With the inclusion of the World’s first marathon distance obstacle race, the Spartan Ultra Beast, some incredible athletes are throwing their hats in the ring to be a participant. With limited spots to fill and an application process, the Ultra Beast is going to be one of the most unique and challenging events on the planet. You can read more about the event and how to claim one of the prized spots in this once-in-a-lifetime experience HERE.
One of the participants is using a non-traditional, traditional approach to train for the Ultra. An Ironman. Spartan Beast finisher in 2011, Rick Kraics will be using his Ironman training and ultimately his Ironman event in Madison, Wisconsin 13 days before the event as his training for the Ultra. Listen to his story and wish him luck in his quest to go beyond the unknown in Spartan’s Ultra Beast September 22, 2012!
Ironman Training: Rick Kraics
My first Spartan Race was the 2011 Spartan Beast in Vermont. I think the average time out there that day was 5-6 hours on the 13ish mile course. So I felt pretty good about my 3:35:56 finishing time. That said it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. In fact, the Spartan Beast was mile for mile tougher than any other race I’ve ever done. When I finished the Beast my body was trashed, I was completely exhausted, my legs were cramping, my stomach was nauseous and I was just glad I didn’t have to climb up that damn mountain again. So earlier this year when Andy (one of the co-founders of Spartan Race) asked me if I wanted to step up and race in the Spartan Ultra Beast this year I had a decision to make. It took about 2 seconds. I said, “Of course I’m in. What do you need from me?” It turns out he wanted a lot out of me before I would officially be accepted into the Ultra Beast but I’ll tell you more about that later. First a little background on me.
As a kid I ran a number of road races and even a half marathon. Then I took a 15 year break from running. I didn’t have a reason why I
Peak Ultra 30 Miler
stopped running other than I had other stuff going on in my life and running itself wasn’t a priority. But in 2004 I started running again. I liked it. So I did my first marathon in 2005. Then I started doing triathlons in early 2007. I liked those too. So in late 2007 I did my first Ironman. I started trail running in 2010. I really liked trail running. So I started ultra running in early 2011. And then in late 2011 I ran my first Spartan Race – the Spartan Beast in Vermont. I loved competing in the Spartan Beast. So here I am again trying to prepare myself for what will again be mile for mile tougher than any other race I’ve ever competed in.
What exactly is the Ultra Beast? The Spartan Web page states, “The Spartan Ultra Beast will be the world’s first marathon distance Obstacle Race. It will be ONE heat that will feature two loops of the main Beast course. Races will face the toughest course Spartan Race can bring, TWICE, before finding the finish line. It’s not for the faint of heart! For your own safety and for the competitive nature of the event, you will have to apply for acceptance in the Ultra Beast Marathon.”
So, how does one prepare for the toughest course Spartan Race can bring, twice? Well, the bad news about training for the Ultra Beast is there are only two things I really know about the course. First, it will involve lots of elevation gain so I’ve got to train by running some hills and living in a place at sea level with no real elevation change doesn’t make that easy. And second I’ve got to increase my endurance because this race is going to take a long, long time.
The good news is what Andy wanted from me in order to be accepted into the Ultra Beast was for me to compete (again) in the Peaks Ultra, which is a race in Pittsfield, VT. If you know Pittsfield (the location of the infamous Death Race), then you know there are plenty of mountains to run. I ran the 30 mile race and in doing so felt like a slacker. You see the morning I started running a fella by the name of Willy had just won the 500 mile Peaks Ultra race. It took him just over eight days. Other course options included a 50, 100, 150 and 200 milers. So you’ll understand when I tell you that my 2nd place finish in the 30 miler still feels kind of hollow. On a positive note though, that race started my hill training again so I’m on my way to being better prepared for the Ultra Beast.
So now with hill training out of the way (wink, wink) I need to focus on endurance training. The Ultra Beast is going to be the toughest race I tackle this year for sure but that doesn’t mean it is going to be the longest. According to Wikipedia ”Endurance (also called Sufferance, Stamina, Resilience, or Durability) is the ability for a human or animal to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.” That sounds exactly like what I’ll need for the Ultra Beast! The part I can train for is the ability to remain active for a long period of time. What better way to do that than to do another Ironman? For me I’m guessing an Ironman should take approximately twice as long as it will take to finish the Ultra Beast. And as it happens Ironman Wisconsin is exactly 13 days before the Ultra Beast in September. Sounds like the perfect, last long training day before I set my sights on the muddy mountains of Vermont. Who knows maybe I’ll try to go unsupported and carry all my fuel and water on the run to emulate the Ultra Beast? Nah, that is just crazy talk. But seriously finishing an Ironman by itself is no joke. I know, I bonked and DNF’ed the last one I entered 2 years ago. I don’t plan on repeating that performance. Instead, I plan on finishing the Ironman to have fun, race hard and prepare myself both physically and mentally to compete in the Spartan Ultra Beast.
So that’s it. I’m a runner, triathlete, obstacle racer and Spartan that is dead set on taming the Ultra Beast in Killington this September. My logic is simple. I figure if I can handle 140.6 miles of Ironman swimming, cycling and running on Sept. 9th than I should have enough gas in the tank to finish a grueling 26.2 miles of untamed Ultra Beast on September 22nd. And if I don’t, then you can carry me home on my shield.
If you find yourself on Cape Cod this summer and need someone to train with shoot me an email or send me a message on Facebook. I’m always up for an adventure!
This week Chris helps out with the Spartan Death Race.
If you are new to the story, Chris Davis started out at almost 700lbs. He’s lost over 300lbs so far. Follow his Spartan journey as he attempts to get below 200lbs and complete the Spartan Ultra Beast in September.
The 2012 Summer Death Race was an incredible experience for me for several reasons. First, it let me see Joe and Andy do what they do best, manage chaos on a grand scale. Second, it gave me a chance to interact with some of the world’s best athletes. The last and most important thing, it taught me to realize that only you know when you need to stop.
