Today is going to be a doozy of a blog post. For starters I spent the last 4 days away in Ottawa for the finale of the Eastern Canada Spartan Race season. I tackled my first Spartan Race Beast course! I’ve got a lot of material to cover! Are you ready? Let’s go…
I drove up to Mt St Marie (the venue for the Ottawa Spartan weekend) with my friend John. We made a few stops along the way to have gelato with my grandmother in Kingston and then dinner with my parents on Thursday night. Mama B spoiled us with pork tenderloin, mushrooms & roasted vegetables. We arrived at the Mt St. Marie cottage later that night to settle in. We were sharing a cottage with 10 other Alpha Obstacle Training members so it was fun to catch up with everyone. Our condo was 5 mins from the race site & just up a path from a small lake. The view was utterly amazing. This race has to be hands down the prettiest one I’ve run this year!
On Friday we wanted to get a good shake out run in and get our mountain legs ready. I’ve been racing in Mizuno Wave Kazans and after over 20 races in them they started getting holes in the toe so Mizuno thankfully sent me brand new shoes for this race. I love the new purple colour and I wanted to get them broken in a bit so we headed out for a run and over to the festival area at the base of the mountain.
They have a traverse Z Wall & Slack Line set up so you can practice on 2 of the obstacles that are becoming standard at these races. The slack line is a hit or a miss obstacle for me depending on how my legs feel when I get to it. I practiced several times on Friday to ensure I got it during the race this weekend (which I did!)
We were running at a good clip after practicing obstacles. My ankle was feeling good. My legs were warming up. I stepped aside to let a mountain biker pass and bam I was in excruciating pain on my right hand. I looked down and started swatting at the black mass attached to my pinky. I have no idea if I was bite or sting or what was attached to my appendage but I yelled like a banshee. This was not a good pain. I ran back to the condo immediately to run cold water over it and started squeezing the area hoping there was nothing inside my hand. It started to swell immediately. John came running into the condo having apparently heard my yell (the boys were running pretty far ahead of some of us). John and I drove into town to buy Benadryl and I took 2 immediately. Although the rest of my day was a woozy one the swelling was limited to my pinky. We even managed to relax a bit on the beach by the lake and took an epic jump shot!
My hand got considerably worse on Saturday. We watched Jesse & Sylvie run the Super but when my entire hand started swelling we thought it would be best to go to the hospital. I kept making jokes like “I have fat kid hand!” and “Oh knuckles I miss you” but it was getting pretty bad. We drove 40 mins to Wakefield to see if I could see a doctor while using my 6 Pack Bag ice packs to try and reduce the swelling.
We waited for 4 hours and barely got seen by a triage nurse. I was more concerned with how John’s race was going to go the next day as he was racing the Ultra Beast, let alone mine so I made a decision that it was more important to get back to the condo, make dinner, pack our supplies for the next day and go to bed early. Despite having a really fat hand and being in pain I chose to just ice it and would deal with it the next day if it was still bad.
Here’s how Sunday went!
Registration was a real mess. I’ve never seen the line up so long. Eastern Spartan Race has got to figure out a better method or if they need more computers because the Ultra Beasts barely got through registration in time to start. They started an hour before the Beast first wave. The 8am wave had headed out while I was inside and people were still trying to get through the line! I luckily got registered for the Beast and headed outside to warm up before our 9am start. My hand was still really swollen so I mentally prepared for a burpee heavy race. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to grip things like the Platinum Rig or Monkey Bars so I told myself you got this. I train at Alpha Obstacle Training and do burpees on a weekly basis so that wasn’t going to stop me. It was for sure going to slow me down and tire me but I could do this.
I got into the start corral and closed my eyes. I decided to repeat my favourite race mantra in my head “YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK” and “YOU GOT THIS”. I truly believe this mentally set me up for an amazing race. All week I had prepared to run this race alone so I was excited for some time with me and my thoughts.
