So for some crazy reason at the end of last year I decided I was going to take on the Spartan Race Super Event in Brisbane being a part of the Spartan Street Team. Well since December things have changed just a little. After deciding to enter the Obstacle Course Racing League things have become a little bit more serious. Feel free to check out my blog entries on all things OCR related but also my story outside of OCR as well...
I wanted to share this photo with you cause as much as I go out in a Spartan Race to beat my previous time, there is another side to OCR. This is one of the lovely women I have had the joy of meeting since competing in a Spartan Race… This is one of my lovely OCR buddies, Bron, and she always has a smile. Here she had the bright idea of making a mud angel and you know what I was all for it… and… I loved it!
I wanted to share this as a reminder of the fun that you can have with an OCR. It isn’t all about being the fittest or the fastest, its about getting out there and getting through something that challenges with you, whether that is with friends or by yourself, the most important ingredient is to keep a smile on your face! This lady always reminds me to keep a smile on my face and even when you feel like you have had enough, she keeps that smile on your face.
So my little note for this post is: KEEP SMILING - no matter how hard it gets that smile will get you through!
It has been a little while since I have posted so there will be a few updates coming subsequent to this update.
After finding weaknesses in my running which were translating into poor times in my obstacle racing I decided I needed to spend a bit more time on this aspect in training so I decided what better way that to see where I was at.
The whole idea behind the Brisbane Half Marathon was to give me a time to work on and to come back next year with the goal of beating that time.
It was a tough 21km for me, as I have never run a distance that length before and I never thought I would. I had been having issues with calf cramping since True Grit in July and had been told that I had a tilted pelvis which was causing some issues so this was going to be a real test.
Luckily for me, the exercise I had been doing to help realign my pelvis were working and the calf cramps whilst still lingering did not present themselves til about the 15-16km mark which was a considerable improvement.
The real battle for me was to just keep turning the legs over. I am not a runner by any mean and I never thought it would be something that I would enjoy, however, whilst running the 21km I came to notice that the real reason I didn’t like running was because I wasn’t good at it. I still don’t consider myself good at running, but I am progressing and that is the important part.
I find that a lot of people I come across who are on a fitness journey forget where they have come from and the progress that they have made to get to where they are and I am guilty of doing this as well. I got a friendly reminder from a friend only a few weeks ago when she called me fit and I said ‘I am so not fit’, she kindly reminded me that I have progressed significantly from a few years ago. So my message for this post, is that you may not be there yet, but you are getting there and you shouldn’t forget that!
I am a bit unsure of how to start of this blog entry because this event was on of those “up and down” events for me personally. I went into the race knowing I had some injuries to nurse so physically I didn’t feel 100% but was my mind was determined to give it 100% regardless.
Unfortunately, it didnt quite unfold that way for me.
Racing in the Obstacle Course Racing League, the usual 10km and 30 obstacles this race hands out became a 20km 60 obstacle race for those racing. Unfortunately for me, I had to DNF in this race as not only were my injuries giving me significant pain, but I also lost the drive in my mind to race and once that is lost, its really hard to get it back when you are out there.
After the first lap, I decided to not go back out on course, however, there was some major mind battles in that first lap trying to figure out if I would continue on to do a second lap or whether or not to DNF in terms of the league.
Whilst I know many of my friends think it is a great achievement to finish one lap and I know it is, it is still extremely difficult to comprehend the disappointment you feel when you make that decision to stop, and not finish. It is like the course has beaten you for use of a better phrase, and I am not one that likes to go down without a fight… I find it extremely frustrating to have not finished the two laps even though I know it was the wise decision physically, in terms of preventing further injury.
However, on the up side, it has fired me up even more for the next event. So a few rest days and its back into it.
In terms of True Grit as an obstacle race, there is nothing much I could really say to indicate what I thought of the race, its description is pretty self explanatory…
10km, 30 obstacles… - and be ready for those obstacles to bring you some pain, some freezing cold water and also some awesome battlescars. If there was something I had to say I disliked most, there was one obstacle where you had to jump across a ditch of sorts and I really didnt like that because it impacted quite hard on my left ankle and left me in a fair bit of pain for the next few obstacles… However, on the up side, for those outside the league, I did enjoy the fact they had an intermediate and advanced option in some of the obstacles…
Overall, I have to give them a good rap because I felt the course was achievable to most people. It was challenging, don’t think that it wasn’t, but I think the fact they have a course that incorporates obstacles that most people could achieve is hard to find as there is usually one or two that people struggle with. I know some of the obstacles were a battle for some people, and that there was definitely those who struggled with fears on some of them but I still think that overall it would be achievable to most people. It was difficult but achievable and I have skin off my hands and battlescars on my legs to prove it along with the pain…
I am going to take on True Grit again in Sydney in September and am aiming to get through the OCRL 2 lap event this time. Focus is now on getting recovered fully after this event, focusing on strengthening the weak parts of the body, and getting these injuries fully recovered so I am feeling both 100% mentally and physically at the next one…
Usually I am not one to enter a running race as such but I figured as a bit of a challenge to myself that I would take one on to see how I went and to set a benchmark that I can work on improving.
