Monday, October 2, 2017

RACE REPORT: Spartan Fayetteville HH12HR (DNF), Super, & Sprint 2017


I had gone hard at the Carowinds Run Ride Half Marathon, so I felt the effects for longer than usual.

Wednesday, Sep 13:

40 min Strength, where I went back to what I used to do before I started doing the Deez Nutz WOD.  The WOD was good for introducing me to new movements, but it doesn't cover certain movements that would help me stay balanced, so I may start going back to my usual.
  • 200 crunches/side, for the first time in more than a  year.  Working on my abs again!
  • 2.5 min high plank to prep for HH12HR because that seems more popular with them, 2 min low plank.
  • 75 s/side Side Plank, with 35 dips, also the first time in a while
  • 25 pushups
  • 130 squats
  • 50 + 50 + 55 = 155 4-count Flutter kicks
  • 2 x 35 clam
  • 100 Mountain climbers
Worked that Saturday - do you what you gotta do.

Sunday, Sep 17:
9.6 mi in 1:55:42, 12:03 average.  Trail run at the Whitewater Center.  I used the Innov-8 X-talons to reduce the risk of ankle rolls, and to make myself used to the shoe in case I chose to use it for the HH12HR.  Started slow because my knees had been achey, but I warmed up quite nicely by mile 3.  Also got my HH12HR gear today, shopping at Lowes and Home Depot.  They publish the gear list about a week and a half before the event.  Need to be on that, to get your stuff in time!

Tuesday, Sep 19:
4.0 in 33:56, 8:29 average, 2 degrees of incline.  After packing for the HH12HR, did my last run.  I rucked with the pack full of gear to the gym, and man, it was heavy!  I normally ruck 20LB with about 1L of water when I go to the gym, but this, for some reason, felt a good bit heavier.  It seems like the main extra contributor of weight may be the duct tape?

Time passed slowly on the treadmill, perhaps because I don't go to the fitness center that often anymore, now that I have the gym at work.  Runs in new environments go by more slowly.  4 miles was the perfect distance... not overdoing it before the weekend, and I was getting mentally ready to finish, anyway, with the time dragging.

Splits> 8:33, 8:34, 8:30, 8:18.


Gear List
  • 1 Headlamp
  • 2x Chemlights/glowsticks
  • 1 Black Sharpie Marker
  • 1 Ruck/Backpack
  • 1 Hydration Unit: You must be able to carry your own water supply (2L or 3L recommended)
  • Bring enough food to survive 12 hours+
  • Ruck weight must equal 30 lbs minimum for men and 20 lbs minimum for women (before hydration and food, figure it out)
  • Reflective Safety Vest OR PT Belt
  • Multitool
  • 2x Duct Tape
  • 1 21 gallon plastic mixing tub as shown in the gear list video.
  • 2x 1inx2in wood lengths cut to around 2ft. Pre-drill 2 holes at 3/8in between 6-8 inches from the ends. (See video if you need more instructions.)
  • 4x 3/8 in bolt, nut and two washers. (See video if you need more instructions.)
  • 15ft of rope or mil spec webbing. (See video if you need more instructions.)
  • One sheet of paper with one envelope with your own name and address, stamped ready to post anywhere within the U.S.
  • One pen or pencil
  • 12 14x26in polypropylene sandbags
  • One yellow rubber duck that squeaks when squeezed

When the gear list comes out, you start wondering how these items will be used to torture you the following weekend ;)

The Warmup

You don't want to be late for the event.  It's bad news for you and the team if you're late, so I left work on Friday as soon as I could, to make the 2:50 drive to Fayetteville.  Got there, and gathered my gear for the event.  It's always a bit intense when you first roll up, and see the other competitors.  Other people crazy enough to sign up for stuff like this.  Some are seasoned vets, and others may be new.  All are in for a night of suprises.

Once at the meeting point, we started by stacking the firewood for the weekend's races.  We sang the song that we were asked to memorize - Rubber Ducky, by Ernie.

There were bouts of "the floor is lava!" where we had to suddenly climb onto something.

