My first Spartan of the year, so the challenge is on to get my Spartan 2020 goal completed quickly...one of every type of race, and one of each podium spot! Jim just laughs and shakes his head, but the sooner I complete them all, the less races we travel to, and perhaps we will have time for that backpacking trip I've been thinking about for a couple of years....
The Super this year is now a standard 10k, so shorter than ever before. I figured doing it twice would be good practice for my Ultra coming up in a month. Of course, race mornings always seem to start in the dark when it's still a little chilly. I picked up a hitchhiker to bring to the race, a guy named Lance staying in my same hotel. Getting a ride with me would allow his friends to sleep in a bit longer, and we drove out into the desert with a tinge of pink lighting the sky.
I always seem to question my life choices when I am waiting at the start line of a Spartan race. I'm stripped down to shorts and a sports bra, the sun is barely up, temperature is in the mid 40s. I'm freezing and I know that the dunk wall will come around in just a mile or two. Yet when I cross the line and start running out near the front of the pack, everything comes back into focus.
This year Spartan is starting the women's age group waves 90 seconds behind the men, rather than mixed into a whole group. This gives us a few seconds to eyeball our competition and get a better idea who may be in front. I'm starting with two age groups as usual, so I play the guessing game. "Is she in my age group or the next one older?" I resolve not to let anyone ahead of me since I've been practicing with speed work.
That lasts until we start, and a couple of women shoot off ahead. I can't catch them running, I'll have to do it on the obstacles. And all the hard obstacles are here. I've been lax in my strength workouts for weeks, and just hope that I can muscle through them all. The dunk wall is absolutely disgusting, with the kind of squishy, sandy mud which gets in my shoes and socks (among other things) and makes running uncomfortable.
Nothing is worse this race, though, though, than the barbed wire crawl. It is strung low over a rock hard gravelly path, made worse by deep tractor ruts left after the last rain. I'm forced to roll over and over rather than crawl, so I can feel the bruises forming on my arms and hips rather than my knees. This is where you have to ignore the pain if you want to win. I try to remember that near the end of the 100 meters when everything hurts each time I roll over. Everyone is still damp from the dunk wall, and there are mutters around me of us looking like sugar cookies, referencing the Seals training on the beach by coating themselves in sand. I spit out some dirt and it doesn't taste like sugar!
The trail itself is a slow, rocky, uneven, hilly desert, with the occasional cactus just intruding into the path. Passing is difficult and I'm stuck behind slow runners starting ahead of me. There aren't any women in sight, and I think maybe I've passed them all. One can only hope.
My race is clean, I don't do any burpees, and in 1:20 I finish the 10k. It's good enough for second place. I'm happy with that and will have to push harder tomorrow on the Sprint (5k) to keep up with the woman finishing ahead of me. But now I have enough time to re-register and run the course again before the podium awards. It's a fun run, and I take it easy, failing only the Olympus wall which I really hate anyway. There's no easy way through the barbed wire, though, it hurts a little worse the second time. And the dunk wall is dirtier!
|My favorite photo of the weekend; some random person clawing their way under and through the sludge!|
It doesn't help. I cannot run fast enough. I run so fast I might puke and the same woman disappears ahead of me. Dang. Most of the hard obstacles aren't on the course today and although I have another clean race it won't be good enough. The third time through the barbed wire is really horrible. Just afterward, I see the woman who took third yesterday. We run together for a couple of miles, and at the finish she's pulled ahead by just 15 seconds. I'm absurdly happy to have the 3rd place medal. Don't laugh. I like a complete collection of things. If I finish out the year with a 1st I'll post a photo of all of them together.
I had planned on running the Sprint again too, but the thought of a 4th time through the barbed wire is too much for my body. My brain won't admit it, and I head to the line to re-register. It's literally a mile long. Some bus loads of people all just decided on a whim to come race I guess. I take it as a sign, and rinse off to wait for the podium awards. By now it's sunny and pleasantly warm and it feels amazing to be sitting in the shade and not racing.