Spartan! (and weekend)

I have sat for the last few days and tried to wrap my head around the adventure we had this weekend. I have started and erased probably twenty different posts because I just can’t figure out just the right way to tell you all about the awesomeness that ensued. I suppose the best way for that is to start at the beginning. But what really is the beginning? I have to go back a bit for that.

I was visiting with my friend Heidi. There was good coffee and laughter and many stories. Among them the story of our friend Teros. She told me of the trials he had attempting his Spartan race; of the utterly non-helpful (and downright rude) volunteers, of his despair over failing, and of the thought of the Fenway Spartan.

 

Jokingly I said, “let’s do it!”

 

I had been considering the Super Spartan at Wintergreen (the end of Aug) to be my first Spartan race. By this point I had decided that between the injuries and illnesses and setbacks to my training over the summer that I wasn’t going to be able to RACE, but looking into it I would still be able to VOLUNTEER and get a free race entry. FREE is much more my style. Oldest boy and I talked about it and decided that it would be a good thing to do. We could volunteer and get into the Spartan Community, and earn a free race to go and help out our friend.

 

At this point I had never really interacted with Teros online. But he is part of my nerdfamily. There were going to be other friends going and I got excited! Plane tickets were purchased, vacation time at work arranged and everything was in order!

 

Then camp in sept and afterwards some pain that I had been having in my abdomen/ribs culminated in a trip to the ER. Dealt with this for a month and finally ended up needing to get steroids and lidocaine in my ribs (OUCH!). We still aren’t sure what caused it (or why it’s coming back) and I have to follow up on it. I was debating even going to Boston. I didn’t feel that I could race because the pain was a serious issue (for those of you that know me, if it’s bad enough to send me to the emergency room it’s pretty bad and I feel like I am going to die by that point. I have a fairly high tolerance of what I can do and this kept me out of the gym for TWO MONTHS!!)

 

My good friends though convinced me that it was important to come to Boston and at least join the ranks of the cheerleaders and that it would be fun! Nerdsgiving we were calling it! Our nerdfamily was getting together to celebrate and cheer and support each other! By the end of it there were more than 30 nerds that congregated in Boston that weekend. We were broken into two groups, the Framingham nerds and the city nerds.

 

Finally the weekend of the race arrived. I worked tue/wed/thurs nights (and because of a phone call/miscommunication I ended up getting up at 1400 on thursday before work). When I got off fri morning I went home and finished packing and went to get my oil changed (and new wipers!) and breakfast with the boy and whatnot. Then we headed to the airport.

 

 

I got a small rest at the airport (closed my eyes but didn’t sleep) for maybe a half hour.

 

Waiting was hard and I was super grumpy

Eventually we got all boarded and ready to fly. It was Jeff’s first trip that he remembered (he flew as an infant once).

 

It was a nice uneventful flight and I got about a half hour nap in. Until the flight attendant woke me up to ask me if I wanted pretzels. SIGH.

 

We landed and got to the drive just as Jim and Christi were pulling into get us. It took us FOREVER to get to the train station where we were picking up Heidi and Graeme (the kinda crappy thing though is that we learned when we were leaving that there was free transportation on the metro from the airport to that same train station)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah well, live and learn I suppose.

 

We ate first dinner

 

 

 

 

 

Once their train got in we headed back to the hotel for second dinner.

 

 

 

I was pretty much useless by this point. I had been up since 1400 the day before and it was now about 2200. I took my happy little heinie off to bed.

 

The next morning I got up and headed downstairs for breakfast. I have no pictures of how awesome the food was. You just have to take my word for it. We went and did some shopping for nerdsgiving and then I did my prep because I knew I would be crazy tired after the race (and I was right).

 

I found broccoli the size of my head.

