Fitness Training and Obstacle Racing

Spartan Post Race Review

If you haven’t already, check out my Blog post on the Spartan Pre-race Preview, where I talk about all things leading up to the race including hydration and nutrition.

To summarize, I competed in the Spartan Ultra held in Ottawa at the Calabogie ski hill on Sunday August 5th in the Competitive division. I executed the race just as planned. I didn’t fail an obstacle and hit all the goals I had for myself by being 38th overall in the Super (7th in my category and 2nd in my age in my category). The race was advertised as a 12 – 15km but my Garmin read 10.4km’s. I even had a spare gel pack and electrolytes to use as I thought the race would be another 20 – 40 minutes long.

The venue (Calabogie Ski hill) worked out well. Everything was set up nicely and the event kicked off only a few minutes late per heat. The view on the ski hill (if you took the time to look around) was gorgeous if you’re a nature lover like I am. There is a beautiful lake at the bottom of the mountain and near the end of the race we ran through the golf course and checked out the sites. I loved pretty much every moment in the race. I used my mantra, “Sky above me, earth below me, fire within me,” a few times when running up the mountain as I chased down one person at a time.

I would have liked to see a more child friendly second day at the venue but I do understand the kid’s races were on Saturday so it didn’t make a lot of sense to continue the bouncy castles, etc. on the Sunday where there were no kid’s races. I’m being a little unreasonable because my kids were there on Sunday and bored (they only got to see me every 30 minutes). Even a couple of small kid’s obstacles might have kept them entertained for an extra hour or two. Perhaps Spartan could consider a kid’s Ultra event, which is a longer race for kids but not a full event (if the kids race is 1km long, make the kids ultra on Sunday 2km’s long). All good ideas need registrations and Spartan might have tried it somewhere else already, who knows.

As always, the Soldiers of Fitness OCR team warmed up together and did mobility protocols and injury prevention movements. My Achilles bothered me through the warm-up and I admit being quite concerned with how it would go during the race. I figured the pain would go one way or the other – I’d be out of the race or it would warm up and I’d get through it. It turned out it warmed up and I barely noticed it on the race, or at all in the days following.

There wasn’t a lot of mud on the course. I don’t think the hoses were used much at all at the end of the race. Something about that creek we had to swim through that washed off everyone’s clothing. I thought it was perfectly timed and I enjoyed it a lot – it was quite refreshing.

I carried my camelbak with me through the race with a measured 1.5 litres of water which I calculated for a 2-hour race. I had 700ml remaining at the end of the race, which was about right given the amount of water I drank prior to racing and my finish time in the 1:28 area. I also had a small waist belt with gel in it, which I used two of (first at the 30 min and second at the 1 hour). This kept my energy quite high. I supplemented the gel with an electrolyte pill. For all the research I conducted on optimizing nutrition to optimize performance, I feel like I nailed it and it couldn’t have gone better. At the end of the race I felt like running a second lap. My legs were more than prepared for the race from my training and the only thing that could have made my performance better was years of running so I could have run faster (knowing my heart rate I know I redlined most of the race).

I enjoyed the obstacles and gave myself two obstacle failures prior to the race that I promised myself I wouldn’t be upset about. That meant I could fail likely the spear throw and something else, and not feel like I let myself down. 60 burpees were manageable. In the end, I nailed every obstacle and didn’t have to complete any burpees (other than the 5 required at the atlas stone). I don’t know that I had a favorite obstacle because they all go by so fast, but I did enjoy the rings because they changed it in the second day and added a ninja ball and ninja pipe, which I thought was hard and awesome. I also love obstacles like the rope climb, spear throw and sandbag carry (which felt easy to me after our training). The toughest obstacle other than the mountain itself probably would have been the bucket carry. I didn’t have to put it down, but I was concerned that my grip would be fried afterward and I could see the rope climb from where I was. Thankfully despite my heart rate I had plenty of energy for the remaining grip strength obstacles.

If there was anything I would do differently it would be to take out the burpee penalty and add a penalty loop. This isn’t because I don’t like burpees but because people cheat and don’t complete them and I like to know where I place in a race. I know some people are honest but I saw many people barely do two burpees before moving on (because I waited in a line for a few seconds on an obstacle and saw someone fail it, walk over, and was on their way when I came across about 20 seconds later).

All in all I had a great race, really enjoyed it and I’m pumped for next year. I don’t have any further Spartan races this year but next year I’d like to do the trifecta (Sprint, Ultra, Beast).

Next up for the team is the Tough Mudder Race in Cold Water near Toronto. Stay tuned for the pre-race posting on this next week. This race is planned as a fun team building race that we’ll all be running together at the same time so I expect it to be a blast.

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