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Ten Years - Saturday, April 30, 2022
This week Priscilla and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. We've been through a lot during this time - she left her home in LA and relocated to the Bay Area to be with me, we got an apartment, I changed jobs once, she changed jobs more than once, we bought a house, had several renters over a six-year period, we've served on the worship team at church, been in small groups, seen friends come and go, gone on walks almost every day, done lots of hiking, and we've traveled to many places across the state, country and world. It simultaneously feels like hardly any time has passed and also like a meaningful ten years have passed. We've made plenty of mistakes and this isn't the best life that we could be living by far, but I'm content. And there's no one I'd rather have spent this ten years with.

This week we were down in LA to celebrate our anniversary and to be with family. It was also my mom's birthday, so all the more reason for family to get together. We spent the first three nights at my parents' place and the latter two nights at Priscilla's parents' place. We saw Aaron and Lauren and the kids twice and got to see their new house, and our niece actually talked to me a good deal this time. The time with family was pretty low-key as always, but we enjoy the normalcy.

The rest of our time was spent in Hollywood! We went there three days in a row - for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, then to watch Everything Everywhere All at Once (it was interesting but really weird) at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and finally to go to Universal Studios. We'd bought the Go City LA pass and chose those activities. Originally we had wanted to do Catalina Island as one of the activities, but the ferry hours were pretty inconvenient (7am arrival and 4pm departure). And when we bought the pass, the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens was available as one of the activities, but at some point it was dropped and only remained available with the more expensive pass. So we scrapped Huntington from our plans and replaced it with seeing a movie at Grauman's. The expression about best-laid plans is all too fitting in today's day of rampant inflation and skimpflation.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour was cool. Our guide was very knowledgeable and drove us through the campus and pointed out building after another that was used in the filming of some show or movie. We got to see different sets for a TV show in one of the sound stages. I couldn't place most of the things the guide pointed out because my familiarity with TV and film is limited, but I appreciated seeing all the work that goes into set design to the finest detail. The tour ended with a self-guided portion through DC and Harry Potter exhibits; most of that was kinda meh, but I really liked this one display that uses forced perspective to make it look like Hogwarts letters are swirling all around you, where the attendant used our phone to take an awesome-looking picture.

Universal Studios doesn't have as much stuff as Disneyland, so we had time to do all the rides and see both of the shows. It brought back some memories of the times when my mom would bring me and my brother there. I guess the last time I went there was in 2004 when I brought my grandfather there. A bunch of things have changed noticeably, like Jurassic Park now being Jurassic World with some technological upgrades, Back to the Future replaced by The Simpsons, no more Backdraft, and the Backlot Tour now branded as the Studio Tour including two attractions requiring 3D glasses. The two shows running were Universal's Animal Actors and WaterWorld (there's also the Special Effects Stage show, but that wasn't operating on the day of our visit). The execution of both shows was great, though the trainers in Animal Actors had occasional difficulty getting the animals (mostly the dogs) to obey commands on the first try. It's gotta be a hard job. And the stunts and effects in WaterWorld were spectacular - this was probably the only attraction that I enjoyed as much as an adult as I did as a kid. Overall, Universal was fun, but the motion sickness I now get on thrill rides mars the experience, and I've for the most part outgrown the desire to go to theme parks. Priscilla probably would not mind still going every now and then.

Last week, I was working hard to get new sprinkler valves installed for the front lawn. Our irrigation system didn't have a manual shutoff, so I had to have the city shut off the main so that I could install a manual shutoff valve. Then I had to replace the old, leaking sprinkler valves. The task was difficult because the pipes were installed almost right next to each other and at weird angles, so I had to rework the design with very little clearance. There were also tree roots growing everywhere. I also discovered a sprinkler head next to the valves, buried under landscaping fabric, which meant that that area got a good soaking every time the sprinklers came on (that might explain all the roots). I had wanted to put in PVC and drip irrigation in the back before our trip so that our backyard plants wouldn't die, but I ended up only being able to finish the front and had a neighbor water the back while we were away. But at least the hard part is done and I can work on the back at my leisure (well, we're going to LA for a few days in July, so I guess that's my new deadline).

So overall, we didn't do anything really special to celebrate, but we're fine with that. The traditional gifts for the 10th year anniversary are aluminum and tin symbolizing the strength and resilience of the marriage, and while we don't really give each other gifts for special occasions, one can say that our marriage is just as comfortably boring, and just as dependable, as those metals.
Spartan Beast - Monday, March 14, 2022
A mere six weeks after Daniel and I ran our Spartan Sprint down in SoCal, it was time for our San Luis Obispo Spartan Beast. We were not fully prepared and we got our butts handed to us in different ways. But it was a lot of fun.

On Friday, Priscilla and I drove down to Atascadero and met Daniel and his family at the Airbnb that we'd rented. The house was pretty spacious and had a lot of amenities. Their kids in particular liked the toys and the trampoline. After we got settled, we drove down to San Luis Obispo 25 minutes away. We walked around the downtown area and had dinner at Firestone Grill (I had tri-tip and it was delicious) and got ice cream from McConnell's. The downtown attractions that we saw - Bubblegum Alley, SLO Museum of Art, and the walkways around the creek - were all pretty short. It seemed like a laid-back town and everyone we interacted with was really nice.

While Daniel and I were running on Saturday, Priscilla joined the rest of Daniel's family in visiting Avila Valley Barn and more sights in SLO. They got a pie from the farm that had really good crust (I didn't care so much for the filling). And on Sunday, we drove over to Morro Bay and did a short kayak trip after Daniel and I decided that we weren't sore enough from the race. We kayaked to and walked around the sandbar close to Morro Rock, a place that Priscilla and I visited with friends 10 years ago. Afterwards, we got lunch at Giovanni's Fish Market; Priscilla and I got a clam chowder bread bowl and fish and chips (fries). The fries were amazing - very crispy; everything else was decent but nothing to write home about. After we said our goodbyes, it was time to head home.

Alright, back to the Spartan Beast. In the spirit of self-improvement, here as always are my notes about the course.

Over Walls (4' Walls): Easy warmup.

Inverted Wall: Easy, with the usual gap between the rungs and the wall providing a good place to grip.

Monkey Bars: Used the hand to hand technique as usual.

Barbed Wire Crawl: Part of it was grassy, so I was able to roll without getting too dirty.

