I am moving forward with my Spartan Race training plan. I completed the 11th week of training on Sunday and not this past weekend, but the one before, I went to a new place for obstacle course training.

Sometimes my progress with the weekly training feels like it is going nowhere. I might increase some weights here or there, but then I have other areas where I’m not holding on as long. It’s a long, slow process to get my upper body into the kind of shape that can tackle Spartan monkey bars with my short arms.

The obstacle course training that I went to was out of Camp Rhino in Boise. They also do CrossFit there, but I’m happy doing CrossFit at Arbor. The draw of Camp Rhino for me is that they have obstacles to practice on, and I hoped the atmosphere would be not too intimidating. I thought about trying to drag other people along, but decided I should go by myself. After all, I raced by myself last year and this couldn’t possibly be any more intimidating than that.

Well, I didn’t get off to a good start. I had an upset stomach the morning I planned to go, and may have set a record for number of times going to the bathroom in an hour. But I made it to the facility (where I had to use the bathroom one more time), and got checked in without any issues. I was a bit uncertain about what to do after that. People were milling around in the workout area, which was quite large, with one side devoted to more CrossFit style equipment and the other more obstacle course oriented, and Ninja Warrior oriented, with a warped wall and a salmon ladder in addition to ropes and walls and monkey bars.

The receptionist had pointed out the instructor so I kept an eye on him, briefly introducing myself before the class got started. When the class did get started, I surprised myself by being one of the quicker folks during warm-ups. Why, there were people there who didn’t know what burpees were! So that was a nice boost of confidence for me.

The first obstacle we worked on was rope climbs. I said that was moderately good at them, and that proved true enough, I think. I can get myself up a rope, for the most part. I just failed horribly when it came to last year’s race. So the more practice I get on them, the better. I didn’t know what to call my foot wrapping technique, because I always forget what I’m using (I use the J-hook). But I could demonstrate it.

And after we worked on ropes, we moved on to walls. Now this was what I came here for!

We started at the 4 foot wall, which the instructor explained to us was the one where the most people got injured – more than the 8 foot wall – because of overconfidence. So, we all treated it very seriously, except for the one guy whose legs were so long he was practically stepping over it. He ended up catching his toe and stumbling once.

I was able to get over the 4 foot wall with ease and even try the speed technique the instructor demonstrated, which is almost like doing a roundhouse kick over the wall so as to fling your body towards the next obstacle. Fun.

The 6 foot wall was harder, and yet, it was also not as hard as it was during last year’s race. I am, in fact, stronger than I was last year. My technique isn’t very fast, but I was one of only two women to get up and over the 6 foot wall without assistance. Once I get my forearms on top of the wall, I can get an ankle up, and then it’s just a matter of leveraging myself onto the top and sliding down.

The 8 foot wall was not so easy. Last year’s race didn’t have an 8 footer – just a 7 footer (just!). I had nothing to compare this one to. And I couldn’t get myself up and over. I could grab the top with my hands (with the help of the kicker), and I could lift my legs while holding on, but my shoes offered no purchase on the wall, so I couldn’t get myself set up to fling an ankle over the top.

I did get to go over the 8 foot wall once with a partner method. I felt pretty nervous about coming down from that one, but I took it slow and remembered to land on my toes as instructed. Plus there was a mat.

That was that. After the class, I talked to the instructor a bit more about my experience and expectations for the class, and my plan to come in once a month. He said they usually do ropes since many people have issues with the rope climb, but that we could do rings next time I came in. I hope that happens, because I think I just need some practice to be able to get past the Spartan multi-rig.

Of course, I also need to work on monkey bars, and the inverted wall, and the spear throw (which I really need to do some time soon). But training is proceeding apace. I’m on track for what I want to do. Strength now, running as the race gets closer, maybe try to cut weight in the 6 to 8 weeks before the race.

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