This past weekend I started another season of racing by taking on the Spartan Beast in Vernon, NJ. This course was created by the infamous Norm Kotch who is well known for building some of the toughest ones out there. I have done a few of his sadistic courses (the hardest in my opinion was the 2014 World Championship Beast in Killington, VT) but this course was brutal yet fun! It felt like a totally different experience for me. Perhaps it was the snow on the ground, or the beautiful summer like weather, or the fact that I live so close and have become quite familiar with that mountain that made me more excited than nervous about this particular race. Overall I feel like the course was as challenging as it could be considering the elevation difference between what I was used to doing in VT vs. NJ.
For this race, I knew that I was going into it I was going to be more of a supporter than a “racer” so I was not at all concerned with time. Many of the people I had been training this was their very first Beast but have done other Spartan races, while others their very first Spartan race ever! Our heat time was 8:15 and we jumped over the wall into the corral and off we went. I have to say, the start of a Spartan Race used to be so much more intense and heart pumping where Dropkick Murphy’s Shipping Up to Boston would play as the announcer gave his speech before tossing the smoke stick to signify we were on our way. It used to get my adrenaline going, but this was sort of anti-climactic and next thing I know, people were just running and I said “oh, guess we are starting”. It was sort of disappointing actually. As we began to run up the very first mountain, the sun beat down and I knew that perhaps long sleeves were going to be a bit much for this day. About half way up, I stopped & took off my long sleeve leaving only the pink short sleeve shirt on and I stuffed the other one in my Camelback.
We were somewhat of a large group and that is very difficult to keep all together, so eventually we broke off into groups but no one was ever alone. My first failed obstacle would be the new pole traverse/Tarzan swing combo. I made the pole traverse section with ease, but on the second rope of the swings I felt my shoulder pull (the same one that I injured last year at the Sprint that had just finally started feeling better). I just dropped from the rope and headed over to do my 30 burpees as to not push myself harder and risk re-injury. Not too far after that, we encountered the log hop and while in the past races I have completed this obstacle, this time my new sneakers had cleats on the bottom and while they were amazing throughout the entire race, I wasn’t able to balance enough on them so another 30 burpees it was.
Feeling annoyed about doing 60 burpees so early in and my shoulder hurting, I began to get upset and it was starting to affect me. Soon after, I faced the monkey bars that ever since they changed them to the staggered height and hurt my shoulder I have not been able to make it across. The volunteer said that I could have someone help me across, but personally I would rather do it on my own and do my 30 burpees if I failed it. I grabbed on to the first bar and one by one I made it across. The middle one was so high for my arm span, but after a few swings, I finally got it and my shoulder felt good afterwards. This gave me the boost I needed to get out of my funk. Next we had the new multi-faced traverse wall, the spear throw (which I nailed for the first time after 11 attempts in my previous 10 Spartan races), and the Hercules hoist (which I found to be extremely light). The only other obstacle I would fail that day would be the memory test because I transposed 2 digits when I was studying the board to remember it. What bothered me about this particular obstacle was that the volunteer told me that my team could help do my burpees by splitting them up. What? I failed, not them! So I sent them ahead and off to the burpee pit I went to do my last 30 of the day.
Some of my team was starting to have trouble (knee pain, overheating, pounding heart rate, cramping) so
we just took it easy. We pushed when we could, we rested when it was needed, and we enjoyed the beautiful views. There was snow on the course that we had to run in and we even had to do a barbed wire crawl in the snow, which I loved! I was so concerned about the cold the days leading up to the race, but the beautiful temperatures made the snow and water actually feel refreshing. The bucket carry was nothing like what I experienced in Killington so I went all the way to the top without a rest, took a short breather, and then it was back down to wait for the rest of the team. The sand bag carry was long and muddy, but the lighter weight made it enjoyable vs. torturous like what I was used to. Obstacle after obstacle, mile after mile, I was really enjoying the overall experience with my team. As we started our last climb up the steepest hill and then began to descend towards the finish line I felt so proud of my team and happy I could share this moment with them. I ran down the last hill, did the Tarzan swing,
which I yelped out like a little kid because it was so fun, and then headed towards the finish line. Shortly over 7 hours later, I got my 4th Spartan Beast medal.