7' and 6' Walls: Easy with the heel hook technique, though I found that I'm able to swing my right leg higher than I can my left. Or maybe that's just what I'm used to.

Hurdles: These were on a slight slope, adding an extra challenge. I got over these clumsily but twisted my left shoulder (it was fine after a few minutes).

Tube Crawl: Exactly as it sounds. Might've been the easiest obstacle I've ever done. The tubes were completely dry, but maybe in some venues they're filled with muddy water?

Armer: Possibly the same weight stone as with Atlas Carry, but the handle made this easier.

Tyrolean Traverse: My initial plan to do an upside-down crawl along the rope immediately went out the window when I found that I couldn't keep the other leg on the rope when lifting one leg off. So instead, I kept my legs locked around the rope and pulled myself along using my arms. The high socks I had on protected my legs from rope burn, but this motion was pretty rough on my hands.

8' Wall: Was able to jump up and grab the edge with an inch of clearance, so I didn't need to do a running jump and kick off against the wall.

Pipe Lair, Helix, Z Wall: All straightforward.

Olympus: Used mostly the holes and used a reach across technique when possible, making short work of this obstacle. Definitely a lot easier than when I did this for the first time during last year's Super.

The Box: A lot of people were having trouble with the ropes, but I ignored the rope and just jumped and hoisted my way onto the platform without much effort. The benefits of being light.

Spear Throw: Failed again when the spear went to the left of the target. I took two retries since it wasn't too busy, and I managed to stick it on the final attempt. Each time, I threw a mostly decent arc, so the "spear" training (with a tennis ball on the end of a broom handle) I've been doing with Daniel has been paying off. I just need to adjust the aim. I still did my 30 burpees since you're really only allowed one try.

Atlas Carry: Was able to lift the stone using a sumo deadlift, so I didn't need to roll it onto my knee like before.

Multi-Rig: Rings, horizontal bar, then ropes with no ball on the end. I thought I'd have trouble with the ropes, but I was able to maneuver from one rope to the next without sliding down. Guess the grip training has been paying off.

Bucket Carry: The bucket felt noticeably lighter compared to the one on the Sprint. Could just be variations in how much the volunteers fill them.

Beater: This was on mile 11 and my calf was starting to cramp. When I jumped up to grab the bar, a paralyzing pain shot through my calf. I had to rest for 10 minutes before I could do the obstacle. This sucked because this obstacle is pretty much all upper-body. I saw a couple others suffering from calf cramps here as well.

Bender: The cramps didn't deter me too much from swinging my feet up to help me get over this obstacle.

Stairway to Sparta: When I did this during my Super, the obstacle involved jumping and grabbing the top of a slanted wall and pulling yourself up. Pretty basic. But on the Beast, there was that (smooth) wall panel, plus another wall panel above it with climbing holds. So you basically had to jump up, grab the holds with your hands, pull yourself up and grab a higher hold, and then you'd be high enough to get your foot onto one of the holds. There was a volunteer there who gave most people a boost, but I wanted to do it on my own (as Spartan races are technically supposed to be done). I had a couple failed tries at grabbing the holds without falling, but I was finally able to do it and get my foot high enough to allow me to climb the rest of the way up. In terms of absolute difficulty, I'd say this was the hardest obstacle on the course.

Rope Climb: My hands were pretty roughed up by now, but using the S-hook took me to the top without too much trouble. My fingers held up without bleeding, unlike last time.

Twister: Going backwards made this quick, but my hands were starting to feel it by this point.

Plate Drag: I initially picked a bad lane where halfway down, the sled got stuck behind a mound of dirt. At least it wasn't just me - the next guy also had trouble with that lane. With my grip strength suffering, I had to borrow Daniel's gloves and pick a flatter lane to complete this obstacle.

Sandbag Carry, Vertical Cargo Plus, Slip Wall: Not too bad. On Slip Wall, we had to run up the ramp a little more than I remember doing on the Super, but the lack of a Dunk Wall this time kept things dry.

Hercules Hoist: My hands were completely raw by this point and my grip strength was gone. I tried twice, but not even the gloves helped me pull the bag all the way up. 30 burpees.

A-Frame Cargo: An easy obstacle to end with, with the finish line straight ahead. Boy was I glad to be done!

Aid station placement was excellent and I didn't need to drink water at every station. Much/most of the course consisted of uneven ground, and I rolled my right ankle around the halfway point, leading to pain whenever I landed at an angle on that foot. After that, I had to run a little slower in order to keep the ankle stable. But Daniel started cramping a lot in the last couple miles, so we both needed to slow down. The first 10 miles were all easier obstacles, and the last 3 miles contained the harder ones. With our injuries, the race got exponentially harder at the end!

My final time was 4:20:32, putting me in the 33rd percentile, placing 605/1857 overall, 496/1233 for men, and 109/266 in my age group. I didn't do badly, though I should've been able to do better. I'm glad that the training that I've been doing has shown some results, and I think I can go gloveless on a Super, but for a Beast, I seem to need that extra advantage from gloves since so many of the obstacles are hard on the hands. Once I do the Super in June, I'll be done with the Trifecta. I do enjoy the races, but I think I've gotten my Spartan fix and don't feel like I need to sign up for more anytime soon. I'm not that competitive, and the cost and overhead of the races are a bit much.

I'm glad that the hardest race is done with and I'm glad that we got to spend time with our friends and their kids. It was a tiring weekend and my arms and legs are quite sore now, but it was time well spent.
Inflation Invading My Dreams - Friday, February 18, 2022
In the last few months, inflation has been the talk of the economic world. It was only a matter of time before the insane amount of money the Fed created over the last two years caught up with us. Inflation is now up 7.5% annually, food is up 7%, gas is up 40%, and energy 27%. We've been feeling the pain at the pump, at the grocery store, and at the hardware store. Just yesterday I was at Home Depot to buy some PVC pipe, and a 10' length of 3/4" schedule 40 pipe now runs for $6.46, up from $3.56 ten months ago. That's an 81% increase in less than a year. Sheesh. And don't get me started on lumber prices.

While inflation for me and Priscilla is a minor annoyance, there are undoubtedly people who are greatly impacted by higher prices. The federal stimulus packages only allowed people to get by, not suddenly become well-off, and now that those have ramped down, people are starting to feel the squeeze. I think a recession in the next two years is inevitable.

