I’ve failed more attempts at getting this “story” together than I want to admit. I did my best in a Facebook post, and even that turned into some poem-like jumble of phrases – not even full sentences! Unlike most of my cohorts, I just can’t take the thought out of what I write. Sure, it’s supposed to be my point of view, but when it comes down to it, I try to capture everything around me. Never really amounts to much when all is said and done. This time, my very last attempt, I committed to writing it, start to finish, in one sitting. And, regardless of the end result, I swore I would just publish it and let the pieces fall where they may. Whew! Here goes:
While the first quarter of the year and the months of September and October are almost exclusively “no vacation” months at work, I figured they could do without me for a few days. I decided that April was just too long to wait to do another Spartan Race. So, being as how the lady is from Miami, how fitting would doing a race in Miami be? I mean I could run the race, and we could spend time with our family, all in the same week! That was a no-brainer!
We set off for Miami on Wednesday, three days before the Florida Super Spartan, where we would be joining over ten of our extended family members for our own little piece of craziness. With a schedule as packed as ours, it left little sleep, early mornings, and a decent amount of driving. It was looking like a hectic week and we hadn’t even caught our first flight yet! At any rate, we jumped in with both feet and hit the ground running. We arrived in Florida at about 930 Wednesday night with temps about 40 degrees warmer than we left… I LOVE Florida in the winter! When we arrived at the house, we had just enough time to say our hellos and hit the sheets.
Day 2 started with Maribel hitting up the local ER as she had come down with an awful bug she received from our prior weekend. With the “clearance” from the hospital staff, she decided that there was no way she wasn’t going to do the race on Saturday! Perfect! She was finally going to get that precious jersey muddy; something that I had heard about ever since her first race at Fenway in November. That evening, we decided to join in at an Herbalife Boot Camp session as recommended by her mother and her brother. It was a slow workout with a lot of yoga-type stretching and some ab work. I just used it as a perfect stretching session before the weekend. I think it worked out well.
Friday, she was back on her feet, still under the weather though. We had pre-race packet pickup that night, and the rest of the Corn Fed crew was set to arrive throughout the day. Anxious with anticipation? I think so! We arrived at SoleRunners running store in Kendall a little early and it was already organized chaos with racers and SR Staff trying to get set up. But, we jumped right in and got started! A few team members were also volunteering at that time, so pieces were starting to fall into place. Following packet pickup, about seven of us (I believe) headed to Bahama Breeze for a bite to eat and a few drinks. We shared stories, a few laughs, and we got word that the rest of the crew had arrived safely… so safely, in fact, that they had apparently stopped traffic at the Cheetah Club in Hallandale, but that’s not entirely my story to tell. We all said our goodbyes for the night, and we parted ways.
Saturday morning, we were up and about, albeit early, but on race day who can sleep anyway? We drove an hour to the college, met up with the guys from the night before and hopped onto the shuttle to head to Oleta River State Park for the race. As we pulled up to the site I noticed several of the best looking jerseys I have ever seen, and knew at that moment we were all ready to go! We met up with the team, shared some hugs, snapped some pics, one last bathroom break (for some) and before you knew it we were in the start corral… WAY in the back! But, as we were ushered off and passed the stage, we got our warm welcome from the SR staff “CORNFED IS IN THE HOUSE – GO CORNFED!” In the words of our very own Princess Badass “Yep, we’re kind of a big deal”!
This race was like any normal Spartan Race – running, over stuff, under stuff, lifting heavy shit, some water here and there, some swimming, more overs and unders, etc. You get the picture. This is usually the point where I stop and reanalyze what I have wrote, and reevaluate my feelings on things, but this time I refuse. Instead, I’ll give you my take on the race, as best I can, since I know most of you have already heard many different (and similar) stories about it. I had to break it up in two sections though, as I was too proud of the accomplishments of the ladies to throw them in the same mix and risk losing the emphasis.
When I started, I started damn good. I felt incredible! I was trucking along at my pace, a comfortable pace that I knew I could sustain for the entire 8.3 mile course. I was ready to kill it! For awhile now I’ve just wanted to let loose, tear up the course by myself, and find out where I am physically. I mean, I set out in the beginning trying to find myself; trying to track my progress and health. To this point, while I have paid much more attention to what I do, what I eat, and everything that goes along with it, I haven’t really put it all to the test. There hasn’t been too much of a “progress update” so to speak. I can make excuses, give reasons, whatever the case may be, but what it really boils down to is I just haven’t. I would much rather spend my race day with the people I enjoy, doing what I enjoy. It’s just apparently who I am. Back to the race though… I started “phenomenal” in my opinion. Running smooth, weather was great, picture-perfect day to let ‘er rip! And, that’s what I did… until I hit the sign for Mile 2 and I found myself running on a tract of land – alone. Nobody to talk to, no encouragement, not even somebody to help. This wasn’t me, and it definitely wasn’t Corn Fed, so, I stopped. I literally locked my brakes and stood right where I was. I cheered racers on, gave high-fives, shouted “Corn Fed” when somebody noticed the jersey… “I’m getting there” I thought. Then, after a short period of time, my teammates started to pass, first there were two, then another, and another, and before I knew it I saw The Machine appear into view. Hot on her tail were seven more Corn Fed members, smiling, laughing, and having a great time. Again, I cheered them on and gave hugs and high-fives, and just like the last four, they disappeared from view. I thought that was odd, when we started there were fifteen of us. With the eight that just passed, and the four from before, that left two more (not including myself). Well, I couldn’t just go on without finding the rest. I started heading back from the direction I came. It wasn’t long until I reached the water stop I passed along the way, and there they were! Candie and Maribel were still motoring along. That made fifteen – all accounted for! As an added bonus, there were two ladies that had apparently been with them from the start. So, with the four ladies, we all headed on trying to reach the finish!
