The Miami Super Weekend
I just want to start by saying how honored I am to be a "guest blogger" for the "Barb Wire for Breakfast" ladies. Their blogs are epic & I inspire to live up to their standards!
This Miami epic weekend started off like so many others, with a long road trip! Road-trips are many times just as fun as the weekend itself & this one did not disappoint! With beginning to end dancing, yoga, tree climbing & great friends, the slightly over 9 hour road trip was over as soon as it began. Andi Hardy, Amy Sadd, Dominic Lewis, Chris Davis & I began the adventure in Atlanta late Thursday evening. A new "Barb Wire for Breakfast" bumper sticker installed & we were off. Before the sun was up we were closing in on our destination & Andi & I had already been entertaining the local folk at the interstate side Waffle House. A few headstands on the tables & we were on the road again. A quick early morning nap in the car/under a tree & we pressed further to the final destination. Even a "quick" bathroom break always provides ample entertainment when Andi & I team up! A few Yoga poses & there is never a safe tree around either. Yet again entertaining the locals with our antics we provided memories for a lifetime for all in attendance.An early morning check in at the hotel in Miami & we were off to meet close friends & great people, Dan & Gretchen Kruger, at the beach for some epic Yoga poses, photo ops, and pre-race grappling for Dan & I. I learned quickly the big man is outta my weight class. Epic sunburn was on the list of things to do for me this weekend in Florida. As I soaked in more rays I shared more Yoga with anyone I who would listen and try. Then Andi and I challenged each other to climb & retrieve coconuts from trees along the beach. Yoga, coconuts, and sunburn all accomplished!
Packet pickup that evening was a time consuming adventure due to local traffic but it's always fun to see Miami race manager Geishel Valverde! An attempt at an early bedtime was an epic fail but adrenaline always fuels the pre-race mornings.
It's always exciting to arrive at the race site morning of a race & this was no different. Well, maybe a little different. The fact that I hadn't run a single mile since my last Spartan race in Gulf Coast on Nov. 10th left me slightly more than a little nervous. I wondered if all the rehab that I had implemented had paid off. Unsure if my tendon issue was really healed I also wondered if this would be not only my first, but also my last race of the season. All the preparation that had gone into the last three months was about to be tested. For me these races are never about just finishing, I expect to compete at a high level, I expect to do well. I always know that there is going to be a very talented field of athletes that show up for the 8am elite heat, this being the fact that drives me to train hard.
A few quick hellos with close friends at the start line & we are sent off. Within a 1/2 mile we hit the first obstacle an "Over, under, through." A short distance later a 100 plus yard waist deep dash across a lake. Another mile plus and we came to the monkey bars. I passed a few racers doing burpees at this point, then some 6 foot and 7 foot walls followed by rolling mud before we hit mile 4 & I was still hanging onto a the top 25 spot. Just after mile 4 is where the "problem spot" began. A 2 plus mile single track with epic switchbacks thru the woods. This type of terrain is difficult in the fact that it is vital to remain focused on the ground that we are navigating. And at the same time we must be focused on the tape & other marking of the course. This is a challenging task for new & seasoned OC racers alike.
So the drama began. The woods were smoldering. It was surly possible that sections of it were on fire. This is a Spartan race! We are always jumping fire & at the Vermont "Beast" they set fire to hay bales to choke us out. For sure this was a Spartan prop. Well apparently not! Some of the first racers had told Spartan race officials that a section of the woods were on fire. When I exited the wooded switchbacks at mile 6 for the tractor pull there were at least 50-60 people including a bunch of ladies in the general vicinity of this obstacle. My thoughts & words became "R" rated at this point. I was very confident I had stayed on course, and had not been passed by all those people.
I completed the tractor pull then the sandbag carry & pressed on as I continued to pass more & more people that I knew should not have been ahead of me. At the atlas carry a bottleneck occurred. I never have had to wait for an obstacle. UGH!!! Over the 8 foot walls then onto the tire flip I continued where traffic was again bottlenecked! The race that I so love was now a loss. I found myself doing the Hercules Hoist with people that were not at all at the competitive level! The wind had been taken from my sails! I pressed on, but without the drive that pushes me to compete at the level I am accustomed to! A mile of road running left & just a bucket hoist before the festival area, but this whole last mile was scattered with way more runners than I was used to seeing during a race.
At this point I had no idea what had happened but pushed on regardless. It's always great to arrive at the festival area & hear the roaring of the crowd. I know my rope climb always gets ooos & aahhs, with my arms only technique & the kick of the bell is always good for a scattering of cheers. Next to scale the traverse wall and then into the barbed wire where I had decided to give the last of what I had in the tank to "Put on a clinic". Scrambling hands & knees like I was being chased by the police, Ii passed a group of racers. I am uber excited as thru it I added an epic "barbed wire" scrap that I'm sure will turn into an epic scar! I love the barbed wire scars! Over the slippery wall & then down, I recognized the first Gladiator. Dan Krueger! As fun as it was to see him there I was surly confused how he arrived before me since I never saw him pass me. 1 hour 40 minutes was my official time.
