The Quad {that almost was}

Let me start off this post by explaining the title. Sometimes, when we head out for adventures, our expectations crash into reality. This weekend my wisdom outweighed my desire- and I’m absolutely ok with that.

About a month and a half ago my friends and I decided that we wanted to attempt “The Quad”; a collection of four 14ers that you hike in succession. The four peaks that make up this elusive menace are Mt Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross. Some important things to note: Bross’ summit is currently closed to the public and Cameron is not “technically” considered a 14er because the saddle that connects it to Lincoln, the higher of the two doesn’t dip down the required 300 feet.

Anyhow, the day finally came and my husband and I had our packs ready to go:

packs

Our friends convened at our house at 3am, and we piled into the SUVs and headed for Alma, CO. The drive to the trailhead was about 2 1/2 hours, and we needed to get started around 5:30, in order to make it off of the mountain before the storms started rolling in. Earlier in the week two different people were struck and killed by lightning and we did not want to meet the same conditions.

We made it to the trailhead at about 5:45 and after a quick stop to pose for a photo we headed out.

Crew

We decided to head up the loop backwards, to avoid a descent riddled with scree (the tiny rocks that make you slide all over the place.) Our crew organically broke out into a few different pace teams as we began our ascent. The two people who were in front pulled away pretty steadily and before too long I was at the back of the pack. I am pretty used to this and I told my husband and another friend that as long as I could see them and they could see me they should press on and I would be fine.

Higher and higher we went, harder and harder my heart pounded. Before too long I was stopping about every 40 steps to catch my breath, drink some water, and slow my heart rate. For a while, when I would stop the two people in front of me would stop as well, but as they came up over a ridge and were on the other side of the mountain, I found myself alone.

I didn’t worry about it too much until I checked my watch and realized I hadn’t seen or heard another living soul in over 45 minutes. I shouted my husband’s name and heard nothing. All at once the mountain swallowed me. I became so overwhelmed that I started to sob. I looked around a little and realized that I must have wandered off the “path” and that I was all by myself at about 13,000 feet. They say weird things can happen at high altitudes and up until that day I wasn’t so sure that was true. As I stood there, alone, I made peace with God and told Him that he could take me whenever- I was ready. I was paralyzed by fear, lost in my thoughts, and I had a dark looming sadness that was consuming me.

Then, as I hopelessly scanned the horizon, I saw my husband coming back for me. I shouted “Please, wait for me!” and he threw up the thumbs up sign and sat on a rock. Slowly and surely I made my way to him, back onto a recognizable trail and when I got to him I started to sob. He looked at me, shocked, when I told him “I was ready to die.” We sat down for a few minutes while I gained my composure. Once I felt like myself again we stood up and he promised not to leave me.

After hours of hiking into the clouds, we finally summited our first peak of the four:

First Peak

I felt a little bad because we had tried so hard to get there early to miss the storms, and it took me nearly 45 minutes longer to get to the top. Luckily, my crew didn’t seem upset, and because of our little break during my freak-out, I was well rested and didn’t need to sit more than a couple minutes at the summit. We packed up our things and descended the first peak and made our way to Lincoln.

The saddle over to Lincoln was really nice, a little jaunt across the hill, it felt like. My legs felt strong and my heart wasn’t racing as it had been an hour prior. I was still a little behind the group, but was actually able to keep up with my husband and another teammate easily.

Saddle to Lincoln

The ascent to Lincoln, after the saddle, reminded me of the Hobbit’s pilgrimage to Mordor- I expected Sauron’s eye to pop up over the summit at any moment.  We plodded along tight switchbacks, but it was nice to not be battling all the scree we had with the first peak. Up on the top of Lincoln, we could see not only the Quad in its entirety, but we could see Quandary, another 14er, as well.

Lincoln

We looked around and realized that we were really racing the clock, now, and clouds were starting to pour in. We left our lovely perch on Lincoln and headed over to Cameron, the 14er that “they” don’t count.

The weird thing about Cameron was that it didn’t really feel like there was a trail to follow to get to the top of it. We scrambled up to the peak, and within minutes of leaving Lincoln, we were at the summit of Cameron. The summit of Cameron was uneventful- it felt just like a giant empty field of scree.

