Spartan Training Day #1

Houghton-Schreiber Park, Simi Valley, Ca

The plan was a 30 minute workout. Quick and dirty.

Just to give all of us a little taste of the expectations (reality) of a Spartan Race.
My awesome husband Randy decided to put a group together of willing participants for the Spartan Race happening in January 2017.

Willing is the first step, right? What are the remaining ingredients necessary?
I think we found out as we had our asses handed to us in a kindergarten level workout.

  • Punctuality
  • Focus
  • Responsibility
  • Teamwork
  • Positivity
  • Drive
  • Strength
  • Endurance

Almost everyone showed up on time. 

We. Are. Sparta. Wait…what have we decided to do here again?

Those that were there before 4pm seemed to be the most dialed in to the plan.

We were instructed to wear long sleeve shirts, no jewelry and shoes with traction for mud/dirt. I got 2 of the 3 straight. Wore my newest pair of road shoes because I figured we would be road running. I was partially correct.

These things all work themselves out once you get a group rolling as we’ve discovered over the last decade. Randy is an expert at creating tough workouts that you can adjust to your fitness level. This was a different animal and it became obvious we would need to practice and work hard on our own.

I’m going to describe how it went in my opinion. I’m a cautious one with my new knees but after the past few weeks of successfully getting out of my box I was going to push myself a little further.  

Like the scenes in the movies Stripes and Private Benjamin, we began our running warm up from the park down Arlington and back. I’d guess all of us are over 40, most of us over 50 years old. We need to take time to lube up the joints and muscles so dynamic warmup is a no-brainer.

It was a half mile out and back. My goal was to not stop at all, which I accomplished. That gave me a little boost in my own efforts.

You know how ducks gather and pick in the grass and dirt moving a lot, quacking and somewhat excitedly bobbing their heads up and down for feed? That was us. In a circle, Randy giving us the starting information (to which a few people just weren’t even listening). In a few minutes it was time to begin as just like ducks sensing the danger of an approaching predator we were off!

The Assignment today: warm up jog, 40 tire flips, 90 Spartan Quality burpees, bucket carry twice, two times through the bear crawl, military crawl (“it’s just like Spider Push-Ups” Eric pointed out) and log roll. Did I miss something?   

Well, PERSONALLY, I think I heard more moaning and groaning on the log roll than anything. I had my plan if I, too, became dizzy after that station. Just “unroll”. It worked as a kid so it better work now.

It seems that once you become an adult you forget how to do the simple things we used to do as kids; like rolling down a hill, spinning each other in chairs until we can’t see straight, running across fields of grass without being concerned of gopher holes or tree limbs. 

We were 15 minutes, I’d guess, into the workout and I could not believe how far I would have to go. These were baby level challenges and I was pretty cooked. I was also concerned that I’d split my pants on the burpees and made a mental note to wear different chonies just in case that actually did happen. Spartan is no place for thong underwear.

I stopped (or was it that I was just going so slow it would be considered a full stop) to catch my breath after my 7th burpee and looked around the beehive of activity. Pretty much everyone was drenched in sweat and openly stating how tough this was. I liked hearing that I wasn’t the only one dealing with gravity and age.
Mark came up next to me to do his burpees when I got to number 20. He made it look easy, of course. Mark is in his 60’s and build like a brick shit house SOLID with muscle. I happen to know his body fat is lower than most everyone I’ve ever tested. He’s freaky strong. Here I was trying to do burpees next to Superman. I gleaned a little of his energy and his encouragement as I watched him perform his first perfect burpee. I’d been doing them wrong leaving out the HOP at the end. WTF.

I looked down at my Roxy’s Revenge shirt. I’d chosen this shirt on purpose. She is one inspirational woman I definitely could use some Roxy’s Power from. I added the hop to the remaining 9 burpees and picked up the pace a TINY bit. Mark was long done when I finished.

The stations were all booked up except for the bucket carry. I headed over trying to move quicker than before and catch my breath. It was a short distance through sand and that made it a little tougher. I got to my bucket and lifted it into my arms as instructed then surveyed the path. Through sand and up a small hill about 80 yards then back. Eric was on the return and made it look easy. I like Eric’s wit but didn’t hear any at this point. He, too, was dripping sweat carrying the bucket quickly. Strong. Man. Move. Fast. 

I heard Randy behind me, “Good job Honey!” That gave me a little boost in my heart.

This is hen I realized what I was actually experiencing. This was reliving my childhood. There was always one friend that could rally and organize the fun outdoors and a pack of us would follow. It was just like that and I could see Randy having a blast (inbetween coughing fits that kept creeping in because he is dealing with bronchitis).

On my right I saw P1 and P2 working together on the tire flip and getting on each other’s nerves. Beyond the P’s was father Rajeev knocking out sloppy burpees absolutely drenched in sweat, Tina G was “bear” crawling, Dorothy was lugging a bucket, Shawna was log rolling crooked and headed out of the coned area, Bill was just lifting a bucket into his arms as though it was filled with feathers, Jaydee was just beginning the military crawl (and not that good at it). We were a combo of starting practices of the movies The Bad News Bears, Major League, Stripes and Private Benjamin.

The best part was no one was standing upright flat footed and relaxed. We were all in various states of action working at our own 110%.

Diane twisted her ankle but was there for moral support and got roped into keeping track of the assignment and along with Tracey they were encouraging (laughing) and helpful (pointing and laughing) while snapping photos of our various states of pain.