At the top of the first hill, I found my friend Tara sitting on the ground in pain and crying. I stopped and picked her up and put my arm around her. I was so glad to see her familiar face but immediately went into mom worry mode. I asked her if it was her ankle (which she’s twisted this year), her hamstring (which she also injured) or her compartment syndrome (which she suffers from.) She said compartment syndrome which was making the hamstring hurt. I asked her what she wanted to do and she said she just needed to get down the mountain. So she started running and I followed at break neck pace (she’s a tad faster than me!) and got her to pace me down the first mountain! I’m so grateful. I’m sad she had to pull out but I’m also super proud of her for listening to her body and getting to run with her a bit.
At the base of the first mountain was the cargo net and then the Platinum Rig which was set up with 3 different kind of monkey bars (regular, fat & square) and then the next section was ropes & rings. I did 60 burpees at the Platinum Rig, headed up the mountain for the next climb and got backlogged at the low barbed wire crawl (you can see the line up in the picture below). That was an intense crawl with a lot of people around. As amazing as that obstacle is if you’re going to make it that hard you need to make it wider to allow for more people to get through. On the climb my friend Brian from Alpha was a few steps behind me. As we crested a small ridge halfway up the mountain he yelled “I’ve never said this before in my life, But Wait… There’s More” I yelled back that it was definitely making the blog and off we trudged higher.
I came back down the mountain and did another 30 burpees at the Platinum Rig Rope Climb again as I was scared my fat hand just wouldn’t be able to do any gripping. I’m sad I didn’t attempt but I knocked out those burpees and headed off to the Herc Hoist. I managed this with ease despite my swollen hand so I made the decision to try the higher rope climb. I actually managed it with a bit of ease so I impressed myself and got excited to continue. I showed my hand to Katie (another Alpha teammate who was watching the race) and despite her asking me to stop I promised I would if the swelling went up to my elbow. It was only halfway up my forearm at the rope climb.
This race was a beauty with climbs through the mountain biking area and beautiful trail runs. I took gels every 45 mins to 1 hour and replenished my 2L water pack once so I went through 4L of water (and a bit at the water stations). I used Skratch Labs electolytes in my hydration pack. I drank a serving of the Kronobar Pure Beet around 7am in the morning so I’d get the energy peak for the start of the race at 9am. I ate my one and only Gu Roctane gel about 15 mins before the start of the race and took 2 Rocket Science (Magnum Nutraceuticals pre-workout) capsules. On course I went through all three Endurance Tap packets first, then Honey Stinger, then one Gu Espresso Love, the Salted Caramel and Salted Watermelon. So a total of 8 gels and half of one of the Honey Stinger chews packet. I ended up taking just the plastic baggy of solid nutrition on course but didn’t end up eating any of it. I left the larabars back at the condo and I didn’t need the calcium or reactine on course. I carried Instant Cold Packs with me in case I got MS overheating symptoms on course but never experienced anything until the end of the race. I really felt like my nutrition was on point! I had endless energy and always took the gels on time so I never bonked.
Another highlight of my race was missing the spear throw and doing burpees. Yes that was a highlight because all of a sudden I heard my Alpha team mate Cynthia cheering me on. I looked up and her and Renee were standing there smiling. I kept going with my burpees but then looked up again and saw John. He was running the Ultra Beast (two laps of the Beast) and my goal was to not get lapped by the winners of the UB. I got mad for a second and yelled “How did you pass me??” I didn’t even realize the possibility of him pulling out. He finished the Beast and headed out for his second lap but thankfully listened to his body and pulled out after the first up and downhill. I know he’s super upset at not finishing the UB but after running two 80Ks this year, the BattleFrong Xtreme in New Jersey for 56 kms and many other races this year his body was not ready to tackle this challenge. I’m actually really proud of him for listening to his body and stopping when he did. Selfishly it was amazing to have him at the finish line to put the medal around my neck and I’m so thankful I got to celebrate with him!
I completed my first trifecta of the year! I have a sprint, super & beast medal under my belt and I couldn’t be more proud. My next challenge is the US Vermont Spartan Beast! It’s going to be much more of a killer than this one but I’m glad I have one Beast under my belt before I tackle it! I’m actually giving away a free US. Spartan Race entry so go here to enter! Contest closes in 2 days!