For me the race really got real on Thursday when I saw the list of people that had signed up, and I got my list of responsibilities. I knew that if I was going to survive the race, I was going to have to push myself both mentally and physically – but looking back I had totally underestimated just how far I was going to push myself. I was scheduled to work about 10 hours a day for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I was relieved to see that they were planning on rotating people out to get some sleep throughout the race. So I got home early and tried to get some extra sleep, which I found hard because I was so excited about what was to come.
My first task for the race was to report to registration and help get everyone checked in. I was so happy to see that Margaret Schlachter from Dirt in your Skirt was one of the first people to get to the pool house and wait for the registration to start. I have the privilege to know her since arriving here, and I consider her one of my close friends. I could tell that she was ready for the race, but there was something not quite right. She told me that she was not going to finish the race, and I knew that her heart was not in it today. In a race like this you do not have a chance in hell of completing it if your heart is not 100% in it.
As registration opened, I took my position in the pool house, and I had a chance to talk with every racer that went through the registration process. It was funny to see the different reactions you would get when you would ask people do you want to quit. It was also great when I would switch it up to ‘do you want to race’ and some people would just say no, because they had already stopped listening to the questions we were asking, because the 5 people before me had asked in they wanted to quit. It would take about 5 seconds, then it would hit them to what I had asked. It was great, we had already started to get into some of their heads.
Photo by Matt Davis
Once things calmed down, I headed to Amee Farm to see the official start of the race. But it looked like Joe had other plans for me. Once I arrived he had me front and center walking up and down the farm telling people that the race was starting and they had 60 seconds to get checked in. The next thing I knew I was walking along with everyone over to the Amee Farm Lodge, where everyone had to get into the pond. Now to honest with you, I would not want to get into this pond if I had a space suit because of the duck droppings and the run-off from the farm fields above the lodge. But that did not stop most of the Death Racers. There were a few that tried to sit on the shore and tried to talk them into getting in but they refused, and it was at that point I knew that they were not going to last long. After Joe split them up into teams, I headed off to get a head start on their hike up the national forest because I knew that I would not be able to keep up with the pace Joe was going to have them moving. I met up with the groups a few miles away from the national forest entrance. A couple of the racers peeled off from their groups to help me keep up, but I knew I was slowing them down so I let them go after a few minutes so they could get back with their group. Things were going great until I came down one of the hills to find one of the racers having problems. There were already two volunteers helping him, but I stopped to help as well. We helped him to sit down and relax. We got him some water and food, but it keep getting worse, so we had to call in support. We were able to get him back to the farm but his condition got worse and he ended up heading to the hospital. After we cleaned up a little we continued down the road until we meet up with everyone.
The racers were doing burpees at the entrance of the national forest. Joe told them as I arrived that I was the reason they were doing burpees and I just shook my head. Once I got there Joe made me do at least one burpee with every group. Some groups talked me into doing 5 or 10 with them. As I was getting ready to head back I bumped back into Margret and she told me that she was going to finish the race – I was shocked by the change. I know that she is an experienced racer and that something had convinced her that she was good to go. So I headed back to my house to try and get some sleep because I knew I had a big day ahead of me tomorrow. I had not realized how far down the road I had walked because it took hours for me to get back to town and then to my house. I finally made it home around 11:30pm and I had to be up by 5am because I had to be on the top of Joe’s mountain by 7am.
* * *
There is almost nothing worse than hearing your alarm go off after only a few hours of sleep. I got up and stumbled out the door. I made it up to the first cabin by 6 am and then headed up to the top cabin. I made it there by 6:50 am and I called to home-base to let them know that I had arrived. Only I found out that the racers were over 12 hours behind schedule. The only thing going though my mind at that point was why did I not check in before I got to the top cabin. So after a few hours they had me head back down the mountain to the lower cabin and wait for a ride back to Amee Farm. While waiting for my ride I started talking to Nick (he was there as Elisa Thrasher support crew). He had spend the night in a tent at the lower cabin. After hearing their story I knew that she was going to be one of people that would find a way to make it to the end.
When I arrived back at Amee Farm, I was told that Margaret had quit. The first thing that I asked is she hurt? No one had an answer, so the worst started to go through my mind. But then I realized that if she had been hurt severely they would know. So like everyone else I waited for the shuttle to arrive with the people that had quit. When I heard that the shuttle had arrived I started heading towards it when I saw her, she was having some problems walking so I gave her a hand and we got her sitting down. She took off her shoes and her feet were destroyed. One of the medics from another team stopped by and checked her out. We talked for a while, and she did not quit because of her feet, she quit because she realized she was racing for the wrong reason. She had been racing because everyone else wanted her to, and not because she wanted to. I cannot tell you how much I respect her for making that decision. I do not know if I have the inner strength to make that decision if I had been in her place.
Later in the day I was sent back up the mountain to the lower cabin, where we set up for the pebble challenge. This was also the first time that the racers were going to be able to get support from their support crews. So when I saw Nick still here I continued to talk to him while we waited for the racers to show up. When Elisa showed up I got a chance to talk to her for a bit, and I knew my early assumption was right, she would make it as long as she did not get hurt.
The challenge was basic in design, but almost impossible to complete. As the racers came to the challenge they were split up into teams of 2 to 5 people and were given a number. Somewhere on the trails there was a stake and flag with their number on it. Once they found their stake they needed to fill a pot hole in the trail with buckets of pebble from in front of the cabin. Simple right? We expected each team to take 4 to 5 hours to find their stake, but teams were coming back in less than 30 minutes. So we knew something was up, but things were happening so fast we had no idea on what to do. So we sent them to the next challenge.
While they were at the next challenge people started to confess that they had cheated. And as they did they were send back to Amee Farm to receive their punishment. A little while later Elisa walked up to me and told me that she had found out that her team had cheated, but she did not know about it until she arrived at the next challenge. She was very upset that she had not questioned her teammates and accepted it without questioning it. I told her to go back to Amee Farm and explain to Joe and Andy what had happened. She was the only one to come to me and tell me what had happened. Looking back on this I screwed up, what I should have done was take one of the remain flags and sent her out to look for it. By the time it was all over all but one or two teams had cheated. Because of this fact, I was asked to stay at the cabin overnight and assist in their community service for their crime. After that was complete I stayed there till after 6 AM manning the checkpoint to make sure we did not lose anyone over night.
