Saturday, December 10, 2016

RACE REPORT: Spartan Atlanta Super 2016

The Week Leading Up:

Tue, Nov 29:
5.0 in 40:28, 8:06 ave, 7:47 effort on 2 degree treadmill at the hotel.  Slightly warm at 68 degrees, but ok.  Hard to get out of bed for the early morning pre-work run, since I needed to catch up on sleep, but afterwards, I felt great, wishing I would do this every day.  Counted down 0.01 mi increments in the last 1+ mi.  This week ended up being an unintentional taper for the ATL Super, since my dad's visit threw off my usual weekend workout schedule.  The timing of my last interval session and strength session the previous week was perfect, too.  The run felt harder than it should've, for marathon pace, but hopefully,  I'm making progress on getting speed back.

Wed, Nov 30:
90 min biking, covering 25 mi.  With 1.8 mi rucking.  This was my last workout before the race.


After a long work week, with traveling to a different city, having to wake up at 1:30am early Saturday morning to drive 3.75 mi down to Atlanta wasn't ideal for racing, but it's what OCRers will do to do what they love.  It was low 40's, and I thought that I'd end up racing in long-sleeve gear, but I ended up going with my Plan B of my wetsuit that I wore in Tahoe.  It may get a bit warm, but it was the last race of the season, I was mostly doing it to finally get a double Trifecta, and I was more concerned about not being too cold than optimizing speed.  The wetsuit ended up working pretty well, and I was only too warm for maybe 20-30 minutes of the race during the first half.  However, because the wetsuit was my back-up plan, I didn't pack of the accessories that I'd usually wear with the wet suit, like calf sleeves.  I also opted to not use gloves, since I hadn't brought a waist pack to stash them in on obstacles that needed flesh for gripping.

The Race:

With the temps and the month, it's a smaller race than other ATL Spartan races, attendance-wise.  I guess all the hard-core ones come.  Had a 7:45 start time.  Hurdles were a bit more of a struggle than usual, maybe due to the wet suit, or maybe I'm out of obstacle/strength shape, but I did them.  2 hay bales, over-under-through walls, 7' wall was also more of a struggle than usual, since I had difficulties getting my right foot  hooked over the wall.  Made the monkey bars for the first time, using the technique that a Spartan facebook friend posted a video of on... a fellow short girl ;)  By lecheing to build up momentum, it was easier to get a good grip on the uphill bars.  I was so excited to make it, and even kicked the bell at the end because that seemed easier than risking another transition to a bar and letting go with one hand.

Atlas carry, barbed wire roll, bucket brigade without gloves but it was OK and made it without putting the bucket down.  The sticks and thorny vines coming out of the ground from bushwacked trail were very noticeable during this race, since I was bare-calved/shinned for the first time.  Wish I had the calf sleeves!  Got cut up and bruised on my shins.  Devil's staircase, Herc Hoist was doable for the first time in over a year for me.  Mounds of grounds, dunk wall.

Rope climb - did it for the second time ever at a Spartan race - I was able to use the foot technique that I had finally practiced and nailed down at Crossfit Mecklenburg a couple of months ago.  What a difference that technique can make.  It was still not easy, with the rope coated in a thin layer of wet mud, but I made it.  Failed Tyrollean Traverse about 40% of the way through.  On the Slip Wall, it wasn't as pretty as usual, haha, but got it done, as you can tell from this sequence of shots.

Could've maybe made it a bit further if I had pushed, but I didn't have calf sleeves, and it was pretty hard... not sure I could've made it without the gloves and calf sleeves, even if I had pushed 100%.  That ended up being the only obstacle where I felt like I didn't give it a full go.  This race, since it wasn't about going super speedy and was more about just finishing, was about doing the obstacles well, and not mentally giving up like I had at the Carolina Beast in several obstacles.  This race felt like more of a willpower game more than a physical one, and I feel like I did redeem myself.  At the spear throw, I probably did my best yet at it, scraping the bale, but at a totally bad angle.  Still haven't made it yet, but maybe I'll tweak the angles next time... one day.... I'll yell so loud when I finally do get it.  Sandbag carry through trail and a creek that was deep, where I face-planted with the extra help of the sandbag on my upper back at one point.

