It’s been about two weeks since I race my first Spartan in Tuxedo, NY. The plan was to wait a few days and then write about it but this adulting thing and work sort of foiled that.. So hopefully I can tell you about my experience. I was going to break this down into two posts and go into more specifics about the Tuxedo venue itself, but rumor has it that it may be the last year of racing there…so I will not go into much detail. But I will do a second post on what gear I wore so this doesn’t get so excessively long.
Sunday was race day and since it was 4.5 hours away, we (by we I mean my bestie Lyndi and I) decided to leave the night before (I had a wedding earlier in the day to attend). We had to stop along the way at a Dick’s because I ordered two arm sleeves with elbow pads and apparently there only one came in a box. I needed two. Thankfully, they had them. So after that (and a few other short stops and a few hours later), Lyndi and I pulled up to the hotel and saw several cars with Spartan stickers on the back of them, yay! The next morning, as expected, I was so nervous/excited I had a hard time eating. And Lyndi, being the great friend she is, really keep trying to make me eat (thanks for that!)
We got out stuff together, I finished getting dressed and we hit the road again. Short drive to the venue, parking was a snap as was registration. I could not believe how smooth it was and quick! I had brought my signed waiver already and had my bib number in hand, so I could skip the first two tents and go straight to packet pick up. I grabbed my stuff, went to the spectator entrance so we could pick up Lyndi’s bracelet and we were in. That simple. I’m going to assume it’s not always this smooth, but it was good. And I think it was about a half mile from parking to the festival area.
I put on my bracelets and timing chip (there were three bracelets I think – one for wave time, one to strap the timing chip too and one for your shirt when you finished the race) and I familiarized myself with where the start line and port-a-potty’s were before we looked around a bit. They had practice stations set up (you could try the rope climb, etc.) but I was too antsy for that plus I didn’t want to start out the race discouraged if I couldn’t do something.
Jumping forward a bit, my wave time was 10:45am and they were prompt. You had to jump a wall to get into the corral to start, but it was good practice right? A lot of people were pumped, a lot seemed a bit apprehensive and the MC did a great job getting people in the racing spirit. They let us go and it was straight up the hill from there! Literally. Straight up hill. (For anyone curious, no I did not run straight up the hill…I walked quickly…I was not going to expend that much energy right out of the gate.)
Most of the Spartan volunteer staff was super, very supportive and encouraging (even if they were yelling at us telling us we looked like ‘the walking dead’). They answered questions and encouraged us as did other racers.
For me personally, I didn’t push it going up the hills. I live in a rural area, lots of rolling hills. Whenever I go out for a jog there is always a hill. Growing up there was always a
During the sandbag carry – I put the daisy behind my ear before this obstacle…my daughter loves daisies and when I saw them they made me think of her.
hill. No biggie. I’m not fast on them, but I can get it done. Plus, this venue was in a beautiful location. Since I was running open and just running to finish the race, I could walk and take a break on a hill and look around and take in the Creator’s beauty that surrounded me (these breaks were a little more frequent toward the end, that and I didn’t realize until about 2 miles in that I wasn’t taking a moment to stop and enjoy the view).
I had a bit of help on two obstacles. The 8 foot wall (or was it 10?), a gentleman gave me his shoulder so I had a small boost there and then a nice gal on the inverted wall just placed her hand on my back to give me a touch of stability. So thank you to both of those wonderful Spartans, whomever and wherever you are! Your kindness was so appreciated.
Let’s talk about the three goals I set for myself.
- No more than 90 burpees – SUCCESS!
- I missed the spear throw by like 2 inches, but at least it was a decent throw. I couldn’t get up the rope climb and I attempted the rig but fell short.
- Time goal: 3 hours – SUCCESS!
- I clocked in at 2:53:11. I would just like to add a couple of things…the last set of burpees took a while. And I had to wait at the fire jump, the final obstacle. It seemed like I waited 5 minutes or more. Mainly because there was a group in front of a few of us that was trying to help their teammate have the courage to do the jump. So it technically was a little bit quicker.
- Finish in one piece without too much battle damage – SUCCESS!
I took my time, wore the appropriate gear, tried not to rush and be very conscious of the
Never saw this photographer…
course. I ended up with a few bruises but not bad ones and I had a small skin tag get pinched on the course (didn’t even notice) that turned black and fell off a few days later. So hey, I figured if I’d have gone to the doctor to have that small thing removed it would have cost as much as the race fee so – win win! Haha
As far as an update on what I was excited about…we’ll keep this brief. The rope climb is my new nemesis and I will beat it eventually! I just couldn’t find the right technique this race. The spear throw…as stated above, missed by a few inches. Next time, maybe I’ll get it…I’m coming for you Spear Man! Meeting new people, I noticed a few of us kept passing each other throughout the race…they’d pass me, I’d pass them…but it was nice to see friendly faces even if they were going by you. Most everyone was pretty swell. Cargo nets! I still love ‘em! I feel like I did great on those and a couple other things. And I did in fact finish.
Some things surprised me a bit. The Herc Hoist I was nervous about but had read enough so I had a few techniques to try – managed to do it without issue. Monkey bars, again, nervous about these, but were thicker bars and after the instruction and encouragement of the support staff (thank you again good sir, your encouragement and faith in me was so awesome and you have no idea how much I appreciated you!) I got it! I had prepared and accepted the fact I was going to have to do burpees, so when I tried and finished it was great. The slip wall, with the robe and the wall you climbed up, enjoyed that too.
I did the crawl under the cargo net with the mud like twice. Because my Running Buddy with my water got caught in the net. I didn’t realize it until after I’d crawled through, so I drove back in. Whatever, it’s mud. I really was thankful to have that small amount of water and I refilled at each station.
Very long and very, very, very rocky barbed wire / army crawl.
Let’s talk about the not so stellar things I saw. And there is really only one that got under my skin. Dishonest people. If you fail an obstacle, you do 30 burpees. This is not a surprise. So many people did like 3 and then continued on, or they didn’t do any. That really bothered me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s cheating. You are going to wear the medal at the end of the race, but in my opinion, if you were required to do the burpees and you didn’t, you did not earn that medal and might as well have purchased it on ebay. I did all my burpees. For me, they weren’t quick and that last 30 weren’t exactly pretty, but I tried and did the best I could. (Side note, I found that if I counted to 15, then counted backwards from 15, it didn’t seem so bad. Haha) You signed up for the race, do what you’re supposed to do.
Okay so here are my parting thoughts. Try every obstacle. Even if you don’t think you can, try it, you might surprise yourself. Practice burpees. Enough said. For me, I just got sick of hills…so many up and downs…but I was able to jog down the hills (thanks childhood and hills everywhere where I live!) and gain some time back. I do jog, but the closest thing I do to weight training right now is lift my 2 year old…a lot. So I have ‘Mom muscles’. I know I missed a few obstacles, but I didn’t feel the race itself was that difficult. Just a lot of hills. I was so over hills. And I honestly, truly believe it is mostly more mental than anything.
The next day, you know what was aching the most? The front of my shoulders…from doing burpees! I was a little stiff but overall I felt better than when I did my half marathon in May.
Fire Jump (very windy, not a lot of actual fire due to the weather that day)
So with all that, I’ve signed up to do the Super this weekend in Toronto. I hear the Canadian venues are totally different from the states, so we’ll see what that brings. All that matters, I suppose, is that it brings me another good race, another medal and another step to a Trifecta (am I seriously doing that this year?)
Aroo! ~ Katie