That was pretty much the plan. Actually, the plan was to just eat the race fees and stay home but I couldn't go through with that. I didn't want my adoring audience to think I was a chicken. (Bitches, that's sarcasm.) And I will admit, I was super nervous about meeting my cousins, who talked me into this whole mess in the first place.
The weather was gorgeous. I didn't get specifics but the day started off just warm enough to not need a sweater while we waited. We left the hotel at 7 AM and drove the (just under) 2 hours to Conyers. I was a wreck the whole drive, queasy with anticipation. We didn't eat breakfast when we woke up, but I did stop and get some bananas about 20 minutes from the event site. That helped me a lot, and I felt better. Sebastian didn't want to eat anything, and that worried me because I knew it would be a long time before we'd eat again.
We got there and I straightened out the issues I had with Sebastian's registration (they screwed up and put him in the adult race, when my confirmation email clearly said the Jr. Adventure - I guess a lot of people had similar issues). I didn't bother trying to move to an earlier wave time for us so we wouldn't miss the kids race. We did, however, sneak into the 10:30 start group, even though we were scheduled for 11. My cousin insisted it really wouldn't matter, and in the end, it really doesn't. I don't know how the chip timers work - all I know is the event paperwork said to start with the right wave to make sure our timing was correct. So my official time might be 30 minutes short but that doesn't matter. I wasn't competing for time. I was just trying not to die.
While we waited for our start time, we walked around a bit, watching some of the course-end obstacles. From the start line, we could see the barbed-wire/mud pit, the rope climb, a block wall (like a rock wall, but just with wooden blocks), some sort of rowing machine, and a couple other little things that looked like they were no big deal. While we were watching, the first finisher of the first wave came through - Hobie Call, who is some sort of Spartan Race god - in under 45 minutes. I don't remember his exact time, but it was pants-shitting impressive. Here is Hobie with my cousin, Scott:
And here we are, pre-race:
Going in, the only things I knew were that the race was going to be 3-4 miles long, and that the penalty for failing to complete an obstacle was 30 burpees. No one knew how many obstacles there would be, or what they would be - unless of course you could see them from the start/finish line. And I knew that I'd be doing 60 burpees based on two of the obstacles I could see - the rope climb and the block wall.
Here's a run down of the obstacles:
First, we ran up a little hill, past a smoke-bomb canister. It stunk but didn't really bother the airways. At some point on the course, near the end, Sam farted and it was much worse than the smoke-bomb. I felt bad for the guy running up behind us. Sam said it was incentive to hurry on by. Anyway, being 40 pounds heavier than normal and much more out of shape than I like to be, this little bit of shit wore me out. We jogged up this hill to a fence, which we had to go under. Then more running for a little bit to a series of roadblock things to climb over - very short and manageable - while they hosed us (not hard) with water. Then more running until we hit two or three nets we had to crawl under. Sam got tangled up in the last net because it was long. From there, we had to make it over a wall, under a wall, and through a hole in a wall (There was actually another set of these later in the course). Then it was more running. And more running. Okay, by this point, it was walking but it was a long, long way through the woods until we hit a creek. We had to climb off a platform into the water. Getting through this part was very slow going because it was single file and there were lots of tree limbs, slippery spots, and deep holes in the course. This was probably my favorite part because the group of people we were in the back with were helpful and funny and their "leader" was trying to get down the creek without getting wet, leaping from bank to bank. It was quite impressive. He did fall in at one point, but kept on with his side to side antics. We all called him Spiderman. He was awesome.
Then - shocker - more running through the woods. Finally, a set of walls. Sam gave me a boost to get me to the top, where I waited for him to get over them and help me down. I think there were three of these walls. Then more running. Then we had to climb a cargo net, and I freaked the fuck out. I didn't want to do it. I was scared shitless that the net would break and I'd fall and break my neck. I did it though, even though I was terrified the whole time and on my way down, I couldn't look down. It felt like we were really high up but I know it couldn't have been more than 10 feet. After that, I felt my first (and only) burst of adrenaline.
More "running" through the woods, until we came to more walls to climb over. This time, Sam gave me the boost and I got down myself. It wasn't bad. I was still on my cargo net high. Then more running. And more running. Then, I think we had to pull a 40 pound cinder block on a chain up a hill then back down. That was not terrible. Not a picnic, either. From there, we had a short jaunt to..oh hell, I don't even know what order shit went in at that point. I think the cinder block pull actually came later. I just remember lots of ground to cover.
