Another last minute trip that thankfully came together quite well thanks to Priceline.com’s Name Your Price feature and I was on my way to another weekend filled with Obstacle Racing. When I first checked flights on Tuesday before the second Legend of the Death Race Adventure Race they were all in the $600-700 price range for Chicago to San Antonio or Austin, TX. As I was searching an email from Priceline popped up on my iPhone notification bar saying “Name Your Price” so I gave it a shot and next thing you know I was booked for a flight to Texas for under $250 non-stop via American Airlines. Impressive, I must say. With the flight secured it was time for another Spartan Adventure.
I arrived in San Antonio on Thursday and spent much the day exploring the city and taking in the sights. Come Friday I made sure to sleep in a bit because with Spartan Race weekends I usually don’t get much sleep, perfect training for the DR when racing back to back Elite Heats. Around 7pm I picked up Corinne from the airport and we made the 100+ mile drive from San Antonio to the little town of Burnet, TX. The hotel that our group stayed at was…pretty special on the outside. Arriving to see an ambulance outside one of the rooms had us a bit nervous about what we got ourselves into.
The race site was only about 15 minutes and the rooms were actually pretty nice, minus the two spiders I killed.
The Race – Saturday Elite & Sunday Elite
Waking up at the butt-crack of dawn for these elite heats is probably the most challenging part of racing, but it’s the best time to race – especially in a place like Texas where the heat of the sun is an obstacle in and of itself. As the Saturday morning Elite heat start approached I felt something I haven’t felt since competing at Nationals for UIC Cheer in Daytona, FL, I was getting the nervous stomach cramps. Earlier that week I started testing a new supplement that was sent to me to test out. It’s called Honey Badger, a workout energy supplement that utilizes a natural stevia based sugar to get you pumped up. It felt fine the days that I used it for training so I figured why not give it a whirl at the race. Maybe it’d give me the kick in the ass I’d need to push myself harder. The effects it had were not what I’d anticipated come race time, I was just feeling all kinds of off. (Note: I am still testing this supplement)
As soon as we took off I knew this race was going to push me hard. Watching all these crazy fast runners fly past me from the get go had me a little bummed but I was hoping that like Indiana and Colorado this would be another Obstacle Heavy race. About a mile into the race I realized this was going to be a runners course. By time we had hit the first mile marker we had only done the Atlas Carry – which was way too soon in the race and caused some delays waiting for the guys who were leading – and one other obstacle (a lot of it is a blur to remember).
There was a lot of running between obstacles at this race which was a challenge for me since I still don’t consider myself to be a runner, I’m an obstacle racer. I live for the obstacles that challenge our strength, agility, and quick thinking. I did enjoy that a lot of the typical Festival area obstacles were actually hidden out in the middle of nowhere on the course such as the Spear Throw and Traverse Wall. The terrain on this course was another obstacle, single and double track trails, sand, creek beds, and some gnarly up and downhill sections made up of rocks and stones that you had to be very careful with your footing.
Saturday’s Elite Heat was quite a challenge and the competition was strong. I did not have a burpee free race again falling on the traverse wall, I think the jitteriness I was feeling was getting to me bad at that spot, and then the obstacle that I’ve never failed got the best of me because of some poorly planned Hurricane Heaters being at the end of the course. As we came through the end area of the race where I was battling it out with UFC Fighter, Jamie Varner – that was a freaking BLAST by the way, we faced a gauntlet of obstacles starting with the shipping container cargo net climb, an extremely evil barbwire crawl that was U-shaped and had all kinds of obstacles in your way to make simply rolling through it an impossibility, finally coming to the rope climb. As I approached that barbwire crawl there were mounds of mud built up to force you through different paths, hay bales, tires you had to crawl through at the U-bend, and freakin’ trees too! On top of that though we had a whole group of Hurricane Heaters that were crawling and hitting the rope climb at the same time as all of us elites were coming through. Not cool. All these guys had been muddied up real good and they basically soaked the ropes making them more slippery than an oil slick. I put fourth my absolute best effort to make it to the top and ring that bell and made it three-fourths of the way up before I started to slide. Typically I don’t even use my legs but I instantly wrapped as tight as I could trying to maintain how much I had already climbed, after a few efforts to get that last bit of rope climbed I felt the muscles in my arms give out and I started sliding down tearing my right leg apart. I gave in and let myself drop only to face the most miserable 30 burpees I’ve done at a Spartan Race. After that it was a quick hop over the fire, no front flip because of how defeated I felt missing what is usually one of my favorite obstacles.
Saturday I finished the race with a time of 57 minutes and 8.5 seconds with a total of 60 miserable burpees. As much as I love burpees for training purposes I totally dread them in a race. That put me in 40th overall, 38th for men, and 10th in my age group.
Going into the race Sunday I felt a lot more confident and a hell of a lot less nervous and jittery (I did not take the Honey Badger supplement in the morning). Knowing that the super fast runners were not showing gave me somewhat more of a chance to excel. One thing those of us who race back to back days have noticed is that it is a lot easier on the second day and more often than not you’ll finish with a faster time too. I attribute this to the fact that you know the course which provides a huge advantage when determining how to expend your energy and were to turn it up to ELEVEN.