Cameron

As you can tell by the photo, things were getting dark. We decided to not even stop at Cameron, longer than a photo op, or else we would have no chance of reaching the summit of Democrat before the storms. The hike down Cameron was slightly brutal. It was around this time that I started to notice something peculiar with my left leg. Each step down, right before my foot landed it would twitch. The further we went, the more noticeable the twitch was to me. When we hit the saddle between Cameron and Democrat I made the very tough decision to not attempt to continue. I wasn’t sure if I could trust my leg at this point and we didn’t have the luxury of sitting and waiting at the saddle for a half hour to find out if it would stop. I told my husband to go on with the rest of the group- he had been waiting for a year to bag the Quad and I didn’t want to be the one who stood in the way of that. When he and I decided that he would continue and I would stay, two of our other hikers also decided that they were done, due to physical ailments as well.

We watched the rest of our party make their way up Democrat, and I snapped this picture right as my husband’s head reached the skyline (you can’t see him, because he is so far away, just a tiny dot… the picture is deceiving!):

Democrat

I sat at the saddle with my buddies for about an hour and we felt good enough to start our full descent back to the car. Part of the way down was more of the scree, and each of us fell once or twice, but then we hit a meadow and it was smooth sailing. (This picture is from the car looking back at the trail we just came off of- Cameron is straight ahead and Democrat is to our left.

Kite Lake

 

After a few minutes the rest of our party got back to the parking lot. No one got struck by lightning, no one died, no one is permanently damaged. I don’t regret not reaching the summit of Democrat- like I said, wisdom had to outweigh desire.

We will head back, the three of us who didn’t make it, and we will bag Democrat another day.

For now, we rest :)

Mallory Cave Hike

A few weeks ago my hubby and I had planned on a lovely hike up Grey Rock Mountain (it just sounds ominous, doesn’t it?) but sadly we got such a late start that we decided to keep things close to home.

Looking at my “wishlist” on Alltrails.com we decided that a nice close hike would be Mallory Caves, just outside Boulder. We chose this hike because it was close, allowed dogs, and was on the shorter side of things.

Mallory Caves are known for their bat populations, and this time of year you can’t actually go *into* the cave, because you might disturb said critters. I’m totally ok with not waking up the bats…

The trailhead is at NCAR, in the foothills of the Rockies and even though there were a ton of people, the parking situation was better than most trailheads (no one likes to walk an extra 2 miles before even starting the hike…)

Anyhow, we arrived at NCAR and made our way to the trailhead, with the plan to accomplish this:

Mallory Cave Topo Map

 

There were quite a few people out hiking, it was a gorgeous day in Colorado after all, and many canine companions. Our pups seems to do mostly fine when they are in their harnesses (Lucy has an Easy-Walker and Maui has a Gentle Leader). The only real problems came when the path shrank to one person wide and you had to exercise your hiking etiquette to let people through. I had some trouble with this, mostly because for me it is difficult to get a good flow going and then stop repeatedly and restart.

As we approached the part of the trail where it started the ascent and switchbacks we noticed a ton of rock climbers out just off the trails scaling the large walls around us. I love Colorado. I was admiring them, feeling a little jealous, and wanting to see what they can see. Someday, Robin, someday.

About halfway up the mountain we were passed by a guy who let us know that the trail was covered with poison ivy and, man, he wasn’t joking. I drew my attention downward and noticed that the path we were on was literally blanketed with the stuff. I was so glad that I was wearing pants (I always do while hiking) and when we were about .25 miles from the summit (or as far as the parks department would let us go) we decided to turn back. The dogs were already traipsing through the ivy and we didn’t really want to end up in a situation we couldn’t manage.

We came back down a bit and found some huge rocks that overlooked Boulder and decided to have a snack.

Silly Husband is Silly

The pups did great, I was a bit pooped but overall fine. I was fresh off a GORUCK (proudly rocking my patch) and my body was done for the day.

We made our way back down the mountain and to the car. The nice thing about hiking close to home is that it wasn’t too long before we were back at our house and relaxing, having accomplished a lot for one afternoon.

Here is our finish picture- with a smile:

Smiles at Mallory Cave

PREVIEW: Area13.1 Half Marathon ($10 off!)

When I was in high school I was the proud owner of the first ticket sold to “X-Files” for our local theater. I was obsessed with aliens- I had glow in the dark alien stickers all over everything I owned and I was fascinated with outer space.

