Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TOTR: You'll know at the finish line.

This could quite possibly be one of the hardest race recaps I've ever had to write. Not because it was a bad race but because there were so many things that made Saturday special that I'm not even sure where to begin! 

I'm going to talk about my volunteer experience in another post (hint: it was AWESOME) but today, I'm linking up for Tuesday's on the Run!

So... where to start. 

The Wintergreen Spartan race is no joke. It's a super (middle distance) but I've heard from NUMEROUS people that it's harder than many... well, almost all... the Beasts. For those of you who don't know, Wintergreen is a ski resort. So, you can only imagine why people would say it's so tough. ;) 

For some perspective, this is a shot from my volunteer spot. Notice that I'm looking dead even with the tops of several mountains. And this was only MID WAY up the "death" march, which I'll talk about later. 

So, of course, being typical Sarah, I totally disregarded all of this and basically went into this race thinking I wouldn't need fuel (wrong), wouldn't need long socks (wrong), and would be okay testing out my brand new trail shoes (wrong). ha. Basically, I broke every major running rule there is on Saturday. 

In addition, I woke up on Saturday at 3:30am, left Peter's parents house by 4, got to Wintergreen by 5:30, volunteered until 1:30 and then raced at 2. 

Again, do as I say, not as I do. 

Anyway, so once my volunteer shift was over, I headed back down the mountain and QUICKLY got ready for the start of the race. I downed some Spark, popped O2 Gold, changed clothes, switched out my shoes, and made it to the starting corral with about 5 minutes to spare. Luckily I was in such a rush/panic to make it that I didn't have time to notice how completely exhausted I already was. 

There are several reasons why I love Spartan races so much but mostly it's because the community is incredible. Saturday was my first Super and my first time racing alone and I have to be honest, I was pretty apprehensive about it for a long time. But as soon as I hopped over the wall into the corral, I immediately remembered why when I originally thought of this plan I knew it would work. Fellow Spartans are AWESOME and it's such a community atmosphere that if I needed any help along the course, I could count on them to get me through. 

Once the announcer got done pumping us up (he's the BEST), it was go time. My legs were a little tired from the get go but let's be honest.. it was only going to get worse from here so I sucked it up and went with it. 

There's absolutely no way possible I could go into every single detail about this course or the race. So instead, I thought I'd break it down into a few simple bullet points of various thoughts and feelings I have about it. 

1. It was the most challenging race I've ever ran in my entire life. No doubt about it. I'm not sure that I ever fully ran a mile the entire course. I literally scaled mountains for 4, almost 5, hours. The "death" march that I alluded to earlier consisted of starting at the base of a black diamond slope and ending at the VERY top. It was brutal. I'm in good shape and even I was struggling at various points on the course. 

2. Emotionally, this race was almost just as challenging. When you start pushing your body to the limit for long periods of time, you start questioning EVERYTHING. Your commitment, your abilities, YOUR LIFE. ha. I can't even begin to tell you all of the random thoughts going through my head. I even shed a few tears going up the mountain--not because I couldn't do it but because I was thinking about my husband and how much I missed him. Lol (Literally saw him right before I went to bed the night before). I have to think that this is what will be happening during my marathon in November. 

3. I'm the strongest I've ever been. There were several obstacles I've struggled with in the past and had no problems with on Saturday. There were only two that I couldn't do--one of them I think I probably could have done had my hands not been so slippery/I had gloves and the other is the rope climb out of the water. I need to work on that. I know I'm strong enough to do it but I need to figure out a better technique. 

4. I should have been more prepared in regards to fuel. Around mile 5, I started crashing out. Luckily mile 6 provided shot blocks but I could definitely tell I was struggling at various points. Next time, I know I need to wear my spibelt. 

5. Note to self: never, EVER wear brand new shoes to an endurance race. Again, I very much underestimated how tough this course was going to be. I have blisters on my heels to prove my stupidity. 

6. I should have spent more time getting my bag together before the race. I brought compression sleeves with me and of course, totally left them back at Peter's parents house. I have some pretty nasty rope burns from the Tyrolean Traverse that could have been prevented. On the bright side, it makes me feel tough. 

7. I have never felt more accomplished than I did when I crossed the finish line on Saturday. Blood, sweat, and tears LITERALLY went into this race and the feeling of finally finishing after almost 5 hours was one of the greatest feelings in the world. I hope this is how I feel after my marathon because there's nothing like it. Every time I look at my medal, I smile. 

This race was one of the best experiences of my life and even though it would have been fun doing this with a big group, I'm glad I tackled it alone. I needed it. I needed to get out of my comfort zone for a few hours and have to rely on myself and strangers to get through. I learned a LOT about myself during that time--mostly that I'm capable of some impressive stuff. And oddly enough, I feel much more confident about my marathon in November after Saturday. 

My advice to you? Go do something that scares you. It's so worth it. 

Have a great Tuesday everyone!



  1. Sounds like an amazing race! I've definitely done races that made me question everything, and finishing made me more proud than anything. Now when I see those medals, they mean more than my other ones and make me feel so strong and amazing. I loved this recap and so happy that you finished! Way to go!

  2. I can only imagine the great community that surrounds a race like this. CONGRATS!!

  3. One of my friends did this one. I am so not a Spartan girl, but it's amazing to hear about your accomplishment! Great job! (And yes, anytime you will be going hard for more than an hour or two, you need fuel!)