Friday, September 27, 2013

Killington Beast - Spartan Race World Championship 2013

Three weeks ago, my plans changed and I was no longer going to Cape Cod the weekend of September 21. It was the weekend of the Spartan Race World Championship Beast at Killington.  I signed up to volunteer so I could race! Pretty sweet deal if you ask me and the perfect opportunity to spend some more time with my favorite NE Spahtens!

*** This is long, I do touch on each obstacle.

With so little time between when I signed up and when my heat started, I didn't have a lot of time to worry or stress. I read the paperwork, what items were mandatory equipment.  I bought my glow sticks, some Gu's, bars, gummies, and set them aside.  The night before I laid out my clothing for the race, vacuumed sealed a long sleeve shirt so I would have a dry long sleeve should I want it, vacuumed sealed my headlamp and two halves of sweet potatoes with peanut butter.  I set aside sweats to change into for the ride home and crawled into bed. I slept well, got up easily, and with boyfriend in tow (he had plans to play several rounds of disc golf at Base Camp Outfitters), headed off to Killington.
There was a bit of traffic heading up the access road that delayed me, so it was a scramble to get ready. Somehow this didn't stress me, it gave me something to focus on. There wasn't enough time to get worked up.
All smiles and ready to go! 
There was enough time to give hugs, say hello, firm up battle buddies, take some photos! Can't forget the awesome temporary tattoos! You better believe I was ready to STFU!
Battle Buddies at the Ready
NE Spahtens. Best team you could ask for!
A group photo, some last minute minute adjustments, and it was time to line up for the 10:15 heat.
An obstacle to get to the start line! I knew I was in for it then.
When we had to get over a wall just to get to the start line, I started to get a feeling that I wasn't in Kansas anymore.  The music was rockin', Debbie and I were dancing, feeling good, and ready to roll.  Three AROOs! later and we were off. Up hill.    Since we were passing a bunch of people, I felt the need to jog, warm up my muscles, that didn't last long. I knew I would need to conserve my energy.
We hit a few easy obstacles, hay bails, Over Under Through, and we were passing the first sandbag carry. It looked terrifying.  They were climbing up, up, up.  We settled into a decent pace and started our own climb. It seemed to go on forever.  
A girl was taken off the mountain for an panic induced asthma attack.  This course was not one to take on on a whim.  Being the concerned citizen that I am, a phone call to 911 was made, and I wasn't back on course until the medics arrived.
Another wall, a road that I opted to run down with Mercedes, and it was into the woods. The trail was gnarly, it was steep.  Finding solid footing was easy if I didn't follow the person in front of me.  I was able to pass a few people was laughing and chatting with Mercedes.  The downhill was fun but short lived.  This was the beast and I knew we would be going back up sooner than we would like. On the up, we passed a few more Spahtens, Stacey and Hilary.  Stacey commented on my speed as I powered past them.  I remember remarking that I was out to "Make this Beast my bitch!" I got several laughs and you go girls from other racers.
Papa 433 7137.  Memory challenge. We needed to remember this later on or face 30 burpees! I did not want to do burpees if I didn't have to. 
Mercedes was pushing hard to meet back up with Sandy, Vince, Kelli, and Jasmine.  We finally did at the tire drag.  What a way to use the terrain, dragging the tire was down hill and cake. Back up the hill? Phew.  Definitely took a little out of me. There was no way I wasn't powering through.
photo: Eric Furtado
60lb (maybe 70lb) sandbag carry. We went up. I wanted to cry.  Mercedes had swapped at some point with someone with a leaking bag and swapped with me. It was sweet relief.  I was able to pass the favor to Debbie as she was just starting up as I was just finishing.  
A quick jog and it was another hill. Time to push. Walk forward, walk backward, sideways.  It felt like a never ending hike.  Then we were cresting the hill! We had made it.
Top of 7 Zone... Mile 5
A break. We were 5 miles in.  Based on my estimations, we were anywhere from halfway to only a third of the way.  I could deal with that. I made it this far.  I ate some food, drank some water, consumed some salt. I felt okay.  As a group, we moved on to the 7 foot wall and because my team rocks, I was up and over in no time.  
We had more down and my right knee started hurting. There was no running down, only walking.  
Herculean Hoist went smoothly, I got tape for my knee, burpees happened at the monkey bars, tractor pull wanted to pull me down the hill.
The beast tried to break me at the Inverse Wall.  This is a wall that leans back.  I was terrified. I cried, I said I couldn't do it, I was afraid. I was afraid of falling on my back.  My team pushed me, quite literally, and encouraged me; they got me over the wall! I cried, this time of joy, of triumph.  The beast wasn't taking me that easily.
The water in rolling mud felt so good, I didn't expect it to. The barbwire crawl was immediately after and it didn't feel as good.  The rolling made me dizzy, the army crawl hurt. I took the spear throw as the perfect excuse for a quick breather knowing that I would probably be doing burpees.  I felt bolstered when I got the spear to throw straight but alas it fell short.  Another set of burpees.  
The water and mud undid my tape, I was back to limping along.  Mercedes was asking people if they had tape.  A woman had an ace bandage. While she was wrapping my knee, I shared salt with her boyfriend.  I could see an instant difference in his face after he swallowed it down.
