Seattle Spartan – Back in Brown

Why on earth am I here?

I had honestly forgotten the answer.

It was cold, it was rainy, and I was about to run through slick mud… traversing slippery obstacles and going under a “dunk wall” in what was definitely going to be very cold water.

This being my first race of the year, I had totally lost touch with the joy of romping through the mud, swinging through obstacles and gliding under barbed wire.

All I could remember was cold. And pain. And misery.

In fact, I couldn’t really tell if I wanted to be here in this moment. Or maybe I just didn’t. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember why on earth anyone would want to be here. All sense of this moment, and any following it was lost.

I peeled myself from my snuggly bed before the sun came up, donned some short shorts and a tank top and stood in a shivering mass of spandex and tight muscles waiting for the third AROO.

Surprisingly… barely one second after GO, it all came flooding back.

The rush of charging up a muddy hill with a bunch of fierce ladies throwing down was palpable. I run on my own. A lot. It’s fun. But this. This was AWESOME.

Every obstacle I tackled left me feeling more ready for the next.

Even the ones I failed.

I could have run a lot faster. I could have ran a clean race. I could have pushed harder.

But I didn’t. And it didn’t matter. I was loving every second. Even after my fingers froze and my hands stopped closing.

I think that’s the magic. I don’t know why we freak out. Being out there shuts all that off and you just are. You just do.

Almost as if you’re connected back to a deep sense of challenge, of nature and the elements, of community. We all become one moving mass… jockeying for position and yet advancing together like an ancient tribe chasing down an antelope.

I’m hoping this first race of the year reminds me that my mind might dominate the pre and post race, but my heart always takes over the during. And that’s what matters.

The next day at the Sprint, the plan was just to work hard and see where it got me. It was a huge change from the general sense of dread that hung over me like a cloud Saturday morning.

Nearing the finish line and the final obstacle gauntlet, I was able to move into second. Running a clean race always makes for a good day… especially on a slippery wet course. This of course was in no small part to my awesome coach Yancy and his love of grip and pull training.

If you haven’t got a chance to check out his training, you should. PM me and I’ll see if I can get you a trial code. It’s literally made a world of difference in my obstacle proficiency and general strength.

It’s Ok That it’s Not Ok.

It’s ok to for things to not be ok. It’s also ok to not be ok that things are not ok.

Performance wise, I had a terrible race weekend.

I did get to run with some of the best in the sport, and spend time with some of my favourite people, doing what I love best.

So really, it was a phenomenal weekend. But am I totally ok?

Nope. No I’m not. And I cannot convince myself otherwise.

The Super on Saturday morning featured some added frosty-dewy challenge. I slid off the balance beam and then rig. Then I missed my spear. At the rope climb, I grabbed a rope that was coated with thick gooey mud and shot right to the bottom. 30 burpees at the finish line and my first failed rope climb. I dropped from second to fourth. Sunday in the Sprint Race, I choked on the balance beam and then missed my spear.

So many burpees.

The awesome thing about obstacle racing is that you always go home with homework. Something to improve. A way to make yourself a better athlete.

In that sense it’s these races that teach us the most. These ugly times where we cross the finish line with burnt-out triceps and stains on our chests, that offer us the most.

But they still suck. And I’m ok with that too.

If we jumped the fire 120 burpees down and with any sort of indifference, we wouldn’t go home with the same lessons: the same drive to fix the chinks in our armour.

We need both the sting of loss – and the appreciation for it’s honesty to drive us on.

My oldest daughter starts kindergarten this week. And to be perfectly honest, I have trouble embracing it. But a good friend pointed out how much one-on-one time I’ll have with my youngest and how many great times lie ahead with my growing munchkin.

In the mud, and in life, I guess it’s ok to not be ok… so long as you keep moving forward.

Sun Peaks UltraBeast 2015

  
Nothing like being on the tail end of a flu and the starting line of an UltraBeast. 
With the Spartan World Championship coming up in Tahoe next weekend and after having taken a few sick days with zero training, I thought getting back to normal with a long run in the mountains would do me good. 

If I took it easy…

Although, I’m not sure taking it easy was an option out there.

They had the usual obstacles: a couple balances, a few walls (including one halfway up a steep slope), an O-U-T, three very cold crawls, a long hobie hop, mud mounds, traverse wall, cargo net, rope and spear.