Last month the S&P 500 took a 10% tumble, then started inching back up, but is now headed back into correction territory. Priscilla and I continue to dollar-cost average into index funds, but to have some more diversification, we bought I bonds, which have a variable interest rate adjusted for inflation. The current interest rate on those is a respectable 7.12%, maybe the only silver lining to high inflation. There's a $10k limit on I bond purchases per calendar year, so it's too bad that we only learned about them this year. I wish I'd bought some last year instead of putting so much money into the stock market, but oh well. I trust that the market will keep going up over the long-term, and if it doesn't, then we'll probably have bigger problems to worry about.

So related to inflation are its ugly siblings shrinkflation and skimpflation. We've seen all of those firsthand. There's also a labor shortage, which in reality is probably just a shortage of good paying jobs. In December, we ate with Priscilla's parents at an Asian buffet and the restaurant had replaced its ceramic plates and silverware with styrofoam plates and plasticware. Probably so that they don't have to wash dishes. My subconscious must've used that memory when I had a dream last night about eating at an Asian buffet where they provided us with paper plates, and each plate came with a layer of rice on it. As in, the restaurant was nudging customers towards filling up on rice so that they eat less of everything else. In the dream, I saw an adjacent table where the guests had left without eating a lot of the rice. But even though this generates waste, if a lot of people eat more rice than they otherwise would have, the restaurant probably still comes out ahead. In the real world, we've seen how people behaving rationally can lead to outcomes that are good for them but bad for society as a whole. It's sad.

Anyway, it looks like inflation won't be letting up anytime soon. To think that the Fed had at first predicted that inflation would be transitory!
Spartan Sprint - Wednesday, February 2, 2022
Well, it hadn't even been a month since we were last in LA, but Priscilla and I found ourselves down there again for my Spartan Sprint.

I signed up for the Spartan Trifecta for this year, and this past weekend the Super and Sprint were held at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino this past Saturday and Sunday, respectively. I ran with Daniel, my buddy from church with whom I'll be doing two more races this year.

This was my third Spartan Race, so I was pretty familiar with the obstacles by now. Last year's Super in Monterey was my first race, and I took it slow since I didn't know what to expect. But this time around, I wanted to get a good time, and since the Sprint is the easiest event in the Trifecta, I wanted to see if I could do some of the obstacles in a more challenging way.

Because this was a park, there were some limitations on course design. The route was essentially flat. Lots of obstacles were clustered in the same area, meaning minimal time in between some obstacles for the arms to get a rest.

So, as usual, here are the obstacles that were on the course and my personal notes.

Over Walls (4' Walls): Easy warmup.

Hurdles: These were set noticeably higher than at my Monterey Super. I got over these but lacked finesse.

6' Wall: Wanted to see if I could do a muscle up over the wall and was able to, but again without finesse. Heel hook is the proven better technique for me to conserve strength.

Inverted Wall: Pretty easy; this one had the extra grabbing room between the rungs and the wall that Monterey had. I managed to not bang my ankle on the way down this time.

Vertical Cargo: The SoCal Super had the platform in front of the cargo net that you have to hoist yourself onto. The Sprint had the platform removed.

Spear Throw: Despite watching many YouTube videos, I failed this as I didn't throw hard enough or straight enough. I really need to find a way to start practicing.

Helix, Z-Wall, and A-Frame Cargo: Pretty straightforward. On the former two, it helped that I'm light.

Atlas Carry: A little difficult since my arms were tired by this point.

Monkey Bars: Pretty much right after Atlas Carry. I'd wanted to try the hand over hand technique but my arms were feeling it, so I stuck with hand to hand and that made the obstacle pretty doable.

Plate Drag: No plank to brace my feet onto. Seemed like I took longer with this than most people.

Bucket Carry: Tried to balance the bucket on my shoulders but that tired out my arms, so I alternated between that and carrying it in front of me.

Dunk Wall: Should probably pinch my nose before I go under the water next time. I was blowing a lot of dirt out of my nose after the race and that was likely because of this obstacle.

Slip Wall: Thought I would have trouble with this since it was right after we got drenched in Dunk Wall, but I was able to get up the incline and over the top with no issues.

Barbed Wire Crawl: Straightforward, though I could've saved some time if I had rolled like Daniel did.

Sandbag Carry: The bags weren't that heavy. They were long and not filled in the middle.

Multi-Rig: The SoCal Super had a horizontal bar in the middle, but the Sprint had just rings. I was able to use a hand to hand (sideways traverse) technique without too much effort, but hand over hand is better for conserving strength (though it takes longer).

Hercules Hoist: Had to use my whole body weight as usual.

Rope Climb: The rope was a little wet and my shoes were probably still wet, so I couldn't get a good grip with my feet despite using the S-hook. My feet were definitely sliding near the top, so I powered my way up using more arm strength. This taxed my hands, and afterwards I found both middle fingers bleeding where the skin next to the nail had broken. Maybe I grip hardest with the middle finger on each hand?

Anyway, we ran together and pushed ourselves hard (well, Daniel was better at the obstacles and I was holding him back a little). When I took my time with last year's Super, the obstacles felt more manageable (though still not easy). But since we didn't rest all that much during this race, and because of multiple back-to-back obstacles, the obstacles felt noticeably harder. My final time was 52:27 which put me in the 17th percentile, placing 548/3230 overall, 475/2019 for males, and 77/326 for my age group. Not a terrific time, but not a terrible time. With our SLO Beast just 5 weeks away, I'm going to have to train better so that the obstacles don't get the better of me!

Outside of the event, we had a good time in LA seeing my parents and Priscilla's parents. That time was pretty low-key and mostly involved eating together. Aaron and Lauren's family visited the first night, and our niece was really quiet this time, though she finally started opening up to me when we played Candy Land with her. It's a game of pure chance, but Aaron won a couple times in a row and she was getting frustrated, so during the next couple games, Aaron kept peeking at the deck in his hand and rearranged cards when she wasn't looking so that she'd get the good cards. It was pretty funny.

And unlike last month, traffic from NorCal to SoCal and back wasn't bad. Visiting LA seems more bearable when the drive is "only" 5 hours!
Breaking My Phones - Wednesday, January 5, 2022
In November 2016, I bought two ZTE Axon 7 Mini phones - one for Priscilla and one for me. A mere two years later, Priscilla moved onto a Samsung Galaxy S8, as the ZTE wasn't able to keep up with her heavy usage. My ZTE was still good enough for me, so I stayed with it and used her old one as a spare for listening to podcasts and whatnot.

