First things first, I finished and got my shiny Super Spartan medal to join my Warrior Dash medal and my SUPERHERO Scramble medal. I was more than pleased to finish, so my rank and time were irrelevant. However, I finished 2575 overall with a time of 2 hours 59 minutes 32 seconds.

Second things…second? The event organization was atrocious. Since no one was allowed to park at Oleta State Park where the event was taking place, we had to park at the FIU campus next to the park and either take a bus to the park that had a line of at least 250 people waiting or walk the “half mile or so” to the park as a warm-up. Well, I walked ran and it was two miles, which was a great warm-up, but it was still two miles of suck. Apparently a bus driver about ran my girlfriend over while barreling down the road. The biggest problem with the bus situation was that they were loading one bus at a time while another one or two sat there and waited with no volunteer or official from the race staff expediting this process. That was all before I even got to the race, which was just as bad. No one had any idea where the lost & found was, including the volunteer table, one of the Miami officers at the front gate, no one at bag check; an intrepid gentleman at the Registration table endured my questions about the L&F table and cordially answered me all three times that I asked him. I needed L&F because I laid my prescription sunglasses down to change shirts and forgot to pick them back up…Then there was the start corral. I and a few other racers missed the start by about one minute thanks to no one at bag check…checking bags (only giving them back out) so when I ran to the start flag, I was directed to the finish area by an event photographer, which was about 10 yards from the actual start corral. Why was the flag misplaced? I have no idea.

Other than that, the race was great. If you register or go to spectate, bring a lot of money, they nickle and dime you for everything.

I came into this race extremely hesitant because I was worried about my overall endurance. I knew the race would be right around nine miles and it was 8.5 miles on the nose, with my Timex Run Trainer clocking 8.3 miles due to a weird mapping error during the first water obstacle. This worried me because in the last year of running, I’ve never gone over 5 miles in a single session, but for this race, I somehow managed to run somewhere between 6 and 7 miles, it must have been the adrenaline because I did’t stop moving unless there was a line at an obstacle. Next, I was worried about my strength endurance because I knew the obstacles were going to be very upper body-centric and they didn’t disappoint at all. There was only one obstacle I didn’t finish and that was the final wall climb, which consisted of a wall designed to mimic rock climbing and we had to climb it horizontally rather than go over it. The biggest problem was that all the grip blocks were caked in mud and I couldn’t get a grip at all; I didn’t see a single person complete this obstacle without cheating (using the top of the wall for grip). I also didn’t fully complete the rope climb as the rope I had chosen somehow was missing its cowbell at the top, so I couldn’t ding it signalling that I’d gotten all the way up, so in an act of honor, I did 15 burpees as well.

The only obstacles I found to be any type of challenge were the wall climb, rope climb, and the monkey bars. I found the latter to be an exceptional test of grip strength because it came immediately after a 30 yard water crossing, so we were all soaking wet and extra heavy, with dripping wet hands. Just about everyone at the obstacle when I got there was pumping out burpees, so I opted for the manly Spartan option of just doing the obstacle and I nailed it. Almost lost it on the second to last rung though, the bars covered in water and dirt wrecked my grip. But I made it across, that’s what matters. Every other obstacle was either a pull (40ft pulley bucket lift, rock drag, rope climb, 200m C2 row) or a push motion (tire flip) or static (tire carry) and as long as you cold maintain grip, you could complete it. Unfortunately, there was no fire jump, which was kind of a let-down but was better than what we had at the Warrior Dash — basically a starter log on fire.

The entire end of the race is made for failure. Once we got out of the two mile hell of infinite switchbacks in the woods, all of the heavy lifting came into play along with a nearly endless stream of walls to jump over or crawl under. Then we came to the end of the course where the spectators were and that’s where the fun began. Order of obstacle:

  • barbed wire mud pit crawl
  • incline platform traverse
  • mud-covered rope climb
  • horizontal mod-covered wall traverse
  • 200 meter row on C2 rower
  • cargo container climb (also completely covered in mud)
  • So everything after the barbed wire was caked in mud, which increased difficulty by over 9000. Of course, since I know this was designed to be only part of the course where the spectators actually have fun, they had to design everything to be as difficult as possible. I hated that wall and I hope they have one at the Spartan Sprint in GA next week, I’m going to dominate it. This last part of the course is where I think the super part of Super Spartan comes into play. If the whole race was designed like this, I don’t think so many people would finish it just because they’d be physically exhausted. I give the RD a lot of props for making us run on the mountain bike trail that had literally endless switchbacks and hills covered in roots, ripe for twisting ankles.

    Overall, I really had fun despite all the problems I had before the thing even started but I showed up and proved to myself that I can run farther if I just go out and do it. I consider this to be my A.2 race as I’m also going to be doing Tough Mudder in December which I know will be much more difficult based on reports from my friends who did it a few months ago and other racers I spoke to at the Spartan. I’m not really sore or anything from the race except I believe that I’ve got a stress bruise under my left ankle, making walking tough but not impossible. It better heal up by next weekend, I’ve got a course to dominate. Expectedly, I’ve already registered for the 2013 Super Spartan in Miami, so let’s hope that I continue training until then. But for now, I’ve got three more races on the docket and a strongman competition to complete.

    All of my course data, including map and HRM data, can be found over at TrainingPeaks.

    Today, I had a workout buddy

    Rogue Fitness 3

    I finally got to use my Rogue Fitness 3in cannonball grips in my workout. I’m not sure what was going on but I think they have a coating that makes your hands sweat as soon as you touch them, my hands have never been more sweaty.