A lot of time has passed since then, I have grown and changed, but in the back of my mind I still consider the possibility that something is out there…

Last fall my friend and I used a sweet Groupon to sign up for the Area 13.1 down in Castle Rock, CO. I was still in my “I love running!” mode and was super jazzed about this fun race. We trained a lot, bought glow in the dark things (shoe laces!), and got our outfits ready to go.

Then the unthinkable happened- Colorado was struck with the worst flooding in ages and every tv station we turned to was filled with Emergency Alert System warnings. We watched all week as water poured out of the sky, people’s homes and lives were lost, entire towns disappeared. The Saturday of our race we made the tough call to stay home and not make the drive south for the race. It was just too dangerous.

This was the first time I had ever NOT participated in a race that I was registered for. It has bugged me ever since.

You can imagine my joy when I caught wind that the race was going to be held again this year! YES! REDEMPTION!

The only problem? That I love running! bug went away and I have been lifting, Spartan-ing, and GORUCKing…. Until last week. Watching people out in the sun, getting some miles, enjoying life appears to have brought my bug back to life. I still am a firm believer that lifting heavy and walking are the key to my goals, but there is something that I can’t deny about the way my heart feels when I run. It’s life giving for me. So, here we go again!

 

THE RACE!!! (Click here to sign up!!!)

Area 13.1 (there is also a 5k option) will be held Saturday September 6th in Castle Rock CO at 5:30pm (7pm for the 5k)

It is a nationwide Half Marathon/5K Series originating in Roswell, Georgia. This is a night race; seriously when have you ever heard of aliens invading during the day?

All runners will receive an “out of this world” extraterrestrial-friendly shirt and if needed have your choice of glow-in-the-dark tools to ward off those pesky aliens that might be hiding along the course.

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The AREA 13.1 Half Marathon/5K race was created to honor the life of Matthew E Russell, who passed away at the age of 22. Matthew had a passion to bring education and hope to the Zulu people of South Africa. His foundation supports the building of libraries and furthering higher education for children around the world.

The Invaders are coming. Will you escape? 

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I hope you’ll consider joining me for this one- it’s going to be such a blast!!!

If you are interested in getting $10 off simply use the code: ALIENBLOG at check out!

See you there!!!!!

GORUCK Light Boulder CO 2014

Oh, the GORUCK. The reason I am so sore today. Also, the reason I am so proud.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Last November my crazy best friend and I decided that we should try something new and decided to use the buddy coupons to sign up for a GORUCK Light. My husband and another friend of ours thought our insane idea was a pretty good one, so they registered as well.

We weren’t entirely sure of what exactly we were signing up for, but we did it anyway. In fact, we had no idea what exactly we were getting ourselves into until we were actually starting….

We trained for this event for about 6 months. We wrapped our bricks, not really knowing what we would be doing with them. We hiked up and down Red Rocks, we lifted heavy things, we went on long walks.

buddy nae

The week before the ruck we got some fun noodles and padded our bricks in our packs, just in case we jumped or did things that made the bricks hit our heads. Like I said, we had no idea what we had signed up for.

ruck

Our event was set to start at 2pm, and we arrived at about 1pm, so we could get settled before things got going. Our Cadre Adam was still there from the night before as he had led the Challenge (13 hours…) so we stayed off in the distance while he relaxed. A few other ruckers showed up and eventually Cadre waved us over.

Our class was small, just 11 adults and we had 3 kids shadowing and 1 adult shadow (he did the challenge as well). Most of us were first timers, but the few who weren’t, proved to be invaluable.

322 team

We got started right away, after receiving the instruction that the flag always goes first (as it should) and from here on out our rucks stay on our person unless we are told otherwise.

The next, I don’t know how long, was spent doing bear crawls and crab walks. It was quickly brought to my attention that I did not spend enough time training on these two items. I just couldn’t physically do it. I would bear crawl about a yard then have to stop and breathe. Two of my teammates stayed behind to go with me, and though I still had to do my own work, having them next to me helped me so much. I was glad to be wearing a hat, because I started to tear up. I don’t love admitting that, but it’s true. I was totally and completely overwhelmed. Crab walks were harder for me than the bear crawls. They ended up being more like butt scoots. I did what I could for the whole distance and eventually made it back to the group.

crabs

We continued on doing more PT then received instruction on the dreaded buddy carry.

During training we would carry each other around, but I never had tried it with my pack. This was an experience. But for the first time since we started, I felt like I had a strength. Being a pretty big girl, I decided that I would do both legs of the carry, instead of switching and making someone carry me.

