Something out of the ordinary I thought I’d do. The 2016 race season is here and so are the 2016 shirts and medals, I thought I’d give a review of the new gear. I’ve already posted pics of these on my previous post, but giving them their own page seems appropriate. First the medals:
The pie pieces are pretty identical to last years’ medals, only, obviously, it says 2016 on them. The ribbons got an update on their look, instead of the plain color ribbon it’s patterned and say 2016 on them. But the Pièce De Résistance is the main circle medal. This year the helmet is cut out instead of the full metal medal. I think that’s a neat touch. Maybe it was cheaper because of less materials, I joke; or do I?
Now for the shirts. Oh, the glorious finisher shirts. An everyday way to show off your pride of finishing any type of race, because wearing our medals every day is such a fashion faux pas. A small change to the front is the paint (blood?) splatter in the outsides of the diamond plated SR logo circle. An interesting addition to the shirt is the American flag on the right arm, thank goodness it’s flying correct too. On the left arm is the Reebok logo.
The back of the shirt is where it differs the most the “FINISHER” text is slightly smaller and they moved the “trifecta qualifier” from the right sleeve under the “FINISHER” text. In the background you can faintly see in dots the shape of all the continents and in the corresponding race color tiny dots of where, I assume, are all the races have or will be held. Sadly, Hawaii does NOT appear to be present.
There you have it. Do you already have yours? Which city do anticipate the most?
The holidays are over and I’ve been meaning to write-up my 2015 review but I’ve been busy working out/running full-time preparing for the 2016 Spartan Race; starting with Temecula the 30th, I don’t have much time to get ready.
I have managed to maintain my workout regiment, eating habits, and weight through all of the obstacles of life that was thrown at me so far. I still have cheat days and haven’t given up ice cream! I just happen to work out more on those days. I’ve noticed I’m REALLY bad on race days. I typically have started the day with a fatty McDonald’s breakfast and my recovery meal is In ‘n Out or something like that. It’s not that bad, depending on the race because I’m running, lifting, and sweating for 1.5 to 5 hours. With all the junk food I’ve consumed I’m glad I’m not back at my starting weight.
Spartan Races have tested me a LOT this year. I’m not a super fast runner and I’m not a heavy lifter. This works out great, except for the fact that I lift the same weights as guys bigger than I am. I’ve found that my favorite obstacles are Tire Flip, Tyrolene Traverse, and Rope Climb. I have a love/hate relationship with the Hercules Hoist. The first couple hoists I pulled it up easily, but lately they’ve been adding a lot of weight to it and from what I hear it weighs as much, if not more, than I do… Lastly, I friggen HATE the damn Spear Throw. I ended the calendar year 2-7. If I had a back yard I’d set up a hay bale to practice on.
I even participated in the Spartan Race World Championship course. I can’t stress enough the keywords “participate” and “course.” I ran the exact same course as the elites, as I always do, just did not compete in the qualifying heat.
Through the year I’ve also managed to join a team and met many people through my travels and races. Some good stories and good people out there. A good thing about Spartan Race that I truly enjoy is that even though it’s a race, many people are out there to help one another to conquer the obstacles set before us. My advice to anyone on the fence who has managed to catch a Spartan Race on TV, read about it in a magazine, or heard a coworker or friend talk about recently, SIGN UP. Don’t be afraid. Finish. Become STRONGER. Sure, I still sometimes get butterflies before a race. It goes away once the race starts and the blood and adrenaline are pumping!
2015 was a good year for racing, fitness, and my general health. I have a total of at LEAST fifteen Spartan Races “planned” in order to get a 5x trifecta. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but I’m ready for it. Here’s to a safe, stronger, fitter 2016!
ADAM: Since this was a double race weekend I decided to change it up a little. I published my write-up for the Super, but for the Sprint I decided to let my sister write-up since it was her first Spartan Race experience. I know lately I’ve been writing up races like “blah blah I’ve been here, done that.” So, here’s a first timer’s impression of the Spartan Race Sprint. (With my pictures because she’d kill me if I posted hers)
Spartan Races are not what you think they’re going to will be. Even though I am not in any shape to be doing any races, I wanted to do the Sacramento Sprint, to prove to myself that it was something that could be accomplished. The morning started out pretty cool, there was warmth in the air, perfect weather for a race. When I agreed to do this race, I knew it meant running and obstacles, I was ill prepared for how steep the hills were and that most of the race was up these hills. Not only am I out of shape, my asthma made it even harder for me to see the finish line in the near future.