One thing I really liked about the previous Conyers race was the back half where we went through some tunnels with water, and where we ran over giant boulders.  I had done several races at the Horse Park before, but this was our first time going there, and it was special.  This year, we did that again, but I was expecting a similar short out-and-back and saw people coming down in the opposite direction, but we ended up continuing on the boulder part for a long time (I call it "Stone Mountain"), and we crossed the road into a different part of the park where we did a wide loop, so it was an interesting and unexpected twist.  We didn't end up coming back to the "back" part of the out-and-back for a long time, and as I saw people going out as I was coming back in, I thought to myself, "you guys are in for a surprise if you think it'll be like last time!".  At the z-wall, it was about patience, again... that and avoiding 2 daddy long leg spiders that were right at belly level.  8" wall also harder than usual for me, like all the other walls on this day, but I stuck with it and eventually made it.  Was it the wetsuit?  Or did I lose strength?/  Plate drag, multi-rig failed again transitioning from the pipe to the ring, although this time, I was more patient trying to build up momentum before the transition, but still no luck this time.  A-frame cargo, barbed wire army crawl uphill, and a fireless finish, due to the fire ban.

8.6 mi in 2:11:56, 15:20 average, 95 burpees.  Didn't place above the 50th percentile this time.  Oh well, that's ok.  I had obstacle redemption.  Last race of the season done.  Volunteered later that day.  I'll be taking a break from OCRs until May, to focus on training for Boston without risking injury.  It's been a big year for me in OCR...
  • ATL Sprint & Hurricane Heat in March - my last time not making the tall walls or hurdles
  • Asheville Super in August - finally made hurdles and walls, and haven't looked back since
  • HH12HR in Fort Campbell in August - proud to have made it
  • Fort Bragg Sprint in September - showed that Asheville wasn't a fluke, made the rig
  • Tahoe Ultrabeast - not something I'd typically do, but wanted to get my Endurance Trifecta - lucky to have finished, in October, also locked the 1x TRIFECTA
  • Carolina Beast in October - some mental giving up on obstacles
  • GORUCK Tough in Columbia, SC in November - I think I like the variation in activities of HH12HRs more, but still interesting to experience
  • ATL Super in December - obstacle redemption, willpower event, 2x TRIFECTA earned

Thanksgiving 2016


Tue, Nov 8:
Biking 17.1 mi in 60 min, nose breathing.

Plus 25 min of strength:
  • Push-ups: 20 + 25 = 45
  • Plank: 2.5 + 2 minutes = 4.5 min
  • Sit-ups: 95
  • Flutter Kicks (4-count): 40 + 45 = 95
I didn't feel like I had done a whole lot of strength stuff during the GORUCK, oddly, so it wasn't too soon for a mini-session

Thur, Nov 10: 
3.5 mi on a 2 degree treadmill at night.  Didn't have my watch, so I only knew the total time.  28 min, 8:00 ave, 7:41 effort.  It was short, because I went until my lower digestive tract couldn't handle it anymore, with running too soon after dinner.... could've otherwise gone on.  Felt harder than it should've, maybe because of digestion, maybe from not having trained with anything faster than long run trail pace in the past many months, or maybe it was because I was sick since Monday.

Fri, Nov 11:
90 minute bike covering 25.4 mi.  Nose breathed.  Along with a 18 mi ruck.

Volunteered at the Charlotte Marathon, in the VIP tent, keeping it clean and serving food.  It was my first time in uptown Charlotte since moving here, oddly.  They had cool spinner medals, so maybe I'll do the half next year.  I did some geocaching afterwards, and explored 1/4 of Uptown (not a huge city, area-wise).

I had planned on going to the Whitewater center and running afterwards, but after being on my feet all day volunteering (that was fine) and then walking a lot on top of that (that put it over the edge), not possible.  So instead, I had a picnic at the airport overlook ("picnic" makes it sound more glamorous than it was... it was a tupperware of carrots and apples, and maybe a chunk of cheese, if I was lucky).  Then, I went home and read some more of the "Training Essentials for Ultrarunning" book... this may be the first book that I've read in like 2 years... getting close to the end of it!  

Sun, Nov 13:
Did get to the Whitewater Center today.  12.3 mi in 2:17:27, 11:09 average.  Trails: Figure 8 -> Carolina Thread -> Academy Loop -> East Main -> Lake Loop.  It was sprinkling at times.  Half-rolled an ankle, but it was fine.  Ate nut & fruit bar @ mi 6... could've eaten more.  Could've gone on farther after drinking some water, but I called it a day.  A good run... could've gone on, but no reason to push it now... it's supposed to be the off-season.