On and on the PT went and before we knew it we were lined up and following the flag into town. That’s right. We were going into the city of Boulder. We made our rendezvous and began to do some more PT.

General PT

Our Cadre gave us our first mission- to get to a high point, secure the lookout, and beat the enemy there. We sprinted through Pearl Street- where I normally tell people you see all the crazies, and today we were those crazies….

When we arrived at our high point, we had to elephant walk up the stairwells, just so we didn’t rush in and get noticed.

Elephant up

Up the stairs and then back down and we were on to our next mission- to get to a park across town.

We charged off through the city again. I was trying to keep up, and my team kept offering to carry my weight, but it wasn’t the weight that was slowing me down, it was my short legs! Single file, double file, single file, on and on until we got to the park. After a brief break, we had a relay. I felt like I actually did a good job, even though our team didn’t win. Our prize for losing was to bear crawl up the hill. Of course. More bear crawls. When we got to the top we had to roll back down and I stopped halfway because I had to not throw up. We did a fun team exercise after that, crowd surfing our teammates across us. My husband did the “arms wide open” surf, haha.

Brad zipper

For our next mission we quick trotted to another point to pick up our package.

It was…… a couch!

Couch up

It seems the Challenge crew had left it beside the creek, and we had to return it to its original location. Our team picked up the beast and we began to carry it, creek side, through town. Again we were those crazy Boulder people you hear about. Since I knew that I wouldn’t be able to help with the couch (it would’ve just hovered over me) I happily took our flag and led us along the path. We had a few people salute us, one very loud ex Navy Seal who was mad we wouldn’t let him help, and a crew of kids on the street start chanting “Freedom Couch!”

At one point Cadre had us get wet (we couldn’t fully get in the creek because it was banned due to high fast waters- 3 people had already been killed that week) but we got as wet as we could, then we got sugar cookied.

get wet

 

sugar cookie

Back to the couch and on we hiked. Eventually, we made it to the location that the couch had been taken from the night prior.

We started back the way we came and received our final mission: two of our 11 had died (plus one of the 3 children) and had to be carried back to our original location in the park. We took turns passing around the dead in a buddy carry, and I took a teammate’s pack so he could carry one of them. We hurried back to base camp, and made it in time- they came back to life!

After one more round of PT, we circled around the Cadre, and he announced our GORUCK Light Class 322 completed. 5 Hours 15 minutes, and about 8 miles covered.

nae

I learned a lot about myself- that even when I can’t do the things others can, I still do what I can and people who care about me are going to be there to support me. I learned that I haven’t arrived (not that I really thought I did) and that I am a work in progress. I remembered that my husband, who barely trained, is a beast and so strong. My best friend is my rock- just having her there, even though she was fighting her own battle, gave me strength to go on. Also, I have stamina I didn’t know I had. I love my life.

That was some good livin’.

Review: Pure LYFT Energy Stir Stick

Hey everyone!

After my crazy long weekend of working all night Friday, driving to the airport to get my mom, waking up early Saturday to drive 7 hours to Kansas, driving back home Sunday, and then running the Bolder Boulder Monday, I am officially wiped out.

Where did my college youth go?

I decided that since I am dragging, and I already had a couple cups of coffee this morning, I would use this opportunity to sample the Pure LYFT energy stir stick that I was given to try.

Lyft is advertised as a”clean caffeine” that you mix into any beverage. It has 0 calories and is made from green coffee bean extract.

My first note about this product, is that I really wish it had a different name. Not because it isn’t accurate to the product’s desired outcome- rather, it has the same name as a new ride-share company that keeps popping up on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Am I getting clean caffeine, or am I getting a ride downtown? Confusing.

Anyways, back to the review. I am currently still doing Carb Nite (where I cycle my carbs weekly) so the only things that I am currently drinking are water, coffee, and iced tea. Using this product in coffee or tea doesn’t really make much sense, so I opted to try it in a glass of water.

The product came in a 2 pack (although I’m not sure what retail packaging would be like?)

I took out one of the stir sticks:

Lyft Stir Stick

 

The package says to open it over your beverage, and as I started to do so, I noticed why. The stick is actually a prism with tiny holes towards the bottom where the powder comes out. Luckily, I had my glass of water ready and slid it open.

After a few seconds of stirring I realized that not all of the powder had come out, and there was still some left in the tiny holes. I gave it another good swirl, and then dipped it in and out of the water. That seemed to do the trick and before long, all of the powder was mixed into the water.

