Tales From the Chicked: Heather Rayburn

by Carrie Adams 

 Heather Rayburn, age 37, recently finished her first Spartan Race.  She sent us an email giving us an insight into her experience in Colorado as a legally blind competitor.  While participants faced all kinds of obstacles on race day, Rayburn had her own set of unique challenges before even stepping foot on the course.  Hear her tell her story in her own words about how she found her Spartan finish line and how she’ll be back next year to take it on again…


As I came out of the first mud pit obstacle I had no idea there was another.  And another.  Oh yeah, and another.  It wasn’t because of lack of preparation on my part – it was because I just couldn’t see that far in front of me.  I have been legally blind/visually impaired since age 12  with non-correctable, less-than 20-500 vision.   So the 2012 Colorado Military Spartan Race was literally was one surprise after another.

Since vision impairment is a hidden disability, I wear a bib/tag for all events that says “Visually Impaired”.  This is so that people don’t think I’m just slow for no reason.  I also have a Guide who trains and competes alongside me.

There are some benefits that stem from the lack of vision.  I can’t tell how steep a hill is or how far there is left to the end of an obstacle – so I just keep going.

There was a moment on each of the wall obstacles when I asked myself what I had gotten into.  Not being able to see the top of the wall is one thing.  My Guide helps me here.  The really interesting part is then being at the top of the wall and dropping what seems like forever to the ground; my feet would find terra firma before my eyes.  Even with my trusted guide, dropping from many feet up was daunting.

Some obstacles affected everyone regardless of vision, like the downhills on the Rucksack and Sandbag carry – everyone was ‘slip-sliding away.’  I still have no idea where I was supposed to throw for the grenade toss but I did my burpees and went on with a smile.

My guide (by the way, he is also my husband) and I became separated in the mud crawl.  Somehow people got between us; I could not stop for him and so I just kept crawling forward…and forward…and forward.    Once in a while my Guide and I would yell back and forth some words of encouragement or direction.  The directions he gave were simple “keep crawling forward a bit more.”  He could see the distance and kept telling me “Just a little further”… or “just a bit more.”  Usually he gives a distance estimate and I wondered why he didn’t.  One quarter mile later I emerged from the pit muddy and bloody with my M16 and waited for him to find me.  I guess I looked recognizable enough because the next thing I knew we were jogging into new territory.

The terrain was extremely challenging for me as it was very uneven in every direction with lots of sand, small rolling stones, and cactus.  It was fantastic!  Frequently we would move to the side so those coming from behind us could pass and I could maneuver safely.  I am so impressed with the Spartan Spirit!  Many of the folks coming by had encouraging words for me, asking if I was doing ok, or offering assistance.

In the end I attempted every obstacle – and did a lot of burpees – but was amazed at how many obstacles I conquered.  The grenade toss and spear throw were “automatic bupees” since I didn’t know where I was aiming.  Obstacles like the uneven upright log steps and directions like “step forward, through space about 5 feet and about 2 feet up” made me laugh more than anything.  The log-climb obstacle was interesting as I really couldn’t see from one to the next but with good instructions my hands and feet found each like a ladder.

The fire obstacle had been causing anxiety since we observed the lighting of the flames.  Brian kept saying it would be fine and reminding me that I jump creeks and other things occasionally and I reminded him that water and fire are very different to tumble into.  We stood beside the fire and my Guide counted about how many steps the others were taking so we had a place to start from.  We bolted forward, side by side, toward the flames.  I heard him yell “JUMP!” and so I did, leaping the fire successfully.  I was up and over the cargo net with relative ease as it is a repetitive task.  I followed behind my husband through the Spartans – they took him out and I passed unscathed to receive my medal!  I was told by the Spartan Staff that, as far as they know, I am the first VI/Legally Blind competitor to finish this race.

Thanks to my husband and Guide – I never would/could have done it without him and also to Spartan Race for yet another affirmation that you don’t know what you can really do until you try.

I think the biggest thing I learned is that I am not bound by obstacles.  My vision, or any disability really, is an obstacle, just like the obstacles in the Spartan Race.  How you deal with it is up to you.  Some obstacles, like some days or some tasks, take more concentration, more instruction from others, and more determination to conquer.  Sometimes I wanted to give up but there was a bigger picture.  As my Guide and I were negotiating steep, rocky inclines people were passing us and giving me encouragement.  I saw people of all ages, shapes, sizes, races struggling, grunting, swearing, and dealing with whatever their issue or dis-ability was and I realized what makes a Spartan – determination to conquer any and all obstacles in my path be it a wall to climb, a mud pit to crawl through, or to navigate a world that ends a few feet in front of me.  For this morning’s workout, I wore the shirt I wore to Spartan; the small tears and remnant stains remind me to push a little harder, train a little more, because I will be back again next year for more!

Team SuperBlind is already registered for the 2013 Colorado Military Spartan Race and I am already looking forward to it.  Let the training… continue.  AROO!


My Jounney to Sparta:  The Chris Davis – Part 10:  “It” Hits the Fan

by Chris Davis

In this installment of the Chris Davis Project we find Chris Davis writing after finishing a monstrous weekend of training.  He’s beat up, exhausted, and at his breaking point.  He’s behind on his weight loss and being pushed by Joe Desena to make more caloric cuts while simultaneously increasing his exercise volume.  It’s adding up, surely, and the pressure is mounting as Chris is balancing on the edge, about to fall behind on his weight loss goals.  It’s not a good start to the week.

The Chris Davis Project: Week 5 video has been released.  Check out the bottom of this post for links to all previous videos if you need to catch up on the action.  -Jason J



5/29/2012 Memorial Day Weekend Recap

This weekend has been a very challenging weekend both physically and mentally.   Things really got hard on Friday morning when I weighed in.  I hit a big snag; my weight jumped up to 330lbs.  Joe believes that it is because I have added protein back into my diet.  We cannot afford to have any weight gain in the program, so we need to remove protein from my diet again.   I agree that my weight gain is also related to the protein, but I believe that the weight gain is because my body is using the protein and building muscle because of the speed in which we are ramping up my training.  Muscle building is out doing my fat loss right now.

