Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The LEAD UP: Almost to Philly

   The build up to the Philly Marathon was starting to take shape about 6-7 weeks out, I have reached the magic fitness line of 60 miles in a week and I was progressing. As a lead up to the week of our “Training Camp” at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia I came down with something pretty rough in the form of a cold. It was a rough weekend of riding and running, my veins were flowing with all kinds of western medicine to knock out this nasty sickness. 2 weeks passed by and I was still holding onto this sickness, body aches, headaches, running nose, coughing, it was time to finally rest. 3 days off in a row made a big difference and it appeared to finally subdue my ill-timed body draining sickness.

    Just days after making vast improvements I thought it would be a great idea to jump in with a workout with Billy and Paul. Up to this point I had basically done almost all of my long runs solo and hadn’t been able to do any hard workouts with any of the top marathoners in town. The morning was chilly but I knew I had to treat it as a race in itself, so I went to bed early, woke early and went through my race morning routine. We set off for 10 miles with a large group to get the wheels moving along, it was quite nice to run with a group again, I really miss that dynamic. Once we hit 10 miles Paul, myself and Billy took off to run the next 10 at Marathon pace. Running through the center city was difficult with construction and lights so our first mile was slightly off of pace but we kept pursuing on. The 3rd mile consisted of a long line of people dressed in pink whom where participating in the Breast Cancer walk, kudos to them for being out in large numbers walking in the cold and raising money for a great cause.

    Billy kept pushing the pace down further and further, “I feel good” is a familiar phrase Billy has always said and today was no different. We were at 6:05 pace for a couple miles then just under 6:00min pace, after 5 miles we were in the 5:50’s, then over the last 3 miles I was struggling to keep up with Billy as he appeared to be hammering home to simulate the finish of Thunder Road. 5:49, 5:41 and 5:47 were my last 3 mile splits and Billy was moving away from me! On the last mile I was making a hard push to catch Billy but I could tell something was off and I was swinging my left leg out wide, something just was not right. Later after numerous visit to Laura at Carolina Sports Clinic, she reiterated the fact that I needed to take a couple days off because my body was just rebelling against the training I wanted to pursue. 3 weeks out from the race I had to accept the fact that I was not going to run a PR L and perhaps not even finish the marathon. Two weeks out on an easy trail run with Matt Jaskot and Mike Beigay my right Achilles locked up on me 10minutes in. After this happened, I began to really think about the road to running a properly peaked marathon, I have never been there and I am not sure that I ever will.

   Lucky for me I actually listened to the advice from Doctor Laura and essentially aqua jogged or rode my spin bike over the last 3 weeks with 2-3 days of running per week. As any runner knows this is the LAST thing that you want to be doing while leading up to a goal marathon. My last 5 weeks of training were pieced together as if I literally had no experience running in my life. Though I ran very little, the goal was to focus on keeping fitness, not gaining fitness. Each of these days I was trying to hit the foam roller while also doing some of those irritating minimal exercises to work on lower leg stability as well as a major focus on glute strengthening.  The last thing to figure out was what to wear of course, I had numerous options concerning clothing and footwear, now what to do.
   As any seasoned runner would do, I packed quite a few options for the marathon, including pre-race throw away gear, race attire and post-race clothing to keep warm. One of the shocking last minute decisions that you never make is tossing in a brand new shoe into the mix. Fortunately for me, the Under Amour sales rep sent me a couple pairs of their latest gear to test out and one pair really hit the spot. Perhaps the best racing shoe I have ever worn, well after one test, I thought so. This speaks wonders to the innovative design team at Under Amour given that I have been fortunate to sample the industry’s best running shoes over the past 10 years.

  The shoe in question is the Under ArmourSpeedform and I have provided some of the bullet points concerning the shoe. One interesting factor that I found with a visit from our sales rep is that this shoe was the first to be approved for racing by the legend Chris McCormack and the 2 nd, the upper was created in a bra factory to form fit to the foot, giving the shoe a stretchable concept.