I think the big change this year was the relentlessness of the climbs combined with the heavy stuff. There was a tractor tire drag, double sandbell carry, herc hoist, two log carries, tire carry, light bucket carry, tractor pull, and the longest atlas carry I’ve ever done. 

The extra UltraBeast loop also had a heavy sandbag carry up a good vertical with no ladies option followed by a steep hike up a gnarly ski run.

It was a grinder for sure.

Mother Nature also added her own touch: blazing sun to blizzard and back again. I don’t normally change that much in a week… never mind a day.

I almost came off the traverse wall on the first lap since my hands were so frozen I couldn’t close my fingers.

I ended up changing arm warmers and gloves and then putting a long compression on at the drop bag tent halfway. I decided to cook myself in the sun on the climb in order to get my core temperature back up.

The big storm hit as I was just about to make the climb to The Top of the World. I put on my sunglasses to block the snow from my eyes but the wind was freezing me to my bones. A volunteer named Cheryl from the Herc Hoist gave me her almost brand new shell to block the wind. It was glorious… like stepping inside a sauna. I’ve never been so happy or so grateful. 

My nose also eventually stopped bleeding. I had jammed a branch up it early on while doing burpees and it was like turning on a slow faucet.

I was still nauseous and dizzy. I was still tired. But I always try to focus on what’s going right and how I can make things even better. The flu isn’t going to magically evaporate but I can hydrate and fuel well and keep the pace and effort even.

The volunteers were outstanding. I’ve yet to see more engaged, more enthusiastic, more amazing ones anywhere. 

Outside of obviously making more realistic cut offs (since technically only 24 people finished under the 6pm cutoff), I think they need an elite vs open UB heat.

It would clear up things like assisting one another at obstacles, taking burpees instead of doing carries and all that. Stuff you do in an open heat but not as an elite.

I do love the camaraderie aspect of people helping each other through to finish. It’s what makes these long races so special. 

There was one guy on course on his second lap, with his knees blown out, looking for ways in which he could better everyone he passed. Just incredible – and a big part of what this community is about.

But I do feel things get tricky if you’re running for a podium spot. Then it’s got to be elite rules as far as I figure.

The hardest part of the day for me was watching the people who were pulled off course or just missed the cutoff. You know they poured their hearts and souls onto the course and they never got their moment to celebrate its completion.

Still, they ran the same course, conquered the same obstacles and fought the same fight that the official finishers did. Geez, some even went out onto their second lap determined to get as far as they could before they got pulled knowing that they probably wouldn’t make it to the finish line. These are the people I want my children growing up to be.

The Red Deer Hurricane Heat, Super and Sprint

Who knew that packing for one weekend could be so involved?

Three events, two kiddos, one kid’s race and a special Hurricane Heat pack list will certainly do that.

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The Hurricane Heat

For those of you who don’t know, the addition of the Hurricane Heat started in 2011 when Hurricane Irene threatened the cancellation of the race so Spartan founder, Joe Desena, decided to bring the group out for a military inspired workout complete with team challenges and exercises. Failure meant burpees. As per usual.

Each Hurricane Heat is different and usually lasts 3-4 hours, although they do have 12 and 24 hour ones for sadists who are interested in extended the torture to an inconceivable duration.

Our theme was hockey. We had to bring a toque with our favourite team logo (I fashioned mine out of a toque, a poorly hand drawn logo on the back of a business card and a couple safety pins) and a “regulation length hockey stick.”

A friend-of-a-friend actually lent me his stick despite my failure to promise it’s safe return.

We broke up into teams and started into the challenges. Our team was led by an adorable teenager named Max who is a natural born leader. He kept us all in-line and in good spirits.

The challenges varied between everyone working together to fashion a raft out of hockey sticks and zap straps to float the cadre across the lake (which did not work); to our small seven person team getting one of our own upside down up a slip wall; to working in partners with our hands zap strapped together to get over an eight foot wall. There was even the solo challenge of going through the mud pit with our hands cinched behind our backs.

The big challenge for me as the night went on became the cold. I was ill prepared for night fall and the soggy arm warmers I had to warm myself just weren’t doing the trick.

At the end of the night we huddled in a circle, trying to absorb the heat radiating off the still-warm concrete as three people read the essays they had written about why they race.

All three were phenomenal but I know the third one struck a cord with so many. You can read it here.

