STFU (Spartan The Fuck up!) By: Bryan Adamson For those of you that don’t know my story, I will summarize it for you in a few sentences. October of 2011, I was 5’7, 260 lbs and absolutely miserable. As of the writing of this article Sunday July 15, 2012, I am now 206 lbs. In a period of nine months, I have lost 54 pounds, ran three 5K’s, a Tough Mudder, a half marathon and as of yesterday the Spartan Sprint Race. A feat I did not think was possible last year. A big thank you to those friends who have supported and encouraged me to sign up for the races with them, you know who you are! “Keep going Bryan, you will move mountains before you know it.” – Maureen Kane Now for those of you who have not heard of the Spartan races, here is the website’s definition. We are an international obstacle racing series with three levels of courses: 3 mile sprints, 8 mile Olympic (Supers) and 10 -12 mile Ultras (Beast) where you will run, jump and crawl your way over a dozen or more obstacles put in your way! Each region gets a taste of our races starting with a Sprint and working up to an Ultra. Courses are uniquely designed to test your mental and emotional fitness and push you past your limits. Our races are muddy, creative, and extreme. They will exhaust you and exhilarate you. For some individuals, it might not sound fun but believe me, once you try an obstacle race you slowly become addicted, wanting more and harder challenges. Here is the story of what happened this weekend at the Spartan Sprint Pennsylvania 2012 at Blue Mountain. I was super excited for this weekend to come because not only was I excited for the race, I was pumped about my ankle being healed and hanging out with a friend who I haven’t seen in awhile. I was also in the best shape I have been for six years. I thought I was going to demolish this race. The funny thing was that the director sent us an email on Thursday warning us that this race was going to one of the hardest Spartan Race they have put on, the race was now five miles plus instead of three. Every obstacle you do not complete, you would be punished to do thirty burpees which I later found out can suck the life out of you. Still, I thought I was going to destroy the course because I had just done a Tough Mudder (an obstacle race that was fourteen miles long, thirty plus obstacles three of those where you are shocked with 10,000 volts of electricity and a half marathon a month before! Boy, was I completely wrong in my judgment! Since being from Philadelphia, the only time I ever go to the mountains or the Poconos is to ski. As we arrive to the parking lot, the mountain looked huge without snow on it and you could see groups of people at the top of the mountain. My buddy Travis and I were shocked. We did not know what we got ourselves into. We met up with a group of guys that were incredible and I feel honored to have met them. One of the individuals inspired the heck out of me and I will talk about more about him later in this article. We registered and then the mental preparedness was on! We stood at the starting line which was opposite of the finish line which is the best part for two reasons, one being that you survived a Spartan race and the other is because you get to run through the Gladiator pit! I was super pumped for this and so was my buddy Travis! The time never seemed to dwindle down to our starting time as it felt like we were stuck in a time glass. When the announcer came on, I was all of the sudden like oh crap, here it comes! He announces that we will be going all the way the top of the mountain, (I raced without my hearing aids because I knew I was going to get wet) Travis relayed this important information to me; I wished at that point that he did not! We take off, going up what seemed to not be a monstrous hill from the start to becoming very monstrous! Most of the runners which I am estimating at five hundred at our wave had to stop running and walk within the first ten minutes of the race! All of us probably did not even make it to the first obstacle without stopping to walk. We stopped to walk because it was a hike up a > 45 degree grassy slippery hill! I was amazed at how much I thought I was in shape and immediately how much I thought I was out of shape for this race. I was never a big hill fan, if you know me; you know I strictly manage to stay on flat ground when I run. Hills kick my ass. They make me better but they always kick my ass. Now I was running up an entire mountain or several hills for most of the race. The race directors are great at playing mental games with you right from the start. Within the first quarter mile, my calves were burning; it felt like they were actually on fire! We get up to a quarter of the mountain and we start going downhill, immediately in my head for some reason thought the worse was over, maybe we had made it to the top well I was wrong again! When we were going downhill on a trail made only to fit one person, and it was steep enough to do a jog at best, then my thighs started to hurt. I was not alone in this feeling, the group I ran with felt this way. When I say steep hills on the trails, my brand new pants are not happy with me because I literally slid down the hill on my butt on several occasions including the one in the quarry. We jumped over six feet walls and I thought it was awesome because I cleared the walls with no problem, was super excited because I thought that was all they had which I later learned during the race that it was not! The first wet obstacle was a two story foot climb on a rope, reminiscence of a high school gym class and was the only thing I did not do well in gym! Needless to say, I tried and did not succeed, the very beginning of lots of burpess was in store for me that day and I did my thirty. Travis, the buddy of mine I mentioned earlier got to the top of the rope, reached up to hit the bell and fell while reaching for the bell smacking the water on a double twist somewhat of a belly flop! He laughed about it and so did I because when he got out of the water, he had mud up his nose! We ran for bit, then started the steep uphill climb again, went through a trail and were met with gravel along with home depot buckets. We had to fill up our buckets with the gravel and then walk up part of the mountain and back down depositing the gravel where we found it. I also had the urge to puke, three times during this one. I tried to lighten up my demise and others by joking that beer was such a bad choice the night before. It was at this point where the never ending mountain climb started and it was brutal. It felt the mountain that was staring above us was tilted more than 45 degrees uphill at certain points, some people crawled, lots of people stopped, other shouted encouragement and I tried as hard as I could to not throw up on others that were below me. What a mind fuck this was. We made it to the top of the mountain exhausted and what an incredible view it was! It was the best part of the race and you felt like you accomplished something, even more so when I found out that the top of the mountain is the highest elevation point in Pennsylvania! We had no idea when that we got to the top of the mountain that we would be spending another forty five minutes climbing up and down a black diamond slope. We ran towards the ski lift on the other side of the mountain and there are sandbags waiting for us, some will say twenty, others will say close to forty pounds but all I can say, it was heavy. I picked the bag up looked at where we were going and saw that we were going down a black diamond slope! I can’t imagine skiing down this mountain now that I seen it without snow and filled with a mix of gravel, dirt and grass nor at this point did I see myself making it down the hill without sliding to the bottom. We got to the bottom and I was cooked, my thighs felt liked they were stabbed with butchers knives. Just looking up to the top of hill and seeing people only making it ten feet before they had to stop was enough to make me want to give up. As we were going up, it was slippery and I had to stop more than ten times, some people laid down and used the sandbags as pillows in the middle of the hills. It took all of the strength I had at the moment I THOUGHT I had. It was indeed another mind fuck as we thought when we have gotten to the top of the mountain the first time that the rest of the race would be downhill. What I realized at the end of this race is how much you can put your body through but it takes tremendous training of the mind to be able to do so!