I know these weight gains are not due to increased caloric intake, because there is no way I ate 17,500 calories (what would be required to pack on this about of poundage) on Thursday.   So Joe made a deal with me – if I was still at 330lbs by Monday, I would need to go back to a diet of only raw fruit and vegetables.   I continued to do the workout we had planned.  I did my time on the ski machine, and did my walking and kung-fu lesson that night.  I also ate a light dinner knowing that I had a very big walk in the morning.

The plan for this weekend was to get two 13+ miles days in.   To me this was a very ambitious goal because last week the goal was two 10+ miles days.   So adding 6 miles in a week was a little aggressive, but I like a good challenge sometimes.

The other big challenge is Joe was out of town so I would be doing the walks alone.   No one to help keep me going when the time gets toughs – just me and the road.   So this would be a true test of my dedication, both to myself and to this project.

Things started out great – I had completed the first 6 miles and I was working through the normal sourness, the joint pain that you get when you start a long walk.  This is when I started to notice some new soreness on the top of my left leg.  After a little observation of my current stride (because it has been changing from day to day) it looks like I have lost enough weight so that my stomach is rubbing on the tops of my legs as I walk.   Up until now this has only happened when I tried to jog or run, but now it is happening when I walk as well.

By mile 8 the soreness had changed to pain and now it felt like someone was jabbing me with a hot poker on the top of my leg, so I stopped to take a look and see what was going on.  It looked like a small line of bug bites on my leg.  No big deal, I thought, I will keep an eye on it and keep going.

A little later, I ran into Marion Abrams on the road, and we decided to take a break from my walking to do our weekly video filming.   After that was complete, I took another look at my leg and I was surprised to see that there were several new sore spots and that some of them had been bleeding.   I took some time, cleaned up the area, and it looked a lot better – the bleeding had stopped and it just looked irritated.   Determined to finish my walk for the day, I decided to continue on.   When I got to my 13.1 mile mark I was so happy to be done.  My leg was in bad shape, the raw spot was now about 4 inches long, and about 2 inches wide.    But I had finished my walk.    After walking another 1.2 miles to get back to my room I called it a day and tried to recover.

* * *

Sunday morning I work up and checked on my leg.  It looked better, but it was still raw.  I knew that today was going to be a long day.   Still sore from the night before, I got back on the road around 6:30 am.   By the time I got to the 1 mile mark I knew that my fears where going to come true – my leg started to burn and I knew I was going to be facing a repeat of yesterday.  But I know that I need to work thought the pain and discomfort and get this done.   I stopped at the 5 mile mark to take a look at it, and the sore was growing again.  On top of that, I was starting to get the same bumps on my stomach that I had had on my legs yesterday.

I was so frustrated at this point that I wanted to stop, but I knew if I did it would be a disaster for my progress, so I continued on.  By the time I got to the 8 mile mark my leg was bleeding and my stomach was completely raw.   A  little later I rolled my ankle trying to get out of the way from an oncoming car that had crossed over the white line on route 100.   At this point I started to question why I was still out on the road.

I sat on the guard rail for about five minutes rubbing my ankle, and that is when I told myself that I had made it this far, so I can finish this!  I got back up and continued on.

About 10 minutes later I was in the valley walking down route 100 when someone pulled up in a pickup truck, and said “I drive a semi around here every morning, and I have been watching you for the last few weeks.  You’re doing great, keep up the good work.”

It was at that point I knew had made the right decision to keep going.  I had a new wave of determination from this brief conversation and the encouragement kept me going through the rest of the walk.

By the time I got to my 13.1 mile mark, I was in bad shape.   Both of my ankles we swollen, my knees hurt, my hip was soar, and my leg and stomach were on fire.    But I had completed my goal.   I have now walked the distance of a marathon in one weekend.   I will be honest; I never thought I would be able to walk this kind of a distance in my life.

* * *

Monday morning rolls around and I am so incurably soar, everything hurts and I need to get up and walk into the office so I can weigh in.  I got on the scale and I was relieved to see that I was down to 325.6 lbs.  I was quite happy with my progress since Friday.   It made all that hard work worth it.  I had proven to myself that I could meet my goals by myself, even with Joe out of town.   I was feeling great, so I walked up to the general store and got an omelet with extra spinach and a Spartan Green Juice.   While I was waiting for it to be ready I send Joe a text message letting him know the good news that I was down to 325.

This is where ‘it’ hit the fan for me.

His reply was: “ Ok, did you get 5 miles in this am?”  

First of all, Mondays are supposed to be my day to recover.  I replied with “ I have 1.2 miles in today”.

I then get the next messages from Joe while I am starting to eat breakfast.  “Ok see if you can get 3.8 done with the pancake (sandbag).  I didn’t realize we have till Friday to be at 308ish.  So even 315 would not be a disaster.  Could you go raw this week?”

I was so pissed off and crushed I could not see straight.   I worked hard this weekend and kept pushing through the pain.  This is the reward I get?

I took a few minutes to cool off before I replied, “I can go raw for the rest of the week, but need to take a day to recover from the 27+ miles this weekend.  The raw spots on my legs are very soar and still bleeding from time to time.”

“Do the rower.”   He replied

At this point all I could do was throw my arms in the air and say I give up.   I finished my breakfast, and started to leave to go watch the Memorial Day parade here in Pittsfield VT.   It was a very small event, but there was a good crowd that showed up.   The parade ended in the city cemetery, where there was a small service for our fallen heroes.   It is funny how incurably small my problems felt, after experiencing this service.  Talk about a reality check that was a big one.



