Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Summer of 2013...and why I haven't been blogging...or training...

Since my last blog on the Spartan Sprint at Tuxedo, the summer took a turn for the incredibly busy.  Between then and now: I've run two Spartan races; helped build the course at another; driven my daughter and my grandkids back and forth from Florida; been sick twice; and went on some great outings with my kids and grandkids...including an epic trip into Manhattan.  Oh...and in between I did just a bit of real estate work and prepared to move again.  Unfortunately, this left very little training time in there!  Other than that, it was just a typical summer.  Ironically, my first trip to a NY beach will probably be this Wednesday (although I will admit to a trip to South Beach...the price of the Florida drive...as always!)
Since there's been so much going on, I won't try to detail the entire race this time around.  The first race I ran after Tuxedo was the Spartan Sprint in Palmerton, PA.  Although this would be my 6th race, it would be my first non-stadium race other than Tuxedo.  Well, not counting Miami...although that was the longer Spartan Super and the temperature was a factor there, the lack of any serious elevation change made it a much easier race for me overall.  Anyway, the PA course was everything I had expected...and a bit more.  The initial hill climb was typical of all Spartan races...brutal.  Add to that the sandbag carry over the last part of the climb and you are bordering on genius...in terms of pure torture anyway. 
Unfortunately for me, about 20 yards into that sandbag carry, I got a back spasm.  Yes....the word "sucks" comes quickly to mind...along with several others.  I knew immediately that this was a result of my modified (read: ignored) training schedule all summer.  So there I was.  Moving about ten baby steps at a time up this slope, and all the time thinking that I've still got 90% of the course to go still...assuming of course that I can even make it up this hill.  All I could think of was what would Tom Hanks do?  NO....not in Forrest Gump, the one where's there's no crying..."There's no crying in OCR!"  So, the short of it is, I didn't drive two hours plus to crawl off that damn mountain and limp home.  Although I had a few spots where it was still difficult, I did manage to finish.  Even though I think the first climb was tougher at PA, overall I still feel that Tuxedo was more challenging over the entire course.  I admit, I'm biased about that...Tuxedo was my first OCR race and will forever be that which all else is measured.  And no, the word "easier" does NOT even enter the conversation! 
Although I did manage to get some formal training sessions in during the early summer, there were some informal ones.  Like the trip into Manhattan.  During that marathon day I would take every opportunity to run up any stairs...usually at the subway stops.  And of course always carrying the pack and stroller.  One particular climb comes to mind, when I challenged my 4 year old grandson to a race...me up the stairs and him up the escalator with my daughter.  It was only after throwing down the gauntlet that I looked up to see five...very...long...flights of stairs.  Again, words like "oh, shit" came to mind very quickly.  Yes, I did it...and yes, I needed oxygen at the top...but at least I made it a race.
We also had another chance for some sprint training that evening.  After taking the train back to Long Island, we were down at street level and heading toward the van.  I issued another challenge (yeah...I know, but learning lessons is often lost on me).  I shouted, for my grand daughters, that "first one to the car gets to drive home!".  Obviously I was watching them like a hawk...this was NOT a race I would let them win...they'd have me in court on breach of a verbal contract or something!  Well, they never made a move.  The words hadn't finished coming off my lips though, when junior (aka my grandson) took off like a cruise missile toward the car...running back and forth off the curb towards his first chance to drive!!  And here we go again...trying to beat a four year old, still carrying the pack and stroller and at the same time, trying not to run him over in his unintentional serpentining.  Now THAT was fun!

So, as of this writing I've already run the Spartan Super in NJ.  That story will have to wait until my next time.  Meanwhile, nursing the continuing ailments, I'm readying myself for the final goal of this year...the Spartan Championship Beast in VT on Sept 21st.  While I still have a healthy respect for it, I no longer fear it.  After the NJ race I'm confident that I can finish!  Exactly how or in what shape?...who knows.  In preparation for this, I have adopted the following as my official song for the Beast.

With it or on it...those are the only choices for this race!


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