Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spartan Race "Beast" - Killington, VT- Sept 21, 2012

Let me start by saying "Thank you Amazon Local" for giving me the chance to take on this race for half the price :-)... 

This has been by far the craziest and toughest thing I've ever done in my life. Why did I decide to do this race? Besides the unbeatable price from AmazonLocal? I need to keep myself busy and active to keep my head clear. That and the TRIFECTA Medal. This medal is only given to those brave enough to do 3 Spartan Races in a calendar year (Sprint, Super & Beast). I wanted to prove something to myself and I surprised myself at Vermont. 

My parents and Jocelyn came with me.. We did not get on the road to VT 'till around 10pm. It was late so I had to drive, and even though I was punching that Equinox at 90-100mph, we made it to VT at 2AM.. 

My race STATS are as follow, and I may add, "NOT TOO SHAVY" for a first timer : 

- 545th overall (2500 male and female) runners
- 486th out of all 1817 male runners
- 98th out of 377 in my age group

We went straight to bed but 2hr later, a symphony of snores woke me up.. My goodness.. Both my parents and Jocelyn were snoring.. I could not believe a 5 year old could snore that loud... I could not go back to sleep.  My dad woke up at 7AM saying how little sleep he got. I was saying to myself.. (Really?) . They do not believe they were snoring, (Denial).. 

We got to Killington and it was cold, but I fell in love with the mountain, it was beautiful up there.. It was 57 but felt like 53 according to the weather app. I did not hear any announcements about the race being longer than 13 miles so that was good. Next thing I know we were off. The plan was to use NJ's strategy to keep moving and keep from injury. I'll be honest, I was scared of what was to come but thrilled at the same time that I had the guts to still be there moving along toward the unknown. 

They were not kidding when they said that by mile 3 you may consider quitting. A lot of people left the race, they made sure to brake you on the first 4 miles. There was a lot of trail to run and all uphill at first. "Thank you LifeProof case" for allowing me to bring my iPhone with me.. I was texting back every 2-3 miles.. it was a mother's request.. The first obstacle "Ditch Jumps" was pretty easy, but some managed to get in trouble with it. What was so hard about jumping over a hole in the ground? Oh yeah, it was muddy, and chances were that if you landed near the edge you ended up in the water. 

Next on the list a common one in all Spartan Races, "Over/Under", no problem there except there was  bit of a congestion at the wall climbs. Right after those you had yet another well known obstacle "Water Pits" It required you to go through water waist high.. I'm telling you, my bones felt like they wanted to crack,, that water was so freaking cold it was no joke, there were at least 3 of them in a row.. I remember seeing a set of 3 walls after the pits and right before heading into the woods which took us for a long uphill trip to then come back to the starting line but not before going through "Vertical Cargo", a "High Barbed Wire Crawl" on this one the wire was set much higher so you had to docked to go through it. After this "7foot Walls" I may be missing one more but trust me, this alone got me tired in addition to all the trail we were covering. 

1st Barbed Wire Crawl
1st Barbed Wire Crawl
Over and under
Over/Under/Thru it
 The weather got warmer about an hour after we took off, so I took off my long-sleeve and later on, the bib to make sure I would not loose it.  Right after the Walls, came the Pain in the ass "Barbed Wire/Mud Crawl #1" Which reminds me.. "To the SOB who was loving his job of getting us wet while crawling" WTF man?, I'm sure they said GET THEM WET, not DROWN THEM". Got another set of "Walls" to finally reach the "Monkey Bars". Those suckers were hard. My gloves and the bars were wet and slippery. The bars were also set in a way that a few bars were much higher and further than others. Once those were over there was a small "Trench Crawl" and finally we had gone back to where started. 

Thats me with the yellow pack

Traverse Wall
My legs and arms had already started to feel tired and my legs were shaky. I came back out to the starting line were "The Traverse Wall" and the "Rope Climb" were waiting. I tackled and completed the wall but took my time, both my arms and legs wanted to give in . As I got close to the rope I hear "Daddy" and my little monkey had a first row view at the action.. It was so nice to see her. I gave my long sleeve and bib to my parents. There was a bit of congestion at the rope so I kept moving around to stay warm. Finally my turn and REDEMPTION.. My daughter got to see daddy climb that rope and ring the bell.. The look on her face was priceless, she was happy and so was I. 