The Super

I made the mistake of starting too far back and getting caught behind on the first few miles of single track – which was fun in that it meant I had some work to do to catch up. Like I need to feel any more like a cougar.

They had some interesting twists on the old favourites, like a lighter bucket carry that wove it’s way through mud pits. Mother nature also put her own twist on things. The monkey bars and balance beams were slick. By the last rung I was holding on by my pinkies.

The course was flat and fast and I was happy to get a burpee free round for the win.

The Sprint

The course was even flatter and faster than the day before – and perhaps even more slick. The penalty box was full of elite men doing burpees when Faye and I arrived lockstep at the balance beam. I ended up doing the splits at each junction but both Faye and I made it over unscathed and got to battle it out for the remainder of the race. It all came down to the spear throw at the top of a set of stairs just three short obstacles to the finish. And thankfully mine stuck.

Two burpee free races in one weekend.

The Kid’s Race

Ama, my oldest decided to do her first kid’s race since her cousins were doing theirs. Not one for mud, she chose to wear a pink tutu and was absolutely horrified when it got splashed. That and she wouldn’t touch the obstacles after they became dirty. Not exactly the perfect first mud run but… she finished. As did my two nieces and my nephew in the adult race. It’s beyond describable to see your family enjoy the sport you love. Or at least, make it through with most of a clean tutu.

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Recovering between Races

If you’re looking for some double race weekend strategies for recovering, I have the blog post for you here.

The Ottawa Super and UltraBeast

  

I was really hoping to get a double win this weekend in Ottawa: the Super and the UltraBeast. 

The Super started out up the side of the mountain on single track. Jostling for position was tricky and it ended up being a nice warm up. The obstacles and course were awesome with some fun combos like a herc hoist to rope climb. This is where I finally caught up to the lead, Judith, who runs like a gazelle.

After the rope, there was a series of switchbacks up the mountain at my favourite grade. Back at the bottom of the mountain was a heavy jerry can carry followed by a tractor pull (cement on a chain). 

The jerry can was unpleasant. It was the kind of weight you usually see in the states. 

I missed my spear but I had enough of a lead that it didn’t factor in. 

One down.

I had a lot more confidence going into the UltraBeast with my endurance background and felt almost no nerves Sunday. Plus, we had no kids. What a relaxed race morning that makes for.
When we showed up the registration line spanned across the parking lot and was not moving.

A few staffers informed us that there was a problem with the system and that no one would start until we were all through.

Well we waited, the announcer started, the tape was cut and the racers took off.

Crackerjacks.

No problem, the race was based on chip time today. We started in the next wave, 15 minutes back.

I reframed the late start as a bonus: if I caught anyone, I’d have them, unless they dropped me by more than 15 minutes. 

It made things confusing until I caught the last lady on the bonus “carry section” of the UB course. I checked my watch when she passed and again when I passed that same point. I was eight minutes “ahead.” 

After the carries and drags, and once I start to love life again (boy were they tough in the heat), someone yelled that I was two minutes behind the leader. 

Two minutes gun time or chip time? He was looking at a phone so I wasn’t sure.

We were running up a stream for the next obstacle (which was cold and devine) and I asked the cameraman how far she was. 30-45 seconds.

Gotcha.

She came off the monkey bars and was doing burpees when I passed her.

I loved the course. It was fun, had a lot of challenge and variety and was well marked. At the Super there was a fuzzy area but they rectified that 100% by the next morning. I love that about Spartan Eastern Canada. Problems solved. The one area I found confusing was the tire carry. We followed it just fine but weren’t certain we were hiking the right way until the end.

My favourite obstacle was the infinity bar combo. It was basically a swingy turning monkey bar spool to pipe alternating. Fun. 

They also had little change ups like a weaver pole and a double and then single sand bag carry from lap to lap. And only one carry lap. Thank heavens.

Just kept it fresh…

Part of distance racing is knowing yourself, and I know that I don’t like stopping. So my drop kit was a sandwich bag filled with various forms of sugar. 

I grabbed it and headed back out of the drop bag tent. A friend who is faster but has less experience at these crazy long races, finished his stop and hiked along side me for a bit. 

He had a long pit and saw no other females so it was nice to hear it confirmed that I moved into first. I was well hydrated and well fed.
I saw the girl who was originally in the lead coming up the mountain as I was coming down and was relieved to see that I had opened such a gap. We exchanged cheers and I picked up the pace.

