To make a long story short, I loved hating it and I hated loving it.
This race was hard. I completed the Spartan Sprint at the Tuxedo Ridge Ski Resort, in Tuxedo, NY. I raced with a team of women (and one dutiful husband) that I had met at a Parent Bootcamp class at my local YMCA. And before I go any further I would like to proclaim that I would never have finished this race without them. Period.
I’m in shape… I train my body hard. I trail run, I powerlift, I cross train. I’m no supermodel, but I could bench press one, easily. I felt confident going into this race that I would finish. I did finish! I finished filthy, and exhausted, and with a wave of relief, because I am convinced that if I had trained for even one second less than I had, I would not have had it in me to cross that finish line. Let me reiterate: This race was hard!
The meat and potatoes is this: I was prepared for the length (4 miles) and I was prepared for the obstacles, but I was not prepared for the terrain. Have you ever gone skiing? Well, since the event was at a ski mountain I was prepared for the mountain itself… but if you have gone skiing you know that there are little neon flags and brightly colored tape along the runs that notify skiers, “Stay the fuck away from here! It’s crazy dangerous over this way! There are rocks and shit!” But during the Spartan event, the course runs through the rough, and the signs read something like, “Run way the fuck over here! It’s crazy fun in these woods! There’s rocks and shit!” (I’m paraphrasing…)
To put it briefly, minus the steep and unsteady ground we could have finished an hour sooner, easily. Minus the obstacles, we would have shaved off considerably less. I spent months and months improving my upper body strength for these walls and crawls and sandbags, but I totally underestimated how much the terrain would take out of me. When you run uphill and downhill at such a steep grade for so long, you realize you never really get to open up your stride and your whole body starts to almost cramp inward. As exhausted as I was, every time I hit steady ground I was happy to run because I could stretch my legs out and get my blood flowing like I’m used to.
At some point, after the barbed wire crawl, I suddenly realized how and why people quit this race; Where they are, mentally, to quit any physical challenge. I’ve always been an overachiever athletically; Instead of not thinking I can do things and selling myself short, I tend to overextend myself, think I’m invincible and overreach. At this point in the race, however, I really started to wonder if I could do this. I understood how someone whose heart wasn’t in it might decide enough is enough and just be done with it. The Spartan series, even the Sprint, is not an event to be taken lightly. It’s not impossible, even for the undertrained… but it really does require a mental toughness that exceeds physical strength. You really have to want to finish this race in order to make it happen.
Having done many other obstacle races in the past, I was excited to race the Spartan. I actually registered for two at the same time. This one in Tuxedo at the start of summer, and my second in Killington, VT at the end. The very moment I received my finishers medal I dreaded the next race, and felt terribly, terribly awful for volunteering my husband for the next one. Now, I’m considering going for the Trifecta next year. It seems that, similar to childbirth and deployment, over time I start to remember the good parts with fondness and the tough stuff with pride.
The Spartan Sprint was absolutely worth experiencing, and I’m proud to have finished it. I feel blessed to have found a team willing to help me along the way, and I feel fortunate for the opportunity and the ability to take on such challenges. I would absolutely recommend the Spartan to anyone who wants to push themselves and doesn’t mind getting a little dirty along the way.