Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spartan Sprint PA - Race Report

Here it is.  The long awaited (right???) race report of the Spartan Sprint.  It was honestly the hardest thing I have ever done physically.  I'll be honest.  Before the race started, as we stood waiting for our wave to go off, I was crying.  I was that scared.  But, I'll get to that in a moment.  I'm going to start at the beginning and go from there.

Hubby and I hit the road about 11:00 a.m.  I was thrilled our start time was later since it was a 2.5 hour drive to Palmerton and I'm not a morning person.  We hit no traffic, no delays, and even had a bathroom stop and made it on time to the parking area at 1:30 p.m.  We lucked out in that parking was right at the village/registration area.  We parked the car and headed off to get our stuff.  We got what we needed, then got back to the car to pin our bibs and write our race numbers on ourselves.

I was really thrilled that the temperatures were decent Saturday.  It's been insanely hot lately and I wasn't sure if we were going to be in for another 90+ day.  We weren't.  It was mid-80s, I think.  It was best when the sun went behind the clouds, but overall we sure could have had a worse day.  Which I believe Sunday was.  It sure was hotter at home Sunday than it was Saturday!

We waited a bit for the rest of our team, as we were members of the For The Love Of The Run team.  They got there a bit later than us, but no biggie.  While they were getting ready we kept watching the hill.  From the parking lot this is what we saw

To the far upper right you can see the top of the mountain.  We could see people walking up there, but we had no idea what they were doing.  I think if I knew in the parking lot, I might have bailed.  But, I didn't and we headed off to the start line.  We grabbed all our team members together and got a before picture

We walked over to the start line and waited.  As we got close to 3:30 p.m. (our start time), we learned about Chris Davis (not unmarried me or the Orioles outfielder) and his training to run the Spartan Beast in the fall.  Dude looks good for having lost all that weight!  Then the Spartan came out onto the platform and tried to get us all riled up and ready.  All it did was make me cry.  Yes.  I kept tearing up because I was so scared.  I don't think anybody saw, but man was I terrified.  They cued up the Dropkick Murphy's Shipping Off to Boston (why?  This was totally un-Spartanesque to me.  Couldn't they have used something from the movie 300?) and then we were off.

We headed up a fairly steep hill and through some overhead water sprayers.  Not really sure the point of those to be honest.  It did feel nice...  And then we headed into the woods for a nice uphill climb.  For me, there was no running now.  It was trail climbing at it's worst and just walk up the hill without killing myself.  We lost our team about this time as they are in better shape and can handle hills better.  I'm glad they went on because we knew we couldn't hang.  And it was ok.  No hard feelings at all.  Each person has to run their own race.

We got up the hill, then turned sideways across the mountain, and back into some woods.  It was nice to be out of the sun.  At one point as we criss-crossed the mountain, someone on the ski lift yelled our encouraging words.  We chatted and they asked how long we had been out.  I said four hours.  They were shocked and said No!  I told them 3:30 p.m. and they said we were doing fine.

After our chat we went back into the woods and headed down.  Yea!  It was pretty treacherous at this point as there were lots of trees down and across the path.  I recently learned a woman fractured her leg around this area tripping over the tree branches.  I'm glad I didn't know this.

When we came out of here, we met our first obstacle - a set of walls to go over, under and through.  I freaked at going over the first wall and anticipated burpees, but the volunteer helped me get over the first one and I got under the next wall, through the window wall, and finished the rest of the obstacle no problem!  I was shocked.  I didn't think I could get over the wall.  The other two things were easy though.

I believe the next obstacle, though I'll be honest, these may not be 100% in order, was the climb up a steep incline with a rope.  It was FUN!  This may have been my favorite of all the obstacles.

 Photo taken from the Spartan Race Facebook page

Sometime shortly after this we came to the rope climb.  I knew going in I couldn't manage this obstacle.  What do you think?
Photo taken from the Spartan Race Facebook page

I tried the rope on the far right on the photo.  The one next to the wall.  It didn't go well.  I couldn't get my feet around the knot on the bottom of the rope, which was in the water.  Hubby and I missed it and ended up with burpees.  Fun times.

