Spartan Sprint DC

I have come to the realization that I possess more of a competitive nature than I admit to.  I wanted to run this past weekend’s Spartan race with my team, but I also wanted to run it alone, because I wanted to be able to just flat out go for it.  Not that I was expecting to get a podium spot or anywhere close, but I wanted to push myself to do the best I could.  I seem to always want to have the proverbial rabbit to chase, which may be why I run faster when I’m with others and not so much when I run alone. Self discovery!

The race was good though. Very tough. More hilly terrain than I was expecting but I was able to at least jog half of the 4.6 miles of the course. The obstacles were spaced out well, though the beginning, they came fast and furious. The O-U-T, 7′ wall, incline wall, Tire pull, barbed wire crawl, big cargo net and herculean hoist all one right after the other in quick succession. And the mud! Hah! In the morning heat I ran, the mud was the consistency of melted ice cream. Soupy and thick. Later in the day when I volunteered, it was like thick glue, the water having been “carried” down the course progressively throughout the day by the participants.

I felt like I ran out of fuel during the race, and I wonder if I simply screwed up on my pre-race breakfast. On other races I had a peanut butter sandwich and two or three hard-boiled eggs, but this time I made a smoothie with banana, chia seeds and protein powder,etc and it filled me up to the point where I didn’t want to eat anything else. So by the time the actual race time came around, I was operating on a smoothie that I’d had three hours previous, a single egg and two bites of a peanut butter sandwich. Oh, and a couple energy gummies as well, woo hoo!  Last time I make the mistake of not eating solid, genuine food before a race. Live and learn.

I enjoyed the race very much, and would definitely do it again. So many new OCR people though, I don’t think they knew what they were in for. Granted, I’ve only done 5 or 6 OCRs and three Spartans, but there were folks who should’ve started with something easier like Warrior Dash. Spartan race requires some genuine prowess.

Volunteering was definitely interesting. I was assigned to the cargo net, shepherding folks down the correct direction and making sure everyone was alright as they progressed. I had a couple folks go down with injuries which was unfortunate for them but I think they were alright in the long run. Helped disassemble the barbed-wire and the 7′ & 8′ obstacles with several other volunteers including this really cute curly-haired girl..who I thought was teenager at first, but apparently she’s closer to my age, though I never asked.  In any case, it was very long day and I was happy to roll into a Five Guys on the way home and get a burger. There was a hole in my stomach after running around all afternoon as well as the race in the morning.

Good weekend all around! Got some new battle damage on my legs and a wicked sunburn from standing in the sun all afternoon. (WTF, sunscreen, SPF 30 my ass) WINTERGREEN is next!

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Spartan Battlefrog

Hey folks!

 

This past weekend, I participated in a fairly new race. I think the series is only maybe two years old and from the way it seems to me, they’re off to a great start. Battlefrog! (http://battlefrogseries.com/)

It’s a race inspired and designed by US Navy SEALs, based on some of the training and obstacles that those hardcore sailors have to endure.  There are three race distances designed for different age groups; 1miler for younger kids, a 5k for teens and some adults and 15k for the more veteran adult racers or those who want a good challenge.

I have to say that this was one of the best races I’ve done. I haven’t done very many, but I rank it higher than the Tough Mudder, which to me, is more of an “experience” and after party rather than a competitive event. Maybe I say that because I enjoy the actual competitive nature of the race event and don’t look as much for the social aspects after the race is done with. That’s the introvert in me.

In any case, as I said, I was duly impressed with the Battlefrog race, which was held on the grounds of a Motocross track North West of Martinsburg, WV.  Much of the race though did not limit itself to the track itself and meandered through the woods and terrain on the outskirts of the property.  Plenty of tough, rocky terrain that required that you paid attention to where you stepped. A lot of loose rocks that could turn your ankle quite easily.  Good, steep hills inside and outside of the woods to keep your balance on its toes.

The obstacles had a good mix of standard fare such as scaling vertical walls, or inclined walls, etc.  But there were also terrain-based obstacles such as wading through mucky ponds that could easily have sucked a shoe right off your foot. One of the more unique obstacles was the “Tsunami” in which you run up a 1/4 pipe about 30 feet tall and grab a rope to haul yourself up onto a platform.  After the platform, there is a water slide that is fast and fun. I have to admit that sometimes those gravity based obstacles, even something as innocuous as a water slide, gets my heart racing. I don’t much like the sensation of falling.

