Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, right? I definitely pushed that this weekend at the Asheville Spartan Super. This was my first obstacle race ever, and I’m still not completely sure how Jeff managed to talk me into it. BUT I will say I am so glad that he did. I think this race just about compared to running a full – and it took almost as long.
We headed up to Asheville on Friday morning. First up: Sierra Nevada! Jeff has been wanting to go here the past three times we’ve been to Asheville. We spent some time exploring the brewery and grounds. Even though it was raining, the atmosphere was so lively.
After we finished checking out the grounds, we headed up to our cabin in Burnsville. This was my first time using AirBnB. We stayed in the sweetest cabin with an amazing view. Our friends got up around dinner time. We loaded up on carbs and watched Get Out <– highly recommend!
The next morning, it was RACE DAY! Our heat was at 10:15, which gave us plenty of time to make the hour drive to Black Mountain.
I was already pretty nervous, and this did not help at all. Thankfully the energy in the village was contagious and the wait for our heat passed quickly. We studied the course map and checked out some of the obstacles while we waited. Something that was really different for me for this race was not knowing anything about the course ahead of time. I think this might have been a good thing – I can’t stress if I don’t know what to stress over. Right?!
The course ended up being about 8 miles. I wore my old Garmin Forerunner 10, but it died about two miles in. We had a “river crossing” first thing that was more like a fording. It rained the night before, so the water was pretty deep – over my head. Swimming is not my strong suit so I was kind of freaked out, but there was no way but through!
First up on dry land was the overwalls and hurdles – I like that these were first because they gave me some confidence. After that was the cliff climb. The elevation changes throughout the course was insane – about 1,500 feet overall. The cliff climb had us going up ropes about 20 feet. I was pretty freaked out and slid around a bit, but I made it. After that was the six foot wall. I needed a little boost from Jeff to get over it, but it wasn’t bad. Then we had the sandbag carry. I was worried about this obstacle while I was training. It really wasn’t terrible. We had a short out-and-back that was less than a quarter mile and fairly flat.
Next was the Z-wall. I had a good rhythm going until I crossed over and fell. First set of burpees! We “ran” for a good bit after that, and by run I mean hiked and crawled. There were several places along the course where there was no way to get up other than on hands and knees or to slide down on your booty. We made it back to the festival area and had the Herculean Hoist. Not terrible so long as you lay down and then lift. Then we had the dreaded spear throw… and 30 burpees. This was a popular burpee zone!
Since this was all in the festival area, we had three more obstacles in quick succession. First was the barbed wire crawl. I alternated between rolling and crawling. My hip got cut up pretty badly on this one. From there, it was time for rolling mud and the dunk wall. I was nervous going into this obstacle and it wasn’t my favorite. Can’t you tell?
Next was the slip wall, which was sort of like the cliff climb. The platform was of course covered in mud. I was insistent that Jeff go behind me in case I fell. Focusing on one step at a time and trying my hardest not to pitch forward, I made it to the top! … Then fell as soon as I touched the top to get over. I slid from the very top to the bottom and took Jeff out on my way. My ego and shoulder were SORE after that.
We had more hiking/running/crawling before making it to the A-frame cargo and atlas carry – another one I was worried about not being strong enough for. Spartan Race had posted a tutorial for the atlas carry on their Instagram, so thankfully that helped a lot. I knelt on the ground and sort of rolled the ball up until I could stand. We had to carry about 10-15 feet, do five burpees, then come back. After that, we used a cargo net to climb a short cliff and then tackled the seven- and eight-foot walls. This took me a couple tries. I had to use the women’s step for the seven-foot wall and Jeff gave me a boost for the eight-foot wall. Almost immediately after that was the bucket carry. This was tougher than the other carries. We went uphill, then downhill, then turned around and came back. It was tough. I’m thinking it was about a quarter mile start to finish. The next obstacle, Bender, I was just not comfortable with, so I got started on burpees while the boys tackled it. Following this was the log carry and another cargo climb. The inverted wall was next. It looked really intimidating, but this super nice girl stopped to show me how to do it. No burpees for me here!
We made our way back to the festival area for the last few obstacles – which of course were a ton of burpee-makers: rope climb, twister, and multi-rig all did me in. Ninety more burpees. Between these, though, I was able to do Olympus (with assistance – that thing was nuts), the tire flip, and bridge. The women’s tires were 200 pounds, but the hardest part was getting a grip under it to get going. I pretty much felt like WonderWoman after this obstacle, but quickly came back to Earth at the bridge. I HATE heights and this was pretty much my worst nightmare, but I had to do it to get to the finish line.
And finally… we were there!
That medal felt so good to put on. While I didn’t train for this race as long as I have others, it was such a challenge, both mentally and physically. I think I’ll be back once this training cycle is over!
So, are you thinking about running a Spartan race? Some tips if you are a first-timer that I wish I knew beforehand:
- Be prepared to wait at some obstacles, especially at the beginning.
- Wear tight clothing!
- Bring fuel. You will be out there for a while and will need more than what you can get at the aid stations.
- Do it with a friend – you will need support, whether mental or physical, at some point!
- Do not expect a nice shower at the end. 🙂