 

 

 

did some prep and did the boys hair

Our start time was 1530 and so we planned to leave by noonish to get there ontime. One guide (from the spartan website) said to be there 2 hours early. And another guide (from another place on the spartan website) said an hour and a half. We got through the massive (to me anyways) Boston traffic crud and got there at about 1330. Checking in and waiting for the rest of our cheering/racing squad was COLD. It felt like it was 90 below zero, but it was really in the high 30’s. Luckily it was sunny.

We were kinda excited in the car on the way there

 

 

 

 

 

I had a little snack.

 


I LOVE these things

 

 

(Teros (with the beard) Jeff (in the back) Ravnos/Ian (in the brown hat) Jim (grey hat) Christi (front and center) Kitbit/Melissa (the shawty in the brown jacket) and Me (in the NF shirt on the right))

 

 

We went and hung out with some of the nerds who were at the bar across the street, partly to warm up some and partly to use the bathroom. I miss my nerds

 

 

There was some CRAZINESS at checkin. When Jeff and I checked in the guy said we needed one white band with our start time on it for the group (when we REALLY needed one per runner!!) and so Jeff didn’t get one. It’s a good thing though because it turns out that through some weird twist of fate Teros didn’t get a white band either. But we didn’t know how important that was until later.

 

We waited and waited and froze and waited and froze!

 

 

Wandered inside of Fenway in the common area a while. It was SUPER crowded

 

 

At 1515 they called us to come to the gate and line up. Heidi had gotten to the start ahead of us and had come back and asked me if we were starting. When she asked if we were starting now I said yes because I thought we were!  We started to go through the gate to head to the start line when we learned that EVERY runner must have the white start time band. Jeff and Teros ran back to the start. There was a wall before we ever got to the start line! This didn’t even seem fair! We hadn’t even STARTED the race yet and there were obstacles?! I didn’t realize it was going to take them so long and I guess it’s my fault that we got so separated. Sorry guys.

 

Finally Jeff and Teros make it back to us and over the wall and we head to the starting line. We come around a corner and see the monkey bars and it looked like that was going to be the first obstacle. Uh NO. This was such a loopy twisted course that I got so insanely turned around and really don’t remember much!

 

I am going to write this up with a list I compiled and talked to friends about. I am not sure if this is the ACTUAL order of things or just an approximation. But it’s what ya got 😉 .

 

The first obstacle was the bear crawl. Over knobby stabby hurty ground glass feeling concrete. They had these bungee cord ropes criss crossed across the walkway that you had to go under.  We had to go up several ramps (felt like we turned the corner four times maybe?). I had my backpack with my camelbak hydration bladder (good thing because there was only 3 water stations and I ended up drinking about 2.5 L) and it kept getting caught on the ropes so after a little while Jim took it from me. It’s a good thing I thought to brace my ankle that I had injured a couple times earlier in the year because I started the day with it achy and stiff. By the end of the bear crawls it was burning and painful.

 

 

People tell me that the monkey bars were next but I remember other obstacles first. Not that it really matters. I failed. I can’t do monkey bars to begin with and wasn’t even going to try. Jeff saw some other people walking across the bottom with people sitting on their shoulders to do them and we thought we could try. It WOULD have worked except for the monkey bars weren’t all the same height and Jeff is SHORT. Also, they were GIANT and I couldn’t wrap my hands around them. Jim rescued me after the I couldn’t reach the third bar and helped me down without falling.

 

This is the part where I tell you all that I owe you burpees. I will count them as I go. Our team wasn’t really stopping for them, and I feel like I have cheated. I didn’t do burpees here. I will do them though (probably next week once I get back to being able to move my arms well).

 

We came out on this wall and rested a bit. I don’t know WHEN it was but I am putting it here

 

 

 

 

So next on my list was the jerry can carry. Girls got to carry one can with water and boys had to do two. I said at the beginning and I will say again I wasn’t worried about the “carry this thing” kinda obstacles. I knew going into it that I could carry anything they threw at me. We had to carry a jug of water (like the kind you keep water in your car in… maybe 8 gal… maybe 10??) up down around and through. I just hoisted it up on my back and slogged on. The worst part of it was that some how it leaked on me and spilled all down my back so I was soaking wet (which didn’t really bother me after the initial shock until later when we were in the bar.)