As a warmup, we did a pushup - lie down - roll up - jump combo.  Then, we started duck walking towards tires.  It was starting to get dark.  Our first task was to carry 33 tires, as a group, to some point far away.  We carried those giant things on our shoulders and backs, and were allowed to roll them for periods of time, which isn't easy, either.  Very push-up-like.  Plus, we have our rucks and gear on us the whole time, so even walking fast would be strenuous.  

The most interesting part was going down into a creek then back up the slope.  You have to control the tire going down, and push hard going back up.  After a while, we started a process of letting it roll down the hill and through the creek, which was fun teamwork.

More carrying and more rolling.  Eventually, we got to our base camp, and we completed the group task fast enough to earn ourselves some bonus time on the first individual time hack.  

The first time hack involved running back to the race festival area, figuring out how to build a durable sled out of the items from the gear list, dragging it to a sandy area where we'd fill three sandbags (25 lb each, for the women, 40 lb each, for the men), then drag it the rest of the course back to home base.  There were warnings that a previous HH12HR class had some issues with sleds breaking, so design would be important.  

Once at the festival, we got to working.  There were a couple of different ideas going around.  I suspected that the weak spot of the sled would be the bottom getting worn and falling apart as it gets dragged on rough ground with heavy stuff, so I used the wood to build rails for the sleds to run on.  Others used it to reinforce the front of the sled, which they'd pull from.  Someone had an idea of making holes not only in the front of the sled, but also on parts of the side, so that a single spot wasn't getting all of the pulling.  That made sense, so I also did that.  

I was the last one to leave.   It took me some time to figure out the best way to make holes with my multi-tool.  Twisting the serrated knife ended up being better than doing the same with the flat blade.  One guy cut himself pretty badly.  He actually ended up completing the event successfully!  

I got going, and passed a couple of people on the way to the sand pit.  Then, it was time to get digging.  The sand had to be dug up.  I fortunately found a good spot for sand, so it wasn't as bad.  Depending on your spot, getting sand from the hard ground could be very difficult.  I took my bags to my sled, and could barely move it.  This would be a long night.  Rope-on-skin would be tough, with the thinness of the rope.  Some people attached their wood to the rope and pushed on the wood, but that seemed rough, too.  I walked backwards and pushed back with my ruck.  It made it easier to put my weight on the rope to make the sled move.  Plus, the pressure of the rope went onto my ruck, rather than on me.  

After not making it that far, a guy that I had rolled tires with pointed out that my wood rails may be making things harder for me, since I was plowing the ground with the wood.  I removed the screws and took off the wood, and it did help.  Still not easy and still slow, but a little bitter.  There was a group that left the sand pit a little after I did.  They helped each other get their sleds in working condition and waited for each other.  Some of them broke from the front because of the pulling stress.  They passed me at about the dragging halfway point.  

I came across the guy (I think it was the same guy) who had given me the tip about the plowing, who had broken the front of his sled, too.  It would've been tough to not make the hack because of a broken sled, so I stopped and helped him make holes on the sides.  It didn't take long.  We all continued on.  The thing about the time hacks is that you have no idea how long you'll have.  In my first HH12HR, I finished with a reasonable amount of time before the hacks.  This tough sandbag sled would probably be different.  I would just need to pace myself and do my best.  

When I got to the finish, it wasn't immediately clear that it was the finish.  I recognized the landmark, but everyone was kind of hiding, with headlamps off.  It was late, too, and when I saw the reflective vests shining back at me when I looked that way with my headlamp, for a moment, I thought they were coyote eyes, haha.  I went in anyways, and was told that I had made it, and hid with the rest.  I laid on my bed of sandbags in my sled and rested, exhausted.  Not 5 minutes later, time was called.  The 3 or so who hadn't finished yet were out.  

The next activity was interesting.  We handed in our self-addressed envelopes.  Then, we wrote letters to some random HH12HRer who would receive our letters some undetermined time in the future.  We could write about not giving up, about what we're learning here and how it translates to life, etc.  It would be interesting to see when we would get the letter, whose we would get, and what it would say at that time in our lives.  Cookie pointed out that we could potentially get our own, by luck of the draw!  That would be interesting.  

