Last week my life changed forever, I died.
Ok I didn’t completely and literally die, but after this last weekend I will never be the same. It all started a little over a year ago I began my healthy life crusade. Working out was a regular part of my schedule, I even found a tribe of women working out and supporting each other. We hiked and I shared part of my journey here. I was preparing and planning for my very first Spartan race; hiking and weight lifting to prepare myself physically, especially hiking around with Baby K on my back. I could handle a little 3-5 mile obstacle course, no big deal! Ugh if I only knew then what I know now… I could not imagine what a life changing event I was in store for.
The original plan was to go with a group from Tribe, but this summer has thrown all of our schedules off and no one else was able to attend. AJ had previously volunteered with me at a race so we both had a free race coupon to use. His original plan was for a Beast or Super Spartan. Knowing I would be alone, I registered for my very first Spartan.
I knew going into the race there would be obstacles I was not ready to overcome, the rope climb is my ultimate nemesis. Even knowing this and knowing the 30 burpee penalty per failed obstacle, I was going to finish! My goal was to come in under 5 hours. I know, 5 hours for 4 miles? Yes, 4 miles of up a ski resort mountain and back trails, cleared specifically for the race. Oh yes and 20 obstacles and doing 30 burpees per failed obstacle, this was going to take some time.
To my surprise (and complete gratitude after the fact) AJ registered Friday night to race with me. He wasn’t doing it for him but for me! In reality, going into it I was not certain how nice I would be able to be. This might make or break our marriage. We would come out of this more in love or I’d be so raging angry and cranky I would say not nice things to him causing a rift in our relationship.
Morning of the race we were running late but arrived with time to spare. 8:30 am we climbed over the Spartan starting wall to begin our very first Spartan Sprint. Up the mountain we started, over 5 foot hurdles, yes while still going up the slope of the mountain, further up we went still. The first mile was the longest drudge to the peak. It was not a straight up climb nor was it a well worn path. There were some more walls to climb over but these I did on my own since they were on level ground. Although I did smack my ribs pretty hard on either these walls or the hurdles when I broke the mouth piece off of the camelpak I was wearing ugh! Bruised ribs SUCK! Over another wall, under another and through a third, yep through it, there were holes.
Miles 2 and 3 blurred together for me. Hiking up and down hilly, rock covered, sprain your ankle terrain, intermixed with obstacles designed to push you to your physical, emotional and mental limits, you bet I lost track of what mile and obstacle we were at. Obstacles such as crawling under a cargo net in swamp mud fit for any wallowing pig. Then make it thru the crawl and slush thru a few more mucks of water to a dunk wall. Down into a pit of water, scramble up, back down into another and up again until the third time you’re down in deeper water facing a wall you now have to go under, the dunk wall. After the mud it was actually refreshing.
Back up the mountain we went to the slip wall. You’d think having a knotted rope to climb up a slippery wall (remember all the mud and water we just went thru?) would make it easy. Sure I did. I got right on up there, grabbed the rope and scrambled up the wall. I was about to pull myself up to the top when someone next to me lost his footing and slipped. I lost my concentration and footing as well. Then I felt the ribs, again. I was going to fall, until someone behind me stopped me. Someone was below me helping me to stay up, AJ up top reached his hand out to help me over the top and I made it! Dang slippery wall. There were more variations of walls and other obscene obstacles. Some were a cake walk for me, others… not so much. There was a sandbag carry, just like it sounds. Grab a heavy bag filled with sand, lug it up and around the mountain a bit and drop it back off. The Hercules hoist, using a rope and pulley system hoist a heavy bag up to the top of the rigging and back down again. Don’t let the bag free fall to the ground… not cool, or part of the challenge. The plate drag. This was cleverly designed on the side of the mountain with little holes dug into the path. All in all those were the easy ones for me, and the ones I enjoyed. Oh yes and lets not forget the bucket brigade. Fill up a 10 gallon bucket to the designated fill line (probably about 2/3 for the women) with small pebbles and carry it in front of you up and down the mountain. The biggest burpee maker of them all was the spear throw. You get one chance to throw a spear at a hay bale Spartan target. The spear has to stick. ONE. CHANCE. Yep I came close but you know the saying… horse shoes and hand granades…
I learned very early in the race, this is not a place for “every man for himself” mentality. This is a place for first timers and experienced Spartans to come together, uplifting, supporting, cheering and helping each other all along the way. I cried so many times and for different reasons, heck sitting here thinking about it I still get a little teary. There were people who had finished their own race come back over and help AJ finish my burpees for the rope climb! I was so beat down I didn’t have the capacity to do more than 5 burpees without feeling like I was going to pass out. They knocked em out like it was nothing. Strangers boosted me up and pushed me over obstacles. Some held out a hand to help me up. Others gave me a conversational distraction from my fear of heights atop the A-frame cargo net. Another kind soul named Katie stopped and helped encourage me thru the barbed wire. Most people were rolling thru, we were crawling; that rolling crap for that long makes me dizzy.
My EVERYTHING was challenged and I came out on top! I still can’t believe it myself. I have officially conquered the mountain and finished a Spartan Sprint!
Let’s recap the obstacles:
starting wall: CLEARED with assistance
hurdles: CLEARED with assistance
Mud Crawl: CLEARED
Rolling mud/Dunk wall: CLEARED
Slippery Wall: CLEARED with help
Barbed wire: CLEARED
Spear Throw: failed
Rope Climb: failed
Sand Bag: CLEARED
Plate Drag: CLEARED
Herc Hoist: CLEARED
Olympus: CLEARED with help
7 foot wall: failed
Inverted Wall: CLEARED with help
Bucket Brigade: CLEARED
Multi Rig: failed
I’m not quite ready for a beast or super but there are other venues this summer for Spartan Sprints…. maybe! I said never again when I finished this one and I’m already looking at the schedule for this year! Oh man I’m in trouble!
Part of me will never be the same and I am glad for that. If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you right? I have been changed. The Spartan community is a unique creature in itself as well. I ended up finding out the names of most the Spartans who helped me on the mountain. Part of me will never forget them. They and that mountain were part of an experience I do not wish to soon forget.
What is something you’ve done and conquered? Did it scare you? Would you do a Spartan?
Check 3 and 4 off of my 40 by 40 list!