The fundamentals
  • Regular: A slimmer athletic cut that delivers better mobility by eliminating the bulk of extra fabric.
  • Seamless heel cup for anatomical fit
  • Silicone heel grip for a more streamlined feel
  • Smooth, ultrasonic seaming so you feel nothing but fast
  • Micro G® cushioning in the heel rebounds your impact into forward momentum
  • UA Light Speed Grip is strategically placed on outsole for the ultimate in ultra-lightweight traction
  • 6 mm drop
  • Super-lightweight: 6 oz.
   As I firmly decided that this was in fact the shoe to race in one week out from the marathon, many were shocked and disapproved but I honestly thought this was an amazing shoe. At only 6 ounces this was a very lightweight shoe but the thing that stuck out to me was that this was not a minimal shoe per say. The “zero drop” concept was not incorporated it is in fact 6mm which in my opinion could be possibly the perfect drop.  The “Speedform” is more aggressive than a standard training shoe but not as aggressive as most of the racing flats in the industry. This I thought would be very beneficial in the later stages of the race, as it would not stretch my calf or Achilles like some of my other shoes. Another factor that stuck out for me was the snug fit of the heel cup, it is very minimal as it is lined with a thin piece of fabric BUT is has an embedded silicone heel grip with works exceptionally.

Take a look yourself at the Speedform RC

   After deciding on such an integral part of my race concerning footwear, all I had to do was select my outfit. On the table were my brand new “EC3D- Compression Shorts” as well as the trusty “2XU Compression Shorts” that have served me very well over the years. My sock choices were the sweet new “EC3D- twist compression socks” vs“ 110% compression sleeves” the pair that worked so incredibly well at Wineglass last year. The accessory choices consisted of “Mizuno- breath thermo gloves” vs. “ Gore Windstopper gloves” and concerning my head gear I had 3 choices in “Mizuno- Breaththermo winter cap”, “Timex Dri fit hat” or a fitted “2XU- winter cap”. What to do what to do….Next update coming soon, I promise!(laptop broke while flying hence the delay)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fall Marathon: The lead up to Philly

   Months ago, my wife Karin was motivated to "take on" the Philadelphia Marathon once again after her 2010 episode ended with broken metatarsals and a DNF. As she announced the news I was delighted to hear she was attacking something that was taken from her, something that caused her a great deal of pain and agony. I pondered the idea of just going to Philly as a cheerleader for Karin but she asked if I was signing up and it kind of pushed me to really thinking about it. After I realized that I actually had a free entry courtesy of Gatorade Endurance, I went ahead and signed up, after all even if I decided not to race I could have simply not started and it wouldn't cost me a dime.

   I must also mention that during all of this I had just competed in the "Scream" half marathon which by luck I was fortunate enough to finish in 1st place in just under 1:15. This race WRECKED ME! My training had been going very well until I competed in the summer track series where I really tweaked my hamstring and it became a big lingering issue. As I toed the line for the "Scream" I knew that I was not in ideal form to achieve what I would like to but I was on the line to compete and give it my best. I pushed and pushed, even had to make a pit stop for stomach issues until I crossed that line in agonizing pain. I was TOAST for weeks after the race, my legs were shot and I just took time off. Debating on signing up for a full marathon after I had just put my body through hell and back for a half seemed like an easy answer but it wasn't. As you know now, I did sign up for the full and I gave it my best attempt to prepare for attacking a new PR.

     After some much needed time off I decided it was time to really start ramping up my training so I wrote a very basic and simple plan for myself to reach a peak week of 85 miles, permitting I made it to this point completely healthy there would be no reason that I could not knock a couple minutes off of my standing marathon PR. I knew that reaching this would be a very difficult task as I typically have to stick around 50-55 miles per week before my body starts breaking down so it would be a much longer build than I would prefer. If you know me well, you know that I have been a fairly inconsistent runner in terms of training. I like to take about 3months at a time to really get into my training and 3 months to take time off to lift, cycle and to tend to home life. It works for me but is not for everyone, I do still believe that I have a couple of PR's left in me somewhere, most likely in the longer distances and I will get there in due time.