Over the years, I dropped my phone many times and finally managed to crack the lens of the rear-facing camera, rendering the camera effectively unusable. So whenever I wanted to take a picture, I'd either use Priscilla's new phone or the spare. A year ago, the degrading battery life of my phone finally pushed me to switch my sim card to the spare, which by that point also had mediocre battery life but better than that of the other phone. Normally my carrier charges a $15 fee to switch devices, but support was able to help me with it over the phone for free.

So for the last year, I've had a network-connected phone with a working camera (my newly-designated main phone), and when I'd be in situations where battery life would be an issue (e.g. when I'd be out trail running), I'd bring both ZTE phones with me and split tasks between the two. Not the most efficient, but it did the job.

But a month ago, the battery life in my main phone finally degraded to the point where the battery meter was untrustworthy under 50%, and the phone would just turn off when I was out on runs. That was the final straw, though I didn't want to pony up for a brand new phone, so I bought a replacement battery from eBay for $14. I could only find new aftermarket batteries, not OEM, but I figured they're probably all made in the same place anyway. I had wanted to replace the battery for a while now, but the slightly complicated process (you don't just pop open a cover and take the battery out like with our previous phones) deterred me.

But with YouTube videos giving me confidence, I managed to pry off the adhesive-attached speaker grills of the phone, pry apart the two halves of the case, unclip ribbon cables, and finally pry the very much adhesive-backed battery loose from the inside of the case. Reassembly with the new battery was straightforward, and finally I had a phone with decent battery life again! I tested the speakers to make sure that I hadn't damaged those.

But the next day, I found that I couldn't make calls. I had damaged a plastic part when removing the lower grill due to everything being bonded tightly with adhesive. The plastic part got bent and torn just from me trying to take the grill off. I'd assumed that that part was just a bracket, but it turned out to apparently be part of the antenna. However, I was unable to find anything online that corroborated that, and what looked like a serial and version number that was printed on the part (the only thing printed) turned up no results. But I had a spare phone with a presumably working antenna, so I very carefully opened that up, being extra careful to open the grill from the right side, since the left side is where the antenna previously sheared off. Once that antenna was removed and installed into the main phone, network functionality was restored. Success!

So now I have a phone that's more or less as good as it was the day I bought it over five years ago. Who knows, maybe the new battery will allow it to last another five years! I know that time is money and I have the means to buy any new phone I want, but I enjoy being scrappy and frugal and not buying new things when my old things still do what I need them to do. It's often worth it to me to spend time fixing something instead of paying for a replacement or even paying someone else to do the fix. Sometimes this is to Priscilla's chagrin. But the way I see it, my DIY'ing saves us money and allows me to learn things, and I do outsource plenty of things that are complicated or tedious.

It's definitely useful to have two of the same model of phones, and the same thinking led me to opt for another old 9th generation Corolla (so that we'd have two of them) a few years ago when I was buying something to replace my old Taurus. Now when something goes wrong on one of our cars, I can use the other car as a reference and even swap parts between them to help troubleshoot. Most people probably don't have that option available to them.

Most people would probably think I'm an oddball (Priscilla often does!). But not only have I come to accept that, but now I kinda relish it.
Home for Christmas - Friday, December 31, 2021
Last year, we went to LA for Thanksgiving but not Christmas due to lockdowns. But now, with a good percentage of the population vaccinated (albeit supposedly still not enough), the days of COVID lockdowns might be behind us for good.

So Priscilla and I drove down on Christmas Day, leaving around 9:15am, and we didn't run into much traffic (there were also not as many trucks on the road because of the holiday). It was around a 5.5 hour drive to get to her parents' place and we stayed with them three nights. Our time with them was pretty low-key. On Sunday, Priscilla and I visited our old church friend Cindy in Irvine; I hadn't seen her for two years, but Priscilla saw her during the pandemic. The three of us went to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, got lunch at a Taiwanese place in Irvine, and walked around Great Park. On Monday, I hung out with four of my old high school friends and we went bowling in Pasadena, ate at a sushi place a stone's throw away, and hung out at a boba place. The rest of the time Priscilla and I were with her parents, we ate food that she prepared (mostly from the insane amount of stuff in her parents' fridge) and stuffed our faces one night at Kami Buffet & Grill (her mom got three vouchers for helping a church friend).

Tuesday after lunch, we drove north to my parents' place and stayed with them two nights. That time was pretty low-key as well and we didn't see friends, but I did run a few miles around the neighborhood both on Tuesday and Wednesday; the latter day saw me running in light rain with an umbrella. Priscilla went to hang out with Gina on Wednesday during lunch, but otherwise we both ate with my parents at each meal during our time there. My parents made a ton of food as always, and they packed our cooler and then some with a lot of food for us to bring home. They are too good to us.

We didn't see Aaron and his family this time around, as they were on a trip to New Mexico in a rented camper van. How fun!

Priscilla and I left for home yesterday. Unfortunately, the Grapevine section of I-5 was closed due to snow, so we (and everyone else) had to take the 101 instead. That added 49 miles to our trip, and it was a pretty miserable drive. It was raining steadily at my parents' place and pouring hard on the 118 and first leg of the 101 freeways. The heavy rain on the 118 made it difficult to see, and we and everyone else had to drive around 50mph. There were multiple places along the 101 where traffic slowed to a crawl due to an accident, construction zone, or just general congestion. Overall, we spent 7.5 hours on the road. Guess that's what happens when it's the day before New Year's Eve and the 101 has to accommodate holiday traffic in addition to traffic that would normally be on I-5.

To make matters more "interesting", 2/3 of the way through, the check engine light came on in the car. Not wanting to drive another 130 miles without knowing what the problem was, I had Priscilla look for a nearby AutoZone. Fortunately, there was one in King City about 10 miles north of where we were. I was able to borrow an OBD-II reader there and found out that the DTC (error code) indicated a problem either with the catalytic converter or an O2 sensor - not a critical issue requiring immediate attention. Thank God!

