I tried to ignore the rain drops sprinkling down, as we turned on our headlamps and anxiously fidgeted with our gear in the starting corral. Some like to tell really bad jokes when they’re nervous, but it breaks the ice and we all crack a smile. Some like to crack really bad gas, too…it was the morning of the Spartan Carolina Ultra.
After our chorus of “Aroos” rang out, we charged up the starting hills, jostling for position on single track trails, with rocky ledges. Still ignoring the rain drops falling heavier.
Through several obstacles, I realize that my dream of a “clean” (100% successful obstacle completion race) is not happening, and I accept it quickly because 30 burpees is easy for me, and I’m not losing position because it’s only the rare, grippy unicorns that are making it through, anyway.
Heavy, strength-based obstacles were my best friend today. I kept a steady speed, sinked my spear throw, and finished my first lap (15 miles of my 30 total). I headed into the transition area, where before the race, we could drop off supplies for the halfway point. I was longing for my snacks. I was drenched and dripping from a full submersion obstacle, and saw some competitors huddled and shivering near a fire pit.
I ignored the fire, knowing that if I stepped foot beside it, it would be harder to leave. Choosing to focus on my game plan, I ate cold soup and my pre-workout, repacked my fanny pack 😎, put on a dry shirt and my rain jacket. Carrying a pop-tart in my mouth like a dog, I exited the transition area the only way out…crawling on my hands and knees through a long, dark tube.
I felt re-energized, positive, and cheerful, running alongside those that were just starting their 13 mile race in a mid-morning heat. Wait, did I say running? It had been four hours of rain at this point, and most of the trails were mud slides and mush. Trotting might be the more accurate word.
I fought hard through obstacles like rope climb, and different traverses and walls. Wow, these were a little harder the second time through…
Halfway through my second lap, the rain and wind picked up, and the temperature dropped. What were chatty racers, became all silent. All you could here was the patter of rain bounce of our hoods. Everyone was focused on moving forward; their next step. I confronted the water obstacles like a chore that needed to get done. We slid on our butts down steep hills, reaching out to grab a tree or root to slow us down. There were torn pants and lots of bare butts. No one even cared! We trudged forward.
I ran every opportunity I had, and power-hiked every uphill and mud bog. I was determined. I stayed inside the taped lines of the course, I did every burpee when I failed an obstacle. Integrity was super important to me to maintain throughout the entire race, when the temptation to cut yourself some slack when no one was looking distracted you.
The last 2 miles were very slow, but the fire jump awaited. The sandbags for the carries and hoists were sitting in puddles of water, no doubt absorbing all the water it could suck in. They were like pregnant versions of warm, dry day obstacles. My entire body played a part in collecting the strength needed to hoist a sandbag 20 feet up in the air.
Anything that required jumping, was like trying to leap with ankle weights. With much of the course flooded and the ground so giving, you had no help to get height between your feet and the ground.
When rounding the last stretch of the Spartan Carolina Ultra, it was eery to see the multi-rig completely empty! Shattered hopes and dreams of a warm coat stole attempts to even grab the first ring for this grip-challenging obstacle. Your punishment of 30 burpees in the “burpee zone,” was more like a splash pad, soaking your core, but the end was near.
There she was! Fire jump! I did it! There wasn’t much glory at the finish line. The accomplishment was known and celebrated internally. Everyone wanted to leave. The festival area was abandoned. Everyone that finished, did it for themselves, and not the attention.
Those of us that completed the Spartan Carolina Ultra, have a remarkable bond. It both exposed your character and built it.
Through 30 miles and 60 obstacles, it rained…and rained….and rained. The temperature dropped….and dropped….and dropped.
So grateful that I trust in myself and programming enough, to have been training all along in the cold, wet, and dark.
These past couple of months have been hard. I’m a mom, have a demanding job, had injuries, and needed to be there for others as a coach and friend, but I found a way to keep training.
I am so freaking proud of myself for my preparation and execution. I’m planning my next Ultra Spartan Race in May, and the athletic goals I want to achieve in 2020. I am still getting better, and so is my team RISE UP Spartans.
Follow my training guides to prepare you for your Spartan Ultra Race!