Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Race Recap: Spartan Sprint - Arizona

Race Day: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Location: McDowell Mt. Regional Park, Ft. McDowell, AZ (Venue change)

Race Day -1 (Friday, Feb 8, 2013)

I've driven to Arizona on my own and with the old man several times, but this time was the first time I've driven for a race. And it wasn't just for any race...this was Spartan Sprint my first obstacle course since USAF basic training some 30 odd years ago! My nerves were already on edge wondering why the hell I actually chose to do this on my own...no coercing from anyone. If anything, I coerced my team mates to do it with me! lol! So I picked up my friend, Jeff who I met at the YMCA a little over a year ago and who is less than half my age, to make what I had thought would be an 11-12 hour drive to Phoenix. Instead we made it in about 10 hours through the hellacious wind of eastern Arizona along I-40, the beautiful melting snow and mountains of northeastern Arizona and the beautiful desert of the Phoenix area. I simply love Phoenix and wouldn't mind living here if it wasn't for the blasted guaranteed triple digits in the summer! Some 20+ years ago we could've been assigned to Luke AFB here, but it never came to pass and we ended up in New Mexico instead...just not the same. The trip went smoothly with just a couple of stops for breakfast and gassing up. Jeff had pulled one of those "young people" all nighters...I do the "old people" version, lol! So he slept almost the whole trip.

Clear roads in the Arizona mountains.
What a view! What are those green things?
And those tall things in the background?
We arrived in Phoenix at about 4:30pm, checked into the hotel and since we hadn't had lunch I promptly took him to Ono Hawaiian BBQ for a mini meal...one of my must do places to eat anywhere...any kind of Hawaiian BBQ joint. We then headed over to my son's place (the only reason I'd drive 10 hours for a short, supposedly 5K race...to visit family/friends) sat around for a bit and then headed to dinner at Buca de Beppo's within 2 hours of having our last meal.

After a meal of lasagna and baked rigattoni we indulged in a super sized hot fudge brownie sundae...3 scoops of chocolate, 3 scoops of vanilla, 12 brownie pieces, hot fudge and plenty of whipped cream and sprinkles. Yum!! Out of the five of us eating 4 of us had lactose intolerance issues so it was a good thing that I had plenty of generic Lactaid in my purse! It would not have been pretty otherwise, lol!

I was forced to participate in the infamous phone stack. :(

Really, we ALL shared this...
Way too full after dinner!
To kill time and not rest before what was sure to be a grueling race the next day we headed over to Dave & Busters at Tempe Marketplace. This was a first time venture for myself, Noemi and Jeff. I felt like I was back in junior high/high school hanging out at the local video arcade or with my kids at Chuck E. Cheese's. We played for about 1-2 hours and instead of keeping the tickets from the games I gave them to Jeff as did Noemi. It's been so long since I've played any video games (I think the last console we had at home was an old Nintendo that actually belonged to the son) in over a decade...if not two. It was really fun to get back into that frame of mind and not have any worries for a few minutes.

Happy winner!
End of the night...
I think we finally called it a night about midnight and headed out to drop everyone off at the apartment to make final plans for the next day and finally Jeff and I headed back to the hotel to crash for the night.

Race Day

I didn't sleep well as usual getting only about 3-4 hours of sleep waking up at around 4:30 am. I did my usual hotel routine when I have a roomie of playing on the computer/phone/tablet and watching Pitch Perfect until it was a decent time to start getting ready. I did take off for a few to head to Target to look for some energy snacks for the race and maybe a small backpack or waist pack to carry some stuff during the race. That plan pretty much fell through but I did manage to get a couple of packs of Shotz Bloks and a quart of chocolate milk for my post race drink.

My race gear.
By the time I got back to the hotel it was time to start getting ready so that we could go grab some breakfast before heading out to the race. Just about the time I had finished getting dressed the son called and recommended just eating locally instead of going out for dim sum since the race venue had been changed to a location north of Pheonix instead of in Chandler. We ended up at a little sandwich shop not too far from the apartment and then headed out to the race around noon-ish.

The weather wasn't all that great...and it only got worse. It was cold, windy, overcast and just blah. The line to get on the shuttle didn't take too long (parking was a few miles away from the venue) and it was kind of surreal watching all the people who had already finished in various states of wet, muddiness. Some looked like they had even barely gotten wet or muddy while others were just totally
drenched/filthy. By the time we got checked in, numbers marked on our bodies and gear turned in we had about 20 minutes to kill before our heat started. We did some weak attempts at warming up, I was acting like an idiot trying to get the others hyped up but mostly we were just freezing our butts off.

Cold, windy and totally oblivious to what's in store!