 

The other carry thing was the “spartan pancake”

 

 

boys got 40# and girls were 20 (or 25?)  I just sat it on my shoulder and did my stairs. More up. More down. More around. It was a sandbag and it balanced quite nicely.

 

Then the overhead medicine ball slam. We each got this medicine ball. Which was like a half full basketball sized thing. I have no idea what the men’s size was but mine said 15. We had to lift it from the ground and stand up and hold it overhead then put it back on the ground. I have TERRIBLE aim and was terrified that I was going to drop it on my foot so I just sat it down. 25 of those and we move on!

 

Down around up some more. (Can you sense a theme here?) and we go into a locker room. Not sure whose (visitor or home I mean.) Hand release push ups. 25 I think. On the knees (because I can’t do full on push ups yet. I will by the next spartan though.)

 

Down around up some more.

 

Ian and Jeff waiting for us at one point.

 

I have the atlas ball on my list next. There was this concrete bit. Looked like they had made it in a bucket about half full. We had to pick it up, carry it across the deck, then do 5 burpees and carry it back. I helped Teros’ sister lift hers and carry it over then came back for mine. Did my burpees and then carried it back. Also helped Teros sis pick hers up. I have no clue how much it weighed. I just know it was intensely awkward.

 

UGHSIGH I have next on my list banded jump rope. This was crap. You get this battle rope, I think it’s about an inch around. It was WAY TOO LONG for me. And it was easy to grab at the ends of it where it was taped. And you are supposed to jump rope with this thing. AND they make you put an elastic band around your ankles. I could jump and I could flop the rope but I couldn’t coordinate the two. Failed obstacle number two.

 

Next the traverse wall. This long wall with blocks set at random angles and heights (some were close to the ground and some were close to the top). You weren’t allowed to grab the blocks at the top. And the randomness of the ones at the bottom was bugging my ankles. My team just kinda walked past it. Failed Obstacle number three.

 

There were some stairs. Fitbit said it was roughly 50 flights (frankly from how everyone was talking about ALL THE STAIRS I thought there would be more)  We’d go up the stairs and then across the either seats or behind the seats and then down again.

 

 

that’s Jeff at the back of the group of us walking across.

 

 

the group of us catching our breath at the top

 

 

walking between the seats (I have big bruises on the outside of my thighs from knocking into the seats over and over)

 

 

At one point we were heading down, and I could look over and see that there was a million more (in my head it accounted to a million) ups and downs and I was tired and getting hungry and we hadn’t gotten any where near done (this was close to the end but in my mind we weren’t even half done). Going up the stairs wasn’t as hard as going down. The stairs were uneven and in some places with the shadows (and my glasses being tinted  in the cold it took forever to change back when we went inside and stuff) it was difficult for me to tell where I was at. I was getting super frustrated and dismayed and feeling like I should just give up because I was sore and tired and hungry. But I had a team to support. And I made a promise to my nerds to try my hardest.

So I put my hands in the air and started speaking scripture to myself. I told myself that I was MORE than a conqueror. I told myself that it wasn’t even half a thing and I can do all things! I told myself over and over that it was nothing that the Spirit in me couldn’t’ handle and help me through. More than anything though I just repeated I am more than a conqueror. I started a smile. Then a giggle. By the time I got to the bottom of the stairs I had myself so tickled that I was full out laughing. I got some funny looks from others as I was catching up to Jim. I just looked at him and said more than a conqueror when he asked if I was ok. And from then on out it was just one stair. Then one more stair. Then one stair. I had the stairs in the bag.