From here it was a lot more easy running. I felt so good on the switchbacks… I was certain I was running sub 5 minute kilometers… although my GPS didn’t last the 8 hours until this point. 

At every obstacle I did they confirmed I was in the lead. Most people I passed said the same.

Not one person said I was in anything but first – until the finish line. 

I missed my spear and one of the media guys congratulated me on second. 

No first. 

No second. 

As it went…

Sorry to tell you but first place just passed through the finish line.

Most somber looking fire jump ever. I’m sure I looked like Eyore after watching Bambi’s mother die.

I thought I was having a stroke until person after person came up to either congratulate me on the win or tell me they saw me in the lead the whole final lap.

The next few ladies stumbled over the line with the same confusion and disbelief.

As it turned out, the girl who was originally in the lead on the first lap went off course and Rosie Ruiz’d it.

It was a bit of a crazy blow on an otherwise amazing race. I did more burpees than I should have. But the last lap particularly was so much fun. 

Thanks in no small part to the Mudd Queens and all the support and encouragement from various east coasters along the route. 
You guys are awesome and I’m going to miss you something fierce.

Who will yell, “Allison Tai, you f**king suck at running downhill!” as they blow past me… as the guy who once carried my arm warmers for an entire race when I dropped them does… every time. 

Who will make me love this sport for the sport itself and for the people drawn to it?

I have absolutely loved racing Nancy and Judith – and number one OCR athlete in the universe Claude. It’s like racing family.
And I will miss Milligan and the CMQ group dearly. Thanks for making me feel at home. 

I’m one lucky girl.

The Vancouver Spartan Sprint 

 

There are many good things about a hometown race. 

 First off, you know the terrain… so you can fly on in. Second, people know you and cheer using your name. Some people: some people yell “Go Ellie” but whatever… good enough. Third, you just might have a babysitter and be able to race your significant other for the first time ever.

I had the flu Thursday so ended up spending the day in bed… which may have actually helped. Resting is not easy for me. But I guess I showed up rested care of feeling intensely dizzy every time I stood up.

My husband has also been sleeping with the baby – and I’ve been sleeping with ear plugs. Which is an awesome arrangement for me.

I showed up ready to run the downhills fast and it was perfect having my husband and #1 training partner to chase on the decents. The course was hilly, rocky and a bit technical but nothing like the frightening leg breakers often featured in Spartan races. I’m looking at you Mont Tremblant. 

Perspective right?

I think running the drops quick really helped me out since I ended up doing 60 burpees (balance and spear).

The spear led the final cluster of obstacles and I was just finishing my burpees when the mighty Faye Stenning and Michelle Ford rolled in. Good news for me, they both missed too and I was able to make my way to the finish without being hunted down in the final few hundred meters.

These are not ladies you want chasing you into the finish area.

I was a little worried about my choice of wardrobe: capris. But my outfit was a new line I tried from Virus Athletics that cools your skin. It felt instantly cool when I put it on but I wasn’t sure how it would respond on the side of a mountain in the sun. It was awesome. Like wearing a wet towel and yet nothing at all – and especially cool when it gets wet (hello, mud pit of wet). It also feels seamless and like silk. I’m pretty sure everyone’s going to end up wearing this stuff.

Not Doing Burpees is Awesome

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After racing pretty hard yesterday, I wasn’t sure how things would go today.

I got ahead of Claude, Spartan World Champion x2 and Olympic biathlete, on the first climb by running as much as I could – and by narrowly escaping a heart attack.

Good start.

She took back the lead heading down the other side of the mountain, but the terrain was neither steep nor technical, so I was able to stay with her. I saw her cross the balance beam to slack line combo I had failed twice to this point. Instead of slowing and carefully balancing, I took my husband’s advice and ran for the bell with all I had and thumped it with a triumphant “donk”.

Then I danced. Then I kept running.

I set up and launched my spear as I always do. But something different happened.

It went in.

The only two obstacles I’ve failed on this course behind me. Might this be my first race without penalty burpees?

After the hand hold traverse to long monkey bar combo, the course ran through the crowd of spectators before the big cargo and another big climb.

The crowd was absolutely thundering.

And the announcer said I was in first place.

Me?

Whoah. Really? Where’s Claude?

I had no idea she missed the bell on the end of the slack line and was 30 burpees back.

The crawl uphill was horrendous on the open wounds on my knees and hand from the fall yesterday but I managed to get through it.
I swore a bit but not nearly as much as I did when I landed that spear. And I pretty much always swear. I’m from Alberta.