We didn't have a lot of time to write, so it wasn't like we got a break.  Time for the next task.  We hiked to the festival, with no ruck and gear - just our squeaky ducks, a sandbag, and a sharpie.  What would we do with this?  We got to the rolling mud.  We were each given a number to write on our face, and on the duck.  We tossed our ducks into the dunk wall pool.  My little duck went far, towards the back, which was good to note.  

Next, we were told to get into a different mud pool, waist deep.  This was a challenge in concentration.  With sandbags on our heads, we'd have to estimate when 10 minutes elapsed.  Based on the amount of time we were off, there was some implication for some task, but it wasn't exactly clear.  The task was made more difficult by the fact that we had to sing the Rubber Ducky song twice during it, and a tag-along dog jumped into the water.  We had to be silent the rest of the time.  Only 2 people got out at about the right time.  Some people were like 5 minutes off, and were just told to get out in the end.

 (I'm the little one with the two vertical yellow stripes, 3rd from the left)

Next, we had to run back to base camp, get duct tape, then jump into the dunk wall to find our numbered duck.  I found my duck on the second try.  One person's duck disappeared.  Next, we paired up with similar-sized people.  Fortunately, there was someone as small as me, if not smaller, who I got to pair up with.  We had to buddy carry each other back to base camp.  I was thankful not to be with someone bigger who would've been really heavy to carry.  My buddy was the perfect match, and we took turns piggy back riding each other to base camp.  She was super strong for her size.

It was time for the next time hack, and we were told that it would be very hard, with a tough time limit.  We had to take one of the sandbags, plus all of our gear, minus the empty rucksack, go to the sand pit, and fill up three more sandbags to bring back.  That would be a total of four sandbags, plus the ruck weight, plus gear.  The first time hack had been so hard to move, I figured I was in for an uphill battle.  My only shot would be shuttle running the sandbags, perhaps.  We dragged sleds to the sandpit.  That was the easy part.  Time to dig enough for 4 sandbags.  My spot wasn't as good this time.  The first sandbag took a long time to fill, because I was chipping away for small bits of sand at a time.  I found a better spot for the next two, but it was still pretty time-consuming.  

I started shuttling the sandbags from the start.  I shuttled three bags, then dragged the sled with the fourth bag plus the ruck weight and gear.  Repeat.  One guy was using the same technique, but was running back and fourth.  I was pacing myself.  I leap-frogged with another girl who dragged the sled the whole way, plus a guy who was also shuttling.  Still about 1/8 a mile from the end (maybe 3/4 of the way through the drag), we were told that we had already missed the time hack.  Some of us decided to finish it off, anyway, since we were so close.

I was satisfied with having given it a good try.  In my current state, I'm not built and trained for heavy stuff.  People my size can do it, though.  My buddy carry buddy did it.  She's tough.  It was my first DNF at a race or event.  It didn't crush me mentally to DNF like I thought it might.  If it was last year, during my first HH12HR, it might've.  I might've cried.  But not this time.  Not sure why.  Was it because I gave it what I reasonably had and had gotten to a point where knowing that was enough?  Is it because I already had one under my belt?  Don't know.  With these events, finishing or not can depend on some luck related to gear holding up, or with the amount of time you get, or the nature of the challenge.  

(The Finishers)

The guy who ran the shuttle ended up finishing, I found out on Facebook.  I dumped out my sandbags, thanked the Krypteia for the opportunity to at least try for it, and went out into the morning light with the other DNFers.  Those still in it had already long gone, off doing who knows what.  On the bright side, I didn't have to worry about rushing to make it for the Super.  I took an hour nap in the car.  

When I woke up, my legs were all kinds of tight.  I debated whether to still go for the Super, or just keep napping until it was time for my volunteer shift.  I didn't want to risk injuring myself.  I wasn't sure how I'd make it 8+ miles.  But my volunteer shift was at 1pm, which would give me at least 4 hours, so I decided to go for it.  I already missed my chance at an Endurance trifecta this year.  I didn't want the HH12HR to also keep me from reaching my triple race trifecta.


