As I reflect on the Spartan Midwest beast, I can honestly say I look back with mixed emotions. On one hand, I took 6th in my age group and know I gave it everything I had. On the other hand, I cramped on the last mile that prevented me from hitting top 5 and qualifying for the elite wave. Qualifying for the elite wave was a goal I set out for myself at the beginning of the year and felt that racing at sea level was my best chance at achieving that.
Regardless of what complaint or excuse I put in my head it all boils down to training and recovery. Training includes simulating the race and a part of that means testing nutrition. I started to test how much fuel do I truly need when I not only perform at a high level but for an extended period of time. This is tricky with obstacle course racing (OCR) because it isn’t just a steady run like you would see in a marathon. You’re climbing hills, running through sand, and completing obstacles (as it pertains to this specific race). Oh, I forgot to mention that it was also 90 degrees the day of the race so heat was a factor. I thought I had this handled as I followed my morning routine and brought GU’s with me to eat during the race. The two GU’s simply just weren’t enough as I feel like I burned through them quickly and needed more sodium and potassium. As I head back to Denver, I’m rethinking my approach when it comes to nutrition during the race as my next one will be even more of a challenge.
Let’s bring it back to the Midwest Beast as there are a few thoughts still lingering in my head. I first want to note that I am happy with my performance as I ran my fastest time (2:48) and had zero penalties (completed all obstacles). This was the first time I’ve had zero penalties in a Spartan race so super stoked that my training is paying off. Leaning over to my other shoulder is a soft voice whispering in my ear “do better.” I’ve been told numerous times that I’m too hard on myself but I think this stems back to my childhood and how I was raised. I was raised to not blame external factors and to remember that the world doesn’t owe you anything. This is my first year as a competitive OCR athlete and have committed the last year and a half to this year’s races. However, I need to remind myself that just because I want something now (top 5 in age group) doesn’t mean that it’s my time. I’ve learned a ton this past year and a half but feel like I’m only scratching the surface. It’s an interesting sport because you truly have to be an elite hybrid athlete. You have to have endurance, speed, power, agility, and resiliency.
I’ve made the decision to sit out on the North America Championship in Lake Tahoe to allow more time to recover. I felt this was best for me as I want to come back 100% for the beast in Big Bear, California on October 16th. This race will have additional challenges like altitude and elevation gain. Living in Denver does put me at an advantage to other competitors but I am mindful that I am still in my first year. I recently partnered with Clean Eatz Denver who will be supplying me with my meals to ensure I’m eating clean on a daily basis. This decision was crucial as I needed to optimize my time but also not impact my nutrition negatively. I’ll have a future article on my experience with Clean Eatz Denver in the near future along with video on UNAVIDA’s YouTube channel. Nutrition is an area that I felt I needed help with as weight does play a factor in this sport but also want to be smart and healthy (most importantly).
As for final thoughts, I love the progress I’ve made as an athlete and am looking forward to what the future has in store. Going from finishing in the top 50% at the beginning of the year (Las Vegas in March) to 6th place isn’t something to just brush off but I know there’s more. I’ve taken a conservative approach to my training by focusing on my aerobic base and will continue to do so. My focus over the next 4 weeks will be geared towards nutrition and stretching. I have to call myself out that I got lazy with my stretching over the last month. I preached stretching 45-60 minutes a day and after the ultra, I simply got lazy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me on Instagram @theomarromero with any questions or comments. If you have any topics around OCR or training that you’d like for me to dive deep on, please let me know. For now, it’s time to get back to work!