Oh Virginia

Finally a Super!!! I’ve completed 6 Spartan races so far this season, 3 Sprints and 3 Beasts. There hasn’t been a Super on the East Coast yet. This weekend in Virginia was the first one, so I was finally going to be able to complete a trifecta for 2017. But there was issues…

So if you’ve been reading my previous posts, you know that I am brutally honest about my failures as well as my successes. Well during the Ohio Sprint race, I really hurt my back doing the Alas Carry. Probably because of bad form or technique. I ended up having a lot of inflammation in my lower back which made it very hard to sit for long periods and to even walk standing up straight. Using cold packs and hot baths I was able to get myself to a manageable level, but still not functioning 100%, and my training was pretty much at a halt. Couldn’t run because of the pain, and any interval training that required quick movements was a no go. So I basically did a lot of rest, and laying around to try to get myself back to a manageable level.

10 days later and I’m still having issues but there nowhere near as bad. Not running, just walking. Lots of stretching and hot baths to try to get the inflammation down. As long as I stand, I had very little pain. But when I would sit it felt like the compression built up and then made standing an issue.

So Friday the 2nd rolls around, and I have to decide if I can complete the Virginia Super on saturday. I knew I didn’t want to make it worse but I also knew I wasn’t going to get many chances to complete a Super. I decided my body felt good enough that I could handle it, and I promised myself that I would take it easy and not get too crazy out on the course. I knew the Atlas Carry would be one of the obstacles, and from looking at the course map I knew it was early in the race, so I figured I would just do the burpee penalty instead of risking making it worse.

Saturday morning comes and I’m feeling good. A little stiff though and very nervous. I had butterflies in my stomach all morning because I knew I was going into the race well less than 100%. But I also knew I was in much better shape than I was at any point 2 years ago, so I was counting on my training to get me through the race.

Race time was at 8:00 am Competitive, but I ended up getting there late. Did some stretching, jogged a little, and did a few rope climbs to warm up. Feeling pretty good, so I headed to the corral. Ended up starting in the 8:30 corral which was fine with me, it wasn’t even full. Starting Spartan chants and we’re off!

The Ohio Spartan Beast was a flat course. Very minimal elevation. I was actually amazed that Virginia was even flatter!. There was NO elevation, no mountains to climb. So it was a very fast course. However even with that I still decided to stick to my plan of taking it easy because I wasn’t trying to make my back any worse and set myself back farther. So I basically jogged/walked most of the course.

Hay walls were the first obstacle. Very different from the previous hay bales. These were circular bales on their sides and still covered in plastic wrap. so they were very slick to climb, couple people needed a few attempts. But I was able to stick my foot into it and get over without too much of an issue. Couple walls fallowed by a cargo net, more walls, then a fairly long double barbed wire set. The barbed wire was very high this race. I didn’t have to get very low to get under both sets. Usually I have to almost lay on the ground, but this one was so high I could stay on my hands and knees and get through it quickly.

Up ahead I could see the Atlas Carry. I knew I was not even going to be attempting to lift it. Just walked over to the side and did my 30 burpees. Felt kinda bad about “surrendering” the obstacle, but I felt it was the better way to approach it. My back was feeling good with the jogging, wasn’t having much pain at all. But I didn’t think it was worth pushing my luck.

Herc Hoist was up next. Like in the last several races, I had minimal issues getting it up the rope. The guy next to me also commented how “easy” it seemed. The volunteer said the Hoists are now functioning better and smoother, so that may be contributing to how much easier it has felt compared to prior races.

So while the 3 of us were talking about how “easy” the herc hoist was, another Spartan seemed to be really struggling to get the bag to the top. We all tried to provide him some motivation, but he was stuck between using enough energy to keep it stable, and getting energy to pull it. Noticed on his arm he had written in marker “Kayla Strong”. He was grunting pretty hard but didn’t ask for help. In the Competitive wave I won’t help someone unless they specifically ask for it, because I know I myself also would rather try my hardest and fail than only pass the obstacle with help. But he looked at me and seemed to be about to let go of the rope, so I grabbed it to stabilize it for him. Then I helped him get the knot to the top. Once he started bringing it down, I knew he had it under control and he seemed very relieved. gave him a pat on the back and an Aroo and I was back to jogging down the trail.

Plate drag. Even with my back issues I was able to pull it towards me standing up. Dragging it back was a different issue. Had to use only my right arm because of the pain on the left side when I bent over. But i was able to get through it, albeit a little slower than normal.

Inverted wall was no problem. Bender worried me because I wasn’t to sure about being able to get myself over at the top. But I used only my arms till I got to the top bar, then I was able to lift my right leg up and over and come back down the other side. Monkey bars were very up and down at this race. A high bar then a low bar. Put my gloves on and took my time, no swinging. Wanted to make sure I was able to get across and I did.