I was so cold when I got home, I didn’t shower or anything – I just hit my bed and passed out. But the crazy thing is I was only able to sleep for a couple of hours before I woke up to my legs on fire, itching and bloody. When I looked at them they were covered in bug bites. Overnight I had only been wearing shorts, and I did not have any bug spray with me so the only protection I had was the fire and smoke from the fire. I started to count them and gave up when I reached 300. Since I could not fall back to sleep I headed back to Amee Farm. I was half out of it and I really don’t remember the next few hours.
The next thing I really remember is helping with the last of the cement distribution. We were giving each racer a 60 lbs of cement to take to the top of the mountain, So think about this, each racer is wearing a 30 lbs to 70 lbs backpack, and now we just added an additional 60 lbs to their load. Oh yeah, and don’t forget they have been up for over 48 hours. Then out of the corner of my eye, I see Elisa hopping on one leg as Nick is helping her walk. I stopped everything I and ran over to find out what had happened. I found out that she had sprained her ankle and she was out. I was crushed, I was so sure that she was going to make it, but it was not to be. I helped her get into her car, and talked to her for a few minutes. I went back to helping with the cement, and after the last bag was gone I was asked to help move the registration computers from Amee Farm back to the pool house.
After getting things set up I got to relax and talk to Margaret, Forest, and Tara for a while while the race started to wind down. Around 11pm Joe told us to get ready because the race was over and they would be sending people to us. It was so cool being there as the race came to an end and the remaining racers started to file in.
Around 2 am they need some help running the last obstacle “The Death Roll” . You literally roll on your side for 0.2 miles then have to answer a question if you get it wrong, the loop doesn’t count. After 6 loops you are done. When I got to there I noticed that number 486 was on the obstacle and I thought to myself I miss my old 486 computer… Yes I am really that big of a computer nerd.
As the morning went on I kept waiting for racer 486 to check in but he never did. A little while later his teammate started to ask when was the last time he had checked in. All we could tell him was that he started the obstacle, but he had not made it back. A little while later I called over to the pool house to see if he had quit and they replied back saying he is still in the race. So we figured he was just taking his time on his first loop. When his team asked again if he had check in yet, and we had not seen him, we sent several people to walk the course to see if we could find him, but since it was still dark we did not have any luck. It was at this point we started to get more people involved. His name was Marc DiBo. We started to call out for him as we walked up and down the course. When the sun started to rise we went into full search and rescue mode. We started calling in any staff member we could wake up and even reached out to the State Police. After a few more hours we found him. He had walked off the course and went into one of the barns on the site. Marc had found a shirt, and fell asleep on the stairs that lead to the attic.
After checking him out, he asked to complete his remaining loops so he could complete the race. So I walked by his side until he finished all six of his loops. After he was down we walked back to the pool house together as he was the last one on the course. As
we were walking out of the pool house, I was surprised to see Joei Harrison show up. She had been asked to stop because of medical concerns a few hours ago. But she did not want to quit, so we headed back out the obstacle and she did her last remaining loop. By the time she was done it was sometime near 11am. I had been up for over 24 strait and I had only had about 10 or 12 hours of sleep since Friday.
So to say I was exhausted is an understatement. I was so happy to have survived my first death race.
The beginning is the most important part of the work.
No matter how advanced you think you are now, you were once a newb – don’t forget it! Tomorrow, take the time to encourage someone just starting out on his or her fitness journey. We know the Workout of the Day (WOD’s) can get intimidating at times, so here is one geared for those just beginning to train.
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, cycle, swim, etc)
max amount of pull-ups
Cool down with a nice easy jog and stretch. Maybe try out a yoga class.
We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Let’s see what you can do! Tomorrow’s WOD should be performed for time. Just set your exact goals from the suggested reps below and stick to it. Warming up with a light jog, some jumping rope, or doing a few burpees is always recommended.
Run 2-5 miles then do the follow strength exercises
Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work. - Gustave Flaubert
Keeping a strict schedule is important if you keep finding yourself complaining that you ‘don’t have enough time to train’. Actually analyze every hour of your day and you’ll probably be amazed at how much ‘down time’ you actually possess. Regiment your day as to always include a workout, even if brief. Try and squeeze in a few short workouts if your day is totally hectic. Exercise is closely correlated with brain function, so set that alarm to train before sunrise and you just might have an amazing day at work.
grab 20-40 lbs sandbag, Spartan pancake, or even a set of dumbbells and hike/walk 2-4 miles (preferably hills). It’s not about speed, it’s about strength and endurance. The more irregular the weight you are carrying the more you are going to build up your body’s adaptability across many planes of movement while also working your core strength.
finish your trek with weights and do:
20-100 squats or squat throws
10-100 push-ups or burpees
You’ll thank us at your next Spartan Race.
WOD for 6.22.12 Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all. - Sam Ewing
You have to put the time in to show up ready for your Spartan Race. There are no magic formulas or pills, only hard work and more hard work.
Warm-up with a jog that stretches into a moderate tempo run that covers 1-5 miles in length. You should negative split these miles, finishing at or above race pace.
Find a good place to jump into:
5-25 pull ups (or 25-100 push ups)
50-200 body weight squats
Jump right back down into another 1-5 mile run, reaching your fastest pace the last mile.
For a cool down, do a 10 minute jog and then stretch.
In this WOD try and get right back into running near race pace immediately following the strength exercise sets. A Spartan Race forces you to transition from speed to strength and power rapidly so you want to be adaptable.
Having weights ready for the lunges and squats is optional.
It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect it’s successful outcome.
- William James
Bringing the right attitude to a workout is crucial for that workout to be successful. You need to show up ready to perform, unwilling to let anything distract you. For tomorrow’s WOD set your mind to the task of executing each rep with perfect form. Try and leave less and less time between each exercise. This is a good routine to tap into some intensity. Let the straight forward nature of this WOD allow you to focus all of your attention on pushing yourself to the next level in your fitness.
WOD for 6.24.12 All things are difficult before they are easy.