So we made it home at last, my head aching due to stress, and we ate my mom's food while watching more episodes of season 5 of Fringe (that season is kinda meh). Today we hit up the Sunnyvale Costco early-ish (before the crowds really started piling in), got our booster shot at the Mountain View Community Center, and went to The Dish for me to get my last run in for the year (that's my go-to place for elevation when the ground is still muddy due to rain). A more relaxing day to bookend the madness of yesterday. And as I finish writing this blog entry, Priscilla is off watching the marching band and fireworks at WinterFest at Great America. She bought a Great America season pass ("only" $85) that's good until the end of 2022, as well as a dining pass that gets her lunch and dinner (as long as they're four hours apart). She's gone twice this year and will probably go several times next year. I think it's pretty clear by now that theme parks are one of her hobbies!

Overall, we had a good time in LA with family and friends, though I was not fond of all the driving. For next year, I'm thinking of having us go down once in the summer instead of for Christmas in order to avoid the travel mayhem of the latter, as well as to more evenly space out our visits. We'll be going down in January for my Spartan Sprint, probably in April for our anniversary trip, and again for Thanksgiving. Taking another trip down around July will give us 3-4 months in between each visit. Priscilla feels that it will be weird to not go down for Christmas since that's when everybody else is seeing family and friends, but maybe we can try it once and see if we can make it work and make our summer visit meaningful. Our respective parents are cool with it. Well, I'm not sure about my dad since he's very traditional, but my family hasn't really done anything special for Christmas since my high school days or so. We can do a Zoom dinner with parents for the holiday, and maybe I can entice Priscilla with more days on which she can go to WinterFest...
San Francisco Spartan Stadion - Tuesday, December 7, 2021
This past Saturday I did the Spartan Stadion at Oracle Park in San Francisco with a few church people and their friends (10 people total including me). We got our entry for a mere $50 through Foster the City, a nonprofit that works to provide homes for foster children in the Bay Area. Each of us had to raise money for FTC, with the goal to raise $1000 per person.

I don't like asking people for money, but one of the church people graciously posted a message to our Facebook group with each participant's donation link for those who wanted to support the cause. A lot of people donated, though those using the donation link provided by FTC instead of setting up a Facebook fundraiser page (myself included) were unable to see how much money they had raised or even who had donated.

The race was easier than a typical Spartan Sprint, e.g. the penalty for a failed obstacle in a Stadion is only 15 burpees instead of the usual 30. There were other modifications that made the obstacles easier, like the Multi-Rig having just rings (no horizontal bar or dangling ropes), and the Atlas Carry having a 100lb pellet-filled ball instead of a 100lb stone (you get a better grip on the ball). This course was similar to the SF Stadion in 2019, with one of the main differences being that there was no Olympus (I was sad about that) and there was an obstacle I'd never seen before, Rolling Epic (it was probably the easiest obstacle on the course).

I was able to complete all the obstacles except the Spear Throw. I did not throw the spear hard enough and it crash-landed way short of the target. Sigh.

The most difficult obstacles were the Weighted Burpees and the Hercules Hoist. The Weighted Burpees involved a 55lb (less for women) weight that we had to lift over our heads 15 times. I had to start taking breaks after the first few reps. Clearly I need to spend time doing the clean and press at the gym. The Hercules Hoist was doable; I just had to use all my bodyweight and push off the barrier with my leg. And the Monkey Bars were pretty easy; this time I did it in the traditional way with palms facing forwards instead of using the opposing grip method. The opposing grip method made this obstacle a piece of cake during my Spartan Super, but I wanted to see if I could do it in a slightly harder way. The bars on this obstacle are spaced somewhat far apart, so I naturally got my hands to the same rung before reaching for the next rung. But I saw some videos of people reaching for the next rung, one after another, so next time I want to see if I can do that.

I didn't have trouble getting the sandbag on both of my shoulders during the Sandbag Carry this time; either the bag was lighter than what we had at my Super, or the training I've been doing with a 20lb rucksack is paying off. And the Rope Climb wasn't difficult; I stuck to using the S-hook and though my form was terrible, my legs more or less stayed supported the whole way up. I wonder if the rope here was also thicker than the one at the Super.

Some people in our group failed/skipped a few obstacles, and our group split the requisite burpees between each of us. I think that's not officially allowed, but meh. The open wave is whatever you make it, and the goal should be to challenge oneself. It was fun to do some camaraderie burpees, though having to do burpees after the Rope Climb and then do Weighted Burpees right after was not great, haha.

Nobody got major injuries. I didn't have any shoulder issues this time, but my right hip started aching during the latter half of the race, probably because of all the stairs. I've had minor hip issues, particularly on the left side where I think I've had a low level of chronic inflammation, so it was surprising that it was the right side that started acting up. It didn't hurt much and wasn't something to be too concerned about, but something to pay attention to. Getting old is such fun.

Priscilla likes traveling, even if it's for short trips, so we actually went up to SF Friday afternoon. We drove to Millbrae and took BART to SF. While I was doing the race, Priscilla met up with the wife of one of the other group members to hang out. They got to see us do a couple obstacles up close at two different areas located outside of Oracle Park. Beats paying $20 for a festival pass to be a spectator with a mediocre view!

Outside of the event, Priscilla and I saw the Macy's Christmas tree at Union Square, enjoyed downtime at our hotel, and walked along The Embarcadero from Oracle Park up to the Ferry Building, where we got a bite to eat at the farmers market at Ferry Plaza. SF has a lot of nice-looking parts, especially if you zoom out and see the surroundings as a whole. It's not all just the negatives that the news likes to focus on, like the smash-and-grab robberies that happened recently. We felt safe in all the places we went to.

Overall, I'm glad I did the Stadion, though I prefer the higher difficulty mountain type Spartan races. And I wish I had talked to everyone on the team; it felt a bit awkward since I didn't know a few people and we all seemed shy. But I had fun and it seemed like everyone else did too, and I'm glad that we supported a good cause. I'm looking forward to the Trifecta events that I'll be running with Daniel next year!
Mixing It Up for Thanksgiving - Monday, November 29, 2021
For the Thanksgiving holiday, Priscilla and I went down to LA a week earlier this year. The hope was to avoid the crowds - both on the road as well as at Disneyland!

The last time I'd been to Disneyland was 17 years ago (I blogged about it in 2004, but I scarcely recall the experience). After Priscilla went to Disney World with friends a couple years ago, and because she's really into Marvel movies, she's been wanting me to go to Disneyland with her. So she decided that we should squeeze in a trip in between visiting family for Thanksgiving.

