March 26, 2010 – Smithville, Texas
2011 is soon going to be a year to remember! My first race of the season and I traveled all the way down to Smithville, Texas. The home of where Hope Floats was filmed (or at least that is what they claim). I wanted to do the Spartan Race this year, well simply because it looked fun! So here is my review of the Spartan Race.
The draw to the Spartan Race was that everyone was dressed like a Spartan. Since I had just finished watching the season of Spartacus on Starz, I couldn’t resist the temptation to dress up for this run. I normally do not wear costumes but I figured what the heck. So I went out and got my Spartan uniform and went to Smithville!
I have to say that unlike some of the other races (Warrior Dash) there were not many crazy costumes. I was expecting a ton of Spartans, sadly, while I was there, there were not many. A little over 1500 people ran the race, I happened to be at the 12pm wave (see what procrastination gets you) and I mostly saw a huge population of military guys with no shirts on. I have to say that while some of the other venue’s keep tweeting about a 58% female sign up, there were only 30% females at this race. I think there were more employees in costume than runners. But I donned my gear, I wore a Spartan helmet, shin guards, forearm guards and a Spartan skirt. Sadly, I did not run in the helmet, I ditched it right after the start; it was too light and would not stay on. I am so glad I did, because I was sure I would not have survived the course with that thing on. Okay, so here is my review for the Spartan Race!
With the pre-race photo’s out of the way, it was time to get my game face on, no one could really see my game face because I was in full Spartan mode! I had my helmet on, although I never intended to run in it, it kept coming off and I was afraid of losing it (I want it for future races!). So having stretched out, ran in place, jumping jacks, I was ready! The gun went off and here we go, I was close to the front, but behind the Cedar Park football team, I figured I would let them go first and I would catch them later. We received our instructions on the race, our “How to” on the burpees (up/down/pushup/up jump) which we were required to do if we could not complete an obstacle. The smoke started, the cannon blew and we were off! My first issue with the race begins here…the chip timing company, I was not happy that our official time started when the gun went off and not when we cross the start line. So I lost like 15 seconds getting to the line. Grrr…
Right away we hit OBSTACLE 1, the fire jump and mud pit – interesting obstacle, you jump over the fire grate and you are instantly hit with the fire hose! Good thing the pressure was not that high! Once you ran through the hose, you were greeted with a shin deep mud pit. I was able to run through this without many problems, just deep enough to get a little wet, mostly your shoes.
So from here you run and run and run. I was very thankful we went through some water right off the bat, made our shoes and socks nice and heavy for the mile plus run until OBSTACLE 2. This was the fun one, we had to go over a 6 Ft. wall, then an identical wall was behind it except the bottom board was missing, we had to crawl under it. After that was the car tires hanging in mid air you had to go through. Rinse and repeat and you were off to running. I kind of felt bad for some of the bigger contestants; they obviously were not fitting through the tire or crawling under the wall. I made it through the first set no problem, the second set I got caught in the tire, had to turn around and back out. I also lost my first shin guard here. One of the straps broke when it got caught on the tire. I ripped it off and donated it near the pile of race bibs that were collecting due to the tires ripping them off. Back to trail running!
Now we entered into the hardest part of the course, the hills. There were three or four of them, I can’t remember for sure but they were steep and full of fist sized rocks (loose) that made it difficult to run up. Needless to say, I needed to have trained for hills, since I did not, my legs felt real heavy and I was sucking wind half way up the first one. Then i took my Que from the rest of the group…walking up the hills is easier. Trotting down the back side and walking up the hills. Mentally I was pissed at myself for walking, but what could I do? I was sucking air bad and the hills were tough to walk up much less run (did I mention first run of the year and not in shape yet?)
Coming out of the hills, we ran some more and then came upon OBSTACLE 3– the balance beam. Good job here SR, the 2×4 layout of L shaped forms was tough. Even more tough since I was breathing hard, it made concentrating and going slow difficult. I made it to the first intersection (barely) way out of control; I tried to catch my breath, but not having much luck at that. Continuing on to the second intersection, getting better at balancing, about half way there and boom, fell off…rushing and losing my mental control. Time for my burpees 1-30 . Nice hard gravel to do pushups on, that was a great touch. Oh yeah, the lady counting the burpees, trying to be funny by telling me I lost a shin guard…not so much! I ripped off the other one and donated it to SR.
OBSTACLE 4 – Immediately after the burpees, was to drag this cement ball attached to a large rope, go down and back. I optioned for a fast walk on this versus running, not hard, but not a piece of cake either.
So we are back off to running through the woods. I encountered a guy with no shoes, he told me he lost them at the first mud pit, wow I thought, the rocks must have hurt! So we come upon OBSTACLE 5 – the barbwire crawl. I was surprised that they actually had real barbed wire and it was real low. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people couldn’t make it under and had to do the burpees. I saw the first photographer here, go a good picture crawling! By the way the ground here was extremely hard, no mud, just hard rock-like dirt! Off to running again!
So coming out of the woods we encounter OBSTACLE 6 a cargo net. Followed by OBSTACLE 7 which was this mini lake had to wade through it to the other side and then crawl up a muddy hill inside a tunnel. Then off to OBSTACLE 8 which was an 8 ft wall. I really had no problem here even though my hands were full of mud, up and over!
OBSTACLE 9 – Another lake, this time we had our Lowe’s 5-gallon buckets and had to keep those horizontal as we walked a circle around the perimeter then walk up hill on wet tires. Not as hard as some people make it out to be, if you walked on the tires, it was easy, if you tried to step in the middle, it was slippery and muddy.
Coming out of that was a short run to OBSTACLE 10 – another cargo net. Easy peasy. Even when I am dog tired these obstacles are still pretty easy. A short jaunt and I reached the wall. They created a 10 ft or so wall with blocks on them simulating a rock climbing wall, only you went sideways. OBSTACLE 11 – The wall was not as hard as you would think by looking at it, as a matter of fact, if you go slow and take your time, it was easy. I just happened to look away to see where my photography crew was and my foot slipped off and I touched the ground on the last block! Just so happened to be right in front of the obstacle official…burpees 31-60! Grrr…these were not easy and I was already sucking wind.
A short walk later (yes I was done running) was OBSTACLE 12 – The spear throw. I lost precious time here because they were backed up on all three lanes at first. As usual I always pick the slow line. After changing lines a few times I get one where there is no one throwing and the obstacle ref decides to walk down the firing line picking up spears, knowing I am not very accurate I was waiting on him to move…which he took his sweet ass time. So I moved lanes again and threw. My spear hit the bale of hay and didn’t stick…Burpees 61-90! Arrrggghhh, I am starting to hate these things!
Exhausted from burpees I lingered over to the last OBSTACLE 13 – the incline wall, with a giant rope to pull yourself up. Oh yeah they are pouring water down the wall just for fun. This was actually pretty easy, except I about fell off the top going over the wall, yes I went to grab the ledge and missed and started falling, but I was on the edge so this giant pole caught me long enough to stand back up and climb down.
Off to the finish, and dead tired, this course definitely took a lot out of me. So approaching the FINISH LINE, there are these two guys with pugil sticks. Watching them earlier they were kicking the crap out of people and making them flip and crash all over. So I decided to take the fight to them and I was going to knock them down. So I went towards the little one! I ran right into him, pushed off, did a spin move and they never hit me! I finished! Yay me!
So my stats for this race were not great in my opinion, although the total miles were close to 3.8 my overall time was 56:02. Here is the breakdown:
58th out of 198 for Wave 7
77th out of 285 – Men 30-39
427th out of 1,548 Spartan Runners