After being pretty gassed and not even seeing the mile marker, I got scared that I wasn’t going to finish. I did the obstacles, pretty poorly, with the help of Adam, but I still did them. Once we finally got to the water station I was able to muster up some strength, but still needed to go at my own pace. Sorry, Adam. Slow and steady wins the race? Or at least completes it. By the time we got to mile 2, I was winded, but still determined.
I made it to the Tire Flip, no problem. Then came the Multi-Rig, which I was really excited about, because I had faith I’d be able to do it. I got across the bar just fine, grabbed the ring, but couldn’t hold my weight anymore, so I let go. First round of burpees. When we finally got to the Spear Throw I was more than excited, because I was sure this was something I could dominate. As the weather started getting colder, it began to rain and I was not prepared for how cold it was getting. ADAM: I feel it was the most miserable time I’ve had at a Spartan Race. For some reason I felt colder than Tahoe! Probably because I didn’t run to warm up my body so hypothermia kicked in and hit me hard… I stuck with my sister for the most part. I should have run to warm up my core temp. So, once I stepped up to the gate to throw the spear, my mind was just telling me to get it over with and move on so we could be done. I ended up throwing the spear with my left hand, I am not left-handed. Second round of burpees.
Walking through what felt like cement and then getting a muscle spam and falling in said cement like substance was the oddest thing I have even been through, then to do the Barbed Wire Crawl up hill, while I’m covered in whatever that cold mud/cement stuff was, slipping and sliding down. ADAM: Don’t forget about the poor tadpoles! I would have never made it up the hill if it weren’t for some kind-hearted Spartans. My knees will probably never forgive me for putting them through that pain, though. Now really cold, but still focusing on finishing strong, came the Rolling Mud and Dunk Wall. Now, I have to admit, I didn’t completely submerge my head, which disappointed Adam, but I still did the challenge and most of my head was under the not so clean water. We got to the Slip Wall, which is appropriately named, especially in the rain. Adam got up and then went down, completed. Now it was my turn, I got up to the top, adjusted my weight to get myself over, and down I went, to the bottom from where I started. I let myself rest for a few minutes and I tried again. Same thing happened, except this time coming down, I slammed into the wall and fell all the way down. Burpees again?
Once we got to the Inverted Wall, trying to get over another wall, completely gassed, with absolutely no upper body strength, even with Adam’s help, I fell to the ground, hard! Even though I knew nothing could be broken, regardless of adrenaline, I knew more pain would be coming accompanying the bruises. After that point, Adam was way too cold to wait for me ADAM: Likely full on hypothermia by this point, so I told him to go on ahead, which I had been doing all day, but he wanted to make sure I didn’t die and that I finished. When I got to the Z-Wall, it was pouring and really cold. Burpees? I didn’t even attempt the Rope Climb. Burpees? ADAM: To be fair, I got halfway and there was no way I was getting up the super wet rope I even tried using the footgrip method too, when I usually do all upper body, nope! I was done! I actually finished. This was the hardest, most torturous thing I have ever put myself through, but I have never felt more accomplished about anything in my life, so far. Right after we got home, I was planning out what my next race was going to be, thankfully we’re shooting for the end of January, now I have time to train for that.
ADAM: This was my sister’s first Spartan Race, and my final Spartan race of the year. This also concludes my x3 Trifecta. Not bad for a first year. Sure, many people do a Beast their first race. I didn’t get lucky enough to have one close by, so I had to settle for a Super in Monterey, back to back Beast/Sprint Hawaii, back to back Beasts in SoCal and Tahoe (Also the World Championship course). But I finished strong with a triple trifecta. What does next year hold for me? I’ll likely be getting a season pass, but will my wallet be able to take all the travel fees? I can’t wait to find out!
Where to begin… This was a race I was dreading for a while now, I don’t even know why. Weather was up in the air, I had no idea what to expect. Well, the day finally came. The weather actually held up for us all on Saturday. No rain, decent warmth for a race. However, Of the several venues I’ve been to, “Sacramento’s” Van Vleck Ranch (it’s really in Sloughhouse) impressed me the least. Sure it has some good short, steep rolling hills. Random pools of water, which was never used in the race. But the overall terrain was so boring. I could blame the California drought but I’d doubt it would help the scenery. There weren’t even any cattle or other animals to look at as we pass by. Fresh off my race in Seattle, I was hoping for a little bit of trees and greenery. Nope. Just dead looking brown everywhere. Enough with the scenery, onto the race itself.