The worst, for me, was most definitely, without a doubt, the 20 mile long barbed wire mud pit. Okay, it was 100 yards, but it felt like forever. As soon as I hit that cold, wet, mush, I knew it was going to be the worst part of it. And this was one thing I'd been dreading all week long. This, and fire, but thankfully, there was no fire obstacle at this Spartan. I couldn't get any leverage with my feet. Sam was just in front of me and to the side, telling me to dig my toes in and use them to push myself forward. I just couldn't. I elbow-paddled through the mud, my back killing me, and I got snagged several times on the barbed wire. About a third of the way in, I think I started crying. I thought I was crying - not tears streaming down my face, but you could hear it in my voice. I kept saying, "Honey, I can't do this, I have to quit." And I could have because the mud pit was very close to the parking lot. He kept telling me to keep going, keep going. The stranger behind me kept saying, "Come on, girl, you can do it!" and at one point he even pushed me forward by the feet. That gave me just enough of what I needed to get over the hump. At the halfway point, there was an open space with a slope and you pretty much just shot down the slope head first. All I could think of was a baby being born. Here I was coming out of this giant, muddy vagina into a big, cold mud puddle. But by then, I figured it was easier to roll through the last half, rather than crawl. And that's what I did. I rolled the rest of the way and it was fairly - not easy, but definitely not as OMGKILLMENOW as the first half. I got lots of cuts and bruises from this obstacle, and my forearms are torn up from where I was using them to push through the muck.
Barbed Wire Mud Pit
How I Thought I Looked
How I Actually Looked
A walker...get it? My last name is Walker. Zombies are called walkers. Oh never mind!
Coming out of that obstacle, I was wearing 10 pounds of mud. I went to the spear throw. I knew I didn't have a chance in hell of making it stick to the hay bale because everyone and their brother was doing burpees. Still, I gave it a shot, came nowhere close, and started my punishment. Burpees suck on a normal day, and by this time I was exhausted and covered with mud.
After the spear throw/burpee obstacle, there was a slanted wall with a rope. The wall and rope were wet and muddy. I glanced off to the side where people were doing burpees and figured I'd soon be joining them. I shocked the shit out of myself when I made it up and over the wall. It wasn't easy once I got to the top, and I almost slipped but somehow I managed to get a grip on the top of the wall and pull myself over. So yay, me.
Next up, the buckets filled with concrete - I think 40 pounds for the ladies and men under 120 pounds. We had to pull the rope to bring the bucket all the way to the top. Again, I doubted myself but it was surprisingly simple. I had such an easy time with it that I held it in place at the very top a bit longer than I probably needed to. Lowering the bucket was definitely harder. We couldn't let it drop but the rope was slippery and I was afraid of it just slipping through my hands and taking tons of skin with it. I was quite psyched to get that bucket on the ground and move on to tire flipping. Tractor trailer tires, just four flips. Piece of cake. Had I known what awaited me, I might have taken my time a bit with these.
There was a neverfuckingending hill where you had to carry a 50 pound sandbag up and down. There was no burpee penalty for the sandbag carry, and the volunteers told us we could cut across the ropes at any point and carry the bag down the rest of the hill, but I said I was going to make it the whole way or die trying. It probably took me 10 minutes (at least!) to do this obstacle. I had to keep stopping and dropping the bag, and since I told Sam to go on ahead, so he wasn't standing there with his sandbag while I took my siestas, I had to get the bag back into position by myself. He waited at the end for me. And waited, and waited. That obstacle really sucked, but I did it. I cursed and spat on my sandbag as I dropped it onto the heap at the bottom of the hill. Okay, I didn't spit on it, but I sure as hell cursed.
Another set of walls! These were really high and I was exhausted. I took the penalty. Others skipped this obstacle too, and the penalty. Lots of people cheated on the burpees. Not me though. Finish, or die trying. That was my goal. Actually, my goal was to finish on my feet and with a pulse, but if I couldn't complete an obstacle, I sure as hell was going to take the penalty for it.
From here, we were back on the run, this time through very narrow trails in the woods. I think this was where we ended up sliding down an embankment, then wading through a swamp. Like I said, there were so many obstacles that it is hard to remember everything in order. The water was fucking cold, and at some point we all had to duck under a fallen tree. All the men complained about their balls shriveling up. I was very happy to be testicle-free!
Up next, another obstacle I was afraid would be on the course - monkey bars. I can't do monkey bars. I never could. I stepped up on the bar, touched the overhead bar, and trotted off to do my burpees. Some guy finished getting across and promptly landed on his nuts when he slipped on the last foot bar. Too bad the swamp water wasn't even colder - he never would have felt it.