There was actually a rope climb that I could accomplish too! It was only about 10 feet, so it wasn’t much, but I was able to at least practice the foot braking technique that I’ve wanted to try to figure out so I can do the real ones at Spartan races more easily. (No Burpees!)  There were several large a-frame obstacles in which you ascended and descended a cargo net or a frame-only structure; both of those were fun for their height, though that freaked others out who don’t like heights.  There were a couple weighted carry-type obstacles also, with jerry cans and sandbags on good steep hills.

Overall, I was happy with the event and would do another Battlefrog race in a heartbeat. Very fun and challenging. I hope they get on their feet a little more to attract more racers in the future and grow. There honestly were not a whole lot of racers, but for a race that is relatively in its infancy, I think they took it in stride well and the organizers still put on a great event.

Thanks also to my Capital Punishment team mates for a fun time and for helping each other.

And now this weekend is the Spartan Sprint in Southern Maryland!! I’m running early and then volunteering in the afternoon. It’s going to be a long day, but oh well, it will be fun. Aroo!

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Completely unrelated to racing, I finished my landscaping project, (well sort of). I finished putting down the edging stones and river rock on my front walk area complete with some new azaleas.  Big ones that should grow well hopefully with some luck. I’m going to replace the little “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” plant that is quite sad to look at, even though it’s hanging in there. Barely. I’ll try to be careful and replant it in the back somewhere and maybe it will have better luck back there.

Thoughts on me.

Hello! Some of you know me/have met me or what have you. Those that have met me could probably tell you that I’m rather quiet in social situations; an introvert that doesn’t always like small talk. Not unfriendly in the least, just quiet. My friends like me for my quirkiness and dry humor and being ridiculously knowledgeable about all sorts of topics. Among folks I’ve known longer in small groups, I’m perfectly fine chatting and talking at length about this or that.

That all being said, I am terrible at chatting up women. I can see a girl I’m attracted to while I’m out or whatever, and even if I do end up saying hi if our paths cross, I can never seem to follow up. I feel like I’m held back by some force that is likely simple shyness. I’m perfectly content by myself, but I’d like (obviously) to find someone to date. It isn’t as if I haven’t had gfs in the past. My longest relationship was three years. But one thing or another didn’t work out, as they do. It’s been more than a year than I’ve gone on more than one date with someone. In all honesty, It’s been since last August since I even went on what I’d call a date.

I’m also a bit emotionally “neutral” as my ranges of emotion don’t go up or down very much. I don’t get super excited about stuff that much, and likewise don’t often get sad. Sometimes I feel like that comes off as me being stoic or disinterested in things or people, and it really isn’t. That’s just how my brain works. I’m not free of affectations, I smile, laugh and have genuine facial expressions when responding to conversations or scenes on a TV show, etc… I simply don’t react much.

I don’t like to burden folks with the ‘pouring out a little of my soul’ but sometimes one needs to seek advice to keep from over-thinking and getting down in the dumps as I tend to do sometimes.

So besides the typical “Go out and talk to people” type advice, what is there for me to do to change things? I don’t meet people at work because I work with just my boss in an office and most of my time outside of work is spent at home in the evenings while I occasionally go play pub trivia with some friends. I obviously also do my races and reenactments but I don’t often meet new people for much the same reasons as I stated above.

Just feeling a bit lost.

World Cup!

As many who know me will attest, I am a big soccer fan. I mainly watch Chelsea matches, but I also enjoy seeing other clubs play as well as the national sides.  The World Cup in Brazil starts tomorrow, with Brazil as the host side playing Croatia. I’m really happy that the WC is being played in a similar time zone, as I am more able to watch/pay attention to the matches as I might not have been in the South African WC in 2010.

I’m not incredibly familiar with the US team as most of the players do not play in the Premier League in England. They’re spread out all over Europe, as well as Mexico.  I’m hoping that they can do well enough to get out of the group stage, but I really don’t see that happening.  The United States is in one of the infamous “groups of death” wherein all four teams in the group are fairly strong, with a couple definitely standing out.  We’re grouped with Germany, Portugal and Ghana.

