Relaxation – Post race
I have just hauled myself out of my bath, that is the most unrelaxing bath I have ever had, my neighbours must have been scared by the howling as I scrubbed my nettle stings and scrapes from this weekends adventures – OCR kisses – Hell Yeah!
I was facing this weekend with trepidation, I didn’t really know if my body was going to let me down after having to cancel 4 races since returning from holiday with an injury. Karen and I drove through to the Edinburgh venue wondering what faced us. We were welcomed with rolling hills and good old Scottish summer, howling winds and a downpour, lovely!
Registration was a nightmare, again the Trumin booking system causing me issues but with that all sorted and nowhere to stand in the awful weather everyone gathered in the registration tent. Unfortunately, the first heat was delayed for 45 minutes as the hills and race village were battered by the winds. Thankfully, once this passed, in true Scottish tradition we were led to the start with a piper, we weren’t held here for too long which was good after all the hanging about.
We were into our first obstacle fairly quick, up and over some hay bales coated in spartan plastic – made for a bit of a slippy ascent and descent. Then it started the long auld climbs of the magical Pentland hills. It was still possible to run at this point, onwards and upwards, I was running with a friend today for the sprint, Jen, we kept each other in our sights. This went on for what seemed an age and gave us a pretty good idea of how the race was going to pan out, The A-frame high on the hill was great, if alittle scary with the wind really hitting you at the top of the frame. A fantastic down-hill, I think everyone let go alittle at this first down section.
Then a long, long, long crawl under barbed wire, this did need to be wider but was great with it being partially over a stream. No-one else was going up the middle, so what you gonna do? If you are wee like myself, go up the middle. First introduction to getting wet! Our second climb was a straight up affair, I could only run at the bottom quarter, which I berated myself for but everyone else was doing it, so as they same when in Rome. . . .
Unfortunately, a number of the obstacles had to be cancelled due to the weather as they were on top of the massive hills at the mercy of the driving rain and brutal winds. One of the obstacles on Saturday was definitely the wind, it just pushed and pulled you in different directions constantly and when you were trying (I emphasise ‘trying’) to run downhill it was like trying to run into a wall – of wind. One of these obstacles unfortunately, was the rope climbs, love these, a quick drink of water instead and onto another downhill section. Do you think I could see anything, nope, the wind was watering my eyes, this did not bode well!
But I made it down in one piece, in and out of streams with varying depths, slipping and sliding on the banks of the streams, crawling under barbed wire and netting in the streams and under wooden fences, this was all about getting us wet.
The hercules hoist was great, 20kg for the women and 40kg kettlebells for the men, quick water stop then onto the next downhill section, which was really, waaaaay to brief. The next uphill section was one breat big slog, of water, mud and what should have been grassy mounds. We climbed, we climbed and we climbed, then we had to climb over a fence, now sounds simple and after all the climbing, do you know how hard it is to get your leg over? More climbing on more solid ground before we hit the top and started another descent, oh it was heaven. We still had a torturous sandbell carry (1 x 20lb for women, 2 x 20lbs for men) up a short but steep section, a quick pose for the camera and onwards again.
The next section was the water dip of the day, not too bad for the most part but then you hit the end and given I m a dwarf, everything disappears under your feet but thank god for the rope to pull on and your out. Now if you know me you know I HATE water, I mean hate it, and very terrified of it haha so if I am saying it wasnt too bad, it probably isnt, onto a mud fest to get to the next 4 ditches which varied in depth and size, actually not too bad to get in and out of.
We went onto a few more obstacles, the traverse wall with a few corners thrown in to change it up which was great, I enjoyed this one, we could hear the event village, it always sounds tantilisingly close and yet it is so far. We headed through a wooded section, in and out of a river, ducking and diving to get over and under all the tree branches and roots. Then you emerged to the spear throw. This has to be one of the dreaded obstacles, a burpee fest if ever there was going to be. But I did it, with an arm pump to celebrate, given the conditions, very chuffed with myself but Jen’s spear didn’t quite make it – burpees, all 30 of them. An 8 foot wall and a 10 footer, phew, and over the fire jump we went to finish in the top ten. Really chuffed with that given how tough the course was, my complete lack of training due to injury and, and no sign of my hip injury anywhere – roaring success. Btw the medals are epic, first piece of the pie! Karen as always a great supporter and ready with the camera to capture some moments for myself and Jen. I had another run through to conquer so preparation was next
No-one gets left behind!