I managed to hold Claude off up the final climb by running as much as I could. She was coming into the atlas carry (carry large stone, 5 burpees, carry back) as I was heading back down the mountain.

It didn’t take her long to overtake me on the technical and steep downhill section under the chair lift into the finish area. That lady flies on the gnarly decents.

But man, who cares… that was the best race ever.

Another “No Excuses” Mom

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To check out the full article on Women’s Health Magazine, just click the photo.

I don’t know if your Facebook feed has been swallowed up with this new “no excuses” mom photo, but mine certainly has.

Those are nice abs Abby. And I get where you’re coming from Maria.

You’re trying to encourage more moms to take control and get active. That is empowering. You might even be considered a feminist.

“Strong is the new skinny,” right?

“Real women have muscles”

“Squat now, selfie later,” am I right?

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Is there even any weight on that bar?

The problem here is not that they are trying to recreate women’s ideas about how their body should look or how fitness can help them achieve “the new standard” if they only drop their excuses.

The problem is that they are reducing the amazing machine that is a woman’s body to a cheap made-in-china “for display purposes only” ideal.

Who cares what your abs look like? Mine aren’t great. I’ve had two children. But you know what, they weren’t all the great before the kids either. I make my living on being fit. Not having sweet abs.

One of my good friends sometimes gets her RDA of exercise by gardening and eats Nutella by the Costco sized jar. She has the nicest six-pack I have ever seen.

But you know what else? I don’t really care how my abs look. I care that they can stay solid while I carry both my kids up a mountain. I care that they are strong enough to help me traverse a set of monkey bars or pull my knees high enough to make the rope climb easier.

I agree that people, and mothers, have too many excuses and/or reasons (whatever you want to call them) in terms of prioritizing their own fitness. And I agree that we are at a crisis in terms of poor nutrition and more critically, low activity levels. I see moms all the time who simply give up after having a baby, or more often, two babies. And I’m a mom. I get why.

But a set of ripped abs doesn’t motivate me. The feeling of utter triumph when I make it over a 10′ wall does. The feeling of standing at the top of a mountain trying to catch my breath from the scenery, and the effort, does.

I have had the good fortune of racing with some of the best athletes (and best six-packs) in the sport of obstacle course racing. When I think impressive though, I have one image.

Waiting for my husband, who went into a later wave at the local Spartan Race, I saw a lady who must have been about 300 pounds hauling herself over the final wall on the course with some difficulty. I was amazed.

And then I saw the reason she was struggling. And it wasn’t the extra pounds.

She had her skinny, fit looking teenage daughter in her free hand.

Tears still come to my eyes every time I think about it.

We don’t need a reason not have excuses, we need a reason not to want excuses.

That reason for me is obstacle course racing.

BTW, if you haven’t read this article by Lauren Fleshman, you need to click the photo and read it now. It’s awesome – just like her.

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And then sign up for the interactive online OCR training community www.mud-fu.com and never lift your shirt in front of a mirror again.

The Dallas Beast Team Race: don’t mess with Texas

I ran the first year of the Whistler Tough Mudder… the one where we ran in knee deep snow and had to swim through slush.

I ran the Spartan World Championship… the race that notoriously takes athletes to their knees with cramps.

And I never really got cold.

I’m from Northern Alberta for goodness sake.

In Dallas, I was so cold. SO cold. So cold, I cramped all over cold.

Looking at the weather, I knew it would be chilly. However, after having overdressed for Sun Peaks and spent seven hours roasting in the sun on a mountainside… I vowed not to make that mistake again.

New mistake: hypothermia.

On the upside, racing on Team Platinum Rig Canada was awesome fun. I almost forgot how unpleasant the cold was in the company of such amazing athletes and people.

The race started with a typical dash to the over-unders, but led quickly into an eat-up-your-legs creek wade. It wasn’t quite deep enough to swim through but was definitely deep enough to make walking through the muck difficult.

The course had detours for teams on obstacles that needed to be completed together, which was a great way to keep us all as one unit. The first was a big wall with no toe kicks that you had to climb Tough Mudder style but without touching the braces. We had one person hoist the climbers leg while they stepped on another’s shoulder. The last person helped “push the butt” to help with hip extension.