Couple more walls then the Z Wall. It was so dry out that it was probably the easiest Z wall I’ve done. There was no slippery points or mud on the walls. However the rolling mud hills were extremely slippery and hard to get up!. They red clay in the water was so compacted that it was like trying to climb up ice. several of us would get up a foot or two up the wall and then slide back down. Took several attempts but I was finally able to get up and over all 3 and under the Dunk Wall.

Sand bag carry was up a decent hill. Fairly technical in some spots. Felt like it was a Spartan trail and not one that had been there before the race. Was a pretty good length too. Had to keep switching shoulders but I was able to do the whole thing without putting the bag down once, which was a big accomplishment for me.

The running through the woods was very flat like most of the course, but there was a lot of stumps and roots! fell almost flat on my face once, and almost did it 2 other times but I was able to catch myself. You really had to keep your feet up in the woods at this race.

Bucket Brigade was nice and flat. Decent distance, but very flat so if you had to put the bucket down, it wasn’t an issue. My back did not like this so much, and this was the one obstacle all race that seemed to bother it the most. I just took it slow and easy and took a knee when I needed to. Also I liked how they were checking peoples buckets to make sure they were filled. They’ve been doing that at most of the races I’ve been to this year and I’m glad, because it gets annoying being passed by people with half filled buckets.

Multi-Rig was up after that. All rings. I approached it the same as the monkey bars, slow and steady. I feel like at Ohio I had rushed through these obstacles and that led to some failures. So I took a couple deep breaths and started swinging. No issues at all, the rings were so dry that there was no slipping at all with the transitions. Felt really good since I had gotten through a couple grip strength obstacles with no problems and my arms were feeling real good.

I knew I would need that strength for Olympus. In Ohio I felt like I had “figured out” this obstacle. I use 3 different things for success with Olympus: Knees up high feet flat on the wall to support some weight. I only use the hand holes and holds, never the chains! And I do it as fast as possible without stopping. The longer you take to do it the less chance for success because it is quite taxing on the arms. Got through it so quick the vounteer said they nee to make the wall longer because I made it look too easy. Felt good to hear him say that. Gave him a Hi5 and kept it moving.

So up until this point, the only obstacle I had “failed” was the Atlas Carry that I had surrendered at. But my old nemesis the Spear throw reared its ugly head. Despite getting Skittles from a volunteer before my throw, I was unsuccessful. My throw had good arc but was off target by a couple inches. So 30 burpees!

Last 2 obstacles were back at the festival in front of a large crowd: Twister and a Slip wall that wasn’t very slippery since it was completely dry! Took my time at twister to give my arms a little break. Used the outside structure to pull the first handle bar down before I started. Took a deep breath then started swinging. I don’t use the side to side motion most people seem to use. My arms aren’t very long and that feels like more work. instead I wing back and forth, switching between leading arms. Motion is very important, as you are always waiting for the handlebar to come down. If you rush that seems to be where most people fail. I also made sure to try to keep my arms at 90 degree angles so I didn’t tax my arms to much. Got through the first 2 transitions, but by the 3 set my arms were feeling it. Pulled myself up and kept going. Hit that bell with my palm so hard it stung, but it was a great feeling. Hearing people in the crowd cheering made it so much better. Ran up the slip wall, down the other side, then big leap over the fire!

Full disclosure: I would never tell anyone to race hurt. It’s usually not worth the risk, or the setback of making it worse. But I know my body pretty well, and I knew what I could handle. I also stuck to my game plan of taking my time and not pushing myself too much. So my finish time wasn’t very good, as it took me just over 2 hours and 30 minutes. With as flat as the terrain was, I know I can get much closer to a 2 hour time. But now I know where I’m at, and today 2 days later, my back is feeling even better with minimal issues, so I know I made the right call in completing the Virginia Super.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or shoot me a message. Subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram to keep up with all my racing adventures. AROO!! img_4451





  1. Hi son, I was impressed with your effort to complete this race despite your not being 100%. However, you gave it your 100% in my eyes because you did the race period. You could have told yourself I’m not feeling well and said I’m not going. Instead you said it is what it is and you went out and did it. I’m proud of you and my only request is please check out your back and make sure there isn’t any damages your not aware of ok.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks! I actually had went to the doctor several days before the race and they had advised that it was inflammation, and the only real cure was time for it to settle down. If it had been something different like a pinched nerve or slipped disc, I wouldn’t have done the race until it was fully recovered. Wouldn’t want to ruin my whole race season over one race.


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