I didn’t find this race any more or less challenging than any other Super. There were a few surprise obstacles and one big one missing. For instance, the Hercules Hoist was impossible for me to bring up more than maybe 75% of the way. I’m at about 50% success rate if I don’t count times I had assistance. While other times I had random people help me with the Herc Hoist, but not this race. There was a second plate drag, but instead of on the ground pulling the plate to you via rope, you pulled the plate like cattle right behind you across the small area. Not an obstacle per se, but the trudging through the grey cement-like mud was interesting alone, but add the tadpoles too?! Weirdest obstacle ever…
Missing was the Memory Wall… THANK YOU! Even if I AM currently 100%. I can do without the memory test. Sadly after the first couple Memory Walls, I added this to my training. When I’m running on the streets I pick a random letter and phone number on a business and try to memorize it by the end of the run. The stupid part is, I have no idea if I’m right until my next run. Oh well, I’ll do burpees whenever.
Present were the usual suspects: Atlas Carry, Tire Flips, Multi-Rig, Bucket Brigade, Monkey Bars, Spear Throw, and (of course) Rope Climb. I’ll have to add, I nailed the spear throw and no one was around to see it! 🙁 This success made my record 2-8. I figured out a small trick about my successful spear throws that works for me; take a few steps back then forward to get enough momentum forward then throw the spear similar to a football or dart. If I had a back yard I’d be able to practice this more… One of these days I’ll get a successful spear throw recorded on my GoPro.
Another obstacle missing from the venue was the ever loved Fire Jump… despite it being on the map and someone mentioning on social media there was going to be a Fire Jump at the venue. Mega sad face. So here I end my review with a sad finish line picture.
FYI In case you didn’t know that’s me on the right…
Kind of sad. My trip to Washington was barely 24 hours in total. Not only was it a quick trip but the overall pace of my race was my fastest for a Spartan Race of any kind. I managed to finish the Spartan Super in a tad over two hours, the mileage according to my Garmin watch was 7.87. But, since it’s the Super, I’m guessing it was closer to the general consensus on Facebook at around 8.2. Not sure why my watch is missing that much data, it’s usually spot on.
The day started out a tad cold (nowhere near as cold as Tahoe was) very grey and gloomy. Threats of rain troubled me all week. The start was like any other start at Spartan Race, at this venue they allowed the “start smoke.” I don’t get to see that very often. On first glance I was a little disappointed that this venue didn’t have a lot of hills, and while I was partially right, there were a few troublesome inclines. However, after Temecula and Tahoe, for me the challenge wasn’t really there. I overheard a bunch of people complaining about the hills, but I suppose if you’re not training in the hills it could pose a threat. But, luckily this venue was a pretty, woodsy, mostly flat trail which would explain my super fast time/pace.
Your usual obstacles were there Walls, Atlas Carry, Spear Throw (UGH 1-7!) Monkey Bars, Log Carry, Sandbag Carry, Rope Climb, even the hated Memory Wall! Okay, it’s not the most hated, but I dread it since I have such a poor memory. Oddly enough, I’m 3-0 for the Memory Wall.
Here’s where it got interesting, about two miles left in the course they throw in the Rolling Mud and Dunk Wall. Again, it’s no Tahoe, but it was still pretty cold. Plenty of people cramped up because shortly after the water obstacles was the Bucket Brigade. Rivaling Tahoe, the buckets were filled with SMALL, WET rocks and mud. While not as long distance wise as Tahoe, the cramps, steepness, and wet terrain was tough on anyone’s legs.
The final obstacle thrown at us was the Hercules Hoist. This one scares me because the bags, from what I’m told, weigh more than me. The previous Beasts I couldn’t do it at all, I did manage some assists (thanks!). This one seemed like a cakewalk. Granted it was eight miles and not 16, but I lifted it up and back down without much problem, ran to the bottom of the hill and showed off a little over the Fire Jump. I’m always happy to see the Fire Jump as many venues don’t allow it. NOT EVEN THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AT TAHOE. Really? A televised event? Anyway, back to “Seattle”…
A side note. This race completed my x2 Trifecta for an extra medal!
Overall a great venue for a Spartan Race. Not too hilly, good views, decent weather. Only a few drops in the very beginning, but the sun partially came out in the middle of the morning. Oh, what was with that foul stench of dead fish carcass near the river; that was interesting LOL.
First, I’d like to thank Squaw Valley for hosting the Spartan Race World Championships. It’s always great to come back here; it’s been quite a while since I’ve been here, and also the first time when there wasn’t snow everywhere.
Second, I’d like to throw out a big #EFFNORM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Norm Koch is a course designer for Spartan Race known to design the hardest courses to challenge anyone… He promised this would be the hardest Beast ever built and BOY did he deliver.
8AM barely anyone there, parking empty. 30 minutes later, the parking lot was full(er) glad I got there when I did.
