6 am came very fast after a night of restless sleep! I decided for the first time ever before a race to forgo a normal breakfast and stick with a few protein bars and some salty snacks. Never a good idea to try out new things on race day! After about a 45 minute drive we made it to the race grounds. The temperature was great in the morning time and the race grounds were in a beautiful location. Soldier Hollow, in Midway, Utah, home of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
http://conqueranycourse.com/ and Margaret Schlatchter of http://dirtinyourskirt.com/ They both were getting ready for the 8:30 am Elite heat and didn't have time to chat it up, which I totally understand. They were both still kind enough to let me take my picture with them :-)
While Jeremy was starting to volunteer, I spent the remainder of my pre-race time talking to other racers and warming up with lunges and hip mobility movements. My race gear ended up being running shorts, calf compression sleeves, quad compression sleeves,KT tape on left knee and a 50 oz Camelbak. I went against the advice given by Spartan staff in a pre-race email about wearing a shirt to retain water from the mudpits to stay cool in the extreme heat and went with my usual decision of not wearing shirts for obstacle races. 10 am heat was up and my pal , TC, in full Spartan armor gave an awesome pre-race motivational speech. It was one of my favorite motivational speeches with a "Spartan" twist.
Skip ahead to 2:19 for speech:
Everyone was extremely pumped up and started off very strong. I went with Hobie's race strategy that I overheard and started off at how fast I think I will be going 3/4 into the race. After analyzing the terrain from what I could see, I decided to go with a pretty quick pace. I had started a few rows back from the front of the line but I quickly caught up with the front 5 runners after about a half a mile. I remembered each of them so that I could know how my standing was in my heat throughout the race. The first leg of the race I was battling it out with the top 10 people. We all were taking turns at being faster and passing one another. There was a girl and a guy who kept catching up to me and passing me on the running sections between obstacles. I was able to blast past them easily on the obstacles. The first set of obstacles was some small 4 foot walls, some you had to climb over, some through and some under.
I started to have trouble breathing on the very first leg of the race, this may be due to the high elevation, the heat, or the poor air quality(wild fires and dusty /dry conditions). But because of it , I developed a very dry throat and had trouble drinking any liquids. Fluids felt like razor blades going down my throat!! I started to get a slightly negative attitude that I was going to finish poorly and not be able run the whole thing.
The race was shaped like a clover, in that there were 3 loops, all of which took you back to the start/finish area. They did this mostly due to the relay event they had going. After the finishing the Spartan "Pancake" carry (fancy sandbag), I started the 2nd leg of the race. That is when I realized, as dirtinyourskirt.com put it in her recent blog, "This was truly a runners race." I wasn't going to be expending large amounts of energy going up goat hills, but instead will be greeted with more of the same rolling hills throughout the race. Once I got my head right and was more optimistic about having a good finish, I really started to speed up and leave the competition in the dust. After the dizzying climb to the top of the rope obstacle, I never saw the girl and guy that were trailing me earlier, for the rest of the race.
I really started to have fun with it, I was feeling so good cruising past everyone from the earlier heats. Almost every single person I passed that had been out there a few hours, were all giving me motivational words as I passed them. It really caught me off-guard since no one did this at the Spartan Super Race in Temecula,Ca. Their words really helped me on the uphills after completing some of the more difficult obstacles.
The first barbed wire crawl really had me beat up, there was no dirt or sand left, but instead just big sharp rocks. I was not able to roll or crawl on my stomach under it because my camelbak getting snagged on the wire every few seconds; another contributing factor to its difficulty was due to the hose operator spraying water directly at my face for more then half of the crawl, so I couldn't see where I was going!
I continued to cruise the trail with the same few guys the entire time, joking around with them. We basically did every obstacle together!
Most tiring obstacle of the day: was a new one where you had a rubber band around your legs holding them together and you have to bunny hop into a long sea of tires that were too small to even fit my feet. I kept tripping up in them as I tried my best to center my feet so I didn't fall on my face.
The most unique obstacle of the day: Cargo net climb that was anchored up onto a bridge. You got to climb up the net to the top of the bridge and there was a tire suspended from a rope on the other side that you had to pull up to the top and back down before you were able to continue your run.
Fear of heights need not apply obstacle of the day: The rope climb was so high above the mud pit that I am guessing that a lot of people either did burpees or took a really long time to climb it with cautiousness . It was not one you could fall off of without sustaining serious injuries.
The race was going very fast for me up until the last half mile. The last half mile was harder for me then the rest of the race because of the obstacles that were packed in there. The first was the artillery range fire. My first mistake of the race was following my running buddy and opting to do burpees without even trying the shot. Pounded out 30 burpees as a penalty, or I should say the burpees pounded me. About 20 yards away was the dreaded spear throw obstacle. I took my time to line up the spear, but I went wide left and missed the target completely. 30 more burpees! This time the ground where we were doing them was very thorny and the set took a very long time. From there was a short run to the traverse wall. After choosing the first wall I realized it was a bad choice. Person after person was falling off of it... I got to about the middle when I realized why they were falling off. The hand grips in the middle were insanely far spaced apart and made for an interesting climb across.
Luckily I avoided the 3rd set of burpees in a row!!
The last obstacles from there were another 8 foot wall and a long barbed wire crawl. The crawl was very backed up and took me about 5- 10 minutes to get through it. I then finished strong through the gladiators and across the finish line!
81st overall out of 2100
81st for the men of 1679
16th for age group
Currently Ranked 69th in the Global ranking series for the year!
It was a fantastic race and was filled with good memories. I highly recommend everyone to do it next year! We finished the night out by having dinner with the Warrior State of Mind team. Met lots of great people and got to swap Spartan racing stories from this race and others.