This morning I weighed myself again and I am back up again to 327.2lbs. I am going to keep my deal and make it the rest of the week on raw food, and we will see how thing go from there.   I am not happy about this, because I feel that my body needs the protein to build muscle and to help repair the damage I am doing to my body as I continue to push the limits of what is possible.  But I guess my opinion doesn’t matter.   I am just going to do what I am told until I physically cannot go any further, and my body shuts down.

click here to read Part 9…


Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5


Master WOD Archive

Spartan Race WOD Archive 5.21.12 to 5.27.12

by Jason Jaksetic

This week marked the debut of a Spartan holiday – Buck Furpees Day.  Yes, Buck Furpee Day will forever officially be on May 21st every, but feel free to break into Buck Furpees day at any point in your weekly training cycle.

Traditionally in workout programs, Monday’s are reserved for rest or recovery days – Monday being the day of the week that hits you like a sandbag full of bricks no matter how well you prepare.  So if you have to pick a day to do less training- Monday logically follows.

However, sometimes it’s nice to tackle Mondays head on and jump in full force.  Sometimes you need a jolt to start your training week.

We hope Buck Furpees Day was a good start to the week!  We’re hoping this WOD archive helps get you ready to go wherever you are in your week.


WOD for 5-21-12
Spartan Buck Furpees Day

Burpees suck.  They hurt.  Overall they just break you down physically and mentally.  (Especially when you get a 30 burpee penalty well into your Spartan Race while you can’t feel your exhausted arms.)

Burpees turn your internal furnace on HIGH. They force you to put out a huge effort as you confront your ability to be in control of your own body.  Your metabolism will be on fire after Spartan Buck Furpee day. Also, it will give you the confidence to know that you can handle a 30 burpee penality at a Spartan Race.  Not to mention that the burpee is a great recipe for getting lean muscle.

Tomorrow, to honor the 300 men that went into battle in Thermopolye (and burpees in general), do 300 burpees as fast as you can.  Do 300 as slowly as you can.  Whatever.  Just do them.  300 of them.  Let this WOD last all day if you have to!

Much more on Spartan Buck Furpees Day on our blog…


WOD for 5-22-12

Beat up from Buck Furpees Day today?  Did you get your 300 burpees in? Ready for another beating from tomorrow’s WOD?

The greatest results in life are usually attained by simple means and the exercise of ordinary qualities. These may for the most part be summed in these two: common-sense and perseverance.
- Owen Feltham

WOD:  Sandbag Carry
Time to go out and tackle your favorite 3-10 mile run course.  The steeper the gradients the better.  Just plan on being much slower than usual because you’ll need to bring along a training partner – your sandbag (or something similar).

Weighted vests are great, but nothing beats the way an irregular object like a sandbag works your stabilizers as well as your grip.  You’ll probably notice some new weakness in your fitness as you engage new muscle groups if you’ve never done this WOD before.

Start with a manageable weight (around 10-25 lbs) as a beginner, but more experienced athletes can use 50-75lbs of weight.  Try not to use your shoulders, but force yourselves to carry the sandbag in your arms, thus requiring you to work on your grip.


WOD for 5-23-12

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Step up to the challenge of being fitter, more active, and more focused on health.  This is a great workout that breaks up your running with upper body and strength exercises.  A Spartan is not a pure runner.  Nor are they only concerned with strength.  A Spartan strives to be a pure athlete – able to conquer anything before them.

Warm up with a 10 minute jog and do two sets of 10 push ups.

Run 1 mile at race pace
5-25 burpees
Run 1 mile at race pace
5-25 pull-ups
Run 1 mile at race pace
Burpee-pull ups until failure
50 crunches
2-4 minute plank
(Build your strength and endurance!  Try to eliminate resting between running and each exercise.)

Cool down with a nice easy jog and stretch.


WOD for 5-24-12

The beginning is the most important part of the work.
- Plato

Let’s hear it for all our beginners! No matter how advanced you think you are now, you were once a newb – don’t forget!  Take the time to help & encourage beginners. We know the Workout of the Day’s (WOD’s) can get intimidating at times, so here is one geared for those just starting out.

30 minutes.  Set aside 30 minutes of time for FITNESS and commit.  No distractions, no phone, no excuses.  Just keep moving forward and keep your heart rate up as you move from one exercise to the next.

20 minutes cardio (walk, run, hike, swim, bike, row, etc)
5-10 burpees
10-20 body weight squats

Cool down with a nice easy jog and stretch.


WOD for 5-25-12
Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
-Will Rogers

Sometimes it’s important not to over complicate things.  This WOD can be done by both the beginner and expert.  Just adjust pace and repetitions to meet your current fitness level.


warm up with 10 minute jog (jump rope optional)

main set:

25-100 lunges
run 1 mile at race tempo (or slightly faster)
recover 2-4 minutes
(repeat 2-8 times)

cool down with light jog and stretch


WOD for 5-26-12

When you get right down to the root of the meaning of the word “succeed,” you find that it simply means to follow through.

– F. W. Nichol

Long run.  Should be the longest of your week.  Try and push yourself an extra mile.  Also, consider including these two exercises at the half way point of your run:

50-200 body weight squats
50-200 lunges

We promise, you’ll thank us for having experiences like this when you are barely into your Spartan Race event and your legs feel like lead weights.

Stretch as cool down.


WOD for 5-27-12

In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result.
- James Allen

Lots going on this weekend?  Here’s a quick WOD to pound out.

1. 30 Push Ups
2. 15-30 Burpee/Pullups
3. 30 Box jumps
4. 100 Jumping Jacks
5. 300 crunches

Feel free to break this WOD up across your day or to pound it out straight – one exercise performed immediately after the other.  Just get it done!


My Journey to Sparta:  The Chris Davis Project – Part 9:  Milestones and Long Walks

by Chris Davis

Chris Davis is still going strong at Spartan HQ where he has been working on his personal journey of going from 696 lbs to doing the Spartan Ultra Beast.   It is amazing to see him develop as an athlete and writer for this blog.

I had the pleasure of walking 10 miles with Chris Davis last weekend (you’ll read about it below).  Not a 10 normal miles mind you, but some of the steepest roads Vermont has to offer.  Even while passing around 40lbs, 50lbs, and a 75lbs sandbags with other walkers, we still were never close carrying the weight that Chris did each and every step.  And he can’t put his down when he gets tired. 