- Thomas Fuller
What distance run do you consider to be too difficult for you right now? Well, whether that number is 5 miles or 50 miles, tomorrow start striving towards conquering that distance. A tried and true method to do this is to make sure you continually push the distance of your long run each week. What was your long run last week? Add 10-15% of that run to tomorrow’s run. So, for example, if you ran 10 miles for your long run last week, push yourself to 11-12 miles tomorrow. Make sure you bring enough water and fuel to see you through to the end. If you’ve been pushing hard and progressing continuously for the last few weeks, feel free to consider a more recreational recovery run. Still go long but back off distance and intesntiy to give your body some time to absorb your recent gains.
Begin to be now what you will be hereafter. - William James
If you went long today, go short and sweet tomorrow. Recovery days are crucial in any fitness progression. Take a day to absorb your recent strength gains. Try light aerobic exercise doing something new – whether that is breaking out the jump rope or doing a 20 minute swim session, it doesn’t matter. Just get active. Breaking a sweat is a great way to loosen up and recover from a hard wo
This week – Chris makes it to the peak of “Joe’s Mountain” for the first time since arriving in Vermont.
Chris Davis started out at almost 700lbs. He’s lost over 300lbs so far. Follow his Spartan journey as he attempts to get below 200lbs and complete the Spartan Ultra Beast in September.
6/9/2012: Mountain Climbing, Bears, and The Breaking Point
Saturday morning started early. I hate waking up at 3 am to be at Joe’s house by 3:30am – but there is usually a reason for this, and today this would be no exception. When I got to Joe’s house I was surprised to see Jeff Godin, Tammy Godin, Jason Jaksetic and Joe.
The 5 of us head up the mountain at 3:45 am. I was caring Wilson (my 25 lbs Spartan Pancake) , and everyone else took turns carrying Moab (Mother of all Bag’s – Joe’s 100lb Pancake). It is funny how everything feels like a dream at 4 in the morning; nothing seams real. We made real good time up the road, and as we dug into the steep trail I kept thinking about how this was going to be the furthest I have been up the mountain to date. I keep thinking about all time times I had attempted to climb this mountain and failed. As we passed the location where I had turned around last time, I started to get a sense of accomplishment because last time I did not even have Wilson with me and I was exhausted. But this time was different. I was a little tired, but overall I felt good.
As we made the next turn up the hill, I saw a bunch of logs sitting on the side of the road and I knew that these were going to be used for the upcoming Death Race. So I was nervous when Joe had me put Wilson down. He walked up and down the logs, and said “Let’s take this one to the cabin”. So we all went to that log and picked it up. To say it was heavy was an understatement – it was 25 feet long and over 18 inches in diameter at places. It took all of us working together to get it up in the air and then hold it over our heads. At this point I got very nervous because I have no upper body strength. After a few minutes we started to rest the log on our shoulders as we walked. For me this was a double edged sword because I have lost a lot of the padding in my shoulders, so every time I would take a step I would hurt as my shoulder slammed against the log.
As we were walking, I had a bit of a reality check… Here I am in the middle of Vermont, carrying a log on my shoulder with 4 other people. Is this a dream, because this is not something I could ever imagine myself doing a few short months ago? After what seemed to take forever we made it to the cabin; my shoulder was throbbing. I was a little heart broken when I found out that this was the lower of the 2 cabins. After a few minutes of doing some burpees, and some other exercises we picked the log back up and went back down the hill.
Everything was going great until I lost my footing and down I went. It all happened in slow motion. I remember my foot starting to slip on a rock, then I knew I was in trouble so I let go of the log so that I would not pull everyone over. Then for some reason, instead of trying to brace for the impact like I would normally do, I decided to tuck and roll. I wonder if this because of the kung-fu or what, but it worked great. I hit my knee on a rock, but for the most part I was good. I did not break anything and I was able to get back up and continue on. Joe joked, saying it looked like I was faking it, because of how well I rolled and took the impact. It was that moment I realized that, yes, he is pushing me, but he is doing it because he really cares. I know that I do not always agree with him (ok most of the time I do not agree with him) but that is OK. Sometime we need that person to push us beyond our limits, and if there is one thing Joe is good at, it is pushing people past their personal boundaries.
As we got back to the logs, we met up with the film crew and continued up the mountain to the top cabin. The path was wet and slippery, and as we went up my knee got worse and worse. But we pressed on, and after a while we made it to the top. Talk about an indescribable view. It made me feel like we were the only people left on the planet – there was fog in the valleys, and incredible calm around as the sun was just peaking over the mountains. I was grateful that the film crew was with us, because it gave me some time to sit back and enjoy the beauty of the site as they interviewed Joe and Jeff.
After the interviews were over we headed back down the mountain. Once on the valley floor we headed Jason’s driveway when, out of nowhere, a black bear ran across our path about 50 feet ahead of us. So once again I had to ask myself if this was real or a dream, and yea it was real… The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, but by the time the day was over I had walked 13.2 miles. A great day in my book considering we had summited the mountain, and I had Wilson with me the whole day.
Sunday, also started out early – I was on the road by 4 am. The plan was to walk to the Trailside Lodge and back. But overnight my knee and hip started to really act up, so I grabbed Wilson and headed up the mountain instead. I made it up to the end of the road and headed back down. Once I got to the main road I headed towards the lodge and I had made it about 2 of the 5 miles there when my hip popped out and then back in. When it happened I decided to turn back towards town because the closer you get to the lodge, the worse the cellphone reception gets. And I was alone, so my phone was my only backup in case things went really bad.
So I headed back towards town and continued on. Everything started to really hurt, but I was determined to get my mileage in. It was shortly after this that Joe showed up. I explained what was going on and we decided to adjust the route to keep it a little closer to town in case we ran into additional problems. Also Joe had Courtney, his wife, and the kids join us to keep me from giving up, and calling it a day early. Every mile that passed, I stated to have more and more pain until we got to the end of the walk at the General Store. I was bummed that I had not made my goal of 13 miles for the day, I had only been able to walk 10.67 miles, and I was done. The problem was I still had to walk back to the house. So I took some time and ate a couple of oranges for breakfast and got some water. I started to feel a little better so when I left, I headed towards the farm, instead of back to my house, but within a half mile, my body started to give me problems again, so I turned back around and headed home.