With the confidence that nobody would be left alone, Candie and I would run ahead “bird-dogging” to the next obstacle. We completed the obstacle and stuck around helping and encouraging until the rest of our team arrived. This went on for miles! In total, I think we helped nearly 100 people over the course of the race if not more. Aside from a few key points, which I’ll get to in a minute, our race went smooth. Candie and I did the tractor pull simultaneously and waited for the others. While waiting, I noticed a lady that couldn’t seem to get her “tractor” started. She just didn’t have the strength or the weight to get it moving… I grabbed the chain with her, and we ran it around the loop. Score one for this guy! After the pull, it was the sandbag carry. Candie and I both grabbed the men’s bags; yes, even after her “discussion” with the volunteer on which one she was ‘supposed to grab’. And, we pushed on. She’s been stubborn with her shoulder over the past YEAR, so with limited motion she opted for burpees instead of the monkey bars, but she’s a burpee junkie anyway. I think she busted out 60 or so after helping others who happened to be next to her. While she burpeed her way to freedom, I hung out at the obstacle encouraging others. Again, we proceeded. Over the last few races I’ve done with Candie, she’s always tried to do more, at one obstacle specifically. She tried, on three separate occasions, to get the men’s Hercules Hoist, and just couldn’t quite get it. This time though, she was far beyond driven! When we got to the hoist, I did mine, and she did hers, both without issue. The volunteer cam up to her after and said she could’ve got the men’s, I agreed, and I think that put her over the edge – she HAD to get it. So, we went up, and she started. I guided the rope and kept my hand on it just in case it slipped or her grip gave, but it never did. Hand over hand, foot after foot, that stone made its way to the top. And… she nailed it! Segue into “section 2”
Throughout the entire race, I knew it would be taxing for Maribel. She decided at the last minute she was going to participate instead of volunteering like she had planned. Not to mention she’s had to overcome her own battles physically, and to top it all off she had that head/chest/stomach bug still lingering. It never failed though, with each passing step, no matter where we were, when we looked back to check on her all we got was a bright shiny smile. She was beat, we all knew it, but I guess it was just her time to not quit. I couldn’t be more proud, even though it’s not my accomplishment at all. She went over walls, climbed the cargo net, and went under objects, the whole deal. She swam (and got “dropped” into a root bed after the crossing), and step by step she completed the long single-track trail sections like a pro.
We completed the last “obstacle” before the home stretch and headed toward the festival area. We all knew what was coming… Rope climb, traverse wall, barbed wire crawl, slippery wall, and finally the Gladiators. Nailed the rope climb, and Candie started her traverse wall. Her grip was shot, and she let me know, but I stood behind her (just enough to not let her fall) and even with a suffering grip, she rang the bell like a pro. I rocked the traverse wall (for the first time – thanks girl) and we reached the crawl. I was looking forward to this point all day – Maribel was going to get dirty!!! And, she did; there’s even photos to prove it. We made it, one last wall ascent and we were thru. With my inov-8’s, I made it to the top without issue, and Candie was soon to follow. As I came down the wall, I noticed Maribel heading up, so I climbed up the back and reached out my hand; along with Candie, Maribel was going to make it over…wait…oh crap… insert slow motion video here. Maribel lost her grip, we lost ours, and we sat, helpless, as we watched her slide back down…slowly, until her entire back hit the ground. We literally dropped her into the mud – WTF?!
As she made her way AROUND the wall, the three of us headed to the gladiator pit. I went first. I tried to hug the first, but he “tapped” me with the pugil stick. The second was well prepared for my hug and accepted it graciously, but the third… Mr. Jeffrey Bent, wasn’t so forgiving. With a statement like “We’ll have none of that” then it came – pugil stick to the dome – BAM! I took my lump, crossed the finish, and Ms. Amy Wade Sadd was standing there to give Corn Fed the medals, she insisted! We did it, we finished, the three of us together in true Corn Fed fashion, and it felt wonderful! My 8th race and ninth medal in hand, now it was time for a beer!
After a quick wash down, we met up with most of the team that finished earlier, snapped a few more pics as we took a beer or two to decompress, then we were off again. The decision was made for us to grab one quick meal together at Miller’s Ale House before the team headed back home. One last hug session, some well wishes, and a few heart-felt goodbyes, and the race weekend was over; almost as quick as it started.
As for my take on things, I realized that I am surrounded by greatness each time I step onto the course with those I call family. I have an incredible racing partner who I appropriately consider my sister. And, I get to spend every day of the foreseeable future waking up to one of the strongest women I know. Yep, I’m kind of a big deal, but not without them! Thank you Corn Fed for another great experience and a very special Thank You to my “sister” and my lady – I owe my completion to you!
As usual, I apologize for the length; add “chatty” to my list of character flaws. And, if you made it this far, thanks for reading, I hope to see YOU at my next race!