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spartan sprint: in which 5km was actually 8.5km

Well, hello there! On May 25, I did something crazy and extremely difficult and I keep meaning to write all about it, but to be honest, the last thing I have wanted to do this week (while off work) was sit at my computer, edit photos, and blog. Also, if you’ve been following my blogging in the 10 years or so that I have been doing this, you might have noticed a pattern in which I talk a LOT about something that is COMING UP but then I fail miserably about actually blogging about it when it’s over. I often tend to regret not blogging about events, even though in my mind they are done and I’ve spent enough mental energy on them so that I don’t have the energy to blog about it. Of course I also end up thinking I DID blog about whatever the event was and then kick myself months, years later when I go to search for the blog post only to remember that I DIDN’T WRITE ONE!

So here I am, writing about the Spartan Sprint (sprint! ha! ha!) that I did last Sunday.

Because I knew we’d (read: I would) be in a panic if we left the same morning of the race, we partook of the Spartan deal with Lodge de la Montagne in Tremblant and we had the most amazing one-bedroom suite, with a full kitchen (fully stocked with utensils, plats, pots & pans, etc.) and we ate at a fantastic New Orleans’s themed restaurant called Fat Mardi’s. The hotel room was lovely and I fit in the closet perfectly.

I  mean, I could have moved into this closet and had my own cozy cave.

Just pass me a pillow and a blanket, and I’ll see you in the morning!

My super-duper husband was so supportive, even though terrified of what I was about to undertake, but we had a lovely evening in the Tremblant Village and it was a nice night away for us. (The dogs got to stay Chez PawPaw & MaMa’s.)


The next morning I was up, nervous, had breakfast, an energy bar and a Powerade before we left to check out of the hotel and make our way to the other side of the mountain so I could check in for the Spartan. My heat was 11:00 am and they ask you to show up 1.5 hours before then to make sure you have enough time to find parking and get your race stuff.

I was smiling, but internally I was nervous. I’m not great with up-hill and Mont Tremblant happens to be the highest mountain in Quebec. Maybe I’d get lucky and we wouldn’t have any mountain climbing to do? (ha!)

I wanted one shot with Elissa – the woman who always manages to inspire me to try crazy stuff. She has faith in me that I don’t always have myself and pushes me to be the best I can be. She’ll make training programs I don’t think I can do and then I surprise myself by the end of the hour when I did everything without too much trouble. In the end she always said, “I knew you could do this, so that’s why I made this program.” It’s because of her I was able to be talked into trying the Spartan. I knew it would be difficult, but Elissa had faith in me and that made it a little easier to have faith in myself. Elissa is one of the most amazing women I have ever known and the last 10 months of knowing her, I am eternally grateful to call her a friend.

Ok, mushy stuff aside… we found out the day before that the course was NOT 5km in distance, oh, no. It was actually 8.5km and that, my friends, freaked me out. A *little* over 5k I thought I could handle (you know, like, 5.72km or something) but almost 10km? I wouldn’t have signed up if I had known this. I have never done a 5km in jogging and I can’t really walk/jog much more than 4.5km these days without feeling like I need to lie down before I get home. So this made me nervous, but I was going to be a trooper. No turning back once I was there.

We were super lucky with temperature on Sunday, it wasn’t too hot and the breeze was nice. The start of the course suddenly became overcast and it was refreshing as you went through mud – OH THE MUD! (it was delightful! I loved that part!) – and up the hill. Shawn surprised me by updating my facebook status about starting the race as I went along. I didn’t think he’d wait around for hours and hours, but he was there when I got to different obstacles and taking my photo. So these photos (although not the most flattering) are courtesy of him!

And we’re off!

All this time I was worried about not being able to run for most of this, and yet, I hardly ran at all. We turned a little bend (jogging) and were suddenly ini knee-deep (for me) mud, climbing through trees and rocks up the hill. Up, up, up. This uphill wasn’t so bad. It was tough, especially with the mud, but it didn’t freak me out like what would be coming up. So many people lost shoes in the mud, and fell before the first climb was done. We were jokingly calling this the Spartan Hike, because that’s what it felt like. We were clinging to tree branches and rocks to pull ourselves up the mountain. It was slippery and sort of steep, but not at the highest peak yet. I was NOT racing, I was not doing this obstacle course to race, I was doing it to prove to myself that I could do something like this.