Water

 

My thoughts on the taste- it’s not as tasteless as I was hoping, but it was pretty close. I would describe the after taste to be something like a hint of artificial sweetener. I think this product would’ve been better if I had iced the water and maybe added a little fresh lemon. I do feel a pick me up, but it’s not drastic like those terrible pills they used to make that made your heart race (You know, the ones they had to pull off the market? Yeah, those.) I feel refreshed, and given how I was feeling earlier this afternoon, I’ll take it.

Some suggestions that I would make, if I were producing this item:

  • Have a flavor option for those who want to have it in water. Even if it’s just a hint of lemon or lime, I think that would’ve been more appealing.
  • Have them come on a flat stick instead of in a tube (I don’t even know if this is possible, it just felt wasteful to throw the plastic out)

 

I would have to give this a thumbs up. These are each individually wrapped and I think that I could throw one in my purse (or in today’s case, my lunch bag) and not worry about them getting damaged or destroyed.

 

Please note:  I received a free sample of Lyft to review on this blog- I was not compensated for the review.  All opinions are my own, as they should be :)

Carb Nite and Food Remorse

For as long as I can remember, my most favorite meals inevitably all ended the same way: with food remorse.

I don’t know if this was due to my food addiction, my fear of never having enough (money, food, safety- you name it), or if I was legitimately grieving the loss of this THING I was enjoying so much. All I know, is that at the end of a good meal, those last few bites were almost always wrought with the same pain and loss as losing a loved one. Saying that out loud makes me feel about 2 inches tall. Losing my dad was NOT the same as finishing a piece of cake. Yet, the immediate response in my mind is that they are more similar than I care to admit.

I have known for a while that I have a sugar addiction. It is what it is. Starting my day with a piece of fruit usually wrecks me, and the cravings for more and more sweets don’t stop until I go to bed. I tried, for a while, to tell myself that as long as I was still eating gluten free, I was still nourishing my body well, but it was a lie.

It was all a lie.

In a fit of desperation, after I annihilated an entire chocolate Easter bunny, I decided to bite the bullet and make a change. I recently had heard a couple interviews on my favorite podcasts an awesome man named John Kiefer (or just Kiefer) talking about his books Carb Nite and Carb Backloading. In college I had done the low carb thing, and had awesome success, but after a while I couldn’t take the exclusion of the things I love and the thought of not partaking in them anymore was stressing me out more than food ever should. I was testing my ketone levels neurotically- 3 and 4 times a DAY. I was unable and unwilling to continue. After returning to the standard American diet, I put on everything that I had lost and then some. That back sliding is what got me to my highest weight and worst health situation ever. (You can read more about my story here).

I looked back at my various ventures in diet (noun, not verb) and I had the most success with Paleo and LowCarb- two things where you (either intentionally or by circumstance) consume way less sugar than the average American.

I’m not going to get into the logistics and chemistry or science of the book (Keifer does a way better job) so if you are interested in learning more, check out the book then come back to this blog!

Anyhow, back to the remorse.

So the first nine and a half days of reorientation by eating ultra low carb went well for me. It was a lot like sliding back into the Atkins world, with the caveat that, in a very short amount of time, I would get a brief reprieve. When that night of carbs came around, my husband and I were excited. Knowing that for 6-8 hours we wouldn’t have to say no and we could choose things that we enjoyed greatly made both of us happy like children on their birthdays. It wasn’t even so much sweets we were looking forward to- it was the fruit and yogurt and bread (which my gluten-sensitive self will address in another blog…) and baked goods that had us all twitterpated.

We went on a date night, which was fantastic for us as we had a very stressful week- the kind that would send most folks careening off into the ditch. We ate and enjoyed each others company. Towards the end of our 8 hour eating window, we picked up our last little goodie of the night and took it home. We sat in the living room and finished off our snacks and I realized something…

I was not sad that it was over.

I started to cry, with happy tears, as I felt freedom for the first time in a very long time. I wasn’t grieving the end of my meal, I wasn’t fearful it wasn’t going to come again. I was just done eating.

Like a normal human being.

I can’t even begin to explain how it feels to not feel like I was caught in the grip of darkness- to feel whole and complete without the substance. I had no problem waking up the next morning and getting back to my ultralow carb eating- it was all foods I loved anyway. I didn’t crave the sweets, breads, or fruits from the night before. My body and mind seemed to be on the same page, for once. It was liberating.

