MIND, WORKOUT 26th September 2016

My first Spartan Race

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Yesterday I ran my first ever Spartan race. For those unfamiliar, Spartan races are obstacle courses ran over varying distances: 3+ miles (Sprint), 8+ miles (Super) and 12+ miles (Beast). As a newcomer to the sport I played it safe and entered the Sprint: twenty obstacles spread out over 3 miles. Despite being my first Spartan, the race happened five months later than planned. I originally applied to run the Sprint in April but was held back due to wrist tendonitis. Five months on, several treatments later and with Kinesio Tape planted on my arm, I was ready and determined to strike Spartan off my 2016 goals. Here is what happened…..

Pain strikes at the start line

A wall before the start line

A wall before the start line

The good folk at Spartan decided to stick a 5ft wall in front of the start line. I guess it’s their way of preparing you for what’s to come. As I jumped over it, a pain radiated through my wrist. It felt like a solid 7 on the scale. What now? But before I had time to think, we were off! I guess I’d have to wait and see.

Fear is not an option…. the Cargo Net

One of the first events is an A-Frame cargo net, so high that I saw some racers bypass it. If you have any kind of fear of heights, this was not the obstacle for you. As I begun the ascent, a fellow passed by and practically threw himself onto the net, destabilizing everyone around him – thanks! Living in New York City, you do not find many (if any) gyms with cargo nets to practice on. This was a case of getting on with it. Fortunately, my teammates and I made it through with no issues (my wrist pain had disappeared too!).

Running up the Bleachers…. again and again 

As this was a stadium-based race, running up bleachers is an integral part of the course. Fortunately this was one area I was at ease with, given my conditioning levels. It was made challenging when they gave us 15lb sandbags and 40lb jugs of water to carry – but with a background in strength training, this too was ok.

If you get stuck behind someone slower, you do kinda have to wait it out :/

If you get stuck behind someone slower, you do kinda have to wait it out :/

The Herculean Hoist

A staple in Spartan races, the hoist involves pulling a suspended sandbag to the top of a pulley and engineering it back down without letting it fall. Time to work back and bi’s! This was probably one of the easiest events if I’m honest, a sentiment overheard across the board as we ran onto the next obstacle.

My friend Celina killing it !

My friend Celina killing it super fast !

The walls are back! Not one but six! Then three more SUPER tall ones

At this point we are three quarters of the way done (I skipped a lot to spare you) but as we enter the outside of the stadium for the final stretch, I see a set of six walls waiting for us. Was I prepared to chance it? The initial wrist pain had vanished so I got brave, dug deep and went for it! No wall was left and I found myself surprisingly pain free by the end of it. Maybe I just needed to warm up.  This however, was the easy part – we then had three more giant walls (each spread out between obstacles) to conquer.  If I was to guess, I’d say they were around 7ft high.  I tried a mini run up to the wall and attempted to tackle it like a pull up, but unlike a pull up bar at the gym, the wall didn’t allow my hands to get a firm grip, which meant my fingers would need to pick up the slack. This could have been disastrous for my wrist so I aired on the side of caution and received a leg up from my friend.

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My friend Caroline showing how it’s done

Monkey Bars, Ball Slams and the finish line 

After failing at the infamous Spartan ‘spear throw’ (aiming a javelin like stick at a target) a penalty of thirty burpees was ordered. Not a big deal in my book, the spear throw isn’t a test of strength or endurance anyway, it’s a matter of skill.  A few more obstacles came and went before we approached the monkey bars. I lacked confidence on each grip, despite making my way through them. Lesson learnt: mind over matter, tendonitis or not! Ball Slams were the second to last obstacle, the goal being to pick up a 15lb ball and slam it down twenty times. Simple and easy enough. By now we had conquered every obstacle and headed for the finish line. As I crossed it and grabbed a medal, I remember thinking, ‘it’s over already??‘. Could I do another thirty minutes? Maybe…. But was I glad it was over? Yes!

Spartan, I loved every minute of your race and will look to set my sights on the SUPER for 2017 and maybe one day, the BEAST!!

Before I sign off, a special thanks to my teammates who absolutely rocked. Couldn’t have asked for a better group of Spartans to do it with! Go Team ATHLEADERS!!

Obligatory Team Photo!

Obligatory Team Photo!

As always, pushing for health