Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Texas Spartan Beast

Caution: Lots of bragging ahead!
I'm sorry, I can't help myself. I am just SO proud that I really did finish this sucker. This was my last semester in school and probably the worst time possible to decide to train for a race as beastly as this one, but I managed. So let me tell ya all about it.

First, let's review. I signed up for this race back in June and the realized a few days later that I would have to miss my own graduation for it. I wasn't really upset about that. This is also the time I injured my deltoid muscle from playing softball. I went to physical therapy for about three months and was told I should be better. It really wasn't, but to be honest I was a little scared of what my bills were going to start looking like if I kept going. So I stopped going and trusted the doctor who said, "It'll be fine in about a week." Well guess what, it still bothers me. I learned to deal with it and I will never go to that doctor again.

I joined a gym in August because I knew I couldn't train for a 12 miles obstacle course on my own--I needed major help. I could NOT have done it without White Rock Fitness and I am so grateful for all the training I received out there and the friendships I've made along the way! My first couple of workouts were awful. Oh. My. Gosh. It was so hard and I thought, "There's no way I can do this race. No way." But then each week I could do a little more, run a little further, lift a little heaver, and even do five whole chin-ups without any assistance. Over the next few months I increased my mileage and then BAM... I got shin splints. Stupid stupid stupid. I took it easy for the next week or so. And then, 3 weeks before the race, I got my wisdom teeth out and was out for another week. My first day back at the gym our workout consisted of running a short distance and then doing one burpee, running, two burpees, running, three burpees... all the way up to twenty burpees. That totals to 257 burpees and maybe a mile or mile and a half of running. I almost died. I'd been pretty sedentary for two weeks prior and felt like I'd lost all that progress I'd made. BLEH. But with only two weeks to race day... I kinda had to suck it up.

The week of the race I was a nervous wreck. Friday one of my sisters, Tonya, and I drove down to Glen Rose, TX where we'd gotten a cheap hotel. We met up with my other sister, Shawn, who was doing the race with me. That night no one got much sleep--Shawn's little boy Evan was a little cranky and cried a lot. We woke up at 5 a.m. on Saturday to 38 degrees and the temp projected to drop from there. Really!? We got all our stuff ready. Tights, two cold gear shirts, a wind breaker, matching shoes, gloves, and a camel pack to take extra gloves and hand warmers. What we were most nervous about were the water obstacles. Cold water just didn't sound like fun.

We drove to the race site in my mother-in-law's Jeep (we were afraid to drive our vehicles because they're not 4-wheel drive!). We put on all our clothes. We picked up our race packets, put on our bib numbers, broke open a pair of hand warmers for my stupid crazy hands, and headed to the start line. We stopped to take a quick "before" photo in our emergency blankets. It was that cold! Oh, and one "graduation" photo!

Once we got to the starting area we realized we had to get over a 5 foot wall to even get to the start line. How cool!

We managed to scale it (how embarrassing it would have been to not be able to!) and just moments later were on our way (literally at the very back of the pack). The first mile or so wasn't bad at all. It was cold, yeah, but we had on several layers. We did one or two obstacles but they weren't anything special. Then we came to a water obstacle. Noooooooo, please no. Ugh, yes. The water was waste deep on me (but I'm pretty short) and I of course got my stupid gloves wet.

The rest of the race was a blur. We balanced on stuff, scaled mountainous terrain for miles and miles, carried heavy stuff up and down, did burpees, waded through freezing water, climbed ropes, flipped tires, rolled under 300 feet of barbed wire, memorized stuff (Golf-838-1287), crossed monkey bars, encouraged strangers, helped one another out, took lots of breaks to warm our hands, and high-fived a LOT. The camaraderie we experienced throughout the race was incredible. You see someone struggling and you help them--it really is human nature and this race proved it.

Here are a series of photos. Enjoy!

This was around mile 8: The spear throw. We made the guy show us how to do it first (I don't exactly have a lot of spear throwing experience). 
Cleaning off my spear tip because I thought that would make it shoot straighter? I don't know... it seemed legitimate at the time. 
Getting ready to throw that sucker! 
Here's Shawn throwing hers. It looks like it's a straight shot and that it'll stick!
But, alas, neither of our spears stuck. I'm not sure why we're laughing. Doing 30 burpees is no laughing matter. 
I think this is when I noticed my other sister, Tonya, standing nearby taking photos. I was SO HAPPY TO SEE HER. I felt like I hadn't seen her in years. I ran up and hugged her so tight, not even worrying about the fact that I was smearing mud everywhere. 
Aaaaand the burpees.
Next we ran off to go hike some more and wade through more water. And look! It's a skinny Santa Claus!

Climbing the inverted wall. 
It wasn't hard to get up... but once you get to the top it was really awkward figuring out how to get over. 

This obstacle wasn't hard either... but it was up high and the wind was crazy, making it VERY cold. 
I'm up there thinking, "What happens if I fall through one of these gaps?"

The next two pictures break my heart each time I see them. The rope. The first rope in the course wasn't bad at all--neither one of us had any problems with it. This one, however... You start out in waste deep water and the rope is SLICK. I've trained for this. I wasn't worried about this one. I waded out in the water and started up without any problems. I got to the top, reached for the bell, and was literally about 4 inches shy of being able to touch it. FOUR FREAKING INCHES. I tried inching my way up a little at a time to get to it but I just slipped further down. I stared at that stupid bell for a while trying to figure out how in the world I could close the gap. But I just slipped further down and by this point, being at the very end of the course and having already run over 14 miles, I was so tired. My hands started to tremble. My legs were shaking. I gave up. I went back down, waded out of the water, and did my 30 burpees. I felt so defeated.
Up Up Up! No problem. 
See that? SEE THAT? I'm so close. I'm just staring at it, willing my arms to be just a few inches longer, or that knot my feet were on to be just a few inches higher... ahhhh, it pains me to look at this picture... 
Let's move on before I start crying... 
Here's a picture of what our next obstacle looked like before over a thousand other Spartans had been on it. Nice and clean and probably not slick at all. This is not what it looked like by the time we got to it. 

Here we are awaiting our turn... just standing in the water because really, who needs feet anymore? They were already frozen solid anyway. 

Here we go! This one wasn't really all that bad... till you get to the top of the rope and have to figure out how to actually get over the wall. Make a jump for it? Lean into it? It was so muddy and people were slipping all over the place. 
What I love most about this picture is that people at the top helping others over it. It was so awesome.
Time to jump over the fire! By the time we got to it there really wasn't much fire left. But, to be honest, the wood looked like it was stacked so high. My legs were just soooo tired. Right before we got to it I turned to Shawn and said, "Shawn, I really don't know if I can jump over that!" lol
 Okay, so the last thing we had to do was run through the gladiator pit where people were waiting there to smack us around a bit. I confess: Shawn beat me to it and while the first gladiator was hitting her... I made a run for it. I sacrificed my sister!! I paid for it and got smacked on the next one...
You can see he's about to hit her... and there I am, barely visible in this picture, preparing to sprint passed them both... 
Well you're welcome, Shawn, I took the next blow!! 
WE DID IT! We're crossing the finish line at last!
I couldn't feel my feet, or my hands, or my left nostril. Shawn had two broken toes and bruises up and down her legs. But we did it. We later learned that the course was actually around 15 miles, NOT 10-12 like we thought it would be. Some even said it was closer to 16 miles, but I honestly have no idea. All I know is that I finished. 

So what's next on my bucket list? Well I'm already looking to do a Super Spartan (8ish miles) in May but, even bigger than that, is my April goal: The MARATHON! 

I guess before I start training for anything else I should get all healed up... :)