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Second Spartan Super - Sunday, June 5, 2022
Yesterday, Daniel and I did the Monterey Spartan Super at Toro Park in Salinas. I did this course last year as well, and it was all the same obstacles in mostly the same order, with the following exceptions:

* The 4' Walls on the map didn't appear on the course. Instead, there was a 5' wall that people had to get over to get into the race corral.
* The longer 45lb sandbags were replaced with 60lb disc-shaped bags at the Sandbag Carry.
* The Bucket Carry was longer this time. After ascending a small hill, it looked like you were headed back down to the start, like how it was last year. Instead, you then rounded a corner and had to do another uphill segment. Surprise, suckas!
* The bags at Hercules Hoist looked a little bigger this year. The volunteer said that they were 100lbs this year. It was 90lbs last year.

I went into the race not at full strength. Five days earlier on Memorial Day, I did the Murph Challenge (1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, 1 mile run) with Daniel and two other church guys. We didn't use a weighted vest, and we partitioned the exercises into 20 sets of 5 pullups, 10 pushups and 15 squats, but still it was brutal and I was sore for the next fews days. I was still just slightly sore going into Spartan, so I'm pretty sure that I wasn't fully recovered.

On Olympus, only four obstacles in, I didn't have the strength to keep myself on the wall properly. So I ended up supporting myself using my knee and kind of dragged myself across the wall. On Hercules Hoist, most of the guys seemed to be having trouble. I was able to use my bodyweight to get the bag most of the way up, but then my grip was shot and I had to pull my body further back while holding onto the rope for dear life in order to get the last couple inches. I wasn't sure if I got the bag all the way up or if I had a couple inches left to go, but the rope wasn't budging any further - so either I got it, or I had reached the point where pulling my body back was no longer effective. My forearms were pretty taxed as a result, and I had to bail on the next obstacle, Multi-Rig, one ring short of the bell. And that's one of the easier obstacles - ugh! But at least I successfully stuck the spear at the Spear Throw - the first time ever, which I was elated about. The "spear throw" (broom handle with a tennis ball on the end) training we've been doing at the park has paid off, and it was helpful that we got to the event early and I was able to throw a spear a few times at the practice zone.

I did notice that the carries felt easier than last year. The bucket carry was tiring but manageable, even though it was longer this year. Same for the sandbag carry. Had I been carrying last year's 45lb sandbag, I'm sure I would've owned it. I can see how training and multiple Spartans have paid off in small ways.

So my official time was 2:47:29 which put me in the 30th percentile, placing 1006/3364 overall, 818/2262 for males, and 146/353 for my age group. Not terrible, but I know I could've done better. Next time, for one, no hard workouts at least a week before a race.

Will there be a next time, though? With this race done, I've completed a Spartan Trifecta and feel like I've checked off a big milestone on my bucket list. I do enjoy the races and they give me a reason to train. But I have other goals that I want to train for, like being able to do a Murph faster (my previous time was around 75 minutes), being able to run a sub 6-minute mile and better, and building strength and getting back up to my ideal weight. Maybe I can come back to the races someday when I'm faster and stronger, but for now, there's so much else I can do.

So the rest of the trip was jam-packed with activities. On Friday, Priscilla and I drove down to Monterey and visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium (using our friends' guest pass) and watched the penguin and sea otter feedings, then walked over to Fisherman's Wharf and met up with Daniel and his family for dinner at Grotto Fish Market. On Saturday, Priscilla went with Daniel's family to breakfast and the Monterey County Youth Museum while he and I were racing. After the race, we all had lunch together at Pacific Bowls and Rolls (pretty decent poke bowl portions) in Downtown Monterey. Then in the afternoon, we all went down to Carmel Beach and watched the kids play in the sand and run from waves. Daniel's neighbors and their kid, who were also in town, joined us there and we all went to dinner at Flaherty's Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar (decent fare, a little pricey but reasonable for Carmel prices). Priscilla and I spent a little under $200 over the course of 4 consecutive meals, which is a bit more than we typically spend on food when traveling. We usually like to pack food and, when we do eat out, we tend towards the cheaper places. But eating out is a normative vehicle for spending time with people, and it was nice hanging out with people for most of the weekend.

Today, Priscilla and I just walked around El Estero Park (close to our motel) before heading home. We were pretty tired after the long weekend and got a quick lunch and took a nap shortly after. Traveling and activities certainly have their place, but at the end of the day for us, there's no place like home.
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