And We’re BACK!
**** 17 Months Later ****
. . .so THAT'S where I left my keyboard!
I’ve been looking for this thing for like, 17 months! Has it really been that long since my last post? Yeah. . .I guess it has! Seriously though, I felt like the best move for my runners blog would be to pour myself into it for 2 years and then walk away JUST WHEN it was starting to gain some readers. . .seeing as how my page views dropped considerably, I think it was a good call! 🙂
Ok, ok. . .I burned out. There, I said it. . .happy? Once the whole world seemed to shut down I was finding it difficult to sit down and blog about running. Quite frankly, it was hard enough to keep myself motivated to run without any events to be training for. Running in events are my reward for training. . .with all my ‘rewards’ being postponed or cancelled I had a hard time thinking of anything to write about. Looking back, I wish I would have kept at it. I realize that the whole reason I started this blog was to encourage other people to get out and be active. To take control of their physical health when maybe they thought they couldn’t. By not continuing to write when things got difficult, I did the exact opposite of what I had intended. I wasn’t encouraging anyone. Well, hopefully it’s not too late to change that. AND, hopefully it won’t be 17 more months until I write again!
If you're reading this, I hope you have found something to motivate you to keep running.
For me, I knew I wanted to get more comfortable with the Marathon distance. I had only done 3 Marathons and each of them had proven to be more painful than I had hoped. . .but with the desire to push beyond that distance and one day do a 100 mile race, I knew I had to make the Marathon my new ‘normal’. Since there were no actual races happening,
I decided to make it a personal goal of mine to run 1 Marathon per month in 2021.
So far, so good! Mind you, I’m not going for speed. . .I’m simply covering the distance of at least 26.2 miles in one run. Living in Southern California it gets into the triple digits during the summer, so recently I’ve had to start around 3am so I can be done before it gets super hot. Of course, some days it’s still around 70°F, but at least the sun isn’t up yet! I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve come to believe that CRAZY is really the only true motivator I seem to have! Speaking of crazy, I think that Spartan Ultra-Beast at Big Bear is actually finally going to happen!?!? What?!?! If everything stays were it is (this time), then on October 16th I’ll actually have to see just how
dumb an idea it was for me to sign up for 31 miles + 60 obstacles on a SKI SLOPE!
I feel I was ready back in May of 2020 and I’m hoping that I’m ready now. I’ve definitely extended my ‘distance’ endurance. . .but not having done any real obstacle work since December 2019 (Spartan Sprint, Castaic Lake, CA), I know I’ll be a bit rusty.
WHICH IS WHY I was very happy to be able to run in the FIRST SPARTAN SUPER in California since the shutdown!
I left my house at 3am (not a fan of this theme). . .
to drive 4 hours 45 mins north so I could shake my obstacle rust off at the Spartan Super in Monterey, CA. And BOY there was a LOT of rust! I don’t know what I was expecting. . .ok. . .yes I do. . .I was EXPECTING to breeze thru the course and crush all the obstacles! I mean, I had done so well BACK IN DECEMBER OF 2019. . .why shouldn’t I still be good? Hah!
Is it a bad sign when your calves twinge at the very first obstacle? Jumping up and over a 4 foot wall?
Yes. . .yes it is. Thankfully I was able to laugh it off and remind my calves that they needed to loosen up a bit. Probably since it was the first event I had been able to do in about a year and a half I was a bit anxious and tense. Also, being tired from the lack of sleep and long drive didn’t help, I’m sure. . .but by the time I completed the 6 and 7 foot walls I was feeling a bit better.
My first grip strength test came shortly after that when I arrived at the Olympus. I’ve completed this obstacle many times, but they had recently changed out the surface material with a more slick compound, so I was a little curious to see how it felt.
The technique that I find works best for me is to stick with only using the holes in the wall as handholds. . .suck my knees into my chest and rest my heels on the wall, leaning out and away with my torso. As long as I’m not trying to hold myself up with my feet and only using them for leverage they tend to not slip down the wall so easily. This particular wall seemed longer than I had remembered it to be, but I was happy to reach the bell and successfully complete it. However, as I dropped off of it I noticed that my forearms were VERY tight and my left shoulder felt a bit strained. Probably because the only upper body training I’d been doing was pull-ups. . .that works great for up and over walls, ropes, nets, etc. . .but the Olympus requires lateral movement while supporting your body weight and I hadn’t put that kind of strain on my shoulders for a long time!
The rest of the event went about as good as I could have expected. Full disclosure, I got pretty discouraged while I was running since I felt way more winded that I thought I should have. . .but after I was done and could look back with perspective. . .my legs felt fine the whole time and never did actually cramp, which is somewhat new for me. . .so the distance training is paying off.
I only failed 3 obstacles:
- Twister (I almost always fail this one. . .so not a shocker.)
- MultiRig (I shouldn’t have had an issue with this, but my left shoulder twinged again at the start and I didn’t think it would be good to ‘push thru’ and injure it.)
- MonkeyBars (This one shocked me. . .but it shouldn’t have. . .it was near the end of the course and directly after Rolling Mud, Dunk Wall, and Slip Wall. . .I made the stupid mistake of wearing my grip gloves thru Dunk Wall so they were soaked PLUS it had been raining all that morning so the bars were literally dripping with water. I wasn’t the only one that failed. . .seemed like most people couldn’t hang on.)
In the positive column:
- I was able to complete the Rope Climb even though it was late in the course and directly after my legs got taxed with the Sandbag Carry.
- I got up and over The Box in my first attempt even though it took a while to get my feet situated on the knot in the rope while hanging from it.
- Although it was far from pretty, I was able to get up on the Irish Table at the front of the Vertical Cargo on my first try. No calve cramp or swinging under and falling flat on my back this time.
In retrospect, I think I came out with more ‘wins’ than ‘loses’, but I definitely had a long list of things I needed to brush up on QUICKLY before Big Bear!
(UPDATE: that list still looks long and Big Bear is only 2 days away as I'm posting this!)
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Spartan wasn’t allowed to have changing tents setup. . .so I ended up stripping down to my compression shorts there at the cold wash to hose down before toweling off and putting on dry clothes. No one seemed to mind since everyone else was doing practically the same thing! It was a long day, but I was glad I had done it. Since I drove back the same day it added up to around 9 1/2 hours of driving for about a 3 hour event! Not the best plan, but it felt good to at least be able to actually HAVE an event to go to!
I don’t want to make any promises. . .but I hope to start posting a bit more frequently. . .I hope there are some readers out there who might still get something positive out of this. If not, then hopefully I’ll at least find writing to be therapeutic to some degree!
If you are curious as to where I’m going to be, you can check my Running Schedule on this site. . .I believe it’s all up to date now and I’m adding to it as I can! If you see me at an event, please do come and say “hi”. . .or if you’re at Big Bear, “. . .um. . .shouldn’t you be moving?”
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