This past weekend was the SoCal Super and Sprint weekend in Temecula. I meant to have a write up for each day, but I got lazy and tired on Saturday after the Super. It really kicked my ass, as I haven’t been training as hardcore as I was last year. I’m not part of a gym anymore, so my weights at home are just under what I’m used to. In addition, I was training for my full marathon last Dec, so I slowed going to the hills in favor of the flat road; it’s something I need to get back to doing every weekend.
Saturday, was the Super and boy was it great to get out and race again. I didn’t get to December’s LA/Castaic Spartan Race, so I had over two months of a break from Spartans. I’ve raced at the Vail Lake Resort Spartan Race on two occasions for three separate event days (all three Spartan Races: Sprint, Super, and Beast) and, despite its distance from me, is easily one of my favorite venues. This venue has almost everything, the super steep incline/declines, the crappy gold fine powder mud, and even the woodsy area. I haven’t ever done a real swim obstacle here, but that’s okay. I read that the actual lake water will not be used more than four times starting this year for ANY event. So, the water will be used less and less. That’s fine, I’ve been to bone dry events.
I got into the morning open heat at 9:30, great starting time. Sunday was forecast to be nice weather. GREAT! All of your favorite obstacles were present, throw in the super steep hills, the dusty one lane track and you have a party in Temecula. Oh the dust was so present that day. I forgot about it and didn’t bring a buff to shield my face so I Spartaned the F up (#STFU). I managed to forget sunblock again, so I think I’m a little darker from the sun. Looking at the course map, it looked a lot like the beast course last year just shorter; halfway on the west, halfway to the east, with the lake and main festival area pretty much in the center. However, unlike last years Beast, my legs did NOT lock up when they saw the finish line midway through the race.
I had a few problems during this race. Because I wasn’t fully in shape, mentally and physically, I managed to fail three obstacles; probably the most I’ve failed without having weather to blame. I failed the Spear Throw (obviously), Memory Test (Zulu 996-3951, I switched the 9 and 5), and the Herc Hoist. In my defense, the final series of obstacles were friggen BRUTAL. Starting with the Bucket Brigade, to the Rope Climb, Herc Hoist, and Multi Rig; it was a grip strength series from hell.
The Bucket Brigade was its usual hell. Steep incline, steep decline. I think a common thing now is to load buckets with dirt and rocks instead of just rocks. The last several races have done the same thing, which I absolutely hate because it makes it THAT MUCH HEAVIER. I’m a person of integrity, I always put the rocks up to the line where it needs to be. I’ve seen bigger guys below the line and it pisses me off. Whatever, “race your own race,” right?
One of my strongest obstacles is the Rope Climb, I “stumbled” a little on the rope. At the top, I thought I was high enough when I swung at the bell at the top but managed to miss it! The bell wasn’t directly above the rope like normally, but off a few feet, and my grip was wavering. Of course I was going up sans legs, but after that I needed my legs too keep me on the rope, I was up there too long.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Hercules Hoist. I’ve said this before, it’s a very difficult obstacle for me. I barely weigh as much as the sandbags, in some races it outweighs me! But when I manage to get that sandbag up to the top and back down without crashing the bag on the ground, it’s a great feeling. However, that didn’t happen on this day… I pulled the bag about halfway and just didn’t have enough left in the tank. /sadface.
Lastly, the Multi Rig. This is normally one of my favorite obstacles, but after the previous grip obstacles my arms and hands were really taking a beating. It didn’t help any that I got into the line without a box, I had to jump up to the rings to start. As expected the rig was changed to a new sequence. This time it was ring, rope, ring, rope, ring, horizontal bar. About halfway my grip was starting to go, but I managed to hang in there and finish.
I was super happy about Temecula’s Vail Lake venue, because they allow the fire jump!
The sprint is pretty much identical to the first half or so of the Super, then add the final set (above) minus the Bucket Brigade. Here’s where the Sunday Sprint differs from the Saturday Super. It was COLD, windy, and rainy; anywhere from a light drizzle to a full on downpour. Thankfully it was only a sprint, but it was still one of the more miserable races I’ve been through. Still probably not as bad as the Lake Tahoe World Championships since that was a Beast, but the rain didn’t help the cold so this was similar to last years Sacramento race…
Sunday was an interesting race day. I had a start time of 1PM, first time I’ve ever gotten a time like that. The bad thing is, I had a flight home at 5pm because I was thinking I’d get an early slot like I usually do: 11:45. NOPE. Mind you, the venue is about an hour and forty-five minutes away, then add the actual race, cleaning up, recovering, rental car return, TSA, etc. There was NO way I was going to make my flight. It being cold and rainy, after I got my race bib package and was turned away when I asked for an earlier time due to my predicament, I turned around and walked to my car. At this point I was already shivering from being wet and cold, but something in me sparked. I turned around again, went to a different tent and asked the girl working if I could get an earlier time because I had a plane to catch, she handed me a new time and said, “This is what I can do for you.” I looked at the time thinking it would be pointless like noon or 12:30. No, it was 10am, which was in less than 5 minutes! After thanking her profusely, I quickly got changed and lined up for the race.
The cold and mud slowed things down for everyone but I managed to get a decent pace throughout. I didn’t have much bottleneck except for a few one lane hills and the damn A-Frame Cargo net. Seriously? Why is that a bottleneck? Could they put a burpee station there, please? So people who are afraid of heights or for people who don’t want to stand around waiting in the cold can opt out of it. Directly after this I failed the Spear Throw again, of course… So I’m already 0-2 for the year.
I did manage to get past the Memory Test with Zulu 052-0484. How do YOU get past the memory test? Luckily, in the past mine are pretty easy to remember with repeating numbers, numbers close to my lucky numbers, etc. Only failing once, so far, I think I have a decent system. I repeat one set over and over then try to make a memorable sequence with the remaining digits. In this case, I repeated 052 over and over again. The second set was 0484, zero matched with zulu which was fortunate, then four is unlucky to Asians, then stick on an 8 which is LUCKY, then back to the unlucky 4. Semi easy to remember, right? This doesn’t work for all my tests, it just happened that this is what I used this time. I do hate this “obstacle” though. I have no energy to use my brain when my muscles are taking all the beating…
Luckily, there was no Bucket Brigade present at the Sprint so that saved my grip for what was coming. The rain on the ropes was worrying me. However, I got through the last three obstacles without any problems (even the Herc Hoist!); Or so I thought. Getting over the fire jump and past the finish line I noticed I was bleeding. I was pouring blood from my pinky. Wet and soft skin versus wet ropes isn’t a good combination. I went straight for the medical tent and was embarrassed to explain to them that I had an injury to my pinky… But I didn’t want to take any chances of it getting infected from the crappy dirt and water. They understood and sympathized after seeing how much blood was coming out of it. Luckily, just pressure and an adhesive bandage sealed that up nice and I could get to the airport to make my flight in time.
What a great start to my 2016 Spartan Race season. Already 2/3 of the way to the first trifecta!