Sunday, April 22, 2012

Storm The Beach - Kill Devil Hills, NC - April 21, 2012

I managed to get a little bit of sleep the night before the race. I had to get up early and take care of the PTO's table at a yard sale. I love the school and I love working there and I love volunteering, but those 4 hours were a complete waste of time. I spent all my time thinking about Storm The Beach, wondering if would be harder than the Spartan, what obstacles there would be, freaking out about how I'm going to get over the big wall. Unlike the Spartan, I actually trained a bit for this. I have spent the last six weeks with the people on my team. I had an idea on some of the obstacles but there were still a lot of unknowns. At team camp, we practiced under, over, and through tubes. We climbed walls. Well, once, and I was scared shitless. We did pull ups because we'd need to be able to pull ourselves up over a wall - and that's the obstacle that freaked me out for two weeks. According to our trainer, it would have a cheater board two feet off the ground, then we'd have to get ourselves over the other 5 feet.

And of course, there was the running to be freaked out about. I'm getting better but I'm still not at the level my team mates are. And running with sandbags? Ugh. I put all my money on adrenaline getting me through. I thought, surely, this won't be as difficult as the Spartan. I was convinced it couldn't possibly be. I did a Spartan race, damn it. Granted, it was just a Sprint and nothing as bad ass as a Super or Beast or even a Tough Mudder (which people are still hounding me to do in October). But that Spartan Sprint took me two and a half mother fucking hours. Storm The Beach wouldn't take that long, I was assured. I didn't know how long the course was, but I can barely run a 5K road race in 45 minutes or less. So, I was shooting for under 90 minutes at first, then thought, I can do it in under an hour. I was determined not to hold my team up any more than I had to.

Initially, I was going to get dropped off and Sam and Sebastian would come later for the family event. We changed our minds so Sebastian could play in the water while I did my thing. We walked the half mile or so from our house to the start/finish line. One of the great things about the Outer Banks is that we have a marathon, triathlon, two half-marathons, and now our very own obstacle course race. I can WALK to the events. We walked all the way to the end of the closest road that goes to the beach and I climbed up to check out the obstacles. From there, I could see the cones blocking people from sunbathing along our course. People could use the beach, but the soft sand was set aside for us. All I could see in terms of obstacles was a tire flip. So we left that beach access and walked the rest of way. Sebastian complained about the distance the whole time. I gleefully reminded him that he as 5K in two weeks. A mile is nothing.

I got there and found some of my OBX Team Campers - not all of them would be on my team. Two of my teammates were there. The other two, Kathy & Charlie, were still running in the individual Hero division. They are so bad ass. And wonderful teammates. They are the two who talked me into doing this in the first place. Thank you, guys!

And while I'm kissing ass, I really need to take a few minutes to thank Samantha Brown. She brought GO FAR to the Outer Banks a few years ago and I was fortunate enough to get involved as a coach. I had never done any running up to that point and I thought it would be a great way to start. I had an IT band injury early on and it turned out that I couldn't train for my first 5K but I ran/walked it anyway. But I had the bug. I came back in the spring for another session and I ran my first entire 5K, the Bunny Hop. A month later, I hit another personal best time in the GO FAR 5K. (Of course, after that, food and exercise pretty much went to shit and I gained back 40 pounds.) After that, I wanted to do more 5Ks and other races, and then my cousin came along with his Spartan nonsense. And I must say, after just two events (and one alresdy booked for next year), I'm addicted. And I have Samantha to thank for starting me running. Someday I will run a marathon for her. Until then, I'll just take care of the GO FAR kids.

So back to the race. Disclaimer: I don't remember the exact order of the obstacles. It's the next day as I write this and since the race, I've been to a very awesome wedding reception and I was up at 5 AM to feed the half-marathon runners at the Flying Pirate (which, by the way, is most likely my next running event challenge). Our wave was supposed to start at 2 PM but Kathy & Charlie were still running in the Hero race. They arrived and rested up a bit, then we took off. It was a grueling run through the soft sand. I think I was able to run, and by run, I mean zombie stagger, about three-fourths of that stretch, then walked to the first obstacle. It was over some tubes - just two, and they were lower than in practice. Easy, peasy. More running, more suckage. Later, there were some tree branches we had to go under. And again, much easier than in practice. Then we had to wade out into the ocean and around a bouy. The water was freezing and there weren't enough boats. Half the people on our team were going to die. Of course, I was the one knocked over by a wave during an ill-timed attempt to get there. It knocked me on my face in the sand.