I know Chris is working twice as hard because of this.  He surely must be hurting twice as much.  I start to really comprehend how much guts it has taken him to get this far.  I know that if anyone can do this, he can.  – Jason J


I was going through and re-reading some of my blogs, and I realized that I have never taken the time to explain where I started out and how I came to be here at Spartan Race HQ.  So I thought I would go back and do some research to build a list of milestones that helped me get to Spartan Race and beyond.

My Major Milestones:

•                  I started my weight loss program on June 29th 2009 @ 696 lbs.

•                  I had Sleeve Gastrectomy, a type of bariatric surgery, on July 12th 2010 @ 634 lbs.

•                  I started walking in the Lazy River at the Romulus Athletic Center on November 23, 2010 @ 499 lbs.

•                  I joined the Dunwoody Running Group on June 13th 2011 @ 448 lbs.

•                  I climbed Stone Mountain on July 9th 2011 @ 440 lbs.

•                  I completed my first 5k race on October 1st, 2011 @ 411 lbs.

•                  I completed my first Spartan Sprint on March 10th, 2012 @ 390 lbs.

•                  I arrived at Spartan Camp on April 11th, 2012 @ 388 lbs.

•                  I completed my first 10 mile hike on May 12th, 2012 @ 334 lbs.

When I started to do this research I did not expect that it would bring up so many great memories from my past.   I started to think about Stacey, Farah, Tammy, and Sherrie from the weight loss program that I attended before having my bariatric surgery.    How Keryl, stayed by my side and helped me finish my first 1.6 mile loop during my first meeting with the Dunwoody Running Group.   I will never forget the day that Liz and Dorene walked with me when I completed my first 5k.  These are just some of great memories that I have experienced while on this journey.

Yea, there have been some days that sucked, but it’s funny how fast you forget about them when you look back at what you have accomplished.


This weekend was another big weekend for me.   On Saturday Joe, Andy, Jason and 2 other people joined me for a 10 mile walk.  The kicker this time being that our walk started at 4 am.

I will be honest, I am not a big fan of waking up and walking at 4 am – but that is part of the Spartan Camp Experience, I guess.   When you come to Spartan Camp you have to understand that the only thing you can count on is the unexpected.

After a little drive we got on some random dirt road that disappeared up a mountain, it was cold and very dark; there are no street lights outs here, so the only source of light is the moon and the stars.   It takes your eyes a few minutes to adjust but you would be surprised at how little light you need to see once your eyes get used to the dark.  As we climbed up the mountain the sun started to come up and it got even easier to see.  The first 2 miles of our walk were straight up.

It took a while before we got to the top of the mountain and as we did, we came up to this over look right as the sun started to rise over the mountains.

Now I understood why Joe wanted us up at 4 am.   I just wish would have taken some extra time and enjoyed watching the sun rise a little longer before we headed down the road.

Maybe after the race, I will head back up this road and sit back and enjoy the sunrise properly.    Until then I have to learn to cherish every moment I get to see something beautiful on this journey.    By the time the day was over, I had walked 11.1 miles with an evaluation climb of over 1850 feet.

On Sunday, I got to sleep in my till a normal, sane time.  We started the day by walking the 5 miles from my apartment to the office, but instead of stopping, Joe talked me into doing a couple of laps around Lower and Upper Michigan Roads – two connected dirt roads that wind around the western mountain slopes of Pittsfield.

By the time I had finished my 2 loops in I had walked a total of 10.5 miles, and was ready to call it a day when Joe drove up to meet me at the Pittsfield General Store.   He me asked how things were going and I told him I was done for the day – I had completed my goal of 10 miles and my feet were soar, and I was done…just done.

His reply, “Great!  Let me get a hold of the camera crew and let’s go walk up to that Cabin up on top of the mountain.”   I was crushed, but I said sure why not, I had made a comment earlier in the week that depending on how I was feeling I might try and go for 13.1 miles on Sunday.

So I sat down and had an apple and a green juice.  After answering some questions for the film crew we walked to Spartan Camp.  Once I got there I picked up Wilson (a sand bag) and Joe’s kids decided to come along as we headed up the mountain.  We made it up just past where I normally turn around and I had to stop.

I was just out of steam…   After a little break and some water, we continued up the mountain, and after a few more breaks.  I made it to the T in the road, I was total spent.  So I took a break and then buckled into peer pressure and moved on a little further up the hill.   I had to stop my body was starting to fail, so we turned around and headed back down the mountain.   I was so tired that I had to stop 3 additional times along the way down.   By the time we made it to Joe’s house I was feeling light headed, and I knew I needed some water and food ASAP.   So I had a glass of water at Spartan Camp, and then got a ride to the General Store and ate an omelet with some spinach in it.

After eating the spinning stopped, but I still felt bad, so I got a ride back to my apartment and took a nap.    After a couple of hours, I felt a lot better.   So when it was all over on Sunday I had walked 13.7 miles with an elevation climb of over 1750 feet.    For a weekend total of 24.8 miles with an elevation climb of over 3600 feet.

This morning when I woke up I was still soar, and had a hard time walking, but the more I moved around my apartment the better I felt,   when I asked Joe to send someone to get me, he kindly replied with “start walking to town and I will send someone”.  This usually ends in one of two ways:  a) I end up walking 10 miles into work, or b), someone will show up about in about 30 minutes.

I had no choice, but to start walking towards the office.   About a mile down the road I am starting to get that sinking feeling that I’m in for the long haul when Chris pulls up next to me and lets me know the Joe has sent him to pick me up.   I get into the car and head to the office.

Once I get to the office,  Joe wanted me to weigh in before I got a chance to get settled in.  All I could do was think about how much water I drank last night and how that was going to throw my weight off, but now it didn’t matter, so I stepped on the scale and it read 328.6.  This put me down 7lbs since Friday, where I had gained a few pounds after trying to re-hydrate.

