I tackled the hardest, most challenging obstacle course race in my life to date on Saturday. I had heard great things about the Spartan Race in the past so this year I was going to tackle the Spartan Sprint in Toronto at the beginning of June. Due to my lovely shoulder injury post back injury I wasn’t able to compete in the shortest version of the Spartan races so of course I transferred my registration to the more intermediate course a month later in Ottawa. I had a month to train post injury and it was an excuse to go home to see my family.
The Spartan Super is touted as 13+km and 21 obstacles. Here’s how my race went down. A month before the race I messaged my new real life/social media friend Annie and asked her if she’d like to run it with me. I knew she’d done a Mud Hero before so could hack a mud run, she’s a runner and a mom of three so really she’s a super hero. I picked her up bright and early and off we went. The drive to Mt. St. Marie was around an hour and a half from our neighbourhood so it was a bit of a hike. We arrived and went through registration seamlessly. They send you an email the week prior to the event to sign in online and print your event pass/waiver. They scan it upon arrival, hand you your headband (which I love more than a number being written on my forehead – that was a dig at Tough Mudder) and they write your number on your arm too (for pictures). During parking they hand you a plastic bag for your bag check. I wish they had written my headband number on the bag but they give you another wrist band and write that number on the bag. Just an additional thing on my body that is unnecessary.
We arrived in plenty of time so we watched earlier heats complete the rope climb, the hercules hoist, a revolving monkey bar obstacle and then we decided to get into the coral. In the above picture you can see me wearing my hydration pack from MEC. That thing was a lifesaver. I had no clue how many water stations were on the course and I had watched a video the night before by the Spartan medic urging athletes completing the Super or Beast distances to wear hydration. Seeing as we were endlessly climbing ski hills I sucked back on that baby constantly and refilled it completely once.
The course was long and gruelling. We finished in 4 hours and 37 mins. Yes you read that correctly. I willingly chose to run up and down ski hills, tackle obstacles that were physically demanding and do 30 burpees when I couldn’t finish or complete an obstacle. Why? Because I love challenging myself, feeling alive, feeling strong, confident and tough.
Here is the list of obstacles that my brain can currently remember: Mud crawl under a net, rope climb, barbed wire crawl, hercules hoist, spinning monkey bars, monkey bars, cargo climb, two 8 ft wall climbs, inverted wall climb, sandbag carry, water can carry, tire flip, slippery wall rope climb with rope descent, wall climb – roll under – climb through wall, traverse wall, premium rig, spear throw and fire jump. We also had to make our way through a stream (which I would like to call an obstacle) and crawl through a rocky/sandy tunnel (which I would also like to call an obstacle as I ripped up my knees on this bad boy!)
I had to do burpees at the rope climb (made it half way up before my hip flexors cramped – lesson learned don’t pause just climb), monkey bars (ripped a callus off and slipped off), spinning monkey bars (no strength left in me), water can carry (no cans at bottom of the hill – opted to burpee as it was probably faster than waiting), premium rig (didn’t attempt just burpeed), traverse wall (slipped off) and spear throw (hit the hay but didn’t stick). So if I’m counting correctly I did 210 burpees. Am I proud of this fact? Not really. I actually got incredibly mad at myself at not sticking it out and climbing the rope and slipping off the monkey bars & traverse wall. These are obstacles I know I can achieve. I almost started crying. That’s because I’m incredibly tough on myself and demand the best. Have I only really been training for a month since injury? Yes. Is my strength and endurance back? No. Am I making excuses? No. But I need to set more realistic goals for my body and what it can do. So I had to yell at myself in my head and say you are finishing this race no matter how you get there. Just finish. It’s not always about being effortlessly strong but having the grit and determination to never quit, no matter what route. Do I want to kill these obstacles in the future? Yes. Do I want to train harder and smarter to beast them the next time I run a Spartan? Yes. And that at the end of the day and 4 hours and 37 mins later is all that matters to me.
Now to celebrate my achievements. I tackled the inverted wall by myself when someone asked if I needed a boost. I flipped the tire four times with ease and glute strength. I got up the slippery wall and pulled up the hercules hoist. I know my strength is growing and for those achievements I am so dang proud. I even had energy post race for a cheesy #theface picture with the Spartan himself. He was a tad creepy and totally said “Get Under Here” and held his cloak up.
I even found my Alpha Obstacle friends near the end. They cheered me on when I missed the spear throw and had to do yet another 30 burpees. They gave me high fives and hugs afterwards and even smiling when I had an epic tumble post fire jump as I tried to do an epic jump and had no juice in my legs left to catch me. But boy did those finish line hugs of accomplishment feel amazing.
I’m also slightly lucky I live in Ottawa and knew that after an epic race I’d need some self care. Sunday I woke up at 7 and arrived at Le Nordik when the doors opened to soak in the tubs and get a deep tissue massage before driving back to Ottawa. Now to foam roll this body back to normal this week so more training can commence.
Will you attempt the Spartan Super?