#mudlife: Spartan Super Race Recap

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Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, right? I definitely pushed that this weekend at the Asheville Spartan Super. This was my first obstacle race ever, and I’m still not completely sure how Jeff managed to talk me into it. BUT I will say I am so glad that he did. I think this race just about compared to running a full – and it took almost as long.


We headed up to Asheville on Friday morning. First up: Sierra Nevada! Jeff has been wanting to go here the past three times we’ve been to Asheville. We spent some time exploring the brewery and grounds. Even though it was raining, the atmosphere was so lively.


After we finished checking out the grounds, we headed up to our cabin in Burnsville. This was my first time using AirBnB. We stayed in the sweetest cabin with an amazing view. Our friends got up around dinner time. We loaded up on carbs and watched Get Out <– highly recommend!

The next morning, it was RACE DAY! Our heat was at 10:15, which gave us plenty of time to make the hour drive to Black Mountain.


We got to the quarry about an hour and a half early and checked in. There was a super reassuring message in our race packets:


I was already pretty nervous, and this did not help at all. Thankfully the energy in the village was contagious and the wait for our heat passed quickly. We studied the course map and checked out some of the obstacles while we waited. Something that was really different for me for this race was not knowing anything about the course ahead of time. I think this might have been a good thing – I can’t stress if I don’t know what to stress over. Right?!

The course ended up being about 8 miles. I wore my old Garmin Forerunner 10, but it died about two miles in. We had a “river crossing” first thing that was more like a fording. It rained the night before, so the water was pretty deep – over my head. Swimming is not my strong suit so I was kind of freaked out, but there was no way but through!

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First up on dry land was the overwalls and hurdles – I like that these were first because they gave me some confidence. After that was the cliff climb. The elevation changes throughout the course was insane – about 1,500 feet overall. The cliff climb had us going up ropes about 20 feet. I was pretty freaked out and slid around a bit, but I made it. After that was the six foot wall. I needed a little boost from Jeff to get over it, but it wasn’t bad. Then we had the sandbag carry. I was worried about this obstacle while I was training. It really wasn’t terrible. We had a short out-and-back that was less than a quarter mile and fairly flat.

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Next was the Z-wall. I had a good rhythm going until I crossed over and fell. First set of burpees! We “ran” for a good bit after that, and by run I mean hiked and crawled. There were several places along the course where there was no way to get up other than on hands and knees or to slide down on your booty. We made it back to the festival area and had the Herculean Hoist. Not terrible so long as you lay down and then lift. Then we had the dreaded spear throw… and 30 burpees. This was a popular burpee zone!

Since this was all in the festival area, we had three more obstacles in quick succession. First was the barbed wire crawl. I alternated between rolling and crawling. My hip got cut up pretty badly on this one. From there, it was time for rolling mud and the dunk wall. I was nervous going into this obstacle and it wasn’t my favorite. Can’t you tell?

Next was the slip wall, which was sort of like the cliff climb. The platform was of course covered in mud. I was insistent that Jeff go behind me in case I fell. Focusing on one step at a time and trying my hardest not to pitch forward, I made it to the top! … Then fell as soon as I touched the top to get over. I slid from the very top to the bottom and took Jeff out on my way. My ego and shoulder were SORE after that.

We had more hiking/running/crawling before making it to the A-frame cargo and atlas carry – another one I was worried about not being strong enough for. Spartan Race had posted a tutorial for the atlas carry on their Instagram, so thankfully that helped a lot. I knelt on the ground and sort of rolled the ball up until I could stand. We had to carry about 10-15 feet, do five burpees, then come back. After that, we used a cargo net to climb a short cliff and then tackled the seven- and eight-foot walls. This took me a couple tries. I had to use the women’s step for the seven-foot wall and Jeff gave me a boost for the eight-foot wall. Almost immediately after that was the bucket carry. This was tougher than the other carries. We went uphill, then downhill, then turned around and came back. It was tough. I’m thinking it was about a quarter mile start to finish. The next obstacle, Bender, I was just not comfortable with, so I got started on burpees while the boys tackled it. Following this was the log carry and another cargo climb. The inverted wall was next. It looked really intimidating, but this super nice girl stopped to show me how to do it. No burpees for me here!