   To keep my training fun and exciting I always like to mix in races to offer a true chance to get into a race mentality while also providing the obvious stimulus. One race really stuck out on my radar that I have always wanted to participate in, "Run For The Green" half marathon in Davidson, NC.  I knew that it would prove to be a slow race but it would have long term benefits. Up to the point of the race my training was finally coming around quite nice as I was getting into the 50's for mileage but my body was having a difficult time adapting to the increased load. My thought was that it would be ideal if I could run just under 1:20 while staying controlled and optimistically hope for the big W. Once the gun went off their was quickly a contender among the field who meant business. He took off with ease and floated away from the rest of us minus some teenage kids who were dreaming for a couple hundred yards.

    After dropping a 5:30 mile to remain in 4th place I thought to myself that it must be game time today, no games and no floating around. I had to start my race soon or this guy might just run away from me. As we approached the 3 mile mark he continued to surge every time I strolled next to him and then finally he pretty much gave up completely it appeared. Within two steps I had made a solid gap on him and I kept pressing. As we hit the turn around, I noticed I had a solid lead and finally was able to back off of the pace and cruise home for the victory. Great race/run, I went out fast got into oxygen debt but was still able to press on with a solid pace, this was really teaching my body to deal with some solid fatigue.

  Two weeks after the "Run For the Green" I told my fellow Huntersville-Concord triathlon team that I would be willing to compete in the relay for the inaugural Davidson Half IM. I knew that I had to hit some solid mileage that week and I made it very clear that I would not be setting any record paces during my run portion. Since I did not have to be at the race till later, I managed to run 5 miles to the race from my house, sit around for awhile then do another 2 mile warm-up before I was set to complete my 13.1 mile journey for the team. Boy was this a BITCH of a course, I know that I was
fatigued but it really took a toll on me. For the first time since I competed in a 70.3 myself I ran over 1:20 for half marathon! It was a fun event, I was able to meet some new people and to share my passion for the sport while we waited in anticipation for our teams to arrive. We ended up winning as the overall fastest team but unfortunately we were still unable to get the top overall men in the field.

   This performance left me feeling a little less confident but still hopeful that I could continue to press my mileage on up. Looking back one of the critical mistakes that I made was not allowing myself a proper amount of time to recover. I distinctly remember one workout that I did with help from Dan Matena at McAlpine, where I was set to do 3 x 5k. The 1st 5k went by FAIRLY smoothly but I could tell that the sickness that I had been suffering from was still lingering in my
body and causing severe chest congestion. The 2nd 5k interval was not so pretty, I managed to still run a 17:40 but it was not nearly as smooth, I had to press the last mile to get my time and my chest was really hurting something bad. For some reason the next morning I was so motivated from my incomplete workout that I met up with Billy and Caitlin for some miles extremely early. I managed to run a couple solo before meeting up with the group to knock out 8 more before starting a workout with Billy and Caitlin. I managed to run just short of 3 miles with them at 6:10 pace before the fatigue and soreness really set in. I struggled back to the YMCA shivering and achy from the 18 miles I had just run, this was the true start of my demise.

  Upon completion of that week of training it was highly likely that you may have very well witnessed my famous last 5-6 weeks of training move, it was pretty sweet and went something like this......"ahhhhh my Hamstring!" , "Oh my Achilles, I can't walk, it's locked up", "My IT band is killing, I don't know about this marathon". Despite all of these factors, I still showed up to the start line at the Philadelphia Marathon with the slim optimism that they may very well be a PR waiting to happen, which I will recap on my next installment.


Monday, July 15, 2013

High Goals and Low Mileage = impossible

  After a debacle at the recent Spartan race in March, I decided that it was time to start looking towards a new running goal in the near future, so I settled on two goals; The Brighton 4th of July 5k (Rochester, NY) and the "Scream" Half marathon in the foothills of NC. Thankfully I started off with a bang of success immediately with winning a small local 5k and then following that up with an amazing performance at the Skyline 5k which was a last minute "kick in the butt" race or so I thought. Having the entire last mile downhill really helped trim my pace down and let me come through in 2nd overall with a 16:18 behind the quick feet of John Compton.