I was told we’d be climbing uphill three times along the way. Ok. Tough, but I could get through this, right?

Once up through the mud, we came DOWN through mud. Slippery mud on steep downhill course was a little nerve-wracking to me. I didn’t want to fall and hurt myself, so I was slow. Once we got downhill we had our first actual obstacles. First up was a mesh-climbing thing. (net?) You go up, over, and down. Although it was a little scary coming down, I did this one with zero problem.

Spider Cat, Spider Cat, doin’ whatever a Spider Cat does.

Then we had the Hercules pull, or something. I think that’s close. You had to pull a propane tank up to the top and then let it down (slowly). I believe the “women’s” tanks were about 60lbs.

Julie & I did this together, but she seemed to have left me to lower it myself. 😛

Jumping over hay bales! This happened a few times. I fell off of each and every one. In fact I fell over/off of every single wall I had to go over. It became sort of a running joke in the end. I have a huge bruise on my right hip, but I didn’t really hurt myself seriously. So it was all good!

Then there was this wall thingy that you had to walk across. It wasn’t really made for short people who had never tried anything like this before. Shawn’s comments on FB were hilarious.

Shawn’s comment: Update: Trying some horizontal climbing…

Shawn’s comment: Update: annnnnnnd Burpees!

Have I mentioned how much I hate burpees? I do. Stupid things. And if you couldn’t do the obstacle you had to do 30 burpees instead. Now burpees give me horrible head-rush, dizziness so I never actually did 30 of them. Yes, I know. But I generally got 15-20 in when I was supposed to do 30 depending on my level of exhaustion. So, I did DO them.

We then had to carry a weighted beanbag (pancake) thing up a hill and back. Yes, that is snow. There was still some snow on the mountain. We found it refreshing at times and used it to clean mud off our hands and stuff. This one was tough. I had to sit for a bit at the top of the incline before continuing on downhill.

Then came monkey bars. This is one of those things that you think, “oh, I can do this! I used to be AMAZBALLS at monkey bars when I was a kid!” but you know, you haven’t actually tried monkey bars SINCE YOU WERE A KID.

Wait, you mean this doesn’t just move you forward like an escalator?

And then you make it two rungs and fall and end up doing *cough*18*cough* burpees. The bright side is that Shawn caught me on all of these obstacles right at the start so it looks like I DID get through them. Heh.

Then came the BEST part of the race…


Water is the best thing ever.

Then we went back up the mountain. This one was tough and I wanted to stop. I had to take breaks. My friends helped encourage me along and I just wanted to give up. I saw the MILE 2 sign and wanted to cry. We’d only gone 2 miles? There were THREE MORE to come!? We went up, up, up. Finally there was some downhill but first – we had to go over an inverse-wall. This means the wall slants down on the OTHER side. I got boosted up and then I just slid down… BOOM! Landed on my hip and rolled over and up. Everyone asked if I was ok and although it stung a little, I was fine. We went down more mud and rocks and had to go “over” giant, muddy ruts in the ground. The athletic people jumped, I walked through the mud. 😉 I think there was something at the base of the mountain again? I can’t remember. But we started back UP HILL by crawling UNDER a wall, in the mud.

Then came the Never. Ending. Climb. OMG.