    3 minutes, jump rope

    Workout proper
    2-4-6 pull ups. The first two were using the cannonballs, it was all I could do to even do two of them. Not only could I not even get a grip on them, my hands were so unbelievably sweaty. It was so incredibly futile but I at least got two in before I took them off the bar.

    5 rounds, 140ft farmers walk, 35 lbs plates, 3″ cannonball grips. I left all the dumbbells to the Delta Bravos that wanted to look at themselves in the mirror.

    Overhead barbell shoulder press bounce progression:
    2x115lb (barely popped these out)

    The rest of the exercises were all bodyweight regressive ladders:

    10-8-6-4 dips
    7-5-3-1 parallel grip pull up
    14-12-10 GHD sit ups

    Cool down
    Some silly stretching
    2x 5 sec L-sit into 5 sec pike on parallettes
    Talking to a girl who ran the Super Spartan on Saturday, talked her into doing the Superhero Scramble.

    After I was done, my hands and forearms were so tired I could barely spin the combo on my locker. But then I went out for dinner and had a delicious gyro with Kalamata olives and feta cheese. Not so primal, not such a problem.

    The SoFlo Super Spartan is only a few days away so I decidedly took today easy, comparatively.

    Warm up
    5 dead hang pronated pull-ups, using two small towels for grip modification. FYI: Towels are soft and cuddly, but try holding onto one as if your life depended on it and it’s like sandpaper — mega-blisters.
    10 toes-to-bar
    5 GHD sit-ups
    3 minutes of “jump rope” (more like 3 minutes of getting the rope stuck in my Vibrams)

    Workout proper
    2.72mi in 30:55.83, 11:22 avg pace
    160 avg heart rate
    15 push-ups and 5 dive bombers after mile 1
    13 push-ups, 4 dive bombers, and 10 second plank after mile 2
    For extra fun — aka trying to vomit — the last two 100m stretches were run at ~70% full sprint and ~90% full sprint

    Cool down
    11 push-ups followed by a really slow walk to the Rec Center
    10 more towel-as-sandpaper dead hang parallel grip pull-ups
    15 toes-to-bar
    10 GHD sit-ups (I think)
    12-10-8 wrist rotators, 25lb w/tossed hand-off
    5-4-3-2 wrist rotators, 35lbs. I could barely hold on to the weight at this point, my grip was gone
    3×10 12.5lb barbell wrist levers w/flip hand-off for extra wrist-breaking-dexterity
    5 5 second L-sits on parallettes. By the 3rd one, holding the L-sit was made possible by sheer determination as my arms could barely support me.

    I’m certainly starting to question whether my “cool down” is really just another workout I’m doing a hell of a lot more slowly than an actual cool down routine.

    I’m still not up to the distance I need to be, around 9 miles overall. I’ve been trying to follow some half-marathon training plans but I’ll be honest, they’re not working. I’ve successfully gotten to just under 4.75mi on most runs but I can’t seem to break that barrier just yet…and my calves end up hurting/being overly tight for days on end afterwards. So I’m still just under half the distance I need to run and I can’t make any progress because what I’m running now is setting me back…what a conundrum. At this point, I’ve decided that I’d rather keep running at whatever distance I make it to rather than follow a prescribed plan which may just ramp up the miles too quickly, leaving my poor bare feet beaten up and sore. I figure that since I basically made it this far simply by running until I stop comfortably, I can make it further. In the last few months, I’ve become too goal-oriented and running went from fun to something I did on routine. That makes it a lot less enjoyable. It’s gone from fun to a chore and I don’t like that at all.

    In interest of training for the Spartan, of which I’m doing two of in three weeks, I’ve been adding in a lot more randomized weight training. I know where my weaknesses are and I know that I can’t fully address them in a matter of a month, but it’s at least a start. In order to hopefully address my on-going ITB issues, I’m adding in lower body stuff like dead lifts and front/back squats. I’m also adding in stuff specifically to slam the glutes and hamstrings like GHD sit-ups which are anything but fun. While the last 9+ months of running have certainly whipped my legs into shape, I can feel that it’s been to the detriment of other muscles and cross-training is now necessary rather than something I would like to avoid. I just need to cement a training regiment and a stretching routine to make sure I nail that stuff to keep things supple and flossy.

    All of this stuff should help build a strength base that I will then use in the upcoming FAU Strong Owl strongman competition that the University puts on twice a year. It’s funny, a year ago, I was just trying to fit into my jeans but now I’m signing up for crazy ass obstacle course races and strongman comps, and for the most part, I’m having fun doing it. I’m still not sure what my girlfriend thinks of all this, she doesn’t really say much about it, I think she’s just appeasing me at times since all I do is talk about training in one form or another. Maybe I’m just being overzealous right now since I’m having fun.

    Got a photography club meeting today that I’m on the fence about, not because I don’t enjoy the club, but because I’ve literally got nothing to address or talk about today (and I’m tired). I hope we can cut the meeting short to get some administrative business out of the way and then come home to veg out.

    So I felt great all day, not too much tightness anywhere and was mostly amped to run. That is, until I got down to the nitty gritty of it.

    Warm up
    2 min jump rope
    5 pull ups
    5 toes to bar
    5 GHD sit up

    4.68 mi, 65mins (includes warm-up time).
    For some weird reason, the Timex Run Trainer had a hell of a time getting a GPS lock. This is a known issue on the newest firmware but it’s the first time I’ve had this issue.

    Cool down 5 pull ups
    10 toes to bar
    10 GHD sit up
    5 back squat 135 lbs
    5 front squat 105lbs
    5 dead lifts 105 lbs

    All those squats seemed like a good idea at the time but they weren’t, I was way too stiff to do them right. And that weight blasted me after the run, now I’m paying for it. So sore today. Next time I’ll just do the regular cool-down routine