   Maybe the Skyline performance gave me a false sense of fitness, but for whatever reason I just could not find any motivation to actually train in a structured manner in preparation for the 5k or the Half Marathon. The days flew by and I kept telling myself, "oh you have time before you need to buckle down, no worries". Just two weeks ago I had an opportunity to gauge my proposed pace at the summer series 5000m for the upcoming Brighton 5k. Since I never actually did a proper "race pace" workout as I should have, I thought this would be the best gauge. Luckily I was fortunate enough to have a "training camp" weekend away with a few buddies and put in a solid amount of work, on the bike as well as running which lead up to the 5000m race on the track. Over our training camp, we demolished our legs which some brutal climbs, attacks and surges on two feet and two wheels. I knew going into the track race I would be dead legged but what the hell, why not just give it an old college try. 15:58 was the outcome, for another 2nd overall placing.

Most of my Training Camp compatriots

   In the past I have always focused on an attempt to run well at the track series but most importantly win the Championship mile. I believe that I am a 3-time possibly a 4-time winner of this race who apparently is out of his prime. Last year I pushed Bert to an amazing 4:17 mile while I was on the cusp of a sub 4:20 at 30 years old, a feat that blew my mind. Weeks out from this race, I was extremely motivated to beat Bert as well as to finally take the crown of the "Ultimate Runner". This year, let's just say winning the Brighton 5k never seemed to really motivate me to get out the door. I am in an odd slump at this point in my life and it's not something I am worried about. Karin and I bought a very nice home in the community that we could only hope we could raise a child in. Much of my time has been focused on preparing our home to be a place where we could live for a very long time.

Loving Life with Karin
   Accompanying this hard work at home often brings many select beverages and occasional nights out dining. At the end of the day, I have to realize running is just my hobby and but my home life is what matters the most. This is something I have come to terms with even though it has been a struggle at times, watching my paces get just a bit slower than I would appreciate. When I began my "running" cycle in April, I had a couple goals that I thought could possibly be attainable given some very focused and dedicated work. 15:45 for the Brighton 5k and sub 1:12 for the Scream Half marathon. The time has come and gone, along with my hamstring but I still have one more race remaining. On July 4th, Karin and I toed the line, both being very skeptical of our fitness levels and quite honestly had no clue what type of pace either of us could run. She had been having issues with her Achilles and calf while I have endless issues with my hamstring it seems like.

$75 for 2nd Overall
   Bang, the gun goes off and the race starts, 16minutes and 6 seconds later I have crossed the finish line for a solo 2nd overall. The first guy hit the mile in 4:46 and looked smooth and relaxed, while a few guys were trying to hang onto me, I knew I had enough to push ahead by myself. Being absent minded I did not bring a watch for the race so I had no clue what pace I was holding, so this totally would be up in the air. 5:11 at the mile, time to push away, 5:07 over the next mile, and then crossing in 16:06. I was so close to breaking 16, but I had nothing else left. I finished while hunched over trying to see through the foggy, humid air, breathing heavily and sweating profusely, but I had a smile inside. 16:06 wasn't so bad for what I have been doing, I'll take that any day of the week! So much for 15:45, I knew this would be out of the question as my running has been a chore over these last few weeks especially with my IT and Hamstring issues, some days I feel like I am falling apart!

   On July 20th I plan to be at the starting line of the "The Scream" half marathon with no overly anxious goals. While nursing my hamstring I have been very easy on my legs over these past two weeks just so I can make it to the start line. Having heard stories of Ben Hovis and his excruciating circumstances with his Achilles, I just pray that my Hamstring will hold up on some of the quick descents. This is an excerpt from a partial description on the race website;
" The course features over 2,400 feet of descent over the 13.1 mile course, roughly 150+ feet per mile. You will be sore. There are two noticeable climbs between the start & finish, neither of which could really be characterized as challenging hills. Although the significant descent will give you a big boost in terms of speed, if does not automatically guarantee a PR half marathon time. You have to do your part and put in the training necessary to shepard you to your goal. Relying upon gravity to make up for a lack of proper training will be a big mistake; please take us at our word for this."

Maybe stupid stuff like this is what hurts my hamstring?
"Look I can leap into the lake, woooo, ouch"
Sub 1:12, yes, at some point through the race but unfortunately not at the finish line. My goal is to start out conservatively and then to hopefully push some of the later miles to finish strong. I am not sure who will be racing on the 20th but given last years winning time there is a chance that I could be out front fairly quickly, but I know that there will always be a few people who push early on before their lack of proper training hits them and they are walking, hopefully I am not that guy. After I complete this race, I will not have another planned race until the first weekend in November as I need some downtime to get some things together.

