This weekend was the Arizona Stadium Sprint held at University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. Now, let me be clear, it is freaking hot out right now. Like, 110 degrees and there is never any cloud cover here. I do not know why this event was held in July, but I am damn glad it was held at Cardinals Stadium, because it is air conditioned!
Just a week ago I started with a new trainer for obstacle racing, and had been going to the gym a bit more than I had before the LA Stadium Sprint, so I felt good going in. I also had already agreed with myself that this was not a race for time, since I wanted to really focus on how past injuries were doing and on my obstacle technique to see where I need help. Aside from my own diagnostic needs, I was also participating in support of my sister Mackenzie, who was doing her first race ever!
With a 9:15 start time, I knew it would be a little warm but was counting on the air conditioning – risky, but everything turned out okay as nearly everything was contained within the cooled portion of the stadium. Fun fact, the entire grass field portion of this stadium is actually on this gigantic wheeled platform that they move in and out of the sun outside, as Cardinals Stadium is one of about half of the teams in the NFL that play on real sod grass. Not so fun fact, this race started with us running around the entire platform of grass outside, which was in full 100 degree sunshine. Thankfully only this portion and the Jerry Can carry were in the hot parts of the stadium.
One thing I love and hate about the Spartan Stadium Series is that you get to see the deepest depths of the stadiums they are held in. It was cool to see where the locker rooms and press conference rooms are; one of the obstacles which is this weird weighted jump rope thing, was held in one of the auxiliary locker rooms. How often do you get to see this space if you're not a player or a staff member? Flip side is there is a shitload of stairs and winding corridors to navigate, and the stairs are surprisingly so much worse than the hills in outdoor races. Hills don’t have levels that you can count your misery with!
I like that I am starting to have more confidence in the obstacles that require a bit more coordination and strength, primarily Multi Rig and both the Sandbag and Jerry Can carry. My natural athletic skillset tends to help me most on obstacles where I am required to move myself, not other things, and I have struggled with the coordination and strength needed for the Multi Rig. Sandbag and Jerry Can have given me problems in the past simply because the things are heavy, but I am getting a better grasp on how to best hold the objects to balance everything out. I was able to complete almost the entire multi rig, until it came to the last of the two baseballs at the end, and Sandbag and Jerry Cans didn't give me any problems with grip or posture this time.
This race wasn't for time, but I felt a little smoother and faster than I have in the past when I chose to run between obstacles now that I have learned to focus on my running form instead of just galloping around. I did wear unnecessary trail shoes (Altra Superior 2.5), but they were very light and gave me a more secure grip on the polished concrete floor of the stadium.
I felt ready for each obstacle I approached, partly because there wasn't anything new this time around. I really appreciated the opportunity to focus on my form and technique, but it also helped me to quickly identify and explain how to complete the obstacles to my sister. Mackenzie did amazing during this race. Not only did she fight through asthma symptoms the entire time without an inhaler, she performed very well on the obstacles that she did complete, especially since she has never had the opportunity to learn how to complete them beforehand. I am proud of her for toughing it out and having this experience.
It was Mackenzie's first race, and my coworker Karie's first race – I am excited to see so many ladies in my life giving this sport a try! My coworker performed beautifully and placed highly in her age group, an awesome achievement for her first race. This was also the most time my mom has gotten to spend spectating at a Spartan Race – she says that it was a really helpful and motivating experience to see some of the things that may come up when she participates in her first race this year as well.
After we finished, we took a little time to enjoy the festival area. Obstacle racing is a unique sport because our professional athletes are incredibly accessible – my family had the opportunity to meet Isaiah Vidal and Faye Morgan, two Spartan Elite athletes who were very friendly to those around them asking to take pictures or simply saying hi. It is nice to see them among the community congratulating people on their participation and chatting, especially when they have good attitudes.
All in all, good race, just hope it's not in July next year!