So we drove down to LA on Sunday and stayed two nights with my parents, then went to Anaheim and explored the Downtown Disney District on Tuesday, woke up bright and early and got lined up at California Adventure before rope drop on Wednesday, and woke up early and did the same thing at Disneyland on Thursday. The last two nights we stayed with Priscilla's parents. The time with parents was pretty low-key.

We thought that by visiting a week before Thanksgiving, when kids should still be in school, the lines at the theme parks should be tolerable. How naive! Unfortunately for us, both parks were still pretty busy (though apparently Thanksgiving week was worse). And there were still plenty of kids (why aren't you guys in school??). And to our detriment, Disney has apparently stopped doing FastPass. We waited on average maybe 20 minutes per ride, with the longest waits being around 40 minutes. We even got into Rise of the Resistance, which was only accessible via virtual queue at the time of our visit, but even having a place in the virtual queue still subjected us to a 40 minute wait once it was our turn to get into the physical line.

But we stayed 10 hours and 12 hours at Disneyland and California Adventure, respectively, and we were able to ride just about everything we wanted to, with the exception of Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure. At California Adventure, I liked the Soarin' ride the most, and the "Turtle Talk with Crush" show was pretty entertaining for kids and adults alike. We did the Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! ride early, and the harsh ups and downs of that ride gave me motion sickness that lingered the rest of the day. So apparently it's not just spinning rides that mess me up. The rest of the day, I had to take it slow and I sat out a couple times while Priscilla went on a ride for a second time. I guess I'll have to listen to Priscilla and take Dramamine the next time we go to a theme park. The joys of getting old.

At Disneyland, I most enjoyed Jungle Cruise (I for one enjoy dad jokes), Rise of the Resistance, and Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain was fun but we got moderately wet, which kinda sucked because we did it late in the day when it was starting to get cold. No wonder there was no line for it! And Rise of the Resistance was amazing - the most advanced and immersive ride I've been on. The first part involves walking through expansive detainment areas after your transport ship gets captured by the First Order, and then Resistance members break you out and you're whisked around in a self-driving car moving through the building, at a fast pace with things happening all around you, moving in all directions, not along a fixed track. I've never seen anything like it (not that I have a whole lot of experience in this area).

I'm glad we went to California Adventure and Disneyland, but it was tiring. Not to mention, expensive ($470 for the tickets). The crowdedness of the parks really detracted from the experience, and the axing of FastPass was a real bummer. Priscilla felt that Disneyland has lost some of its magic compared to when she visited as a youth. Watching some videos on YouTube, it looks like the rides at Disney World put Disneyland to shame. I'm slightly intrigued and I think I'd be willing to go, but not for a good while (don't get any ideas too soon, Priscilla).

As for the drive down, we left just shy of noon because we wanted to stream our church service first. By the time we left, there was an accident on the 152, but Google wasn't showing too much of a slowdown. What we didn't realize until we got there was that that part of the 152 was closed and drivers were forced to take a congested detour. We ended up detouring back to the 101 and, including some parts of the drive where we hit heavy traffic, the drive down took around 40 minutes longer than under ideal conditions. Lesson learned there - next time if there's an accident on the two-lane part of the 152, we'll skip the 152 and stay on the 101 for longer. For the return trip the following Sunday, we left earlier and didn't hit significant slowdowns.

Thanksgiving week was somewhat quiet and it was nice to finally have some downtime, especially since I picked up a cold while traveling (which tends to happen when we do a lot). My uncle and aunt forwent their usual Thanksgiving family get-together because of COVID, so Priscilla and I just stayed at home and had hot pot on Thanksgiving Day. It was nice to have the holiday to ourselves, but next year maybe we should go be with family on Thanksgiving again. My dad is very traditional and has to have his customary Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day, regardless of who else is there that day. My parents love to cook and see it as an act of love, so we should probably join them on that day and bring Priscilla's parents as well. It's a little harder since Priscilla's parents are further away now, but family matters.
Madness? This is Sparta! - Saturday, October 2, 2021
Call it madness or something else, but it seems that I've been bitten by the Spartan bug. After my Spartan Race in August, I was hooked. And two weeks ago, I did my Spartan Trail Half Marathon at Sanborn County Park.

The trail race was actually run by a company called Pacific Coast Trail Runs and they had a 50k, half marathon, and two 10k courses. I woke up really early (had trouble sleeping due to excitement) and got to the park before 7am, in time to help cheer on the 30 or so people starting the 50k. The half marathon started at 8am and check-in took just 10 minutes or so. I probably would've had enough time to park at the shuttle pickup location in Saratoga and take the shuttle in order to avoid paying the $6 parking fee at Sanborn, but I didn't want to chance it.

The different courses shared much of the same route and I crossed paths with a good number of people, though it didn't feel too crowded most of the time. Most of the trails were single-track, and of course the trails couldn't be closed to non-racers since these are public trails.

The half marathon course was manageable but tough. It was over 3,200 feet of elevation gain, including a steady incline for the first 3 miles. We had to run to a point at the Lake Ranch Reservoir and grab a wristband there before running back. The climbing didn't feel too bad, though I did alternate between running and power hiking and tried to pace myself. I did push myself harder than on a typical trail run, and my official time was 2:48:27, placing 38/104, 32/80 for males and 12/26 for my age group. So basically, slower than the people who run competitively but faster than those who probably don't trail run regularly.

The one thing that messed me up was that I was running in new shoes. I'd bought a pair of Saucony Peregrine 11 trail shoes to replace my Saucony Mad River TR's which were starting to wear out. I felt like all my previous shoes hadn't needed much breaking in, the new shoes felt comfortable enough when I walked around the neighborhood in them, and it was the same brand as my other shoes. So I took the chance of doing the race without having run in them before.

Well, that ended up being a bad decision. A few miles in, the shoes were starting to rub against both ankle bones. The fact that I was wearing thinner, low-cut socks might've also exacerbated things. So my ankles were chafing and hurting, then the sides of my calves started hurting (that's never happened before), then both legs started cramping around 9, and then I had to just power through with occasional stretching. I literally hobbled across the finish line with both calves cramping. Needless to say, my mistake cost me a bit of time and turned what would've otherwise been an enjoyable trail run into somewhat of a slog. But overall, I still enjoyed the event, and finally finishing after all of that felt awesome. As did eating the free Mexican food that we got from a food truck that was set up in the parking lot.

