The day finally came. Four months of planning, four months of training, four months of creating friendships and memories with people I had only met the day of my first race. I was finally going to be receiving my Trifecta at the Spartan Beast in Monterey along with my four amazing friends Kelsea, Dustin, JT and Jesse. Along for the ride was McKenna who was doing her second Spartan race, as well as Cass and Brenden who were doing their first ever Spartan. Talk about tough guys, not only making the Beast their first race, but also doing one of the hardest obstacle locations known within the Spartan community. To say I was excited was an understatement. I was surrounded with people I love; running the course with people who have come to inspire and motivate me. I was ready for this!
I had spent Friday volunteering and setting up the final touches for the course. Because of this early preview to the course I thought I had a pretty good handle on what was to come, but what I wasn’t prepared for were the hills. I had been told over and over again that the hills were hard and to take it easy. They weren’t joking! The climbs were brutal!!
The start of the race was like every other race. The MC gets you pumped up, gets you into your Spartan mentality. These are the last few seconds you have before you throw your body into whatever extreme journey the Spartan builders have prepared for you. My team of 8 had been running late that morning so none of us had any time to stretch, we were being thrown into the unknown with partially cooled bodies. Our warm-up was going to be the sprint out of the starting line. The second the race began we were off, over the 5ft wall (thankful JT made it over without face planting this time), and on to the U-O-U-O-U and U-O-T (U=under, O=Over and T=Through). I was pumped! In prior races I had difficulties getting OVER the walls. They are puny walls, but I am short and have little upper body strength, which resulted in me “cheating” and getting yelled at as I went over. However, this time was different. I got over the walls with no struggle at all! All of the other walls I needed help getting over, but at least I was making progress!
As the race continued on we were soon thrown into the hills. At first I tried running up them, but that proved to be pointless. Why exhaust myself this early in the race when we hadn’t even made it to mile marker 1? This was the point in the race that our group of 8 split off. Some went ahead and others fell behind. Despite us being separated as a group we were racing together in spirit. The Spartan Raiders had hit the trail and nothing was going to stop us! The thing I love about my group is we each, individually, have our strengths and weaknesses. We have come to learn what these are about each other, so we push each other through the hard times and cheer each other on through everything. There is no judgement in our group, but rather solidarity in knowing that we are capable.
As Dustin and I continued on through the hills we hit some traffic jams. There were runners up ahead who were on crutches. This excited me because that could potentially mean that Amanda was ahead. Amanda is a girl I am following on Instagram. She has become so inspirational to me in all that she has accomplished even with her setbacks. She doesn’t let them get in her way though. Could Dustin and I have made our way around the traffic jams to get in the lead? Sure, but that poison oak wasn’t looking too appealing to us, and with Dustin wearing shorts it wasn’t the smartest idea to take the risk of being itchy the next day. As soon as we got off the mountain we saw Amanda and her team and that motivated me to no end. My goal had been to see her during the race and I just had!
We rounded the next corner and there sitting before us were the rolling mud hills and the monkey net! The monkey net was still in full operation, woot! woot! The excitement coming from Dustin when we saw that was pure joy. As we waited in line we both assessed how much worse the ground underneath had gotten from the previous day and we knew they would be shutting the obstacle down shortly as the morning race continued. Climbing the platform I let Dustin go first. He did the obstacle with such ease and made it across, rang the bell and dropped into the water. Goal “No Burpees” was still in check! Me however, my height disadvantage got the best of me. I couldn’t reach the netting. I tried swinging up to the net and I tried stretching, but to no avail. Eventually I gave in and swung off the platform into the cold water below. After I got out of the water I walked over to burpee-ville and punched out my 30 burpees. For every set of burpees I did (90 total – 3 failed obstacles: Monkey Net, Rope Climb and Spear Throw) Dustin was the cheering me on and giving me a high-five after each set of 30. He may have made it through without doing any burpees, but we both knew that wasn’t going to be the case for me, so it goes back to our team knowing each other so well and cheering each other on through the nitty gritty!
Back to the hills we went. We had no idea how long these hills would go on for. We would be climbing and think we had reached the top, but then turn a corner or come up over a crest and realize there was still more to climb. They were never ending! Thankfully we both had our Reebok All-Terrain shoes on. These shoes were specifically made for the Spartan races, and they worked beautifully. We had so much traction on those hills that it made it easy to make it up and around people as they struggled while slipping off some of the steeper sections. As the race continued we were faced with obstacles such as the bucket brigade, demo carry, cement block pull, sandbag carry and walls varying in height. When it came to the walls I was extremely thankful that Dustin allowed me to step on his shoulder for a little extra boost, otherwise I would have struggled getting over them. There were a couple of obstacles that I had surprised myself with. In previous races I had struggled with the balance blocks and the tire flips. For the balance blocks I had frozen half way through and broke down crying from fear of breaking my femur at the Sprint and for the tire flips I always received help from one of my teammates. However, this race I was able to complete both!! It is such an amazing feeling when you complete obstacles that once challenged you to the point of failure.
There are always a few of my favorite obstacles out there on the course and they include the barbed wire crawls, rolling mud hills and the inverted wall. Rolling around and splashing in mud are just such fun activities I don’t see how anyone could hate them! The first time my parents saw the mud on the course at the first race they knew from that instant on that I would be hooked and they were right. I haven’t looked back since. The inverted wall scares the living hell out of me. You are hanging backwards and trying to swing your body up and over a wall. My femur fear gets to me every time and it has been a consistent obstacle that terrifies me, yet I complete it with such ease that I have to love it! Another new obstacle they had out the course this time was the Yoda Tires. Basically tire swings. Seriously, what I love about this race is that it is your chance to play on a grown up playground. There are challenges, there are difficult obstacles to get you to quit, but you get to play in mud, swing on tires, climb ropes, hop walls. How could this not sound like the best thing ever?!
When all was said and done and I crossed that finish line I was ecstatic! I had just received my Trifecta and I was surrounded by people I love. We all came out here with one goal in mind and we did it! All 8 of us received our Monterey Beast Medal!!!! I am extremely thankful to my teammates, those who have been with me at every race, those who I have come to know from one weekend spent with each other, those who go along on this wonderful journey with me. I am thankful Dustin helped me out as much as he did, he was such a true sport, and even though we both had our setbacks we made the best of it. Thank you to the Spartan Raiders for making this weekend one of the best weekends. Road trips will never be the same without you guys! Thank you to every single person I met out there on the trail. Thank you for letting me, a stranger, massage your knots out of your backs, legs and arms. Thank you for cheering me on during my struggles and for allowing me to cheer you on. Thank you to the Spartan team for letting me volunteer and help make this race possible. Thank you Joe and Andy for creating this amazing obstacle course race. Thank you to every single person who has been on this journey with me, whether in person, in spirit, or in reading my posts. There aren’t enough thank you’s, so in general THANK YOU!
This isn’t the end for me, but rather the beginning. I have found something I love, something that challenges me, forces me to grow. I have received my first Trifecta in a matter of four months and I have so many other goals and aspirations within Spartan racing that it will keep me going for years to come. I am looking forward to my next race in Temecula on September 13th, 2014. Until then I look forward to sharing with you my journey leading up to it and all the goals I wish to accomplish!