Somehow, my body is capable of going when it's go time.  Maybe not HH12HR level, but good enough for the super.  Fort Bragg last year was pretty flat, and so was this farm.  I prefer flat, runnable ground to bushwhacking and steep climbs.  It was a super and not a beast, too, so the obstacles are a wee bit easier, and the heavy carries are shorter.  

Hay pyramid, Overwalls, OUT, Hurdles, Vert Cargo, Rope Climb, ... a lot of the next part was familiar from the previous night.  Invert Wall, Atlas Carry, Monkey Bars, Sandbag... that was the loop that we did a few times with tires and sandbags.  Compact, and well-designed for easy control over the HH12HR in the dark.  Bender, Z-walls.  At Z-walls, I realized that I was really hungry.  After the HH12HR, I had forgotten to eat, even after my nap.  I must've been "out of it", to forget to eat.  Maybe I wasn't really hungry then... but to go another 8 miles with nothing?  Phew!  What was I thinking?  

I volunteer at pretty much every race, and I did have a mom ask me for food once for her kid.  I figured it was worth a try... the first volunteer didn't have anything, but the second set of volunteers that I asked kindly gave me a chewy bar.  Oh man, I needed it so bad.  I scarfed that thing down.   I was still super hungry, though.  I wondered how long the chewy bar would last before it burned up, too.  It was only a matter of time before a spectacular bonk.  I still had 4 long miles to go, with obstacles.  Running on fumes.  All I could think about was food.  

Suddenly, from behind me, came a friend MFW, who I had volunteered with in the past.  I explained my situation to her, and she kindly gave up half of her food for me.. half a Clif bar, and the most delightful chocolate covered raisins ever.  Oh man, I was so desperate, and would've eaten whatever I could find off the ground.  She was so nice to take the time to share her food with me, and to give up what she was planning to have during her own race.  

We continued on, and my energy levels gradually returned.  I kept up with her for a while, as we tackled Stairway, 8' wall, Bucket, Multi-rig, Barbed Wire, Rolling Mud, Slip Wall, 7' wall (got help on this, it was open heat, where I'm ok with getting help on occasion if it's a multi-day race and I just want to finish).  

Next, Herc Hoist was too much for me, so I burpeed.  Another run in the woods, then I successfully completed Twister, failed Olympus, failed Spear, did A-frame, and Fire Jump.  8.3 in 2:47:57. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the banana after the race, got cleaned up, got a beer, and napped off and on for about 30 minutes before getting ready for the volunteer shift. 

It was hot, and I wear long sleeves and a buff around my neck to keep the sun from burning me, but got it done.  Before volunteering, I had copious amounts of mustard on Ruffles chips - it was the most delightful thing ever, and just what I needed to recover from the HH12HR.  

I stayed in the area overnight.  It's always exciting to get to go to a hotel afterwards, without having to worry about driving a long time or sleeping in the car without a legit shower.  The big question is always what's first - food or shower?  Food typically wins, then a shower, then more food.  

I decided to sleep early, then wake early (4am) to do laundry, before going out to day 2.  I might've gotten like 6-7 hours, but it felt great after the previous 2 days with maybe 1 hr sleep total.  


I was tired, having been awake since 4am, but it was go time again!  This would only be 4.6 miles, so no time pressure at all.  A walk in the park, after the previous 2 days.  It ended up going really well!  All fueled up.  

I did the Herc Hoist this time, no issues... I wonder if it was really lighter than the previous day, or if I was just more rested and not back-to-back evented.  

I even made my first spear throw ever.  It wasn't as satisfying as I always imagined it would be, because I didn't realize that I made it until a volunteer came over to me 7 burpees into my burpees to let me know that I had actually stuck it.  I had always pictured myself yelling the biggest yell ever, in victory.  Oh well, I can still do that next time, now that I think I have a technique finally figured out.  Front-weighted, Run, Arc.  If I can do the spear, I may have a chance at a clean race.  I at least know that the Olympus is doable, since I did it in Tahoe... I just have to be fresh enough for it, maybe.  We'll see!