You may ask why - I could simply set out on a run and time it myself, however, for those of you who have ever done a race, you know it is always different on race day - and thats what I wanted to have. The race time to improve on, not the walk in the park time to improve on because you always push that little harder when you are racing against a clock and other people. I find it hard to race against myself as the race day pace and attitude is different to that when you are training. When you are training you are taking into consideration all your variables, adjusting what you do to determine what is more efficient and so on and this can make it difficult to get the same result as on a race day.
I was pretty happy with my overall result seeing as I hadn’t trained for the event and the last time I ran that type of distance without obstacles was January of this year. My time added four minutes onto my PR but I knew that was simply due to lack of training.
After completing that race I decided to add a bit more of a challenge that I would take on the Brisbane Half Marathon in August. I have one more obstacle race this coming weekend, True Grit, and then no events until the 24th of August when Greatest Athlete hits Brisbane so I figured throwing in a Half Marathon at the beginning of August couldn’t hurt and would give me some focus in relation to my run training…
I will post more in the coming days to let you know how True Grit goes and also how the training is coming along. For the rest of this week, its time to taper off training in preparation for True Grit but it will be ramping back up next week so stay tuned.
What You Think You Become Buddha
Well what can I say about Spartan Race other than ‘AROO’! It was an amazing event as per usual. I knew the Sydney Sprint was their benchmark and I thought that it would be hard to beat, but did they pull out all the stops at the Brisbane Super! I was amazed… 14+km and 20+ obstacles of Sparta and I was in heaven and hell all at once.
I spent both the Thursday and the Friday before the event out on site helping set up and I knew everything was super secret (pun intended) when we weren’t allowed to help anywhere other than the Festival Area… I knew then that Spartan Race had big plans and that they sure as hell weren’t going to give anything away. I HAVE TO SAY, I LOVED THE SECRECY
I am going to break this down into two reviews – because I did two laps and there are different stories to go with both and I think they both need to be told…
So… LAP 1
Lap One for me started at 7.30am with the Elite’s from the OCRL and I knew it would be fast but I didn’t expect as fast as the boys went out… After the first couple of obstacles, I followed some people uphill, assuming on course, to realise we were off course… so back down we went to find the next obstacle. I knew that cost me time, but these things happen, not much could be done, other than picking back up and carrying on.
The race had some crazy hills and some freezing water to boot. I have to say, the change in the balance beams I think threw a few people, but I managed to get through that all okay.
After the concrete block drag I was about ready to throw up but I went into the long and I mean long barbed wire stretch. Coming out of that, I think I was about as white as a ghost and ready to throw up but I just remembered the words of the Spartan Race Street Team Leader from QLD who reminded me ‘one foot in front of the other’, so off I went.
I don’t remember much after that for a while, I am pretty sure the freezing cold water possibly made my memory fade cause the next big thing I remember is the Hercules Hoist… Now it might look like an easy obstacle but getting that thing off the ground is a lot harder than it looks. After getting my entire body weight behind it I managed to get through that obstacle just to go for another swim…
By this stage, I think they were trying to turn us into ice blocks!
So this is where I faced my first set of burpees as the ‘Traverse Wall’ got me again! So down I went, chest to ground, and 30 later off I went again just to find the monkey bars not too far away, and guess what, they awaited me with another 30 burpees. By this stage I ran into a couple of friends on course and had a quick chat, probably not the best idea when you are running a timed race but after going off course I figured what the hell… We ran to the next drink stop together and parted ways…
So post drink stop, there were a few more obstacles. Now don’t ask me to remember the exact order because that wont happen, but I know I conquered the slippery wall but I am fairly certain that was not before the ‘Spear Throw’ inflicted another 30 burpees on me.
I have to say one of my favourites though was close to the end, the vertical cargo net climb – Don’t ask me why, but I think the fact I am little gave me a bit of an advantage on this one – I scaled up and knew I was getting close to the finish so powering on it was time to get Lap 1 out of the way. Up another cargo net, across between the containers and onto the rope climb!
After Sydney’s rope climb starting in water and defeating me I was determined not to let the rope climb defeat me, however, the foot lock technique wasn’t quite happening for me, and half way up I just didn’t have the strength to keep going. So my lucky last 30 burpees… Over the fire jump, through the gladiators and over the finish line… AND THAT WAS LAP ONE DOWN…
AFTER LAP ONE
So I figured it was time to take a break, I got changed ready for lap two. I found the team that I had the pleasure of coordinating from my university (Team Bond) who ran at 8.30 and gave them their well earned congratulations for making it through the race. I was so proud of them getting through it because having done the race myself I knew it wasn’t an easy task. They all did an amazing job!
I have to say they also had nothing but rave reviews of the race with many of them having already signed up for Beast in Sydney and the Sprint in Brisbane and many of them considering even doing the Melbourne Super.
I think that tells you just how amazing the race is!