 

The herculean hoist. This one was my obstacle. This was the obstacle we volunteered at when we were at wintergreen. We spent 8 hours on this obstacle. Besides the carry heavy crap ones it’s one of the few I wasn’t worried about. So there’s a sandbag. Attached to a rope. That runs through a pulley. And down to the ground. The purpose is to lift it to the top and then set it down. Started hoisting mine and the guy was like you know you can just wrap it around your  waist and walk. OK. I start walking backwards and got almost to the end and lost my balance and fell on my hiney.  DID NOT DROP MY ROPE. Then walked the thing back in. Teros’ sister had some trouble so I helped her with the last bit od hers.

 

 

Then the Cargo net. I think this is the point where I was the most terrified. I am getting over a fear of heights. I can handle most things if I can see that my feet are on solid ground and that I am not likely to fall.

 

 

getting ready and psyching myself out. I am the one on the ground furthest left.

 

 

roughly a third of the way up

 

Jim stayed super close to me. About half way up there was a girl who pushed between us and I almost lost my balance. This was a cargo net made out of what felt like cargo straps that you use on your truck. It moved with EVERYTHING and not just my movement. When the girl shoved between us I about bit her. I was so angry because I almost fell.

 

 

almost there

 

 

This is where I kicked a guy in the face. Not on purpose. I had to swing to the side to get over and when I looked back to make sure I wasn’t going to hit anyone he wasn’t there. But he was rushing and trying to slide by me and I guess he miscalculated where I was putting myself. I am super glad I didn’t knock him off the net because we were super high.

 

Jeff on the cargo net

 

 

Interspersed throughout the race were random walls. We had a wall before we even got to the start line. Most of the walls were about my height. Those we did by having Jeff kneel and we stepped on him then someone helped the other leg over. At the beginning of the race I was able to just swing and fall and land. By the end I needed help on the other side. Jeff thinks they were about 5, 8, and 10 feet. I did ALL of the shortest walls. The 8 foot wall I attempted… and I could have gotten over it but as I got close I couldn’t figure out how to fall without hurting myself. So I bailed. Failed obstacle number four.

 

I have no idea at which point we came across the dugout.

 

 

 

 

cheesy spartan grin

 

 

I don’t think he was impressed

 

 

Then we come down onto the green and start around towards the finish. IT IS IN SIGHT! We come around to do the box jumps and what do I see but Steve and Staci and all our nerds who had been so gloriously cheering us on for so long in the cold.

 

 

I about burst into tears!!

 

We had to do 20 box jumps. At this point I was so tired that I stepped up and pulled my other leg up. Probably didn’t count as I didn’t stand ALL the way up. I don’t really care. I had both feet on the box. I did my first set of ten and stepped back for a minute to rest before finishing. Some lady stepped in and did hers. I had zero problem waiting long enough for her to finish.

 

Went around the corner to the rope climb. Jeff did mine. I had a pitch climber. I will leave it up to you guys my friends if you think this one counts as failed obstacle number five.

 

Then the Gauntlet

 

 

 

 

and the finish line

 

 

 

and yes I cried

 

and yes Jeff called me a waterbender and I got an “aww mom why you gotta cry”

 

but I did it

 

 

booya

 

We went to a bar and hung out with some nerds for a while. But all I could think about was food and the hot tub (I hadn’t eaten since breakfast) and I don’t really remember many people. I only hope I wasn’t to hangry grumpy.

 

 

ran into my favorite goober

 

 

 

a REALLY tall nerd

 

 

the top group is the nerds who ran. and the bottom is ALL the nerds 🙂 who were in the boston 🙂

 

here were 4156 women… and 8992 total… I wasn’t the slowest

I was second to last in my age group…

 

 

Back at the hotel we did the hot tub and then foods

 

 

(this got BLACK and hard and is my most painful injury)

 

 

my leg… this also got black and is black more than a week after the race

 

 

I could barely keep my eyes open as I ate/inhaled my chicken.

 

There was more stuffs… but I was so tired that I crashed hard and don’t remember it.

 

Sunday there was more hot tub

 

 

and then the boy and I went home

 

 

we had some interesting travel snacks. I had a couple chicken breasts and boy had oreos.