There were a lot less racers in the Elite Heat on Sunday but there was still some tough competition. Throughout the race I was able to maintain a nice position somewhere between the top 10 and 20 racers. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was most of the race but as we got closer and closer to the end I knew that I was gaining enough ground to be in that top 10 range.
Around mile 3 I started battling it out with the female winner, Jillian Kenney. I remember seeing her coming up to the tractor pull as I was exiting it and thinking to myself, “time to start pushing yourself.” She’s one wicked fast runner and soon enough we were battling it out back and fourth a bit. She’d pass me on some of the running sections and then I’d come up to an obstacle such as the 8′ Walls and would take over, only to be passed again shortly after on the next running section. When I knew the Log Hop was approaching I decided it’s time to floor it. I could feel my leg muscles rippling as my legs and feet slammed into the single track trails and I finally passed her on a running section, flew across the Log Hop (I still think that Todd Sedlak’s suggestion of calling it the Stump Jump should happen) and took off. That was the last I saw her from there on out it was smooth sailing and I came into that finish line with ZERO burpees securing the 9th Place spot finishing 7 minutes faster than the day before with a time of 50 minutes and 42.3 seconds. It was one of the happiest moments of my Spartan Race career. For awhile now I’ve been chasing the Top 10, almost securing it in Colorado, so letting out a LOUD F@#% ya when I checked my results was quite necessary – but I really need to be more careful with that because sometimes there are kids around…sorry I get excited and swearing is my way of expressing it sometimes.
I waited around the finish line for a bit for Corinne to come in expecting her to not be too far behind after finding out in Colorado that our finish times both days were very close to each other. I really do enjoy the fact that Sunday Elite Heats allow the men and women to run together. It’s just that much more fun. Period. While I was waiting Shawn Feiock came running up to me grabbed my finishers shirt off my shoulder telling me “I need this now” and taking off. Perplexed I tried to see where he went still waiting for Corinne. Tonya came in around that tie and I could see Corinne coming up shortly after. Still confused why my shirt was taken from me I went up to congratulate her on her third place finish. That’s when I found out that she had a wardrobe malfunction in the barbwire crawl and luckily she was able to tie her sports bra back on before finishing. Ladies, be careful what kind of sports bra you use, apparently the barbwire might try to steal your top.
Minus how much running the course involved it was a very fun, adventurous, and scenic course. Jim did a fantastic job putting it together I just wish the obstacles were more frequent and evenly distributed, I mean it is Obstacle Racing after all, right? Besides that this course was incredible, the scenery, the single and double track sections, it gave you a lot of everything. I loved it and look forward to seeing what this location will do when it becomes a Super Spartan next year.
Spartan Kids Race
On Saturday I missed the chance to start the last Kids Race because we were trying to keep up with medaling all the kids from the previous heat. Sunday however was a super busy day, we raced Elite then did some festival challenges, and at noon we rabbited the first wave of the Spartan Kids Race. Tyann, who placed first in Saturday’s Elite Heat, myself and Corinne who placed third in Sunday’s Elite Heat. A bunch of Elite racers rabbiting the kids race should be easy you’d think…not so much those lil kids are wicked fast. Even though it’s only a mile long (two half mile laps) race I was almost out of breath by the end of the first lap. Corinne dipped out after the first lap to help Joe Kauder and Shawn hand out medals while Tyann and I led the male and female leaders through their second lap.
This was my second Spartan Race where I had the opportunity to show kids what it’s like to have fun, get muddy, and embrace the Spartan lifestyle. I hope this motivates them to live adventurous, healthy lifestyles that embrace fitness. Check out this page on Facebook – Obstacle Course Racing in School.
Sweeper Heat – Last Racer
To make this adventurous weekend even more rewarding than I could have imagined I had the opportunity to join Corinne and Joe on Saturday for the Sweeper Heat and Lou joined Corinne and I for Sunday’s Sweeper Heat. On Saturday we met Christopher Reedy while making our way through the course cleaning up trash and such and met him at the Tire Flip. It was one of the most amazing demonstrations of will power and determination I have ever witnessed watching Chris and his two brothers, Chuck and Corey, who flew out to Texas to help Chris take on his first Spartan Race. Corinne recaps the experience on Barbwire 4 Breakfast. It was hard to not get choked up when Chris jumped the fire and crossed the finish line to hugs from Staff, his brothers and Volunteers. I want to wish Chris the best of luck on his journey. I can’t wait to see him at next year’s race.
The Festival area continues to become more and more fun to hang out at and enjoy now that these races have been in warm climates and you’re not freezing trying to avoid hypothermia. One issue however that myself and others have taken with the Festival is the increasingly poor and more so lack of choices for Food. There’s typically only one Food Vendor and for whatever reason the food choices available usually are not very healthy or filling for how ridiculously expensive they are. I mean $8 for a hot dog with macaroni and cheese with bbq sauce (aka the Spartan Dog) really? Why not get some food trucks to show up and set up shop with all kinds of options.
Aside from that the challenges were fun. We bathed in the lake and enjoyed lots of free Red Bull (the only time I seem to drink that stuff) and that delicious Core Power protein smoothie. I do wish ZICO was at more events. wink wink 😉