So, I was in New York over the weekend to visit my brother and sister-in-law and nephews, and to run in the Spartan Citi Field Sprint with my brother.
It was my first race of the year, and given that I haven’t been real happy with my training and (especially) diet thus far, it’s not shocking that the race was a mixed bag. In fact, a mixed bag is probably better than I should have expected. So without more intro, here is:
It’s not surprising, but the race was overall well-organized and well-put-on. I’ve never had any significant logistical issues during Spartan races, and this was no exception—parking was fine, getting in was a snap, no major logjams on any of the obstacles, and so on. I feel bad about not writing more about those things, since they’re a major part of what makes an experience satisfactory or not, but since there weren’t problems there’s not much to say.
For myself, I’m getting better at the cargo net. Last year, it gave me—not difficulties, but definite tummy-rumblings at the height, which weren’t soothed by the knowledge that I was perfectly safe. This year, I’m happy to report having no real fear on it and no real trepidation approaching it, so that at least is something I have gotten over.
Speaking of getting over, I made it over all three of the walls (2 6-foot and one 8-f00t) without the aid of other people. I did use the support brackets, which may not be strictly tournament legal, but I have never been able to manage the 8-footer even with that before.
One excellent change that Spartan made to the race this year was that the Stupid Wheely Thingy that You Velcro to Your Feet But That the Velcro Never Stuck Long Enough To Work obstacle that was “used” in Milwaukee’s Miller Field Sprint in 2014 and was present at Citi Field last year but looked like it had been discontinued due to defectiveness before I arrived appears to have been completely retired. In its place was a sort of platform on wheels—you put your feet on the platform and wheelbarrow yourself a certain distance. It’s a good core challenge and a good task. I wish the platforms had been slightly bigger, just because my feet are ginormous and it was tough to get them both on. I get the reasoning—wider feet would make the task slightly easier—but as long as I recognize the irrationality of my complaints I feel that making them is an acceptable behavior.
More life-related: I really like seeing my nephews. They’re exhausting, but energizing—a good reminder of why I want to be better.
I was pretty angry at myself on several of the obstacles. The rope climb I went nowhere on, even though this was the first race with a dry rope after learning how to actually climb a rope. But even though the rope was almost the first obstacle, it was also very thin and pretty slick. My S-hook didn’t clamp at all, so the whole rope climb didn’t work at all. (The rope I learned to climb on is manila, which has more texture.)
The monkey bars were also frustrating. This was the first time I touched them when I had any hope of completing them—they had been closed due to some sort of safety concern or injury at Citi Field last year, and at last year’s Chicago Super I was coated in slick mud and had no energy at all so I dropped of immediately. My gym has a lengthy set of monkey bars, and I’ve gotten fairly competent at them, but I’ve never tried the up-and-down ones that Spartan uses. And… I made some progress but slipped off a bit less than half way. I’m pretty sure that’s more an issue that I need a few tries to get comfortable with something than because I couldn’t do it—after my burpees, I went back and tried again and got about 3/4 of the way before slipping off. (There wasn’t a huge lineup, and it was about 4:30 by then, so I don’t feel like I broke anyone’s timed run.) I’m not sure how best to deal with this issue—it takes a while for me to feel comfortable enough on a thingy that’s at the edge of my ability to successfully do it, but there are very limited opportunities to actually be on those thingies before I have to do them. A conundrum.
The only complaint that I would make about the course itself was that the weaving through the stadium seats got to be a bit perpetual by the end. The last round, in particular, just felt like a thing we had to do—there were only a few stairs at a time, and then we’d go over a section, but since they’re in the seating you can’t really run fast, and since it’s basically horizontal it’s not a great challenge. It was just sort of there.
I’m hoping that my brother and I won the smallest team award. In order to be assured of running at the same time, we formed a team, and there were just the two of us on it. I suppose maybe somebody had an Official Spartan Team of 1, but that seems to be gilding the anti-social lily. So eat your heart out, Spartan 4-0.
Being with my brother often seems to turn things a bit lavatorial. I’m happy to report that there was no repeat of last year’s Massive Fart of Doom (and, in fact, the winds have finally carried the aroma away). But we did prepare for it. At least, we went to the gas station beforehand. (And the gas pump kindly played videos reviewing recent film releases for us. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have gone to see Batman vs. Spiderman if I had known that pump 3 only gave it 1 and a half stars.)
Before entering the stadium, both my brother and I availed ourselves of the port-a-potty facilities outside. While waiting for my brother, I heard from another in the bank of stalls terrible, deep booming and grunting and straining and screaming, like it was Elvis or my dad when he wants to make sure that everybody knows he’s on the toilet. After a bit of this, the sound-maker emerged—a perfectly fit, average to somewhat smaller than average sized woman. So congratulations to her.