’t remember every obstacle or the order they went in but there were about 20, I think. Lots of wall climbs, dragging a cement block on a rope, carrying a sandbag up and down a hill, swimming/wading through a pond (which was where I realized how tired my legs were getting but it felt so refreshing!!), balance beams, traverse wall climb, tire flip, monkey bars, cargo net climb, barbed wire crawl, rope climb and of course, the Spartan staple: the spear toss.
I was going in expecting to be doing a good share of Spartan burpees. I had no idea what to expect in terms of fatigue, level of difficulty compared to my level of skill/strength and I know I walked a lot more than I should have trying to conserve energy. This was perhaps where knowing what was waiting in the last part of the course got more into my head than it should be. I didn’t want to have nothing left in the tank during the last 5 minutes of the race. That’s a pretty craptastic time to have to bang out some burpees.
In the end, I missed 2 obstacles: the spear toss (good throw, bad aim…womp, womp) and the rope climb (I could NOT for the life of me get a solid grip with my hands or feet, the rope was just too slippery. I was REALLY pissed not to get that one after doing it in practice but what can you do, right?!…oh year…30 burpees). I was expecting to do a lot more so I’m really happy that I got through as much as I did. I also wanted to try every obstacle without getting help. Kind of daunting when you only get one go at it. I did get one courtesy tush-push at the 6 foot wall but I was already at the top of it…maybe she wanted to see if my bum was really as spectacular as it looked 😉 Or maybe I’d ripped my shorts and she was trying to save me some embarrassment. I should probably look into that…
I’m not going to say I was happy with my end time. Because, I’m not. Maybe it’s silly but I was hoping I would have finished faster. Maybe part of that was the unknown and thinking in terms of road race where you just go as opposed to this type of race where you may have to wait a minute or two for your turn or maybe stop to help someone finish an obstacle. There’s so much more to consider and as a road racer, I think the time thing got to me a bit more than I should have.
I struggled a lot more on the run than I thought I would and spent more time in my head than I probably should have. Even though I had no idea what to expect from the race, myself or anything, I didn’t live up to my own expectations, and that’s totally on me and something I just need to get over. Maybe this is more a factor of me thinking I’m more capable than I am, or maybe I really am more capable and I just haven’t figured out how to unleash that on a course yet. I honestly don’t know. It was a bit of a mixed bag for me but not in a “I’m defeated” kind of way, more in a “how can I achieve my desired outcome next time” kind of way. There’s no giving up, only learning and adapting for next time, which I fully intend to do.
I WILL say that I went into this race thinking I would have an “ok” time. I figured it scared me enough that I should do it to try something new and completely different than I’ve ever done before. And I did. What surprised me was that I really and truly loved the experience. Up to this point, I’ve been a runner. A mediocre runner at best but I love running. What I experienced yesterday really opened my eyes to where else my running can take me. This type of event was so much fun. It challenged every part of me. But more than the challenge, it always gave me a choice: I could try to do it myself and see if I really could do it, or I could get help and wonder if I had it in me. I know looking back, I should have pushed harder on the run. I gave up too easily on myself during those long stretches, even though I felt “done”, I can’t help but wonder if I could have pushed the pace more on the in-between obstacles. Maybe it would have made a difference, or maybe it wouldn’t have. I’ll never know. But in looking back, I also know that I did things I didn’t think I could do. Things I now know that I can do and I want to get better at doing them. A game plan is already formulating…as are my bruises:
One thing I don’t talk too much about (and maybe I should), is how hard stuff like this actually is for me. I LOVE fitness. I love it (duh). I do it for fun and enjoyment. It’s a hobby and I LOVE to share it with people. But it does not come naturally for me. Not in the least. It is a struggle, it is hard and I have never been a “natural” at it. Why God chose this to be my passion, I have no idea. But he did and I have to work my arse off to do well, or at all. So don’t mistake the struggle for giving up because that’s not what I do. I get frustrated for sure because my brain and my body don’t always talk to each other well and I know that I need to visualize everything before I can do it (so if you’re ever on the receiving end of some pretty dumb questions from me…that’s part of my learning curve to doing something), which makes something like Spartan all the more scary for me because part of the fun of the event is the unknown and knowing that we’re all in the same boat. I just tend to process it slightly differently.
I don’t know what I’m ending on that note, or why it’s even working it’s way into this already saga-like post. Maybe someone else out there needs to hear that not everyone goes out and crushes everything on the first try. Or the second or third for that matter. And that’s totally fine. I’ve learned (and continue to learn) that it’s just as important, what’s in your head and what you let in.
Off to plan for 2016!
Disclosure: I received a free entry, courtesy of Spartan Canada in exchange for a review of the race. I would have written a review anyway so everybody wins today. As always, opinions, victories and speed bumps are all entirely my own.