Well it all seems like a dream now. I’m back home and this weekend just seems like it went by like a blur
Saturday was the first time in my life that I have ever been able to compete on that level. I have played very competitive soccer all my life but never on that sort of stage. It was an incredible experience and one I won’t forget.
The race started off with a long wait in the starting chute. It was a bit frustrating because people lined up so early to get to the front of the line and then they start walking at the first hill. So I got stuck behind a solid stream of people just walking the hills and couldn’t get passed for about the first mile and a half.
Then came the monkey bars which were dripping wet and freezing cold. For some reason they were spinning around with so many people on them. It was the hardest mommy bar I’ve done and unfortunately I made it to the last ring and couldn’t reach up to it because it was pretty high. It was a little de-motivating doing burpees so early but I still had lots of race to make up the time.
Then started the serious climbing along one of the gravel roads on the ski hill. We pretty much climbed for the next 5 miles all the way to the top which was around 8500ft. We had a few obstacles on the way up like the OUT and Hercules Hoist which were no problem. Once we get to the top we were hit with a barrage of obstacles. A long log carry and a steep sand bag carry (fortunately just a single), gave me the opportunity to pass a few people because those are more to my advantage.
IMG_1390At this point I was feeling pretty damn strong still. I’m a fairly good climber and I think I’mpretty fast on the descent. After the sandbag we were pretty much on the downhill for the rest of the race so I was thinking I’d make up some good time on some people. But then came the swim. Now I’m not a fan of cold water but being from Canada I am used to swimming in fairly chilly water. Normally your body gets used to it and you start to warm up a bit. Not in this water! It felt colder than most ice baths and the swim was about 70 yards long. Normally that wouldn’t take too long but being forced to wear a life jacket and having shoes and clothes on it made the swim very slow. I took it slow getting out of the water so I wouldn’t instigate a cramp or something then I took Yancy Culp’s advice and got moving as fast as my body would so I could try and warm up again. My arms were red from the freezing water and now we had to do a bunch of grip intensive obstacles. It started with the farmer carry, then the plate drag and into the brutal bar wire crawl.
That bar wire crawl was ridiculous! It seemed to be never ending with a mix of walls, dunk walls, and slip wall in between for good measure. This was where I was really concerned about my legs cramping up like they did in Montana. I felt little things tighten up but only for a second or two so I was thankful for that. Once I got through that mess there was the rope climb, it was short and easy but my foot cramped a little on the way down. Now I was starting to get nervous because there was still about 4-5 miles of descent left. I shook out the cramp on get back on the trail.
We came down another little hill to Atlas Carry and the Tyrolean Traverse on the top of a peak at the ski lift. It was incredibly windy here and it made me worry if I’d be able to hang on. It wasn’t over any water so I had to climb up on it and I decided to go on top of the rope. I figured it would help me save my grip a bit for that double rig at the finish line. It was a little wobbly with the wind but not a problem. Next up was the spear throw and this one really had me thinking about the wind. It was set up so the wind was howling across the targets. I took my time getting the rope right and making sure the spear was good and balanced, I picked a small black spot in the bay to aim at and let the spear fly. It flew very straight and true and stuck that hay perfectly. That definitely gave me a nice boost going back down the mountain where I quickly climbed up the Stairway to Sparta with just another quick reminder the cramps were on the verge of seizing my legs. So I downed a couple Salt Tabs and went on down to the Bucket Brigade. This was after the 13 mile marker so I was beginning to think there wasn’t going to be a Bucket Carry. When I got to the bottom of the hill to the clearing where the bucket was and looked up all I thought was “holy $h1t” for two reasons. One was because the hill was HUGE and secondly because there were so many people on the hill ahead of me. I had no idea what place I was in but I had hoped that I wasn’t this far back, but I guess I really did start that far back at the beginning!
The volunteer at the bucket made it very clear they weren’t going to tolerate buckets not filled all the way and that they had already sent 5 guys for a second lap. He also warned us that the dirt settled a lot so to make sure and over fill your bucket. So I decided to fill my bucket over the top of the brim which gave me like an extra 4 inches of dirt, just to make sure! I quickly started up the hill and made good ground on many people who were seriously struggling. This was definitely my chance to pass a lot of guys and I did. Many were hardly making it two steps without having to drop their buckets, but every time they dropped it to the ground the dirt would settle some more and drop below the holes. So I realized that if I needed a break I had to just rest the bucket on my quad so I didn’t make the dirt settle a ton. I got to the top with a huge struggle and a few breaks but on the down hill I just cruised the whole way without any breaks. My quads were burning, my lower back was starting to die and my grip was burning! I dropped my dirt and made a bee line for the 8 foot wall knowing we were down to the last half a mile or so.
The last couple obstacles were a wall (I think 8 foot) then a small downhill bar wire to a 6 foot wall then around and down the hill to the last two obstacles. The T-Wall was pretty easy after doing the Z-Wall for the whole year. It was just hard enough to drain the grip strength enough before the Double Multi-Bar. This was the one thing that absolutely worried me the most. In Montana I didn’t get through the Single Multi-Bar so I was really worried about the Double. I have been working on my grip strength a ton but I still wasn’t sure. I got through the bar and rings no problem but by the time I got through a couple of the Tarzan Ropes my hands were frozen and I couldn’t open them to grab the next rope and slipped. So I had the pleasure of doing burpees on the finish line, fortunately Rose Wetzel had just failed it too so I got to finish out my burpees with her.
All in all it was a great race and a great experience. The altitude didn’t seem to affect me but I definitely need to find a way to get closer to the front of the starting chute. Not that I think I need to be at the front but I think I need to be a little further ahead than some of the people that think they deserve to be at the front. I learned I still need to really work on my grip strength and I probably need to drop 10+ pounds to help be more competitive. I’m a little heavy to be flying downhill the way some guys do and it would make obstacles like the Monkey Bars and Multi-Bar a little easier. Lastly I realized I don’t really need a hydration pack. I brought a liter of Gatorade with me but only drank about one cups worth. Plus I brought about 4 or 5 gummies and only ate one. So I should probably re-think my hydration strategy and what I wear for a race.
It was a great first experience at a World Competition and like I mentioned I learned a lot. I will adjust my training, nutrition and a few other things to come back next year and do even better.