Race Season is here!
After a long, arduous, annoying, busy, draining winter season it’s finally obstacle course racing season in the Midwest again!
I meant to post earlier about my first race of the year several weeks ago but alas life got in the way and it got side tracked.
While the winter weather wasn’t as bad this year (hello bugs en masse spring/summer), it was a hectic and exhausting time for me. Work took over – 10 hour days zapped my energy to do almost anything else. So much to do every day the volume made it impossible to leave work feeling like I’d gotten everything done.
Add colds, sickness, and other people being sick I really didn’t get to train as hard as I’d wanted to for OCR this year.
But now I’m back into the swing of things! Still not ideally where I’d like to be – really got to overcome that ‘I hate distance running’ thing. Distance being 3 plus miles, of course. Ha!
The Ohio Spartan races were late May this year. After last year’s misery fest of a Beast I’d only registered for the Sprint for 2017. However, when one of my gyms had a grand re-opening event they held several contests and raffles.
I ended up winning a lot of them. Granted, no other women really tried the pull up competition so that one wasn’t really a contest. Then a friend and I tied for the most burpees in a minute win.
Since I’d paid and registered for the Sprint all the way back in November, however, the only way to use the free pass was to travel out of state for a different race. Or. Suck it up and do the Ohio Beast again. AND then the Sprint the next day.
So at the end of May I ran the Beast and the Sprint back to back. At least the second day was with friends and not for any kind of competitive time.
I’m still going to end up losing a toenail from that weekend. (Update: it finally fell off today.)
I was pretty anxious leading up to the Beast after my experience last year. My goal was just to finish under my time from the previous year, not get stuck in parking traffic, and avoid the hellacious calf cramping that rendered me almost useless the first time.
I got a hydration waist pack this time around too. Hindsight maybe fill it less full – it got to bothering my back bouncing around. But I was glad I had it even if it was cooler than last year and a little rainier. It let me skip a couple water stations and go around some of the crowds.
It was a little annoying under the barbed wire but not incapacitating. I ended up sort of dragging it/rolling with it.
I had mustard packets and honey packets. A couple snack bars. Just in case. I’ve tried gels and gummies, but mid-race they always mess with my stomach, so I stayed with fuel I knew wouldn’t stress my digestion.
I left early. Parking was infinitely smoother this go around, mercifully. Parked really close to the festival and parking lot porta johns too. This was a blessing as I’d been such a fanatic about being hydrated that I felt like I had to pee every 30 minutes.
Check in was done with barcodes this time. Then they assign a bib number and racing chip. You sign the waiver on their iPads. It was a lot smoother. I am a fan of the new system.
I was lucky to have a friend spectating and taking photos all day for Spartan too. She helped me with my stuff prepping for go time, and when I was exhausted and dirty afterwards too. My “race Sherpa.” Very helpful haha.
My start time was late morning – after 11 since I registered late. The anxiety set in as I checked my bag in and hooked up my hydration pack. It was really nerve wracking for me to be starting alone this time, since I’d never done a spartan race by myself.
At least this time was just to try to “do better” than the last time.
I ended up surprising myself on the distance. It was slightly shorter than 2016 and probably even muddier somehow. Maybe it just always feels that way, but I was able to keep up my slow shuffle of a jog through out the course!
I also was drinking water regularly and mustard packets occasionally. The week before the race I upped my salt intake too. I’d been cutting out salt a lot the last year but I brought it back in before the Beast in hopes of avoiding the level of cramping I had last year. Seriously cramps suck. I did not want to have to get another one professionally massaged out of my leg.
I failed the rope traverse this year. That was disappointing. I don’t know why it was harder than last time. I’d been struggling with the traverse at my training course, Black Diamond, too. I almost lost it and saved myself – only to have destabilized myself too much to make it all the way to the bell.
I made all the walls! Got a little help over the 10 footer and used the step at the 8 footer because my ups still aren’t quite there. Also – the whole “everything is slippery as hell” thing never helps.
So last year the Beast took me and my team around 6 hours and we walked a lot of it. There was a lot of track that you just couldn’t run. That was the case this year too – some of it I just couldn’t run. It was too muddy, too technical, there were people in the way.
But even when I was walking I could pass people! My power walk definitely improved haha. I shuffle-jogged even towards the end! Whenever there was somewhat flat and stable trails I tried to shuffle run.
At one point while fixing my hydration pack another middle aged guy passed me. After he passed I started jogging again and I passed him again. He said “oh no I JUST passed you!” We traded places back and forth a couple of times. Friendly banter among stranger comrades!
That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about OCR. I met a lot of people along the trails and everyone is supportive and encouraging. If someone needs help there is always someone willing to provide it. Complete strangers become teammates for a moment. Even if you never see them again.
I missed the rope climb again this year. Hard to get help on that one. The ropes are just too slippery they thwart a good number of people. But the Hercules Hoist was after that and I love the Herc Hoist! ❤️
I always liked the carry or move heavy shit obstacles. Haha. They make me feel strong! And my race buddy got some sweet photos of that one!
While I did have to burpee out the last obstacles I finished just under 5 hours and minimal cramping! It was probably about a mile shorter than last year but I figure a whole hour is pretty good improvement. I felt much better than I thought I would too. So win-win I say!
Sunday I went back to The Wilds for the Sprint day with friends. Some OCR vets and some newbies doing their first one.
My shoes were disgusting and I wasn’t happy putting them back on but the course was even wetter and muddier and more disgusting than Saturday so it didn’t really matter.
We took it at a nice easy pace. No rushing. Even harder to run the trails than the day before which sucked. It was just slop the whole way. What are you gonna do – it’s May in Ohio. Chances are it’ll always be sloppy.
Finishing time wasn’t a concern that race. Which was good because it rained 90% of the race. Luckily for me he rope climb was at the front of the Sprint. The ropes were caked in mud still but they had a chance to dry out a bit. And…..
I GOT MY FIRST SPARTAN RACE ROPE CLIMB!!!
So I’ve done rope climbs before only when dry. And I really started raining for OCRs when I wanted to climb the Spartan rope. It was a huge W for me!
At the end of the weekend I had two thirds of the Spartan Trifecta. In one weekend! It was actually so much better than I thought it would go. I am so happy with how it turned out. Proved I wasn’t as in bad of shape as I thought I was. Still work to be done but not as bad as I thought haha.
The Ohio weekend also made me really want that Trifecta status. I mean I’ve signed up for the WV Trifecta Weekend in August so fingers crossed I get it then. But I’m also…now only one race away from a double Trifecta!
I may have signed up for the new Super in Michigan at the end of the race year 😬😳. Bring on that sweet sweet Spartan Bling!