When we did finally take off the guys basically left Noemi and I in the dust. So we just hung together and walked/jogged until we started hitting the obstacles. Now, I'm not going to do a play by play of the obstacles so here's a quick breakdown of what I can remember:

  • Upright walls x3 ...5-6' high
  • Monkey bars...fail (too far apart for my short arms, instead carried each other across touching each rung as we went) no burpees for punishement
  • Upright walls...8' high used "cheater" steps (2 tiny 2x4 strips) and worked as a team to get over by giving a hand/shoulder to step on and a push on the backside
  • Weight carry ~15-20# for females + 5 burpees and carry weight back to starting pt
  • Crawl under barbed wire fences x 2 or 3
  • Rock drag...up hill and back down
  • Wall bouldering going sideways...worked as a team to support each other so we wouldn't fall
  • Sandbag carry...up/down hill
  • Javelin throw...fail (severe rt calf cramping...ended up on ground in pain had to stretch for about 5 minutes and kept going still cramping) = 30 punishment burpees
  • Rope climb ~20' w/ water pit underneath...fail = 30 punishment burpees
  • Barb wire mud crawl ~100-150' FAVORITE OBSTACLE!! Lost bib, went back to find it!
  • Mud hills/pits x 5 - Slid down the mud hills on my rear...fastest way down
  • Rope net climb up and over
  • Angled wall/rope climb (3rd favorite)
  • Fire pit jump

Numerous steep uphill and downhill climbs, single track trail/washouts primarily and plenty of cacti...just seriously hardcore! I'm not a trail runner so I ended up walking most of the race which was just fine with me. All I wanted to do was finish with minimal injuries and get the bling!

The aftermath!
Jeff came in first on the team in something like 1:21, Darryl was at 2:05 or so, Noemi at 2:23 or so and I came in at 2:39.01 which actually included me walking up and down the length of the barb wire crawl looking for my lost bib for about 10 minutes. Most of us weren't fast, but we all finished...in a standing position even!

Finisher's medal and my bibs...
We hung around a little bit to take pictures and grab gear but for the most part we just headed back to the shuttles to get back to a warm heater in the car. A quick stop at In-n-Out to pick up some burgers for lunch and then we dropped the others off at the apartment while Jeff and I went back to the hotel to get cleaned up. We were supposed to get together again in the evening to head out to City Center to go to the Mardi Gras Festival, but by the time I was cleaned up I was way too tired to do anything else. I arranged for Jeff to hang out with the others while I played the old fogie roll and stayed at the hotel to wash the race gear and go to sleep early. I was so tired that I didn't even have the energy to eat the burger that we had brought for lunch and just barely managed to stay awake to run the gear through the wash cycle a couple of times and through the dryer. In order to stay awake during that time I relied on watching Pitch Perfect (go figure) and starting this write up while conversing on Facebook and Twitter. I'm pretty sure that as soon as my head finally hit the pillow I was out like a light. I don't even remember when Jeff got back to the room and I'm usually a very light sleeper...Yup, I guess I was freakin' tired! lol!

Race Day +1

Well, the original plan had been to be on the road home by about 8am but even though I woke up at 6am I was just not in the mood to be driving that early because I was so sore. Instead we had homemade Eggs Benedict that my son made at about 10am and then we headed out to C-Fu Gourmet to pick up some dim sum to celebrate Chinese New Year when I got home (hubs and I love dim sum and we can't get any decent dim sum here in New Mexico). After waiting close to an hour for the food (the place was packed because of it being Chinese New Year) we were finally on our way back home.

Offering for Year of the Snake
Not quite San Francisco Chinatown, but close enough for now.
As we hit the mountains there was a pretty significant amount of snow that hadn't been there on the drive in. The higher the more heavy the snowfall got. We finally hit Heber -Odegaard where the snow almost stopped and the drive became pretty easy again. Just before the AZ-NM border the weather changed and there was a point around Gallup that I really thought that we'd have to pull over and hunker down for the night because the snow was starting to come down pretty heavy. Luckily, after about 75 miles the snow cleared up and it was smooth sailing again.

Um, yeah...there was very little snow here on the trip up to Phoenix.
Snow on I-40 west of Gallup...and this wasn't the worst of it!
We stopped for dinner and gas in Albuqerque originally planning to eat at a Japanese place on Central Ave that I had been to once, but they were close so we ended up at Fuddrucker's instead. A quick stop in a book store and to gas up and we were back on the road or the last leg of the trip home. A little over 3 hours later we arrived back in town just before midnight and the quick and somewhat painful weekend trip was over. Goal of completing Spartan Sprint accomplished, new bling, plans to move up the Spartan Race ladder to the next level...Super Spartan, an 8+ mile mud/obstacle course, is now in the planning. A weekend of good food, fun, new/old friends and family and a bunch of  "firsts" for Jeff (Spartan race, trip to Pheonix, In-n-Out meal, etc.)...all in all it was a resounding success.

What did I like about this race?
The main thing is that this race was a serious challenge. The last time I even did anything resembling it was the obstacle course in USAF basic training which was only 1.5 miles long and actually quite easy. This race really put me up against a wall to see how well I could push myself to reach the goal I wanted. I succeeded so it's all good.

What did I not like about this race?
I am not a fan of trail running, in fact I hate it. So I trail walked/hiked instead for most of the race. If only it could be a nicely packed wide trail without the loose rocks, steep hills and such I probably would have been a very happy camper! lol.

Would I do this race again?
Ummmm...YES!! In fact, I just signed the husband and I up for the 2014 race this afternoon, so I definitely WILL be doing it again! The big difference will be that I will train for it next time! lol.

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