While passing through town I bumped back into Joe, Courtney and the kids, and we decided to take the trails back to Joe’s house, this way we could keep the kids off of route 100. There was only one problem, there was a gate blocking the bridge that crosses the river. Joe had headed back to get the car so it was just us. We got everyone else over the gate, and I was the last to go… Because of the way the gate was attached it was not stable enough for me to climb over directly so, I had to climb over the rail of the bridge, slide past the gate, and climb back over the rail. Not that big of a deal, for most people, but remember, I am not a graceful person. My body had gone through a lot of changes in the last few months, and I do not trust myself yet. Add to this the fact that my hip and knee are destroyed from over 20+ miles in the last two days. But for some reason that did not stop me… I got up and climbed over and away I went…
I had a couple of moments where I was sure I was screwed, but I found a way to do it. I was so upset that Joe had sent us this way because I was sure he knew there was a gate on the bridge, and that was why he chose to go and get the car, but looking back on it I am glad he did. I would have never tried climbing over the rails on a bridge if he had not send me that way. It is something I will always remember, and I am so glad that I did it. I still don’t trust my body yet, but it is things like this that will help me get to that point.
By the time I made it home that night I had completed 12.42 miles. Close to the 13 mile mark but not quite there. When I got home I just collapsed, I was sure my day was over until the phone rang. It was Joe; he wanted me back on the road… So at 5:51 pm I was back on the road with Joe, Courtney, and Wilson. We headed back up the mountain, and we made it all the way back up to the T in the road and I headed back down. When we got back to my house, I told Joe and Courtney good night I was done. They wanted me to continue down Joe’s house but I couldn’t go any further. But they would not take no for an answer and for the first time since getting here I completely held my ground. I finally got to the point where I said, ”I do not want to be rude, but No, I am done, have a good night.” I walked back up my driveway took a shower and fell asleep. My total, millage for Sunday was 14.06 miles.
So this weekend I walked over 27 miles, and climbed over 6,600 feet of elevation. I made it to the top of Joe’s mountain, saw a black bear, and climbed over the side of a bridge. It took me almost 15 hours, but I survived!
The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.
Mondays can be a huge obstacle in and of themselves. But let that drive you to take control of the day and get done what you have planned. Here is a fast WOD that you should be able to do even if on your lunch break. Beginners this is a good place to start, while the more advanced can adjust as needed. Keep the intensity up on this one.
warm up with jog or jump rope session
10 push ups
1/4 mile to 1 mile run interval
(repeat 3-10 times)
Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.
Here is a great workout to do even if you have limited time during the day. If, as a beginner, some of these WODs seem intimidating, know that we were all there once. Try not to obsess about how many reps and sets you do as you structure your workout – simplify the WOD according to your needs. Respect goes to the person giving 100% effort to finish 50% of the WOD, not the person who does 100% of the WOD at 50% effort.
warm up: fast walk/jog/jump-rope
50-200 body weight squats
4 minute plank
Incorporating a sandbag in your training is great for both aerobic and strength conditioning. Trail running takes on new dimensions when you incorporate a 40lbs training partner. If you haven’t seen these guys at your race yet, you will in the future – you’ve been warned. Spartan Race is now making the Spartan Pancake available in limited numbers…click here for details
Pancake Carry WOD
(Hill repeats with weight)
Find that hill use for your traditional running hill-repeats. This should be an incline that takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes to hammer up. Now, simply bring your 20-40lbs pancake along for the ride.
To best build grip and arm strength, don’t allow yourself to ‘shoulder it’ or to tuck it up under your arm – force yourself to hold the pancake in front of you, engaging hand, wrist, and forearm strength.
The sandbag will engage your upper body stabilizers as well as help engage your core as you try and find a comfortable way to carry it. It’s irregular nature will constantly force you to adapt and change your method. This is functional fitness.
After your repeats, do three sets of crunches, trying to total an amount between 50-200.
Here at Spartan HQ we have Chris using his Spartan Pancake (affectionately named ‘Wilson). Here is the latest update from Chris on his journey from 696lbs to the ultra Beast.
Not failure, but low aim, is crime.
- James Russell Lowell
Tonight, The Death Racers are going into a second night of racing. They are relying on their deep wells of aerobic fitness. So tomorrow, in that spirit, let’s work on your base level fitness by focusing on pushing your distance limits. Go long – either on the road or the trails. Don’t worry about speed or intensity, but focus on quality time spent running in your aerobic zone. Build strength by heading to the hills. Wait to the final few miles to kick it in to gear if you feel like going hard.
This week – Joe and Chris express frustration and argue about Chris’ diet. It’s a tough week for Chris.
Chris Davis started out at almost 700lbs. He’s lost over 300lbs so far. Follow his Spartan journey as he attempts to get below 200lbs and complete the Spartan Ultra Beast in September.
Chris was at the New York Spartan Sprint in Tuxedo, NY. The day he filmed this video we asked him to tell us about it. So he wrote the following journal entry included below.
6/6/2012: The New York Spartan Sprint
Welcome to Wednesday. I have been holding off writing my weekend blog for days, because I am still trying to process everything that went on this weekend. To be honest I still have not processed everything, and it will take some time for everything to sink in. I meet so many wonderful people – Spartan Race Employees, Volunteers, and Racers. It is one thing to read the comments on facebook, the blog, and emails, but it is a totally different experience to meet some of these people in person. I thought that I was ready for this experience, but clearly I was not prepared for the impact it had on my life. I hope I get to go several more races between here and the Ultra Beast because I now have a new level of commitment to completing the Ultra Beast after this weekend.
Saturday started at 3:30 am, with everyone getting to the lobby of the hotel at 4:00 AM so we could leave for the Hurricane Heat. On the way to the site, Jennifer and I were following Jeremy and we missed an exit and we got to the site about 15 minutes late. We all went racing; the whole thing was like a scene out of a movie…
After getting my radio I meet up with the Hurricane Heat runners at the rope climb were Joe D. introduced me to them. Shortly after saying hello, I headed over to my obstacle, the pancake carry. This race the pancake carry way set up on the farthest run to the left of the ski resort. The goal that Joe set for me was to carry the women’s pancake (25 lbs) up the mountain 50 times, and to help keep things going at the obstacle. When I got there I grabbed one of the pancakes and headed up the mountain. Since I was the first one there I had to make my own path up the incline.