A few of my clients (Kimberly and Carol with my PT business, Louise’s PT 4 U) were running in the final heat of the day, I was running in support (Karen and Graeme). OMG I was blown away! Their determination, their approach and attitude made the day for me, as well as that of my support runners who were helping. Carols calfs unfortunately gave her some problems from the very first hill but we broke it up and made our way to the A-frame, a quick stretch and re-group of the thoughts and we headed up what was a decidedly windy affair. Graeme and I up either side with Carol, not one ‘can’t left her mouth – brilliant, just focus and concentration. Kimberly zoomed up and over, it was like just another day in the hills 😉 nae bather! Carol had just overcome something massive, our fears can truly hold us back, but with a little belief it is amazing what we can do.
Onto the barbed wire crawls, when Carol heard there was a photographer at the end, well that was it, a pause to sort the top out and make sure, you know, everything was in teh right place, nothing escaping the tops or showing too much 😉 The volunteers were awesome – giving us loads of encouragement, never really stopping just constant high spirits and encouragement. We attacked the next hill in sections, Graeme or I would move back and forth to keep our heat levels up and we picked up someone else who was stuggling and supported them as much as we could. Carol did great, deep breath at each pause and onwards to the next flat . . . . ish section. The rope section had come back in play, so Graeme and I attacked them with great gusto, BOOM! Walk in the park, Graeme flew up the rope like a true monkey, we were blown about a bit in the wind but nonethless made it. Unfortunately the other guys didnt so we got stuck in to help with the burpees, its about team support, ‘no-one gets left behind!’.
We had more descending and climbing of the hills, then our Hercules hoist, Carol attacked this, I had no worries that she would manage this given the strength work she had been doing. We stopped here and were supplied with a few biscuits to get Carols energy levels back up and some water to share.
I’ve already gone through the majority of obstacles in my own account of the race above, I wanted to mention doing this run through with the guys because, you know what – this, right here is what it is all about! Yes there are placings and those who are competitive are racing for them BUT I really believe and wholeheartedly support those who take on these races as challenges and step outside of their comfort zones. I really think it is when we step outside of our comfort zones that we really know what we are made of, what we are capable of when things get tough. This might be an old feeling or it may be a very new one, embrace the courage and sense of achievement it gives you! I really love supporting and helping people around these courses or over an obstacle. By helping others, those who struggle see that they don’t need to know someone to be helped that the true nature of spartan and these OCR races is a community, if you choose to to get involved, everyone helps one another.
Carol and Kimberly both did amazing and were able to work to their own abilities and still achieve massive goals in their own ways. Despite wanting to hold back and stay with Carol, Kimberly was encouraged to push on to stay warm, equally important in these situations, especially given she hadnt felt great leading up to the race.
The next obstacle Carol took on was again, her own body, I think many will share her pain, the knees on the downhill sections, she winced and growled at the pain as she chose to push on, at her own pace, with determination we made progress. At every obstacle the guys (event staff/ volunteers) were amazing, so supportive and upbeat which is just what you needed when you were tored, able to have a bit of banter to help raise spirits. Although, Carol was doing remarkably well, at the sandbell carry, this is where we heard it, ‘I can’t’, well you can imagine my response 😉 those who know me. With encouragement, I said, ‘sorry I think I misheard you there . .. ‘ and I had, she was simply having a tough moment. Carol pushed on a few more steps, Karen led our way and kept feeding back how far to go and what was coming up. The pain on the next section of the sandbell carry that Carol popped down on her backside and bumped down this steep section. Get down anyway you can I say – great choice!
It takes true spirit, true determination and courage to keep on going, knowing how long you have been out on the course, in pain, knowing youa re the last people out on the course! This is spartan spirit – the never give up attitude! I’d like to say a massive thank you to Karen and Graeme, without their support and help this would have been even harder, Graeme was on true form giving loads of banter, if only some of the other runners would take him on, and Karen quietly supported with her patience and own determination, knowing what its like to find these courses hard.
In the final sections of the course, the volunteers took their support to a whole new level, cheering, encouraging, clapping and never ever allowing Carol to feel negative! I nailed my spear throw for the second time on the day and then joined in to support the girls doing their burpees due to missing – damn those spears! With a line of volunteers leading us to the walls, we high fived and were whooped as we headed to the last obstacle. How immense is that – truly amazing is what I call it. Rich, Spartan ambassador trailed us the whole way round, holding back alittle so that we didnt feel pressurised and just checking on us when he thought we were maybe having issues.
True displays of Spartan teamwork and spirit today!! Well done everyone who raced!! How did you get on?!