Spartan Warrior?

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Yes, I am! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Today I “ran” the Spartan Race (www.spartanrace.com in case you’re interested). I hadn’t planned on participating, but a friend of a friend got injured, and I would have hated to see a registration go to waste. Plus, I didn’t want to sit and watch everyone else finish and then listen to how the whole race was. I wanted to be a part of the conversation! After all, that’s why I started running in the first place.

My good friend Tara roped me into this. She told me that I made it through a marathon labor, so I could do this. When I figured that the race would take me an hour, or 1/47 of the time I was in labor, I figured I could do it. How hard could a 5K with twelve obstacles be? I could run a quarter of a mile between obstacles and take the time at the obstacles to catch my breath. Right? Wrong. So very, very wrong.

We got to the race for our 11:00 heat at 10:49 and still had to sign waivers (I may owe the Spartans my first born; I have no idea what I signed), get our registration packets, pin bib numbers, attach ankle timing chips, and go to the bathroom. We entered the race area as our heat was taking off and didn’t even have time to think about what we were doing. Thank God. If we had, I don’t know that I would have gone through with it.

Let me walk you through this “race”. It started with running up a ski slope. Since it was summer, the snow makers were blowing ice cold water. I haven’t run up a ski slope ever. Winter. Summer. Dry weather. Muddy hills. Not in any condition. But, somehow, I made it up that damn hill. With Justin. Let me just say right here that my husband didn’t leave my side for the entire event. And he never once told me that I shouldn’t have signed up (which is what I was thinking the entire time). He just pushed me on, telling me that I could do it. Amazing man, that Justin Manna.

OK. Enough mushy stuff; I’m a Spartan. Back to the race. At the top of the hill was a fire pit for us to jump over. And I was ready to give up 100 yards in. I’m sure part of my soles are melted because I was so slow going over. After that was a lovely run through the brush. We went down a hill. And up a hill. And up another hill. And down a little. And up a hill. To the cargo net. Which I had to flip myself over to get to the other side. I am not very flipable. But I did it!

After the cargo net was the path of mud. We faced about thirty yards of straight mud. I made my way past abandoned shoes (my friend Craig, whose wife talked us into this adventure, lost both shoes here and ran the last 2.5 miles barefoot). People in front of us ran into a bee hive and got stung dozens of time. Fortunately, I was so slow that the bees were all gone by the time we got there. And then we were on a run through the woods. Over fallen trees and exposed roots. Through more mud.

And then we go to another mountain. Seriously. I’m sure it wasn’t straight up, but it sure felt like it. I’ve never climbe up such a steep hill in my life. Ever. It was horrible. Painful. Humiliating. But I made it to the top. Only to face two four foot walls that had to be climbed. I made it over the first one. Justin helped me with the second one, and I fell on top of him. And then we ran (I did actually run this part because they were yelling at us to run) to a tall cargo net with a wall for us to climb down on the other side.

Disaster struck at the cargo net. I tried to get my leg over the top of the obstacle and fell backwards. Luckily, I caught myself on the rope, with a leg on either side. Horribly uncomfortable but better than hitting the ground. The lovely man working the obstacle got underneath and told me to stand on him to get my footing. Then he had me stand on his shoulder to get myself over the top. He had footprints all over his shirt from me. We hit one more wall to climb: an eight-footer. I have never been so happy to be a girl, as we got the “easy” wall with a few boards to help us out. One lady stayed to help me pull myself over, so we didn’t have a repeat of the cargo net disaster.

We ran downhill through the woods and through a field that seemed to stretch on forever to another two back-to-back obstacles. I crawled under a tent through a mud pit for ten yards and attempted to get myself across a wall stepping on and grabbing small blocks. I was not successful. I did a few push-ups and moved on. At this point, people from the 11:30 heat were passing us. (Remember my amazing husband? Still with me!). They encouraged me to keep going, which I really appreciated.

Finally, after another jaunt through the woods, I could hear the music and announcers indicating that we were finally getting close. And then I saw it. The mud pit. The barbed wired. The men in uniform barking at us to run. Justin dove in. I took a slower approach. “Why are you taking so long getting through my obstacle? Get down! Get your face in the mud!” There was gravel at the bottom of the mud pit, and I couldn’t seem to get myself through it fast enough.

From there it was down the ski hill for the last three obstacles. Yes, three. The spear throw, which I failed and had to jump on a huge tire fifteen times (don’t tell, but I only did seven). The wall climb with a rope, which I tried and opted for twenty pushups. While I was on the ground, I noticed at least ten empty dish soap bottles. No wonder I couldn’t make it up the wall! It was covered in soap!

Finally, I was within twenty yards of the finish line. There were just four problems: the six-foot ledge I had to drop off and the three Spartan warriors with padded sticks (what’s the official name?). I scooted my way off the ledge the same time as one of those fast 11:30 racers. He paused to size up the warriors, and I decided I wasn’t waiting. I hoped they’d just go for him. And they did. The one warrior who “got me” told me to finish strong and lightly jabbed me.

I crossed the finish line with a time of an hour and ten minutes. And I got my medal – I’ve never earned one more! I’m still not sure how (or why) I did it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with a husband urging me to keep going when I just wanted to sit down.

As I sit here typing, I am covered in scrapes and bruises. My entire body aches. But I’ve never felt better.

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