Tuesday: 5m easy 9:10/pace
Wednesday: 3m easy 9:15/pace, 25min shoulders/legs
Thursday: 7m tempo (2m warm up, 4 @ 7:15/pace, 1m cool down)
Five hours, twenty minutes. 14.7 miles of technical trails, carrying rocks, sandbags, logs and flipping tires. Trudging through mud, wading in water, climbing cargo nets, gathering rocks, hanging onto trees, hoisting up and over walls. (And one huge run-on sentence later) I did it. I finished. I’m alive, unharmed and feeling stronger than ever.
At first, I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for the hardest Spartan obstacle course race. Being an endurance runner, a pseudo masochist, secret-wannabe-trail-runner, adventure seeker, a how far can my body possibly be pushed-er… I had to try this. I had to know I was a well-rounded athlete.
I drove up to Columbus Friday afternoon to stay with my cousin Becky and her family. Her husband Josh was doing the race with me. We caught up, had dinner and quickly laid out clothes and packed up bags for the next day.
Our biggest gripe of the day was the parking situation. We sat in bumper to bumper traffic for 30 minutes, just to park. We were stopped for so long I peed in between our car and the car in front of us. I know it seems like i’m peeing in public a lot, but it’s not my fault! I think i’m cursed with bad pre-race timing. I just couldn’t hold it. And we couldn’t wait any longer. We were 20 minutes from our wave start time and still weren’t moving. Becky took the wheel to park, and Josh and I walked toward the bibs, gear check and bathrooms.
We finally started the race at 9:00am and hit trails and 5 obstacles. Wall climbs, under a wall & under muddy water, monkey bars, ring/rope cross, Z-wall, cargo net climbs, barbed wire crawls… Some really tough upper body stuff right out of the gates, then we were on the trails. We ran when we could. These trails were TECHNICAL. I know i’m not much of a trail runner, but hopping over roots, rocks, mud, steep inclines & dead stop so you don’t fall over the edge declines are the example of technical trails.
Our mile time was about 23 minutes–if you count the slowing down for the obstacles & burpees, i’d estimate we were doing about a 14 minute mile. That’s a lot of slowing down, hiking, all while gaining 2,300 feet of elevation. I’m not gonna lie, the trails were my favorite part of the race. I loved not wearing a watch, feeling free out in nature, and knowing endurance was my strength. Getting through the obstacles as a strong girl was a huge boost as we headed back to the tough trails.
After mile 6, the mile markers stopped. It was a little frustrating not knowing how far we were, but I figured it was part of the mental mind game Spartan wanted to play with the athletes. Putting one foot in front of the other when you don’t know how far your feet have left to travel is a tough task.
We were full of energy early on. Talkative, smiling and having a blast. Honey Stinger gel packs saved our butts on more than one occasion. I brought 4 or 5 packs, i can’t remember, but we went through all of them within 4 hours and both of us wished I had brought more.
There were moments where I wasn’t sure if i could do anymore with my arms. And Josh was there to help. There were moments Josh’s energy dropped and he slowed on the trails, and I was there to help. We complemented each other perfectly for this race. We constantly checked in with each other and sped up and slowed down when we needed breaks. Our goal was to finish. Racers on the trail couldn’t believe we chose The Beast as our first Spartan. Go big or go home bro. Especially you, bro that skips leg day and gets cramps on the trails. Especially you.
Josh and I both thought the race would be even spread out with running and obstacles. Like running half a mile then doing an obstacle, repeat, etc. It wasn’t. The running/hiking seemed to go on for miles before we hit a group of obstacles. Again, tough mentally, but I enjoyed it. The Wilds was beautiful. Breathtaking actually. The pine trees, the ponds, the seclusion, it was glorious.
The last miles waned on for an eternity, only to be interrupted with the dreaded bucket of rocks task. It’s as awful as it sounds. You fill your bucket to the marked holes, and you walk with said bucket up and down a path. One heavy foot in front of the other. The sandbag on the shoulder was next and similar in effort. Toss the sandbag over your shoulder and walk up a path and through mud until you hit the drop off point.
I’m guessing all of this so far sounds awful. But believe me, when you finish a difficult task, like flipping a huge tire over, you feel so strong and invincible! Every obstacle proved I was capable of difficult things. I didn’t complete three obstacles which lead to the dreaded burpees. 3 x 30 = 90 burpees for me. Josh did all the obstacles like a champ! Not too shabby for 30+ obstacles.
When we started to lose steam and were out of Honey Stinger packs we were toward the end. The lovely volunteers told us we had a few obstacles left and we were home. Seeing the fire jump in the distance was the motivator we needed to finish strong!
They said at the start, “You’ll know at the finish line.” And it was accurate. I felt so strong, relieved, happy and proud of that accomplishment. Crossing a finish line for the first time is always epic. Crossing a finish line that proves I’m not just a runner was pure elation.
And a few more of us happy to be finished and on our way to eat…
Josh and I had a brilliant idea to do a Spartan last year while drinking beer at Thanksgiving, this makes me nervous about what we might come up with next November… 🙂
Monday: 2500m row, rope pull ups, deadlifts
Tuesday: 4m easy 9:40/pace
Wednesday: 4m easy 9:30/pace 2m walk/run w/LE.
Thursday: 6m interval (2m warm up 10:00/p, 3 x 1m @ 6:53/p, 1m cool down)
Saturday: 14.7 Spartan Beast OCR
Total Miles: 28.7
What do you feel when you cross a finish line?
Hardest race you’ve ever done?