So here I was working in the booth in beautiful Breckenridge at the Spartan Colorado Rockies races..selling lots of compression socks and skirts to these super tough beastly competitors that were braving these crazy high altitude obstacle course races...(bunch of nut jobs if you ask me). Cindy messages me a picture of a cute race tee that was being sold at the event. It was perfectly retro rainbow-y and mountain-y and I loved it. She texts "do you want one?". I immediately responded "yes please"...not thinking this one through. By the time she got back to the booth I had realized what I had done. Ugh! Double Ugh!! You can't wear the shirt if you don't run the race (you can get bad running juju and God knows I do not need any of that). Oh dear...I was going to have to attempt a Spartan Race. A 5+ mile run up a mountain with a gazillion obstacles thrown in the mix at 10,000+ feet of elevation...what could possibly go wrong? Dumb idea Christy.
So I'm looking at the super cute race tee and them I'm looking at Cindy's double bloody knees and bruises and crazy looking contusions she has come back with after running her Spartan race...after winning her Spartan race...she's a beast. I am not.
My fate was sealed as Cindy had already managed to register me before I could scurry back over and return my tee shirt. This would be my first race of any kind in 2 years...it was time to break the seal...time to get back on the pony...deep breaths.
"Okay Cindy tell me how to do these obstacle things...I need help" I begged. She responded something like "just don't fall off of them because burpees suck...you'll be fine. Trust me after you do some burpees you'll learn the obstacles quick" and sent me on my way up the mountain to the start line. Deep breaths I kept telling myself but we were starting at 10,000' of elevation and there was no oxygen to be had. By the time I had arrived at the start line I was already huffing and puffing...sea level girl here. The announcer is calling us...apparently you have to jump over a wall before you start the race (WHAT?!) and then he pumps up the field with a Spartan cheer...AROO! Then we are off...straight up the mountain. I tucked in nicely behind the herd of mountain goats and sprinted up the hill. Well in my mind and lungs I was sprinting up the hill but in reality it was more like a slow hike. I couldn't breath...oh dear this was going to be painful. "Suck it up" I told myself...surely I'll feel better in 15-20 minutes when I adjust to the thin air. (Nope, that never happened). I knew it was going to be a beautiful race, regardless of the pain and I was reminding myself to embrace the incredible scenery. It was truly beautiful. About a mile in I approached the first obstacle...it was a water crossing. Should be fun...I waded in and gasped...it was so cold! I was about halfway across with water up to my chest when I started making this crazy panting wheezy noise...ffffffffreeeeezing whhhhhhhheeeeeezing I made it across the lake and started running up the mountain again...in my mind. My legs were twin popsicle stumps and not really cooperating with the run thing. At this point I just laughed out loud...and had a conversation with myself and my legs that went something like this. "Just go now...lets get this over with...we are going to be going downhill on a beautiful single track soon and it will be so worth all of this climbing and suffering. You are only going 3-4 miles (this is what cindy sold to me) and if Cindy can win the Ultra Beast (26+ miles) you can gut out a 5k for frick sake. Then I come to a wall...oh dear...I gotta get over that thing. I stood back a few seconds and watched 2 girls in front of me hurl themselves at it and bounce off and fall back down. I have the height thing working for me though and hopefully enough upper body strength to do it so I walk up, staring it down and jumped up...I did it! I did it! I did it! That was way easier than I expected...yay...a boost of confidence and then I started skipping up the hill (in my mind). It was a forever straight up hill climb to next obstacle...the spear throw. Failed it...burpee time. (When you fail an obstacle in a Spartan race you have to do 30 burpees before you can continue on the race course and no, you don't get second tries). The referee points me over to a plot of rocky dirt where I see a few guys doing their penance so I survey the area, looking for a safe place to burpee. Its completely rocky and dirt is flying everywhere from the other burbee-ers. Ooh ouch I'm saying as I feel rocks dig into my flesh with every flopping burpee...this sucks. I have dirt in my eyes, my mouth and it was starting to clump around my groin (thanks to the water crossing) and I cannot catch my breath. Nice I'm thinking...gonna make for some nice race pics. Burpees above 10,000 feet are just cruel. Now I know what Cindy was saying - great advice. Don't fail the obstacles. Got it. Check. Moving on. More walls, more crazy obstacles...30 more burpees! Oh just shoot me...where was the downhill single track? More uphill hucking and now this time we get a bucket to carry which we get to fill up with dirt and somehow pick it up (feels like 100 lbs) and carry it up the hill and then back down. I could hear Cindy's voice in my head "whatever you do, DO NOT SET YOUR BUCKET DOWN. It is way too hard to pick it back up again".
My arms were screaming, my back was screaming, my lungs were screaming, around me guys were screaming (there are so many new noises in a Spartan race), racers are setting their buckets down and then a girl in front of me falls and spills the entire contents of her bucket and starts crying. Oh no! I squeezed my bucket a little tighter and trotted it down the hill, dumped that sucker out and gladly trotted off to the next obstacle...thankful I survived that soul breaking bucket carry. Rope climb - check, hay bells - check. I was amused there were even horses spectating. (In hindsight this was probably just a creation of my oxygen deprived brain). Then it was there! The single track, downhill descent that would lead me to the finish line. "Lets go!" I yelled at my legs outloud. "Its downhill...ya got this...horse to the barn". A guy ran past me then looking at me like I was a nut job. Then I realized I was. I truly was a nut job. I was going to finish this dumb idea and I was actually enjoying the sadistic challenge of it all. I clenched my way through a set of spinning monkey bars (as if regular ones aren't challenging enough) and then it was just a super scary high climb up and down an aframe cargo net and then a barrel roll under barbed wire...oopsy not so fast...hair snagged, pants snagged and top snagged...I untangled myself and rolled it on out, one hand covering my eyes every roll. ("you'll poke your eye out!).
I just had to jump over that fire and cross the finish line. Yay...I stood up and practically fell back down. My world was spinning. Who would have known barrel rolling can make you so dizzy. "Ok, ground yourself Christy, you don't want to fall in the fire. That would be way embarrassing and not the photo finish you want". Then I did it...I leaped over that fire (it seemed unusually small...they probably saw me coming) and finished. I still couldn't breath. I took a quick assessment...no blood, no scratches, no contusions but I was filthy. The burpee dirt clung to my wet pants in a super unflattering look. I think I would rather be bleeding. Blood looks tougher than the peed yourself look I was rocking. But hey, I did it though. I did it and I had a lot of fun in really uncomfortable ways. The scenery was amazing and I felt grateful that I was fortunate enough to be out there, pushing myself. The best thing...now I can wear the cute tee! :)