by Thomas Nastasi
On June 1, 2013, I participated in the Spartan Race (Sprint, 4.2 miles) at Tuxedo, NY. This was my second time attending this event at this venue and boy was I in for a surprise. Last year I finished a much easier course in 1 hour 37 minutes on a fairly pleasant day. On this day it was 90 degrees; people indoors were told to put on sunblock. I heard from people beforehand that the course was going to be more difficult. I was in for a true test.
I arrived at this venue with my cousin John and my brother Matt. My brother’s only race to date was the Super Spartan last year. He completely hated everything about it, but signed up again for two more events, including this one. This seems to be the way he rolls in life. John will be attending most of the races with me this year.
We met up with some friends and Team Braveheart. They welcomed me and immediately gave me red and black face paint and a red bandana (team colors). I met some members and was really excited to run my first Spartan Race with them. They even invited my brother and cousin to run as well, but I think they were more comfortable running in the heat before us at their own pace. We took some team photos and hustled our way to the starting gate. I felt like I was ready for this race; we would soon see.
The race started with an immediate hose down with fire hoses as we traveled up and down mud hills. This was very helpful to cool off a little. Six foot walls followed as we started the ascent to the top of the mountain. Now, I feel like I’m in the best running shape I have ever been in. I just completed two half marathons and countless runs the past few months. I have never been so conditioned in my life. That said, after mile marker one I almost passed out of exhaustion. The sun and heat were incredibly strong, and I was so fatigued I could not believe it! I was so upset with myself for gasping for breath so early on. I was gassed.
I continued to run and was continually keeping pace with two Team Braveheart members, Robin and John. We helped motivate each other throughout the whole race. It was great having that support on the course. I was extremely grateful for it and felt it helped me push on at times. I tried to give motivation back as well and appreciated the feedback from them both.
We had all of the usual obstacles at a Spartan Race: sand bag carry, spear throw, rock drag, walls, rope climb. I completed every obstacle but the spear throw; 30 burpees were my penalty for failing. But my strength training prepared me for all of these obstacles. Installing a rope climb in my backyard definitely aided in my success at that obstacle.
At the rock drag, a Spartan Race volunteer asked:
SRV: “What’s Sunwarrior?”
Me: “The best protein on the planet!”
SRV: “Oh, I use MetRx!”
ME: “You should really work on your decision making. Try some Sunwarrior!”
SRV: “Hahaha. I will!”
She most likely hated me.
Towards the end of the race we had the barbed wire crawl. This was terrible. I usually roll sideways all the way through, but not this time. They put boulders, dips, hills, and large puddles everywhere. When I finally finished that, I was completely exhausted and cut up. I also was the muddiest I have ever been. There was one more wall and then a steep climb up a rocky trail. This was brutal. I was so fatigued and couldn’t slow my breathing enough to gain composure. I slowly hiked up the trail. After that, I knew the finish line was ahead so I dug deep. I ran up to the inverted wall and jumped high over the fire. I then put my hands on my head and let the four gladiators hit me hard. The race was finished, and so was I.
At the finish, I was immediately disappointed in myself. I felt like I was not conditioned for the race, but couldn’t understand why. I had been training like a mad man for months. Why wouldn’t I be able to breeze through this? I then looked at my time: 1 hour 25 minutes 43 seconds.
I was surprised. This course was so much harder than last year; how could I have gotten a better time? I started talking to someone and realized—not many people were ready for the heat. This was the hottest day of the year so far. Even though I was ready to race, I wasn’t ready for deeply breathing in intense heat, and the same was likely true for the others. As a result, I finished in 203rd of 5536 participants.
I’m extremely happy with the final result, but was hoping to feel better during the race. However, I didn’t suffer from the intense “hangover” I normally feel after a race either. I have upped my carb intake during race weeks and feel much better. My nutrition is where it needs to be. But I have slowed down on my basketball playing and am fearful that is affecting my cardio. I’m going to try some more interval running on my cardio days. I feel that the “run five miles at one pace” isn’t giving me the proper conditioning I need. I will switch it up a little and hopefully perform much better during the next race. I love the summer but that heat was a little too hot for me.
I really enjoyed this race. It was much more challenging than I thought it was going to be based on last year. I love being a part of Team Braveheart and enjoyed every second of hanging with them before and after the event. I will be attending a lot more events with them this year and will be writing about them. Next up: Run For Your Lives Zombie Run. Hopefully I survive!
Facebook: Team Braveheart