More running through the woods. Finally, the rope climb was in sight. I didn't bother trying. I wasn't going to waste my energy trying to climb the rope then doing burpees. I went to the block wall and pretended to make an effort, before doing my final set of burpees. Then it was over a small blockade and to the rowing machine thingy, which was actually much easier than I expected. You had to pull the handles and move the equivalent of 200 meters or something like that. I quickly learned that I could go faster if I held on to the handles and bent over quickly, rather than trying to go up and down with my shoulders doing all the work. Once that was done, I ran to the last set up things to climb over - I think they were giant metal containers, like railroad box cars. There were more stinky smoke-bomb canisters. At this point, I could see Sebastian with Scott & Emme, and they spotted us so we waved and I knew I had to be bad ass. I got down that last little bit with Sam's help, and he sent me ahead of him, through the gladiators and across the finish line.
There were a lot of fucking hills in this course. Aside from the barbed wire mud pit, that probably sucked the most. My legs were so tired at one point, I didn't think I was going to make it. Sam made a list, and including the redundant sets of walls, there were 25 obstacles. Some of them probably shouldn't be considered obstacles because they really weren't that difficult (like the nets we had to crawl under). But anything where I needed encouragement - definitely an obstacle. And Sam was great about giving me boosts over walls and helping me position my sandbag (at first) and waiting for me when he finished an obstacle. He enjoyed himself and wants to get in shape and do another. So I guess we're going to do another Spartan. Scott is trying to get me to sign up for the Tough Mudder in October, but it's pretty expensive and twice as long as this race was. And the obstacles look more challenging, even though he said the Spartan was harder. I think he's just saying that shit so I'll sign up for the Mudder. We'll see. I have until June 30 to decide before the price goes up again.
Sneaking into an earlier wave was the right thing to do. It took us just over two and a half hours to finish. Though I'd hoped to see Sebastian's Jr Adventure Race at 12:15, it's probably better that we weren't there. My cousin finished in time to do the course with him and from what I hear, Sebastian did very well. Sebastian said he had a good time, Scott and Emme said he looked like he had fun (and he behaved himself), and I know Sebastian is really proud of his medal. He ended up having 15 penalty burpees, and his favorite obstacle was the wet mud butt scooching. That's what he called it - I have no idea what the actual obstacle was.
There weren't any pictures of us from the course itself, but Emme did get us at the end. And she took pictures of Sebastian's race for us. I <3 her.
Sebastian and Scott:
Us at the finish:
Post-race, in the hotel:
My shirt was originally black. By the time we got back to the hotel, I just wanted to collapse. I didn't though. I dragged my ass to the shower and had to do everything twice just to be semi-presentable for dinner.
I have no idea where this blood was coming from. I couldn't find a scratch on my face after my shower, but Sam said it was bleeding after the barbed wire mud pit. I don't remember scratching my face. I remember scratching the top of my head though.
Some things I have learned for my next obstacle course race:
- Don't do it alone. Have at least one other person to run with, preferably someone strong enough to hoop you over the walls.
- Roll, don't crawl, through the barbed wire obstacle.
- Hydrate well. I was was afraid to drink anything because I didn't want to have to pee during the race. Piss in the swamp. No one will know.
- Wear Under Armour. I'm too cheap to buy the stuff, especially now that I'm fat again. But damn it, I'm going to lose weight and get back into shape and buy some of the good stuff.
- Don't plan on keeping your shoes. Well, I figured this going in and wore my old running shoes. There's no saving them.
- The earlier, the better. You want to hit everything before 4000 competitors muck it all up.
- Take copies of your confirmation emails with you. I'm glad I did this because of the mess with Sebastian's registration.
- Don't listen when they tell you that you are halfway. They lie. We were halfway done at three different points. Fuckers.
I'm sure I'm forgetting a million things about the day and what I would do differently for next time. And there will be a next time. Whether it's a Spartan or a Warrior Dash or a Tough Mudder, I'm doing another obstacle course race. But right now I'm exhausted, about to lose an hour due to Daylight Saving Time, and we have to get up early to head home.
Oh, and everyone at the event was super awesome. The 4500 Spartans were helpful and encouraging, and there wasn't a single asshole in the bunch. Not even my husband.
UPDATED: RESULTS - Here are our official results.
Time - 2 hours, 36 minutes, 22 seconds
3236 out of 3364 overall
955 for females
155 in my age group
Time - 2 hours, 36 minutes, 24 seconds
3239 out of 3364 overall
2284 for males
447 in his age group