Having now done both a Spartan Race and a Spartan Trail, I would rate the Spartan Race as more enjoyable due to the obstacles. I've since committed to doing a Trifecta next year - my church buddy Daniel and I both purchased the Trifecta Pass and we'll be doing the SLO Beast and Monterey Super together (we're still figuring out what we want to do for the Sprint). Also, Ruth from church shared with me that an organization that she's been promoting, Foster the City, is putting together a team to do the San Francisco Spartan Stadion this December. Registration through the organization is only $50 since they want participants to fundraise. So Daniel and I and a few people from church ended up signing up.

The Stadion seems like it'll be the easiest of the four events that I'll be doing, but it will be a good checkup to see if my training is paying off and if my muscles are holding up. I guess I've had some issues with my right shoulder and my event in August exacerbated it, so I've been having some shoulder pain when working out. I probably have at least a partial tear in the rotator cuff. I've been trying to strengthen the shoulder and go to the gym to do exercises that I don't have the equipment for at home (though I need to be more consistent in going, despite the gym not being that close). And I found that pullups exacerbated the pain, so I'm laying off of those for now. Hopefully with the right exercises, sufficient nutrition and rest, Lord willing, I'll be able to rebuild and take on the obstacles this year, next year and beyond.

Spartan events are pretty pricey, so I'm not really itching to do these all the time. But the events will give me extra motivation to train since I want to do well. The fellowship aspect is nice, too. But I must do all this with the right motivation. Fitness and health are often idols for me, so I have to remember that they are impermanent and that they must glorify, not take the place of, Christ. When (not if) they are taken away, I must be able to say like Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Spartan Race - Sunday, August 22, 2021
Yesterday I finally got my wish and did a Spartan Race for the first time.

At the end of 2019, I signed up for a Spartan Trail Race half marathon which was supposed to happen in June of 2020. Then because of COVID, this was pushed back a few months to November. Then last July, it was announced that the entire rest of the 2020 season was cancelled. Those affected received a deferral code to use for a new 2021 event, as well as a bonus code for another event of their choice.

So I used the deferral code for a new Trail Race for September, and the bonus code for the Monterey Spartan Super 10k in August. I wanted to use the bonus code for another Trail Race, but I was unable to make that happen, as registrations for Trail Races vs regular Spartan events are handled by two different platforms, and the bonus code only worked for a regular event. So I chose the Super, as I thought the Sprint would be too easy and the Beast might be a little too challenging to start with. Anyway, based on how things were going with the company and on the global stage, I had little hope that the events would actually happen or that the company would even still remain solvent.

But gradually the situation in the US improved, events reopened, and finally the Monterey Spartan Super and Sprint events kicked off at Toro Park in Salinas yesterday. I didn't really give much thought to the difficulty of Spartan obstacles until a week before the event day; I've done three Tough Mudders and they seemed pretty manageable, so I thought I would be ok. But once reality dawned on me and I started researching Spartan obstacles, I realized that it wasn't going to be a walk in the park.

So for the last few days leading up to the event, I was working on my grip strength at UFC Gym (my Fitness 19 membership got transferred there after they went out of business) and binge-watching YouTube videos on Spartan obstacles. Two days before the event, Spartan released the course map showing all 20 and 27 obstacles on the Sprint and Super courses, respectively. This helped me hone in on exactly what to prepare for. I knew that I wouldn't be able to muscle my way through the obstacles, so I had to conquer them through better technique. I researched every obstacle on the route and picked up some good hacks, otherwise known as techniques for getting through obstacles using less effort (and sometimes more quickly as well). I guess it paid off, because I failed only one obstacle (the Spear Throw) and that involved just a penalty loop, so I ended up doing no burpees! Me being not that heavy undoubtedly helped on a lot of obstacles as well.

Compared to what I've researched, it seemed that the Monterey Super Course was dialed down in difficulty. For instance, mud and water were only present in two obstacles and they were near the end, so most of the obstacles were easier to complete than in venues where people are all muddy when doing them, either due to weather or course design. Going easy on us weak Bay Area people, maybe. ;)

So here are all the obstacles on the course and my personal notes.

Over Walls (4' Walls): Pretty much just a warmup.

6' and 7' Walls: The heel hook technique made these effortless. No 8ft walls like on some other courses. The 8ft walls would probably require a running jump, making them a good deal harder.

Olympus: A lot of people had trouble with staying on the wall. I mostly used the holes and made sure to sit my hips low, which kept me on the wall without too much sliding. Nonetheless, this obstacle was still difficult and was hard on my hands. The chains had the balls attached to the ends, making that part easier for those choosing to use them.

Bender: After grabbing the first bar, I swung my legs up onto the bar as well. This made it easy to reach up and climb the rest of the way.

The Box: A lot of people were having trouble getting up the rope. Despite there being knots on the rope, I couldn't get a good grip with my feet. But somehow I was able to pull myself up the rope, get my hands on the flat part at the top, and hoist my way up without too much effort.

Stairway to Sparta: It wasn't too difficult to hoist my way up and start climbing the rungs. Pretty much all there is to it.

Pipe Lair: This was on the map but didn't appear on the actual course. Grr.

Twister: Doing this facing backwards (as one video suggested doing) made this almost effortless. The obstacle consists of handles arranged in a spiral along two rotating bars, with the bars separated by a truss in the middle of the obstacle. I made sure to pick a lane where the second bar had its first handle oriented downwards in order to make the transition to that section easy.

Beater: Monkey bars with a twist, literally. The bars were spaced somewhat far apart and I didn't know if I'd be able to do them in the traditional way with palms facing forwards. So instead, I did them sideways with my palms facing each other, and this made the obstacle pretty doable.

Inverted Wall: Not too bad. One thing that made this easier was that there was a gap between the rungs and the wall that provided extra room to grab onto the rungs. I've seen videos both where there is and is not a gap, so I guess it's just a matter of how hard the course designers want to make this particular obstacle. On the way down the backside, I got sloppy and banged my ankle. Fortunately, it didn't seem serious and the pain wore off after a few minutes.

Z-Wall: Pretty manageable. Just maintain 3 points of contact and don't rush.

Barbed Wire Crawl: I found myself rolling more often than not, since I was impatient and too lazy to want to crawl. But this did make me dizzy and I still had to wait for the people ahead of me, since there were a lot of people and they were all crawling. I got a lot of burrs stuck in the back of my clothes, so I guess that's one disadvantage to rolling.