I was sapped, I could barely grip the rope to attempt the rope climb. More burpees.  The rain was stripping away a bit of my resolve, quitting never entered my mind but the idea of finishing felt like a pipe dream.  A quick pipe crawl, barbwire crawl, and we were greeted by some friendly faces with snacks and encouragement.  It was just what I needed to feel rejuvenated. I scrambled up the the ladder, across the cargo net, and back down. 
We were 7 miles in.  There was a drizzle.  I was not looking forward to getting in the water.  I was graced with a volunteer who told us we could skirt the water, do our burpees, and move on.  
At the transverse wall, I was contemplating my start when I woman came up behind me and offered to help me if I would help her.  I was feeling exhausted, I welcomed the help.  Her name was Urania, she pushed me up on that wall, held me glued to it, and I was ringing the bell. NO BURPEES! We want back and I did the same for her.  We smiled and moved on.  She kept trucking and I met up with my team.  They decided to do pre-emptive burpess to not get wet.  I saw the ladder and thought maybe I had a chance. I didn't realize that there were 6 hand holds, it looked like only 2 from the sidelines.  The swim was easy, my muscles were able to move freely.  I only got myself up the ladder to my waist before my arms locked.  It was all I could do to let go.  It was strange, as soon as I hit the water again I could move. Being in the water felt great.  I was not looking forward to getting out. I tried to burpee.  I couldn't move.  I squated and could barely squat.  I did 30 and found my team.  Getting fully submerged was awful.  It zapped any zip I had left. 
We passed the tyrolean traverse and all I could think was how happy I was that I had to go into the woods where I had a chance to move and warm up.  I don't remember a whole lot in the woods until we hit the vertical cargo.  I watched people go up and over, I tried. I made it maybe 2 feet before fear of falling backwards over took me.  As calmly as possible, I scrambled back down.  At this time I noticed Urania was with us and the team encouraged her to face her fear and get up and over. She was beaming when she climbed down.  We found out that her friends had left her long ago, she started at 8:45.  She was on her own.  We don't leave people behind, so we scooped her up and pushed on.  
I was tired. My feet were dragging.  I pushed on. The atlas carry was cruel and unusual with its additional 5 burpees as part of the obstacle.  I pushed on. 
We came to another mud crawl. I was shivering. I couldn't imagine getting wet again. I squatted out.  I peeled off my arm sleeves, pulled out my vacuumed sealed shirt and sighed in relief as I pulled it on.  Without it, I don't know what my body would have done. I will always put a vacuumed sealed long sleeve in my pack for any event moving forward that requires a pack.  
A bucket fully of rocks carry.  We had to attempt it.  I tried, I pushed, I didn't go ten feet and set it down, I went ten feet and it slipped from my hands. I had no grip, no strength.  More squats.  I turned the headlamp on.  We were about mile 10.  We had over heard from a volunteer that the course was only 12 miles this year.  I only had two more to go! I hoped. Urania and I helped each other with the log hop. NO BURPEES! Battle buddies rock. 
The sun was gone. The trails through the woods that led us back to the tyrolean traverse were a blur.  There were people behind me, Urania didn't have a headlamp so she was sharing my light.  I was beyond thinking. Right foot, left foot, repeat.  Right foot, left food, repeat.  The volunteer at the tyrolean traverse told us it was closed and in order to continue we had to have a headlamp or stay with someone who had one, otherwise we could risk getting lost.  The rest of the team had caught up with us. We let people with far more speed than we had pass.  We entered the main ski trail.  The end was in site. 
The wind blew, the shivers returned. The team pushed up the hill.  Vince was sweeping the NE Spahtens for now.  Just when we thought the trail should turn right and end, we turned left and into the woods.  Wanting to finish with Sandy, Vince asked if we were good and were going to stay together. Urania and I both said yes. We were in this together at this point. We weren't finishing without the other.  Vince took off.  The woods were dark, consuming.  Another racer caught up to us, passed us, but he didn't go to far as he didn't have a headlamp. We trudged on.  I made a mistake, instead of reading the signs, I followed the other racer. 30 yards up a ski trail, it wasn't as worn as it should be. I panicked, yelled out we were not on the trail.  I had the headlamp, I jogged back, yes jogged, I don't know how, back to the sign. He went up the hill, we needed to go straight. I jogged again to the next sign, confirmed what I knew to be true.  I waited for them to join me and we were off again.  The next time we turned to go up a hill, the guy took off, pausing every know and again to yell back and encourage us.  I started to cry. Softly at first.  It was dark, I felt isolated even though I wasn't, I felt alone even though I wasn't. The tears started to come harder, my breathing changed, it turned to sobs.  That was how I carried myself all the way to the peak of the hill.  I couldn't stop, it just kept coming.  In front of me was a wall, the biggest one of the day.  I didn't have people to push me up and over, I didn't have the strength to do more than touch the wall.  I walked around to do my squats.  The volunteer told me I didn't have to do them, to keep going, use my energy to push to the finish.  I waited for Urania and we took off down the hill.  