 

Sunday was HARD. I got up at 9am and we didn’t get home until 230 am monday. I had to work monday night so I went to sleep.

 

 

I was spartan strong at work 😉 somewhere I managed to bust up my lip… and my wrist was painful so I wrapped it…

 

 

fitbit stats from the day

 

 

 

 

so I guess it was closer to 60 flights of stairs. I still thought it would be more

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Robertson Mountain – 1Nov14

It started cold. COLD I say. I wish there were more photos but it was an insanely cold day especially once we neared the top. The summit was so foggy that it was like something out of a Stephen King novel. But the best place to start is at the beginning!

Woke up at 0darkthirty and started the rest of the getting of stuff in the car. I had told the kids to have ALL of their stuff together and ready to go into the car before bed but they didn’t listen :(. So we go and pick up Hannimal. It’s a good thing that we picked her up first. It’s a good thing because she had some serious perfume on and when I had an insane asthma attack and went for my bag with the inhaler in it we found that my bag wasn’t in the car. So…. to turn around and grab my pack (which included my WATER for the day… and my meds)

This is why we were almost a half hour late to the parking lot. It was probably a good thing we started later. As cold as it was when we got up on the summit? I can’t imagine being there half hour earlier.

It was so intensely beautiful. The crisp air only served to intensify the colors on the trees. When we started the clouds were no more than a thought in the air. The weather channel app on my phone said there was to be a high of 51 and only 30% chance of rain. The weather channel app LIED. LIED I tell you!

a view of Robertson mountain from the parking lot

map of Robertson Mountain trail

This is the same place we park when we do Old Rag. It actually takes part of the same trail. We started up the Berry Hollow fire road. First break was at the kiosk where the Berry hollow fire road, Old rag fire road, and Weakly hollow fire road meet with the Old Rag saddle trail. Waited FOREVER for the rest of our party to meet up with us. It felt like the temperature was dropping by the minute.

We continued down the Weakly fire road. It wasn’t long before we saw the turn off to the Robertson mountain trail. And then the UP began.

Elevation map

According to hiking upward there is a 1700 foot elevation gain in 1.5 miles. Again I wish I had more pictures. It was intensely beautiful.

view of Old Rag from Robertson

I like my panoramic shots

Hannah next to the stream on the way up.

This was one of the least steep sections of the way up. Most of it was VERY steep.

near the summit

It started to “rain” on the way up. Well it sounded like rain but it was really ice. Around the summit it turned into snow. It was so awesome that we were above the clouds. It was like something in a Stephen King novel. We kept going in and out of the fog and clouds and it was snowing off and on. By the time we got to the summit it was entirely snow.

Zombie and Jube

Zombie was so worried about Jube being cold that he carried her for a good while in his coat.

trick photography

There was really only one Zombie and one Jube.

Hannah and me on the summit

CLOUDS!

It was nearly desolate at the top. And it was so intensely cold when we stopped moving. It was horrible for another reason. Shakespeare was carrying ALL my food. So I had an orange and a few slices of cheese and a RX bar. I think part of the reason that I was SO intensely freezing was that I was STARVING!

Freezing hugs

I really wanna see this tree in the spring and summer. I think it would be so pretty!

me and Zombie

It didn’t take us long to get down from the summit. It was so frigid that we hurried just to stay warm. We got back to the car around 1530. We didn’t check to see exactly what time we left the cars but I think it was around 0900. We did it in about 6.5 hours. This is faster than my usual time (I do roughly a mile an hour, especially where there is a good deal of elevation change.)

All in all it was a great time!! I can’t wait to go back again when there is more color in the trees. I LOVE spring hiking and I can’t wait to see it when there are blooms on the trees. I believe it will be awesome. Also there is a multitude of trails up there that I didn’t know about. I am excited to get out there and explore more. There is no camping above a certain point in the back country, but there are so many trails that we could spend DAYS camping and hiking and not worry about that no camping rule. I look forward to planning longer trips in the spring/summer.