I actually got 7th female in Open, and 3rd in my age group - not bad, after a partial HH12HR and a Super!

Afterwards another volunteer shift.  


I started wondering if I could've made it.  If I had pushed it through the sandbag task, could I have made it?  If I had run like the other guy did?  So hard to tell.  Racing well for non-obstacle races is all about pacing evenly.  That doesn't work so well with the HH12HR, where your time limits are not known, and the nature of the challenge isn't fully known.  You can gun it through one task, but it may burn you out for your next task.  In my last HH12HR, I did start really tightening up, after pushing it through the first two time hacks with the weight of time pressure on me.  I didn't let time pressure me this time.  I aimed more for completion.  Well, what's done is done.  If I were to do it again, I wouldn't have necessarily done it differently.  I think I did push it pretty hard.  It is a long task.

I have thought "never again" at some other events.  I still end up doing them again anyways.  But with the HH12HR, I really do want another shot.  Each event is different, and is creative.  My buddy carry buddy had asked me why I decided to sign up, and my answer was that I wanted to prove to myself that the last HH12HR completion wasn't a fluke.  I guess I still have some unfinished business, then!  I didn't sign up for this one until a couple weeks before the event, through an Instagram contest.  I had been considering it, but wasn't going to do it, until that happened.  Would I have trained more for it if I had signed up earlier?  Maybe, with rucking.  I hadn't been rucking much on hikes on on walks to the gym.  Well, we'll see in 2018!  Gotta finish my triple trifecta, OCRWC, and Spartan Ultra Championships first this year!

Stuff I learned:
  • People can be very generous, like my friend who gave me half of her race fuel, and it inspires you to want to pay it forward.
  • Even people my size (height & weight) can be killer beasts at events involving really heavy weights.
  • I can do more/better than I thought I could, at back-to-back events.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

RACE REPORT: Carowinds Run Ride Half Marathon 2017

After surviving WV Trifecta Weekend plus course sweep, my next event was the Carowinds Run Ride Half marathon.  Run the Half, then enjoy the park!  I hadn't been to that amusement park before, so I was looking forward to it.  It would be like Disney because of the running through the park, minus the abundance of characters and fireworks.  There were some characters, though!  And some of the cutest!

But first, the training...

Thursday, Aug 31:
5.0 in 42:01, 8:24 average, 2 degrees of incline.  Right leg was a little bit jacked up, but not bad.  Surprisingly strong, even though it wasn't long after the weekend.  My heart craved cardio today, so it was good to get back out on the treadmill.

Saturday, Sep 1:
First, a game of Settlers!

Then, 3 miles of kayaking!  Only my second time really being out there.  I went in the junior kayak so that my friends could take the paddleboard and larger kayak.  We went out leisurely, goofing around and taking pictures, but we hoofed it back.  Maybe we were all hungry for dinner.  Fun day out!  1 hr out, with stops, and 30 min back.  I had trouble keeping up on the way back.

 Monday, Sep 4:
 45 min body weight strength:
  • Situps: 60
  • Plank: 3 + 2.5 = 5.5
  • Abductor/Adductor leg raises: 75/80 + 115/85 = 190/165
  • Pushups: 25 + 25 = 50
  • Mt Climbers: 100
  • Single Leg Squats: 65 + 75 = 140
  • Jumping Jacks: 100
  • Flutter Kicks (4-count): 40 + 50 = 90
  • Assorted dumbbell rows
  • Ruck: 1.4 mi
  • No squats - right knee hurts when I try.
Thursday, Sep 7:
4.5 mi in 37:39, 8:22 ave.  It was only 3 days before the HM, so I didn't want to do too much.  I didn't run the previous day, which would've been ideal, but this run was at 6am, so it would still give me a good amount of time to recover.  I did a compromise between 4 and 5 miles.  I went right until my legs started feeling a bit of lactate.  Did 4 strict pullups afterwards. 

