Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Spartan Elite - Me, Racing With the Big Gals (Feeling Like a Poser!)

There are those events in life that seem so far away in the distance that you sometimes plan well for them and others you fail to plan even with ample opportunities. For some reason I knew I was going to be doing this huge life-changing event and yet I felt so unprepared for it on race day. I didn't sleep well the week leading up to the race, I ate fried Jamaican food the night before and I paid the price. Meh. Breaking all the rules like a real rebel. Total rookie mistake.
Note the waterfall coming out of my belly button, free water for the thirsty

What I did get out of it was a better grasp on what it's like to race in the elite category during a mud race. Usually I blend into the herd mentality during the race, and just follow the crowd. This time around, I was racing with ladies and we were collectively leading the pack. What I expected and was concerned about was having super macho man-ladies who elbow me waiting to attack the course with gusto. Instead what I got was a girl telling me how bad her cramps were, one girl complimenting me on how fit I was, and another one telling me she had no idea she was running in the elite without her guy-friends because she didn't know men and women were separated. So I was pleasantly surprised to see all the girls that I raced against were just like me, a little nervous and very much hard core into mud races.

The course was just shy of 5 miles, so it's an all out sprint as the name includes. It means you are to go at full speed over and through obstacles until you jump the fire at the finish. One of the obstacles was new for me, it included asking us to memorize a random code based on our bib number. Mine was Foxtrot 327-2197 and I spent a good 90-seconds looking at the code but we were never asked for it again. Just a total BS move from Spartan, but it still helped me have something else to focus on for a good 3 miles.

 If you have ever done any of the Spartan races, you know that for every obstacle you miss or can not complete, that you are punished with 30 burpees. Just enough to slow you down and tire you out but not exhaust you. During my race, I had to do a total of 60 burpees which I didn't think was unreasonable at all. Two obstacles I missed were the spear toss and the pole/rope climbing. I am a girl with massive upper body strength but the pole obstacle got me jumping down right away. As for the spear toss, I actually had my spear land in the target but then it fell out, so rather than whine about the gray area I just dropped and donated time to the burpee gods.
The water was refreshing! Next time I wanna sprint this part

The course was very different than the 2014 course where it was mostly flat. This year had tons of hills and ample ankle twisting opportunities. I wouldn't of even recognized that it was a Spartan race since it was so different than last year.  Right before the ladies all started, the announcer told us to look at the guys who started 15minutes before, he said that they were on their second hill and were already walking because it was so steep. That's when I saw an imaginary red flag wave in front of my face.

To summarize appropriately, I gave awards to my obstacles:

Most Fun Obstacle: The Rope Swing! You stand on a podium, pull a rope to you and use it to swing across water, tarzan style. I asked the guy working the station if I should grab high, he said ya and I jumped up to the rope so I wouldn't sweep my body over the water below. Jumped over the other side and averted burpees with a grin. I wanted to do it again but I also wanted to finish the race.

A fun short vid to show how NOT to swing, this is NOT me folks...

Most Grueling Obstacle: We had to fill up a Home Depot sized bucket with 1/2 inch sized rocks, then carry it up a very steep inclined hill. A hill that's too steep to run. I had to stop about 6 times to rest my body, it was a full body workout. The bucket has to make it back to the start area full of rocks, meaning don't fill up and dump you bucket to drop weight. The catcher here was also that you could not prop the bucket on your shoulder which was our body's preferred method.
Again, not me, but this is the bucket brigade flat

Most Abusive Obstacle: So the bruises on my legs are intense. I was told by my Crossfit coach that I look like a dalmatian. Yes, I do with small bruises all over my upper thighs in a spotted pattern. This was inevitable during the race. Where one of my fav obstacles in 2014 was the army crawling through the mud under barbed wire. This year that obstacle was elongated, I think to about a quarter mile. And the mude was all dried up into pokey rocks and gravel and dirt that was almost punching you everywhere. We all rolled through it to end the misery and save our arms but the rolling made you so dizzy that you had to take a few breaks to regroup and remind yourself we were not in a combat situation.

The Team Work Obstacle:  The big 8 foot walls. Luckily, ladies were allowed a small step on the side of the wall to cheat like ladies only can. However, this was not always enough, so I offered my shoulder to one lady and she got over but then I was told that might mean she got disqualified so I stopped assisting until us girls (including the one who mentioned we could get DQ) realized we could not make it over with out assistance. This meant we could get help or we could do burpees. Buck Furpees, we assisted and we made it over the wall.

Most Prideful Obstacle: The rope climb. I knew I had only been practicing on a 15 foot rope climb and that Spartan's is higher than that. And I couldn't remember if the rope had knots in it. Luckily it did and I climbed up and hit the bell like I meant it. I was so proud of myself because last year I couldn't climb it. I also think the rope was really muddy last year but running the elite means you get a drier rope.

I finished tired but also feeling so alive! I was so happy to hug my family and give them all the deetz.

Total Distance: 4.8 Miles
Total Time: 1:25 Min
Placed: 16th of 46 Elite Women
Learned Lessons: eat well before the race, get a good night of sleep away from kiddos if possible and train with more trail runs

Next Up: Spartan Beast in Breckenridge Colorado!! 5 weeks and 10 hours left to train... AROO!

A great article that I found helpful is right here:
Great Mud Obstacle Tips Here