Of those sides, Germany is definitely the strongest with Portugal a few pegs down, but still a great team. Portugal has one of the best players in the world in Christiano Ronaldo, even though he is recovering from nagging injuries from the last few weeks of Real Madrid’s campaign in Spain and in the Champions League.  Germany’s team has some of the best players in the world and is also a deep squad, meaning that even the players on the bench can have just as much of an impact as their starting players.  They’re really one of the teams I can see going at least to the semi-final round.  Ghana I don’t know much about. They’re on of the USA’s bogey teams, as they always seem to have good luck against us. The Ghanians will play the US on Monday the 16th in their first games in the group stage, so we’ll see what happens.  As it stands now, I can see the group shaking out like this: Germany wins, Portugal runner up. Ghana and the United States are knocked out.  It’s not because I don’t believe in the American side, I just don’t think that we’re quite good enough to compete with the stronger sides. I hope I’m proven wrong and pleasantly surprised.

I see the following teams in the semi-final: Spain, Germany, Argentina and Brazil.  Is that even possible given the breakdown of the groups?…I’m not 100% sure.  It should be fun to watch regardless. Hopefully there are some exciting moments.

 

In other “me” news; Tough Mudder this Saturday!! I’m stupid excited. I love obstacle course races as I’ve pointed out previously and I’ve never done the TM, so it will be a learning experience. I’m also doing the race with a team for the first time, so I’m hoping that my propensity to be a loner doesn’t work against the team. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm, but we’re also in one of the first waves of the day at 8:30am, so it shouldn’t be too bad. Lucked out there. There also won’t be a metric fuck ton of accumulated mud from previous waves on the obstacles either, so that also is a blessing in disguise.  The team is getting a pro photographer to try and get photos of us as we navigate the course, so hopefully we’ll get some good shots from him as well as the race-provided photographers.

And vacation next week! It’s the first time this year I’m having a week off, so that will be nice. I’m not going anywhere as I can’t afford it, but maybe I can do some house work and get other things done. It will definitely be a nice change.

Long time, no typies

Ohisashiburi!

I’ve not written in a while, not because I didn’t have anything to write about, but mostly because I can get lazy and unmotivated and just plain neglect it. Apologies. I probably also get distracted far too easily by the proverbial shiny objects that exist around me. Like just now.

I last left off I think in September. Yeah. Vacation stories and such. Much has happened. Races were run, holidays passed, houses bought. What’s that, yes…I bought my first house! woo!

It is a nice-sized townhouse on the Western side of Woodbridge that seems so far from the Eastern/Central portions I used to live in. I have my own back and front yards, grass, plants and windows. No garage or basement, though.  There are a few wonky things about it that annoy me, such as poorly-hung doors, but in general, I like the place.  I don’t have a lot of furniture to fill it, but with time and some cash, it’ll be fine.

The neighborhood is pretty quiet, despite being right off a main road, which can get noisy at times. I have plans to plant a tree in the front yard, since there’s this piddly little flower bed with nothing but weeds in it that was left by the previous owners. That’s where I’ll put it.

I have now been there since mid-November, so more than 6 months! How about that!

And now for something completely different, RACES.

Last September and October, I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon 10k, the Clarendon Day 10k and was a marshal for the RidgeRunner’s Turkey Trot 5k/10k. I also back in October signed up for my first Tough Mudder, (which incidentally, is now NEXT WEEKEND). Signing up for this race kind of put me in an obstacle race tizzy, and I signed up for 4 Spartan races and a Warrior Dash in addition to the TM in 2014. So I’ll be going for my Spartan Trifecta medal with two Sprint-distance races, a Super (The Virginia one at Wintergreen again) and a Beast race in South Carolina. Thus far in 2014 I’ve run the Four Courts Four Miler in March, one of the Spartan Sprint races – The CitiField Stadium Sprint – in April, the MayDay 5k and the Maryland Warrior Dash last month.

Ever since signing up for the TM and the other races last fall/winter, I’ve joined the Snap Fitness gym in the shopping center near my house. I know that I have/had some issues with some of the obstacles at the Spartan race both last August and this past April as well, so I had some strength training to do.  Mostly upper body things so I could do pullups and/or haul myself over a wall and also trying my damndest to conquer the rope climb.  I had trained and worked on my arms and back since December and I simply wasn’t able to hack it at the rope climb at the CitiField race.  Pissed me off. Everything else was (relatively) a breeze.  I was easily navigating endless amounts of stairs and leg-based obstacles but my arm and upper body strength was failing me.  I managed the Herculean Hoist much easier and also the traverse wall, though I slipped and had to crank out the dreaded burpees. I was three steps away from the bell! So frustrating.