Splits> 8:33, 26, 20, 17, 4:03 for 0.5.


Looking at last year's results, I thought I had a shot at 3rd, if I had my usual peak performance.  I wasn't sure that I'd be in peak shape, though, because of how I pushed it in WV.  It was tempting, though, so I went out with usual aggression.  Temps were cool in the sports bra pre-race, but that meant that it would be nice once we got going.

I went out hard.  It maybe even felt like 5K effort, even though the pace was HM pace.  There's actually surprisingly not that big of a difference between the two.  Percentage-wise, big, but mph-wise, not that much.  Pacing right is a true skill.  It's one that I tend to mess up when I'm eager for a podium spot.

The race started out going around a parking lot.  It was a good way to get us warmed up, excited for the park, and spread out a bit.  Then, we went into the park.  Cool sights, lots of park time, and lots of winding around.  It felt like they took us through as many roads in the park as possible, which was nice.  At Disney, they only take you through a portion, it feels like.

Splits: 1) 7:28, 2) 7:35, 3) 7:27, 4) 5:44 not correct.

I got passed by the 1:40 pace group at around mile 4.  I could tell that the wheels were probably coming off, and it would be a struggle to the finish.  It would be about getting an age group prize at this point.  The next portion of the course went through the campground attached to Carowinds.  It was the hilliest portion, and the winding that happened there was mentally tougher to deal with, because you were ready to get out of the hilly area, not keep going around it.  Then, we headed back to the start, where we'd move on to our second lap.  Oh man, I got jealous of those who signed up for the Quarter Marathon and got to finish after the first lap.  I was tired out after one lap!

Second lap would match the first... I was more alone this time, now that people were even more spread out.  I was kicking hard, trying to hang on.  Back through the park, struggling.

Splits> 5) 8:14, 6) 7:52, 7) 7:16, 8) 8:25.

Back into the campground.  Got a gel on the way in, and another on the way out.  There were actually 4 opportunities to get gels on the course, which was an unexpected surprise.  The HM Swag had also been good - a buff, a magnet, and a hat.  I'm not a big hat person, but I do like buffs! 

Finally, the push to the finish.  We had to do an extra little out and back, where you have to mentally muster what you have to get through.  It was hard, but I finished.

Splits> 9) 8:48, 10) 5:53, 11) 7:28, 12) 8:41, 13) 8:00, 13.1) 0:45. 

I ended up 2nd in my AG, where the prize was a pint glass and a park ticket that I got to give to a visiting friend.

The medals were cool.  They actually had 4 races that weekend: 1 mi, 5K, QM, and HM.  Each one had a different character's medal, and they could all connect via magnets.  If I had known earlier, I would've been really tempted to do more than one!  I'll definitely look out for it next year! 

Afterwards, park time!

Our favorite coaster was the Fury 325 - some insane height there!  Night Hawk was also cool, because you were supermaning it above water.  Short, but wild!  There was also a laser gun ride, reminiscent of Buzz Lightyear, that I enjoyed.  The lines were short, which made for an action-packed day!  We were in the park from about 10am to 3pm.  Our legs started getting pretty tired as the HM started setting in during the afternoon.

Fun fact - half of the park is in NC, and half of the park is in SC!!!  I didn't realize this before!

Saturday, September 9, 2017


I've been getting into progressively bigger OCR weekends.  Back-to-back events.  It's a natural progression, maybe.  Either go longer, or go more.


Sunday, Aug 20:
The day after the Terrain Race, I decided to go for a trail run.  I ended up rolling my ankle worse than usual.  I might've heard a sound.  Usually, I can just run it off pretty much immediately.  This time, I had to stop for a few minutes. When it felt good enough to continue on, albeit with an effective stride, we did.  Made it back to the car, although I'd have to let it take its time recovering after that.

3.9 in 43:29, 11:08 ave.  380 feet elevation gain.

