I’m still here!

Average_Jbob overlooks Santa Clarita, CA.

Ok, I know what it looks like.

I started out this blog by talking about how I was just an ordinary guy who had been struggling with his health and decided to take up running.  At first it was a struggle to get thru a mile without walking, but I was encouraged by the memory that when I was in my youth I was a decent athlete who could run well.  Now that I was in my mid-30’s and struggling to take a flight of stairs I was haunted with the thought that I would need medication just to get my blood pressure and cholesterol under control.  Not wanting to simply accept that medicine was my answer when I KNEW in my heart I hadn’t really even given exercise and diet a FAIR or HONEST try, I figured if my heart was going to explode from over-exertion, I’d rather it be while I was pushing myself to get healthy than simply going thru the motions of life.

So I swallowed my pride and began the struggle of failing forward.

I failed many times at running a 5k without walking before I finally succeed.  I had to remind myself that each time I had to walk to keep my heart from leaping out of my chest shouldn’t be viewed as being an ‘out-of-shape’ failure, but rather it was bringing me one step closer to being able to succeed.  I had to accept the fact that failure and struggle was going to be a key part to finally succeeding and being able to run like I wanted to.

When I earned my first 5k Race Medal I felt great!

I was still far from where I wanted to be, but I had proven to myself that I could get there.  That 5k distance had seemed so unattainable at first, but now that I had done it, I wanted to go further.  After a few more 5k finishes I worked my way up to completing my first 10k.  Then I got into the world of Spartan obstacle course racing and things really started to take off.  Some friends at work were doing 3 Half-Marathons a year, so I joined them and again started pushing my limits past what I ever thought possible.  Why not do a Half-Marathon trail run with obstacles?  The Spartan Beast offered that very thing, so I completed my first Spartan TriFecta.  The next year I not only did 3 Half-Marathons with my co-workers, but I also completed another 3 Spartan TriFectas.  1 on my own, 1 with my oldest son, and 1 with my 69 year old Father!  Last year I followed that up with extending my distance again to 26.2 miles and completed my first two Marathons, along with Spacerock (13.8 mile trail race) and a couple more Spartan TriFectas.

All this time I had been writing about pushing your limits, digging deep, and never giving up.  Then the Spartan Beast at Lebec happened and I got my first ever DNF (Did Not Finish).

It was a self-imposed DNF since I was in the Open Heat, but a DNF none-the-less.  I posted my Race Review where I owned up to my failure and gave a play-by-play of where it all went wrong.  And then my Blog went dark.

I know how that looks!  I do!  I posted in November of 2019 that I encountered my first race failure, and then I stopped posting.  Looks like I quit, doesn’t it?  Well, I didn’t!

Sometimes, life just gets in the way.  It gets complicated.  Time gets short.  Priorities get shuffled around.

To finish out 2019, my 17-year-old-son and I drove out to Laughlin, Nevada and ran in the Spartan Super.  We’d never been to that venue before and I’m not sure we’ll be back.

We had a blast running in a new environment, but since we weren’t staying overnight, it was about a 9.5 hour round trip to run 8.74 miles in a giant, mostly flat, sand-box.

Not to say it wasn’t challenging, because it definitely was!  You try running in the lose sand for 8.74 miles while completing around 25 obstacles!  It was also fun since we ran into Fareed (reader and friend) and a few friends from my work.

I closed out 2019 with the Spartan Sprint in Castaic, California.

This venue has become home for me and I look forward to it each and every year.  It’s special not only because it’s only 20 minutes from my house, but it’s the sight of my very first Spartan Race.  It’s where I got hooked on OCR back in 2016.  Having now run it 4 years in row, it’s also the venue I’ve been to the most.  In the past it had always been a dry and dusty venue, but not this time.  This time, the unusually rainy weeks leading up to the race created one of the largest mud-bogs I’ve ever seen, especially for this area!

They started us off straight into Lake Castaic for a chest to neck high trudge thru cold water, which properly set the tone for the mud-fest that was to come!  After the low-point that Lebec had been for me a few months earlier, I finished one of the most technically challenging courses I’d ever faced quicker than I had when it was dry in previous years, and 100% burpee free!  Somehow I had managed to complete all grip-based obstacles, spear throw, and heavy carries, and still skate to the finish with a smile on my face and feeling like I had a lot of energy still in the tank!  It was a great feeling, and one I desperately needed to close out the year with.