It got so steep I learned something about myself. I apparently have a phobia of steep inclines. Mostly going UP. I got vertigo and I was already tired from the climbing and once the anxiety began, I couldn’t stop it. I was hyperventilating AND breathing hard from the climb and that’s when I just broke down. I collapsed into a ball and just started sobbing and gasping for air. I couldn’t feel my tongue, my hands were tingling. A friend’s husband got me up that mountain. He’s also a police officer and I think he’s totally in the right profession. He talked me up that hill and didn’t leave my side. He got me from tree to tree and the entire time I just wanted him to go on a head and catch up with his wife. He stayed by me, talking me through my panic and through my I Give Up breakdown. A day later I realized that my body was in shock. I recognized how I felt and my reactions as how I felt after my trauma in March 2013. That last part of the climb up nearly did me in and I was so embarrassed and disappointed in myself. I am ashamed of that breakdown but once I was up on the top of the mountain? I was fine. All panic subsided. I was DESPERATE for the next water station – which was still 3 obstacles away. (There are a few things about this event that I did NOT like and the lack of water stations AND personnel along the course in case of emergency, etc are my two biggest problems.)

The next obstacle was parallel bars. Women could go along sideways on one bar. Sliding themselves along. Even after that breakdown on the mountain, I was ready to try this one and I made it about 3/4 of the way across and I was SO PROUD. But because I fell I was supposed to do burpees. Well, I took my 3/4 of the way as a completed task because there was no way I could do a burpee then. We then crawled under what we thought was the “barbed wire” obstacle. It was a net, low to the ground, covered in fake vines. So you pretty much crawled along on your stomach or hands and knees in some places. The ground wasn’t too muddy there.

Then we went down a very steep part of the mountain where there were two more obstacles. A boulder roll (plus burpees) or boulder carry (men) and a javelin toss. I admit, I skipped the burpees when I missed the target from the javelin. All I wanted was water. WATER! I was so fatigued by then I was shaking. My body was coming down from the panic on the mountain AND tired of the physical stuff, too.

Then we climbed up AGAIN but it wasn’t so bad. It was a tiny, muddy and rocky path through trees and it was sort of fun. Then came the barbed wire crawl. DOWNHILL, through trees, and in the mud. That I enjoyed. (Yes, I liked all the mud stuff.)

Photo credit: Epic Action Imagery

They tell you at the top of the run that there’s a photographer at the end, so try and look alive. ha!

More downhill, we were in the home stretch! I even jogged for a tiny bit of this!

Somewhere in there were more walls and more hay bales. I went over (with help) – and fell off of, each one. I don’t remember where they were though. That last mountain climb sort of fogged everything up for me.

I think the hay bales were right before the fire jump. I really wanted my fire jump photo to be ready before this post was done, but our half-hour block seems to be the only gallery NOT completed for the jump. I had two false starts before I was able to overcome my fear of being burned to a crisp. That fire was a LOT higher than I thought it would be from looking at past photos. I’m short. I don’t jump. So I was sure I was going to fall into that fire. But I didn’t. Not only that, by my second start/stop, the crowd around the fire obstacle started cheering me on and when I DID jump (and didn’t fall!) they all cheered loudly and someone even yelled, “You are a Spartan Warrior!!”. That made me feel great.

Unfortunately, Shawn was still standing in a spot where we’d come down the second hill and missed me finishing the race. He wanted to get me crawling under the wall but somehow missed me. 🙁 Alas. I met up with him after we were all done. So I have three more official photos to get from the Spartan site – the fire jump, slip ramp and finish line.

After the fire were rings/rope and I just walked right past that and did burpees. I knew I’d not be able to get that one. I got 15 burpees in before I thought I was going to pass out. Then I just casually walked away to the one obstacle I was dreading the entire time I signed up for this…

The slip wall.

You have to pull yourself up a wall with a rope. The wall is on an incline and it’s super slippery. I was SURE I wouldn’t make it up, but it was the LAST thing to do before crossing that finish line. And my rule was – try everything you know you can’t do before giving up (I skipped the rope climb and the rings, I tried everything else!) so I took hold of that rope and started to climb up the wall. My first foot slipped and my self-doubt came back really strong, but I put my foot back up on that wall and I got up to the top in ONE shot! I have never been more proud of anything. Even getting through this course paled in comparison to my walking up that wall. Once up, you have to shimmy/slide down a rope. It was a lot higher up there than I thought it was (9 feet maybe?) and of course, I FELL down that rope. I just slid down like a stone in water and landed on the guy who was holding the bottom of the rope for me. Heh. I didn’t hurt either of us though. Pat (the guy who got me up the mountain) was behind me and joked “Well you had to complete the set” or something to that affect. It cracked me up.

