Race report: DC Spartan Sprint

After the Ragnar Trail Relay, I thought I really knew my mud.  I was so very wrong!

My team of my favorite crazy people (trust me, it takes one to know one!) is taking on the Spartan Trifecta this year. The plan is DC Sprint, VA Super, Carolinas Beast.

Before the mayhem!
Before the mayhem!

They did the Spartan Super in Virginia last year and two did a Sprint in the Carolinas earlier this year but I was a Spartan virgin.  I was also still a bit “rope shy” after my incident at my last obstacle race**.  My plantar fasciitis was causing major heel and ankle problems and one of our team mates was still recovering from the affects of Whooping Cough. A third had just moved cross-county and came back just for the race, and the fourth – was okay! In other words, we were in our typical racing form 🙂

Taping can't hurt, right?
Taping can’t hurt, right?

The drive to southern Maryland was very easy and the parking and shuttle process was very smooth.  We went through the waiver signing, packet pick up, body marking, going back to find the strap I dropped for the timing chip, bag drop, etc. in fairly record time.  Before we knew it, we were waiting for our 10:45 start!  Oh, but first — we had to climb a wall! Oh, Spartan, I hate/love you already!

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First of many!

I honestly don’t remember the order or number of the obstacles and the course was in a clover leaf so I felt like we were going in circles all morning.  There were a lot of technical trails – and I managed to have my first major trail fall there, complete with bruised butt – with a river from the shower stations adding to the fun for the last half mile or so. There were many huge, sticky mud pits to crawl through.  And just when you thought that part was done, you’d exit to find another one!  By the end of the last one, I was pretty done with the mud. 

Don't let the smile fool you!
Don’t let the smile fool you!
Okay, maybe I liked it...
Okay, maybe I liked it…

One of the toughest obstacle for me, mentally, were the four pits with very steep, muddy sides.  You had to slide down into waist-deep water and then climb out the other side.  You cannot do it on your own, you need someone to help pull you up.  As someone who is constantly concerned with being “too heavy”, I despise anything where someone has to help bear my weight but it was that or be stuck in the pits forever (and we know how well that worked for the dinosaurs!)

I failed four obstacles – a reverse incline wall (I fell from the top because I could not swing myself over the top), the spear throw, the rope climb, and the traverse wall.  Technically, I also failed the Herc pull but I helped my team mates with theirs (the ropes were crazy muddy) so I don’t count that.

Pull!
Pull!

I loved the sandbag carry (down and up a hill with a sandbell on your shoulder), the “hunk of concrete” pull where we pulled a concrete donut up and down a couple of hills on a chain, and the tire carry/pull (huh, notice a theme?)

I did okay on the walls but needed quite a bit of help on the incline wall. I seriously had flash backs to last time but two of my team mates helped pull me up and I knew I was okay once I got my boobs over the top 🙂

I apparently tried to break down the walls rather than go over them!
I apparently tried to break down the walls rather than go over them! Both arms are like this, plus my left calf – and my butt!

It took us about 2 1/2 hours for an almost 5 mile course.  Granted, we stopped to help quite a few people, especially at the 4 “pits of despair”, but that is still slow.  Thank goodness is was overcast for most of the day! 

I had a Huma gel right before I started and drank two glasses of water at every station but I was feeling very rough by the time we finished.  One of the ladies in the food line looked at me and said “oh, you need TWO bananas!”.  I quickly ate one, drank a Muscle Milk, and ate a protein bar of some sort.  The pictures look like I’m about ready to faint/hurl but I was just worried about having black teeth from the chocolate mint power bar 🙂

Okay, maybe I do feel pukey
Okay, maybe I do feel pukey

After quickly cleaning up, I hot footed it out so I could get back home in a timely manner.  It looked like there was a decent finish festival but I didn’t check it out. 

Overall, this was a great experience!  Very organized and a lot of “fun”.  I am simultaneously looking forward to and dreading the Super next month!

My first fire jump!
My first fire jump!
I'm a Spartan!
I’m a Spartan!

Pros

Very organized finish area

Spartan people at most of the obstacles

3 water stations

Plenty of shuttle buses to and from the start area

Plenty of portapotties

Cons

I can’t think of any!