So in the gym, in addition to occasional leg days, I’ve been working on my abs, arms and back. I would say that I have been successful in improving, but I’m not 100% sure and the results damned-sure come slowly because I know for a fact that I’m being undisciplined about it. Which is my own fault. I don’t make up WODs or follow a particular plan, I don’t go at a regimented time and stay for a certain period of time, but I *have* made progress regardless. I can now do 4 pullups, whereas before, I could maybe do one.  I’ve got the lat pull machine set to 130 pounds which I use it, so I’m slowly working my way up.  I want to be able to conquer those 8′ walls at the Spartan races without help. (Help is always welcome, of course, but I want to be self-sufficient.)

I have however, started running longer distances on what seems like the regular now. Last night for instance I did the 7-mile route with the Ridgerunners just because I wanted to get my endurance up a bit since the Tough Mudder next week is 12-13 miles long. I also knocked out 8 miles a couple Saturdays ago and a 10k distance this past weekend. I know running those lengths will not only bring my endurance and cardio strength up, but also burn a few more of those pesky calories of oh-so-delicious foodz.

 

Hrm. That’s all I can think of right now. More later.

London, West Coast and Sparta

I told you I’d forget about this and not post for several days.

Anyway, I’m back.

And popping in my TARDIS again for 2013, I went to London for the third time in May. Super awesome time, despite it being only for a couple days. Got to see a couple things I hadn’t before, hung out with Chelsea in America folks and met several past Chelsea players including Dennis Wise, Bobby Tambling, David Lee and ‘Chopper’ Harris. Met Frank Lampard also! Went to the last game of the season against Everton, where we won 2-1 with goals by Mata and Torres. After that it was the end-of-season lap of honor, where they also paid tribute to Paulo Ferreira for his years of service as a player, seeing as it was his last competitive match with Chelsea (his contract was up).

I also (of course) got to ride the Tube, which I love for some inexplicable reason. I snagged some Tube 150 swag at the London Transport Museum since I’m a nerd and it’s the 150th anniversary of the Underground in 2013.

And in late July, I went to Los Angeles and Las Vegas for a week’s holiday. Spent the first couple days in LA, staying in a cool B&B in Hollywood. (http://hollywoodbandb.com/) Saw Santa Monica and Venice Beach, drove down the PCH to Malibu to see the sunset and drove on a wicked-fun canyon road in my zippy little rental car. Saw some other cool Los Angeles sights, including the tourist traps on Hollywood Blvd but also hiked Runyon Canyon, which was one the best things I did.

I drove to Las Vegas, which actually was more enjoyable than I thought it would be, since there was some lovely, (if desolate) scenery the whole way. I had never been on the west coast or in a proper desert before, so it was all very new and amazing to me.  I went to Vegas to meet up with some other Chelsea in America folks for a gathering that would become annual. Just hanging out, relaxing and meeting some former players (David Lee and Gareth Hall) and also Neil Barnett (aka Spy) who had all flown in from the UK. There was also Lizzy from the Chelsea Football Fancast who had flown in, who I had briefly met in London back in May.

We stayed at the http://www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/ and what a fantastic hotel that is. Right in the heart of the Strip though, you might never really need to leave the hotel as almost anything you’d need is there. Other than cheap food. Did a touch of gambling, and I should’ve just stopped when I was ahead, but oh well. I didn’t lose that much. Went to a nightclub, and hung out with the players and even drove Spy to Hoover Dam and took the tour with him. Had some intriguing conversations about what he thought of the players and what would come of the new season for Chelsea.

I had to drive back to Los Angeles to get my flight, which kind of sucked, but that was the only way to get my free flight (card points). (Incidentally, LAX is a shit hole). I actually got to the airport almost 10 hour early (to drop off my rental car without a penalty charge) so I checked my bag and hopped a bus to a local mall and saw a couple movies to kill time. (Go see “The Conjuring!”)

Fast forward to late August! Super Spartan Virginia 2013!