Got to catch up with a college friend in Chapel Hill.  So glad for the chance.  The past couple of months have been hard, so it was good to be able to talk to a good friend. 

Lots of long days at work.

Thurs, Nov 17:
Treadmill run at a hotel... kind of a sketchy one, since my usual one was booked.  5.0 in 41:46, 8:21 ave, 3 degrees of incline = 7:43 effort.  Felt harder than it should.  Ran at 5:30 am.  Was going to do just 4.5 mi, but I pushed it to 5.  Had drank some before the run, but not at usual hydration levels.

Fri, Nov 18:
60 min Strength session for the Deez Nutz WOD:
  • Ruck: 1.4 mi
  • Pushups: 25 + 20 = 45
  • Plank: 3.5 + 2.5 = 6
  • Situps: 205 + 130 = 335
  • Lunges: 45 (knees less happy than usual, so I may need to get strong again, after not having done them for a while)
  • Flutter Kicks: 60 + 50 + 50 = 160
  • Burpees: 60
  • Jumping Jacks: 100
  • Squats: 135 (out of practice in my quads)
Sat, Nov 19:
Wildfires have been making air quality at yellow level, and it was anticipated that they may stay active until early Spring.  I don't recall ever having this impact my decisions to run or not before.  It was windy on this day, so I decided to get in a run while I could, on a day when the air may be a bit clearer, since I wouldn't know how many such chances I'd get over the next few months.  Did the Figure 8-> Carolina Thread -> Academy Loop -> East Main -> Lake Loop, at 3pm, with 902 feet of elevation gain.  Felt good and fast in my first Kinvaras.  No food or water needed.  It's odd that I've done the same route several times, and I've gotten distances of 11.2, 12.3, and 13.1 mi on those runs.  That's a lot of variation, for runs tracked by iPhone data!  Met a snake on the trail.  I don't like crawly things or slithery things.  Yelled at it until it slowly went away.

11.2 mi in 2:15:00, 12:03/mi.

Sun, Nov 20:
90 min of biking, covering 24.6 mi.  Not fast, but it helped to flush out everything from the past 3 days of consecutive working out, which I don't do often.

 Good food and beer with dad... my dad has been helping me a lot as I've moved cities.

At noon, did my first interval session perhaps all year, after waking up from a post-breakfast nap.  Drank a Fit-Aid right before.  I think I've done that before, but not a good choice today.  My left kidney had a side stitch, and it was generally difficult, although part of the difficulty may just be me not in speed shape.  4.0 in 30:21, 7:35 ave, 7:17 effort, at 2 degrees of incline.
  • 1 mi warmup to 7.5mph in 8:12/mi
  • 0.5 mi @ 9mph in 3:20
  • 0.25 mi @ 7.5ph in 1:58
  • 0.25 mi @ 9mph in 1:40
  • 0.25 mi @ 7.5ph in 1:58
  • 0.25 mi @ 9mph in 1:40
  • Rest (couldn't have continued like I was)
  • 1 mi warmup to 7.5mph in 8:11 (got back on the horse)
  • 0.5 mi @ 9mph in 3:20

Not stellar, but it's step 1 for getting back into speed shape.  The Ultrarunning book covers lots of topics, including designing a training plan, and one of its principles is moving towards specificity as your plan goes on.  Speedwork is the opposite of marathoning, so now's a great time for it.  I need to get it back before I get deep into the phase.

My dad and I like Black Friday shopping.  I know many people prefer to avoid the crowds and chaos and consumerism, but it's kind of a tradition for us.  We like sales, the thrill of the hunt, people watching is interesting (there is some craziness), and getting into the season.  I typically don't get much more than a couple of DVDs and towels.  One year, I got a pre-lit Christmas tree that I now use, and this year, I finally got the Deer that I've wanted for many years.  Now, I have a yard of my own to house them.

(Daddy Deer, Mommy Deer, my Sister Deer, and Me Deer)

("Expecto Patroni!")

Went to the Whitewater center with my dad to get in a walk/ruck.  We feel better when we can exercise a bit.

Went to IKEA afterwards and got some furniture for my dining room/bar for my beer glassware and swag:

Went to Freedom Park, for a walk.  It looks like a decent-sized place to do marathon long runs in the future.  The Whitewater center is great for escaping into nature and putting in time, but you don't get to work on speed, and your tempo is thrown off by all of the elevation changes and technical portions.  I'll need flat grass to be able to cover the required distances with the required speed, and this looks promising.

Thankful for friends and family.