The Hurricane Heat ended just a couple of hours ago.

I headed back to the hotel to shower, in my clothes, and get ready for the next run. This time, it would be the actual New England Spartan Sprint (for more on the Hurricane Heat, see my previous post). Oh, and before you ask, yes, I changed clothes. I used the shower to get some of the mud off of me and my clothing, stripped in the shower, rinsed off further & wrung out my clothes as best as possible. It was pretty hopeless. I do feel badly for the cleaning crew who came in behind me.

I gathered my troops up — my bride and our super-awesome seven children — and headed back over to the Amesbury Sports Park for my race. I had two goals here: finish with a better time than my previous Spartan Sprint in Pennsylvania (Blue Mountain Ski Resort — see my earlier posts), and the second was to finish in time to see my “New Warriors” run their very first Junior Spartan. My six, seven, and eight year old kiddos were as excited as I was. 🙂

We make our way through registration just fine, get everyone’s race bibs attached, and I show my wife around the venue so that she can get whatever she needs while I run. Before I know it, it’s my time to take off — in fact, I almost missed it!

BOOM! Here we go! AROO! AROO! AROO!

Up the same hills that I ran 6-7x earlier today, and through many of the same obstacles. Early on I realized that I was a little wiped out from the Hurricane Heat that morning, but I was going to press ahead as hard as I could, both physically and mentally. This was a battle not against the hills, obstacles or other racers, but against my own being. I had to defeat Me before I could do anything else.

It wasn’t long before I hit my stride and maintained a good, solid pace for the running portions. I nailed the obstacles with much more confidence than the first time. Spear throw? Piece of cake. Hercules Hoist? Easy-peasy. Rope climb? I got this. Monkey Bars? No prob–er, wait. I fell off of the Monkey Bars?? WHAT‽‽

Yup. It’s true. It was, in my mind, the easiest of obstacles (I have a great set of monkey bars in the backyard on which to train, after all), but I underestimated the effects of the dried mud on my hands. I didn’t have my Geigerrig with me (it was muddy, and really, this is a Sprint — shouldn’t need it), so I had nothing with which to rinse off the now-caked-on mud. I dusted my hands against my shorts; wiped my hands in the grass, but none of it was enough.

I hit the first rung and realized I would need to go two-handed all the way across. I did. Well, most of the way. I got overconfident and thought I could just brachiate out to the final rung and finish. My left hand slipped off before I could get a grip on that last rung. I fell. Right. In front of. The. Finish. DARBIT!!!

30 burpees were my penance. I lost a good 4-5 minutes here (I really need to train burpees more often — noted).

It probably cost me more time than that, because I’m more than halfway through, and I’m tired. Did I mention I took The Gamble? What’s that, you ask?

The Gamble is a terrain-based obstacle. It goes like this: you reach a fork in the path, The Gamble, and you can choose the easy path, which is longer, but so much easier to run, or you can choose the shorter, but way more technical path. I chose The Gamble (the more difficult path). It was a very steep, treacherous, and tough single-land path that converged later with the easy path. It shaved off more than 0.1mi on the trail. I trucked up is as quickly as I could, beating my trail mates who were with me when we split off at The Gamble. I win.

But, it took a lot out of the tank. Still, I’m better than halfway done, so I can keep it going.

After the Monkey Bars, we just had a short trail run, the 8′ wall, another trail run, and then finished up with the Barbed-Wire Crawl and Mud Bath, Fire Jump, and a bursting, downhill sprint into the arms of the Gladiators in the Gauntlet, and through to the Finish Line.

Well, there’s still that 8′ wall…

I got to the wall, and, for a moment, it beat me, mentally. I stared at it, gauging it (unlike before in PA when I just unconsciously leapt up, onto, and over it), and I started to overthink it. Watching guys struggle didn’t help. I finally snapped out of it, walked over to the wall, and knelt down. I motioned for one of the aforementioned strugglers to climb onto my thigh, then my shoulder, and then over. The Warrior Ethos was still kicking from my Hurricane Heat run earlier. He made it. I was still having to figure my own climb over. I’m not sure how much time passed, but then the guy I helped over walked around to the frontside of the wall and reciprocated for me. We never said much, if anything (I don’t recall), but we high-fived, and trucked onward toward the end.

I love being a Spartan.

I finish. Just a smidge over an hour. In reading this, you can probably find several places where I could have kept my time UNDER that hour (an initial, albeit unstated, goal), but I still finished with plenty of time to find my wife & kids, and get them over to their first Junior Spartan Race.