So I was happy with my weight loss, but Joe, well not so much…he was hoping that I would have lost over 10lbs to help me get me closer to reaching our goal of 308lbs by June 1st.    I don’t know if we can make it happen, but I will do my best to get there.


On Monday we had 9 new interns join us here at Spartan HQ.   It was great to meet so many people excited about starting their journey here at Spartan Race.   As a team building exercise we started talking about this and that, and somehow they talked me into fasting for the entire day – and in return they would do 3,000 push-ups as a team by noon tomorrow.   Reluctantly, I agreed, so after two big days of walking over the weekend, I fasted on Monday.

The last time I fasted was after another big workout and about 24 -48 hours after that fasting experience I got really depressed and almost quit.    Well, it’s happening again.  But don’t worry, I’m not thinking of quitting this time.  But none the less, I am still very depressed.

There has to be something that goes on in my body when I fast that sets off a chemical imbalance, and that is why I get so incurably depressed.   I started to notice this last night as I finished up with kung-fu.   I started to get an overwhelming feeling of being alone.   So I reached out to a few friends on the phone in the lodge lobby (since my cellphone doesn’t get service at the lodge) and I was able to get a hold of my good friend Lauri.   You have no idea how good it was to hear her voice.  I felt so bad that I called while she was eating dinner, but she didn’t mind.  We sat and talked for at least 25 minutes and I felt so much better for a while.   But then, it got bad again.

I ended up going to bed thinking of my other good friend and house mate Dra.   It has been over a week since I had last heard anything from her.  She had not returned any of my messages, from the last few days which is not like her at all.

When I woke up this morning I just wanted to hide under the covers and pretend that the world did not exist.  But I had my doctor’s appointment, so I knew I had to get up and going.  I forced myself out of bed and into the shower.   Usually after a nice hot shower I feel alive and ready to take on the world – but not today.   I had some time before my ride was supposed to pick me up, so I headed to the lobby of the lodge and turned on the TV to try and see what the rest of the world was up to.   It is kind of crazy how fast the rest of the world can fade way when you’re doing something like this.

For those of you who don’t know me, if there is one thing that freaks me out more than anything, it is being late.  So at 7:25 I am wondering when Steve was going to show up since he was my ride to the doctor’s office.  I keep thinking is Steve going to forget about me like Chris Z did yesterday? 7:30 rolls around and still nobody.  7:35, still no one.  7:40, I finally start to freak out, and I go back to my apartment and grab my laptop, because of course, I do not have Steve’s number in my phone.   I go online and get his number.  When I called I find he thought the appointment was on Thursday, so he had not left yet.  My appointment was scheduled for 8am, and now I was going to be late.  I just started to freak out, but about 60 seconds later, I settled myself down.  I said, “Oh well, there is nothing I can do about this.   I am just going to have to deal with it”.  By the time Steve arrived, I was back to my calm but depressed self.

We got to the doctor’s office about 15 minutes late, and I was expecting all kinds of problems because we were late, but they didn’t even raise an eye brow.   I guess that is the difference with a small town doctor’s office, they understand that these things happen.    When I talked to the doctor he was quite happy with the results of my blood work, and agreed that adding Eggs to my diet was a good choice, and that should help.  Other than that, nothing else has him concerned at this time.   I am scheduled to go back in 3 weeks do another set of blood work, and see how things are going then.   I should have been ecstatic about this, but it just when in one ear and out the other.

After getting back to the office, I resume my funk – I couldn’t focus on anything, it’s like my whole world is foggy.  I have even tried taking a walk down by the river, and that didn’t help.   My mind keeps wondering back to Dra, and how I still have not heard from her.  I sent her another text message, telling her that I was getting worried.   This time I got a reply, she explained that things have not been going well for her back in Atlanta, and she told me some of the things that have happened to her over the last few weeks while we have been out of touch.

It was at this moment I was reminded me of just how far away from home I am, because I know there is nothing I can do to help her from here.   I have a real hard time talking to her on the phone because she works two jobs, and is only available to talk after midnight.  With me going to bed at 8pm, this kills our ability to talk on the phone.   So what about text messages, and IM?  Well there are some people where I need real-time feedback to understand the tone and intent of the message, and she is one of though people.

While I sit writing this blog, I can’t tell you how much I miss my friends in Atlanta.  I know they are behind me 100% of the way, and I guess that is why I miss them so much.   The only advise that helps right now is something I would say to my friends when they are having a rough day.  “Tomorrow will be a better day, and if not tomorrow the day after that.”

I just need to hang in there, and hope that tomorrow I will feel better than I do today.

click here to catch Chris’s story from the beginning.

We are happy to announce that The Chris Davis will be posted at noon on Tuesdays and Friday.  The Friday blog will capture Chris’ experience during the week while the Tuesday blog will recap the excitement of his weekends.


Master WOD Archive

Spartan Race WOD Archive 5.14.12 to 5.20.12

by Jason Jaksetic

 This week the quotes of the day were particularly enjoyable.  They all boil down, for the most part, as quotes about ‘can’ and ‘do’.

Get your ‘can do’ attitude on and do these WODs.  You can.

WOD for 5-14-12

If the wind will not serve,
take to the oars.
Destitutus ventis, remos adhibe
– Latin Proverb

Mondays are often so crazy workouts get shelved.  Let’s put an end to this.  Here’s a WOD that can be fit into any random 30 minutes.

Pick your three favorite body weight exercises (for example:  push-ups, burpees, lunges).  Focus 10 minutes on each trying to max out reps while preserving good form.  Can be done as a straight 30 minutes or 3 separate 10 minute workouts.  Just get it done!


WOD for 5-15-12
Take calculated risks.
That is quite different from being rash.
– George S. Patton

CLICK HERE to check out our blog which is hosting tonight’s WOD and brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition.


WOD for 5-16-12

They can because they think they can.