We finished those up and came around a corner to water.  Glorious water.  So excited for water.  I drank 2.5 cups of water.  Hubby thought drinking too much would make him sick, but I was all for the water.  LOL!  We headed off and I think his was the next obstacle

Photo taken from the Spartan Race Facebook page

I have no upper body strength for stuff  like this.  I anticipated burpees.  I also had no idea how to get my butt over it.  The male volunteer came over and explained how we could do it and helped boost me over the first one.  I was shocked.  Then I tried twice to get over the second wall and nothing.  I started to walk to the side to do my burpees when the male volunteer came over and said you're not doing burpees on my watch!  And just as he went to help boost me a gentleman in a blue shirt ran over and looked at the volunteer saying, "We're helping her over the wall?"  And they both boosted me over the wall.  Thank you whoever you were sir.  I wouldn't have gotten over it without you!  I shook hands with the volunteer and headed off to the next challenge.

Which I thought was fairly easy. Someone noted it might have been stolen from the Spartan Beast races.  I thought it was awkward, but not hard.  Basically, you fill a bucket halfway (girl) or 3/4 (boy) and take it around a loop.  

Taken from Spartan Race Facebook page

Then it was up another rope hill and back into the woods to wander the trails.  Uphill.  And when we came out of the woods, it was uphill.  Like ridiculously uphill. I lost all sorts of time on this part of the race.  I walked about 10-12 feet, stopped for a rest.  Walked 10-12 steps, stopped for a rest.  It was awful.  And we were all struggling.  When we hit a flat bit there was a spectator waiting for friends.  He told us at that point it was 5:15 p.m.  I had thoughts of actually being finished at 5:30 p.m.  Wow.  

We wandered back into the woods and hit the rope wall climb.  We had kinda practiced this at the local park on a metal "net."  I knew we could do this.  And it was amazing.  The people who climbed before you stayed to pull the wall taught to make it easier to climb over.  Thank you to the lady and gentleman who held for me and didn't kill me when I freaked at the top about going over the top.

 Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook page

I think it was around this point we finally reached the peak of the mountain.  We were told there was water waiting for us...after the next two obstacles.  Ugh.  The first one was the pancake carry.  This is the obstacle that everyone says was the worst.  Uhhh, yea.  Apparently both the up and downhill portions of this obstacle were on a double diamond ski slope

These trails are even more difficult than Black Diamond, due to exceptionally steep slopes and other hazards such as narrow trails, exposure to wind, and the presence of obstacles such as steep drop-offs or trees. They are intended only for the most experienced skiers.
The pancake carry had the women taking 20 pound "pancakes" and the men 40 pounders, down Nightmare, around a curve and then up Razor's Edge.  The downhill was fine.  I could have run that area.  The up hill was diabolical.

 Photo taken from Phl17's website

It was insane.  You would walk a few feet and just collapse on the ground.  I decided sitting on my pancake during these stops were a good idea.  It was nice to sit on something soft.  And it was here that I saw I was not the only one struggling.  Men in peak physical conditioning were panting and stopping.  We were all equals on this obstacle.  Get up it anyway you could.  We estimate it took us anywhere from 30-45 minutes  just on the uphill of this.  Hubby made the summit before me, but not too much before. 
Then it was off to the monkey bars.  Yea, no.  We were told all you had to do was touch the last bar with your foot and you were good.  Hubby didn't think he could make it across and then he did.  He got across all of the monkey bars, then hit the foot bar, and fell.  The volunteer saw it and told him 30 burpees.  He cursed her out.  And rightfully so in my opinion.  I didn't bother trying.  30 burpees were easier at this point.

Photo taken from Phl17's website

And then it was glorious water.  I had another 2.5 cups of it.  It was the best hot water I have ever had.  Delicious.  We took a few minute break here and then moved onto the next obstacle - the weight pulley.  Loved this one!  Totally easy in my opinion.  Not sure the weight, but I had no troubles with it.
Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook page

And now we were on the downhill.  It was rough.  Very steep and at times we actually crawled down because it was easier.  I really liked this part.  I know that sounds weird, but I felt much more comfortable on it.  

We came out of the woods to see tall walls again.  Much taller than any of the ones before. We figure they might have been 8-10 feet each.  I knew burpees were in my future.  Then I watched people find a way to climb the wall.  And with the help of the female volunteer and hubby I got across the first one!  The second wall was taller and again, I wasn't thinking I was getting over it.  Hubby went first using two boards nailed horizontally on the wall.  Then I saw if you used a cross-bar on the end used to keep the wall up you could get over it.  So, hubby tried it.  Then another racer tried it.  And then I did.  And got over!  Amazing to me!!  We high-fived and headed back into the woods.  See a pattern?