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We made our way back to the festival area for the last few obstacles – which of course were a ton of burpee-makers: rope climb, twister, and multi-rig all did me in. Ninety more burpees. Between these, though, I was able to do Olympus (with assistance – that thing was nuts), the tire flip, and bridge. The women’s tires were 200 pounds, but the hardest part was getting a grip under it to get going. I pretty much felt like WonderWoman after this obstacle, but quickly came back to Earth at the bridge. I HATE heights and this was pretty much my worst nightmare, but I had to do it to get to the finish line.

And finally… we were there!

That medal felt so good to put on. While I didn’t train for this race as long as I have others, it was such a challenge, both mentally and physically. I think I’ll be back once this training cycle is over!

So, are you thinking about running a Spartan race? Some tips if you are a first-timer that I wish I knew beforehand:

  1. Be prepared to wait at some obstacles, especially at the beginning.
  2. Wear tight clothing!
  3. Bring fuel. You will be out there for a while and will need more than what you can get at the aid stations.
  4. Do it with a friend – you will need support, whether mental or physical, at some point!
  5. Do not expect a nice shower at the end. 🙂

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“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!”

– Hunter S. Thompson

When a Training Run Becomes a Race

Howdy! I’m linking up this week over at  Mississippi Piddlin and HoHo Runs as well as at Run Megan Run to catch up on this past week.

With only one “real” week of school left, the end-of-year mania is stirring up: benchmarks, awards, field day, OH MY. I finally nailed down some wedding-related details this week, including the last big task of booking our tent and rentals. Now it’s on to smaller details like welcome bags, table numbers, and favors (which Mr. Groom and I are “crafting” together). The tent was unnecessarily stressing me out because a.) I didn’t really want one and b.) I didn’t realize how RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE they are. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of the tent, because our venue has some really beautiful, very old oak trees and I didn’t want to hide them. However, the estate’s house isn’t large enough to hold all of our guests, and my mom was adamant that we get a tent in case we have record-setting rain like we did this past October. Yay! Obviously she won that debate and here I am with a slightly messed-up budget. It’s only money, right? 🙂

Anyway, on to the running part of this week. It was actually a race week for me, but I didn’t have a goal in mind for this one. The forecast all week predicted rain, and having just run my big half three weeks ago, I was just looking to finish this one.

Monday | Rest

Thank goodness there was no workout on the schedule for today. Lady somehow ran into the retaining wall outside last Sunday while she and Molly were wrestling and scraped up her side pretty badly. We cleaned her up the best we could, but when I got home from work on Monday afternoon, she had had a blowout in her crate. It was EVERYWHERE. So after the lovely experience of cleaning up doggy doo from her bed, blankets, and Kong, and scrubbing her crate, and cleaning the surrounding carpet, I took her to the vet to see what was going on. I’m happy to say that her parasite tests were negative and she is healing up nicely now! Thankfully, she didn’t need stitches, but by the time I got home, I was exhausted. Thank goodness for rest days!

Tuesday | 3 Mile Progressive Run

It rained on Tuesday, so I took my workout to the treadmill. I definitely got bored, even with some higher inclines thrown in, but it wasn’t too bad. Pretty uneventful, though. After I finished, I did strength training on my legs/lower body for about 30 minutes or so, which I didn’t keep track of. Maybe I should start doing that…

3.00 miles; 10:36/10:08/9:18 

Wednesday | Speedwork

I won’t lie. I bribed myself with pizza to get through this workout. Judge me if you want. I hit the track around 6 on Wednesday to tackle some fartleks. After warming up for one mile, I alternated 2 minutes of faster running with 2 minutes of easier running for 3.5 miles, then had a .5 mile cooldown. I peaked in mile 3, but managed to keep all of my surges between about a 7:30-8:30 pace. I followed this victory by bringing my sweaty, probably smelly self to pizza and trivia with Jeff (I am a font of useless knowledge. It’s my forte). Life is all about balance, y’all. 🙂

5.01 miles; 46:45; 9:20 pace

Thursday | 3 miles easy

I skipped this run. Teeheehee. My school celebrated its 80th Anniversary with a snazzy gala, so I ended up sticking around until it ended at 7:00. By the time I got home, I was pooped, and combined with the tough workout from Wednesday, I was not feeling a run.

Friday | Cross

I had planned to skip cross-training today because I knew I had a race coming the next day, and while I wasn’t planning on actually racing, I still wanted to have fresh legs so I could at least finish comfortably. Looks like this logic worked!

