Monday, June 23, 2014

Spartan Sprint at Tuxedo.....Round 4.....Expecting the Unexpected

The fact is, this course may have been the best I've personally far as the balance between running and obstacles go.  In 2013 I ran a number of races and one of the typical complaints from racers was the long sections of uphill climbing (running for some maybe!).  The 2014 Tuxedo course, while still holding on to the typical uphill challenges, was broken up nicely with obstacles.  Sometimes a single obstacle, but more often with small groups.
One thing that surprised me this year was the course map!  I couldn't believe it when I saw/heard some racers looking it over and talking about it.  Then I saw the map up on the kiosk.  It was all I could do not to peek.  I like the element of surprise and uncertainty on these courses.  You never know what's ahead or where!  Another pleasant surprise, although I had forgotten about it at race time, was the condition of the course.  Fortunately there was no rain that day, but this would be the fourth racing day out here and I wasn't sure if the course would suffer from that.  The fact that it never came to mind is all that needs to be said!
This was another of those times though, when I didn't decide to run until it was almost too late.  But in the end, this is where it all began for me.  My first race!  I've run every Spartan race there since then.  So not only was it a tradition for me...but it was also the best opportunity I had of judging my performance.  Even though I knew no two Spartan races were the same (2012 Spartan Race at Tuxedo, NY - What the Brochure Won't Tell You!), it was still the only way to see how effective my training has been.
And you know, I never realized it before, but Spartan Race reminds me of Disney in a way.  Every time you go, there's something new!  This race had a few new obstacles and a few changes to some old standards.  There were two in particular that stood out this race.  The Monkey Net...which was tougher than it had to be, as I heard from others after the race too, because the net at the peak was tied a bit tight to the frame so you couldn't quite grab it.  And there was no benefit to finishing it, since everyone ended up in the water anyway (at the time I went, burpees had been discontinued I no penalty for falling off).  The other was the whatever-you-call-it-wall, where you had a solid wall about 4 feet up from the bottom of the water and you had to pull yourself up by hand until you could get a foothold.  THAT was a tough one....and the way...I liked it!

Naturally, there were many of the old obstacles there too.  They had a number of "carries" (sandbag and log) and the stone drag.  One big change on these was the length.  None of them were really in the category of brutal this year...and no, I'm not complaining!  They also had the Atlas Carry.  Now THAT was a tough one.  Between the weight of that thing and the way you had to pick it up, it was certainly up there as one of the toughest obstacles.  I heard people talking afterwards, some saying the weights were as high as 80lb for the women and 125lb for the men.  Yeah...well...that just tells how hard they "thought" it was. 

Of course there was the net climb, the monkey bars and the inverted wall.  They also had the herc hoist, which for some reason keeps giving me leg cramps lately.  Even with hydrating and GU packs...when I can swallow them that easy task between water stops.  And what is it with the spear throw??!!  That used to be a given for me but another of those that have been trouble lately...burpees suck (although I've found them great for increasing endurance).  On the bright side, I rang the bell on the rope climb this race!!  Something I haven't done in a while.  And I finally realized that a good part of failing this obstacle was the fear of falling because I didn't believe I could make it.  Obstacle racing has always been about mental toughness, and once I started thinking more confidently about the climb, I was able to get past that hurdle.

Last, but not least, the barbed wire crawl.  Not as long as some, but this crawl is always on an uphill grade...which never makes it easy.  This year it seemed to be kept a bit drier than usual.  Made the crawl a lot less slick (a good thing), but it also seemed to make the small rocks grate more on the skin (not so much).  A good trade though.  So overall, I was very satisfied with the course and the experience this year...and pleased with my performance.  No, it wasn't noteworthy in the overall scheme...just in my own ongoing attempts at improvement every race.  Pleased....but not satisfied....always training just a bit harder for the next race...whenever, and wherever, that may be!


A link to the report on the 2013 Spartan Sprint at Tuxedo:

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