Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Seattle Beast {Race Re-cap}

I finished a Spartan Beast.
Honestly, I'm still a little surprised, even though I knew I could do it. There's so much I want to say about my latest adventure I don't know where to start! So, I guess I'll just start.....

Friday night I hit the sack early, hoping for some extra sleep before the big day. As usual though, sleep did not come easily or quickly, and I got my usual pre-race three hours. 
When my alarm finally went off I rolled groggily out of bed and started getting ready.
Breakfast? Check. Dry shoes? Check. Hydration pack? Check. Comb? double check. Snacks? triple check.

We were rolling out of the driveway at 6:00. Right on time. The drive up felt like forever! Also, trying to find a bathroom in Seattle isn't always the easiest thing to do...

My excitement continued to grow as we started seeing the parking signs. Almost there! 
As we pulled into the venue, a pretty impressive sight met our eyes. There was a sea of cars, people trudging through marshy grass, you could see the Hercules hoist, walls, and other various obstacles. My first impression? "Ooh, it's so nice and flat! This should be easy." Haha.

We parked and headed up to begin the check-in process. With waivers signed, saying we understood we might possibly die today, (that spectator-ing stuff is hard, isn't it dad?), I began the process, of getting changed, we wandered a bit, took pictures, checked my bag, I got my hydration pack ready to go, and before I knew it, we were watching the heat before mine get sent off. I'm never really nervous before a race. Excited, yes, but I had been training for this, and figured the only way to find out if I was ready was to just do it.

11:45 came, and over the wall I went with my fellow Spartans! We were going to do this thing!
I love looking around to see who I'll be suffering with for the next however many miles. 
With  our "I AM SPARTAN! AROO! AROO! AROO!" Hanging in the air, we were off and on our way to do battle with the next 12.4 miles. None of us knew what was coming, but we were ready.

I kept a steady pace, telling myself to take it easy when I needed to, but already setting a goal in my head for a 4 hour finish..
We hit that first hill, and we all slowed down, making our way up the steep steady climb. Let me tell you, that first mile felt like it was all up hill in the mud. We got to a low crawl and I once again was thankful for my small frame. Even with a hydration pack I could crawl underneath without having to go on my stomach like many of the others, I know, I'm a cheater. ;)
I slogged, hopped, ran, and slid through more mud and came to the sandbag carry. It went down a hill, then came right back up the other side. I don't find the bags heavy, but when you're going uphill it definitely adds a challenge.
I picked up my pace as much as I could making my way up, down, over, and through the terrain.The mud was pretty hard on my ankles and trying to pick out the clearest path wasn't easy. About 40 minutes in I was feeling pretty tired when I saw my worst nightmare: The bucket brigade.
Sucking it up, I began the familiar process. Men on black, women on red. Grab your bucket, fill it to the line with rocks, and carry it to the end of the loop where you dump it and return your bucket to the stack.
This one was mostly downhill so it wasn't too bad. One of the guys was struggling with his, so I plodded alongside him, and encouraged him to just keep going. We tried to figure out how to breathe while winded with a bucket of rocks sitting on our chest. Haha.
 We finished and he thanked me for the encouragement. :)

The festival area had come back into view, and my dad waved as I came down the hill to the rope climb. He called out that I had made it to mile 2, and  couldn't believe that was all! I slowed down a bit, trying to catch my breath and sucked down some GU Strawberry lemonade electrolyte water.
I shimmied up the rope with no problem, then shook my hands off as I immediately headed to the Multi-Rig. I crossed this obstacle last time with no problem so I wasn't worried about it as I stepped up and grabbed the first ring.  swung my way to the long bar, grabbed onto it, and just about slipped off with my left hand. My right still had a ring, so I adjusted myself and tried again.
And Fell. -_-
Yay. Burpees. 30 of them. 
Feeling somewhat defeated I headed to the next obstacle, a new one called 'Olympus'.
I eyed it, and picked my lane. I chose to use the short chains to make my was across the wall.

Image result for spartan olympus obstacle                                       
photo courtesy of Spartan Race. Not my photo.
This one was much harder than it looked! still breathing heavily from my burpees, I got 3/4 of the way across,before my grip slipped, and I went sliding down with my pinkie finger stick in one of the chain links. I shook it off, and let out a groan as I once again paid my 30 burpees. Ugh. Those were painful!

