The Spartans were fierce and courageous warriors who faced adversity like they were born for it. One year ago today I did the hardest physical challenge I’ve ever experienced. I did my first Spartan race at Oracle Park in San Francisco in November of 2019. I completely got hooked on doing these races and soon after scheduled my next race in February 2020. The Spartan race consists of a race course that has 20-30 obstacles to complete in order to continue on with your race. The obstacles are fun physical challenges such as a wall climb, rope climb, monkey bars, bucket carry, barbed wire crawl, and a spear throw because we all know Spartan warriors threw some bad ass spears to take down their enemies. In my point of view a Spartan race is a playground for adults that want to physically challenge themselves while running a 5K,10K, or a 22K. The one that I did in November 2019 is called a Stadion which is a Spartan race set at a professional stadium, which is normally home to a professional sports team. After doing this race and experiencing the challenge of taking on a Spartan race, I knew I wanted to do more. So I set myself up to do the longer race called the ‘Super; in February. Little did I know I would be challenging myself physically like no other.
I woke up on a beautiful Saturday morning and ate a solid breakfast. I prepared everything I would need to survive the grueling Spartan challenge I had for myself today. I had my shoes, my under armor runner hat, hydration pack, and my running pants ready to go. My wife and nephew also came with me for the trip as we decided to also make a it a family day trip. I felt the butterflies before this race. I had never ever even run more then 6 miles before doing this race and today’s Super Spartan race was going to have me run 7.5 miles while being challenged to complete 25 obstacles on my way to the finish line. So we made the drive out towards the middle of California in Diablo Grande. When we got there, I realized that the morning routine and preparation had gotten me there pretty close to the start of the race. I was force to abandon my wife and nephew in order to get to the race before I ran too late. So I pretty much warmed up by running to the race event from where we parked. My heart was racing and thoughts of the imminent challenge before me started to set into my reality. The race festivities were a blur as I had a lot of adrenaline going by the time I reached the event. Luckily I still made it with my group of racers with 10 minutes to spare. I looked around and saw many other Spartan racers like me about to take on this challenge. I did the age group race so the racers around me weren’t completely competitive. I saw a couple who liked they were ready to go on a mild hike and then some people were dressed up in costumes to my amusement. There were some competitive racers too, but a good all around crowd of racers overall. Just before I knew it the race started and I was off. I got into a good running pace and started out nice. The butterflies and anxious feelings went away now that I was able to start moving. I felt good starting and keeping up with the racers at the beginning of the pack. The first obstacle came real quick and it was a simple mud ditch that I had to go down and come back up. Unfortunately it wasn’t as simple as I thought. When I finished the obstacle, my heart completely dropped. I had lost my wedding ring and it was nowhere in sight.
I’m sure you’re thinking what an idiot I could be to be wearing my wedding ring for this race. I can be careless at times. I’m only human. So I had a choice either to keep going or to stop racing and dig through the dirt. Of course I chose the latter and went back to find my wedding ring my wife got me. As I went the opposite direction towards other racers feeling super embarrassed, I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I made it to the dirt obstacle and started my search. I digged through the dirt in desperation as I retraced my steps while dodging out of the way of other racers. Other racers were asking if I’m okay and once telling them what I was looking for, they made an “oof” expression and continued on their way. I felt helpless and hopeless as I searched for my ring. The negative self talk made its way into my mind and heavily criticized how careless I was not to take it off before the race. I almost gave up, but somehow some way I managed to find it at the bottom of the dirt hill in the first obstacle. I scooped it up quickly and put it in my hydration pack pocket. I zipped it up tight and finally after 15 minutes of searching for my ring, I was ready to continue racing.
Finally lets talk about the race. After the first obstacle I ran for a bit and the course took us into the hills of the Diablo Grande where the course steered us towards an uphill that was the steepest hill I ever faced. My negative self talk still hung around to guilt me and told me that this hill is my punishment for almost losing my wedding ring. My self talk can be a real ass sometimes. Haha. I took on this hill and pushed harder to get up to the top. It seemed like it took forever, but eventually I made it up and stared at a beautiful view of the Spartan race festivities. The downhill was a nice recovery. This was just the first mile of the course so they really kick your ass to start these races.
I proceeded to charge forward and continue the race. I did wall jumps, and uphill bucket carry’s. I attempted the monkey bars and other similar upper body obstacles, but I was not able to complete them. If you aren’t able to complete an obstacle, you have to do 25 burpees before proceeding. I did them and kept going. My body was not ready for this race at all. Just before halfway through the race, I honestly felt like I was a lifeless zombie just moving without being too present. It got harder to focus as the race went on. As the race went on, I just focused on not stopping. “Don’t stop. Keep going,” is what I kept telling myself. I took water breaks at the stands they had during the race course. However I didn’t take more then 5 minutes as I wanted to finish this race. It would take me 2 hours and 21 minutes to finally reach the finish line where I exhaustedly made my way over seeing my nephew and wife waving for me at the finish line. You can check out the video here. What a race this was. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t train enough or condition enough to take on this race, but I did get inspired to push myself to be a stronger runner from this point on. I also want to go for being a Spartan Elite someday and really build strength on doing those upper body obstacles. After training hard for the last year since this race, I can honestly say I would do this Super Spartan race in way less time then 2 hours and 21 minutes. I’m a stronger runner now after running 483 miles in 2020 (See my 2020 running journey blog post) and with the Beachbody programs I’ve been grinding through since October 2020, I’ve gained a lot of muscle strength since then. I’ll be ready to take on Spartan races with a vengeance when this Covid-19 pandemic ends. Until then I’ll continue to train hard for when its time to go race as a Spartan again.