Well it did not seem as though I was going to be able to make it to the CO Military Spartan Sprint this year due to finances. I received an email with a pretty amazing price for a flight. I had a a voucher, and discount and so I was able to book my flight to Denver for $17. Found a rental car for $10 a day and thanks to two amazing friends, Taryn Haas and Leslie St.Louis, I had places to stay. Seemed as tho everything had fallen into place……or had it?
The weekend before CO, I ran the Idiana Spartan Sprint and about two miles into race, could feel a nice blister. By race end, there was no blister but an open wound the size of a half dollar on heel. I nursed it all week, had 12 rounds of laser, and not a single run all week since I could not put a shoe on my foot due to inflammation of tissues and soreness of tendon. By Friday morning, it didn’t feel much better, but got on flight trying to be hopeful.
Saturday morning, as the Elite women toed the starting line, I joined injured Corinne in sending the ladies off as I was sidelined. I was crushed mentally. I so wanted to be on that line with this amazing talented group of ladies. As the final AROO sounded, I found myself in tears. I felt like I had wasted a trip for nothing during a financially tough time. My passion for the race and wanting to be out there with my friends was killing me.
Corinne then asked me if I would be interested in walking the course with her and Team Big Reedy No More. She explained how Chris Reedy is on a journey to achieve his fitness goals. He, along with so many others struggles with the day to day grind of trying to live a healthy lifestyle. I agreed to walk the course, in my Injinji toe socks and Nike flip flops since I was still unable to put any pressure of a shoe on my heel. I was excited to be able to at least have some participation during the day. As part of the team, we were there to help Chris through the obstacles. He was such a trooper and handled each and every compliment with a kind “Thank you”. Several people mentioned how much his cardio had improved over the last race they had done together. Simply, that’s what it’s all about. I did have to leave half way throught the race, since I can only do so much in flip flops. Chris finished the race like a trooper. One day, one race at a time.
Sunday morning came, and I was determined to run/race, somehow. I got a shoe on and tried to walk around and knew it just wasn’t feasible to run like that. Now I know what you are probably thinking. “It’s a stupid blister and suck it up.” Trust me, I tried telling myself that. But the pain and inflammation from surrounding tissues and ligaments was unbearable. I was fine without a shoe or stepping on the back of my shoes as I had been doing all week. I had a plan, I knew it was far fetched. I got to the race venue plenty early Sunday morning. Put my racing shoe on my left foot and slid my right foot into my regular training shoes, stepped on the back of them and had some help with one heck of a tape job to get that shoe to stay on my foot. Awkward, yes! Both the shoes had the same heel drop so I wasn’t too worried with any over compensation issues. My main concern was busting my rump going down hills and in mud since there was absolutely no traction on my training shoes. Trust me, I saw the looks you all were giving me and that’s ok!!! I’m just that stubborn (or stupid) to follow through with this. I had flown to CO, I wanted to race with my Spartan Chicks!
As we finally toed the line Sunday morning, we all gave our hugs and high fives. My emotions started to take over again. Was I going to hurt myself even more? I really wanted it healed for TX in two weeks since that is my family’s favorite venue. It was too late, T.C. Had given the final AROO! And we were off.
I stayed with the lead group as much as possible through the first set of the Over/Under/Throughs. I came out gasping for air and wondering where I had misplaced my lungs. Sue and I were both struggling to catch our normal sea level breath but the altitude at 6,000 ft elevation was much stronger than we were. As I came out of the first set of obstacles and 6 and 7 foot walls, I found myself in 2nd place.
The tape job was holding up well. I knew I had to take advantage of any straight running to pull ahead of the hungry pack of girls on my tail. Holding strong into the tire pull, I picked my tire and went after it. Being one of the smallest of the elite field, this is one of the obstacles that is hardest for me. Once I finally got done, I found myself back in 7th place.
Heading up the side of an incline, I tried to let my left foot handle the rocks so I didn’t slip on my rump. Maintaining my place through the Atlas Carry(75lb concrete ball carry and 5 burpees), down the incline into the Tractor Pull(75ish lb concrete block on a chain). I nailed the balancing log hop and I was just trying to hold my own into the festival area but the ladies in front were pulling away. I knew once we got to the Barbed wire mud crawl I could gain some ground.
Coming out of the first 50ish yard crawl I had passed two ladies, up a mound and mud sliding down into a pool of muddy water there was another long barbed wire crawl. I was able to track down two more girls. But I had a tough time standing up in the sloppy mud after this. My shoe just had no traction. The mud was so thick and heavy and I was caked in it from head to toe.
I hobbled my way over to the rope climb. I knew the rope I wanted. The water was cold and the air was colder than the 87* it was supposed to be with complete overcast. As I swam to the rope and preceded to pull myself up, I had no grip with my shoes whatsoever. My arms were cold and taxed from the two mud crawls.I knew I didn’t want to lose more valuable strength if I failed the climb and had to do the penalty of 30 burpees. I resorted to squeezing the rope between legs and using all my upper body strength (Thank you Jomo Crossfit) by pulling myself up one knot at a time and sitting on them until I slowly reached the bell.
Next up was supposed to be the new monkey bars which was an inverted cargo net up to a bar in middle and then back down. Due to some injuries the day before, we just had to jump in the water below and swim across and out then do 10 burpees.
Leaving the festival area I had regained my 2nd place position. From this point, it was matter of trying to keep my right shoe on my foot as all the mud and water had loosened the tape job. There were more obstacles as we headed back into the army base like the rolling mud and moats, and inverted wall.
After a long stretch of slightly inclined running, I came upon the ruck sack carry. Once again, being small, I wasn’t looking forward to the 80lb ruck. I carefully picked my ruck, because this can make a huge difference if you pick a broken one, and then headed up the incline.