After this the race seemed to ease a bit. We made a quick turn after the rope and there it was, "The Lake" and the "Tarzan Swing".. 40 degree if not colder swim. There were life vests but not enough and you had to wait for them. Some of us decided to hit the 50 burpees to save some time and having to swallow some lake water. I meet a girl who I'm going to call "Fellow Spartan", she was not only beautiful but had the heart to go get water at the water station and come back for another runner who was tripping from exhaustion. She was also from NYC, we walked and talked a bit. We were debating on who will be able to finish the 50 burpees first. Well, turns out we were having such a nice conversation that we didn't stop and blended right in with others and kept going. When we realized it, we laughed and started running, "oh well".     

She stopped for water and I kept going (sorry but I had a 5 year old monkey to go see after the run), but call me! :-D. There was a lot and I mean, a lot of trail to cover. After a lot of running we got to a "Memorization Poster" yup, that was a challenge. I had to memorize the phrase and #s next to the last two digits of my bib# posted on wall (Alpha 100-8361). Yes we were going to have a test later on. I kept singing that phrase even after I crossed the finish line. Just in case, I didn't know what to expect at this race. 

Atlas Carry
"The Hercules Hoist" was next, this was surprisingly not much of a challenge. We did a bit more trail and reached the "Atlas Carry". I am not sure how heavy this cement block was but it was heavy. Pick one up, carry it over to the flag without dropping it, put it down and pick up the other one and bring it back to where you got the first one. Drop any of them and its 30 burpees. This is where the Hercules Hoist said HAHA Suckers! because your arms felt it. Right after this came the "Barbed Wire Mud Crawl #2" This was shorted than the first one. I was glad that this time all crawls had actual mud, unlike the ones at NY, MA and NJ, they were over concrete and rocks.. it was a killer. 

Right after the crawl we had another set of "7" Walls". Some people were real team players, others were plain jerks. They ask you for help at the wall and then they just kept on going and left you behind, yeah thats real sportsmanship you JERK. After more trail, we reached a set of "Log Walls with a Rope". The "Tractor Pull" was not too far from them. This one was different, at least for me. This time the track was longer and uphill. However, I was able to get it done fairly fast. 

I had cut serious time by taking advantage of every flat stretch and downhill, but what was to come made that effort for nothing. It all pointed to a 4:30 - 4:45hr race for me, but some one forgot to mention that we were going to be "Hiking to Mount Olympus" that day.. Seriously, It was the never ending mountain hike. After 45 min I stopped looking up because it was discouraging to see that there was no end to it. I saw people sitting taking breaks, some injured, some with asthma (not kidding). After about 1hr, we reached the top and tada! another "Rope Climb" I did not stop at the hike trying to reach the top so my legs were half way done. I still don't know how I rang that bell. I was running down hill and singing my now favorite son (Alpha 100-8361) when the "Sandbag" appeared. 

The Sandbag was a bit longer than the one at Spartan Sprint in MA. Getting it done without stopping was a big challenge, but I managed to do it without stopping. I dropped my bag back on the pile and continued singing my song.. Long behold "The Test" I got stopped byt two staff members (hey there son, what's your phrase?) I kid you not, I gave it to the guy as a song.. they were cracking up, they confirmed it was correct and sent me off to the "Sled Pull".

It may be simple, but it's not easy. My feeling is that it was loaded with a bit more than 50 lbs. of sand. The weight and the box collecting rocks at the bottom as you pulled it made this challenge very challenging. Not to mention the smoke not helping at all. At the end of this challenge a lady was asking.. Do you know how to swim?  Ha, the "Tyrolean Traverse" was next. 
Again I had to wait for a life vest so I headed to do my 30 burpees. This time they counted them. 

You had a few "Dirt Mounds with Water" right after that and by then the weather had gotten colder, so we were back to bone chilling water. From here on it was torture. After the Mounds, we had more hills and I had already put my legs trough so much stress on the hike and the sandbags that half way up that hill my legs began to shake and cramps began. Serious cramps both thighs and calves at the same time. Try taking one step like that. I managed to reach for a stick and began to roll my legs and tried to relax the muscle. I lost at least 3-5 minutes doing this. 