**I thought I had blogged about it but, apparently, I didn’t! At the last obstacle race that I did last year, the first obstacle was a very, very high incline wall with a rope.  I was all the way at the top and my foot slipped. I knew if I let go, I would break something (it was that high!) so I held onto the rope to slow my descent and tore up my hands in the worst way.  Seriously, it was horrific.  I finished the race but I was in a world of hurt for quite a while after that.

Many thanks to one of my team mate’s awesome husband who always takes the best race pictures!  Seriously, my only good pictures have come from him!

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Back to Work!

So, after my major funk following my DNF,  decided to put on my big girl panties and get back to work.  I am now signed up for an open water swim session every weekend until Nation’s!

My first session was two weeks ago, in a somewhat secluded river off from the Chesapeake Bay.

swim1 A coach was there with a paddle board and a helper in a kayak.  I attended with two of my runner/tri friends and another gentleman was present – a nice small group with good support.  We did some warm-ups to the various boat pilings and I was fine.  Then the coach said “let’s go out to that buoy and back” and I fell apart.  I made it maybe 75 yds before I started choking and coughing again.  Couldn’t get my breath at.all. and thought I was officially a non-swimmer.  The coach was right there and had me kick while hanging on to the paddle board (after I calmed down) for quite a bit and then I finished going to the buoy and headed back to the group.  On the way back, I had the same freak outs so I rolled to my back and did elementary back strokes until I could get it under control.  I just watched the clouds and focused on calming the F down.  I made it back but I was beat.  We did a few other little drills, some sighting practice, etc. in the shallow water but I was wiped.

On Saturday, I attended an OWS clinic with the same coach.  This time we were right in the shadow of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at Sandy Point State Park.  We did some straight swimming but we working on sighting, cornering around buoys, and various stroke issues.  I felt much better after this session and didn’t have any “issues”.

On Sunday, I was back with the same coach AGAIN (she is going to get so sick of seeing me!) – but this time we were at another, wider creek that had much more chop due to increasing winds.

At the start. Things picked up as the session progressed.
At the start. Things picked up as the session progressed.

This was a larger group and it was pretty much straight swimming.  The coach set up a triangle course with the long side running parallel to the shore and completely stand-able with the point of the triangle further out (but I guess still stand-able in some spots due to the sand bars).  I decided to just stick to the shallow side and just keep looping it.  Each length was a bit over 100 yds and I was able to successfully go out and come back without standing or losing my mind.  I did not have to recover even once and that is with some decent movement in the water – there were times when I lost sight of the buoys due to the waves. I was slow as molasses but I just focused on my own swim and keeping it together.  I was able to successfully complete 5 loops.  I count Sunday as a huge success!

I know I still have a lot of work to do but I am not quite as anxious about September now.  I am also trying to remember how far I’ve come this year.  I have to remember that I have only been swimming freestyle, with my head below water, since January!  It’s not fair to my body to expect it to suddenly become some world-class swimmer overnight.  It’s working hard and I need to respect the process!

progress

 

Burn to ashes and salt the earth

I can take a lot.  I can keep my head down and plod on.  I can keep pushing and pushing and pushing until I finally get to my goal.  Unless I can’t and I don’t and I’m broken.  That’s how I feel right now.  I feel broken.  I feel like I will never make any progress again.  I feel like I hate everything.  I feel like taking all of my gear to the yard, burning it down to ashes, and salting the ground so nothing ever grows there – as a lasting testament to my shortcomings. Holy drama mama!

I know I am just in a bad spot right now and things will improve and I will finally have a good swim in a race and I’ll finally understand transitions in roller derby and I’ll find joy in my training again.  But right now?  Not so much.  I spent most of Sunday crying over one thing or another – even simple skating at the rink left me in tears – and all of yesterday biting everyone’s heads off.  I’m trying to ease back and give myself some space but just bout every other minute I think about pulling out of another event (hey, did I tell you that I have a Spartan Sprint in just a few weeks??).  I know I will regret any decision that I make right now so I’m trying to hang on and ride this out but it is so, so difficult.

 

I'm trying
I’m trying