Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Spartan Beast...the road to TRIFECTA

the map to hell
pre race preparations
before we conquered the beast
Sometime last year I decided I wanted to do a Spartan Race. I signed up for the Super (8+ MILES, 25+ OBSTACLES) but a few weeks before the race I decided to switch to the Sprint (3+ MILES, 20+ OBSTACLES). Considering it was less than a month before my first full marathon I was too afraid to risk injury. I was able to convince a few friends to join me and we had an epic adventure (read about it here). Also, what I truly wanted was to earn a trifecta and I knew it wouldn't be possible with my schedule last year.

This year I made sure that the trifecta would finally be mine. Unfortunately do to my geographic proximity to race sites, I would have to face the Beast first. More than 13 miles of over 30 obstacles. Yes, I wanted to pay to torture myself. I registered for the Ohio Beast as well as the Chicago Sprint & Super to round out my trifecta. The Chicago races aren't until August so the Beast would really push me to my limits early in my season.

I decided to ride out to Ohio with a few of my teammates (Tony & Noah). We stopped on the way at a BBQ join near Indy and of course I enjoyed one of their local craft brews. After filling our bellies we ventured on and reached our destination just in time for dinner. We met up with the rest of our team and grabbed some grub at Cracker Barrel. As we settled into our hotel room that night all of us anxiously laid out our gear to prepare for the journey ahead. 

We got up early, capitalized on the free hotel breakfast then headed to race village. We got there early enough to find parking, get checked in and relax a bit before our wave time. Our team gathered for a group picture and then it was off to the starting line. I don't think I've felt that anxious about a race in quite some time. Tony promised to pace with me so that eased my anxieties at least a bit. After climbing over a wall to get to the start we were well on our way. 

Energy and spirits were high as we trotted along the first few miles of the course. We were excited, nerves had finally been quelled. As the day went on though, the heat grew more intense and the distance between aid stations became greater. Thankfully I had worn my hydration pack (filled with MESTRENGTH and snacks for protein like Go Go Go Bars). At some point around mile 3 I began to develop a seriously intense headache. I feared it may be heat stroke of some sort but I just kept trucking. I kept hoping that we would encounter a water obstacle that would cool me down. Much to my dismay there were no swimming/water obstacles on this course. 

When we finally reached the next aid station they were all out of water. I wanted to cry. I wanted to sit down and bury my face in tears. The heat was brutal and it was seriously getting to me. I couldn't focus, the pain was growing and I was seriously concerned about how long it would take me to finish the race. Every few steps I would try and find a new way to distract myself. I told jokes, sang songs, but mostly I just swore. A lot. I basically cursed everything along that course. 

This was by far THE most difficult race I have completed to date. I mean it was rough. They don't call it the Beast for nothing. But through it all I just kept reminding myself "you can do this, you're strong beyond your doubts". Having a teammate there really helped keep me focused. Tony was a bit of a lifesaver in making sure I didn't give up. We alternated being each others cheerleader as we trudged through the woods and up the hills. 

nope, don't even want to do this anymore
By the time we reached the final stretch, laden with obstacles, I had pretty much nothing left to give. I had left it all out in the woods. I'm not even sure what kept me going. It was just sheer willpower moving my legs forward. You can see in the picture that even the barbwire crawl was not what I wanted to be doing at that point. I was just exhausted. My body was ready to give up on me. 

It was slow and it was ugly, but I managed to finish the race. I've never felt so accomplished after a mud run as I did that day. I was overwhelmed with pride that I had indeed conquered the Beast. 

If after reading all this you still think you might want to give it a try, let me know. I may have an extra registration code up for grabs...let me know why you want to slay the beast and find your inner Spartan.
what I thought I looked like at the finish line
what I actually looked like
teammates, together we conquered!

sometimes I like to stop for pictures...
pre race beer - porter
post race beer - oatmeal stout

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