We started the day (I was there at 8am) with a ~35F weather. It was so bad, you needed to stay in the beam of sunlight or you were freezing! MOST of the racers were in their teeny tight spandex leggings and shirts. There I stood with my Nike run “Fall” jacket feeling a little overdressed. But I sure am glad I did! You’ll find out later.
Right off the bat, at around .6 of a mile, were the Rolling Mud obstacles. Basically three small hills with ice-cold water at the base of the hills. I know my wife probably would have quit right there and then. Luckily, after the quick knee/thigh-high dunks (…waist for me…) it warmed up nicely within an hour or so. By mile 5 I took my Nike jacket off… just in time for my first Log Carry. Your average obstacle, just as difficult as any average sandbag carry/bucket brigade. Up on the right, down on the left.
Let’s fast forward to Mile 9, the swim obstacle. Yes, SWIM obstacle. No, it wasn’t snowing; so, it could have been much, much worse. However, I think it was bad enough. There was a burpee option to skip the obstacle, you’d have to do 60 burpees instead of the regular 30. It IS the world championships after all.
For some stupid reason I grabbed the life vest (non-elites are required) and got into the water. I don’t know how long exactly, but according to MapMyRun it was about .07mi (or 123.2 yards, or 369.6 feet) and took me THREE minutes. I’ll tell you this, it was the coldest, longest three minutes of my life. I was struggling mentally, physically, spiritually, and whatever “-ally” to swim to the other end of the water. It didn’t help that the life vest was thick and choking me. I could swim faster forward but because of the vest at my neck, every so often I had to switch to my back. At the end of the swim, a wooden stepladder allowed Spartans to get out of the icy water. But when I got to the stepladder there were some people with cramps and such sitting on the wood prohibiting me from getting on the wood and out of the freezing water. Finally out of the water I RAN to my jacket and Camelbak to get my body warmed up again.
Up a hill, shivering non-stop I got to the next set of obstacles, the barbed wire crawl from hell. Not only was it a barbed wire crawl (everyone was using the rolling method), but the longest one I’ve ever seen. But to make it worse, the entire obstacle consisted of a wire crawl, wall hurdle, wire crawl, turn around and wire crawl the opposite direction, wall hurdle, wall DUNK in water similar cold temperature as the swim, slip wall (diagonal steep wall with rope to help you up), BACK the other direction under yet another barbed wire crawl, wall hurdle, and another barbed wire crawl. I think I got that right.
It was cold, windy and, overcast so there was NO help from the sun. At that point hypothermia hit me hard. I was shivering so much, even worse than after the swim obstacle. I couldn’t huddle in a ball because every time I tried I cramped up in my legs. I went to Tahoe solo so I didn’t huddle with anyone /sadface. Not a Weeple in sight. I took my time and finally pulled myself together, but didn’t need to go far because I was leaning against the next obstacle to warm up and shield myself from the cold wind. Sadly, it was my favorite obstacle, the rope climb. I got my composure and pulled myself up the rope climb in my usual fashion, all upper body strength. But after ringing the bell at the top, my body said “Um, no.” I used my legs to get down. There’s no shame in that.
I’ll make this quick because of how pissed off I am about this, even right now. I failed the damned spear throw again… I’m now 1-6. Just as I was about to release the spear, my calf cramped up and it was off my fingers and in the air, WIDE. Burpees… F U SPEAR.
Let me say this, I will never complain about Bucket Brigade ever again. Instead of rocks, we filled buckets with dirt and rocks making it even heavier. Add that to a VERY long loop. I’m not sure exactly how long but it was at least twice as long as most I’ve been on. Though not as steep as, say, Temecula, the added weight, distance, and placement on the course was sheer terror. Oh, did I mention there was no burpee option? You had to do the buckets. If the bucket is not above the drilled holes when you reached the bottom, you do a second loop. They were very strict and checked every bucket. Brutal.
From the Bucket Brigade. I’ll just tell people, “My wife beats me.”
The last and final obstacle was the Clif Multi-Rig. For those that do not know what a Multi Rig is, it’s a series of rings, long bar, and ropes (differs per race) and you must swing from each to the other side to hit the hanging bell at the end. I reached the last possible hanging rope and grip strength gave out. I should have just kicked the bell with my feet, but I always try to use my hands. No more, I will kick that bell next time. Everyone was watching I was the only one on the Multi-Rig at the time. Mega embarrassing. AND the finish line was maybe 100 feet away from that last obstacle, laughing at me.
I finished the burpee penalty, and ran as fast as I could to the finish line. DONE. Frozen Hell complete. Nega-Temecula over. Worst, longest beast I’ve ever done. I vowed I will never do another cold swim ever again… At least not without a thermal blanket or other SMART things to have on hand.