All I had to do then was take a few more steps and cross that  finish line. I was looking all over for Shawn, not knowing he was still waiting for me to pass in the wrong place. I had really hoped he’d seen me get up that wall and cross the line. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way, but when I met up with him afterwards I was so happy to see him!

I was wet, covered in mud, exhausted, still embarrassed about the breakdown on the mountain, but I was DONE. I made it. I didn’t let anyone pick me up on at ATV and drive me back down the hill. Some amazing participants also stopped while I was down and gave me some water and encouragement. So many people helped others over and through obstacles. I finished the course in 3 hours, 40 minutes and although that’s probably really slow to some, to me? To me it’s AMAZING.

This was the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken in my life and with the exception of that uphill nonsense, I think I sort of enjoyed most of it. I really loved the mud stuff. heh

I wear my battle scars proudly. I am covered in all sorts of bruises and scrapes that I didn’t even know I had gotten.

Way more bruises on my legs and arms now than the day after. They all appeared throughout the week.

I knew about some, but others were a surprise. Plus I had two triangles of sunburn on the backs of my legs. I didn’t sunscreen there because I knew I’d be covered in mud. Turns out the mud must have rubbed off on those two places. It wasn’t too bad, just a surprise. 😉

And with the exception of my socks? Everything else survived the mud.

One wash and everything (except the socks) came out good as new! I was surprised about the shoes, I was worried they were goners.

And so, that was my race. I should have done some running this week, but I was sore most of it. I did go to my Interval Training classes on Tuesday and Thursday though. Tuesday my legs didn’t want to hold me up, but I got through it somehow. Taking a lot of breaks and being frustrated with myself for taking breaks on things I KNEW I could do without one. However my muscles were sore and TIRED.

I’ve spent a lot of this week outside though gardening and yard work, and just sitting in the fresh air. I go back to work on Monday and I’m sort of bummed about that because I really love day time puttering and exercising.

I survived and I don’t know if I’ll do this again ever. Sometimes I think I will and other times I am all, “No way!” I’d like to try it again if there weren’t as many steep inclines. I have been having nightmares about that last hill much of this week. Ugh. Some other participants said that this was the hardest Spartan they have done and they aren’t all this mountain climby. Maybe I’ll train more this year (work on those monkey bars!!) and think about it later. The farther away from Sunday I get the more I think I enjoyed most of what I did. It was exciting and scary and I have now experienced both the most physical challenge of my life (Spartan) and the most mental challenge of my life (jumper guy trauma) in the last year and a half and I know I am a stronger person because of this. Friends help a lot. They are what makes all of this possible. With friends, and determination, you can get through anything.

Also, my husband is amazing and I would be lost without him. He’s my rock and his support means the world to me. I love him.

Home, exhausted, showered, and *almost* all mud-free!

seven things on a sunday

1. I love the smell of trees in the spring/summer rain. (My allergies do not agree.)

2. I love the smell of freshly cut grass. (My allergies do not agree.)

3. I love early morning sunshine and the sound of birds chirping coming through my windows. (I don’t enjoy chirping birds as early as 4 a.m. however.)

4. What I thought was bad allergies (because they have been bad this month) turned out to be a cold. A doozy of one. Not a flu, just a cold. I have one week to get rid of it before my Spartan race so it had better go away soon! At least I now know why I was falling asleep before 7pm earlier in the week.

