I am 27 years old, from San Diego, California and have a newly discovered, deep passion
for racing both on and off the trails. I have always loved fitness, but this new passion for competetive racing was discovered haphazardly this last November when I heard an advertisement on Pandora radio station for a Spartan Race in Malibu,Ca. I had no idea what it was, I had never heard of it or known anyone who had participated in one. After looking it up I just knew I had to do it, it looked like a lot of fun! My compulsive nature kicked into full gear and I signed up on the spot with the Pandora discount.
Keep in mind I hadn't done any running in 7 years! The "oh crap what have I got myself into" thoughts started pouring through my head. I knew I needed to starting training immediately as the race was in a few weeks. I have always considered myself to be in pretty good shape....well at least I did prior to being on disability from august to November due to a laceration of my thumb.
I was 6 weeks into a weight training program called "Scrawny to Brawny." I had packed on over 20 lbs of muscle to my scrawny frame (was 6'1 and 158 lb prior.) I felt strong muscle wise despite never running more then a mile in the last 7 years. I retained some of that muscle but lost a significant amount after sitting around for 3 months.
I remember my first run after the negative thoughts had been suppressed. I was running the streets in my home town of La Mesa and Spring Valley, it was a beautiful sunny San Diego day and the conditions for running were perfect. As I started running I felt invincible and knew I was going to dominate the Spartan Race in November. I was just coming out of disability and I was going to have a whole 2 weeks to jam-pack the training in. The invincible feeling quickly subsided when my shins started burning in pain. I was all to familiar with this pain since it is what caused me to stop running 7 years prior. For you fortunate people who don't know what I am talking about, it was the dreaded onset of shin splints!
I finally finished the 3 mile run in excruciating pain and continued for the next few weeks beating myself up with runs I had no business doing.
In my convoluted perception of reality, I figured I might not be able to get 1st place because of the shin splints but surely I would be in the top 10!!
With my self confidence peaking at the race and adrenaline in high gear, I waited for the 2:30 pm heat to get under way so I could place myself right at the starting line in front of everyone.
As I stood there waiting and warming up for the next 30 minutes, I started getting surrounded by ripped, young military guys. I knew I was going to have to start off in a strong sprint if I was going to make it to the first obstacle before it started getting backed up. The man in full spartan costume comes to the start line to give a motivational speech before sending us off into the man made clouds of smoke between the trees.
We were off!! and I was flying ahead of the pack!! only 1 young guy and an entire race ahead of me. The first obstacle in my racing career... crossing a waist deep river. A few yards ahead of me the young man plunged into the river and I follow suite by making a dramatic long jump into the middle of the crossing. After a moment of hesitation on both our parts and the others a ways back, he begins trekking upstream and of course I follow.... after reaching a point of not being able to touch the bottom, we started swimming. As we began to do so, we heard dozens of people crossing the river and continuing there way out the other side towards the marked trail. By the time we made it back to the trail, it seemed that about 200 of the 250 person 3pm heat had passed us.
The adrenaline that gave me my speed at the beginning was completely dissipated and gave way to a slow pace. As the race went on I was able to gain on and pass most of the people the blew by us in the
beginning. The weight lifting training paid off on the obstacles but the steep trails were brutal and I was ill-prepared for them. I had to hike up a lot of the hills using my fastest hiking pace. I finally came to an obstacle that seemed impossible... the wall traverse. As I looked on at people attempting it, I finally
decided to mount up on it. With awful form I began traversing across the wooden pegs that were caked with mud from the day. I reached for the top of the wall and got yelled at by the obstacle captain telling me I could not touch the top. As I went back to the pegs with my hands I slipped and fell to the ground. I was ordered to perform a full set of 30 push up burpees. This was my first time ever doing burpees and it wouldn't be my last. After watching others to see how its done, I finished my set that seemed to take all afternoon.
Back to the trails and the obstacles and what seemed like hours later, I came to the 3rd to last obstacle. The spear throw. It was definitely harder then I anticipated... I thought I would be showing off my
sweet throwing "skills" in front of the crowd, but instead I lunged the spear into the abyss completely missing the hay bale target. I was ordered once again to do another set of 30 burpees. I had the finish line in sight as I slowly did the set, constantly having to take breaks. I felt like an old race horse about to have a heart attack on the track!
As I came out of the spear throw area I came to the fire pit, as you can kind of make out in this picture the race crew handed me a spartan flag to hold as I jumped over the roaring fire
The fire jump ended up being a real treat to the deep chill I was experiencing from the ice cold water obstacles!
I ran up to the last obstacle which was the pyramid wall with a rope attached. I scrambled to the top of this muddy obstacle and flung my leg over the top of it. When doing so I hit my ankle on the wooden rungs, bruising it very bad. I climbed down and limped across the finish line to receive my 2011 red Spartan Sprint Finishers Medal.
The next thought that crossed my head, still makes me laugh to this day. I was thinking that as I went to the timing computers to look up my time I would surely see myself for sure in the top 20! Had I not just witnessed the last 50 minute pain fest!?!?? I looked up my time and this is what I saw:
I placed 367 out of about 3000, and 77th in my age category.
I told myself at that point I would never do one of these races again.....Near hypothermia from the cold water,multiple bruises, a dozen cuts across my chest and back from the barbed wire crawl, burning muscles, aching shins, yes......I possibly did place in the top 20, top 20 of the most injured people of the day!!
The day after this race I experienced the first racing "high" of my life, it was pure bliss :-) You tend to forget about the pain of the injuries and you want to tell everyone you meet how amazing the race was... how you persevered......pushed..... and battled your way through the obstacles! This lasts around a week before it starts to fade, this usually gives way to you wanting it to be prolonged and you starting scouring the race listings in your area in desperation to find another "fix" for your racing high to continue. Everyone around you tells you are insane to pay to be put through it again, but they just don't understand and you ignore them and sign up immediately.
I am creating this blog to detail my own journey since then and into the future. If nothing else, I will have an account of it for when my memories start to fade! I will go into more details in my next entry about the training and preparation that went into my prep for the 2012 SoCal Super spartan race and the subsequent races that followed up until now.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I wish you the best on your own, Long road to Racing Success!
Christopher Brill, www.questionablyhealthyraceaddiction.blogspot.com