We passed a couple, one of them was limping pretty badly.  A man came streaking by, we were the last 5 on the course, 4 once he was out of site.  
We were back in the woods and a man came up behind us with a radio.  He was the sweep, Todd.  Told us that he had to pull the people behind us for medical, her knee was blown out.  He told us he didn't know if we would make the time requirement.  Urania respond with we were going to make it. I agree. We could do it. We were going to push.  We took a wrong turn, got back on track.  I asked Todd his last name as I couldn't see him.  I laughed, it was Todd Sedlak, I told him I was an NE Spahten, that I had followed some of his racing.  We started talking.  We got out into the open, Urania and I pushing hard.  Urania was infectious with her confidence we would finish. She wanted that finish line, she wanted that trifecta. Nothing was getting in her way.  I knew we would do it. I wanted it too, I had come too far. Todd wasn't getting me off the course without motorized transportation. The pain in my legs was intense. I wanted to lay down but that wasn't an option.  I was pushing my limits.  I could do it. I dug deep. We went up and over a nice easy wall with lots of space for hands and feet.  
Then I panicked. Full on.  There was another inverse wall. I didn't have my team who knew how to get me over, I couldn't do it. We would get Urania over and I would burpee. Full burpees, no matter how long they took me.  Todd Sedlak was there and nothing but the best would suffice.  In between my tears, I heard Todd and the other volunteers telling me I could do it, they would help, he didn't want to see me do burpees. They got me over. I have no memory other than extremely strong hands and support. I dont remember going up the side, hovering at the top, or sliding down the back.  We saw people finishing a sandbag carry. I think I remember telling him it was more NE Spahtens but I can't be sure. I should have shouted out but I didn't. 
We talked about Urania and I meeting. Her first Spartan, my first Spartan and the Hurricane Heat.  Did you know that the current Hurricane Heat dog tags came from the second Hurricane Heat in which Todd had them made for his team mates? They formed such a bond. We talked about Todd quitting the Death Race. We talked about the Beast being an endurance race with obstacles, instead of an obstacle course race.  That you put one foot in front of the other, you take 10 feet at a time, 1 minute at a time.  You don't think beyond that. Todd talked of how he could help us but that we wouldn't feel like we earned our medals in the same way. Its true! I wanted this on my own at this point.  
He urged us to pick up the pace, to finish strong.  We just had to get around the corner.  There was a slippery wall. Urania got to the top, a little help from Todd. I shocked myself and dominated that obstacle. No help. I got to the top and over in one fell swoop.  Wow. 
Urania wanted to hold hands over the fire, I said no, I needed them for balance and she laughed. We ran at the gladiators who didn't go too easy on us. I wouldn't expect anything less.  We held hands and crossed that finish line at 10:19pm, 12 hours later.  There were hugs, there were congratulations. I talked to people for a minute, got my medal. I walked over to the team tent and grabbed my bag. I met back up with Urania and Todd and other volunteers. Called Jeremy to drive the car over to pick me up.  There were more hugs. A tshirt was put in my hands. I needed to get home to sleep, I was getting up in 4 1/2 hours to volunteer for the Ultra Beast.  I made my goodbyes, thanked the volunteers and staff for their hard work.  A staff ran after me to get my timing chip. I could see the car; I passed a guy in an army jacket and thanked him.  He did a double take, asked if I finished, I realized he was the volunteer from the 8 foot wall who let me pass on my squats, and he jumped up and down screaming YES when I told him I did.  I did it. I didn't quit, I finished. I am a SPARTAN!
13 miles, 12 hours, 37 obstacles, 8 sets of burpees
I made that Beast my bitch.
I finished. I got my medal. I AM SPARTAN!
"It was definitely not a race. The only person I was competing with was myself. There were only two ways I was going to be okay with a DNF, being pulled for medical or time. I wasn't quiting, I wasn't giving up, I was giving it everything I had and putting one foot in front of the other. I cried, several times, but I wasn't quitting. I had many people encouraging me and believing in me and in turn I was able to do the same for others. I met a woman on the course whose friends had left her. She was at her breaking point. Because of the Spahtens and myself, she finished, 13+ hours later. It showed I could be led and I could lead. If I thought the Amesbury HH and Sprint pushed me and brought to light "You'll know at the finish," it was nothing compared to the Beast. As I told Stacey Potter on the course when I passed her, I made that Beast my Bitch. It didn't win, I did. It showed me strength I forgot I had." ~ Said by me to a friend about the beast and my journey.

3 comments:

Matt Zembruski said...

You are a rock star, Hannah! Way to go! That course was NUTS and you beat it. Awesome!!!!

Hannah Hawley said...

Thanks Matt! It was no joke that's for sure. Congrats to you too for finishing! AROO!

Addie alexa said...

This post is so wonderful..I really enjoyed to read this.I will surely visit your blog again.

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