Friday, March 10, 2017

My Spartan Story - Part 2

After the beating we took at the Ohio Sprint both of us were limping and hobbling around the house for a few days. We talked about doing another race with a nervous laugh and both of us would find ourselves looking at the upcoming race schedule. We discussed it with each other and the rest of the family and decided to make a nice, fun weekend getaway to Asheville, NC for the next level of race, the Super.

Spartan Race has 3 main races, Sprint, Super and Beast. We did a Sprint in Ohio which was their “easiest” event.  If you complete one of each race in a calendar year, you have completed a trifecta. The generic guidelines for a Sprint is 4+ miles. If you recall from the first post, the Ohio Sprint was 6 miles so Spartan likes to take advantage of the + to the fullest extent.  A Super is 8+ and a Beast is 12+ so we knew we’d be in for a challenge.  Adding to the fun in Asheville is that it was one of the Spartan Race US Championship locations counting towards the overall Championship for the Elite racers. You know Spartan isn’t going to make it an easy race at all – oh my – what have we done?!
We talked about what did and didn’t work at Ohio, mainly shoes so we both got trail running shoes and broke them in before the race weekend.  We bought Camelbak hydration packs and I wore the same shirt and shorts that I did in Ohio. My son trained a lot more than I did but I did what I could – or so I thought.

The weekend arrived and we drove the 7 hours to Asheville which is a nice city in a beautiful part of the US. It’s close to Smokey Mountains National Park and is a sight to see. We drove down on Thursday and went to Biltmore Estate on Friday. That place is incredible! We drove out to the event site at Black Mountain and couldn’t see much of the course but at least knew where to go. We carbo loaded with pasta at dinner and hit the sack early for a busy day.

We arrived at the site and checked in. We saw some of the elite racers finish which was very cool. Once it was time to load into the corral we lined up and got ready. In what now seems to be a trend I again struggled to get over the wall into the corral. So much for my training, huh?  LOL.  We were in the same heat as NFL star Randy Moss which was neat to know Spartan is an equalizer between someone like Randy and the common man. We were off and my running helped as I was able to run along with the group up to the creek crossing. I was feeling pretty good and was thinking “I got this” AROO!

It didn’t take long before the tough obstacles and the wicked entity that is Black Mountain kicked in. We were scrambling over boulders, walking up dry (and wet) creek beds with plenty of obstacles along the way. I saw what I learned were called “Adaptive Athletes” who have physical challenges like amputees and others. Some were being helped by guys in full turn out military gear. Impressive as anything I have seen and helped steel my mind to finishing the race. Some were from OperationEnduring Warrior. These people are real heroes and me bitching about being fat and these races being hard is nothing compared to their stories.

We finally reached a plateau of an old quarry where there were more obstacles and what I assumed (LOL) was the top of the course. We had a wicked bucket brigade up and down part of the mountain and it was brutal. I soon realized that this was NOT the top of Black Mountain and surely we were not going all the way up there. I ground my way to the top over what was a very steep trail. It was tough, I was cramping in my legs even though I was hydrated and I learned about the power of mustard. It helps with craps and I now race with mustard as a precaution. (Weird, right?!) We started the way down Black Mountain and it was a nice gentle slope and I was cruising thinking I am on Easy Street. Then we turned into the woods and my descent into darkness began. We were going down single track trails at 40 degree slopes for a LONG time. It felt like eternity and we were stacked up to where you couldn’t move until the person in front of you moved. We eventually made it down with my knees screaming and ankles sore from the angle and met more obstacles. One that really sticks with me is the vertical cargo net where I watched the Operation Enduring Warrior team help the athlete climb over the net *with* his German Shepard. My hat’s off to those guys – AROO!

I limped and gimped my way through the rest of the course with TONs of burpees to be had. I failed
new obstacles like the Tyrolean Traverse and barely jumped across the fire at the end. All told I spent 8 hours and 5 minutes on the course. That my friends is a long, hard day. My son swears it was a 10 mile course but I am pretty sure it was closer to 500 miles. Maybe 495 give or take a few.

At the finish I felt the same mix of emotions and a great feeling of accomplishment. I finished it, survived and pushed myself to a new level. As Spartan CEO and founder Joe DeSena says – I set a new frame of reference. *This* became my new gauge for how hard something is. Honestly, it still is 7 months later.  We made our way back to the hotel and got cleaned up.  We ate dinner with the family and neither of us had any issues falling asleep with the satisfaction of a job well done.

The next day we went to breakfast and saw a lot of other Spartans at Denny’s and then headed off for
a nice drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway. I love mountains and living in Ohio we don’t get a lot of opportunity to enjoy them as much as I would like. After dinner, and this is no joke – we booked our Beast race before we went to bed just a day after the sufferfest of Asheville! We couldn't have a 2/3rds finished Trifecta. I'd say we are hooked.

Read My Spartan Story - Part 1 or continue to Part 3

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