At this point, I don’t even care (mostly) if I get the outcome of fat loss that the book promises, because the freedom that I felt that night is worth more than anything else.

Spartan {Military} Sprint 2014 Review

This weekend I accomplished one of the hardest things I have ever attempted in my life.

Sit a spell, I’d love to tell you about it…

My training for the spartan started a few months before the actual event, but really got serious about a month out. My BFF and I both won entries from blogs that we follow and decided to bite the bullet and sign up. Neither of us had ever done an Obstacle Course Race, and up until this point we pretty much stuck to 5 and 10k’s. I had done a marathon earlier in 2013, and after that my body and mind were both toast and said “no more.” In an effort to listen, I picked up lifting in the gym and did that for a while, running every other week at best. Fast forward to the fall of 2013, I am now signed up for this event in May 2014, that I have heard was brutal. The only thing we could do was train. A month before the event we got on Spartan’s blog and found a month long bootcamp, that we followed to start to prepare for the unexpected.

Through the month of April we did our best and hammered away at the workouts. Some were simple and easy for us, others sent us into a world of hurt. We did research all month at what other Spartans had done, what other sprint courses were like, and did our best to prepare as best we could.

The week before the race we hit our local clothing stores and started to search for non-cotton items, in case our race course had water obstacles, we would dry quickly and not chafe. I had gotten on a blog written by a veteran Spartan, and read through all of her tips on what to pack and what to wear. It was so helpful to have someone how has been through it explain the whys behind what to pack! Another huge thing I did was join the Spartan Chicked FaceBook group, where women of all fitness levels from all over the country shared encouraging stories and tips. I was even gifted a pair of shoes by an awesome Spartan Chick in the Boston area! She was getting some new ones, and let me have her current ones!

Here is what I laid out the day before, in an effort to get ready:

Flat Robin

(Here’s a quick list: Non cotton clothes, shoes, waiver, water to drink, water to rinse with in case there’s no hose, full clothes to change into, sweater, flip flops, towel (large), facial towels, sun screen, energy bar (since I have a sensitive stomach) $5 for bag check, $5 for shuttle, and gloves)

Sunday morning- race day.

I woke up at 4:45 and began to get ready. I wanted to eat, since my wave didn’t start until 9am, so I had my usual bacon and eggs.

My friends showed up at my house at 5:30, and we headed to the Ft Carson. The directions in the email and the documents Spartan Race provided were clear and easy to understand. We all had logged on before hand and got our numbers, wave times, and instructions. Once on the base we easily found the shuttle and were taken to the festival. There wasn’t any wait at the festival to get checked in, and within minutes we were getting our super awesome headbands and our bib #’s marked on our arms:

headbands numbers

 

Bag check also was flawless- the volunteers were clearly well trained and happy to be there. We secured our things and decided to wander around the festival. It was cool because the  way the course was designed, about halfway through races would pass the festival to do a few obstacles before heading out:

Map

We stood near the sidelines and watched with excitement as the elite males, who had started about 20 minutes prior, raced through the muddy barbed wire pit and came up to the rope climb, near where we were standing. I have to say, it made me feel a lot better to see many of these strong capable men unable to complete this obstacle that had haunted my dreams for weeks. A few of them did it, but the others went over to the burpee pit to do their required penance (30 burpees) before moving on.

We wandered around a bit longer before it was finally our time to start. There comes a certain point in ever racers life where the gun will go off and you just have to begin- scared or otherwise- and that time for us was here.

Our 9am wave approached the starting line, and there was a wall that we had to scale, just to get in to the starting pit. My BFF helped me over and we helped a couple of other gals before anxiously awaiting our fate.

The announcer came on the loudspeaker, addressed us SPARTANS!!! and off we went!

I won’t go through the nitty gritt of each obstacle, rather I will highlight some of the things I remember. The first few obstacles seemed easy, and I felt good about them. My apprehension rose as we approached the giant walls, but it was quickly pushed aside as my BFF and others helped me conquer my fears and get over it. We moved along, running over hills and through fields. The tire flip (which I chose over tire drag) was great- I even used a men’s tire and we pushed along, still feeling awesome. Up up up the mountain to do another obstacle- carrying a large cement ball, doing burpees, then carrying it back. Down down down the hill to a pull a cement block (I named mine Titus) up and down a hill. I beat the log hop with no issues (despite my insecurities, I actually have decent balance.)

