So I ran in a spartan race last weekend. I think this is the first race I’ve run since I did Cross Country in College. I haven’t been running seriously in a couple years either so I really wasn’t prepared, despite possibly being in the best overall fitness shape I’ve ever been in my life. And because I like making decisions I know I’m going to regret later I ran it chainmail, with a padded arming coat, breeches, and turn shoes. It was an enlightening experience.
I ran with a team who had originally planned on doing the Vrangian Guard as a theme. However the others didn’t manage to get outfits together in time. Not being one to quit just because an idea is stupid and I’ll be doing it alone, I grabbed my garb, borrowed Jaye’s chain, and went out. I was riding pretty high, thinking about how much of bad ass I was gonna look.
Getting there I began to worry about my decision. I had rarely seen so many fit mother fuckers. Every where I looked, abs were popping out, veins were on display more than anatomy dummies, and cats were doing pull ups, rope climbs, and various hang progressions as warm ups. I’ll admit I was a little intimidated. My ego is pretty huge but I have to admit I was probably not the sexiest man there. Second most likely, and definitely third, but probably not first. Still possible though.
Anyway we get lined up and there is the jacked bro giving a pump up talk. I’m talking ripped, like his guns were too big to get a concealed carry permit(we were in Mass anyway, so it was suns out guns out all day). Dude had pythons that had eaten other pythons. Big mother fucking arms, 0 body fat, definite gym rat Brofesser type kid, and he’s talking a mile minute with that auctioneer type swag, giving us a run down of the rules, trying to pump us up, and generally being pretty entertaining. He was a good hype man for sure.
So he starts walking down the line wanting to look us in the eyes, make it a bit more personal or something. I don’t know, I’m mostly in my own head getting into “go” mode, when he stops mid sentence walking by me and exclaims “Is that 4 in 1 mail?” I’m shocked. The fact that he even knows what that is, let alone can spot it has blown me away. Also I’m alittle off balance because I’m only 80% sure it is both because I didn’t look at the weave and I’m also really ignorant on the different types of armor. Yeah that’s right I’m a terrible medievalist, I know. I just like fighting with swords, what can I say, I’m a simple guy? The history bit is really just ancillary cool for me.
Back to the race, the guy starts going on about being a huge renfaire guy, quotes Tolkien at me and even says something in elvish. I hate Tolkien, think he’s a total hack, just got lucky he happened to be the first in a field. So now I’m getting out geeked, out historied, and out sexied by this dude. And I’m looking like an ass cause I don’t have a response. Luckily one of the girls is a huge Tolkien fan and saves the awkward moment by showing her LOTR tattoo. Dude gets huge geek boner and makes plans to show her his later. OH MY. Spoilers: They don’t hook up 😦 This story lacks any decadent sex scene, but you can just picture the many many super fit bodies if you need salaciousness in your blog reading.
Well, I’ve delayed the beginning of the race long enough, which should put you in the same mood I was in. I hate waiting for sports to start, just get more and more anxious, so that’s the mood I’m in waiting for the gun to go off. Our pool of runners is finally let out the gate and I start with an easy jog not sure how bad the chain is gonna effect me. The two guys with us take off looking to make as good times as possible, and the girls stay with me, not sure how ready they are for this gauntlet. More spoilers, they were more than ready, they kicked ass.
So we hit our first set of obstacles, jump some 5-6 round hay bails, an over under through set of walls, an incline wall and some monkey bars. I’m breezing through them, no issues. I feel great, like I’m really hitting the zone, ready to pick it up and push myself, but I’ve agreed to stick with the girls, so I do. Good decision btw. I bang out the next obstacle atlas carry fine, but now we get to the water. Up to this point I’m thinking next time I’m doing this in full ACL kit, Helm and everything, I’m already 1 mile in and that means only 2 more to go, so I’m set.
Admission time. That chain I was running in? Titanium. Couldn’t have weighed more than 20 pounds. Honestly I was thinking the turn shoes I was wearing would be more the problem. They barely have any soul left and the soul they had was pretty much dance floor smooth. So, really I’m not worried, I just think of it like a costume instead of a hindrance. I mean, yeah the gambeson seals in heat and breeches are as free moving as shorts but these are minor issues. Then the water happens.
There’s a rope climb, not a big deal, maybe I’ll fail out and have to do burpees since my upper body is a bit weak but I see knots and I know how to climb using my legs so I’m not too worried. The only thing making it different is the rope starts in a pool of muddy water. Whatever, that ain’t no thing….
So I learned just how heavy a padded arming coat gets when wet. Not light, not at all. And that’s not the worst part. The water was only chest deep so there’s still alot of dry material. But my leather shoes? They aren’t loosing water. As I pull myself out I realize I basically have waterskins on my feet. So in addition to no grip I’m carrying an extra 5 to 10 pounds on the part I need most mobile and light. Might not seem like a big deal but think about how runners obsess about trying to cut an ounce of their shoe weight. Yeah, that really fucks up your ability to use legs.
