Boston Spartan Race Recap
by Janet Barry
As I sit on this plane reminiscing about this weekend’s race in Boston, I am reminded of why I train religiously day in and day out and why I choose to live the lifestyle I do.
First one out of the gate, I am flooded with nerves excitement and adrenaline as I jump right through a giant puddle. Quickly turning up the steep incline, I feel my heavy legs lose their pep as I try to scurry up the hill and keep a lead, but they weren't having it. I calmed my breathing and settled behind two other girls. I reminded myself how many speed workouts and WODs I did with tired legs and how I sill hit fast times and didn't panic.
As soon as we hit the single track about 20 yards in, I took off, knowing I had to take advantage of every running opportunity I had and I wasn’t certain of my capability in the newer obstacles. I passed both the first and second place girls.
Within a quarter of a mile, I had put significant distance behind me and there was no one in sight. It was a blur as I went over a few walls. At mile 1, I could hear the music and the festival crowds and knew I was approaching the twister.
Nervous about the twister but excited to greet the crowd. I flew out of the woods and could hear my parents yelling in excitement. I slowed down my pace in an effort to slow down my heart rate before attempting the twister obstacle.
The bars were wet. I reached up and grabbed one bar and then two. My hand right away began to slip and I quickly swung back to the stool to keep from falling. I was cursing in my head as I attempted again and then got to the end of the first section before slipping off. I had no time to be upset so I sprinted over to the burpees section and started busting them out as quickly and efficiently as possible knowing the second place was not going to be far behind.
At burpee 10 I knew the second place woman had begun her twister attempt and I was just thinking please fall (come on we all think it). I don't turn to watch but stayed focused and in the zone just hammering out my 30 burpees. Then I hear the crowd go crazy and hear the bell ring. I see her run off into the woods when I have less than ten burpees left. I cranked them out with an added extra five to avoid any possibility that I miscounted and to avoid penalty.
Hopping over rocks, calming my heart rate and hitting a quick pace I told myself to regain focus. Not comfortable with missing the twister and now chasing down first, I knew there was now a pack not far behind staying focused and calm and not panicking was essential.
Soon enough I popped into a clearing and approached another new obstacle ‘Olympus’. I see first place attacking the obstacle. I was nervous about this obstacle since I’d never attempted it before but feeling confident in my grip strength I selected a wall and grabbed onto two pegs. Immediately feeling uncomfortable, I tried to bring up my legs into a squat and shimmy across to the next couple of pegs but the wall was slick and my legs slid down. So there I was, my whole body hanging from these two pegs using grip strength alone. I noticed the chains and holes in the wall and wondered if I had missed an easier method of conquering this obstacle. I began to move my hands along from peg to peg, dragging my full body weight along under me, against the wall. Midway through the wall, I hear the first place girl hit the bell and runoff. Meanwhile, I am stuck in a standstill trying to figure out my next move as I am doing a straight dead hang. I reached for the next peg and slipped. Off to the burpee zone, I went.
Pretty mad at this point after missing two obstacles in a sprint which I knew was just recipe for disaster in a four-mile race, I begin hammering out my burpees once again. I glance up and see two more women approach the obstacle. Telling myself to focus on getting the burpees done I remain in a consistent and quick burpee rhythm. Around burpee 20 I hear another bell and my second place is now lost as she runs into the woods.
Wrapping up my burpees, I quickly gain my stride and burst into the woods. I know there are two women currently on Olympus and I had to once again make up ground to put distance between myself and fourth place. At this point, I was hoping I would just make the podium.
Again talking myself through some doubts and nerves I regained focus and once again got myself into a quick pace. About 1200m of single track trail running later, I see crates full of sandbags. Spotting the second place woman grab her sandbag, I got a sudden charge of energy. I made up a ton of ground again even after doing all of those burpees. I grabbed a sandbag, tossed it over my shoulder and took off at a quick walk catching up quickly to second place, regaining my sense of hope and confidence.
This race was not over and I was not going to settle for third. Throwing the sandbag into the crate I did a quick surge into the woods to put in a solid amount of distance me from the now third place woman.
About a half mile later I found myself approaching the multi-rig. Last season, I’d only gotten past this obstacle a couple times but since then I’d worked very diligently on my grip work. Taking a deep breath I grabbed the first ring and began to swing my way to the bell. When I made it through after ringing the bell, I threw a fist pump into the air, overjoyed that my hard work over the past months had paid off.
With another rush of adrenaline, I flew over the next few obstacles. Then I approached the obstacle I had always hated – the bucket carry. After filling up my bucket, I started my trek up the narrow single track. To my surprise, I felt very strong and the bucket didn’t seem as painful as I’d remembered. One of the elite men I passed shouted, ‘First place female is right ahead of you.’
Thrilled by the news and impressed by my own ability to again make up ground, I picked up my pace; about mid-way through the carry, I passed the first place female. Another elite male yelled ‘I have first row seats to the face off for first.’ As soon as I heard that something clicked inside of me and I just started running with the bucket.
At this point, I knew I had about two miles left and I needed to use my speed to claim first. Within less than 400m after the bucket brigade, I came into a field and was faced with the final obstacle I wasn’t positive I would be able to nail. Calming my heart rate, I walked over to a spear. Pulling the spear back like I was throwing a football and releasing it with all my might thrusting it forward it landed a bit short and to the side of the hay bail.
Angry that I had to once again hit the burpee zone I knew after this obstacle it was all just trail running and simple obstacles so I began doing my 35 burpees as fast as I could (I always do extra after receiving burpee penalties in the past).
At burpee 10, I see second place approach the spear throws. I glance over as I jump up into my burpees and she releases the spear and it misses. Feeling confident in my ability, I finish my last few burpees and sprint off into the woods. I flip the tire over with ease and am going as fast as I can without risking tripping and falling through the single tracks all while passing the elite men.
I begin to hear noise from the crowd in the festival area and I fill with excitement thinking about seeing my parent’s reaction as I fly out of the woods into the final festival arena of obstacles. Although I hear the noise, that last mile seemed forever.
Finally, on a downhill single track, I come out of the woods into the arena sprinting over to the rope climb as the crowd cheers yelling ‘first woman.’ After the rope, there were three or four rolling mud pits and I was in some sort of zone I hadn’t felt before and was just flying over the mud pits jumping over and avoiding much of the water. I felt more agile and strong than I ever had in these mud pits.
I was all smiles, in shock, and could not believe I had come away with a win after being unsure I would even make the podium after missing three obstacles. My mom ran over to me hugging me with her camera in my face and my dad was close behind her. I knew I was stronger than last year but my focus and my ability really helped me come back which completely shocked me.
Crossing that line, I was so happy because I knew what I had to overcome it mentally to come back for the win. I was in endorphin heaven, happiness, and just shock and amazement, realizing that I was stronger mentally and physically than I thought I was.