I’d just finished another round of bear crawling, army crawling and log rolling (and teaching Hilda about unrolling out of the dizzy) and headed over to the bucket carry for my second round when Diane shouted, “STOP!!!”
That was the end of the 30 minutes and Randy gathered us together again. We looked like wet cats and were breathing a little harder. I was happy to stop (officially) and laid down on the grass. Jaydee set himself up nicely in the recliner/tire.

We all looked to Randy for “what’s next!?”

“OK, that’s all on the obstacles here. We’re going to do a few more over at the school playground. We’re going to practice hopping a fence. Remember, this is a TEAM activity and that means we get each other over the fence before we move on.” We stared at him. He stared back and took off running across the grass yelling, “follow me.” Jeff was on his heels immediately and I hurried to catch up.


I’d lost the button on my pants while doing burpees and they were slipping down. I had to hold them while actually running. I contemplated how I’d get over the fence and decided to try the one-hop-right-foot-touch-push-over method and land on both feet. Mentally I reviewed how great it would look as we ran up the embankment for a turn.

Randy was there helping get us over and beyond him Jeff stood watching probably concerned at the lack of fence-scaling skills a majority of his team was displaying.  He stood akimbo and eyes wide.

I approached the fence on the right scoped out my section and put both hands on it hiking my right foot up to the top…I was halfway there when I remembered my past fence-scaling disasters all had to do with my shoestring catching on the top. I slowed my butt way down which was a big mistake. The inertia was gone and I was now straddling the fence keeping my hoo-hoo above it using what strength I had left in my arms. Crap. I looked down the fence at the other Spartans. Jaydee and Eric were busy trying to assist the gals over, all of them did the same thing as me. Randy was shouting encouraging words while trying to help and capture the moment on his phone.  

I took a deeper breath and heaved my leg over the rest of the way and landed heavily. I ran over to help Shawna and Tina just getting in their way of dismounting. Note to self, not everyone needs help which is comforting!
The last to approach the fence was Rupa, Rajeev, Preksha and Prerana. He’s a gentleman through and through and got his family over the fence becoming a step. Even with the step, Rupa is pretty short and it took a lot of her inner power to clear the fence. Raj got himself up and over and we headed down the hill into the school yard toward the monkey bars.

I heard Rupa say she tore her shirt. “Flesh wounds.” I thought to myself.

In the back of my mind I reviewed my apparel choices and what might be best on the big day. Definitely not shorts. Definitely not cotton. I was a little lost in my thoughts and missed the beginning of Randy’s next plan.

“…as long as you can or as many as you can. Three sets.”


We were doing pull ups or hanging. Randy had been doing all of the photo coverage and I took over so he could jump in.   

The shorter campers headed over to the geometric dome. Once they all found their rung and began the hang they sincerely looked like monkeys, cute ones by the way. The sun was setting behind them and the conversation was yammering on about how unexpectedly difficult “just hanging” was.


Randy took the phone back and I began my assignment to just hang. I’ve tried doing pull ups and have yet to get one executed without assistance. I thought about that as I held on to the bar holding my feet off the ground. Counting to see how long I held on, the stinging began on my hands. 24…25…26…27 I’m out. I turned to try a different set of bars (as though that would make a difference). Jeff was across from me looking bored! How is that possible!? This was tough. He is 6’9″ so had to really lift his heels up for this to work. Since he was making it look easy, I tried holding my heels up higher but my hamstrings weren’t cooperating and I lost count cursing myself.

We’d all done our best and now it was time for the Grand Finale. The jungle-gym crossing. I got in line for my turn. Bill went before me and I watched his technique. Clearly it’d been a while since he had crossed a jungle gym and I was thankful there were no crocodiles or hot lava below. I held my breath hoping he’d get all the way across and at the 5th rung I shut my eyes because he was writhing all over the place, legs flinging left and right…it was not looking good for rung 5. With my eyes closed I heard everyone cheer prompting me to open them and exhale. Awesome.

My turn. I stepped up onto the foot rung for some reason. My arms reached way too far so I let my body drop hanging on tight trying to swing forward. It takes a bit of coordination to get the process moving and by the third rung I felt it kick in. The only problem was the skin on the inside of my hand was burning like acid had been poured on them and it took my mind off of the inertia I felt almost kick in. Three rungs from the finish I gave up and dropped. My fingers were locked in a curve and burning and I looked for Tina to commiserate.

Every one of us tried those monkey bars and I’d say we did pretty darn good for our first try. 
That concluded the training, WHICH WAS AWESOME, and we headed back to the starting location to clean everything up only to discover Diane and Tracy had done it for us!!

What I completed in the initial 30 minutes
Bucket Carry
30 Burpees (only 10 with a hop finish)
Tire Flip 20 times
Bucket Carry
5 more Burpees

How I feel
My knees are good.Mentally I feel excited to do this with the group of people signed up.

What I learned
My army style pants were too heavy. 

 Pockets are a no-no. They were too snug to do burpees.

I can hang on longer than I thought possible.

I believe I can get stronger.



Published by Sarita Shoemaker

I love my kids, husband, pets, the Earth and family. My Top 5 feelings: gratitude, honor, honesty, respect, encouragement. Pretty certain this is how most of us would answer the prompt "About Me". Enough about About You?

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