I had been looking forward to this race for a long while. I think I first signed up for it in May or June and did my best to train for it, though I will admit I could’ve done a LOT more and it might have made things easier in hindsight. Mostly I ran a lot, averaging 10-12 miles a week with a few more miles/week here and there. Looking back, hiking Runyon Canyon even just that one time might have helped prepare me mentally for what the Spartan Race ended up putting me through, because both featured quite steep inclines (and amazing views). Though Runyon had “stairs” made from railroad ties which helped, the Spartan did not for the most part.

So, the race (if you’re not familiar) is an “endurance adventure” race featuring tough terrain features and a lot of man-made obstacles. The course itself is a little more than 8 miles long and was situated on the Wintergreen ski resort near Charlottesville, VA.   I arrived by bus from the primary parking lot and had my bag checked. It was 11am or thereabouts and folks had already run the race and were in the process of doing so (about 3700 people ran the race in total over the course of just Saturday).  There were several tents and things to see in the “village” around which the start and finish areas were situated.  Every 15 minutes, another 200-person “wave” started on the race, so the course wouldn’t get crowded.

I got myself “marked” (my bib number sharpied onto my arm) and stretched for a good 30 minutes. Incidentally, and something that made me laugh to myself is that in the packed that came with the headband and my bib, etc, is the injury disclaimer (you also had to sign a waiver). It says, to paraphrase, that there is the very real chance of serious injury or death by participating in the race. Honestly, that kind of got me charged up. Serious business!

I learned that the race was indeed no joke not even five minutes in.  My wave started at 115pm. I looked around at some of the folks running in my wave, and there were clearly more fit folks, but also some who appeared less so.  Several groups were in teams and many more, like me, were solo or running with a buddy. A friend was going to run the race with me but he ended up having a family engagement interfere, which was unfortunate, but what can you do?

The guy at the start got us pumped up with music and motivational chanting (“I am a Spartan!” and the Spartans’ ‘profession’, “AROO!”).  Then the race began!

We started by going around a corner and down a small hill under an overpass. That was when the recurring theme of this race would begin. Hill-climbing.  It wasn’t a steep one to start, but we were immediately faced with our first obstacle, an ‘under-over’ one where you crawl under a low bar and then hop over a 4′ wall. Not too tough at all. (all the while a big sprinkler was making it rain, so it was slick and a bit muddy) Then more climbing up the first hill. Almost no one was jogging at this point already. Not even five minutes in. The hill became a tad steeper, but wasn’t too high. At the top it leveled off and we could jog for about 150 feet or so to the next obstacle, 6′ walls and popping through holes in walls. Getting over the 6′ wall wasn’t as hard as I imagined it might be, I was pleasently surprised with myself for the ease with which I went over the top by just basically doing a pull-up and swinging my legs over.  The through-the-hole wasn’t tough really, grab the top of the wall, put your legs through first and the rest of you follows. After a couple of those, we could run a tad more to the next, genuine bit of mud on the course.  Big pits (30’x20′ and about 3-4′ deep) that you had to climb a berm to get into and were being sprayed and filled with water. So the water was muddy and up to my waist, trudge through then climbed a muddy berm to the next one and so on.  It was all rather exhilarating and I was really having fun. Like I had said before, I don’t know where I hatched this endorphin addiction, but I was really liking it, and this race was amping me up.

After the pits, it was down, down, down a hill.  Remember I said we were at a ski resort? Yes, we’re running up and down ski courses/hills. So from where the mud pits were to the bottom of the hill there was easily a 400 foot negative elevation change over the course of a quarter mile or so. Maybe more, maybe less. It took some doing to not stumble while going down and still try to go with some speed.

At the bottom of the hill, the course turned into the woods along the hill.  In the woods, we followed a path back UP the hill. For a 1/4 mile or more. It was a little slick from mud, but not so bad. It took a good ten-fifteen minutes to get back to the top.  Then once we were at the top, we were back in a cleared area where the chairlifts came up the hill. And the course…went down the hill again.

And back into the woods at the bottom of the hill to go BACK UP. Another 15 minutes climbing through the steeper and slicker wooded area. This time there was a small creek running down the hill, so people stepping in that, and the fact that it crossed the path several places made the course a bit muddier and a tad more treacherous. I started finding myself hauling myself up the hill using the trees. This time, when we came out of the woods, we didn’t go down, we went UP even further. Another cleared area, obviously a steep ski slope, the angle on this hill was fairly extreme.  I’m not sure what the distance and angle was, but you had to lean forward at times to keep your balance.  At the top of the hill, was the two-mile mark and a water station. I paused and had a couple cups’ worth and kept on going.  Back into the woods and DOWN the hill.

