There wasn’t as much mud as last year, but there was still plenty of mud to be had. Spectators must think us Spartans are mad. We willing wade, crawl, slip, fall, roll in mud.
This past weekend I completed my 2nd Spartan Race. The Beast! I’ve kinda done things backwards. I think you’re meant to start with the Sprint 5km, work up to the Super 13km before the Beast 20km+ for the trifecta. Last year I did the Super, leaving now just the Sprint.
I’d been preparing for it more or less since the Super last year. Going into the race this year I didn’t feel strong. I felt stronger than last year, but the past few weeks I’ve only been able to do 1-2 unassisted chin and pull ups, before the last 2 sets forget it. Muscles ups suddenly I couldn’t do one. Probably over trained. I felt strong with the distance. I’ve been working on endurance all Spring and Summer. The distance I knew I could handle. The obstacles, some would be determination and will power, some would be easy, some I’d fluke, some would be and there were plenty burpee forfeits. I’m sure many of you have read about the 30 forfeit Spartan burpees. CrossFit style. 30 for every obstacle you can’t complete! I was also nursing a slight injury.
Back in May performing cross over medicine ball push ups I miss placed my right hand somehow on the ball and on and off since then have had isolated pain on the back of the hand near the wrist. The gym physio said I’d either crunched 2 bones together or done something to the ligaments and it would be a long time to heal/deal with. I’d get patched up only for in a month pain in planks or anything plank with a cross over. I saw the physio last Tuesday to make sure I was okay and left fine. During the night, my right little finger and up the wrist kept falling asleep. I went back in Thursday to see if they could fit me in. My hand was fine once I got everything moving, but stationary, there was dull ache. I saw a different gym physio who managed to see me in-between clients and patched me up with tape with instructions to remove it Tuesday. The pain subsided immedialty with the tape. He said there was tension in my upper forearm (I can’t remember which muscle). The earliest appoimement I could get with my normal physio was Thursday this week, so would just have to deal with it.The showers!
Friday I cycled to pick up the race headband from El Corte Ingles and later picking up the hire car from the airport with P. No bus this year! No run, no workout, just an hour’s Yogaglo and a bike ride. I didn’t get much sleep but then I hadn’t planned on getting much sleep! My wave was 8.45am, 2nd heat after the elites. I purposely choose an early time, so A, there wouldn’t be so much mud churned up. B, The Sprint was in the afternoon and I didn’t want to wait that long for the shared obstacles. I set aside 5-6 hours to complete it and if I’d chosen the last Beast heats around 11am, I would have been running parts with them. C, I didn’t want a long queue at the showers!
We set out around 6am to Les Comes where the event’s held. A massive estate in the mountains, perfect location for mud and steep incline climbs. It was a chilly start and I couldn’t decide on what to wear. Leggings, shorts, short T, long sleeves? Finally decided on shorts and a long sleeve running top which I was forever grateful for. It was chilly in the shade until the sun rose over the mountains and though I got hot in it climbing some mountain sides, in the mud and obstacles I was grateful for it. P was my race support (thank ya!). He made sure I had easy to eat food afterwards, waited while I ran, was race photographer, cheered me near the finish line and laughed at the state of me covered in mud!
Like last year I had to have help over the wall into the warm up pit. After a quick warm lead by the official race starter we were off! The first wall no probs, the ponds, wade through mud ponds (so cold I felt my lungs compact. I did think about the guys running. They were kinda quiet on wading through. Ha ha!). Most of us were walking about 3-4km in! Most people ran down the hills/mountain, walked, power walked up them. To my surprise I aced the bucket carry to test grip strength. You fill a bucket up with stones, carry it for a set distance along, up and down a trail by hugging it. Some cheated out the sight of the monitors with a shoulder carry. Every burpee forfiet obstacle or must complete obstacle were instructions in Spanish and English. I guess some had their own rules. I also aced to my surprise the Hercules Hoist. Lifting a tyre pulley and slowly setting it down. My technique was off (I didn’t train for it), 1/2 way pulling up I was told I could put my feet on the bar. I only put one foot on but some how aced it. The monkey bars, I slipped. I didn’t like this year it was near the start (about 8-10km in for me!) and everybody was watching. Literally you could touch the spectators. And it was just out muddy gulley trail, so muddy hands if slipped. The slack rope I thought you had to do in pairs, the guy I did it with lost his balance but I grabbed his shoulder and finished. The monitor said 15 burpees each. The guy said he’d do the 30, but I said, no I was cheeky rather, I’d ‘cheated’ so 15 each. I was kinda pissed as I knew I could have done it solo had I known. The other pulling, climbing and balance obstacles I was fine. Walls, I had to have help. Most people did! Everybody helped each other, though there were times I was running on my own. The Elites, get no help!
Rope climb. Burpees for me! I didn’t realise they sprayed mud into the pit!