To my surprise, I picked the perfect ruck, and was able to move at a quick walking pace. Once I reached the peak, I was feeling strong and able to jog slowly back down with my 80lb ruck. I reached the bottom to see Sue’s beautiful face. She was searching for the perfect ruck and so I handed her mine assuring her it would work great. Off I went feeling feather light and fast now.
As I passed the water station, I took advantage of the water to wet my mouth and get an extra boost of energy and I thanked the volunteers for their help. Under a bridge and through a muddy creek, I found my right shoe was barely hanging on with the tape job. Now paying extra close attention to try to keep it from falling off. I had made a decision of it fell off, it’s ok. I would run barefoot and just try to avoid the cacti. I knew at this point I had only about a mile left.
Up the incline was the sandbag carry. It was a long one but I was feeling strong still. As I finished and laid down my bag, I saw my friends Sue and Jenny again. Cheering them on, I then headed back down another incline and through the weaver obstacle and 8ft wall. As I was jumping off the wall, I noticed a girl that seemed to appear from no where. Crap, I knew I had better pick it up. I could hear the music from the festival area. I was hungry for the podium and didn’t want to lose it now.
Leaving the wall was a swamp crossing. Knowing my shoe was not secure, I chose to go a few steps out of the way to what appeared to be a more narrow crossing. Too far to jump across, I picked what appeared to be a less muddy spot to step. Wrong! I sunk deeply in the black tar looking and swamp smelling mud. I was on all fours trying to keep shoe on and crawling out of mud. She was closing in.
Music was getting louder from festival area and I could hear the cheers from the fans. We had a good stretch of 400 yards or so of running before the next obstacle. I took advantage of it knowing this was really the last bit of running in the race. I sprinted into the festival area. Next up was the new Gauntlet, a serious of 7 obstacles packed back to back. I love me some obstacles!!! First up was the traverse wall.
As I approached it, I could hear several people cheering my name. Who were they? They were very sweet voices. I made my way across the inverted wall quickly. As I rang the bell, I looked over and saw Leslie and her little girls, Skye and Lucy. They were the best cheerleaders ever and made me tear up as I thought about my own two kiddos, Tatum and Triston, at home in Joplin, MO.
Running over to the spear throw, I always talk to myself here. “Aim high, follow through…Aim high, follow through!” Deep breath and throw. Epic failure!!! Worst spear throw to date. Then I hear people yelling at me that ‘she’ was coming. She was on the traverse wall. I start my 30 burpee penalty. I can do some speedy burpees normally. But I am spent and can’t catch my breath. I crank out my first 15, then I hear someone yell, she fell off wall. Whew! I can take a breath.
“Hear comes another girl”. Dang. No time for breath here. Move Tonya!!! Leslie is almost down on ground encouraging me to hurry up and I can hear her girls cheering me on. I finish up my burpees and head over to the Hercules Hoist(95lb sand bag on a pulley that u pull to top and let it down nice and easy). Knowing they had upped the weight by at least 30lbs and I don’t weigh a lot more than this, this one takes me some time. But I got a good grip and started to pull. It was heavy, but I just took it one pull at a time.
The fans and volunteers were amazing and so encouraging. I was in my own world at this point and kinda lost track of anyone else. Up and over the cargo net I flew knowing the finish line was so close. I see the slippery wall, which I had been a bit nervous about knowing I had no traction on my shoe at all. I picked a rope and started walking up. It was slick. I started to fall but was able to step on the rope to the right and get some more traction. It worked like a charm and up and over I went.
Up a small mound of mud, under a barbed wire and slid down into a large pool of water. Emerging myself several inches under the dunk wall (this makes for worst pics EVER…when I come up, my face is cover with muddy water and some snot mixed in). I could see the fire jump which means the finish line is on the other side. Over the fire jump and across timing mat. I was elated to make the podium. Now just for fun I jumped through the final Gauntlet which is a line of lightweight punching type bags hanging over a pit of water that you jump through.
Now where was Sue and Jenny? Finally, I see Sue’s pink headband poke up from the water under the dunk wall. Then another head pokes up. The two girls were coming out of water together and over fire jump towards timing mat. We were all cheering as hard as we could for Sue. (No offense to other female).
They both literally crossed the timing mat at what appeared to be exact time. Now it was up to the computers to decide if I would get to stand next to one of my best friends on the podium. She deserves it more than anyone I know! The volunteers handing out the medals saw the look on my face as Sue crossed the finish line. She then handed me the medal so I could be the one to place it around Sue’s neck.
The final announcement came over the intercom that Sue had gotten edged out and finished in 4th place. I know she was heart broken, but being her normal self was just happy for everyone else and that she had finished. Soon Jenny crossed right afterwards. Smiles and hugs all around. My shoes stayed on my feet, and I felt great. At the end of the day, we are all happy to be there, spend time with our friends, OCR family, and to have gotten to enjoy another battle out on the course. We are so blessed to be able to enjoy our passion of OCR.
Later that day I got to experience my first Dust Devil that lasted a good 45 seconds or so and left us covered in dirt. It was quite an experience. After we left the venue, Taryn took me to the Incline in Manitou Springs, CO. This is a series of railroad-tie steps that go a mile up the side of a mountain. Then we took a 3 mile loop down an amazing trail of switch backs down the mountain. I love trails like that. We saw a few other crazy racers out there who had run earlier in the day as well.
What started out to be a disappointing trip ended way better than I ever anticipated. I never expected to be on that podium due to the circumstances. I love and appreciate the support of all my family and friends. Thank you to LegendBorne and RockTape for sponsoring me and standing by me.