This hill was not as extremely steep, but you had to keep your head about you as some spots were slick. I used the trees again to slow myself down and brace myself as I went on. There were some spots where you could jog for a good 100 feet or so, and then the path would become too knotted with tree roots and twisty so that you were forced to walk.  Around one corner, the course dropped (yes, dropped) into a very steep hill that you had to basically had to slide down on your butt and then you could stand back up and walk your way down with the aid of the trees. This is where the wooded areas started to become rocky. I got lost a long with another guy at one point, completely missing the course markers. lots of boulders now, along the soggy trail. At the bottom once again, the course opened up into another ski slope and we had to go up for only a bit before the next obstacle came upon us. Sandbags!

So the men had to pick up and haul a 30 pound sand bag around a small circuit (Maybe 300 feet?) up a little more of this same hill, and back down again where we re deposited the sandbags where we started. Up a little embankment and under a fence, we were immediately at the next “obstacle”, which was a water slide into muddy water! The pool at the bottom was quite cold, which was really refreshing. The sun and the exertions up and down the hills had started to wear on me a bit.

Up and around a short path, down some rocks was the next obstacle. Another pool of muddy water, this time there were three rows of inner tubes strung across the pool which you had to wade to and dive under, for each line of tubes. Then up a berm and wade into another pool of muddy water for good measure.  Then, into the woods and UP A HILL.  The beginning of this hill was a absolute muddy mess, as the water from all the folks who’d gone before us had saturated the first 30 feet of this trail to the point of the ground being the consistency of melty ice cream. But up up up we went, passing folks who had paused to catch their breath, I pressed on, determined. I had reached the point (probably aided by the water immersion) where I couldn’t feel the fatigue in my legs, so It was just, go. So I went.  Part of this wooded area leveled off as we turned a corner and we ended up in an open area, crossed over a culvert that was strewn with boulders to another wall. 6′ I think it was, I can’t remember. But I got over it quite easily, surprising myself yet again. (I’ve got better upper-body strength than I realize!)  After this obstacle was the 4-mile mark. Another water station. Then the spear-throw.

I had to wait a moment while the volunteers collected previously thrown spears of the last group, but the guy before me missed his, so he had to go do 30 burpees in an area adjacent to the hay-bale targets. I picked up my spear and heaved it…and it stuck! Woo! No burpees for me. Next up, almost immediately were climbing of cargo nets.  It was tougher than it looked at first, but once I gained the balance I needed I navigated up and over the first one, then the second.  I felt a little bad for not stopping to help someone behind me, but there were plenty of folks doing the same, so I figured I might as well keep going. After the two sets of nets, was the barbed wire course.

The course consisted of a 100 or so foot long and 40 foot wide (muddy) track of (real) barbed wire that you had to crawl underneath. The wire was suspended about 2 feet off the ground so there was some wiggle room, but you had to stay on all fours. There were spots however where the terrain brought the height of the wire down a bit and you had to crawl prone to get underneath it.  After the barbed wire were more mud berms and pools of water. One of the pools had a wall in the middle of it that you had to submerge yourself to go underneath it. After the pools and mud, MORE BARBED WIRE.  This time, there was a curve in the course of the wire, which made rolling on your side through it (a tactic for simplifying getting through it) a little tougher, as you had to turn.  Barbed wire done, down a hill for a bit, and climbing (or as I did, vaulting) over some round hay bales.

Down then into an open area, not so steep to the monkey bar cage. I wiped my hands off in the grass before hand so they weren’t too soggy.  Lots of people were off to the side doing burpees. Clearly they had failed the monkey bars and I was a little wary myself. Surprising myself again, I navigated the bars, one after the other very deftly and moved on!  Down and around…into more woods.

After that was where the course started to get genuinely hazardous. We started trudging through creeks and streams first up, then back down. Over genuine boulders that were in this creek, along with mud on the rocks left behind by others. Down through the creek all the way to the bottom, then up a bit to the next obstacle. Log flipping…literally. Pick up a log at one end that’s easily 200 pounds and flip it twice or three times for about 15 feet.  Then onward…up a hill.