We had to stand at the buoy a little longer than sanity would normally allow to get our picture taken. Plus a team member had to pee. It wasn't me, but it did make me appreciate our local area's natural obstacles. What I wouldn't have given for an ocean at the Spartan. 

After the buoy, there was more running. And I really don't remember the order of the obstacles. We had a little maze of crab pots or some shit like that. Then the tire flip, which out of all the obstacles here, WAS harder than the one at the Spartan. At the Spartan, I had a baby tire and only had to do 4 flips. Here, we had to flip giant tires about 30-50 feet (I really have no clue) down and back. We could do two to a tire, but it was still exhausting. So score 1 for the Spartan in terms of pleasure. There was also a tire drag. We had to drag a tire on a rope down to the water and back. Hmmm, what else. At the turn around point, we had to run with sandbags to the water station. Not so bad. 

The second half of the course was much easier because we could run on the harder sand. The obstacles on the return were pretty easy. There was a sandbag raise (like the concrete filled buckets at the Spartan but much easier). I'm so glad I had my gloves on for this one. There was a sandbag hop, but we learned at Team Camp that it's easier to find the biggest bag you can and shuffle along. So that's what I did. Then of course, we had to do the bouy again and again I got my ass kicked by a wave. Near the end, there was a pool floaty obstacle, kind of like football tires but with innertubes. And you could get through them anyway you wanted. Sweet. We had to crawl through tubes, too. There were 5 or 6 of varying sizes. I could have picked a short one to just crawl through, but damn it, I came to Storm The Beach to challenge myself, so I picked the skinniest, longest tube and shimmied through it. Rock on, bitch!

Then, the dreaded mother fucking wall. I was nervous about getting over it. First though, I had to get over a smaller wall (pretty much like the little ones at the Spartan), then two more like it OR climb over two with boards on them - they called them ladders. I took the ladders to conserve energy for the big wall. I didn't think I'd be able to get over it, but my amazing fucking team got me over. I had to swing myself over and jump down but I really wasn't thinking  about anything at that point, other than just do it. After the big wall, it was a short way to the finish line. The last thing we had to do was step in garbage cans half full of water. It actually felt good because my god damn shoes were so full of god damn sand. They'd been full of sand from the start line! I hate sand in my shoes as much as I hate wet feet, and there I was with wet, sandy feet. 

People find our team name amusing. Why Sausage? Because Sam used to take sausage to work every day for lunch, and they started calling him Sausage. When I signed us up, it asked for a team name and I had no idea they would actually put the team names on the bibs!! I about died at the Expo when I picked up our packets. 

I need a tech shirt of my own. My teammate let me borrow one of hers. Those things rock.

I'm pretty self-conscious about my body, even when I was 40 pounds lighter. I was not looking forward to wearing the tech shirt, but it was advised so we wouldn't get scraped up. I've never raced in long sleeves or a tech shirt before. I was just going to wear my tank top that I used for training. But damn, that tech shit is amazing. I loved it. I don't think I necessarily needed it for coverage - I was trying to get a little sun - but it did keep me pretty cool. Anyway, my point here is, I wasn't looking forward to something so form fitting. I know I'm fat. It's not something I hide. I also don't care to put it on display. But a mile in, I realized that no one fucking cares that I look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. And I realized just before the start of the race that my thunder thighs had finally beat the pants. The seams were wearing out and I just hoped like hell they wouldn't fall apart. Thank goodness I wore underwear! These are my favorite workout pants :( They are lucky. I wore them when I ran my first Bunny Hop. I wore them for the Spartan. Come Tuesday, they will be off to the landfill :(

Here's my team, nearing the finish line. We did finish in under an hour, according to Sam. I don't have an official team time though.

Charlie's Angels - Charlie (in the middle) and Kathy (between Charlie and me) both ran the Hero Division before the team event. They are rockstars!!

Just before the family event. Sebastian was anxious to get moving. I was happy to be still. I wish I'd kept my medal on though. Many, many thanks to my new friend and running buddy, Sherry, for taking the picture.

This is why I run - for the pretties.

The family event after was okay. Sebastian wanted obstacles, not frisbee tosses and egg carrying. Next year, he's doing the team event. Next year, I would really like to do the First Flight 5K, Storm the Beach (Hero & Team divisions) and the Flying Pirate Half Marathon. We'll see. I still have the Tough Mudder to pull the trigger on.

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