5. We have had gorgeous weather all weekend. Everyone is outside cherishing the sun and not-too-hot temperatures. Winter was LONG. Too long. Generally I try to start planting Jinx’s garden over this weekend (it’s a long one in Canada) but the weather has been so crappy, we haven’t even had leaves on trees until just this past week, so I chose to not try and plant things that might die. Hopefully by the end of the month. Also…

6. I came home from work one day to find that Shawn had decided to de–wallpaper the powder room on the main floor. It had awful pink, checkered, wallpaper that we have hated since we bought the place 7 years ago. Of course we hate removing wallpaper more than we hated the paper, so it’s stayed up. Anyhow, this has been a multi-day thing and he’s still painting the bathroom. Wallpaper is awful. Don’t do it. DON’T. I have been painting the baseboards and door frame that had to come off because the wall paper was UNDER them. It’s been an ordeal. The bathroom look so much BRIGHTER now, just with white paint. It was always so dark in there and I guess it was because of that paper.

7. We also had some repairs done to the car this week, so we were without a car for two days. Annoyingly, something is still rattling when we drive it, so I think Shawn might take it back on Tuesday (again, long weekend, so everything will be closed Monday and we only got the car back Friday night). The repairs were a long time coming and we’ve been holding off due to finances and whatnot, but I’m glad that’s out of the way because it was some pretty broken stuff that is now fixed and I won’t be scared to drive the car by myself now.


(I didn’t take any photos this week that would go well with today’s post. So here’s a dull photo-less post for you. ;))

seven things on a sunday

1. Scents I love most: lemon, lavender, and patchouli. (Not together, of course. Although I do have an amazing lavender & patchouli soap that costs a pretty penny. It makes my whole bathroom smell lovely!)

2. I do not like even numbers. I will always sit in an odd-numbered seat if we have assigned, numbered seats somewhere. I will always pick an odd number for anything that I have to pick a number for. I do not feel at all comfortable with even numbers in my life. Unless it’s the number 8. I tend to like the number eight. For some reason it makes me think of the moon and I love the moon. No idea why, it just does.

3. I used to be only an autumn and winter person. Lately I am finding that I am becoming more of a spring and summer person. I still hate hot and humid days and I consider anything over 17C or 19C too warm, but the last few years I have been enjoying the spring and summer months. Maybe it’s just that I am becoming more of a person who appreciates each season as it happens for what it brings to my life. I do know that I am certainly a sun person over clouds. There have been way too many months in a row of grey, cold skies. I need the sun to regenerate my soul.

4. I am embarrassingly happy over the fact that 1990s fashion seems to be coming back in style. This is probably not something I should admit out loud, but I needed to put something on this blog to justify paying for my own site hosting all these years. =P I was a huge fan of overalls and floral skirts and dresses. Imagine my delight when I went into a store near work one day and saw an entire section of clothes I’d have worn (or at least wished I was brave enough to wear) when I was a teen (and early 20s). This one in particular is something I NEED to try on and buy:

Do I want to spend $45 on this? Not really. But if it actually fits me… I might. *shifty eyes*

(And let’s not talk about how it’s been 20 years since the 90s and I suppose the reappearance of 90s fashion now is like when 70s fashion came back in style for a while in the 90s. Oh, boy.)

5. Proof that I am getting old: I bought a bunch of discounted Laura Secord easter eggs after Easter not because of the chocolate eggs – oh, no! – but because they came in decorative tin boxes and I loved the little boxes. So I bought two more after the one I bought before Easter. JUST FOR THE TIN. I still have 2 eggs in the fridge because they are too rich for me to eat now. These are sad times.

6. I don’t actually like chocolate. This tends to shock people for some reason. When you don’t like chocolate people act like you’ve told them you have an extra limb or head or something. It’s sort of annoying. But it’s true. I am not a fan of chocolate. I will eat some occasionally but I need to be in the mood for it. I also don’t like wine, or beer. I don’t like ice cream (yet another “I have a second head” reaction.) I especially don’t like chocolate ice cream. 😉

7. If I read about food in a book I suddenly NEED to have that food. I want it. Especially if it’s a fantasy book – I need to make myself some stew or eat hunks of bread with cheese. If I’m reading a mystery novel (like J.D. Robb’s In Death series) I need coffee and/or pizza. Drives my husband crazy. heh

So there you are. A post on this blog so that it’s not so neglected anymore, and a post that isn’t about running or PTSD. I feel so accomplished right now.