Then work got insanely busy and I struggled to find time to see my family or train, let alone Blog!

But here I am now, coming up for some much needed air, to give you a brief look at what’s coming up for me in 2020!  True to form, my solution for overcoming my DNF at the Lebec Beast last year is to throw myself into an even deeper end of the pool!  I’ve long known that my ultimate goal for Spartan Racing is to be able to complete an Ultra-Beast, and when my now 18-year-old-son threw down the gauntlet for himself, I didn’t see any alternative but to pick it up and join him.  It’s fitting, really, that my first ever Spartan Beast (back in 2017) was Big Bear.  It was the first year Spartan held an event on the ski slopes of Snow Summit and I had no idea how hard that venue would turn out to be.  It has since then gained the nickname of ‘Soul Crusher’ and become known as one of the most challenging venues on the United States Spartan calendar.  Well, I’ll be returning to Big Bear for my 4th year, and this time I’ll be towing the starting line of Spartans very first Big Bear Ultra-Beast.  30+ miles and 60 obstacles, up and down the Snow Summit Ski slopes!

I’ve been training hill climbs and trail running a lot, but I cannot shake the feeling that I’m in WAY OVER MY HEAD with this one.  Hopefully I won’t be writing another DNF post, but I know that it’s a VERY REAL possibility!  I’m not a fast climber, but I’m training with consistent motion in mind.  I’m going to need to maximize every second I have on course to stay ahead of cut-off!

As part of my training plan leading up to the Big Bear Ultra-Beast,

I’m returning to the LA Marathon on March 8th.  This will be my 3rd Marathon and 2nd time running this venue.  20 days after that I will see just how my trail legs hold up as I’m running my first 50k Ultra at the Valencia Trail Race!  There’s over 8K feet of elevation gain during the 31 miles and 20 climbs of this course, so I’ll get a good glimpse at where I’m at WITHOUT obstacles, and just how much more work I’ll need to put in!  It will also give me a chance to see how my fueling strategy is shaping up (no, I’m not planning on taking a ton of salt-tabs on this one)!

April will be more training runs and gym workouts leading up to my return to the OC Marathon in early May.  I hated how I felt in the last quarter of this venue last year and hope to have a better go of it this time.  Since it’s only 13 days before the Ultra-Beast, I really struggled with signing up for this one.  What it finally came down to is that I want to be able to harden my mind and body to accept 26.2 miles as ‘normal’.  Granted, 4 Marathons in 2 years is probably not enough reps to really do that, but since my sights are on completing something much harder later that month, I am hoping that this OC Marathon should be more of a training run than a crushing slog!  Either way, all the races have been paid for and my course has been set!  It’s going to be a pretty gnarly first half of the race season, but one that could also be very rewarding!

The only other event I’m signed up for in 2020 is the Spacerock Trail Race in October.  I enjoyed that one so much last year I just had to do it again!  I’ll definitely run the Spartan Sprint at Castaic in December, and somewhere along the way I’ll fill in the rest of at least 1 TriFecta.  For right now, I’m focusing solely on getting ready for the Big Bear Ultra.  All training runs and races are geared to get me ready to have a fighting chance at staying ahead of the rolling cut-off time.  Hopefully I’ll be posting a picture of my Ultra Buckle later this year, but either way I’ll definitely have a story to tell!

Stay tuned to this blog and I'll hopefully do a better job at posting updates!

Just know that I’m still out here, pushing my boundaries as often as I can.  If you see me on the trail, please feel free to say ‘hi’!  Or, if you see me at Big Bear, please check to make sure I still have a pulse!

Average Jbob

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2 Responses

  1. Fareed Avou-Haidar says:

    Spartan Big Bear Ultra Beast! I curl into a fetal position at just the mention of it. You’re really dialing it far beyond 11. You may have noticed a lot of purple shirts doing their second round in Lebec, so if I don’t catch you at the start line, I hope to run into you on the course (and see that you’re still “with us”) and, maybe, after the finish line.

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