Walking up the mountain sucked. There were so many thorny patches that cut into my legs the entire way up. When I got to the top, I looked out over what I had accomplished and I was so happy that I had made, and then it sank back in, I had to go back down. But while I was standing here I heard everyone from the Hurricane Heat, so I headed over to cheer them on. I bumped into Joe, and he said to head back because he wanted everyone to see me on the course when they showed up. So I headed back and started on my way back down the mountain I thought that heading up was full of thorn bushes- the way back down was a lot worse. And to top it off there were several spots where there was exposed stone, and I slipped and fell a couple of times.
But I made it back down in time to head up as Joe had the Hurricane Head runners coming down the mountain. Joe had each of the hurricane runners grab 2 pancakes and head back up the mountain, Red (40lbs) for the guys and Pink (25lbs) for the ladies. They went up the path that I had just made a few minutes prior.
A little later the volunteer’s showed up and we got ready for the race. We were far enough away that you could tell there was music in the background but you could not make anything out, but when the first heat left, you could hear them getting ready to start. It took some time for the racers to show up, because we were near the end of the race course, but when they did it was great. The trip up the hill was two tenths of a mile up and an elevation climb of over 300 feet. So to say it was a long trip to the top is an understatement.
The one thing that surprised me was how many people recognized me. You have to keep on thing in mind – I have spent most of my life as one of those computer nerds that does magic behind the scenes that no one ever sees. So for me to be front and center, and in the spotlight is a very unfamiliar position for me to be in. It took some time for me to get used to it, and within a few hours I started to have a lot of fun with it. I was asking people if they were hungry, and when they would reply yes, I would reply great, I have a nice stack of Spartan pancakes; grab one and head up the hill. It was usually about this time when some people would recognize me and say you’re Chris from the blog, and I would laugh and smile and say ‘yep that is me’.
Shortly after the competition heat started, I was helping some people out when I hear some yelling my name. I look up and it’s my friend Margaret Schlachter, and she is in second place for the female racers. I cheer her on as she passes me chasing after the first place runner who is still on the hill. It was so cool to see her doing so well during the race. Another really cool moment was when Hobie Call and Andi Jory both walked back over to the hill and walked another lap up the hill with me. Talk about a reality check, here were both winners taking time out of their day to talk and walk with me. It will be something I will remember for a very long time. Shortly after we got back down, Margret came back and talked about her race and I was thrilled to here that she came in second place. Before she left, we also climbed the hill together.
Throughout the rest of the day I would walk up the hill with a sandbag, and relax at the top of the hill welcoming people to the top (where about 50% would stop for a break) and it was funny once they would catch their breath. I would start talking to them, and every once and a while someone would take a double take when they realized who I was, and they would ask ‘are you Chris’. I would smile and we would continue to talk.
By the end of the night I walked up and down the hill 15 times. On my last lap, I noticed that one of the runners was having some problems, so I walked to her and started talking to her. I could tell that she was so exhausted. When I go to her she looked up and she recognized me. I talked to her and her friend for a few minutes and we started back up the hill together. After they started making progress, I told her I would see her at the finish line.
I closed up the obstacle and headed back, but instead of going to HQ I headed up to the finish line. I wanted to be there when Tavora and Jessica crossed the finish line. After a little while I heard over the radios that they were nearing the fire pit. I got a finisher medal ready for them and I was able to give Tavora her medal once she crossed the finish line. It was such a cool feeling for me to be there considering I was the last one to cross the finish line in Atlanta just a few months ago. By the time we made it back to the hotel it was almost after 10pm and I was exhausted. I had been up since 3:30 and I could not see straight anymore so I grabbed a quick salad and went to bed.
* * *
On Sunday I got to sleep in until 4 am because there wasn’t a Hurricane Heat. When I woke up I was so sore from Saturday, and I had a decent sun burn going. When we got to the lobby we were welcomed with a boxed breakfast that included a bagel, a fruit box and an apple, You would be surprised how many people will trade you a apple for an bagel at 4:30 am. So I headed out with a couple of apples. When I got to the site I grabbed a few bottles of water and headed back to my hill.
I started out the day with the goal getting another 15 laps in, but I was so exhausted that I had a hard time making it to the hill. Once I got there, I ate a couple of apples and had some water but I was still not feeling great. By the time runners made it to the hill I was feeling better, but I was losing my voice. So I did the best I could to help people out for a while, I had made it up and down the hill twice when the Spartan Chicks stopped by to do a photo shoot in there high heels. I was talking to Jennifer and Margret, when Jennifer asked me to join them for a photo. I had my original pants with me so I pulled them out and we took the coolest photo: I still cannot believe I had 4 Spartan Chicks in my pants. What an incredible experience.
A little after they left, I started to get a little light headed, and I started to having some problems with ringing in my ears. Since it was near noon I headed back to HQ to get something to eat and get some water. The closer I got to HQ the worse things got and by the time I was there I was in bad shape. I sat down and got something to drink. After my third bottle of water I started to feel a little better. I saw Margret and Jennifer and I asked them to check me out for dehydration and they confirmed that yes I was dehydrated. They told me to relax for a bit and keep drink water. So I followed their advice and stayed out of the sun for the next few hours and drank as much water as I could.
Towards the end of the day Joe had me head back out, but this time, instead of going to the pancake hill, he sent me out to be a gladiator till the end of the day. This was great for me because it allowed me to be there when Kristina crossed the finish line closing out the Spartan Race for Sunday. We talked for a few minutes, and took some photos. I was so proud of her for making it to the end and not giving up.
When we got back to the hotel, I staggered to my room and just sat under the shower for at least 15 minutes. Then I headed down to get something to eat only to find the restaurant in the hotel had closed for the night. So I joined a bunch of my fellow Spartan Race Staff to head out to dinner. It was good to sit back and relax after two incurably long days of work and exercise. It was so worth it all the work because I got to meet so many great people at the race. I am looking forward to getting to work at the next race.
