Saturday morning was going to be busy. Being something of a tool at the best of times, I had already volunteered to help Kirsten Whitehouse dismantle a rig,
“HELP PLEASE 💕 Looking for a few lovely people to help Rebecca, Lee and myself take down my rig next week Saturday (10 March). Any help you can offer will be hugely appreciated and richly rewarded…somehow…some day. An hour or all day (I’ve been assured there’ll be pizza), every little helps. Tools welcome”
and now Coach Tony Leary had come up with the training plan, “Spartan carry, run repeat. Saturday morning this weekend due to R2W on Sunday. Meet Verulamium Park for 0730 start.” This was all made busy by my requirement to get to Amersham for 0845 so I could drop the children off at their drama class by 0930. As I would need to leave OCR training early, I decided to add in some training of my own beforehand. I am currently trying to follow the Intermediate level programme from The Para Fitness Guide book by Major Sam McGrath, former head of Para training and selection. Over recent weeks, work and the weather have conspired to prevent me from completing all sections in the week in question, and although it was looking the same for this week, doing something on Saturday morning before OCR training would at least get me closer to completion.
I drove down and parked in the car park near to Westminster Lodge so that I could make a quick exit after training to get to Amersham, and ran the short distance to the Adizone in Verulamium Park. Then it was down to business – 3 x 20 push-ups, 3 x 20 dips, 3 x 20 sit-ups, 3 x 45 second plank, 2 x 20 squats, and 3 x 5 eccentric pull-ups. I feel like my eccentric pull-ups have improved, which means I do not plummet to earth quite so quickly. It is a great little session, and as soon as I had finished I ran from there to the museum car park, arriving before 0720, although I must admit I had not really registered that was a requirement this morning, given that I was only turning up for part of the session. Anyway, my arrival in good time was fortunate.
I had seen Tony arriving as I was finishing my own session, and Rebecca Cohen was also already here. At 0721 Steven Lamb arrived, and we all clock-watched until Robert Boarder finally drove up, and finally, finally parked, at 0724. Although as he got out of his car it was obvious he still needed to change into training kit, so he had saved himself a little bit of punishment there. We had equipment to carry to the start line, but first would come the punishment for late arrival – one puddle lay down for every minute late, and there just happened to be a big puddle ready and waiting for Steven and Robert. 1 and 4 burpees later they were both wet through.
We carried two jerry cans, one beer keg, one big log and one lightweight sandbag to the start line, which was the junction between the two fields just above the lower football pitch, and over to the right. I carried the sandbag, while Tony made sure Rebecca was comfortable just carrying her water bottle. We would work in pairs, running one lap to begin with, then a lap of carries, before bear crawling around the football pitch 18 yard box, going across the crossbar twice, and finishing off with 20 burpees. The lap would be up the field on the left side of the hedgerow divide, across the top to the right, down the track which followed the road right to the bottom, then turning right again to come back to the gap and the start line. It was about 1 kilometre. The carries would see one of each pair carrying either the jerry cans, the beer keg or the log, with the other carrying the lightweight sandbag, and swapping every 50 strides (counting up to 50 on one leg). I was probably only going to be around for one lap and would carry whichever of the three heavy items was left after the pairs had gone. The carries, the crawl and the burpees would all be done in the style required by Spartan Races.
The first lap was fine. The pairs picked themselves – Tony and Rob, Steven and Rebecca, and me following on behind. I know this area very well from previous runs over the last year, but I am not sure I have ever run this full boundary before. It is definitely a kilometre to remember for the future. By the time I got back to the start point, the other pairs had gone off with the jerry cans and the beer keg, leaving me with the log. It is a big log. It most definitely earned its place in the higher category of heavy carries. It was also awkward, with a number of large bits jutting out where branches had been cut off it. I tried carrying it in my arms to begin with, and it very soon became too heavy for that, so I moved it up on to my left shoulder, then round so it was a bit more behind my neck, then over to my right shoulder, and I kept on swapping it at stages around the lap. It seemed to be taking forever, and compared to the others it probably did, and I could feel the hurt in my shoulders by the time I got to the bottom of the loop alongside the road. I put in a final push to get me back to the gap and it was over. A quick look at my watch confirmed I would not have time for another lap, so I rushed into the bear crawls. Tony and Rob got back from one of their laps just as I got to the corner of the 18 yard box, and Tony made the point that I need to get lower, on my elbows, because there would be barbed wire overhead at Spartan. I replied I would just use my wire-cutters… The bear crawling was tough, and I am hoping my daily Kokoro Yoga practice will help with that. I could not get any sort of grip on the crossbar, and my time available had come to an end anyway, so I made my way across the grass to the footpath and back to the car, walking past the guys preparing another trial variation to the St Albans parkrun. It had been a tough lap.
During the course of the full session, Rob managed to cover just over 7 kilometres.
On the plus side for me, Kirsten brought bacon rolls to the rig dismantling session.