Wednesday, November 2, 2016

RACE REPORT: Spartan Carolina Beast 2016

We descended upon Carolina Adventure World once again.  This race sold out on Saturday.  It's the only Beast-distance event in our region.  Temps were pretty much perfect.  Not too cold or hot.  I wore leggings, to avoid scratching up my legs with rocks or scratchy plants.... or obstacles.  I wanted to see if I could continue to hold my own in the elite heat and improve on the obstacles.  The Beast course started with the Sprint course, veered off and wound around Carolina Adventure World for like 8 miles, then merged back onto the Sprint course.  Most of the obstacles were on the portion that coincided with the Sprint course.

(Beast in Green+Red, Sprint in Red)

We started with short walls, hurdles, Over-Under-Through, failed Monkey bars (at least I touched the second bar this time... I saw some videos after the race, where all of the women were lache-ing from the lower bars to the higher bars... I guess that's how to get it done, so I'll try that next time), sandbag, low crawl, atlast carry, sandbag 2, devil's ladder, cargo net up a hill, tyrollean traverse fail not too far from the bell, a-frame cargo, 8-foot wall, plate drag, multi-rig fail as I transition from the pipe to a higher ring (I tried lache-ing, but I couldn't hold on to the ring), z-wall, 7-foot wall oddly fail even though I made the 8-foot wall because the top of the wall was wet and slippery, barbed wire, mounds of grounds, inverted wall, dunk wall, rope climb got to the top but slipped down before I could hit the bell and didnt' have the strength to make it up again (rope burn not as bad as last time this happened), herc hoist fail as ususal this year, spear throw fail (did running start, did grab the rope and the spear at the same time, but forgot to try giving it a bit of an arc), slip wall, fire jump.

The hills and rooty terrain were brutal.  I volunteered on course sweep later that day, and the course looks sooo different in the evening than in the morning.  In the morning, everything is bush-whacked, and you have to look hard to make out the trail.  In the evening, after 6,000 pairs of feet have already trampled through, it looks as if those trails have been there forever.  Parts of the course felt like jungle, as they were a mixture of bog and tropical-looking trees.  And did I mention lots of roots and sprigs of plants sticking out of the ground?  The elevation change (or gain?) was 2,600 feet.  

I finished in 3:55:47, 18:09 average.  Still a bit above the 50th percentile of the heat, so I'm happy.  

I do feel like I mentally gave up on some obstacles that I came so close on but failed.
  • Tyrolean Traverse : I wasn't too far from the end, when my hand slipped, and I fell hard on my back.  Not only do you feel the pain of being dropped from a moderate height, but you've used up energy traversing most of the rope, and then you end up having to do the burpee penalties anyways.  I feel like if I had told myself that hanging on until the end was life-or-death, I could've made it through.  Mental game.  When I start off on it, it feels like the bell is so far away, and I keep going and am actually making progress, but it's so hard... gotta hang on until the end.
  • Rope Climb : Same thing... It was there for the taking.  I only had to do one more pull upwards, and I could've reached the bell.  It's scary letting go with one hand to try to hit the bell.  It's a long way down.  Uhh...
  • 7-foot Wall : It's the first time in a few races that I've failed this (first since Atlanta early this year).  The slipperiness definitely made it harder, but I should've tried the opposite side, to see if it was any better.  I didn't, because it involved an uphill run, followed by a jump, but it could've been just fine.
  • Multi-Rig : Maybe if I was more patient, and built up a bigger lache, it would've worked... I was close.  
  • Herc, Spear, and Monkey, I couldn't do much about.  Know that I know the staggered height Monkey Bar technique, I may be able to start improving on that.  But I don't have high expectations for myself on those yet.

I realized that bringing only one gel for an even that had a 3-hr fastest estimated finish time was too little, but fortunately, Clif Shot Bloks were offered at three aid stations.  I had 6 total, and they were just what I needed.  I tend to prefer gels, but I was grateful to have the Bloks to carb up on.

What did go well:
  • Z-wall patience, to make sure my grips were secure
  • Gloves for burpees
  • Leggings for protection from the trees
  • Keeping the gas pedal on during the runs
I like how fellow competitors on the course are so encouraging, even though we're going up against each other.  Spartans are great people.

I had a blast volunteering for the rest of the weekend.  I started with Course Sweep, checking that the course was still well-marked at the end of the first day, and picking up trash so that the next day's racers would have the same quality experience as the first day's racers.  Ideally, people wouldn't drop trash, and I hope people learn not to do it intentionally... I get that it happens unintentionally sometimes, but come on, intentional people.  I got to work with the course designer, and I really admire him.  He cares a lot about the racers and what they get to experience on this special day.  The following day, I started at the bag check (always a favorite of mine), followed by food and beverage (making awesome chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and veggie burgers with kale salad with the Capital City Catering crew), followed by the finish line (not too many people coming through, that late in the evening), and breakdown.  I like volunteering with Spartan.  You learn different kinds of skills and how to organize big events and how to learn and adapt and be efficient.  They're always looking for ways to improve how they do things, and I like that. 

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