I have wanted to write this blog post for a few days, however due to the sheer emotions that I was experiencing post beast, I wanted to put this together when I had a clearer head. I have to start this off by saying that the Spartan Beast Race was by far the hardest thing that I have ever done (including the 2 marathons that I have run). You can try and prepare as best you can, but there will still be something that surprises you on course.
With that being said, the week up to the Beast I was nervous and feeling run down – I had developed quite the bad migraine headache / sniffles and I was super worried this was going to prevent me from running the Beast. I ended up missing three days of work, and still felt weak leaving the house on Friday, September 22nd 2017. I am the type of person though that once I get something in my head (a goal) I will reach that goal no matter what. Thankfully hubs and I had packed our gear before the big road trip, and although at the time it seemed we had too much stuff, I would rather have too much then not enough.
Getting to the condo in Sun Peaks was pretty uneventful – we hit traffic due to accidents on the way, stopped in Chilliwack to get food and got in about 10:30 pm. Sierra (my five year old daughter) did really well in such a long car trip and she was happy to see her dad (who had gone up a few days before in order to help setup). We unloaded the car (Ryan, Troy and I) and then settled in for the night. I think I got to bed around midnight and maybe got 3.5 hours of sleep that night (I can never sleep the night before a big event).
Troy, Sierra and I heading to Sun Peaks
In the morning I got up, walked down to the registration area with our friend Troy to get our bibs and timing chips, and headed back to the condo to get ready. Our friend Ryan B had already left in the early morning (at about 6 am I think) as he was going to try and conquer the Ultra Beast (which is two laps of the beast course). His wife Joan was kind enough to offer to watch Sierra, so we got everyone ready. John Tai and his girls walked up to our condo and suggested Sierra come down to their room (near the finish line) to hang out – this was a great idea.
All of us slowly walked down to the start line area (about a 5 minute walk from the condo) and my nerves started to get to me. I in a way didn’t fully understand the challenge that was before me, but my friend Karolina and I had made a pact we would stick together and finish together.
The 8:30am corral that we were to start in was full of new friends and old friends, and I think seeing familiar faces helped a bit. The MC of the event, Chris was working the crowd to warm us all up, but unfortunately we could barely hear what he was saying. Before I knew it, we were off.
Vancity OCR crew at the starting corral
The first few obstacles were: the under wall, 4 foot wall, bucket brigade (I always struggle with this one, but I finished it), the barbed wire crawl, Olympus, the 6 foot wall, stairway to Sparta, the fire flip, sandbag carry # 1 (the other being near the finish), and Monkey bars. After that, if I remember correctly it was time to climb peak # 1 – according to the course map provided a couple of days before, we were to climb all three of the peaks. Slowly and steady, I got up that first climb, with my buddy Karolina stopping at certain points to wait for me. I felt pretty good at this point, and those of us on that first climb were laughing and talking still.
I can’t exactly remember what came next, but we all knew that there would be climb # 2 (the second peak at sun peaks). This one challenged me a bit more, as we gained more elevation, and I struggled. The plan of attack on this peak was to walk 50-100 steps, stop, breathe and keep going. I managed to find another Spartan on course, I think his name was Richard, and he and I climbed up most of the way on the second peak. I told Karolina to keep going ahead and that I would catch up, and it was motivation for me to keep hiking knowing she would be up there waiting for me.
There was some gorgeous scenery along the way. We go to see a fox, lots of great views, and the air was soo crisp and calm. In the back of all the Spartan Beast’s on that climb and during the hiking we knew the third and tallest climb was coming. Along the way I had been sipping water, taking gels in, and also I had opened my bag of beef Jerky to start getting some nutrition into me. I want to be honest; I was surprised at how many Beasts didn’t have their own food or water on course. I understand that everyone trains differently, but with such a challenging course, I would not have been able to keep going when it got rough without my own food and water.
Thinking back to this point in the race now, I started to feel tired. My legs were holding up ok (thanks to mustard and water from my pack), and having my friend Karolina on course to chat, laugh and have fun made the difference. Between the second and third peak climbs, my running coach and friend Allison Tai came upon us. She is always smiling and so happy, and I was able to give her a hug. I had asked her at that point if she had seen Troy and Ryan, and she told me they were way back there. That gave me more of a push to keep trudging on, as I knew they were ok. Allison also let us know that we weren’t going to love the third climb and she ran ahead (she was competing in the Ultra Beast competition).