Saturday | Aiken Triple Crown 10-Miler

And here we are… The race I didn’t plan on racing. When I first registered for this one, it was mostly driven by the fact that it was part of Aiken’s newly created Triple Crown Race Series (which included a 5k and Half Marathon). The actual Triple Crown race was once held annually, but this year was its first running in several years. The forecast did not look optimistic for the morning of the race, but when I woke up, the skies looked fairly clear. I hate running without music and was less than excited at the prospect of running 10 miles listening to myself breathe. 🙂 I took a chance and bought my phone, and there was no rain! It poured all night on Friday, though, which was perfect because about two miles of this bad boy were on the dirt horse roads that are common in Aiken. We kicked off at 7:30 AM with me in the middle of the pack. I started out at a decently comfortable pace, but couldn’t keep from pushing myself. I felt strong throughout this whole race, despite not doing much of a taper (if at all) or having a strategy. Maybe that’s what helped me–just getting out there and running, and not worrying about when I’d take my GU, or whether to walk the water stops. I just ran it. Looking at my splits definitely makes me smile, because I was able to keep up a great pace throughout and had a really strong finish.

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I crossed the finish line and waited for other runners to finish and got some pictures with my Sole Sisters. 🙂

Then the awards started, and I was very surprised when…

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This happened! I’m lucky to be able to run in a small town, because I know I could never place in a larger race. But I’ll take it!

My official chip time was 1:31:40, but I also clocked my fastest 10K yet, according to my Garmin, with a time of 55:59. Hopefully I can beat that at the Peachtree this summer!

10 miles; 1:31:40; 9:07 pace

Total Weekly Miles: 18

All in all, not a big week in the mileage category, but a great week for speedwork and racing. Here’s to the last week of school — next week is all about field day and our farewell to first grade celebrations!

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Race Recap: AEC Touchstone Energy Run United Half Marathon

Whew! How is that for a race title? Let’s just call it the Run United Half. Okay? Okay.

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This is the race that started it all for me last spring. Jeff signed us up for the 5K in an effort to force us to work out once college ended and adulthood began. I was seriously annoyed at first, but that finish line got me hooked!

Before I get started on this year’s recap, I need to make one thing very clear. It was HUMID today. If you’re wondering how humid, exhibit A:

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This is the only shot I took along the course. We were running on grass at this point around one of Aiken’s many horse tracks. So beautiful, but so incredibly wet! By about a mile in, I was drenched with no hopes of evaporation. Therefore, I did something that made me feel basically Olympian. I poured water on myself. Repeatedly. It was great.

The half started at 7:30, and it was SO WONDERFUL to be able to sleep in a little later. We didn’t have to head downtown until about 6:45 AM. Score!

I tried to follow a better strategy today by not getting carried away at the start. There was a pacer for 2:00 and 2:15, but since I was shooting for between 2:05 and 2:10, I wasn’t really sure where to go. I ended up in between both, but stuck back for the first 3 miles or so. I caught up to the 2:00 group at around mile 3 and stayed with them until about mile 8, when it really started heating up. I was pretty pleased with my overall time at this point, so I decided to run my own race and do what I was comfortable with. The course itself was extremely flat–I don’t think I ran uphill the entire way–but also had a few miles sprinkled throughout on grass or sand. It was nice to have the distance broken up, but the sand running was TOUGH. I could really feel my hips working overdrive to stabilize the rest of me. The grass, however, was an awesome break from pavement! This race’s course wound its way through downtown Aiken, through the horse district (beautiful!), some residential neighborhoods, our local running track, and back through downtown. I love this course because at the very end, you bank right and are at mile 13 with the finish line just up ahead. So exhilarating!

Despite thinking that I was being conservative my first 3 miles, my splits are telling a different story. Once again, I forgot to turn off my watch after I crossed the finish line, so it’s a bit longer than 13.1. You can definitely tell where the heat started to get to me at around mile 8.

Anyway, I came around the bend at the finish line and I think it will always be one of my favorites. You wind up right in the heart of downtown’s festival area and there are tons of people cheering, pee wee cheer squads, and a random guy dressed up like Buddy the Elf (He’s there every year. I don’t know why.) When I had the finish line in sight, I booked it at about a 7:16 pace. I finished this one in 2:06:53, comfortably beating my 2:10 goal. Yeaaaahhhhhh adrenaline! After I crossed, there were some cute little kids handing out swag:

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And of course, the finish line photos had to commence:

But best of all, I had to celebrate running my first-ever month with over 100 miles!