Right now it looks like that is going to be the Death Race here in Pittsville VT, on 6/15. I hope to see some of you there.
A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
It’s been a crazy weekend of racing in New York. Tomorrow is a recovery day. Keep your workout to a light jog or try a new form of cross-training such as rowing, cycling, or swimming. A 15-30 minute easy swim is a great aerobic workout that will aid your recovery after a hard weekend of training.
You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
- Jack London
Pyramid sets are a great way to tackle a fitness exercise. Great for beginner and expert alike. Tomorrow let’s try pyramid sets with burpees (but you can easily apply this approach to sit ups, lunges, or push ups).
Each set you add one rep until reaching a set of 10 burpees, then you descend backwards subtracting one rep from each set. So, for example, with a short rest between each set you perform 19 sets of burpees doing the following number of reps each set:
Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
WOD: Short Hill Repeats
Warm up: 10-20 minutes jog with multiple accelerations. Warming up well is vital for a hill repeat workout. (These repeats can be included at the end of a moderate distance run, as well.)
Find that section of grass, dirt, trail, or asphalt that offers you a relatively steep incline for 100 to 200 meters. You want to generate explosive power in this WOD, so get it in your head that this is nearly an all out effort as you power up the hill at a fierce run. After each intense uphill interval you walk or jog down the hill where you will repeat the effort. Do 4-12 repeats – your number being related to your current fitness and race goals.
This is great weekend workout to log miles and build leg strength simultaneously.
Training for a Sprint?
1 mile run, 100 lunges.
1 mile run, 100 squats.
1 mile run, 100 lunges.
Training for a Super?
2 mile run, 100 lunges
2 mile run, 100 squats
2 mile run, 100 lunges
Training for a Beast?
Do both workouts.
Do both a workouts twice.
For Beast and Ultra Beast runners, you should consider doing this with a weight vest.
This this Street Team WOD was created by:
Name: Alec Blenis
Location: Roswell, Georgia
When Muhammad Ali was asked how many sit-ups he did, he responded, “I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. That is when I start counting, because then it really counts. That’s what makes you a champion.”
Long run tomorrow. It’s Sunday so set aside time for your longest workout of the week. Endurance is the focus over speed in a long run WOD. Just find a good aerobic zone to motor along in. Towards the end of your run drop in some fast intervals if you are feeling it, but remember that building your aerobic base is your primary concern. (There will be speed workouts coming at you soon enough this week.) As always, feel free to drop and give us 10 burpees at each mile marker. Get your teammates together and get your miles in.
We often share the stories of athletes who have run our races and found a new level of achievement and purpose they didn’t know they had. We are inspired at HQ by the commitment of these Spartans to change their lives for the better and to get off the couch and get healthy. A Spartan Race is just part of the journey, a celebration of accomplishment but it’s not the end of the story. Staying healthy, inspiring others to take on the same mission for their lives is the ripple in the water that has no end. Here are some stories from inspired Spartans. One who has yet to find his Spartan finish line, but who trains purposefully for that day and one from a woman who reclaimed her life, overcame fears, and realized all she was capable of doing when she took on a Spartan Race.
Jon Duffy -
You wanted our stories so here it is. I’m a 33 year old former Marine I started this year at 220lbs and couldn’t run a mile without gasping for breath. I saw the powerful beyond measure ad on YouTube and it’s still the only ad I haven’t skipped. It was everything I enjoyed about the Marines, so I signed up for the Spartan Sprint in New England – that was in April. So far I have lost 30 lbs and run 6 miles a few times a week. I’ve put on some serious lean muscle and I am enjoying getting fit again. I’ve also signed up for the Beast in Vermont and hope to have the extra cash for the Super Spartan in New Jersey in September. These races have motivated me to get off my couch and do something. Even when I am home with my kids I do push ups and crunches to pass the time. My 19 month old son will get on the floor with me and try to do crunches and push ups or just sit on my chest to add some weight. Thank you for helping change my life.
Amy Lyn Conklin
Minimal sleep and multiple nightmares lead to a 5:30 a.m. wake up! Excitement and nerves were mixed together in a jumbled mess of emotion! I felt an unexpected relief that the day was finally here ,yet I was a nervous wreck wondering if I would be successful and without injury by day’s end. I packed my bag and put my hair somewhat back (if you know me, this was my first obstacle lol)..and headed out the door when my friend Tricia arrived at 6:45. On the ride there, I really wasn’t nervous, I was around friends.
We arrived at the parking lot around 7:30 a.m., we all exited the car and the nerves came rushing back. I saturated myself and the air around me with DEET to tick-proof myself knowing all too well that I had probably just made myself a flammable target for the fire jump, but who doesn’t love a fireworks show at end of an event?
The next obstacle was heading up the 1/4 mile hill to the entrance of the race! This is the first time I thought to myself, “I might just have to tap out of this race for real.” I was sucking wind! My friend Michele assured me she was with me the whole way and with her comforting words, I decided not to back out now.
We got our bib numbers, and gearing up for the race. The bib made the race suddenly very real to me, and though I had been a gymnast in high school I couldn’t believe what I was about to do. Climbing the stairs, my heart was beating with anticipation and the course opened up in front of me.
As far as I could see were hills, ropes over water, walls, spear throwing and more. I needed a mirror to remind myself that I was actually here about to do this event but then the adrenaline kicked in!
We walked around surveying the land until the race was about to start. A few practice throws of the spear, burpees and a rock wall attempt in the festival grounds and we headed towards the start. On the line, laughter and anxiety filled the air. The laughter was a welcome response to all the tension in the air. The horn blew and the smoke billowed up ahead of us, the laughing stopped when the smoke cleared and we were heading up a hill, running the mud and sucking wind. I thought to myself, “This is it, no turning back now.” At this point, my friend Tricia Siegel really pulled through for me. She helped me get my head in the game. I have never run a day in m life outside and I have certainly never gone into the woods by choice in the last four years. But here I was… doing BOTH! I was petrified! I kept thinking and saying, “I dont think I can do this!” between sucking in painful breaths of air.
