Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spartan Sprint at Tuxedo 2013...the battle continues...

Hard to believe it's only been a week since the race.  This has become an annual event for me now, having started my racing "career" at the first Tuxedo run in 2011.  The irresistible urge to once again challenge Spartan Race to do their best to beat me off that mountain.  True to form, they designed a brutal course to punish you right out of the gate.  And once again, the gods were with them.  Not only was it a scorching day, but they even managed to get an air quality alert...I mean really?!?...running is tough enough for me without any intervention from nature! 

I really should have suspected something from that very first race anyway.  Have you ever seen anything pleasant happen in a movie when there's a sleepy little country town in the opening scene?  No...me neither.  Maybe I should watch different movies.  But I digress....

So...there are several things I've learned to count on in any Spartan race: the opening run is intended to kill the weak; the rest of the course is intended to finish the job; expect it to be worse than you imagined.  Last Saturday was certainly the most intense opening run I've seen in my short Spartan life.  Worse even then Citi Field, which I thought was truly a work of tortuous art.  I don't know if they have the mileage on that climb, but it just seemed to go on forever.  There were a couple of rogue obstacles thrown in, but pretty much it was a long, slow uphill climb.  By the way, I heard from someone I ran into on the course that, as hard as the course was on paper, apparently it was actually laid out to be even tougher.  Whomever was really to blame for that, for the first time since I started racing, I really wondered if I could make it to the end...physically...would I have enough, regardless of the how bad I wanted it.  And somewhere along the way is when it hit me...what the hell was I thinking signing up for the Tri-State Super in NJ...or the Beast in Vermont!!!?  I must have been completely delusional to think I'd ever be able to finish either one of those.  Well, that was before I finished though.

As far as the obstacles go, I think my favorite this time around was the sandbag carry.  Picking a favorite though was pretty tough.  There were several that could have claimed that honor...   the traverse wall (which I was able to do just fine at Citi Field and the practice wall)....the rope climb (which I missed for the first time ever...just no juice left at that point I guess)...or probably the runner up, the (much too) inclined wall after the barbed wire crawl (guess it would have helped if I'd realized there were no intermediate boards where I was climbing in the middle...duh!!!).  And honestly, I just about shit myself when I saw that dreaded pole walk was back again.  I thought for sure the insurance company had banned it...I mean isn't bad karma to impale people?  But in the end, I had to pick the sandbag carry.  Just a gruelling uphill carry after so long on the course and starting off through a bog at the bottom.  I guess it's also a good time to make my apologies to my sandbag.  For slamming it down so many times and mumbling rude, nasty and unprovoked vulgarities at it throughout....I mean, it's only a sandbag after all...just doing it's job.
Then there were the easier-than-expected obstacles.  The reverse inclined wall was one (although, as I was joking with the volunteers, I slipped coming out of the mud pit and almost face planted into the back of it...didn't everybody??!).  The barbed wire crawl wasn't as bad as I anticipated either...but definitely more challenging with the berms they put in...I guess they want more crawling and less rolling.
Like every race though, there's always at least one obstacle that you just know you can't do.  Then somehow, in the midst of sheer exhaustion, you manage to succeed.  In this race, it was the high walls for me.  Although I've learned some fairly unorthodox ways of getting over these, the last few races I used the side blocks to get over the 7' and 8' walls...all except the first one of course...you have to beat at least one of them.  But Saturday, they told us those steps were off limits for the men.   Interesting!  Even with all the training I'd been doing specifically for this obstacle, the course had taken it's toll and I just couldn't get enough lift to muscle up on those.  But somehow, I did manage to get just high enough to find my way over both...and I've got the bruises to prove it too!  I still remember the people behind urging me on and the groan from the crowd when it looked like I wouldn't get over at first...then the shouts when I managed to pull myself up finally.  Most people just wouldn't understand the feeling of accomplishment from such a simple feat...but I guarantee Spartan racers will know exactly what I mean.
The organization was much better this year too.  Another given about Spartan race is that they improve every time.  At least they try to....though setting off a smoke bomb every 15 minutes in front of the med tent might be one thing they might want to change next time.  So...next year's race will be different...it will be harder...and like they said before the race Saturday, there will be something you haven't seen before.  And next year they will see me...again.  Because as long as I can run, I will never let them beat me off that mountain! 


A link to the report on the 2012 Spartan Sprint at Tuxedo:


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