    All in all, Life is grand and I could not envision a better life for myself, I am very fortunate and there is not one day that I do not forget that. Running is a mirror to life, sometimes you are just cruising through life with a smile thinking how great you feel then the next moment your ankle rolls over the edge of the sidewalk and you are on your face wondering what to do. Each and everyday is a new day to learn more, whether its about yourself, someone else or something, just embrace it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gatorade Ambassador + Trail running = Long Blog

  As usual I have taken a hiatus from posting on my blog, but I did want to take a few minutes to highlight a few exciting things that are going on in my life currently. Let's start off with my acceptance as a member of the Gatorade Enduralliance team. This is a pretty awesome deal, I sent out my application which asked for podium finishes, results and time not expecting much but only to be notified days later of my acceptance along with two closer friends of mine, Cody Angell and Billy Shue. We all found out that we are the only members in the south east, while there are about 30 members spread all over the country. Unfortunately I was unable to attend our big conference in Chicago but I did get to catch up via email, conference call and webinar.

  With becoming apart of this team, we have promised to do our best to promote the brand specifically highlighting Gatorade Endurance to our local community. You may see Cody, Billy and I at some of the brewery runs or store runs passing our some free samples so don't be afraid to come over say hi and grab some carb chews! One of the cool things is that we get free technical racing gear, so all three of us are going to have a sick compression triathlon gear made by 2XU but we have to wait another month for the customer order to come through. Being apart of this program is very motivating, they literally support us in the best way possible, with race stipends, free product, training gear, and most importantly they connect us to people who love endurance sports just like us.

   After my first batch of supply was shipped to my house, I was excited to try out the new Prime carb pouch which is used most effectively prior to workouts/races. It has some simple sugars as well as of course carbs which you body will be buring off during exercise. Since I knew Gatorade was going to assist with some race expenses I finally decided to sign up for the race #2 of the Riverbound race series at Fisher Farms Park. I have always enjoyed trail running but quite honestly have never done more than one per year even though this is actually my favorite endurance event. Luckily I have a pretty good track record at trail races, from my recollection I have only lost a trail race back in 2006 at the Uwharrie 8-miler which was 4 weeks after my first marathon and I was struggling to say the least. After a full month of continuous running with no real bumps in the road I felt confident that I could really push hard and hopefully break the course record, but with trail running you never know what the day can bring; mud, lapping slower runners, or course distance.

  The last trail race I competed in was on a very special day, the day I proposed to Karin, January 21st, 2012. It was a muddy day on the course but in the end everyone had a blast and I was lucky enough to break way from the lead pack and secure the 9-mile victory.

CRC Trail Race 9 Mile Results

January 21, 2012

Questions please email

Top Males Overall in 9 Mile division.

Place Bib # Name Elapsed Pace


1 670 Chris Lamperski 01:00:13 6:41

2 676 Zack Kessell 01:01:33 6:50

3 651 Dave Mabe 01:04:16 7:08

Top Females Overall in 9 Mile division.

Place Bib # Name Elapsed Pace


1 654 Joan Nesbit Mabe 01:10:41 7:51

2 582 Megan Lordi 01:18:39 8:44

3 539 Jamie Engel 01:21:07 9:01

Hoka Bondi B 2

    Since I had never ran at Fisher Farms Park in Davidson, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had heard that the course was rather technical in some portions. To be proactive in discovering the course, I decided to get there a little earlier and run the 1st 3 miles of the course so I knew what to expect and it proved to be very beneficial to me. I decided to it would be best to warm-up in my new pair of Hoka's, they are a bit heavy and maybe a little awkward but I knew they would keep my legs nice and fresh before throwing on my trail racers. The Hoka Bondi B 2 is the shoe that I was fortunate enough to sample, it is Hoka's lightest shoe to date and I find that with each run I am getting used to the platform more and more but the verdict is still TBD.