Tricia assured me that not only was I going to be able to do this but that I ALREADY was! That was the turning point for me. I realized she was right and that I had run through the woods already, I was already an obstacle in and I was going to finish, petrified or not. The obstacles brought new challenges again and again and I was conquering my fear of running in the woods (I have a fear of ticks). And I can tell you that exposure therapy definitely works! By the second half of the race, the once scary woods now felt like my second home! I couldn’t believe all I was doing! I was lifting a cinderblock on a pully, climbing over high cargo net ladders, crawling through tunnels covered in grass and mud, carrying tires and sandbags up and down hill, jumping over walls, and throwing spears. I went down a waterslide named the Devils Spawn into a muddy pond and went under water (HUGE fear) only to find myself doing tire flips! Despite the challenge, we met every obstace with determination and success or failure we always tried. We met a wonderful group of men who assisted and encouraged us the whole way.
I can honestly say that I tried everything and in the process I overcame fears! I failed at nothing because the biggest success was just being there! I met new people and I forged new friendships while strengthening old ones. I faced a lot of things I wasn’t sure I could handle, but I DID IT! I know that I couldn’t have finished without all of my fellow racers and I am grateful to all of you beyond words! I crossed that finish line and burst into tears, admittedly not the first time of the day, but it was a moment that I will remember forever!
They were tears of joys, relief, and satisfaction! Four years ago, I was someone who couldn’t wipe a kitchen counter without assistance. I couldn’t stand for lengths of time, and I couldn’t enjoy my kids the way I wanted to and they deserved. But this day, I was able to do things that I never thought I could and my children greeted me when I finished and told me they were proud of me. No words can describe that moment.
Thank you to all my fellow Spartans and to those who were there for me as support and encouragement. Until next time, Sparta!
Confidence comes from hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication. – Roger Staubach
Tomorrow is a day we devote to memorializing and thanking our Armed Forces. What better day is there to devote to push-ups?
Power ½ Hour of Push-ups
Grab a watch and pick a set number of push-ups to do each minute for 30 minutes. After doing a set number of the push-ups at the start of a minute, you recover the remainder of the minute.
So, for example, if you want to do 120 push ups in 30 minutes, do 4 push-ups each minute on the minute for 30 minutes.
Always remember, perfect form is more important than racking up bogus numbers of repetitions.
This workout can be adapted for beginner or expert easily. Just set your realistic, yet challenging goal relative to your current fitness level and commit to getting it done. Whether this goal be 30 or 300 push-ups is a small detail – you are doing 30 or 300 more than the person who took the path of least resistance (sitting on the couch).
Happy Memorial Day. We want to take a second to recognize all our Armed Forces past and present for their sacrifices. Thank you.
* * * Imagination is as vital to any advance in science as learning and precision are essential for starting points. - Percival Lowell
For tomorrows WOD we will focus on ‘execution and form’ of specific exercises. Exercise is a science and you need to do your homework! We are happy to bring you this in-depth WOD by James Villepigue CSCS & Hobie Call that will break down the fundamentals of a few important exercises that may be new to you.
The only source of knowledge is experience. -Albert Einstein
You only get faster by running faster. This is why 400 meter (or 1/4 mile) repeats at the track are vital. Running at high intensity builds running economy and helps wire your brain to your body as it relates to running (neuromuscular conditioning).
warm-up: 1-2 mile run (throw in some short accelerations)
5-15 x 400 meter repeat
Recover with a 200 meter easy jog (basically just let your momentum carry you forward till you start next interval)
a solid Spartan alternative version of this WOD is to do:
5-15 x 400 meter repeat (+10 burpees)
Have you been following Chris Davis’s journey? He’s half the man he used to be after reaching a peak weight of 696lbs. We’ve been documenting his progress here at Spartan HQ with The Chris Davis Project. His latest journal entries can be read on our blog HERE. We’ve just released the week # 5 video, too.
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.
- Ayn Rand
This is Chris’s first workout almost everyday. 5am sharp!
Pick up a sandbag (Chris’s is 30lbs and named Wilson) and start walking up a steep hill.
For beginners, like Chris, this is plenty. Here in Vermont our hills sometimes last 3 + miles, so Chris doesn’t have to worry about doing hill repeats, yet. But those of you with shorter hills, do repeats. (Flatlanders, you’ll just have to pick up the pace.) More advanced athletes should attempt running with the sandbag. Try to go for at least 30 minutes of solid work on your muscular and aerobic endurance.
Be sure to check out the latest blog edition: Tales from the Chicked – Heather Rayburn. Rayburn, who is legally blind, completed her first Spartan Race in Colorado. She tells us of her jounrey over the many daunting obstacles that were laid before her.
When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. – Audre Lorde
Warmup up with a jog that stretches into a moderate tempo run that covers 1-3 miles in length.
Find a good place to jump into:
5-25 pull ups (or 25-100 push ups)
Jump right back down into another 1-3 mile run, the last 10 minutes being a cool down.
Try and get right back into running at race pace immediately following the strength exercise sets. A Spartan Race forces you to transition from speed to strength and power rapidly – so better get ready for it ahead of time.
Having weights ready for the lunges and squats is optional.
Tomorrow’s WOD goes out to all our racers who will be at the Tri-State Spartan Sprint this weekend. You’ve put the training in, now go and do what you are trained for. It’s time to perform – time to push your limits by giving it everything you’ve got from start corral to finish line.
Here’s a motivating story about one of tomorrow’s racers, Lisa Demetriou. She finished the last two miles of her most recent Spartan Race with a broken leg. THAT, is Spartan spirit!
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
- Benjamin Franklin
Long run. One hour, minimum. There is no need to bring out the high intensity if you’ve already been going hard this week. Focus on building a solid aerobic base. This is the day of the week to get comfortable with the time and distance it will take you to finish your Spartan Race. Try running your Spartan Race distance and even adding a few more miles.
We are an international obstacle racing series with three levels of courses: 3 mile Sprint, 8 mile Super and 10 - 12 mile Beast. You will run, jump and crawl your way over a dozen or more obstacles. Courses are uniquely designed to test your mental and emotional fitness and push you past your limits. Race as an individual, as a part of a team or BOTH!
What does it feel like to be a Spartan? Register for one and you'll know at the finish line.