I’m sitting in my hotel room typing up this review. Waiting for a Spartan Race is tough. Especially if you’re alone, miles away from home, in a no-frills motel… Anyway, last weekend was the dreaded Temecula (SoCal) Spartan Race. Last year it was so hot (100+) they had to cancel the race and kick people off the course. This worried me to the point where I sort of wanted to transfer to another venue. However, I gave it my all and pushed through it.
The actual race was great! To be honest when I was out there in the hills it wasn’t even that hot. I’m told it topped out at 97 F, breezy at most places of the course, overall I felt it was a good temperature for the race. My highest point of the race is when I nailed the SPEAR THROW!!! But, I couldn’t celebrate too long because I had to keep moving and I could see the next obstacle just a few feet away, the other dreaded one, the Bucket Brigade. I took my time, so it wasn’t so bad. I mean it really hurt my time and placement. But does it really matter? Not really.
The actual course looked like a jagged figure eight (okay, that’s a very oversimplification of the actual layout). The start and finish in the middle right next to one another. Halfway through the course, around mile 7, obviously I wasn’t finished, but in plain sight was the finish line and my body completely shut down; my right calf and both rear quads locked up. I couldn’t move for about a half an hour. I had a fellow Weeple talk me through the pain and I got up and moved through the pain. After a few miles of walking I felt better. It did act up a little in the cold water walk, but it still felt good because of the heat from the damn sun. We were walking on a really weird surface, like goop. Black fine powder goop, WTF is this crap?
Then comes the memory sign. I still can’t forget my assignment. Echo 108-7551. I hate memory tests. Almost as much as spear throw and Hercules Hoist… But I managed to pass that once again I’m actually 2-2 for that. I muscled through the pain and before I knew it, the race was over. I got another set of pictures over the fire wall and even one with my whole trifecta medal set at Victory Wall.
I sit here reflecting on last weekend’s Beast, when I have to actually worry more about TOMORROW’s Beast. I go from extreme heat to “extreme” cold and altitude. I have a 9:15am start time. So, I better get some rest soon. Another trifecta almost done! Last race of my Spartan Race season is November. So wish me luck in staying healthy! Well, for starters, wish me luck in tomorrow’s race. AROO!!!!!!
Only a week after my 8mi+ Super Spartan Race in Monterey and I’m running another OCR?! Yeah, I got suckered into it by a coworker. This one was called the Gladiator Rock ‘N Run. Remember the American Gladiators from the early 90’s? Well this OCR was designed by the Gladiator known as Nitro. He was even there at the event to start the race, take pictures, and talk to the crowd.
Originally, I flat out said no because of the price. It would cost $90 because it was so close to the event. But because I’m a Weeple we get notifications if there’s any coupons, deep discounts, or volunteering jobs available. We took the volunteering option as it made the race FREE! We opted for the split shift so we could work a couple hours in the morning, race, then go back to volunteering afterwards. The morning consisted of setting up a few stations, nothing big. But a couple hours passed and our time to race had come.
This weekend was a long holiday weekend (unexpected, I got Memorial Day off), I attended my first OCR (obstacle course race) at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. I convinced two of my coworkers to join me for a mini race group. When we got there I was a little disappointed because it looked like some dudes (BIG) back yard with a couple obstacles a middle school kid could build. There was much more on the other side of the field but I wasn’t far off. To make matters worse, it felt like a family affair. Just anyone showed up to do the obstacle course and timing chips were optional. I suppose that’s ok, but I was half expecting elite OCR racers for some reason. Anyway, I’ve been working out harder for these type of events so I was ready for pretty much anything. My two coworkers, not so much; did they work out? Yes, but not quite at my level, but that’s ok. Especially after looking at the other people with race bibs. In our time slot we got to our gate early so we were right at the star line in our corral. Right off the starting horn we were off at a full sprint. I’ll let my video explain (BELOW!) but it wasn’t difficult but still overall a fun experience. So much fun, I barely broke a sweat and we ran it a second time!!
Well, I’m dedicated now. Last night I signed up and paid for my first (of at least three) Spartan Race.
Never heard of Spartan Races? That’s okay, I didn’t a few months ago either. Spartan Races are brutal obstacle course races. There’s three distances: Sprint (~3mi), Super (~8mi), and Beast (13+). Finishing all three types in one calendar year forms the trifecta. No, not Triforce of Power. Someone at work thought I said that.
So, anyway, I’m all paid up and ready to go. Too bad it’s only the short three mile one. Still trying to plan out my Trifecta. I might have to travel for at least one of them. I can’t wait to start this!