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Jeff ran the 5k race with a time of 29:22 (9:27 pace) which is impressive because he pretty much did not train. It’s so impressive I sort of hate him. 🙂

So now, it’s time for some much-needed R&R before I start training for the Peachtree Road Race this July! I’ll be running Aiken’s Triple Crown (10-miler) in three weeks, but I’m not planning on it being a goal race due to the heat and focusing on the Peachtree. I’m looking forward to using my time off of running this week for wedding plans (five months out!)

P.S. If you’re a lady and looking to PR at your next race, I’m pretty sure that wearing Sparkle Athletic is a guaranteed way to do that. I got so many compliments along the course about my sparkly skirt. The “Fierce” shirt I wore is from Gone for a Run. I bought the basic athletic tank (not technical fabric) and it was perfect. I don’t like to wear very loose clothing when I run or workout, so the fitted style was just right. The glitter girl was precious too… Because life is better with sparkles. 🙂

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Weekly Workout Recap No. 3 and Amazing Grace 5K Recap

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Hello, Friends! It’s time for another weekly recap hosted by Run Megan Run. Click on over to join in the fun! (<— I should quit my day job to become a poet.)

April 11-16

Monday | Rest or 3 Miles Easy

Monday was the first day back at school from Spring Break, and I was feeling about as exhausted as I expected after work. Jeff also left Monday morning to go to California for work for the week, so I was just feeling super unmotivated. I worked a bit on the house/yard for my Aunt’s visit the next day and contemplated life on the couch, because I’m a teacher and it’s April.

Tuesday | 5 miles

My Aunt came down Tuesday after work for a quick visit, so I headed out around dinnertime for my run around the neighborhood. I had to cut this one short, though, because we had a thunderstorm in the forecast and it looked seriously threatening about halfway through. I brought my phone with me and didn’t want it to get soaked, so I booked it home. I guess that’s one way to pick up the pace! This was my fastest 5k yet. Too bad it wasn’t in a race!

3.12 miles; 27.27; 8:50 pace (!!!) 

Wednesday | 3 miles–speedwork

Since I was short on Tuesday’s miles, I decided to get 5 in on Wednesday after our faculty meeting. Again, I was really pleased with my pace. I’m not sure if it had something to do with it being testing season at school, or if I was just bored with Jeff being gone, but it’s like everything clicked this week.

5.01 miles; 45:26; 9:04 pace

Thursday and Friday | Rest

I spent these two days catching up on paperwork for school, wedding planning, and getting chores done so I wouldn’t have to worry about them over the weekend. I may have been taking advantage of “tapering” for the trail 5K I ran on Saturday, but oh well. It seems to have worked in my favor. 🙂

Saturday | Amazing Grace 5K Trail Race

I decided to run this race because it’s part of a new three-part race series in Aiken (next will be the Run United Half and Triple Crown 10-Miler). Runners who participate in all three will receive a special prize, which I hear is supposed to be a really nice shirt. We’ll see. 🙂 This was the first race I went to by myself, as Jeff didn’t get home until Saturday night. I hadn’t run this trail before, but it was so beautiful! I got some quick pictures on my phone before and after, but they won’t download to my computer for some reason. 😦 Anyway, it wasn’t a huge race, but it was very well put together. I really enjoyed the trails and it helped that the organizers spray painted all of the protruding roots bright orange. 😉 I wanted to really push myself this race since I rested two days beforehand. It worked! I forgot to turn off my watch (again), so I’m showing a total distance of 3.14 miles in 29:02. It wasn’t close to my goal 5k for this year of 27:00, but the fact that it was on a trail makes me completely fine with this. I actually ended up taking first in females 20-29! My new runner friend Missy (who is a total beast) also took first in her division.

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I’m not sure how I did overall–the results haven’t been posted yet. However, this is definitely a race I’ll plan to do again next year.