Below is the picture of the view and yes, it does look more than forty five degrees downhill.
Downhill was steep, some parts were I had to slide down on my butt which must be why my butt is hurting so bad right now. We encountered several Berlin walls; one of them had to be twelve feet in heights, several of them I needed help on. This obstacle seems to be an automatic calf cramp for me. We came across the mud quarter mile, eight trenches of water that we had to climb in and out of us which was probably one of the fun ones. The best one is where we got to go down a large slip and slide estimated by our group to be a steep fifty yards long downhill into a mud pond. That was my favorite obstacle! We had to swim across the pond and out into the trails, next pond we encountered we had to carry down a cinderblock on a chain, into the pond and back up a hill which sucked! Then we had 100 yards of barbwire crawls on gravel and mud with a fire hose squirting full steam of water at us! We had a heavy tire flip which I was unable to do, I think it was close to three hundred pounds, I could be way off but my body was unable to flip it over. Back to burpees I was. Burpees are great exercises but once you do five, your body starts become numb; it is a complete body workout. Then we came to the last of the obstacles, we had the javelin/arrow throw which is awesome. Lot of individuals missed, I somewhat had it easy I guess with all of my previous baseball days. I am glad to see those days worked for something! The finish line was in sight, that is if you could see pass the dark thick smoke of a fire jump. The flames were high; considerably high that I had to jump as high as I could which was something I did not want to do at that point because I was hurting! Then we had to jump into water and climb out of it using a rope to get over a forty five degree wall. It was an amazing sight to see how close to the finish line you were and how freakishly huge the gladiators were. I collected my thoughts and took off full sprint into three gladiators. It happened in a blur and they swung their sticks at me, and I ran through them. I ran hard enough where I managed to injured one of them. For some reason, my body took over and I did a Ray Lewis scream with my arms open wide as I crossed the finish line. I was greeted by great volunteers who handed me a medal and several bananas. I did it and concluded that this race was tougher than the Tough Mudder. I completed the Spartan race in three hours and fifteen minutes which puts my mile pace at 48:36 minutes. My best mile pace is 8:37 which should show you readers the toughness of the course! I looked up my race results and saw that I was 2,730 out of the 7,500 participants that ran that day. A great accomplishment, the winner did it in 59 minutes which is unbelievable in my book. He missed the Olympic trails as a marathon runner which shows me even more the determination and athletic ability that our Olympic athletes have.
The guy in the middle wearing the light gray shirt motivated me to do more. Why? Mike had an accident in his childhood years which caused him to lose feeling to one entire side of his body; he endured numerous surgeries and rehab to gain back his ability to move. I think he told me that in the past couple of years, he has done MULTIPLE Tough Mudders. There were several points of the race where he got behind but he never gave up, I have absolute respect for him and for anyone that does this race. So ask yourself, if you are reading this, have I done all that I can in my life? What more can I accomplish? This guy follows the book of no excuses. He motivated all of us that day and several passersby who I quote said “how is he going to do the race? He can’t even walk! “Well guys, he did and maybe you should too. Find out what is inside of you, you won’t be disappointed, I promise! The great thing about this is that meeting Mike showed me humility; His story showed me that my life is not bad compared to others and I can do more. One more piece of advice, continue to meet others and find out their stories, you might gain a better appreciation of your life. I am glad that I ran into him and the others for I experienced a moment that I will never forget.
A conclusion of this blog, there was several times where my body and mind wanted to quit but every time it did, I immediately went into overdrive to think about how great I will feel when I accomplish this and how I can add this on my list of things that I did. This takes more mental training than physical training. I went from barely able to run one mile in October to conquering the largest mountain in Pennsylvania and as I am writing this, I am thinking to myself what is next? It is a great feeling and I am very overwhelmed in writing all of this, I can’t believe how far I have come. I am looking forward to doing a marathon in November. If anybody wants to join me, please do. If anybody wants weight loss help, motivational issues or has questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some more pictures are below. Thanks and until next time, BA is officially out! The light green area is where we ran, all the way to the top! The AFTERMATH!
Overwhelmed and Happy!