With a half-hearted wave to dad, I took off at a jog over the next hill. 
Ah. The Z Wall.
 Now, rock climbing isn't my thing, and this resembles it, what with the hand and footholds, as you make your way across the wall, around the corner, more wall, and another corner.  I got up there, and made it some of the way without too much difficulty, then hit a patch of mud. One second I was sliding and the next I felt someones hand on my back, allowing me to regain my footing. Some very nice guy had seen my plight and stepped in to help, He stayed with me, helping me with just a hand on my back, when I needed it. I thanked him profusely, telling him I probably would have cried if I'd had to do more burpees. Glad that I got a break from burpees, I forged onward and forward only to be faced with "The Burpee Maker" AKA: Spear throw. I have yet to nail that one, and today was no different.
I threw that sucker, watched in hope as it almoooost stuck, then hit the ground. I let out a cry of agony and joined the others on the side.
More burpees. -_-

 I caught my breath briefly, and took advantage of the downhill terrain and picked up speed. We ended up going through a barn where they had set up the monkey  bars. 
"Hey, I'm good at these! Finally something I won't have to do burpees for!" or, so I thought....
Turns out, pride goeth before a fall, and halfway across, I fell. Standing there, hands shaking, and out of breath,  I wondered who's idea this was.  It took me a while to do 30 more burpees and I watched in envy as others sailed across the bars and continued on their way. I came out into the bright light of day, refilled my hydration pack, and trudged uphill. Out of all 12.4 miles, mile 2 was the toughest mentally. Here I was with 10.4 more miles to go, I was tired, had failed 4 obstacles, and done 120 burpees. At this point I was all alone, with everyone who I started with either way ahead or way behind.
I grabbed a GU packet from my pack, and with some trepidation started sucking the gel down. Man, that stuff is good! It's basically sticky pudding, with enough caffeine to give you a little kick, and helps keep cramping at bay. You start feeling the effects of it pretty quickly, and before too long I was ready to get going again, and determined to catch up to some of my fellow spartans.
The trail led me into the woods and once again I was dodging mud, and carefully picking my footing.
After about 10 minutes I finally caught up to a few people. And then quickly passed them, on my own once again.
From the winding trail I  started to hear lots of splashing, and.... laughter? What was that all about? I came around a bend, and below me was a line of people going through a waist deep creek. I saw a couple people lose their footing and get a face full of water. 
With a renewed sense of energy I pressed on, I went on, and on, and on, and pretty soon the creek was completely out of sight. -_- 

 This part of the race is pretty foggy to me. I just remember loads and loads and loads of deep mud, a second sandbag carry somewhere in there, and more mud. I did eventually get to the creek, and that water was a little bit chilly! I bumped into some logs here and there, and just about took a dunk. My legs were a bit on the numb side when I got out, but I couldn't move fast enough to get them warmed up because of the mud.
One of the most memorable parts was slogging through, trying to walk just right to keep my shoes on, when I just decided  I was done. I wanted to walk or run normally for a bit, so gritting my teeth, hulk noise in full effect, I plowed through, passing people left and right, almost managing to run through the muck. Oh, the comments as I went.....
"Oh, ****! Look at her go!" "What the ****?" "****! How is she doing that?" 
Haha. So long everybody! I'm out of here!

It was around here that I once again started to wonder how much farther I had to go when someone called out that they saw the 6 mile marker. Only halfway done.
Next up? The memorization test.
There we are, in the woods, looking at the sign matching up our BIB numbers to the corresponding code. We were supposed to memorize it, and at some point we would get asked to repeat it. Or owe 30 burpees. I didn't wear my bib, and couldn't remember my number, so I randomly picked a code.There were probably about 20 of us, muttering them under our breath, writing them in the air....anything to help cement it in our brains. I headed off chanting, "Echo-515-2943" over and over in my head.
 I got to the weighted sled drag, and forgot to keep chanting my code in my head.
Somewhere there was a 7' wall, which someone boosted me over, but  don't remember where.
A new to me obstacle was a "log flip". Imagine something that looks like a punching bag, that has water inside. you flip it one way, then turn around and come back with it. As I approached I heard the familiar, "Men on black, women on red." I walked past the women's, and the volunteer quickly piped up, "No, women on red." I told him I wanted to try the men's for fun. I got the same reaction from two other guys, and they smiled at me like, "Okay, knock yourself out". 
Apparently all my deadlifts have paid off, because I squatted down, and without too much effort had the log up and over, and then up and over. I came back with it as the guy next to me, who started at the same time, got his flipped for the first time.
Yeah guys.....don't judge a book by it's cover...... :)