Rogue fly on the right
  After warming up solo in the woods I popped my Gatorade Endurance Carb Pouch to top off my energy levels 20minutes before the race. Kent showed up while I was lacing up the Montrail Rogue Fly that I decided to race in. This shoe is SWEET, very lightweight and flexible for a trail shoe, and it has amazing traction on the surface. It was between the Rogue Fly and the Rogue Race, but I thought the look of the Fly seemed to be the faster choice.

  As the race started I knew that I had about 1/2m before we hit the single track to get out front and hopefully never look back. Two guys shot out to the front immediately and one of them literally refused to let me pass as he kept throwing in burst. About 200m from the trail entrance I decided I just had to drop the hammer and pass this guy which proved to be pretty easy. I entered the trail at 1/2m in the lead with about 4 guys nipping on my heels. I managed to gap the 2nd group by the mile as I crossed in 5:39 and the rest of the guys were between 5:52-54 from what I was told. My goal was to nail the straight aways and downhills as hard as I could so I could make up for the twist and turns. In my opinion the trail does not have that many steep uphills to where I felt like " I want this to be over" but more turns than anything which substantially slows down the pace.

   Throughout the race I kept telling myself "Record, Record" to keep me motivated to not be content with the lead but to keep pressing the pace. This is something that I have no issues with on trails races but in road racing I often times wonder off in La-La land for a mile or 2 and loose precious time. The 10k and 5k trails crossed over a few times and fortunately my delay with the slower 5k runners was limited, I had to leap over a small creek off of the trail to get around several runners, but I figure it let me catch my breath and really nail those last couple miles. Over the last 2.5miles I was pretty much alone until the last 1/2m as I ran into the 5k finishers again, but it felt amazing, just running through the packed dirt lined with all kinds of tree's and the sun peeking through a bit. Fortunately there was a good stretch where I had a straight away and I made sure to really nail the pace down as fast as I could. I was a bit skeptical of my 4th to 5th mile split, I knew I was pressing harder than I had the entire race but when I hit 5:24 on the watch I thought either I am really on or maybe that mile was a bit short. As I crested the the last section of the race, they announced my name as the 10k winner and I had a chance to really look at the overall time on the clock as it was ticking in the 34's.

  34:29 was my official time, no way this was the full distance, after speaking to people who had worn their garmin's during the race, most people thought the race to be around 5.7 miles which was disappointing because I was really pushing hard to get a record. After the race I also found out that this was a new venue for the 10k race, so apparently the record will now be mine at Fisher Farms. Kent finished up about 2:30 back in 2nd place overall. TrySports represented well today on the trails in our new singlets that really make an impression.

   My ultimate goal should I get permission from my lovely wife is to race the Xterra national championships someday. Usually the trail championships are in oregon or Utah, both have some amazing trails and breath taking scenery, it would be an absolute dream to compete out west. If you qualify for worlds its in Hawaii which seems a bit more attainable for me than does qualifying for the Ironman world championships and quite honestly, I think I would enjoy going to Hawaii for a trail race as opposed to a full Ironman. So if you see Karin make sure you give her a nudge to help me pursue my dream. take a moment to check out the 2012 recap video, AMAZING! Xterra Run Championships

Monday, March 25, 2013

I am NOT a Spartan: Carolina's Spartan Race

  Like so many of us ingrained in this media culture, I get daily emails from Groupon, Livingsocial and Homerun showing me the latest and greatest deals available in m local area. One day I noticed that there was a Groupon advertising the "Spartan Race" over 8 months away and I figure why the heck not? The marketing guru's behind this event must be making some serious dough as this seems to be the #1 trending sport in our nation. After signing up I have had other goals along the way, nearly forgetting that I actually was registered for this race up until about 2 months ago.

  In order to get somewhat motivated for this race, I began taking some classes at "Fight Gone Mad" and started to institute my own strength regimen 4-5x per week at the YMCA. As a runner I typically would avoid all of this "Strength" work, but over this past year I have had a change of heart I would call it and have decided to spice up things more. While instituting some minimal running to retain aerobic conditioning I hit the weights more and more. From the video's I had seen online, this Spartan race could pretty legit and I did not want to take it for granted in any way. I began to institute stabilization training into my routine with each session making it more and more difficult with heavier weights and uneven surfaces. One of the key workouts that I found really worked a hard burn was my 1 - 10 workout, which consisted of 1 hard mile on the treadmill then immediately hoping off and doing 10minutes of strength with a max out of pull-ups while I was about 20 steps away from the treadmill.

