“I’m not driving all the way to Bumfuck, Pennsylvania again,” I said.
“Let’s do the Sprint in Tuxedo, instead,” I said.
“They’re holding it were the Renaissance Faire is. It can’t possibly be as bad as the Pennsylvania Sprint. There aren’t any big mountains there,” I said.
Next time, I won’t listen to myself.
Next time, I’ll check with my local Spartan Street Team or look at a map of Tuxedo.
Next time, I won’t sign up for the HARDEST BLOODY SPARTAN SPRINT OF THE YEAR!!!***
I went into the Tuxedo Spartan Sprint thinking that I was going to rock it. I wasn’t going to place and take home a sword or anything (no trophies in Sparta- first, second, and third get a replica Spartan helmet, sword, and dagger) but I was going beat my time from last year and do less burpees. Even when we reached the venue and met up with the Mudman and other Spartans, who said that it was all up and downhill, I still thought I could improve on my time- I’m in better shape now and have a bunch more races under my belt. I can do this. Not to mention, I have a lot more Spartan friends this time around that would be on the course making sure I didn’t end up mostly-dead in a muddy ditch somewhere.
And so, at 1:30pm, my team, the Dirty Water Dogs, let out a bellowing AROO and got started.
The runners who went before me weren’t kidding- I don’t think there was an inch of level ground on the whole course so all that work I did building up my ability to run for a 5k went down the tubes. My whole team walked for a good chunk of the uphills and used the downhills (that weren’t covered in loose rocks and gravel) to make up some time by doing a little gallop-y run.
I can’t for the life of me remember the order of the obstacles so I’m not going to try to give a play-by-play. The course was scattered with some of my old foes from last year: the Monkey Bars (burpees), the Spear Toss (burpees- although I actually hit the hay bale with spearhead this time), the thing where you jump from wooden post to wooden post (burpees), and the wall traverse (burpees- although I did make it farther this year).
My new burpee-maker (that put me right back at last year’s 150 burpee count) was the rope climb. I know I can’t climb a rope, but this rope had knots that I could use a hand and footholds so I thought I could handle it. I couldn’t. My shoulder, which I had pulled 3 weeks prior to the race, wouldn’t let me pull up enough with my upper body to get my feet high enough to catch the next knot. I tried 3 or 4 times before I accepted my fate and got working on my punishment.
I also ran across some conquerable obstacles from last year. I climbed up and down the cargo nets with no problem – my fear of heights is slowly abating, making these easier for me. I took the shorter walls all by myself and got help from my team mates for some of the 8 and 10 foot monsters. I pulled my cement block on its chain leash around the muddy and rocky circuit slowly but steadily (until the end when some jerk-face left their block in the middle of the path right before the end of the circuit. my block of course got stuck on it.) I easily carried my car tire down and back up a hill. I not-so-easily carried my sandbag up and down a really steep hill. I hoisted my cement block up the pulley system and slowly lowered it back down with a little more hesitation than last year’s smooth-as-butter pull, but I blame that on my bum shoulder being non-conducive to my sit-your-ass-down-on-the-ground-and-pull method.
A brand new obstacle for me was the truck tire flip. Chicks had the option of flipping 2 average-sized car tires. Guys could flip a big truck tire or a giant truck tire. Some medics were taking care of a fallen warrior by the big tires. My pride wouldn’t let me take the girlie route. So my 120lb frame opted for the 100lb+ giant truck tire. And I fucking did it.
A couple of obstacle were kicked up a few notches making them equally harder and more fun.The rope-assisted wall climb got a nice coating of dish detergent to add slipperiness (not that the 4000 muddy people who climbed before me didn’t make it slimy enough.) The slip ‘n’ slide from Hell was made steeper and faster and the pool/rock garden at the bottom was a bit muckier.
Instead of plastic tunnels filled with rocks and mud to crawl through, the set up these things:
There was also this new spin on the cargo net:You may say, “But Nicole, this is just a simple cargo net. What is the big deal?” And I’ll say “It’s moving all over the place every time some else so much as breathes near it. It’s covered in muck. And I can’t reach that fabulous stability rope above it that is supposed to help with the transition over the top. And you have to wait for the person who went before you to get completely over and off the rope before you can have any chance at trying it yourself.” Holy bottleneck, Batman.
And then there was the barbed wire crawl. My dad was watching and told me to stay to the left because the right was covered in rocks. Apparently everybody else had the same idea. So I went right. For 1/4-mile, I crawled through the mud, across the jagged rocks, uphill, under the barbed wire. I rolled. I scooted. I crab-walked. I chicked a lot of guys.
After all was said and done, I triumphantly jumped over the little wall of fire and ran like an attacking horde at the 2 pugil-stick wielding warriors before me.
And promptly slipped in the mud and fell on my ass. After everything I survived, after every fear I overcame, after every bit stronger I felt, I slipped at the feet of the final obstacle. Sigh.
3 hours, 3 minutes, and 13 seconds after starting, I finished. 18 minutes longer than last year. With the same amount of burpees. I failed myself.
But I really didn’t. When I finished the race last year, I was dizzy. I felt like I was going to die. Standing up took too much effort and I had to lay down. It kicked my ass seven shades of Sunday. But this year I felt like I conquered the world. I felt like I could keep going. Like I could do the whole thing again.
Which is a damned good thing, because come September I have legs 2 and 3 of my Spartan Trifecta: the 8+ mile Super and the 12+ mile Beast.
Next Race up: Obstacle Apocalypse on Saturday in New Windsor.
***Who am I kidding? I already signed up for the 2013 Tri-State Spartan Sprint right back in Tuxedo! And who knows? If I can get a sitter, I’ll probably do the PA one, too!