I AM SPARTAN!

Mud. Smoke. Roaring. Half-naked, dirty people smiling and limping. Yep.  We were in the right spot. 

My nerves were gone as soon as my eyes opened. I was just plain excited to tackle those obstacles and run those hills! Not even the packing up of the entire M&M Clan for a muddy full-day outing put a damper on my enthusiasm (typically, attempted organization of 6 slightly insane Clan members is enough to put Mama over the edge, especially without coffee).  We ate; we dressed; we left.  We even had the werewolf’s wrestling mix to pump us up as we drove off to Blue Mountain. Although, to be honest, Crazy Train pretty much sets the tone anytime we all pack into the minivan.

Registration was simple and organized and volunteers were helpful and cheerful.  I mention this because I’ve been to events where this is not at all the case (I’m speaking to you, mean guy at Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Providence, RI).  From the moment we arrived until our dramatic departure, there was not a single cranky volunteer or staff person.  For that, I thank you, Spartan Race.  Ooh and rah.

After the flurry of “clean” pics, we left the monkeys in the capable hands of Grandma and Papa and scurried to our starting line.  Mudslingers were ready to RACE!  I couldn’t resist hopping in place and slapping Hubby’s back every now and again as the Spartan Guy shouted our pep talk into the mic and our entire heat began screaming, “I AM SPARTAN!”  And then we were off in a cloud of smoke and dust, immediately running uphill (this is the beginning of a theme) for the first 1/2 mile or so.  Our first obstacles were wall jumps.  I told Hubby I thought I needed help; turns out I DID NOT. Yes, I am even more incredible than previously thought. You may gasp now. I hoisted and jumped over and through, rolled under, jumped back up. LOVED IT.  We high-fived and ran towards our first descent.

The Mudslingers

That’s when it happened.  One moment, he was right there in front of me (wearing his “Why go to Bangor when you can Mount Bethel?” camo tshirt), the next he was rolling on the ground in pain.  Twisted ankle, we thought.  He bravely stood back up and we moved on, thinking this but a minor stumbling block. Then he stepped in a gopher hole and went down again. SOAB.

We discovered post-race that he indeed suffered a nasty sprain.  I say “post-race” because we finished.  He stuck it out and did nearly every obstacle (substituting pushups for burpees when obstacles required a bit too much weight on the ankle) and that crazy mother FINISHED another grueling four and a half MILES to get his Spartan medal.  HE IS SPARTAN.

So how was the race?  Not totally what I expected.  Perhaps because it was longer than typical Spartan Sprints, the trails between obstacles were longer than I had anticipated.  After nearly every obstacle, we walked uphill (there’s that theme again).  And a side note: because of the added length, the huge portion of uphill trails, and the entire setup – even the race organizers were labeling this particular Spartan Sprint a “mini Beast.”  Word on the route from other racers was that this was the most difficult mud race any of them had ever done, including past Spartans and Tough Mudders.  I take this as a sign that we will kill all future mud races in which we have no injuries.

Back to the race!  Obstacles I failed to complete: rope climb, monkey bars, spear toss, climbing wall.  I will be working on upper body strength A LOT.  And I will be ordering a spear kit at some point.  Which also means I will be making a hay target, perhaps with interchangeable faces of those on “my list.”  The climbing wall – BOGUS.  I was unaware of the rules, put my toe on the first block, stepped back to question the volunteer, and she sent me to do my burpees for removing that toe.  The goal was to climb across the wall without stepping off said wall.  Which I fully believe I could have done.  Still, I sucked it up and tucked my newfound knowledge away for future races.  Overall, I did 120 burpees yesterday.  I learned that I do indeed hate burpees, just as previously thought. 

Obstacles I found relatively easy: the pulley, walls and water obstacles of all sorts, rope climbing up hills.  At the pulley, the girl next to me asked amid grunts and heavy breathing, “How much does this weigh?” – referring the to the cement blocks we were to pull up and then slowly bring down.  Turns out, they were forty pounds. I smirked a bit at her incredulity, and asked, “No kids?”  I was right.  Any mama worth her salt would’ve had no problem.  Our arms are made for lifting. 

The walls were just fun, whether made of wood or rope.  I loved the steep climbs using ropes to pull up.  The water obstacles felt delicious after the humidity of the trail, even when dragging a cement block like a demented sort of pet rock through the mud and sludge. 



Post Fire Jump

The pancake drill nearly did me in.  At first it seemed easy; I grabbed my 20-lb pancake and headed down the steep descent, passing many other racers (Hubby waited this one out, so I took the opportunity to move more quickly).  At the bottom of the hill, I rounded the corner to begin the climb.  No lie, readers, it looked like a Civil War scene.  Bodies were lying across the hill, motionless, pancakes beside them.  I used my momentum to start but man, that hill was steep.  FOCUS AND GO (in Shaun T’s voice) became my mantra as I pushed through my legs and charged up, taking breaks when I could go no further.  I refused to lie or sit down for fear I wouldn’t get back up.  I went into floor sprint position and moved my pancake ahead of me as far as I could and repeated that process for about 1/3 of the climb.  Then I remembered my Mama Bear arms, cradled that God-forsaken pancake in my arms, and sucked it up.  Hubby was waiting with congrats at the top of the hill and informed me that I had actually passed quite a few other racers and made excellent time.  I had no idea; my eyes had been focused on the ground beneath me, just as they often were when marathon training took me over hills.  My theory holds: all ground looks the same when it’s under your feet.  When attacking hills, never look forward or back.  Focus on the moment and PUSH THROUGH. 


“Clean” Pic

I had been looking forward to the barbed wire crawl (seriously. I enjoy getting dirty!)  but found it slightly more difficult than I had expected.  First, much better to roll through than crawl through, especially if you’ve got a bootylicious backside like mine.  Second, you get dizzy from all that rolling.  Third, you ought to wear goggles, especially if you’ve got contacts.  Dirt in the contact is not fun, nor was getting sprayed in the face with a hose because the chick in front of me was moving too slow (she didn’t want to get dirty).  Overall, I still liked it.  I felt stealthy and badass.

Favorite obstacle?  Jumping the fire.  The sheer coolness factor and doing it in front of the spectator crowd made it a high point.  Hubby even made the jump with the at-that-point-incredibly-swollen ankle.  He is one tough engineer. 

From the finish line we went straight to first aid.  From first aid, we went straight to the Estate, showered, and headed to the ER.  With crutches and Miller High Life, Hubs is feeling much better and quite pleased.  The monkeys are quite impressed with their dad’s toughness.  And now he has a fabulous story.

And the kids? Just look the pictures! They loved it and can’t wait to go back next year. When asked their favorite part – “MUD!”  That girl – she already kicks serious ass at monkey bars, outclimbing all the boys with ease.  And she loves the down-and-dirty of the race.  She’s a future Spartan Chick for certain. Does her Mama right proud.



JUNIOR SPARTANS!



Now that I’ve made the full report…It’s time to start looking ahead to 2013! I am forming a team for July 13, 2013…If we can get enough people, we can have our VERY OWN HEAT.  This is my goal.  Help me reach it!  We need a good name and awesome numbers…If you’re ready to race with this gal, message me or leave a post on my SweatItOut Facebook page (there’s a link over on the right).  Let’s turn this motherf#$&er OUT next year, whaddaya say? You could be SPARTAN!!!!



Post Race with my future Spartan
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