  As the days approached I felt very confident in my overall fitness level, no I was not in tip top running form but in decent enough form to slug through 4 miles I believed.  2 weeks out from the race I decided to really push my anaerobic/aerobic thresholds at the McMullen Greenway with the goal of running under 40minutes for 6 miles. The catch was that the 6 miles had a variety of taxing exercises along the way including (in order); 15 explosive parallel bar dips, 10 pull-ups, 3 miles, 30 push-ups, 25 dips on bench, 15 lunges, 1 mile at 90%, 12 pull-ups, 2 miles to finish in 39:24. After this workout I used the bars to do some additional work and thought to myself that I am in the best overall shape that I have ever been in my life. LET'S DO THIS SPARTAN WARRIOR!

  The forecast worried me on race day, 39 degrees and raining, what would this mean? Those of you who know me, know I have the WORST circulation in my hands and have been known to use gloves in 50 or even 60 degree weather, how could I pull myself up ropes and across bars? Oh well, no time to worry about that! As I pulled up to the US National White Water Center I remembered how much I really liked this place and also that this was a legit event that I was about to partake in. I would guess that nearly 1,000 people were already at the race at 7am and running around with camelbaks, crossfit shirts and compression garments. I had a little time to check in and do a few drills before I had to rush down to the start area. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't really get on the front of the line as there would always be a new guys or two showing up to hop up front. As I looked around, I felt as if I was the only non-military guy up at the front as each were chatting about their drive from this base and that base. The race started with some guy screaming lines from the movie "300" that I vaguely remembered and then all of a sudden everyone took off.

Starting Line - you can see me to the left in Red

  Where was the starting gun? This was something new to me, I missed my chance to make my way up front and push the pace early on. Instead I had about 60 people in front of me on thick gravel while I had to hurdle several guys who were trying to make their bid to be champions. We hit a bridge crossing about 200m into the run and a few more guys face planted on the slippery wooden planks, all the while I was thinking, " I may not have the mentality for this race, this guys are running for their lives, literally". We get into the single track section of the woods and I am SUPER frustrated, I am coasting behind heaps of guys who are about to blow a lung and I cannot pass anyone no matter how hard I try. At every little opening I quickly realized I had to sprint as hard as I could and pass as many guys as possible. We began hitting our first few obstacles from what I remember as mostly water/mud pits through the Catawba River. The barb wire was pretty high and I thought this would be a cake walk until I was knee deep in mud and swimming through it the best I could.

Rock Pull up the Power Line Hill
  The next section of the Catawba river was the most miserable as it took me several minutes to slog through this freezing water where I was neck deep. After I hit land and caught my breath I kept moving my way through the field confidence increasing. The next major obstacle was pretty interesting in my eyes, we had to scale two 7 foot walls and then finish it off with an 8ft wall. This does not sound very difficult until you are tired, dripping wet and numb. After conquering this challenge our next battle was 50 yards away. We had to drag concrete blocks up this mega hill with Metal chains attached. This was the only time I could actually see where I was place wise in the Elite race. I counted a total of 10 guys in front of me finishing this obstacle as I was beginning. After this was complete, I surged over this next running portion as hard as I could passing several more people and making my way towards the front. As I passed the 3 mile mark I was thinking, "Almost there, you can get this top 10 Chris, Come on!!!". At this point I was completely solo and hit the 40yard barbwire mud crawl, wow, 40 yards! This was so much incredibly harder than I anticipated; it was up and down, mud pit, rocks, so many variables. The worst variable was getting my shoe laces caught in the barbwire and failing to detach. I was waddling around in a freezing pit of mud while my foot is dangling on a metal wire and I look like an idiot waving my leg around the best I can to release and continue.