The third climb:
My first initial thoughts when I saw the third peak to hike were “oh fuck”. Not going to lie. Staring up at that peak it went on and on and on and I didn’t see any type of end in sight. Karolina had pointed it out earlier on and I guess at the time I didn’t realize how tall it was. Slowly but surely I started the climb and this is the peak that literally kicked my ass. I tried to continue my strategy of hiking up 50 steps, and stopping but that stopped working about 1/3 of the way up. This peak was steep, and it really started to hurt. I tried to go inside my head, look around, focus on my feet but nothing seemed to work. I stopped so many times on this particular peak, and a few times I slipped and almost feel backwards. Considering how steep it was, had I feel harder, I would have taken out everyone behind me. It was literally a crawl and we all felt like and looked like little ants.
When I got to what I thought was the top, I heard other Spartan beasts confirm it was not and I let out a string of swearwords. I knew I had to keep going, but found myself stopping more along the sides of the narrow trail to catch my breath (not used to this type of elevation gain at all). I saw many racers on course lying on the sides of the narrow and rocky trail, almost passing out. People that had no food or water, or nothing left in them. After making more ground and actually getting to the “false top”, I had such a bad altitude headache. I yelled out for advil and one Beast on course offered me Advil for water (which I happily exchanged). I accepted the out reaching hand of my buddy Karolina and made it up.
My legs were like solid logs and I just kept putting that one foot in front of the other, in my mind wanting to get off this steep peak to get to my daughter Sierra. I had no idea at this time how long we had been on the mountain or where we were (my watch died at about 13 km). After taking one of many breaks to get more food, mustard and a little water into me we saw the ascent to the Top of the World. I did yell FUCK again (seriously didn’t think that Spartan could throw anything more at us). In my head I wanted to die but when you are out there on course with someone for that long, you keep going and stay positive. Karolina and I started the long slow walk up to the top of the world. I got so internally angry, and that fuelled me to just get to the top of that freaking ski hill.
Getting to the time hack (cut off), was one of the biggest personal accomplishments for me.
We made it there by 4:15 pm, well over an hour before the cut off!!!!!
I cried when I saw the view and we stopped briefly to take it all in. I was limping but living, and then we saw the 8 foot wall that we had to overcome. I got help from two people to get over this one that was pretty crazy to put such a tall wall at the top. My biggest worry at this point was getting back down such a steep incline safely – going up I had to use a small stick to dig into the ground to keep from falling over. I did naturally what any smart girl would do – I scooted down most of the steep incline on my butt. Silly, but effective as several other racers were doing the same. Going down the third incline, Karolina who was up ahead ran into our friend Amy who was still out there. Amy and I chatted and went down on our butts and she crawled backwards to get down that steep incline. Near the end I slipped and hit my right shoulder on a boulder. I shook the arm, rotated it and realized it wasn’t broken or dislocated so I kept going. I felt really bad for Amy as she ended up rolling her ankle very close to the finish.
The push was on to keep going. Every medical truck I saw made me paranoid we were getting pulled and I asked every volunteer I saw if we were ok to finish. I started getting loopy and dizzy so I started to rattle off names of my family and friends and how many fingers to check my mental state. I still had a tiny bit of water and at that time thought I had run out of food. Through the trees during this one part of trail, I thought I heard the festival area music – and had Amy and Karolina confirm I wasn’t going batshit crazy. That gave me a super huge push (that and to get done and see my daughter Sierra).
Spartan wasn’t done with us yet though. They had a large chunk of obstacles waiting for us to get to the festival area – after the 8 foot wall at the Top of the world we had to also do: plate drag, z –walls, atlas carry, creek crawl and a 7 foot wall. My shoulder was hurting and I didn’t have anything really left in the tank so I wasn’t able to complete a couple of the obstacles (but I did the best I could and did jump squats as penalties). From there, we ran further into the festival area. I cried when I saw it and knew I wasn’t crazy. We were almost there, we had this (or so I thought).
I was really worried at this point – although I was so close to the end, I wondered if Troy and Ryan had made the time hack – I wanted them to finish so badly, remembering the struggles I went through myself on the mountain. Karolina and Amy rallied me to push on and so I did. The three of us then realized we were being made to go up one more little hill to get through another barrage of obstacles before the end. I dragged my ass and Amy gave me a little push, at this point we knew we would not DNF. Coming down the last little hill, we had another onslaught of obstacles. We had a fire going on inside us to finish and we pushed through mental, physical and emotional hell (I had broken down crying several times at this point). My biggest defeat was
getting to the spear throw and failing.
