Last weekend I completed the Monterrey Spartan Super (yay me!) and it was such an awesome experience! I intended to write a Spartan race review much sooner, but when I tell you that I needed the full week for even my brain to recover from that thing, I’m not playin. It was fun but it was intense. To this point, the most physically challenging thing I’ve done was a Sprint Triathalon a several years ago. That took me about 2 hours. This thing took almost 5…so yea. That was real.
So let me give my person review on the good things, the not-so-good things, and some things that came as a bit of a surprise.
Spartan race revew: The good
I did it with an awesome team
This was by far my favorite part of the entire experience. The idea to run the race came from peer encouragement from my 510 Hiker buddies. There was a Groupon for the race, and enough of us decided to go for it. We signed up about 4 or so months before the race so we had plenty of time to train and psyche ourselves up for the
torture race. In the end, I formed some amazing friendships, and looked forward to training with these people more than anything.
My squad…and yes, we were by far the largest group of brown people out there
When it was race day, we stuck together the entire time. This was a huge help during parts of the race that seemed to drag on forever. Another bonus was that when any of us failed an obstacle, we would just split our penalty burpees across the group so one person didn’t have to do 30 burpees. We also helped each other over walls, and pretty much anything else where we could assist each other.
I made so much progress from when I started
I’m going to write a post very soon about the fact that I put on 9 lbs of muscle, while only gaining 1 lb of fat (gaining 10 lbs is otherwise depressing, which is why I hardly ever step on the scale). So I got mad gains. Much of this is due to Spartan training. I have gotten so much stronger from when I first started training. We do so many functional movements like climbing a rope, carrying heavy things, climbing, running uphill. My muscles have grown tremendously and I love how much I’ve improved. I couldn’t come close to climbing a rope when I first started. Now, it’s nothing.
Getting ready to smack that bell at the top…such a good feeling
The finish line
Yes, the finish line was great because it meant an end of 5 hours of enduring work. But, it was also cool because of all the excitement and celebration at the end. If you’ve ever completed anything that you found challenging, you know the huge sense of accomplishment you have. Well, multiply that tenfold. The energy of our entire team. The energy from everyone around us. The bananas. (Seriously, the bananas.) Then, we got a cool t-shirt, a medal, professional photos, beer…all types of stuff. It was such a nice exclamation point to such a cool experience.
There was also a post-race dinner where we tore down.
Spartan race review: The bad
The training was pretty time consuming
Prior to the race, I (somewhat) I consistently hit the gym in the mornings 3 or so days each week. I love morning workouts because I like to leave the rest of my day for everything else. Well that had to change since the only way to train with my team was to do it in the evenings. I also needed a little more than the 45 -60 minutes that I usually allow myself in the mornings, and for a 90+ minute workout, I had to do it in the evenings.
On top of that, I found myself having to cut out a lot of other things that I normally do in the evenings like spending time with my hubby and relaxing after work. I want to do more races (in fact, I’m already signed up for one), but I have to find a better way to balance life. I may do one day of training in the evening, one weekend day to longer runs, and just try to wake up even earlier in the morning if I need more time on other days…not looking forward to that last one.
Because hey, hangovers are not a good enough excuse to not get it in
There were lots of injuries…although fortunately none for me
My #1 concern going into this thing was that I was going to get hurt. I have had a lot of problems with my knees when running, as well as the occasional injury in other parts of my body. I started seeing a physical therapist a few months ago, and I think it helped tremendously. Then, leading up to race day, I did a fairly decent job (although not stellar one) of hydrating to avoid muscle cramps. Fortunately, I didn’t get injured at all, although I had some pretty sore knees at different times during training.
There were a number of injuries in my group, however. One guy had back pain, another had quad cramps, and one of the girls had calf cramps. But none of them gave up and that was ridiculously inspiring.
I was dreading the mud water but it was actually very refreshing
Some of the obstacles were a little chaotic
Spartan hires a ton of volunteers to assist with race day logistics, and they were great. There were some obstacles, however, that might have benefited from a little more structure. The bad thing about the chaos was that it caused a lot of people to completely give up on some of the obstacles, and that makes you feel like the integrity of the race is a little compromised. There was also some waiting for some of the obstacles and that kills the momentum a little. It wasn’t horrible, but there may be some room for improvement to fix the flow on future races.
One of my failed obstacles…I tried so hard to hold on to these rings on the multi-rig but looks like more work is needed on my grip strength.
Spartan race review: The surprising
I really, really need to climb more hills
I don’t know if one can ever really train for hills to the point that they don’t suck, but I figure it has to be less sucky with more practice. Mile 6 was completely uphill and it was a b**ch! It basically took away all of my very limited energy. In fact, I will probably spend less time training for the obstacles next time, and more time training for hills.
The obstacles weren’t bad at all
Like I mentioned, the obstacles were not bad. There were 29 in total, and I only failed 3 of them: spear throw, traverse wall, and multi-rig. I did great on the rope climb, monkey bars, and most of the walls (although I did have a total panic moment on one of the walls – got up there and freaked the f%^k out for no reason!). I could use more practice, but I feel good about doing any of these obstacles again.
I can’t wait to do another, maybe even a Beast
I already signed up for the Sacramento Sprint in November, and I’m playing with the idea of doing the SoCal Beast with my team in September. One source of the motivation (along with my natural competitiveness) is that Spartan gives you a medal for completing the race, plus a third of a medal that is complete when you do all 3 races (Sprint, Super, and Beast). That third is grilling me hard! It’s like “I need friends. Get 2 more of me!.” So, we’ll see. The Beast is 13 miles total, while the Super was about 8. The distance is longer, but not horrible. The harder thing is the fact that it’s southern California in September and it’s gonna be hot as hell. I have a couple of months to decide so shall see.
All in all: I’m feeling like a Spartan over here! I feel great. I feel accomplished. I feel motivated to do so much more. So grateful for this amazing experience, and for the people that encouraged me to do it.
Feeling motivated? Consider signing up for a race. You even get $10 off! 🙂