Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Spartan Race Recap Part 2

continued from Part 1

She neglected to mention that there were actually two "next" hills. The first wasn't so bad, but then it was back down and back way, way up. Near the bottom, it was close to flat and two guys caught up with me. It was here that the ground held a fascinating array of old bones. I tried for a Monty Python reference, Look at the bones, man! But they didn't get it so I said they were the bones of mine enemies .

Then it got really steep, and one of them fell behind. He kept stopping to catch his breath or something. I didn't stop. I turned my feet out and duck walked, short little steps. I beat one guy up that hill anyway.

Next was the Herc hoist. I wasn't too worried about this one, but I wasn't counting on being able to complete it. I eyed the bags and chose a rope to pull. I gave it an experimental tug to get a feel for the weight. It wasn't all that heavy for me. I didn't even need to lay down to pull it up. I just grabbed it, squatted real low, and then walked my hands up the rope. Repeat. I did step on the rope once I'd pulled enough of it down so I could have a failsafe for grip failure. But it was a really undramatic obstacle for me.

The spearmen were next. I had no high hopes for this one. I picked a strawbale to throw at and then the wind picked up. I wanted to wait until it died down a bit, but it refused. So I took a few steps back and heaved the spear.

Just. Short.

30 more burpees. Then more running downhill past a photographer.

After getting down off the hill was the next obstacle. I kind of thought I might be able to do Olympus, which is a tilted wall that needs to be traversed by a variety of handholds without touching the ground. I had watched a video that advised using the chains so as to keep the feet at a right angle to the wall. I tried that, but my legs were no longer in any shape to do things. I managed to hop myself over about four handholds in and then dropped. 30 more burpees for me.

I wasn't worried about the Atlas Carry, because I can pick things up and carry them. Sure, it might be a bit heavy, but I could do it. And I did. For this one, you have to pick the heavy stone up, walk it a set distance, put it down, do 5 burpees, then bring it back. Bringing it back was a lot harder after those burpees, but I did it without incident.

Next was the barbed wire crawl. Apparently, last year they sprayed this section with water. Not this year. A bone dry, dusty barbed wire crawl for me. And I did crawl. A lot of people rolled, but I'm short enough that I could stay below the wire and just crawl along at a good pace - faster than the rollers. It wasn't entirely pleasant on my knees, but I did it. And I was super glad to have the gloves for my hands.

Next was the 7 foot wall. I gave it a try without using the kicker, and although I did manage to grasp at the top of the wall, I couldn't hold onto it. So onto the kicker I went. From there I was able to get my forearms up, then my ankle. And I was working on scooting my hips closer to my ankle to finish when someone gave me a push. Fine by me. I finished getting up and over and thanked her.

Then came the monkey bars. I can do monkey bars now, though I never could as a child. But these are not monkey bars. These are freakin gorilla bars. The bars are wider around than my wrists. It just isn't built for me - at least not at the level of strength I'm at now. Still. I gave them a try. I got from the first bar to the second. Second to third went up, and I managed to grab the third with one hand only to lose my grasp and swing back to the second and thence to the ground.

30 more burpees. Ugh.

But the rope climb was next. I can climb a rope! I've done it at Crossfit. Often! And I only had to do it once here. No problem, right? Right???


These ropes were made of special super-slick cotton or something. I could hardly grab onto them. I grabbed on, wrapped my foot and stepped up twice. On the third attempt to re-wrap my foot, my hand slipped and I slid down that rope, burning my fingers and tearing skin away from my left index finger. It hurt a lot, but I was going to give it another try while wearing the gloves - until I tried wrapping my foot again and got a cramp. So I went and did 30 more burpees instead. Very disappointing.

There were some people ahead of my on the A Frame Cargo climb hung up at the top. I couldn't figure out why. I just went right on up and right on down. That one was fun. I could do it all day.

Then more mud, where Ambrose finally had the camera phone out. He kept telling me how to do it and I wanted to do it my way but I was too tired not to give into his nagging (which may have been correct but who's counting?).

The dunk wall was a welcome respite from the heat and dirt. And then I jumped over the fire. I was surprised they had real fire this year, because I saw in videos from last year that they had hay bales, presumably because of fire restrictions.

And that was it. I crossed the finish line. I accepted my medal, a FitAid, a banana and a Clif bar. I walked through the corrals to collect my t-shirt. I found Ambrose in the festival area and he led me to a place to sit down and eat and drink.

Then I took a few minutes to bawl because of the pure emotional overload of having set out to do and then having done something so very difficult. I was never supposed to be the kind of person who did these things. I was supposed to be the one who watched and wished. And now I'm doing. I'm doing so many things that I could never have imagined I was capable of. So I cried. And then I ate my banana and drank my FitAid and Ambrose bought me a snow cone.