To test memory I think around 13-14km we had to remember a name and number the corresponding with the last 2 digits of our race number. I kept thinking the next obstacle they ask, but no. I remember at the tarzan rope swings, I asked the monitor if I could just do the burpees! He was cool. There was no way I have done them! The biggest challenge for me was the chain carry about 1km from the end and the fully submerged in mud under a log last year that never was. Instead a 50cm gap between the log and mud to go under. The last 4-5 km were hard (there were no milages signs). We climbed a steep slope up which seem like baby steps the next ascended up. Descend down another steep down rock face only to climb what seemed about a 1km steep incline up the mountain side. People over took me but I wasn’t bothered. Some were stopping to rest, but I was determined not to stop (no chain at this point!). Looking up people looked like ants and for some reason I thought this is what it must be like fleeing war. Crossing mountains, trying not to be seen and they carry possessions. Something I hope I never have to exerpience. At the top of the 1km climb, we were asked our number. Forgot it, 30 burpees! Thankfully I’d been repeating it, Victor, 7333 276 running. Then the steep jog/walk down for me. We were running, walking on the rock face, shale, mud down narrow paths. When I could I let people pass. I noticed in the warm up pit, some guys were shirtless or compression t-shirts. These guys were the d*ckheads. They didn’t really care if you didn’t want to fall and charged down behind you. You could tell those who were free falling running and those with control. These guys are also those who on the last burpee forfeit station the javelin didn’t do full burpees. I kept wonder why they were leaving before me and another girl. Though I couldn’t see them, I could see them out the corner of my eye. When I turned to look around they were doing regular burpees, not even 30 of them before running on. The monitors didn’t even notice. That really pissed me off. Plus the woman who was commenting I’m tired. No sh*t darling, I’m 1km from finish and ran 19-20km already.
Javelin or rope climb burpees areaIt’s not as bad as it looks!
Because Spartan Race never makes it easy, after the various steep inclines up and down, we had to hop over various height logs with mini bands around our ankles (fun!), hurdles that I was so elegant on. Armpit height hurdles (I’m 169cm) and the chain carry. The one I’d not been looking forward to. I still trying to find out how much it weighs. I had help putting it on but it was heavy. So heavy I felt my chest and ribs compress. So much pressure, pressing down. It was a must complete obstacle up a yes, steepish incline, down rock face, slight incline, then incline down. I still can’t believe I did it. But if you have to, you do. I though it was obligatory to run the Beast with a hydration pack and gels, but many didn’t which surprised me. All summer I ran long Sunday runs with on one testing out gels. My plan was every 45 mins alternating between and gel and fruit puree which worked a treat. I was knackerd when I finished, but had energy. I don’t think I wouldn’t have finished feeling so ‘strong’ (debatable!) if I hadn’t! I took advantage of the water every aid station and didn’t have the need for the gels available on the last 3 aid stations. Those which ran without water and gels lapped them up! I was also surprised the initial weight of the pack wasn’t that heavy. It was loaded with more water and gels than I’d trained with, but I didn’t notice the weight. I did need to pee. The whole way.
4 more obstacles to go with my big fat hand!
I went 3 times before the start and as soon as we started I needed to pee again! 6+hours holding pee! That hurt. The guys could run off to a tree, but for girls a bit more tricky. I guess payback like with the showers. The girls have less weight to carry (hercules hoist, log, sand bag carries, 1 tyre instead of 2, bucket, chains etc), less distance (tractor pull) or can use the foot plates on the walls. The showers as they’re open air mixed, guys can just shower in pants. Us girls, unless don’t care, shower in shorts/knickers and bras rinsing out mud the best we can! I finished in 5h47mins with 170 burpees and 35 obstacles! My right hand swelled up as I put the race band too tight and other than that and my wrist, I was okay. My quads and shoulders ached all day Sunday and Monday and I think I’ve knocked my right ulna bone out of alignment. Its bumpy end is raised (I find out Thursday). The 2 other wrist injures are fine, I’ve just added a new one! It doesn’t hurt much, only at end of rotation each direction and waving. Huge respect to the Elites, womans winner 3:16, mens winner in 2:20.Cleanish!
Thankfully the showers weren’t as cold as last year, or the queue as long. I saw the race physio about my hands who dismissed me (you’re tense, move along) and didn’t have any tape to replace the one which was just hanging on before exploring the race village. I was surprised the Reebok shop was letting people covered in wet mud look and touch items. Anyways, slowly getting tired we made our way back the the car. P had made easy to eat coconut milk rice pudding so I’d get some energy in! We decided to eat lunch someplace else and found a tranquil spot. An old church Sant Salvador de Torroella in Navas with picnic benches. Neither of us are reglious, but it was nice to sit where quiet. Just the buzz of an autumn afternoon (though I still got sunburnt running even with suncream and P waiting). Lots of butterflies like what I’d seen running (and ants and a bumble bee!) grasshoppers and a fox! By now I was getting tired but still wired (thanks gels!) and we made our way back, not before stopped off at a Carrefour P had seen earlier in the week he wanted to go to and Ikea. My celebratory meal was the same as last year, MacDonald fries. This year I added a full fat Coca Cola. Haven’t had a Coca Cola in years but I was beginning to fade and needed liquid energy to get around Ikea. I had enough energy when we did get back to shower, change into PJ’s with a veggie burger before being out like a light!Sunday, was low key. Kathryn Budig’s Yogaglo Backside yoga as I know it has a few ‘physio’ moves in. That was challenging this time! A bike ride to the W Hotel before giving into loudly talking quads and shoulders. I said to P Sunday morning, I don’t want to run the Beast again. I’ll do 10-15km max obstacles runs in the future. but not that distance. By 18-19km my knees hurt, I was beginning to have enough. But today’s another day and I think I can take it on again!
With better training. I’d like to scale at least 1 6ft wall on my own!
Have you ran a Spartan Race or any other obstacle run? Favourite and least favourite obstacle?
Photo credit for many photos, P!