Another *very* steep hill up a chairlift clearing. The climb wasn’t too bad on this one, but the steepness alone made it tough. Then into some woods and down an equally steep incline that was slippy too due to the ground being wet. Over some rocks too, and we emerged from the woods to…climb UP and Up and UP and UP some more. No obstacles. The hill here was an obstacle. I don’t know the angle of this slope…or how far we had to go to get to the top (easily 1/3 of a mile or more). It was tough any way you sliced it.  It had to take at least 30 minutes to make it up that hill. Had to pause for a few seconds along the way. I pushed on, and at the top, the view was amazing. And there was a water station! And…an obstacle.

Blocks of concrete tied to ropes that we had to lift by pulling the rope.  It took me a while to do this, and this above anything so far, really tested my upper body strength. I did it though. My hands burned a bit from the rope, and I treated myself to another cup of water.  I also noticed that my ankle was bleeding.  Apparently those times I had waded through muddy water some little stones or sand had 96627_3d169a898da4611f813d56d1d7da3456_LogZonerubbed where my shoe hit my Achilles tendon area and rubbed it to the point of bleeding. Whatever. I kept going….down the hill.

We only went about halfway back down that hill, to a 7′ wall obstacle. I helped one girl over by giving her a footrest and boosted her over. Someone volunteered to do the same for me and I got over no problem.  Next, almost immediately we had to pick a log and then go down a hill for 200 feet or so and then back up again. That was tough. Had to keep going though, because it was right back up another effing hill. And down. And through some woods back Up. Then immediately at the edge of a steep wooded area, the 8′ wall. Made it up, but couldn’t swing my leg over. Someone boosted my other foot and I was clear! And a little level area….then another hill….  …. … … Another big, steep one.

Yer killin’ me smalls.

Mile 7 was at the top of this hill. “One mile till beer”, the sign said.  My kind of motivation!

And going back down this hill was an amazing sight. Service-wounded vets who were determined to do this race were on their way down the hill at the same time. A group of them with amputated legs and arms were making their way down slowly but surely.  One woman had a traditional “foot” kind of prosthetic leg and another had a “blade” type. One poor guy had no legs at all, and was being carried in a backpack by one of his buddies. Each of them was being assisted, but they were doing it. Great stuff.

At the bottom of this hill, the course went down a muddy slope to the tractor pull. Which is where you pick a cinder block tied to a chain, and pull it around a little course and return it to where to started.  Then back up a hill, but not nearly as steep, and we were near the end!!  It was still starting to wear on me, these hills. I was getting low on the ol’ reserves.  Next obstacle was the inclined wall, which you had to go up, backwards. Meaning the top of the wall was the part you started with and then you slid down after getting over the top.  Slipped on the first step but managed to get over.  Up a little further was the one obstacle which I dreaded and copped out on, the rope climb.  I hung my head in shame and did 30 burpees.  Up and at ‘em! Still more to do.  More hill.

Then the peg wall. Where you have a vertical wall, sort of lick a rock-climbing wall, but you go horizontally across it rather than up. There was too much mud on the foot pegs and I fell off almost immediately. 30 more burpees.  But the finish was LITERALLY right around the corner!

But there was more in the way.   Another dip in a muddy pool! And over another inclined wall covered in mud right after. Thankfully, there were ropes to help and I got over easily.

There was the finish! Buckle down for the last bit! I had to jump over a line of burning logs and then through the gauntlet of folks with pugilism-sticks…and ACROSS THE LINE. Yay!!IMG_1103[1]

I got myself a lovely blue medal with the Spartan helmet and a banana and about 4 cups of water. I HAD FINISHED!! But I was too worn out to be terribly elated.  I retrieved my bag from the bag check-in and went to the “showers” (read: high pressure hoses) to clean up.  I had caked on mud all over. When I got home I took another shower and still had plenty of mud to scrub off.  I picked up a cool tshirt on my way out after drying off and changing clothes and made my way home. I was a Spartan! No one can take it away from me. I had done it!

It was the toughest physical test I had ever endured.  I managed to finish in 4 hours, 34 minutes. Which I found out later was more than 30 minutes AHEAD of the average finish time. Hell yeah!

AROO!!