I think I need to get back into some of the exercises that I used to do up until a year ago... the hip strength exercises, which also hit some other stabilizers that would probably make my ankle stronger.  I had been neglecting them in favor of getting in more reps towards the Deez Nutz WOD, but staying healthy is more important, anyways.

The rest of the week, I fully rested.


I left Charlotte at around 3am, to make the 3hr 50 min trip up to Glen Jean, WV, for the inaugural trifecta weekend.  It was being held at Summit Bechel, a massive boyscout camp.  It reminds me of the whitewater center, minus the whitewater center, plus a skate park and gun-related activities.  It's bigger, though... massive.  It's another pretty setting for a Spartan race, with the ponds around the festival.

The elite women were scheduled for 7:45am, but there was a 30 min fog delay, so that the Youtube live coverage could let people see more of what's going on.

(We made it on Youtube, much bigger this time!)

I recently got my Legendbourne OCRWC jerseys in the mail, so today would be a good way to test drive.  I wore the 2016 version of the jersey.  It was neat standing around the elites at the beginning, before they got called up for the start.  

(I could see myself again here!)

We headed out in dense smoke, so thick that everyone stopped completely because we couldn't see a thing.  Then, we got moving again.  

The course started with the longest steep climb in memory.  Kept going up and up, with false summits along the way. At the top, Hurdles and Over-Under-Through.

Then, we started more climbing and descents through bushwhacked forest.  After last weekend's ankle roll, I KT taped it, and hoped for the best.  The main goal was to make it through the weekend without further injury.  I took it really carefully down the hills and on the uneven, cambered paths.   Slow, but safe.

Back down after our first traverse through the forest, we encountered a twist on the Slip Wall.  Instead of a full-length rope, there was only a short rope at the very top.  That meant giving it a good running start.  A bit daunting, for short people like me.  I didn't make it the first time, but I tried it again, and got it the second time.  You just have to let go of any hesitations and power up with everything you have.  Hesitate, and you won't make it all the way up.  Trust and power up.

Steep descents down the grassy knolls, then rolling mud and dunk wall, climb back up, then a really long and steep bucket brigade.  Looking back at the Youtube coverage, it looks sooo steep, like straight up and down. 

After the bucket, into the forest again, for more bushwhacking, steep climbs, and steep descents.  Brutal.  Maybe the riskiest thing for an already rolled ankle, but I somehow made it through unscathed.  In the midst of going through the forest, the pull lace loop on my Reebook All-terrains got hooked onto a tree branch that was on the ground as I stepped over the branch.  My body continued to move forward, but my leg was pulled back.  Fortunately, I was going slowly enough that I stayed upright although tilted forward and standing only on my non-hooked leg.  I felt like an animal caught in a trap.  Also fortunately, there was another racer behind me who kindly helped to get my shoelace off of the branch and free me.  I chuckled at myself for having a "Lindsay Webster" moment (she famously got her hair caught in barbed wire for a long time, and other racers helped to free her, at one of the US champion series races).
Z-wall near the top, Stairway to Sparta at the top (summit of the whole course) with great views to take in for a few seconds before going down, Bender, 6' wall, and back into the festival.
Bridge, a swim onto burpee island for 5 burpees, Tire Flip, Rope Climb, 7' wall, Sandbag, Inverted Wall.  No burpees so far!  Until Spear Throw... burpees.  Went out onto some plains...Vertical cargo, plate drag, barbed wire. Tyro - made it, for the 2nd time ever?  Atlas carry, Monkey bars NBD, 8' wall, Log carry wasn't that bad for me carrying it on the top of my upper back, A-frame cargo, Twister (2nd time on it ever - made it this time!  Used matching hand technique, not skipping any grips, straight arms because I can't do L's).  Herc hoist really hard but did it, stepping on the rope to give myself breaks.  Olympus fail, Multirig fail on the transition to the pipe that was much higher up than the rings, fire.  It was the hardest, longest-duration Beast that I've done, probably.
14.5 mi in 4:05:49, 20:29 average.