“Lumberjack 20″

20 Deadlifts (275/185)
Run 400m
20 KB swings (2pood/1pood)
Run 400m
20 Overhead Squats (115/75)
Run 400m
20 Burpees
Run 400m
20 Pullups (Chest to Bar)
Run 400m
20 Box jumps (24″)
Run 400m
20 Squat Cleans (95/65)
Run 400m

Make sure you do BOTH a solid warm up and cool down.

Need a video to help you out with this one?  CLICK HERE for a video created just for you by CrossFit Dilworth,located in Charlotte, NC.



WOD for 5-17-12

You can’t plow a field by turning it over in your mind.

Stop thinking about doing a workout each day.  At some point you have to stop making plans, and start traveling.  Today is the perfect day to take on the WOD as part of your daily routine.

Go for a 1-hour moderately paced run.   Keep first 15 minutes dedicated to warming up – gradually bringing yourself up in pace.  At minute 15, however, start pounding out 10-30 burpees each mile you do, or instead, do 10-30 burpees at regularly scheduled intervals (every 5 to 10 minutes).  Finish run strong with 10-30 burpees.   Make sure you do a cool down routine that includes stretching.



WOD for 5-18-12

Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.
-William A. Ward

Hill Repeats (aka Adversity Training) are a great way to make quality fitness gains in a compressed amount of time.

1-2 mile jog/run warm up.  Be sure to do some accellerations towards end of warm up that take you to high intensity very briefly.  A solid warm-up is vital for this workout.

Find steep section of Earth.
Explosive run 30-60 seconds going up.
2 minutes recover walk on way back down.

(advanced athletes can do with additional weight such as sand bag or weighted vest)

For our flatland spartans, please consider experimenting on variations of this WOD with stairs, bleachers, stair climbers.  Or drag a tire with a rope.  That always works, too.

Repeat Hill Inteveral 4-12 times before going into light jog for cool down.  Stretch.


WOD for 5-19-12

Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.
-  William James

If you want to be a Spartan Race finisher you better start training like one.  Just sayin’.

Tomorrow go for distance.  Running or hiking. Your choice.

Runners: shoot for a ‘conversation pace’ because this should be your longest run of the week.  One hour minimum.
Hikers:  go long.  3-4 hours minimum.  Maximum?  Try and be back by Monday morning…

Spartan Race TV:  Colorado is now live

…and registration is open for 2013

If you enjoyed recieving your WOD today, forward it to a friend.  Include this subscription link:  http://www.spartanrace.com/wod/

Training buddies help keep you moving forward.


WOD for 5-20-12
Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
-  Thomas Jefferson

Here’s a workout to just DO.  You don’t need any fancy gear or a whole lot of time.  Just commit to doing this workout and define your current fitness with the results.

This is a good workout to do periodically to bookmark your progress.  Never get discouraged, only get inspired to do better next time.  You succeed by trying the WOD – most people won’t even get that far.


Warm Up:  Jump rope, do jumping jacks, and throw down some burpees -  10 minutes.

2 minutes push ups
2 minutes crunches
max pull ups
2 minutes crunches
max push ups

Endurance: 2-4 mile tempo run

Cool Down:  Stretch


My Journey to Sparta – The Chris Davis Project:  Part 8

by Chris Davis and Jason Jaksetic


In this installment of My Journey to Spartan – The Chris Davis Project we find Chris Davis writing to us more about how he is feeling:  what he thinks about when watching TV and contemplating food, how he feels homesick, and how he takes stock of his remarkable progress here at Spartan HQ.  Working with him each day I can only appreciate his resolve as he focuses on the transformation of a lifetime.  I train on the same hills he does and I can tell you that they are a killer to walk up, no matter where you are on your athletic journey. When Chris talks about going out to take a walk, he means it!   

These are hard roads, but I always see Chris walking with his chin up.  -Jason Jaksetic


Chris Davis: Hiker

Last night was the first night since I have arrived at Spartan HQ where I just sat down and watched some TV.   I have to admit, that between VOD, Tivo, and Netflix, I don’t watch a lot of normal TV anymore, so it was kind of funny to me how many of the commercials were for foods that I use to love:  Digiorno, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Quiznos, and several more.

It seemed that there was at least one food commercial in every break.     I just found it funny how I have never noticed this before in all of my years of watching TV.  Maybe I noticed this last night because I was completely focused on the TV, and not trying to do anything else – like thinking of work, trying to solve a problem from earlier in the day, or worried about what to need to do tomorrow.

Or maybe it was because I found myself craving everything that I saw.  I started to question each one of the food items before me; thinking about calories, and the real nutritional value of each piece of junk food, and I thought back to Andy Weinberg’s comment in the week 3 video clip:  “3000 calories of garbage” (for a meal!)

Yea, that was the life I use to live.   To be honest, I still crave some of these foods some times, but right now I would rather cook my own food than going out for fast food.  Nothing is sounding better to me than a nice piece of grilled chicken, with some fresh rosemary…   It is funny how eating fruits and vegetables for almost 5 weeks changes the way you look at food, not just fruits and vegetables, but all foods.  It really helps to bring you back to the basics.  I think that is a good thing from time to time.

This morning I had a hard time waking up – I just did not want to get out of bed.  I didn’t sleep very well, did a lot of tossing and turning.

But once I got out of bed I felt great, my feet had stopped hurting, I felt ready to go walking.  When I left my apartment at 5:43am, I just started walking up the road.   I was surprised that before I made it to the first turn, my ride showed up, so I just smiled and got in the car.

When I got to Spartan Camp I started to look for my friend, the 30 lbs sandbag weight called The Green Spartan Pancake, but I could not find it so, I started on my walk up the hill without it.   About 3 minutes into the walk Joe sent me a message to make sure I was walking with the Pancake, so I turned back around searched till about 6:15, when I just gave up.  So I left without it and told Joe that I was unable to find it, but I would look again after my morning kung-fu lesson.

I did a quick walk up to the first road up the mountain and back.   Not a very long walk, but just enough to warm up for kung-fu.   After kung-fu  I found The Green Spartan Pancake in the one cabinet I could not get open earlier in the morning, so I went for a second walk up the mountain after kung-fu, before walking to the office.