When we came out of the woods this time, it was time to do the balance pillars.  I had a feeling this would be easy.  I thought I would be fine and move on.  

Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook page

And no.  I tried.  Barely touched the second pillar and fell off.  Ugh.  If you were tall, this would be an easy obstacle.  Shorter?  Then you needed balance.  Apparently I didn't have it.  I did burpees.  Bah!
Back into the woods again.  The trail wasn't well marked, but we found our way to the mud pits.  Basically, you have mud hills with big mud pits in-between.  It wasn't hard at all.  Though I did hear that earlier in the day, the volunteers were shooting people with power hoses.

Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook page

We got through this one fairly easily and moved on.  Then we came to the obstacle hubby had been waiting all day for - the slip and slide.  It seemed pretty straight forward.  Slide down a white thick plastic sheet into the lake, then walk through it going under three sets of barrels before getting out.  We were told to take a fast running start, jump onto the slide and just have fun.  Hubby went first and when he hit the bottom, I could see he hit something.  What, I didn't know. Two other racers came by and went down before me.  Then I hit the left one, ran up, jump onto it, and down I went.  Hit the water, hydroplaned into the deeper water and got up.  I looked over and hubby was hurting.  He was off the course on the shore with an EMT.

I gave hubby the option of bailing, but he said no.  Onward and upward.  We kept going.  We came out of the water, up the hill, and onto the next obstacle almost immediately.  This time, we were given a 30 pound cement weight with a chain wrapped around it.  You took the chain, dragged the weight down a hill, through a small bit of pond, then up a hill.  Oh fun.  It honestly wasn't too bad overall.  Awkward, but not bad.

We did it and then off to the next obstacle - the barbed wire crawl.  I had been looking forward to this one!  I don't know why, but I thought it would be a cool obstacle.  And I had no problems with it.  I did get stuck behind a woman who would roll a few feet, then stop.  It was frustrating.  Finally, she let me pass her and I got moving.  Hubby helped me over the 4' hurdle between the two barbed wire areas, then it was off to the last 100 feet to successfully get through it.  

Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook page

Just a few feet away was the next obstacle, the tire flip.  I felt bad for hubby.  My tire was a joke.  Flipped it without a struggle at all.  He tried flipping his and nothing.  Down he went for 30 burpees.  The volunteer said he did the course earlier in the day and thought the male tire weighed between 200-250 pounds.  Ugh.

Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook page

 Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook page

From here, there weren't too many more obstacles.  It was getting dark and we were getting tired.  The next one we came to was the traverse wall.  I had thoughts of being able to do this one, but no go.  For either of us.  30 burpees.

Photo taken from Spartan Race Facebook page

We went down the hill and came to the javelin throw.  Ugh.  I had high hopes here too.  And again a no go.  As I let go of my javelin, the back of it hit my back and it went about 5 feet.  Talk about embarrassing.  Bah!  30 more burpees.  Total of 150 for me.

Two more obstacles to go.  First one is the water wall with ropes.  This one you walk through a mud pit, climb up an incline wall using a rope while volunteers shoot a fire house at you.  I was scared and didn't think I could do it.

I made it up to the top, then realized the rope was around my left ankle.  Ugh.  Got it away without falling, then slipped when trying to get my right foot over the top.  I slid down the rope, slicing the nail bed of my right middle finger.  I stopped myself just before the pit and looked at the volunteer.  She said she wasn't going to make me do burpees, try again.  With my finger bleeding, I climbed the rope again.  Hubby was at the top, waiting to help me.  We got me over this time (thank God!) and down the other side.  

All that was left was the fire pit.  I had looked forward to this too.  It was slightly disappointing as it was really small, but it was still kinda fun.  We got over the fire and off to the gladiators who were supposed to give us a hard time.  They were kinda lazy and barely tapped us as we crossed their paths.  

And we were DONE!  Over the finish line and having our medals, t-shirt, and a banana handed to us.  It was a crazy feeling knowing we had conquered the race.  I asked the volunteer where the med tent was.  I wanted that sliced finger checked out since I was covered in mud and wanted it professionally cleaned.  

After cleaning and band-aid, we got rinsed off (not cleaned!), grabbed our free beer and chilled.  It was insane.  We figure it took us about 5 hours to finish it.  I don't know the official time because we are not listed on the race results pages.  Not happy about that.

We headed home, stopped at Red Robin for dinner, and made it back home about 1:00 a.m.  Insane!  Stay tuned for my actual thoughts on the race.

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