Friends of mine that were on the spectator side of the barricade saw me break down in tears and hopped the fence to do burpees for me (I was beyond done). I waited for Karolina just on the other side of the slip wall. I think the song “Raise Your Glass” by Pink was playing then in the festival area.
I looked at Karolina, asked her how to do the slip wall – remember her telling me and then I just said screw it and climbed over. I got to the other side and lost it again. Karolina came down beside me, told me to calm down as we needed a good fire jump picture. Her and I climbed down the other side of the slip wall, and jumped that fire. Then we both started crying and hugging as we did it, we were Beasts. I think I got my medal from one of the volunteers, screamed “ I did it mutherfuckers!!” and fell playfully on my face.
Karolina and I Beasts
After 10 hours and almost 15 minutes on that mountain, with all the pain, scary unsafe climbs, self-doubt, dizziness, angry and emotional moments, we were beasts. I could NOT have done this race without my friend Karolina. She was my race angel keeping me laughing, helping me with my pack and not letting me get to that dark headspace of doubt and giving up. I have never hit a bag check so fast in my life post event. Our original plan was to go back to the condo, shower and come back to see the boys finish, but I was beyond done at this point. Our friend Ryan B agreed to wait for the boys.
Karolina, myself and Joan went to John and Allison’s room to get Sierra. I cried when I saw Sierra as it was important for her to see I was ok. I also wanted to give Allison a huge hug, but I was dirty. We power walked (well I limped) back to the condo. I took off my wet and dirty shoes, and started to try and get ahold of Ryan and Troy. I was flipping out as I could not get ahold of them and emotions over the beast. Ryan B had walked back to our condo advising the festival area was being taken down, he did not see our boys, and no one had any IDEA where they were. I was beyond worried as we could not reach them by phone and no one had seen them.
The boys – Beasts!!
I finally got a hold of them on Troy’s cell phone and found out although they were told that they failed to get to the Time Hack, and were almost pulled, they were escorted down the mountain and allowed to finish. Again the tears came as I knew my boys were ok, and they finished. When I heard the condo door open and heard Ryan’s voice more tears. I let Sierra go down and give her daddy a hug and kiss first and then I hobbled down the stairs. Man, best moment ever. I gave Ryan a huge hug and Troy a huge hug. I was so proud of all of us – we were BEASTS and Trifickta (well Trifecta BAD ASSES).
For the next few days after this race, I was an emotional wreck. I was tired, sore and still in shock. I honestly cursed the course many times, felt mad about what they put us through, and didn’t get how I finished it. I also got mad at first that I couldn’t do all the obstacles although I tried. It happens after a big race, that you analyze everything that you didn’t do or could have done.
You know what I did do?
I completed a Sun Peaks Beast with my friend Karolina. We climbed safely up and down all three peaks without major injury. I was able to be out on a mountain for 10 + hours with 2l of water in a hydration pack, beef jerky, 4 gels, a Vega bar, and mustard packs to keep me going. We were able to help each other over the mentally scary parts, to meet and chat to those around us and to meet some amazing people on course. I was able to give my running and OCR coach Allison Tai a hug during the race. With the training I received from Allison, the tips from the Vancity OCR Ninja classes, and nutrition coaching I was able to pull it all together and be strong.
We were able to beat the time hack and get to the Top of the World by about 4:15pm. I still had enough left in the tank to keep going when my mind gave up, and when I ran out of food. I was able to witness the true amazing selfless spirit of those in the OCR community when friends were down in the festival area cheering us on, and friends of mine that jumped over the barricade to do my burpees when they saw how done I was.
Karolina and I were able to start the race together, and jump that fire together. I may not be the strongest, or the fastest and I may have failed in some things, but my accomplishments outweigh that all. I completed an over 27+ KM Spartan BEAST in 10 hours and 14 minutes. I may still be a little sore but we all got back safe and sound and Karolina and I will always be bonded by this. ALWAYS.
Now that I have done one BEAST, I am looking at doing more endurance events. Call me crazy, but the human mind and body is an amazing thing, and I want to see what else it can do.