After finally overcoming this, I began to walk but the legs were not the same at this point, I was scared to move too fast or make certain movements that would trigger another one. As I got to the top of this hill, "The Log Hop" came up. I have failed this obstacle on every Spartan Race I've done and with my legs the way they felt, I was for sure to fail it again. I Was having a hard time getting on the first one. The logs were higher than usual. A fellow racer was kind enough to help me get on the first one. One step at a time and next thing I know I nailed the log-hop. The guy that helped me was right behind me so no need to go back and assist.

After the log hop, BAM! more uphill. WTH? I was under the impression that the last hike was the peek of the mountain. Silly me, it was  tease. Luckily the remaining hike was not as bad and I didn't have a problem with it. After a few turns we reached the "Vertical Cargo Net #2". This was easy, the net was laid over a wall of rocks and at the top, big surprise, more hills. FINALLY! the freaking top. I could see my house from there, 5+ hrs and 4,000ft later I have finally reached the top, Oh glorious day.. I have spent all that time and sweat to get here just to tackle two "9' Walls", Awesome!

Everyone was a team player so we all got them done without a problem. Wait! Like the law of physics says (what goes up has to come down) remember those 4K+ ft of elevation you just finished hiking.. well, you had to get off the mountain somehow.It would have been really cool if we were zip-lining down. That would have been so cool. but nope.. You were on your own. Some were rolling down, others tumbling down, crab-walking, One way or another people were coming down. The trail was muddy, and made it almost impossible for you to run or walk without slipping.. 

20 min into "The Descend", my left IT began to complain. I could not slow down.. I was praying it would not fail me at this point because it would have been all over. This is the same IT that went out on me 3 years ago on my marathon. I got to stretch at a small congestion of runners towards the end of the trail and that helped.. from this point it was everyone for themselves.. I ran as fast as I could passing people left and right to find the "Hobie Hop".Wrap your feet with a big rubber band and walk or hop over logs and go under the rope. Sounds silly but you try doing this after 5+ hrs of trail, hills and a shit load of obstacles then come back and tell me how easy it was. Got it done and back to running.   

Slippery Wall- "Water, Sand & Soap"
The temperature had dropped significantly and running was not helping keep you warm. Your clothes were soaked in sweat, water, mud and for all you know bear shit. Then Sweet music, a loud crowd cheering, YES! the finish line. SOB, you still had to prove yourself.. I got to the "Spear Trow" (Epic Fail) my arms were too tired, I hit the mark, but didn't stick. I got some burpees done (I didn't count). 

The final "Barbed Wire Crawl" was next. Bless you Lord, it was a tinny one. This was followed but the "Slippery Wall", and finally, time to face the "Gladiators" Two guys who love their job way too much, but not before setting your ass on fire on the "Fire Jump".  I could not avoid getting hit by the gladiators at the finish line, but managed to remain standing. Got my medal, and a kiss from Jocelyn.

 I checked my time on the computer, ate my banana (hey, I earned that banana) and ran to the tent to get my Trifecta medal. Oh yes, I was not going home without it. The Trifecta Medal was the only reason why I did the Beast, well, that and staying sane :-). The weather app said 54 feeling like 48 (it was cold due to the windchill) and I still had to shower outdoors with cold water.. But that cold water felt so good on the legs.. 

Yes I framed it already :-)
 Got my free beer, a burger and to the car for another 4+hr drive back to NYC. Oh yeah.. It was a long day.. but on the way home, my daughter kept talking about the race and how she liked that she saw me complete the rope climb. The words "Daddy, I am proud of you" from my 5 year old simply cannot match getting 2 medal on this race.. It was just priceless. 

Am I done for the year? well, I have a 1 mile race at work this Thursday.. LOL it's an annual thing.. I may not beat my 5:45 time from last year, but you bet your ass I will be running it trying to beat the Cross Country team again.. :-) 

This year has been an eventful year for me, good and bad alike but nothing else to do but keep moving forward and make the best out of any situation. I love running and I love pushing myself to the limit. The lesson I learned at Vermont this Saturday has given me a different perspective and showed me that I can still surprise myself. In an effort to teach my daughter that one can do anything in this life, I also thought myself the same lesson. Now lets put it into practice. 

The question now is, Am I going to do this again? The answer is very simple. YES.. even though I do not plan on beating my time at Vermont, I do plan on beating my time at the NJ Super and once again, claim a Trifecta Medal. Thank you Spartan team for making this races possible and giving every one the chance to overcome our own limitations and strive to go the distance. I will see you all again next year.  


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