Last weekend I ran in the Spartan Beast in SoCal and
didn’t die successfully finished! It wasn’t easy, but it actually wasn’t torture. Real talk, this was the longest distance I’ve ever done in life. Period. I’ve hiked about 10 miles or so a few times as far as non-racing distances go. As far as racing distances, I ran a 10K once (6 miles) with aspirations to maybe do more but then decided that the training took up too much time so never did it again. So this 12.5 mile situation that we just did was very, very real.
Here’s my Spartan race recap of the Socal Beast.
It was a long, elevated journey with lots of obstacles
If you’re not familiar with the Spartan Race, it’s a combination of trail running and obstacles. There are 3 different race distances: Sprint, Super, and Beast. I ran the Super back in June and that was around 8 miles. You get the coveted Trifecta when you complete all three races in a calendar year, and I impromptu decided to go for it after I got enough peer pressure to do the Beast. (I am, by the way, a total sucker when it comes to peer pressure. This is bad when you’re a kid or surrounded by recreational drugs, but great when you’re surrounded by people that do good things.)
Day 17 of #FitTember: Workout Wear! Here’s my most important gear of the day as I get ready to tackle this Spartan Beast. 50 oz Camelback + 2 6 oz of Pedialyte for electrolytes. I also stuffed in as much Gu and mini protein bars as I could. Ready to conquer these 13 miles and 20+ obstacles! Aroo! #spartanrace #spartanbeast #socal #aroo
The race was around 12.5 miles (although this is never that specific, so it could have been more or less), had about 1800 feet of elevation, and had about 30 obstacles. Pala is about an hour from San Diego, and although it was sunny, it wasn’t super hot. We had a 12:15pm start time. That’s a little late in the day so our biggest concerns were the heat and being on the trail after dark. Fortunately neither of these were issues.
I ran with a crew of 8 people – 4 girls and 4 guys. Just like for the Super, this was one of the highlights of the race for me. It’s so much more fun and fulfilling when you’re doing something like this with a group of awesome people.
Things started out so smooth
I hydrated during the week and loaded up on pre-race snacks when I arrived in San Diego. We also had a nice carby dinner at Bucca di Beppo the night before. In general, I felt really good going into the race. I was a little nervous since this distance was new to me and I also have a huge fear of dragging down the team. So yea, butterflies.
I decided during training that I absolutely had to run with music. It’s the difference between me being miserable and actually enjoying my run. I dug up my neglected iPhone shuffle and downloaded a bunch of songs (remember those days before Spotify when you actually had to download stuff?) so I didn’t have to run with my phone. With 2Chainz and Kanye rooting me along, I was good.
I was surprised to see so many people walking, as early as a half mile into the race. Honestly they made me feel a little relieved because I knew I was not going to run this entire thing.
I had been training for the hills, and it really showed. I walked and jogged up hills, and while it looked like other people were absolutely miserable, it wasn’t bad for me. Kudos for level 15 inclines on the treadmill! The obstacles started at about a mile into the race and followed a very similar pattern to the ones in Monterrey.
It got so real at mile 8
So yea…it was all going smoothly and I straight up Hit. The. Wall! Ugh. It was somewhere around the Bucket Brigade where you carry a bucket full of 70-100lbs of rocks. My lower back screamed at me the entire time and I had to stop and rest a bunch of times. I don’t know if this was specifically the point where my energy decided to check out on me, but after that, things went from a nice bouncy running stride to “damn, another hill?”
I tried to remember to eat Gu every hour, and I did feel an occasional burst of energy from the caffeine – so that helped. But geez. It got to the point where I could feel every single muscle in my legs and joints whenever I took a step.
Another major point of discomfort was my toes. Misery is the sensation of your toes rubbing against the front of your shoes, especially downhill. It’s the worst! This kind of forced me to start taking steps with my mid foot and doing more of a high knee jog, which is beyond inefficient. My feet were probably starting to swell inside of my shoes too. It all sucked.
I did better on hills and worse on obstacles compared to my last race
One thing that rang true for this race was this: You are only as good as your practice. Whatever you train for, you will do on game day.You are only as good as your practice. Whatever you train for, you will do on game day.Click To Tweet
For this race, I did more hill training, and less obstacle training. My training program was something like this:
Monday: Weight training, using the Allpro program
Tuesday: Rolling hills on treadmill, 4-5 mph, Level 15 (the highest level) followed by 20 minutes strength training
Thursday: Rolling hills on treadmill, 5-6mph, Level 7ish followed by 20 minutes strength training
Saturday: 7-10 mile hike
Notice: lots of hill training and no real plan around doing obstacles.
The only real way to train for the obstacles is to go to a Spartan gym or to a playgound where they have similar obstacles. For the last race, I went to a Spartan gym a couple of days each week and worked on the rope climb (which I nailed this time, but wasn’t as easy as last time), monkey bars (I did horrible on these, but good last time), rig (which is like the monkey bars, but harder…so you know how that went), and spear throw (which I didn’t hit both times). In the last race, I did better on basically all of the these, so it cost me some burpees this time. That’s 30 burpees for each obstacle you fail. *insert whiny, hopeless, cry face*
So for the next one, I’ll definitely train better for obstacles.
One of my fellow racers bought the Spartan book and I browsed through it. I’ve already ordered my own copy. There’s a 30 day training program that makes total sense for how to train for the race. It also goes over things like preparing mentally, and tips about your diet.
This race had a fire jump…yes!
There’s nothing like jumping over a controlled fire to accent the fact that you just completed something cool. For the Monterrey Super, there was no fire jump, and with this one, it was a nice finishing touch.
Let me back up.
So yea, everything after mile 8 was insanely hard. I pushed through it, but it was hard. There really is a point with anything physical where your body thinks you are a complete idiot but your mind tells you to keep going. I was definitely in this space, and my only hope was seeing the next mile marker, although that was a little tricky because you never know exactly how long the race is going to be (and there’s a HUGE difference between 12.2 and 12.5 miles when you’re on that 12th mile).
Fortunately, most of the people on my team were super amped (these people are insane…in a good way!) so I just tried to tap into their energy. I’m pretty sure my mind has erased the last ten minutes or so right before the fire jump (kind of like what they say happens with childbirth, so you don’t remember the trauma), but I can tell you for sure that I got through it.
The girls and myself even went back over the finish line after the first time so we could get a pic of us together. At the time, I was a little too exhausted to appreciate the moment. In hindsight, it was really cool 🙂
I now only have a Spartan Sprint to complete for my Trifecta
Now that I’ve knocked out the Super and the Beast, I only have the Sprint to go. This, by the way, is the most ass-backwards way of doing it. Most people start with a sprint, because ummm…that only makes sense. Of course, I’m saving the easy one for last. It’s kind of fun this way because I feel like that one should feel so easy after the Beast.
Who knows? I may actually may do another Beast in the future. I really like how these races have pushed me to stay on top of my fitness goals, and I love seeing progress. On the other hand, our group talked about maybe switching to a different type of race and doing a triathlon or something. I like the way that sounds since cycling and swimming will be a little gentler on my joints. It would also be a different kind of challenge.
Either way, for now, I feel good about the race and super glad that I did it. Aroo!