During the 2016 race season I ran 1 ultra marathon (Powder Face 42), 1 half-marathon (Hunnarin Hapotus), and 7 obstacle course races/events (Vancouver Spartan Sprint, Calgary Spartan Sprint, Red Deer Spartan Sprint and Super, Montreal Spartan Beast, X Warrior Challenge, and Tough Mudder Alberta).
Heading into this year I had a goal of finishing in the Top 10 in the Western Canada Spartan Races, and qualifying for the Spartan Race World Championships, but most importantly all I wanted to do was race hard and enjoy myself!
Last year I was so anal about my diet and training plan that I stressed myself about every little thing. So this year I decided to not put together a training plan nor be too concerned with what I was eating. With no training plan set in place, I just winged it throughout the summer. I did CrossFit 2 times a week in addition to running and other weights 5-6 times a week, while eating whatever I felt like.
I ended up meeting some incredible OCR athletes who are at the top of the Western Canada Spartan Races, and even Spartan Pro Team member Faye Stenning. Faye would often organize lunch time workouts for all us office slaves 1-2 times a week, which I’d always try to attend. Not only was it great to learn about all sorts of speed/track workouts I’ve never done before; it was awesome to get out there and train with some phenomenal athletes and push myself to new limits. Although I was having fun with all the training I was doing, I think I over did it a little, as my rest days were few and far between. By the end of the season once I finally began to rest, I realized how stressed out and exhausted I was (more on that later). Needless to say whatever my goals are for next year they will for sure come with a training plan of sorts and mandatory rest days!
Overall I’m happy with my race performances this year. I was unable to finish in the Top 10 of any Spartan Race I entered, but I am pleased with my results. I was able to be incredibly consistent as I placed 13th, 13th, 16th, 14th, and 12th, in Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Red Deer Super and Sprint respectively. I’m pleased because I at least had consistent results and I qualified for the Spartan Race World Championship, but I know I’m capable of more.
By no means did I have a good race in any of my events. I somehow managed to do burpees in all of my races by failing obstacles I shouldn’t (balance beam, z-wall traverse, Multi-Rig). I never truly tapered for any race, as I’d still attend CrossFit classes a few days before the races (most notably heavy deadlifts, and squats before Calgary’s race…). I also incorporated essentially 0 burpees into any of my training runs, which isn’t ideal. As many of you know running after burpees is awful and it absolutely needs to be a part of any Spartan Racers training regimen. Beyond failing obstacles it took me all season to finally race hard! Holding back in a race to ensure that I don’t blow up is far too easy. I need to work on trusting my training and fitness and push myself throughout the whole race. Finally in the last two races of the year I feel as if I am close to putting forth my best effort. I know I’ve only begun to crack the nut on this issue but it is something I will continue to work on next year.
As far as my overall ranking though I look to the Spartan Race rankings across Canada and the World. I know the Spartan Race point system isn’t the best, but it’s all we got so I’ll use it. In 2015 I placed 27th overall (16th male, 7th age group) in Canada, and 195th overall (154th male, 51st age group) in the World ranking. This year (2016) I placed 38th overall (27th male, 8th age group) in Canada and 240th overall (157th male, 45th age group) in the World rankings (as of Oct 17, 2016. Tahoe points haven’t been included yet, so I’m sure I’ll drop a few more places after those get put in). Although I dropped in the rankings from 2015 to 2016, I don’t think it is because I’m a worse athlete. I know I’m stronger, fitter, and faster than I was last year. I know I’ve improved as a racer. Therefore I largely attribute my drop in rankings as a direct result of the increasing level of competition, which is fantastic. I love that the competition keeps getting better and better, and it inspires me to do more and see what I’m truly capable of.
Although I didn’t have the best results in my Spartan Races, I did have a few surprise finishes in a few other events. I was able to come home with a 3rd place finish at the Hunnarin Hapotus and a 4th place finish at the X Warrior Challenge (results say 5th, but I got 4th, kind of sort of got 2nd). However the Hunnarin Hapotus and X Warrior were relatively small races and the level of competition wasn’t all that high, but you can only race against the people who show up, so I guess I’ll take it.
Overall this season was great. I had a blast at every event I attended, and put forth a solid effort at each race. I’m happy with my results, but there is always room to grow and improve! What made this year particularly special was getting to know fellow OCR athletes and trail runners in Calgary (Faye, Josh, Kristian, Stefan, John, Dave and Patrick). Training with this crew was fantastic. From lunch time speed work/hills, to the Tuesday night Bragg Creek runs, and weekend adventures in the Mountains. I learned a lot from training with this crew, as they are much more experienced then I and am looking forward to continuing to train and race with this awesome group!