In following along similar lines of my last post, one of my goals with my exercise routine is to shake things up a bit. You can run, go to the gym, lift, swim, whatever as often as you want, but sometimes you need to mix it up. Sometimes, you need an Elliptical Bike. Sometimes, you need to participate in an "adventure" run.
This past weekend, I chose to participate in the Spartan Race with three friends. The gist was simple: it's a 5k with obstacles on it. Fashioning myself as in reasonably good shape and a burgeoning runner, I didn't think anything of this. Last summer, I participated in the Run A Muck race, a 5k trail run with some mud and obstacles thrown in. Two members of my team competed in the Warrior Dash about a month ago - a 5k with some obstacles thrown in. It's 3.1 miles, how intense can it be?
The answer: very intense.
This race was absolutely brutal. It crushed me physically, emotionally, and it broke my will. As I said, I fashion myself to be in decent shape. I run about six to eight miles five times per week. I posted a respectable (at least I thought so!) 78 minute time in a 10-mile race a few months ago. I work out most days of the week and push myself fairly hard. But in no way was I prepared for what the Spartan Race would throw at me.
I was so miserably wrong it wasn't even funny. The pre-race stipulation was that you didn't know any of the obstacles in advance; just that it was a 5k race with 18 obstacles. You just had to do it. But the organization that puts this on says that 99.9 percent of people finish this run, so it can't be too bad, right? Wrong.
We start with a run into the forest, followed by the first obstacle, jumping over fences about five feet high, then under another barricade, then through a hanging tire. We went through probably three iterations of this cycle, then onto another short dash before reaching the second set of obstacles, which was a trail with toppled trees and trunks obstructing the path. You had to climb, jump or vault over these fallen trees, probably about 30 in total. Then, another short run.
Obstacle three was a cargo net. No serious problems there. Dash to the next obstacle (number 4), where participants had to drag a cinder-block attached to a rope for about 50 feet. Though tiring, it wasn't the worst you could imagine. About one-quarter of the way there, and we were probably only about eight minutes into the race.
Then we approached the 400 foot (yes, 400 foot) barbed wire field. You had to army-crawl under the barbed wire - through disgusting, smelly mud, no less - for 400 feet. Have you ever imagined army-crawling across a full football field, then another 100 feet? Imagine it being face-down in what may have been manure with barbed wire hanging about 18 inches above your head. This was hell on earth. This obstacle alone may have taken 10 to 15 minutes. When you finished, you were covered - quite literally - head to toe in mud, soaked in sweat and exhausted.