So after what felt like 10 minutes hanging trying to reach the second knot, I drop. It was probably only 2 but I want to sound more bad ass so I’m sticking with my story. Anyway now I need to bang out 30 burpees. In Armor. And wet soft kit. I started the race probably +20 lbs over my body weight. Now it felt closer to 40. It was heavier than wearing my Whisby CoP and Splinted arms, I know that. All I can say is thank god Jaye makes us finish with burpees in Knight Fit, cause I was used to doing them with no energy as hard as possible. Got though mine just in time for the Girls to start theirs. Whew. A break. Needed that.
They finish up and we grab some water fro one of the girls camel bag and hit the next obstacle. It’s two pools of water than climbing steep hills of mud. And then a pool of muddy water and you have you have to duck under a wall. So now my entire kit is soaked. Fun fun fun
Popping out of the water
Girls coming out like Amphibious Marine Valerie’s
Alright, so now we’re all soak, but actually pretty refreshed from the cool water. I’m almost ready to tackle the next session, but one of my turn shoes has torn a tie and all the water and mud is causing to slip down. Rather than run with the shoe out of place I just pull it off and tie it to my belt. Now I’m in one sock and one shoe. Some one tells me this may not be ok, but people tell him I signed a waiver, that’s my choice. That became a bit of a meme over the day. Anything remotely dangerous or questionable, ya’ll signed the waiver. I like that attitude. These are my people.
Conversation handled it’s time to run. I take off a bit fast and have to slow up because one of the girls has no contacts and can’t see. The woods we’re running in isn’t so much a trail as a river of mud, a good six inches deep. Gnarly as fuck. Great trail running conditions.
The woods open to an open dry field at least 50 yards long. Maybe 100? or 30 actually perhaps. Look distance is hard, it was not short and it wasn’t long aight? This should be encouraging, but it’s full of barbwire. Oh Joy, crawling under barbwire while wearing chain maile. There’s no way this could go badly.
I would like to take this moment to public apologize to anyone who got stuck and barbed when I tried to disentangle the rings from the barbs, by pulling and thrashing. Turns out that causes the whole line of wire to move. Woops. Also thanks to the girls for sticking with me to pull me out the first few times.
So we power through the barbwire and yes we were all leaking a little after but nothing serious. We move on at a jog to the next obstacle, a series of logs of different height and width placed in a line, standing vertically. Walk on top, don’t fall. Simple enough and quite fun. I did it twice cause the ref’s said one was harder and I wanted to try that one. There was a bit of a traffic jam though and so while waiting I noticed this one girl was being helped by her whole team across. Turned out she had sprained an ankle but didn’t want to let that stop her. BAD ASS. So being the nice guy I am, I offer her my sport brace I’m wearing. It’s not gonna do much but it should give some stability and keep a bit of pressure. Girl takes it and powers on through the course. What a warrior.
Sprained ankle sporting my brace.
So my team isn’t quite through yet I strike up a conversation with the obstacle ref. “How much is left?”
“Oh I don’t know”
“Like are we what, 1/2 way done? 1/4? 1/3?”
“Oh…Maybe a quarter. Probably a little less.”
I’m a bit confused cause I saw the mile 1 sign well over a quarter mile ago and this is supposed to be 3 miles, but eh, whatever it’s an Obstacle race. Maybe they aren’t that exact with their distances. My team is ready so it’s time to move, worry about that later.
The next section is more woods, but nearly as gnarly, mostly dry and most of the roots and rocks are gone. Some small elevation change but a smooth run over all. Come out into a clearing and there’s a sled pull. Pull a sled with weight(I think I heard 100ish pounds) 10-20 feet to you with a rope, than grab it by the handle and drag it back. I pick a sled where a guy is having trouble getting stuck in a ditch and I take the opportunity to drop trow.
My breeches had been falling down from the weight of water and mud and getting tangled in my feet. The draw string was just not enough to hold them up. Thank you so much to one of the girls that told me to put shorts on under my pants instead of carrying them. You saved me from exposing myself to a few dozen strangers and possibly picking up a sexual criminal status on my record. That would be not cool.
Pants go around my neck, like a preppy sweater. My other turn shoe goes on my belt as well because I had to take it off and didn’t really feel like putting it back on. The guy is still struggling so I offer to help him out. I forget if he accepted or just happened to kill it right then but he was done 30 seconds later. I’m worried about getting stuck in the same pit but pull though fine and dominate it. I walk over to the water table set up there where the girls are waiting. We each pound some water and a refueling energy gel thing. While taking this short break I over hear some one mention that there are still 4+ miles left. Excuse me what?
Turns out it was a 5 mile race. Not a 5k. Oh….Shit. This is gonna suck