Here is the real crazy thing; I am starting too actually like walking, up here…   I think something clicked in my head over the weekend during my two 10-mile days.  It’s too early to know for sure…  But we will see…

After getting to Spartan HQ this morning I received a ‘pep-u-up’ package from my good friend Lauri, who lives in back in Atlanta!  Thank you so much…  This could not have come at a better time…  I miss my peeps in Atlanta very much, and look forward to coming home and going out and have all kinds of fun with you like, camping (Sorry I missed the last one), hiking, and exploring everything Atlanta has to offer!



Today is day 28 here at Spartan Camp, I cannot believe that I have been here four 4 weeks all ready.   Looking back on the last 4 weeks, there have been some highs and some lows.

Most of the lows have been self-induced, like missing my friends and co-workers in Atlanta, and adjusting from living in major metropolitan life to living in a small town, and getting used to being the one who is asking for help instead of the one offering to help.

Enough with the lows, the highs have been great, like having a walk with over 900 feet of elevation change, walking over 20 miles in a weekend, breaking the 50% total weight loss barrier, and being able to hang from a pull up bar for the first time in my life.   I have also had to try things like kung-fu, bikram yoga, chopping wood with an axe, and climbing across a bridge that was made out of old I-beams, and wooden planks.

As far as my weight goes I started here at Spartan Camp weighing 388lbs, as of this morning I am down to 339.2 giving me a weight loss of 48.8lbs or an average of 1.7lbs a day.   I am a little nervous about hitting my goal of getting down to 200lbs by September 1st, because the weight loss has slowed down over the last few days, but it is still coming off and that is the important thing for me to keep in mind.   To make my goal I will need to continue to lose 1.2lbs a day, is this possible?   To be honest, I don’t know, but I am going to keep trying and we will see what happens.

I have learned so much about myself of the last 4 weeks, it make me wonder what I will learn over the next 4 weeks?   Will I be able to keep up with my weight loss goals?   Will my body continue to be pushed hard with without breaking?  Will my mind break and start to play tricks on me…   It will be interesting to see…   I will let you know in 4 weeks.

click here to continue on to Part 9…

Did you catch The Chris Davis Project Part 7?



Spartan Race WOD Archive 5.7.12 to 5.13.12

by Jason Jaksetic

Another week has past, and now you are another week stronger.  You are one step further along on your own personal transformation.  Be a work in progress. 

These WODs can be customized to suit your needs.  Make adjustments depending on your ability, age, and goals.  You don’t have to be able to do each WOD in it’s entirety.  You also don’t have to be able to do each week in it’s entirety.  BUT study the WODs in their entirety and the week of WODs in its entirety, and aspire to do it.

Or maybe you are an athlete with a background in marathons, 5ks, Triathlons, or similar endurance sport?  Start using these WODs to adapt your training so you can start dominating at a Spartan Race, the world leader in Obstacle Racing.

Stay strong, stay focused.  We’ll see you at the finish line. – Jason Jaksetic

Not receiving your WODs in your inbox?  Want to?



WOD for 5.7.12

“No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch”

Check out this video of the Chris Davis Project that is documenting his amazing weight loss.

Grab your sandbag! It’s t ime to workout! No excuses!


5 Reps  of main set for time:
400m run (uphill, if possible) with sandbag
20 walking lunges with sandbag
20 back lunges with sandbag
20 sandbag push press
10 burpees

Be sure to warm up & cool down with a good stretch!



WOD for 5.8.12

Sweet are the uses of adversity. ~ William Shakespeare
Set aside the time to get this done.  You’ll thank us race day.


5-10K run near race pace
50-150 lunges
50-150 body weight squats
30 burpees
5 minute plank


WOD for 5.9.12
Today’s Workout of the Day was brought to by Gaspari Nutrition.  Here’s the link:



WOD 5.10.12

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

-Mohandas Gandhi


You get faster by running fast.  It’s supposed to be difficult.  It’s supposed to hurt.  So just have fun with it.

Mile repeats. (track is optimal, but road/treadmill is fine)

3-5 one mile intervals with negative splits.  This means you run a one mile split at 5k pace and then recover, planning on running your next mile split faster..  Each interval you run try to push it a little bit faster.  Recovery intervals should be no longer than half the time it took you to run 1 mile.  Jog or walk your recovery interval.

An example workout would look like this

warm up:  10 minute jog with 4-6 30 second accelerations to race pace

1 mile in 7:30
3:45 recover
1 mile in 7:00
3:30 recover
1 mile in 6:45
3:22 recover
1 mile in 6.30

10 cool down walk/stretch

Wod 5.11.12

You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.
-Henry David Thoreau

Less dreaming, more doing.  Time to hammer out some character 800 meters at a time.

You don’t need lots of expensive gear to get a wicked workout in.  Here a box is enough.  For our minimalists, use a box-ish rock or box-ish tree stump.  Whatever!  Just no excuses.


warm up with an easy one mile jog

main sequence:

Run 800 meters hard
20 Squat jumps

Run 800 meters hard
20 box jumps
Run 800 meters hard
20 Tuck jumps

Run 800 meters hard
20 Lateral Jumps over box

cool down with easy one mile jog


WOD for 5.12.12

Sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
-George Dana Boardman

Master WOD Archive

The weekend is the time to log your miles and put quality fitness time in the bank.  Get up early on the weekends, not late!  Time for that 1 to 3 hour run.  Don’t worry so much about distance or speed, just focus on quality time in your aerobic zone.  You’ll need the endurance come race day – especially if you are thinking of doing a Beast!