Bucket Carry: 80lb bucket for the men. The first section was straight up a hill. This obstacle was more cardio than strength, and I was definitely breathing hard and had to stop to rest a few times. I rested the bucket on a bent knee, as I learned from a video, which made it effortless to support the bucket. I alternated between bear-hugging the bucket and supporting it from underneath.

Hurdles: Pretty easy to get over.

Sandbag Carry: Carrying a sandbag for around 1000ft with a little bit of elevation. The men's sandbags are supposedly "only" 45lbs, but the bag felt fairly heavy to me and I lacked the strength and/or technique to get it over both shoulders, so I clumsily alternated it between shoulders. Not as difficult as the bucket carry, but I was still straining.

Rope Climb: I originally planned to use the J-hook to support my legs, but I had a lot of trouble positioning the rope with my feet when I was in the air, and I failed to make progress after a few starts. A volunteer suggested using the S-hook, and that did the trick. But getting to the top was hard on my hands, and I found the side of one of my fingernails bleeding. The volunteer was nice to give me a wipe and bandaid.

Spear Throw: Despite trying to follow tips from several videos, I failed when the spear tilted backwards after the throw. I tried again since it wasn't that busy, and on the second try, the spear tilted backwards again, though not by as much. This was one of two obstacles that involved a penalty loop instead of burpees, and the loop was very easy and took just a minute.

Hercules Hoist: 90lb weight for the men. I found it difficult to pull the rope down while standing, so I followed others' example of lying on the ground and bracing my feet at the bottom of the gate, and then using the weight of my body to pull the rope. Found another finger bleeding after this. Grip strength needs work!

Multi-Rig: Rings, then a horizontal bar, then rings again. Using the rings was simple enough, and the transition to and from the bar wasn't too bad, though I somehow managed to hit my head during the first transition and dismounted the final ring with pretty bad form. Wish I had a place I could practice rings.

Atlas Carry: 100lb stone for the men. While kneeling with one leg, I rolled the stone onto the other leg. This allowed me to get it in my grasp without too much straining. Carrying the stone the short distance wasn't too bad.

Vertical Cargo: I've seen some heavier guys struggle with this, but I had no trouble jumping and hoisting myself up onto the platform. From there it was just the simple act of climbing up and down the vertical cargo net, maintaining 3 points of contact.

Rolling Mud and Dunk Wall: Pretty straightforward. This was the only mud on the course. I got entirely drenched when dunking my head and body under the Dunk Wall, but this also washed off most of the mud that was on me. It also washed off the blood on my fingers as well as the bandaid. Oops. Sorry, people.

Slip Wall: This was right after Dunk Wall and I was worried that it'd be difficult to get up with wet hands and shoes, so I waited a few minutes. It was pretty manageable after that. Maybe I should've just gone for it right away, since some others seemed to be doing that.

A-Frame Cargo: Just 3 points of contact and don't be hasty - you know the drill by now.

Monkey Bars: Similar/same spacing between bars as with Beater, so I did these sideways as well and that worked just fine.

Helix: The final obstacle. Not too bad; just be methodical and watch your step, especially where it's a little wet and muddy due to other racers' footwear.

And no fire jump before the finish line. Understandable, with California being in an extreme drought and with fires like the Dixie Fire (the largest single wildfire in the state's history) currently raging.

So I finished a Super having to do only a penalty loop and no burpees. Sounds awesome, right? Well, I did take my time (sometimes up to 10 minutes) at most of the major obstacles in order to recover arm/grip strength. I could've gone faster, but I didn't have a concept of how hard the obstacles would be in practice and I didn't want to get fatigued. My official time was 3:12:01, placing 1534/2154 overall, 1224/1577 for males, and 216/273 for my age group. A pretty slow performance, but now I know what to expect. The median time was 2:48:10 for all racers.

Overall, I had a great experience and am glad that I did this. The event was run pretty well. Water and bathroom placement on the course was good, check-in was extremely quick, shuttles were ample, and there were plenty of showers with strong water pressure. The shower water wasn't warm, but it wasn't very cold either. Signage could've been better; the location we were told to park at was actually a few miles up the road from the actual parking lot. I had Priscilla drop me off at the venue but I took a shuttle back, and she almost couldn't find the parking lot because there wasn't too much signage on the road.

So for this trip, we took Friday off and headed down to Monterey. We got there a bit later than planned because of traffic; we should've realized that leaving at 2pm is not sufficient to avoid traffic on the 101, especially on a Friday. Once there, we headed over to the Beach House Restaurant in Pacific Grove for a happy hour dinner. We found that the happy hour menu is only for locals (not sure if it was always like this), but our waiter was nice to give it to us anyway. Dinner with tip was still $60, a bit much for happy hour, but you're paying for the view here.

We walked around Lovers Point and along the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail and walked around Cannery Row before heading back. On the trail was a sea lion lookout where we watched a group of 4 sea lions for 10 minutes. They were on the beach but apparently were waiting for the right time to get back into the ocean. When a wave came in that was high enough for each sea lion to start floating, it floated down the shore towards the ocean until it was able to swim away. Sometimes it took a few rounds of riding a wave ever so slightly down the shore until the sea lion was completely in the water, and until then, being stuck on the beach essentially unable to move. It was quite comical and interesting to witness this behavior.

Afterwards, we just headed over to the Lone Oak Lodge for our Friday night stay. The lodge had useful amenities, looked well-kept, and provided good value overall. We were pleasantly surprised. The rest of our low-key trip just involved getting ready for my race. While I was running, Priscilla went back to the lodge to do her devos until check-out time, then went to the local Safeway to get us food and to the Starbucks in the Safeway where she did some studying until I texted her to pick me up. We just headed back home afterwards.

I really enjoy obstacle course races because they combine things that I enjoy: running, strength, challenging oneself, and finding ways to do things better. I'm a sucker for race medals and headbands as well. I don't particularly care for getting dirty, but I enjoy the elaborate obstacles and the camaraderie at Tough Mudder, and I enjoy the physicality and technical aspects of Spartan Race. I'm trying to drum up some interest among people at church to do a Tough Mudder or Spartan next year. I'm already thinking of doing the Spartan Trifecta next year, and I intend to train more rigorously for it.

So... things to work on for Spartan:
* Grip strength
* Rope climbing technique
* Spear throwing technique
* Cardio

And of course I still have the Spartan Trail Race next month in Saratoga. I'm super excited.
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