This was my first race of the year, right? I hadn't run in 3 months, right? I've been injured, right? All this but 84th place is not an acceptable finish for me! Ever!
So the investigation of what happened began. It didn't take long to find out that race directors had diverted all but the first 30 or so racers away from the fire in the woods, thus shorting the course by almost 2 full miles for most. I verified with the course director that the course I ran on Saturday was indeed the same as what was run on Sunday. With less than 100% effort on Saturday my time would have put me inside the top 20 on Sunday. Knowing that made me feel a little better.
Apparently there is no way to know which racers completed which sections & thus the entire race & its results have been trashed as if it never happened! Epic fail! This is Spartan! Are we afraid of a little smoke & fire? I don't understand!
Luckily the race is only a small part of why I come on these weekend ventures. It had been 3 months & it was really great to see everyone that was there. I surly try to spend time & socialize with everyone I know & many that I don't! This is why I come! I am a "Social Butterfly." Here I can spread my wings! I always try to spend extra time with those special friends that I have made during my Spartan time. Dan & Gretchen, Shawn & Sue, and Keith & Nele & Leah were on the list of favorites at this event. Pull up challenges, Traverse wall challenges, Slosh pipe challenges & Yoga fills up the few short hours that we have together very quickly! I arrived late at the "Traverse Wall" challenge. Elliott was 2nd with 12.4 seconds to an unknown who had 12.1 seconds. I'm typically finish around 10 seconds & was excited to have another "Elite" in the challenge. I was on pace for the win & for my 10 second time, but slipped off the last foot hold.
I was Über excited to be the "Rabbit" for the kid’s race on Saturday. There was a lot of pressure to not get passed by a motivated group of young athletes! I had a good head start & pressed hard to stay ahead of the pack. Down the slide & under the kid’s "barbed” wire we went. I allowed the leader to pull in tight & he was more than excited to pass me! One Epic event after another happened this "Super" weekend.
The venue event came to a close but the night had just begun. I spent an hour or so at JayTea’s famous Asian Armor get together. It was fun to see JayTea again & have the pleasure to meet the 'Weeple Army" captain Dave Huckle. The "Panda" guy was there as well. Then off we went to the “after” party. I had a strong suspicion I would be too sore to race the next day, so as soon as we arrived at the "Unofficial Spartan after party" I began to indulge in the 2 for 1 drink specials! Boo-ya!! Yoga poses & pictures began immediately. It was great to have some time with Keith Glass & Nele Schulze. The 2 time "World’s Toughest Mudder" winner Junyong Pak also joined our group. Pak & I have had time together on several different occasions & seem to share a kindred friendship. I was allowed a rematch from a failed "Traverse Wall" competition in Vermont at the "Super" earlier that day. I was victorious in my attempt but he was less than impressed with my technique & other techniques I use at several obstacles. He began to share with me his opinions & I became aggravated with his less than tactful description of my techniques. Our party spot had a pool in the patio area. It was at this point I decided it was going to be necessary to take my friend Pak for a dip. We were both in jeans but I was hot from my sunburn & had enough to drink to not care. I asked him thoughtfully if he had a wallet or phone in his pocket & recommended he remove them for their own safety! I was sure he would be very difficult to get into the pool as he is agile & strong. I was also confident that he didn't think I would be able to accomplish this. My secret weapon was the fact that I wasn't trying to throw him in, I was content with taking him in with me. Mission accomplished! An Epic event for all in attendance!
A few hours of sleep & we were off to the venue again. I was, as suspected, very sore & was happy to not race but to spend the day at the venue. It's always fun to see close friends come through the course at festival area. Because I didn't run I was able to catch a few pictures. Two guys I didn't know were the first to come through, then Shawn Feiock, David Magida, Chris Rutz, & Kevin LaPlatney was close behind. It is so fun to cheer for friends!! I also happened to be on the course when the famous "Cornfeed Spartan," Candie Bobick came through. More Yoga, dancing & socializing! A "Traverse Wall" challenge win today with 10.8 seconds & a "Slosh Pipe" victory with 16 & it was winding up to be another epic day! I spent a few hours as I did the prior day welcoming finishers to the finish line as a gladiator & handing out medals too. I am good friends with many Spartan staff & was asked to help with different challenges & with the kid’s races again. I found "Rabbits" for the kids to chase in the form of top racer David Magida & the current women's "Death race" winner Nele Schulze. Both had an incredible time participating! One last challenge had been on my radar for the weekend & I had a man to run the camera. I had wanted to climb a rope at one end of the set of ropes, ring the bell & then traverse from rope to rope kicking each bell all the way across to the other side. I found an opening during the race & it was my chance. It was so much fun & the crowd was impressed. And of course I got a video of it. Epic!
It's always hard to say goodbye to everyone but we always know we'll see each other soon. We had one last stop to fill our bellies & the return road trips began with one less traveler and a whole lot more quietness. Everyone who road trips with me knows there is a handful of songs that come on the radio that will be cranked & Jeffrey will be dancing! It's just how I roll! It's my version of making time fly like "Maverick" does in Top Gun! Before you know it we were home.
This was another slightly tiring weekend for sure, but I wouldn't change a thing! See you all at the next race. Namaste