WOD for 5.13.12

It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, “Always do what you are afraid to do.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t let fear be what is keeping you from completing your first Spartan.  Today is the day to tackle what you are most afraid of.  What is that for you?  Running or swimming?  Power generating workouts or speed producing workouts?  We all have strengths and weaknesses – focus on your weakness, tomorrow.  Not sure what your weaknesses are?  Here’s a WOD that might let you know:


warm up:  1 mile jog, 5-10 minutes jump rope, 20-40 burpees


main set

run 5k at fast tempo


50-100 lunges

25-100 push ups

50-100 body weight squats

10-25 pull-ups

run 1 mile full speed


cool down:  stretch it out.


by Chris Davis and Carrie Adams

As Chris Davis continues his journey towards the healthiest life possible, he continually reaches new milestones.  After officially hitting a milestone of 50% of his total weight loss last week, he hit another one over the weekend walking over 20 miles.  As he settles into his new life in Pittsfield and under the watchful eye of Dr. Jeff Godin and one of Spartan’s Founding Few Joe Desena he is achieving levels of success he never thought possible.  Here is his journal entry for March 7, 2012.

Check out Chris Davis’s Week Three Video HERE.


This weekend was a great weekend for me, I spent most of the weekend walking and I was able to walk over 20 miles, with an elevation climb of over 2,200 feet. I never thought I would walk 20 miles in a weekend. It funny to think I that soon will be doing that in a single day. I am so happy with the progress I am making here. In a few short months I will be walking 20+ miles a day a couple times a week. That is just going to be so cool!

This morning, my body felt good considering what I did to it over the weekend, but when I went to stand up I got a little light headed. Over the weekend Dr. Jeff Godin left me a glucose meter to try and keep an eye on my blood sugar levels when I get light headed like this. So I took emailed him and I ran the test. It was low, very low, so I ate a couple of oranges and I started to feel better. I guess this is something we are going to have to keep a close eye on days where I push hard to find my new limits.

It sounds like Mondays are now going to be my day to recover, so I have been taking it easy on the exercise today, and I have taken time to reply back to emails from fellow Spartans, and to go through and read the comments on Facebook and on the blog site. Thank you for all of your support, it is really helping me to keep my mind in the game.

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Master WOD Archived

Spartan Race WOD Archive 5.1.12 to 5.6.12

by Jason Jaksetic

Are you signed up to receive your daily inspiration and WOD in your inbox?  If not, CLICK HERE.

WOD for 5.1.12

We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.

Perform.  Nothing fancy.  Just perform.


warm up with jump rope or easy jog

Push ups to failure
Run 1-3 miles
Pull ups to failure
Run 1-3 miles
20-100 crunches

cool down with a stretch


WOD for 5.2.12

Another great WOD brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition!



WOD for 5.3.12

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. 

-Franklin D. Roosevelt


The goal of training is to push you to your limits.  Get there and hang tough and you will get stronger.


Warm up: 1 mile jog and/or jump rope.

Main Set:

2-5 mile tempo run.  (What is a tempo run?  It’s not a jog, that’s for sure.  10k race pace is a good place to start.)

2-5 100 meter sprints a 3-4 minutes recovery

25-100 crunches

10-50 burpees

Cool down:  stretch


WOD for 5.4.12

From one thing, know ten thousand things.
― Miyamoto Musashi

The burpee is an exercise that works you from top to bottom.  There are no fancy gadgets involved.  It’s just you and a movement, that, when done right will rip you up for whatever your goals are.


30 minutes of burpees

Every minute to a set number of burpees.  Example, 1 burpee per minute for 30 minutes will give you a 30 burpee workout.  Start there if you are a beginner.  If you are more advanced you can shoot for 3-5.  NEVER sacrifice form for reaching higher numbers.  It’s easy to brag about high numbers when you use bogus form!


WOD for 5.5.12

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. 

- Albert Einstein

Get outdoors this weekend.  Try something new that will work new muscle groups.  If you are traditionally a runner, go kayaking or canoeing.  If you are tearing it up in the weight room all week, try running.  We are only as strong as our weaknesses.  Find your weakness, decide to eliminate it, and then stick to this resolution

Wod for 5.6.12

Rest is for the weary, sleep is for the dead.

Today you should have been smart by training a weakness of yours.  Tomorrow go long your favorite discipline.  Runners, cyclists, swimmers, hikers – let’s see some high mileage.  If you are in the gym, make it a long sessions.  You will benefit from that extra time you bank!



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by Carrie Adams

549449_10150920436514478_763744477_13000247_2091152164_nThere are days when the sun rises and sets without any distinguishable features.  The hours seem to slip by without any fanfare and without incident.  Then there are the days when something happens, something so impossible to believe that the world itself hasn’t stopped turning.  Today was a day like that for Chris Davis.  Today, he became half the man he once was.

Here is his journal entry for today.


Last night I left the office, and walked back to Spartan Camp, we have decided to add a second climb up the mountain in the afternoon to help keep our progress on track. The walk went great, I was running a few minutes late for kung-fu, and I will just have to make sure I get out of the office a few minutes earlier to make sure I am not late for kung-fu today.

This morning, I was woken up by Joe and the film crew… There is nothing better than waking up to a camera recording.  It took me back to my days of being on-call as a Network Engineer for Comcast. Talk about going from 0-60 in 15 seconds, that will do it. 319681_10150475761359478_763744477_11245790_564452592_n

After waking up, we drove down to the Bikram Yoga Studio, where I had my second session, I feel that I did a lot better this time, but I know I have a long way to go. I the only part I had a real problem with was lying flat on my back… I guess it is a side effect of being so heavy for so long. I am sure that as I continue to lose weight, and get more flexible that this will work it way out like the other issues I have experienced so far…

Then came the big news.  After Yoga, we weighed me and I am down to 344.4lbs. That means I have now lost over 50% of my original weight when I began this journey. I am literally half the man I was and I feel great!

(Note from Chris:  I really need to take a minute and thank my fellow co-workers located in the Detroit XOC, Atlanta XOC, and Central Division Offices. Without your support I would not have made it this far. I also need to personally thank Wayne Pennington, for watching over our servers in Detroit, and Jimmy Gatt for watching over our servers in Atlanta, during my leave of absence. Also I need to thank Shane Portfolio for inviting me to join him during the Atlanta Spartan Sprint Race; his invitation changed my life forever.)

click here to read part 7…

click here to read part 5…