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