Things were going along great- then we approached the barbed wire crawls, 2- 100 yard mud piles (about a foot tall) and water hole crawls, separated by a large hill of mud and water. Not only did we have to army crawl through each of these, but there was a man at each crawl with a FIRE HOSE spraying anyone who stopped. Within seconds I was soaking wet and freezing cold. I was pushing through somehow, but this obstacle was brutal. The mud was slimy and I did what I could to just keep clawing my way forward. Randomly, I would end up in a giant pit that looked flat but was actually full of murky water. I was soaked. Somehow, what seemed like an hour later, my BFF and I made it through this pair of obstacles and moved on to the rope climb. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make this one, so I went to the burpee pit to get started. Onward to an obstacle that, the day before, had been cargo net monkey bars, but now was just a moat we had to swim through followed by 10 burpees. (I believe I heard that the day before 2 people broke their ankles, so they weren’t requiring it as an obstacle as designed- safety first.)

Our next obstacle almost did me in. I truly thought I was going to die. The title “Rolling Mud” sounds so innocent, until you realize that between the 4 hills of mud were 4 giant pools of water- ice water. And due to the mud being so slick, you had no choice but to slide down the hill- fast- and land in the ice water. Each time, my lungs constricted and I started to hyperventilate. Somehow, I was able to swim across to the next hill, and a few times I had to be pulled out, as there was nowhere to grab on to and nothing to put your feet on. One time, I started to slide back into the water and shouted NO NO NO defiantly and clawed my way back up. Getting to the top of that last hill was a moment of triumph for me. I felt strong, like I could do anything. 

We moved along through another wall, and came upon on obstacle that I knew would be cake- the rucksack carry. My friends and I have been training for our GORUCK which is in June, so I threw the pack on and made my way up and down the hill with ease.

The next phase of the course was not hard, but just gross. I don’t have any other descriptive words, besides gross. We ran through and underpass and up a ravine that were black with mud that smelled like sewage. It was nasty and smelly. Getting a reprieve from that, we carried sandbags, and did some other stuff, before heading back down into the black muck.

Then I got stuck. In the muck. I took a step, expecting to sink a few inches like everyone else, and I sank all the way down to my thigh, like the horse Artex in Neverending Story. I couldn’t bend my knee or move any part of my leg, and had to be pulled out by 2 other people. I was afraid for a bit that I was going to lose a shoe and have to complete the race barefoot.

Once unstuck I took a few paces of walking to compose myself and we pushed forward.

When we came over a hill, we realized we were on our final approach back into the park. Traverse wall was covered in mud and I slipped off a third of the way through, and did my burpees. One more hill we had to crawl up on out stomachs under barbed wire, with another nice fire hose operator, and then the hill slid down, FAST, into another shocking pool of mud water. This pool had a wall at the end that we had to swim UNDER and then out of. UNDER. Fully submersed in the nasty mud water. (But, hey! At least it wasn’t black water!)

We crawled out and came upon a giant crowd of Spartans who were all trying to get up and over the last wall, which unfortunately was covered in slime and mud, and nearly impossible to traverse.

As La Nae and I continued on we climbed the giant tower that people entering the park had to pass under, rolled across the cargo netting, climbed back down and raced for the Fire Jump.

We grabbed hands to proudly leap over the fire together! In front of us was the final gauntlet and water pool. A short swim later we were at the finish, receiving our medals.

medals

After getting hosed off, and collecting our checked bags, there was a great tent for women to change in and within a few minutes we were warm and dry. Our bag check got us $5 free at the merch tent, so I went and scored myself a sweet patch:

patch

 

All in all- this was a fantastic event. Like I said, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, but I am so glad that I did it.

If you are reading this and wondering if you could do it too, the answer is yes for a number of reasons. Pre race, there is a lot you can do to start to get your mind and body ready. There are guides, groups, and plans out there if you are TRULY serious about challenging yourself. During the race, the attitude among everyone is to help each other out. Not once did I see people leave anyone stranded- even strangers. It’s just not what you do. People around you will give you a helping hand, and YOU can give people a leg up (literally) as well.

I don’t think I would have wanted to do this with anyone other than my BFF. She’s my rock, and WE are SPARTAN.

us

 

AROOOOOOOOO!

(I was not given anything for writing this review. Unless you count all the mud and bragging rights. But, I earned those hahah)