Race weekend reflections

After finishing the Spartan Super this past weekend at the Blue Mtn Ski Resort in  Palmerton, PA, my initial reaction was dour.  It took me longer than I had hoped:  3hrs 40 min.  I failed two of the obstacles I had written off as simple and wasn’t worried about:  A horizontal bouldering Z shaped wall and the Multirig.  And to top it off, my legs were cramping on and off during the last mile and 8 obstacles.  Needless to say it wasn’t the performance I was hoping for. It wasn’t perfect.

But now that I’ve had a few days to sit back and reflect, I realize there is a lot to be thankful for and a lot more to racing/competing than having a fast time.  Below is a list of things I am pleased with and thankful for that go beyond a time, place, or completed obstacle.

First and most importantly, I’m thankful that my body held up well given the extreme vertical terrain and obstacles.  I had a minor surgery on my ankle in late March and my Achilles on my other ankle had also been acting up.  Both my ankle and Achilles held up remarkably well and were not an issue during the race.  This was a HUGE relief for me and helped verify that I am back on track to being able to run, train, and compete on a regular basis.  It’s been a long road back, and this was verification that things were getting better.

It was also great to see so many other fit and athletic people who were competing.  Usually people scoff and roll their eyes when I mention a “easy” 5 mile run.  But this was a different group of people who were in the same boat.  They clearly had been putting in the miles and time in the gym to prepare for the event.  This was very evident as short shorts and spandex were the norm, and as they say, “Skin is in.”   Getting there early and seeing the elites take off and competing in the competitive age group waive was really eye opening.  In a world of fast food and sedentary jobs, it was fantastic to be a part of and surrounded by so many others who shared my passion for being fit and healthy.

On the flip side, it was also great to see others competing in the “open” waives that were not in the best shape, but still ready to test themselves on the Super course.  I am amazed by their spirit and determination.  One such individual took our (my friends and me) post race picture and asked us how the course was and obstacles were. He specifically inquired about the rope climb, an obstacle he was worried about.  We thought to ourselves, if he’s worried about the rope, there are probably ten to twelve other obstacles he’s going to have trouble with.  That’s a lot (300+) of burpees, and burpees aren’t fun.  He joked that the course didn’t close until nightfall, and said that gave him 8 hours to finish.  I couldn’t imagine facing such a daunting task as he was, and yet, there he was.  Ready to give it his best.  I am humbled by the elites who finished nearly 2 hours before I did and in awe of those who compete knowing full well that they are likely to fail most of the obstacles.

I’m also grateful to have a support group of family and fiends who encourage my training and competing.  They understand what it means to me and always listen intently to all of the trials and tribulations of the course and obstacles.  Family love does not depend on race success, and it’s great to go home to that no matter how rough the race was.  It’s also great to share the ups and downs of training and competing with friends that are also going through similar extremes.  I was grateful to have two long standing friends from high school to compete with over the course.  We each had our own set of highs and lows during the course, and encouraged each other mile after mile.  A little friendly support goes a long way when you are feeling spent, and together we finished.

When all is said and done, two failed obstacles and a few extra minutes on the course pale in comparison to all the other positives that came out of the event.  It may have taken me 25 years of competing in a variety of sports at a variety of levels, but I have finally come to this conclusion.  Each race offers teachable moments, and this weekend, I certainly learned that there’s more to a race than a certain place or time.  So maybe this was the perfect race after all.


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