Now we get to… LAP 2
Lap 2 started for me at 12.30 – I was going to run earlier but the break was needed as I was running a little low on fuel so after refueling and getting back the mindset to run the second lap, I was off and running. This time I didn’t go off course at all which I couldn’t believe I even did in the first lap, but off I went…
The Over-Under-Through walls gave me a little bit of hell as my arms were hurting from the first lap, but I wasn’t giving up. I gave myself a little rest and off I went again, over under and through…
I ran into several people along my journey some who were really struggling, some who weren’t pushing and those who were really pushing and I had a good chat with a fair few of them. I saw some girls early on who were really struggling so I stayed with them for a while and just kept reminding them as we went up this massive hill that it was just one foot in front of the other. As we got to the rolling ditches I had lost the girls but found another group who were struggling to get out of the ditches… I shared my lessons about going out the side and hey presto next thing they were helping me out of the ditches.
I think I almost fell on my arse due to the slippery nature of the ground on the exit from the muddy ditches but I managed to keep it together. Next thing I remember after a hilly run was falling off the balance beam. I think I went in to this too confident after getting across the beam perfectly first lap I fell off two beams in, so down I went for my 30 burpees with Rachel looking on having a good giggle enforcing that chest to ground rule just for me! I felt some QLD Street Team love right there, and I knew there was no free passes happening even if I was on Lap Two… After giggling at me for a few minutes doing burpees in a skirt I was done and off I went to again drag the concrete block…
This concrete block… I have to say I don’t know how much I really liked this obstacle… I know it was challenging, but I think we may have a love/hate relationship… Love to hate the concrete block… The next question is, do I hate burpees or the concrete block more??
So again, I hit all the obstacles I had conquered on the first lap, no issues… But as I got to the ‘Traverse Wall’, Brendan was looking like he was happy to know I was going to be doing burpees… I managed to get half way across just to fall off and down I went for another 30… By this point I was really hurting but I took my time and off I went again.
Somewhere in here I ran into one of my friends Emma who was hobbling along determined to finish the race even though she couldn’t run… I was so proud of her – she wasn’t giving up no matter how long it took her! On another hill I ran into a few other girls, who seemed to be smashing me on the hill, so I pulled out a little bit more fuel and ran with them for a little while. They gave me a bit of a push, until they realized I was on my second lap, then they thought I needed a rest… I managed to catch the girls at the 8ft wall and they gave me a hand over cause I was spent at this stage.
I ran into Team TuTu at the monkey bars and boy did he have fun enforcing my second lot of burpees at that obstacle… I was impressed but not impressed at the same time… There were some burpee cheats out there that’s for sure but I knew they were trying, that was all that mattered.
Somewhere in between there, I did a few more obstacles, ran into a few of the Spartan Crew from setup, and made my way to the Spear Throw where I again went down for my second lot of burpees. Spear Throw – I will beat you one day.
I went for another run, I went for another creek run, I don’t know if the water was warmer or colder than at 7.30am but I kept going… I am not sure what possessed me to think two laps was a good idea at this point, but I figured I didn’t get this far to quit… Spartans don’t quit!
I got to the vertical cargo net to find a bit of a bottleneck so I started giving some pointers on how to best climb the cargo net cause I saw some people struggling going with feet and hands on horizontal rather than with hands on verticals and feet on horizontals. I saw a few people change and scale up the net, next thing I was at the top of the net.
The last set of obstacles was upon us again. I went up the outside of the cargo net to the top of the containers. I ended up on the top of the container and was ready to go. Once I made it to the middle, I made friends with a couple of New Zealand ladies who were struggling to get across once they hit half way. The poor things were terrified that they would fall, so I sat with them trying to explain to them how to flip to crawl out but they just couldn’t seem to get it. I asked them if they would like me to show them – and they said ‘Yes Please’ with delight. I managed to get across the other side and I know one of them definitely got across cause I met her again whilst I was doing burpees for the rope climb, however, this was the only part where I had something negative happen on course.
I don’t want to dwell on the negatives, however, the personal differences between myself and a person who was volunteering reared their head which is something I believe shouldn’t have occurred at all. Rather than remaining silent, a particular individual decided to criticize me for overtaking these girls without understanding the previous events. It was really disappointing as this person was volunteering for Spartan and that made me feel totally unwelcome at the event. To be criticized on your race etiquette based on assumptions was just not acceptable. However, I believe a lot of you would not experience this negative attitude, and if you have, I think it is something that the Spartan Race organizers would like to hear about as I believe it is not the atmosphere they wish to provide, nor is it the attitude they wish to promote.
The Spartan Race organizers are known personally to me and having spent time setting up with them in the lead up to the Sydney and Brisbane events I have nothing but admiration and respect for them as individuals and for what they are trying to promote and achieve with Spartan Race.
Apart from the little negative at the end of the day, I would say the day was absolutely a blast. Having completed Two Super’s in one day was such a great achievement for me as I never would have imagined I was capable of finishing one, let alone two laps.
BRING ON THE MELBOURNE SUPER, SYDNEY BEAST AND BRISBANE SPRINT…
Cannot wait… If you are thinking about doing a Spartan Race – no time like the present to sign up – so just do it! If you are keen – use KIR_OD_QLD to save yourself 10% on the registration cost.
Next update will occur soon, Gold Coast 10km and True Grit coming up so keep an eye out for the next update.