Sandbag Carry, down the hill
into the woods and back.
   The pit was brutal for me, but I finally got out after what seemed like an eternity. After about 400yards of running I saw my demise in front of me as I approached. This past summer I was 3rd overall in the Davidson Mud Run due to the fact that I slipped on the monkey bars and had 10 push-ups while I lost m 2nd place. When I approached the bars, I wiped my hands off the best I could and tried to gain some composure. I knew that if I did not make this all the way across I had 30 burpees ahead of me and that would wreck my chances of finishing well. I grabbed the first bar with my numb hands and fingers, it felt so weird, I saw my hands grasping the bars but just did not feel anything. Moving across the bars slowly I was making my way towards the end thinking " wow, you really can do this". Reaching to the 2nd to last bar I knew I had no grip but nowhere to go but to the ground. "Great! freaking monkey bars". 30 burpees at the gym isn't so bad but after all of this it was like death! Thankfully I breezed through the next 4 obstacles but that was all she wrote. The weighted rope pull, tunnel crawl, net climb and sandbag carry helped me gain back a few more places, but when I approached this black standing wall, I thought "this must be a freaking joke". They expected me to climb across this board of dripping wet 1x4 and 2x4 tiny slices of wood, spaced far apart without falling off! NOT - 30 more burpees for this guy!

30 Burpees Please (this was from the course, see the ropes in the background)
   The next challenge was the spear throw, something I of course practice on a daily basis (sarcasm). My toss was solid as it hit the hay bail and of course promptly bounced off and onto the ground. Guess who had 30 more burpees lined up? That's right ME! At this point I had given up all hope on being in a competitive battle. After my torture I jogged on to the next obstacle, a rope climb that starts in the middle of a deep pit of muddy water. AWESOME! I knew my arms and hands were really fatigued, this would be a true challenge for me to say the least. Taking my time while people were flying up and down these ropes somehow, I was slowly climbing to the top. Here I was about 1.5-2ft away from ringing the bell at the top and I honestly thought I just have no more strength to hold myself up from falling straight down into the pit. As people were cheering me on, I knew it was about to happen and then I just let it happen, splash! Climbing up the muddy hill a nice woman greeted me with "30 Burpees over there, 30 burpees!" Dammit, this really sucks! After my 30 burpees, I have to pick up this MASSIVE tire two times forward and two backwards, this was much more difficult than it would seem but I got through it thankfully.
Our ropes went higher but this
is the basic premise
   Broken mind and broken body, I literally walked to the next obstacle, looking back this was a bad idea, I should have continued to press on, but I just was over failing and doing burpees. One more water pit and a rope climb over a wall and I was done finally. Trembling, shaking and just pissed off, I typed my # into the results and it showed that I finished in 57:04 and was 55th overall in the Elite race. Honestly I don't know the last time I was not top 50 in a race, the only race that comes to mind would be the Boston Marathon in 2007 when I was top 400. I am not sure how to react after this race, where did I lose myself and how could I let myself perform at such a bad level? Should I have picked up a pair of XC spikes after all, should I have taken the gamble and pressed through the crowd at the start to get ahead of everyone and use my strength on the run? Given the day, things just did not work out for me, I even lost my free beer ticket and then was told to leave the locker room because I could not use the showers. As any competitive person would feel after a performance like this, part of you wants to really conquer this challenge in the future while the other part of me wouldn't mind avoiding all of the cuts and bruises all over my body and just calling it a day.
Feel the Pain!
   One of the final points of this rare post, relates back to a article that on facebook bashed, which referenced the Spartan Race and it's test of true fitness. To be honest I was a big skeptic as well but after this race I can truly say that this was the hardest race that I have ever done despite the burpees (I think). Just minutes after the race I was so incredibly sore and today (sundayy evening) I am even more stiff. My Overall result was 55th overall and 15th in my AG! What a bonk! The Spartan race is LEGIT, no doubt about that, I challenge anyone to give it a shot, especially runners as we are often afraid of injury, don't knock it until you try it!!

FYI: I am supposed to get m personal pictures from the Spartan race at the end of the week, can't wait to see the pain and agony! Also, a Shout out to David Bolger for managing to complete the race, even though he opened a gash in his leg that required 9 stitches, after the race. Wendy Norvell who killed the course and finished as the 5th overall woman, while managing to better my time as well! John Chambers who also slayed the course and came out of it with a smile, ready to do another, I have some hardcore peers, great work and thanks for keeping me motivated!