Cold, wet, windy, early, painful, hard, dirty, muddy…..and awesome. Just a few words to describe my experience at the Houston Spartan Workout this past March. Paying my dues as a street team member, I was at F3 Crossfit in downtown Houston bright and early to greet all the smiling, yet fearful faces that showed up to join the suckfest. No one really knew how many brave souls would show up for what turned out to be a cold, dreary morning in March even for Texas standards. As it turned out however, over 200 Spartans braved the gloomy, cloudy weather. After packing into F3 like sardines and getting a nice stretch on while we signed up the last stragglers, a man that needed no introduction to the Spartan faithful began his instuctions for our morning. Don has proven to be a motivating force for Spartan Race, designing these workouts from the very first one last year. He knows how to beat you down a few times, then tell you to STFU right away all while being a humorous, approachable giant of a man. It was clear very early on why Joe De Sena chose this man to be by his side from the beginning.
After a few last minute instructions we were off a few blocks away to a barron field, mostly riddles with rocks, small bushes and holes, all of which were of course filled with water on this particular day. As my leadership nature always takes over, I form the head of a single file line right in front of Don so I would have clear instructions the whole time, my brave wife right by my side. Off we went with set after set of jumping jacks, high knees, push-ups, planks, squats and of course, any true Spartan’s favorite…burpees.
Wouldn’t you know that 5 minutes in to our workout while doing the first set of jumping jacks, my triceps decide to completely cramp on me. Now lets set the record straight here, im almost 30 years old, but in fairly good shape. Played collegiate baseball and have always kept fitness as an important part of my life. The only other time I have ever cramped doing something athletic was somewhere around mile 10 at the Texas Beast last December, and that was after leaving the frigid water below the traverse rope. Needless to say this caught me by surprise and made the entire workout that much harder and painful. Bending my elbows during pushups and burpees was nearly impossible, but mentally, I had to STFU. In the end, I couldn’t push myself to the limits I desired that morning, but was happy none-the-less to get through the workout.
Towards the end of the workout, Don turned the reins over to one of our own Lone Star Spartans and elite racer, Ed Puente. This was exciting for all of us because Ed is one of our own and to see him up there pushing all of us made me proud to see, even knowing the guy on a limited, mostly online basis. You see poor Ed was with Don and the Spartan crew for the very first 300 Workout in Austin last year. This was the first time that Joe and his mates needed to see how much he could push the common folk at these workouts. Poor, poor Ed was a guineau pig test subject for a truly gruelling experience that we apparently didn’t even come close to this morning.
After some joking around about being half way done with the workout, we had one last run to the end of the field and back before our fearless leader started his closing stretches and comments. This was my favorite part of the day…after 2 hours of getting wet and muddy out in the cold, not a single person was willing to walk away before listening to some amazing stories of accomplishment, fearlessness, and just overall badassery. Don understands the limits of the human body and mind and works with you to push past those limits, long after you think you’ve had enough. Finally, after being dismissed and thanked, tons of pictures were taken both as groups and with our instructors, who were gracious enough to stand around for however many were requested. The atmosphere after the workout was much like what you find in the festival area at a Spartan Race, new friends and old alike high fiving eachother for finishing, many words of encouragement and accomplishment throughout the crowd.
All being said, this workout is a great way to get started on your Spartan journey if you have not yet experienced a race, as well as a great kick in the ass to stay in shape for your next one. The Spartan code exists here so leave your ego at home, all types of people and fitness levels are welcome and encouraged to join. A few things are certain when you leave a 300 workout, you will be tired, sore, be pushed to and past your limits especially mentally, new friends will be made, and you most certainly will have had your first go at having to SPARTAN THE #&%* UP!