June 17th, 2012
Yesterday was an epic day of excitement, mud, team work, and triumph!!!
It was Spartan Race!!!
My day started like many other Saturdays; trying to pry a sleepy husband out of bed. The rest of the day, however, was much less typical.
After a quick stop to have a friend french braid my hair, we were off to Sports Authority to pick up something for the husband in black and green. The girls had already picked out our outfits but we weren’t sure that he was going to be home this weekend until the very last minute. Originally we had a four person team. Then it was two, then maybe three, then two, then almost one, then two, then we ended up with three. We would have had the 4th but he sprained his ankle playing ultimate frisbee the week before.
Then it was off to Vancouver to pick up our comrades for the day. They had come down from Seattle the night before. After a quick stop to get cash and “perky jerky” we were off to become Spartans.
As we stood in the parking lot writing our bib numbers on various body parts as instructed by the “packet”, we watched rounds of earlier runners come back covered in scratches, mud, and some with limps, slings, and bandages. We all gave nervous laughs.
We made it through registration with no snafus and started attaching timer chips and participant bracelets. Then we pre-shopped the swag tent, took a few pictures, and settled into a place in the shade to chill until our heat started.
We decided that we were going start in the back of the pack so that we wouldn’t get trampled and wouldn’t wear ourselves out. And that’s what happened, except that then we got stuck behind all the walkers with nowhere to pass. So, the first half mile or so was nice uphill nature hike.
The first obstacles were some easy over/under walls, then some tall walls. Lindsey, had an injured shoulder going into the race so we worked together to help her over the wall, then I would get a leg-up from Brandon and then he would get himself over the wall. It wasn’t always graceful but we did it!
Then came the first of two barbed wire crawls. These things meant business. The good thing about being small is that most of the time I could crawl on my hands and knees to maneuver the hills, valleys, and water trenches. Some places there was no choice but to get your belly to the ground and use elbows and toes to move forward. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that the mud was gravely so there were tons of sharp little rocks and safety pins that had fallen off of the other racers’ bibs. Oh, and they were spraying everyone with freezing cold water. That was… awesome. (*sarcasm*) And it just kept coming! Just as you get past the first couple hills and you have your sites set on the last big hump, you make it over to see… more barbed wire. Mustering up more grit you push through what must be the last of it, then… more barbed wire. Eventually you hear someone on a megaphone yelling orders and exhausted cheers of the competitors who have finally made it out. My knees we so happy to be done!
A blur of hills, tunnels, water/mud pits, and a GIANT slide down into a water hole followed. After carrying sand bags and cinder blocks up and down a few more hills, we came to the dreaded rope climb!
I had practiced a couple times on a rope at the gym but was never able to make it all the way to the top for fear of not being able to safely repel. (My ‘pulling muscles’ need more work) These ropes however had knots in them which made it easy, though ultimately kept me from making it to the top. I wasn’t using the foot-locking method that I had worked on because I didn’t need it for 90% of the climb. But then I got to the top and the last knot was just 3 inches too high for me to get my feet on. At that point was too tired to hang on to get the rope wrapped around my foot. So, I had to call it quits just a few feet from the bell. I slipped down about 10 feet of the rope until I caught myself on one of the knots. Scared the crap out of me! Then I had to climb out of the water and go do my 30 “I-couldn’t-do-it” burpies.
From here we continued to the javelin throw. You had to make it stick in bail of hay. And if you didn’t, guess what… more burpies. I didn’t make it. Burpies for me. I think Brandon got his to stick though.
Next the boldering wall. I luckily had 7 years of summer camp on my side and I jiggered my way across like a semi-pro. “Ding Ding!”, went the bell as I finished burpie-free!
Next up, more running, and another barbed wire crawl. This time, up a huge hill! It was daunting to see hundreds of people covering a hillside; crawling and sliding. Every few minutes the army of Spartans let out wave of “Ahroo, Ahroo”s as we cheered on the entire hillside in an effort to keep moving forward. The worst and best part of this climb was that we were constantly getting stuck behind people who were stuck or tired and were in our way. It was frustrating to have to wait for them to move while being pinned in the mud ducked under barbed wire; but it forcefully created and comradeship of neighboring Spartans, acting as braces for slipping shoes and cheering on the muddy stranger in front of you.
After we collected our group at the top of the hill, we maneuvered our way down a slippery slope to a set of Spartan monkey bars. The kid on the microphone was advising that “dirt is our friend” “if your hands are wet you will not make it”, so we caked on as much dirt to our freshly rinsed hands as possible. I didn’t have high hopes for this obstacle. I had never been any good at monkey bars. But I carefully pawed my way across one bar at a time and made it through burpie-free!
Then, guess what… more up hill running! From somewhere, I had gotten a second wind and was eager to finish strong. Up the hill we went to the last set of challenges. We climbed over a swinging cargo net, scaled a muddy rope-wall and jogged around a corner as on-lookers cheered us on letting us know that it was almost over. The last obstacle was a lillypad jump from one 7inch post to the next. Unfortunately for me, this was where my being small was a huge disadvantage. They were just set too far apart. Couple with being wobbly and cover in mud, I didn’t even make it to the second post. Brandon attempted this obstacle a bit too ambitiously and took a painful spill, mostly damaging his… um, pride.
And that was the very last obstacle before the grande finale fire jump! We took a moment to compose ourselves as Lindsey sprinted past us eager to finish. Then we ran, hand in hand, and leaped over the fire together.
Just before the finish line there was a gauntlet of lack luster Spartan warriors with big padded sticks. I was fearing them based on the videos I had seen, but they weren’t even trying. Oh well, I was so pooped at the point anyway.
At the finish line we were given a medal, t-shirt, bananas, and coconut water. I don’t like bananas but I was so hungry I didn’t care.
We took a few muddy pics for memories then hosed off in the sponsored showers amongst 100 other participants’ yelps of surprise shots of cold water and finding various cuts and scrapes with the supplied soap.
We hit the swag tent and decided to call it a day and headed out to Shari’s for some grub! We were still pretty filthy, even after a change of clothes, when we strolled into the restaurant and were received with confusion and amusement by the wait staff.
After we finally made it home, several hours after we had finished, and it was time for a highly anticipated hot shower. We probably showered for at least an hour and still couldn’t get all the dirt off. With most of the grime down the drain it was time to survey the damage.
So all in all, it was a pretty amazing day! I wish that all four of us could have done it together. But it looks like we will being doing it again next year as our injured comrade signed up for next year’s race already.
Today, I am sore and bruised and chilling out for the day. Brandon, after being gone for a month, was unfortunately only able to squeek out one day off and is back at work today. So I will stay occupied documenting our adventures and reliving memories with the use of every achy muscle.