Looking Back on the Beast, and Looking Forward

So, to reiterate from my previous blog post… nothing ever goes as planned.

I decided to wait until my bruises healed (which took a short lifetime, aka two weeks) to write this blog post–and then the week since the hand-sized welt on my thigh and other associated scrapes and bruises healed has been quite an adventure. But one thing at a time.

To talk about the Beast:

Nothing Ever Goes As Planned Incident 1: Sometimes you forget/lose things after you leave. Sometimes those things are important, and sometimes you end up being kinda late for your heat.

But things happen. There’s something to be said for rolling with the punches and being adaptable. But we got up to Killington and started at 11:45 (which afforded some rather cool moments when we passed people that had started at 9:30am) and it was chilly and I was kind of hungry at the start?

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We went down for about four seconds, during which we actually look happy:

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And then we went straight up the mountain. For the first time. And then there were some obstacles, I think, a wall or two, sandbag carry number one. And we came back down. And then here’s us, at about mile one and a half, when we somehow still look mildly pleased with our existences. We’re not dead yet!

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And then we did the (FIRST) bucket carry, and in Maddy’s words, we look about “200% done with this Spartan Race.”

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And then we had this bonding moment in which we helped each other on the Traverse Wall. There’s something to be said for friendship, dears.

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And then we started going back up. And up. And…up. And this was the time that we reached the apex of Mount Killington and they made us climb an A FRAME on TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN. The thing was shaking. I don’t like heights. It was windy, and cold, and I honest to goodness felt like I was going to go flying off of this metal A-frame and fall down the entire mountain. There were way too many trees for that to be actually possible, but ya know. I was still afraid. We then came off the A-frame, went down slightly, did a tractor pull, and then these gorgeous photos were taken.

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And then we did the spear throw. And failed the spear throw. So here’s us doing some burpees.

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And then we went back down the mountain, and did the incline wall. AND THEN THE SECOND BUCKET CARRY. (Not pleased.)

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And then we went back up. This was the section of the race that people called the Death March–we just walked. Straight. Up. It might have taken an hour?

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There was an incline tire pull. There was a lot of mud. There was that time on the way down that I slipped and accidentally kicked Maddy down the mountain. And then here’s us right before the (SECOND) Sandbag Carry from Hell, with Maddy pointing and making her best WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING face. I pretty much agreed.

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At this point, because it had gotten dark, we had to skip some sections because we didn’t anticipate being on the course until it was dark and didn’t have headlamps. Live and learn.

So we went to the Hercules Hoist (and destroyed it, thankyouverymuch), went over the bridge, worked together on the Monkey Bars, did the last uphill section, and then flew across the finish line.

And earned this:

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I forget where the Atlas Carry, the Barbed Wire Crawl on a hill, the balance pegs, and some other very exciting obstacles were… a lot of this day is a blur. This lovely human so kindly took a video and posted it here, so I can relive the torture (and figure out when things happened?) and you can watch and be glad it wasn’t you.

At the same time… there is something beautiful about these races. There were so many moments on that mountain where I thought about my family and my friends–the people who are the most important to me. I thought about getting up the mountain, no matter what it took. And yeah, I thought about quitting–especially during the first mile, when my legs were already about to give out and I kept thinking: I have 14 more miles of this? How am I going to survive? But we did. At the end of the day, together, we did. We definitely joked about how any couple having issues should just do a Spartan Race together–it’s certainly bonding–and how our friendship is stronger because we did it.

Nothing Ever Goes As Planned Incident #2: Sometimes you make it through the athletic event and then injure yourself post-athletic event. See: don’t slam your fingers in the trunk of a car after you run 16 miles. You will bawl like a baby. Good news, though–just a bone bruise. No big deal. Offers a little bit of perspective. Something can happen, injury-wise, any time. Take chances, because sometimes it’s the innocuous thing and not the dangerous one that can get you.

And then we went to McDonald’s and I got a burger with lettuce for a bun (see: gluten-free) and I don’t think I have ever looked so affectionately at food.

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Looking to the future:

The Fenway Spartan Sprint, the event that got me into OCR (I hardly remember a day when I wasn’t in love with this sport) and my personal favorite OCR race, is in November. So I took an entire week off after Killington–yes, a whole, much-needed, week–and then hit the gym again, hard. My friend Chris created some utterly badass workouts to jolt me out of my plateau and force me to push myself. My goal was to beat last year’s time by the same margin as I beat 2012’s time last year: 15 minutes. No small task, having come in at 59:52 last year.

This week, however, I got some news.

To determine, once and for all, if I have celiac disease, I will have to eat gluten for the next six weeks and then have a test to analyze how my system is handling it. Anyone who knows me knows how sick that means I’ll be. I haven’t eaten gluten in 5 years. I’m now on day 4, and as glorious as focaccia bread is and as underrated as bagels are, I don’t really feel like doing much of anything.

Put this in the books as Nothing Ever Goes As Planned Incident #3.

But here’s my perspective, thanks to some awesome, supportive people in my life (Hi, Chris and Alyssa and Derek): it’s not about not doing it, it’s a matter of re-thinking my goals. And being realistic about what I can do, but also not giving in. I’ve been battling my digestive system for such a long time, and I am refusing to let it beat me.

I cannot guarantee how long it will take me to cross the finish line in Fenway. But I will tell you right now, I will cross it.

(And if anybody wants to feed me anything delicious during these six weeks that I’m normally allergic to, hit me up.)

PS. Thanks to Michelle for all the photos! And both Michelle and Alyssa for coming and supporting our crazy endeavors.

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