This past weekend marked my THIRD Spartan Race and my very first Spartan Super. It also ended up being the one year anniversary of my very first Spartan...the 2016 Wintergreen Sprint! You can read more about that first race here, if you're interested.
It feels like it's taken me forever to finally get my first Super under my belt! After running the Charlotte Sprint earlier this year (read that recap here) I was ready to sign up for the May Super in Arrington, VA...so much so that I even turned down work for that particular date! Unfortunately, they ended up moving that one to June 3rd, a date that I'd booked almost a year ago. This meant that I had to search for another race I could make work with my schedule. There actually aren't that many Super dates as it is, so this past weekend was the first I could make work!
The funny thing about this race is that literally TWO DAYS after I registered, I hurt my back doing heavy high rep deadlifts. At the time I hurt myself, I had no idea how serious the injury really was, OR that I'd need almost two months to recover! I'd planned to be SO beyond ready for this race, but life had other ideas. I was only able to run 8 miles once, about 5 weeks before the race. I'd hoped to have had a 10 miler under my belt before then, but it just never happened. I never got to refresh my skills rope climbing or spear throwing, AND the heaviest thing I had picked up in weeks was Lucy, my 12 pound orange tabby cat.
It was a game time decision to run at Fayetteville, and I owe the fact that I was able to get out there at all, to my trainer, Geoff, who basically forced me to stay out of the gym for almost two weeks. Taking time off was the LAST thing I wanted to do, but it ended up being the best thing. Sticking to resting and going to physical therapy helped me progress more in two weeks than I had in nearly five weeks prior. I finally decided that no matter what, I was going to race in Fayetteville, mostly because I knew if I didn't, that would mean I'd be out of the running for my trifecta this year and I really REALLY want that Trifecta!
I couldn't have asked for a better experience for my Super, especially all things considered! I thought I might have had to run the race alone (My friend Cheryl also hurt her back and was considering sitting this one out) but I ended up having two incredible athletes to push me along the course. The weather was perfect, the course was flat and felt like running on the trail near my house. My former nemesis, the rope climb, was toward the beginning of the race. I flew up the rope and hit the bell with satisfaction.
The worst part of the race was actually taking C4 (which I NEVER take) and feeling really amazing until about mile 5 or so, when I started crashing really hard and feeling like I was going to puke. That's a really great reminder to NEVER try something new on race day. Stick to what you know already works well for you!
I also cramped more on this course than I have in the past, despite making sure a fair bit of sodium was in my diet leading up to the race. Even a mustard packet given to me by a fellow racer didn't help. I'll have to experiment and figure this out before my Beast in December...cramps in my right calf and glute muscles meant I had to walk around the 8-foot wall.
Though Fayetteville was nice and flat, the dunk wall and mud were some of the most disgusting I've ever been through. I've been sick now for a couple days and I wouldn't doubt that water is at least partially to blame!
Besides making it up the rope a second time, the biggest wins of the day for me were actually being able to do the atlas carry (I hadn't picked up anything heavier than a cat in weeks!) AND conquering Olympus. I've done Olympus once or twice in training, but I failed this at Charlotte when I was in good shape and completely healthy. It was even at the beginning of the race at Charlotte! I had it in my mind I wasn't even going to attempt it this time because of my back pain, but I tried it anyway and miraculously made it across! That felt SO good. I often wonder why it is that I put myself and my poor body through races like this...that feeling is the reason I do it. Being able to surprise myself, to prove that I can get better, that I can get stronger....that's what makes it worth the bruises, the mud, the black toe nails and the literal blood, sweat, and tears.
I will always remember all of the Spartans I've done very fondly, but when I look back on this one, I know I'll feel a strong sense of pride because although I wasn't really ready AND I was fairly certain I wasn't going to be able to do most of the things on the course, I really came through in the clutch and surprised myself. I proved to myself that I am capable of so much more than I thought I was, and that's a feeling I won't ever forget!!!
Now on to the Florida Beast!! Can't wait to finish out my Trifecta :)