After finishing, I had to quickly transition to get ready for my volunteering shift.  No time to go back to the car for my usual volunteering gear (backpack, change of clothes, hiking shoes), since the car was so far away.  I made do with the gear I had checked in, and it actually turned out for the best that I volunteered in my race shoes and shorts.  That's because my Course Sweep Shift entailed re-doing the whole course!!! Steep stuff and all... the only part I didn't have to redo were the obstacles.

I was teamed up with another volunteer.  Our job was to catch up to the last runners and stay somewhat behind them to call out obstacles as cleared, so that they could be prepped for the next day's races.  We also picked up trash along the way.  

The first part was intense, since the last runners left a while before we did.  We caught up to them, though.  It was cat and mouse the whole time.  It felt like Lord of the Rings when the Legolas and Gimli were chasing down the Orcs who had kidnapped the hobbits.  Running through all kinds of terrain trying to catch them.  

My dad chose to volunteer too, since he'd otherwise just be driving back and forth to the hotel, or else waiting in the car or festival the whole day.  He was at Bender, and I was excited to pass by him and say hello during my chase.  

We were chasing one couple during the first half-ish, then it switched to another guy who showed a lot of grit and determination.  We stayed with him for a good bit, before switching to another duo.  By the time we finished, it was dark, and we were using flashlights.  It was a little after 9pm.

Went to the hotel, to get a little rest before the second half of the weekend - the Super and the Sprint, to finish up my trifecta weekend.

I wore my first-edition Reebok All-terrains with normal laces for day 2.  This way, I wouldn't have to worry about having to stop periodically to re-tighten my pull-string lace loop the whole day.  I may need to just replace those default laces on the new models with traditional laces.  Not only would I save that re-tightening time, it would also be safer for my ankles, to have more secured, tight shoes on my feet.  

I had a 11:15 start time, but I met up with a friend with a farm in WV who came to watch, beforehand.  It's fun to introduce new people to the world of OCR.  We're a crazy bunch.  With such a late start time, I'd have to keep a reasonable pace, to make it back in time to start my Sprint before the last heat of the day.  

Same steep initial climb, third time that weekend.  Longer rope on the slip wall, since the Super and Sprint versions of the obstacles are sometimes made easier.  That's one variation of making things easier, with the other being the rig where the pipe can be exchanged with more rings.  Fortunately, the Bucket course was shorter today, too.  Yesterday was tough.

It was fun to see my friend during the festival obstacles. I got my closest ever on the Spear, with a 1) run-and-throw, and 2) arch technique.  Not enough force to make it stick, but at least it was on target, in the middle of the hay this time.  I made the Twister again!  And the difficult Herc Hoist!  Got a bit farther on the Olympus today vs. yesterday, but still failed.  Because my friend was there, I actually forgot to do my burpees after the Olympus, but I did double burpees after the Olympus after the Sprint to make up for it.  It would've nagged at me forever if I didn't make them up.

Made the pure ring rig, then fire jump!  8.5 in 2:44:13, 20:31 average.

Quick transition to drop off my medal and Super shirt, and put on my Sprint race chip, then head out for the Sprint!  My friend left right before the Sprint.

It was all about survival now. 14.5 mile beast, 14 mileish course sweep, and 8.5 mile Super = 27 miles covered so far over the weekend.  4th time up the steep hill.  Slow-ish but steady.  Looking forward to a shorter course.  Similar to the Super, no Swim, took out the plains portion, but still lots of obstacles.  

Still failed the spear.  Got Twister a third time!  Could barely budget the Herc hoist this time.  Near total fail on the Olympus, where I did 30 + 30 makeup burpees from the Super.  Did the Rig!  

4.5 in 2:05:15, 31:18 average.  Trifecta accomplished!  Good prep with heavy mileage and obstacles for Iceland 24 Hour Ultra World Championships.  I ran into a fellow endurance junkie friend right in front of the giant billboard, and told my dad, "Surprise!  I'm going to Iceland for the 24 hour race", at the same time that I told my friend.  Should be epic.

Good Sierra Nevada beer afterwards.  I'm so glad that Spartan has finally embraced good beer.  It was a great venue, and I hope they're back in WV next year!!!