The next team obstacle was flipping a telephone pole four times. One person deadlifted it up, the next grabbed further down and cleaned it to shoulder height and the last two got under it and walked their hands down until it went over.

There were a bunch of latter obstacles big and small along the course, which kept it interesting for us but apparently caused a bunch of congestion for the open racers.

Next was the giant tractor tire flips as a group of two.

I was hoping to warm-up by this point – but every footstrike was jarring and worrisome. I was concerned that if I did hit the ground wrong, my ankle wouldn’t bend, it would snap. It made bushwacking around in a lumpy cow field a bit unnerving… and I felt like I was becoming more and more uncoordinated and clumsy as the race progressed.

As if my lumbering stiff legs weren’t enough added challenge, at this time, my hands decided to join their rebellion. The transverse wall was where my forearms first started misbehaving. I fell off on the last hold, right near the bell. Luckily another teammate slipped off too, so we did our burpees together.

I was more careful than usual on the log hop. Come on body, just do what I tell ya’.

Somehow I made the rope climb. The two ladies that made the traverse wall missed the bell and had a burpee penalty. So now we got a little rest before we jogged up to the memorization test.

All chatter stopped after that. We just trotted along in our little pack reciting numbers to ourselves in our heads.

Big cargo net.

The team Atlas carry was cool. You chained yourself together and each picked up a stone: one heavy, one light. After 5 burpees on the other side, we switched rocks and returned.

Stairway to heaven was a new obstacle to me but I’ve seen a version of it at Tough Mudder. Basically, it’s a wall to a wooden latter and not too tricky unless you aren’t a fan of heights.

Another big wall. More teamwork.

The swim section was long, I’d say nearly 300m. For teams, we put on mandatory PFDs and swam diagonally across the lake to meet our other team members and switch off. Solo racers swam straight across. The PFD was probably the worst part. I haven’t ever tried swimming with one and it really gets in the way. It took about 100m but I finally settled into a surf board type stroke with the PFD around my waist.

Oddly the water was so much warmer than the air (and the wind) that we wanted to climb back in while we waited.

The Herc hoist was super light compared to the beast I had to wrestle with in Sacramento last week. When I through my body weight on it, expecting a fight, I hit the deck.

The team mud pit was cool: it was deep enough that we helped each other out. First by pushing the leader out by the butt (get comfortable with having your bum handled and handling the bums of others if you ever do a team race) and then by grabbing each other’s wrists.

The barb wire crawl was long and filled with people and some manner of spiky Texan plant that was way more terrible than the barbed wire. Oh yes, and cacti. A volunteer warned me about it as I was dragging my torso along one.

Helene, the team leader, was shouting helpful suggestions and encouragement to us throughout the race. One such suggestion was to change rolling sides periodically so as to not get too dizzy with a few crawl steps. Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?

The sun was slowly coming out and I may actually have warned up had it not been for the dunk wall that came up next. Back to shiverville.

Next we did a team tire drag, which was tough until we coordinated our pulls with counts and had someone on the other side to push rather than crowd the one side with everyone pulling.

And the bucket brigade. I’m pretty accustomed to bucket induced back cramps, but it took everything I had not to put that bucket down today. My back was seizing right up. I’m glad the carry wasn’t an extra couple feet.

The pancake sand bags were only made challenging by a rocky slippery slope, other racers to navigate around, and being tied by the arm to one of your teammates.

I always go under and “crawl” across the Tyrollean traverse. Today would have been a good day to go on top. My forearms completely went on me about 4″ from the bell. I was hanging there trying to figure out how I was going to ring the bell without letting go with one hand. I ended up having to hook my arms over the top of the rope. I wasn’t sure it was going to work but the sound of that bell sure was glorious.

I missed my spear. I did my burpees. We all did.

The rules stated that three of our four lady team had to cross the finish line within 30 seconds of each other, so we all hoofed it in from there. I was feeling so stiff and uncoordinated, I kept on kicking myself as I ran. Weird.

I took on the inverted wall as usual… but somehow I landed flat on my back. Dang hands wouldn’t close. I had to go over with my upper arms, all army style.

The first three of us reunited on the other side of the slip wall and did the fire jump together.

John wrapped me in every jacket he had. It was like my flesh was frozen for hours and I was sick the rest of the day.

I was super glad to have raced with the team and learned a lot from the stellar athletes I had the opportunity to compete beside… but… biggest lesson learned:

Don’t mess with Texas.

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