Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The NJ Super Spartan....the VT Spartan Beast....and then....
The Super...the Beast...and then???!!!... Well, before I start worrying about "and then...", I better keep focused on that Beast this Saturday. Back in January of this year, I declared this the "Year of the Beast". My intentions then were to run a series of races and train enough to start...and finish...the Spartan Beast in Vermont. At that point this race was so far in the future and I supposed an unrealistic goal. It's hard to believe though, that I'm just a few days from not only achieving this goal, but fulfilling my Spartan Trifecta and (through some undiscovered fault in their ranking methodology no doubt) placing very near the top of my age group in the 2013 points race. Man...it's a long way from some tough talk last winter.
One of the big tests...in fact, the biggest one in my mind, was always going to be the NJ Super Spartan. It was going to be my first and only Super on hilly terrain...and this coming only two weeks before the Beast. To have any chance at completing the Beast, I knew I would have to have a decent performance at the Super. Decent for me, of course [read: finish!]. The morning of the Super arrived and I was up around 4am. Little sleep the night before and hobbling around on two bad feet...courtesy of what exactly, I haven't quite figured out. I had never bailed on a race yet, but I decided that there was no way I could drive 2+ hours and then run that race. So I made one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make. I was going to skip the race.
The more I thought though, the more I realized that it wasn't just the Super I was giving up on. Not running the Super meant I would be going into the Beast with absolutely no idea of where my performance level was. Not counting the Miami Super (heat does NOT make up for flat), I hadn't run more than 4-5 miles on this sort of terrain. I knew I wouldn't be comfortable tripling the distance...and in all likelihood, that would mean passing on the Beast as well. Seriously, giving things a shot is one thing, but skipping work and spending time and money on a crazy idea made no sense at all. Somewhere though, in the next 30 minutes, I realized I had to try (see Yoda on "trying"). In a way, the whole season was riding on this. All the effort for the entire year...all the hours of training...not to mention all my big talk...was geared toward the Beast...and the Super was the key.
So off I went. Bad wheels and all. I hobbled to the venue shuttle bus...hobbled through registration and all the way to the starting line. And just under 4 hours later...somehow...I managed to cross that finish line. Only people who have experienced this can truly know the feeling. When you complete something that you really, deep down in your heart, didn't believe was possible. And this was no easy course by any stretch. It had all the usual obstacles, plus a couple of my personal favorites [yes, that's seething with sarcasm if you missed it!] that pop up here and there. But I think the most unusual thing for me was something that I came to take for granted...and that is probably the biggest mistake to make. Every Spartan race I'd done had a long, steep climb right off the start (leave out the steep for Miami). After that, the climbs tended to be much shorter and interlaced with obstacles and downhills. So when I hit this tortuous, never-ending climb midway through, I had to tip my hat to Spartan Race...in between the gasps and curses of course.
So, having only just now booked a hotel for it, I've resigned myself to the fact that I really am going to tackle this Spartan Beast. It's the only race that I won't be driving back and forth the same day. First, it's just too far away to realistically drive to on race day. Second, I can't even imagine trying to drive 5-6 hours back after the race...whether I finish or not. No...even driving the next day will likely be a challenge. So Norm Koch is getting the Beast ready for me...and I am doing what I can to be ready for the Beast. What comes after isn't even a thought any more. The only thing that's important right now is being prepared. It will be the longest, toughest race course I've ever been on...maybe tougher than any course there is, except the ultra-beast. Certainly it will be more than just the climax to an incredible year of racing, it will also be the test of will I've been waiting to face. And they'll be filming this??!! Yes, I can honestly say...bring it on...I'm ready...ready for my closeup Mr. DeMille!!