the mile marker numbers were getting bigger and bigger, I still remembered my code, and my GU packs were doing their job. I was doing surprisingly well, despite the fact that I was beginning to feel really stiff, thanks to going through cold water, running, walking through mud, back into cold water, etc.... 
Spartan has a sick and twisted mind, so they threw in a second bucket carry. -_- That one hurt, even though it was flat.
I picked up a rock in my shoe somewhere around mile 8, and when it started to hurt I tried to remove it. when I finally got my mud caked shoe off, I didn't see a rock. I wriggled it back on, only to find whatever it was was still there, but most likely in my sock. Grrr... It had taken me too long to get my shoe back on, so I sucked it up and took off at a slow painful jog.
The order isn't clear in my head, but there was the 8' wall, which I once again had help with, the 'Stairway to Heaven' right after that, (I really don't like heights!), Then a bit after that, the Tyrolean Rope Traverse.
 My calf cramped on this one last time, and it was so painful, so I was a little anxious about this one.
with a deep breath I grabbed the rope, threw my legs over, and began my upside down traverse. I moved quickly, and hit that bell at the end with no cramping! Score!

At mile 9 my body was complaining. Every time my left foot hit the ground it rolled in, I was incredibly stiff, and felt like an old woman. I would run a couple hundred feet, then had to give my legs a break before running another couple hundred feet. I pushed through the farmers carry,the O-U-T walls,and something else that  can't remember. Haha.
I remember hitting mile 10, and cheering everyone on as we reached the final 2.4 miles. We were almost there!!!!
Oh my word, that was a long 2 miles! 
 I painfully made my way through the trail in the corn field, and looped around to the festival area. I got over the inverted wall, and was happy to see my dad there, still smiling. :)

 When I climbed down, he started running to the next obstacle, the A-Frame cargo net, so he could get pictures. I walked to give him time to get there..... ;)

I was at the final mile, and came up to the Hercules hoist. I planted my feet on the fence, and pulled on that rope with all my might! It came up 3 feet, and I readjusted, determined to get this thing up 20 feet, before slowly lowering int down.
Ummmm....that didn't happen. I got it about 5 feet up, before having a repeat of Sacramento. I had all my weight hanging from that thing, pulling with everything I had, and it wasn't budging. -_-
Luckily for me, another girl couldn't do it either, so we teamed up and got it done.

Almost. There.

Oddly enough, one of the most exhausting parts was the final low crawl through water. The water was cold, making my stiff muscles even stiffer, and crawling, and ducking under the wire was hard for my battered body. Unfortunately, those with hydration packs removed them on the sidelines before going into the water, so once you finished that, you had to go back to the beginning, staying on the side of the course, to get it, then pick back up where you left off. When you're one obstacle away from the finish, every step counts!
Hydration pack snapped on, it was time to take on the slip wall. I grabbed the rope, planted my feet firmly, leaned back, and hoped with all my might that my hands wouldn't slip, sending me down the wall, most likely breaking something. Lucky for me, that didn't happen and I slowly made my way down the beams on the opposite side.

I'm pretty sure Angels were singing as I ran to the fire jump at the finish! I could taste the victory!!! I strategically timed my pace to make sure no one photobombed my glorious finish, jumped as high as my creaking joints would allow me, and soared across the fire!
Well, it felt like I soared.....

The feeling of crossing the finish line will never, ever get old for me. I don't exactly remember what went through my head as the lady placed my medal over my neck, but I remember feelings of pride, exhaustion,, sadness that it was over, and happiness. But mostly pride.
{I may or may  not have almost cried.}

When I looked up, after finishing, there was my dad. Still smiling.

People are often amazed when I tell them I do this for fun. They tell me it looks so challenging, and that anyone who completes them should be extremely proud.
Yes, they're hard, yes, I'm always proud, but the family members who support us don't get nearly enough praise.

I remember at my first race my sister in law waited around for almost 3 hours in the rain with a baby, and cheered us on. She didn't get a medal, any cool recognition, not even a banana. But she was always there with a smile.

At my second race my sister and brother waited around for me for almost 2 hours. Again, no medal, no nothing.

At this one my dad drove 4 hours up, stood around for 4 hours, then drove 4 hours home, He took pictures, and videos that I love to look at and watch, he cheered, and smiled, and posted pictures of me laying face down on the ground to FB for friends and family to see. {Thanks dad!}

Maybe I should be the one to start the Spartan Spectator medal. They could even do a Trifecta for it.....

All in all, this was an amazing experience. As someone who runs maaaaaybe two miles here and there I knew the distance would be the most challenging. I also know I'm pretty strong, and very stubborn, so I was going to do this thing if it killed me! I have so many memories from that day, I could never even begin to share them all. I met amazing people from all over, and had great conversations while slogging through the mud.
This blog post feels a little scattered, but oh, well. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into this latest adventure. :)

Oh, and there is nothing better post-race than IHOP, just so you know....

Up next? The Sacramento Super for my Trifecta in just a few weeks!!!!


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