I’m officially two weeks out from my next half and I’m feeling really optimistic about my 2:10 goal (my goal for the year, actually). I ordered a new outfit for it last night online, which we all know is almost a guarantee of a PR. Right? I have no hopes of placing in this race, as last year’s runners were absolutely amazing. There is something comforting about knowing I don’t have a chance at competing against the other runners, because it will allow me to focus completely on bettering myself. I’m so excited! Hopefully, I will fit in 100 miles this month for the first time EVER. I’m up to 58.1 as of today, which is a pretty big thing for me, especially balanced with work and wedding planning (and, of course, my fur babies).

Here’s to another week of running in this BEAUTIFUL spring weather!

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Race Recap: 4 Leaf Clover 5K

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Is there anything better than racing in a tutu? I may have been singing a different tune after running the Peachtree last year in a rain-soaked, sagging bunch of netting, but this race was a blast. Jeff and I signed up for this local race in its first year wanting a fun run. We got it! I think I spent more on my costume than I did on my registration fee… 🙂

Despite just getting over strep throat and dealing with horrible pollen problems, I did pretty well! It wasn’t my best time by far, but something about looking down and seeing a blur of green made we want to run faster (either that or the promise of tissues and water at the finish line). My final chip time was 28:53:46–seven seconds behind Jeff, which he is sure to not let me forget. However, I did end up taking home third in my age group! Jeff captured the attention of the costume judges and wound up winning a gift card to Mellow Mushroom for his fabulous outfit (I swear it was all in that breathtaking unicorn shirt). I also won a free raffle for a gift card to Fresh Market. It was a great race for us and I definitely plan on coming back out next year!

I forgot to turn on my watch right away and was walking around for a little bit afterwards before I remembered to turn it on (oops!), so my splits are a bit off.

Mile 1 –> 8:30 (???!! no wonder I crashed and burned…)

Mile 2 –> 9:53

Mile 3 –> 9:51

Mile 3.1 –> 1:45

So obviously that doesn’t add up to what my chip time was, but it’s relatively close. I knew about a half mile in that I was going too fast, and my knee started hurting again about 2 miles in. I’ve been struggling with some pain the past 3 weeks since the Augusta University Half with what I think is in my IT band. The plan is to maintain my distances, slow down, incorporate strength, and actually force myself to adequately warm up/cool down/foam roll every run. I think a huge part of my problem is that I’ve been jumping right into my runs and immediately getting started on dinner when I get home. I took Saturday and Sunday off of running and just worked on some strength. I’m up to a little over 8 miles so far this week with no pain, so let’s hope that continues!

The highlight of the weekend was definitely finding our picture in the local paper the next morning.

And in case you’re looking for something teacher-y… A new literacy center game is up! You can find it here.

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Race Recap: Augusta University Half Marathon

And another race is in the books! I was really nervous going into half marathon #2 this morning, but I ended up having a blast (minus the hills).

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So, why was I nervous in the first place?

  1. The race elevation I talked about here last week.
  2. My knee has been feeling a little creaky since my last long run a couple of weeks ago.
  3. I signed up late for this race–about 9 weeks out after not running since the Thanksgiving half.

The day started early to head down to Augusta in order to have time to park. It was COLD this morning! I learned my lesson after my first half and didn’t worry about being cold as much during the race–which meant I froze at the starting line. Jeff and Lady dropped me off at the start and we set out at around 8:15.

The first five miles of the race were bliss. I cruised right along solidly under 9:30 up until mile six when the hill of crushed dreams began (not kidding). The one thing keeping me going on this monster was knowing my pep team were waiting at the top.

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Anddddd once that experience was finally over a little before mile 8, it was back to smooth sailing…. until beast #2 right before mile 10. This one wasn’t nearly as bad, but I was still slowing. Luckily, the runner camaraderie was going strong at this point. I ran for a little while with an older man who gave me some much-needed inspiration before passing me. I ended up passing him right before the finish, but not before he told me he knew I could do it. Aw!

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I ended up finishing in 2:11:14, five minutes and nineteen seconds faster than the Atlanta Half. I am extremely pleased considering that I needed to stop and walk a couple of the hills. My next big race will be the Run United Half Marathon in Aiken on April 30 with a goal time of 2:10. This course is very flat, so I’m feeling confident about this one.

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Now it’s time for a few days to rest before getting back into a schedule to prepare for the Aiken half. I have a handful of 5ks in between now and then thrown in for fun.

Oh, and if you’re having a bad day, check out the Pillsbury Doughboy that Jeff spotted today on the course!

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