I got my victory picture taken. I did several poses, ending with some truly Spartan yelling that the photographer loved - he even told the pair that had posed before me that I was doing it right.

I changed clothes and finished the snow cone and we walked back to the car. I kept my hands above my head the entire drive home because that and clutching the Gatorade bottle were the only ways to keep them from burning unbearably.

Absolutely worth it. I will be back.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Spartan Race Recap Part 1

I finished the Boise Spartan Sprint.

I'm still having trouble believing that I finished.

And I'm already planning on how I'm going to do better next time - though whether next time will be next year or not, I haven't yet decided.

The map was released a few days before the race, and I estimated that I would have to do no more than 180 penalty burpees. I was counting on being able to do the rope climb and nothing else. Though I did have high hopes for the rings.

Ambrose and I started the drive out to Payette about three hours before my scheduled start time. This was a good move, because I didn't start to panic when we ran into a long line of cars waiting to get in and park at the Thomas Pence Ranch. We just inched forward and got to the parking area when we got there. Next was a long walk to the festival area where we were stopped at the entrance.

Someone had lost track of a child and no one was being allowed in or out until the child was found. So we got to stand in the hot sun, watching racers who started earlier climb over the cargo net and into and out of the rolling mud. I envied them the cool of the water.

Then, when we were all released, there was a long line to collect packets. Ambrose waited with me, and then he went to the spectator line to get his entry wristband. I waited in a narrow line of shade next to the registration tent because I was tired of the sun - I'd be getting enough of that later.

We walked around a bit, but still had more than forty five minutes before my start time, so we found a place to sit. I figured I should rest my legs while I had the chance. I was carrying three energy gels and a hydration pack filled with one quart of Liquid IV for the course. I planned on getting water at every water station, but the stuff in my hydration pack would have sugar and minerals to help me on the course. I also had gloves packed in there, but I wasn't sure how useful they'd be for gripping things.

When it came my time to get into the starting corral, I had to remind Ambrose to wish me our traditional "safety fun." He must have been a bit worried about me to forget something so crucial, but he did wish it after I reminded him.

As I entered, I learned that if you show up for a heat time that isn't yours, you have to do burpees. I was glad to be on time.

You also have to get up and over a wall to get to the start. It was probably a 5 footer, so I could do it with a good jump to get my arms straight above it.

Then there was a hype ritual of yelling and shaking hands. I ate one of my gels and took a sip from my hydration pack.

And then we were off. I kept to a slow jog, watching my step in the rough, grassy terrain. This was not about finishing fast; it was about finishing.

The first two obstacles were more walls like the one at the start, so I was able to get up and over just fine. Then came the rolling mud number one. I wasn't expecting to get my shoes wet quite so soon, but that's the way it was. I was immersed past my waist in muddy water, and splashed some over my shoulders for the cooling effect. I also waved to Ambrose and mimed at him that he should get the camera out and take a picture, but he didn't.

Then it was time to climb. The hills weren't listed as obstacles, but they were definitely a challenge. I slowed to a walk so as not to jack my heart rate up, but I also didn't take rest stops. If there's one thing I can do, it's hike uphill - especially without a pack on.

Of course, once we reached nearly the top of the hill it was time for the sandbag carry, so that was kind of like a backpack. I heaved a sandbag over my shoulders and started up the next hill. On this obstacle, I managed to pass a lot of the folks who had passed me by running at the start. I passed people on the way up, because I didn't stop, and I passed a whole bunch of people who were resting at the top. This kind of obstacle was my jam, even if going downhill was a bit slower/harder what with it being so dusty and steep.

More climbing and then came the inverted wall. Based on watching videos, I thought I'd be able to do this one, but I made several attempts at climbing it and failed because I couldn't get a hold of the top. The board at the top was a good four inches around, and I just couldn't get my whole hand around it. Luckily, some Spartan solidarity worked in my favor, as a guy helped a girl up and then she got the guy to help me up.

At the first water station, I gave another girl the good idea of pouring water on her head. I drank about half a cup and put the rest on my head. Although my feet were still squelching in wet shoes, the rest of me was drying off rapidly in the wind and sun.

The next obstacle was the plate drag. I picked a lane that didn't look too bumpy or obstructed and started pulling. The weight was heavy, but not too heavy for me. I got it done and dragged it back without feeling overly strained.

The slip wall had ropes going almost all the way to the ground, so I wasn't worried as I approached it. I just grabbed a rope and hauled myself up, trying to keep perpendicular with the wall to prevent a quick slide. I almost lost my footing near the top, but steadied and managed to swing a leg over. I kind of butt slid down the other side, rather than turn around and down climb. It just felt right at the time.

I tried to slow my breathing and heart rate as I approached the multi rig, though since I had been walking since I started the hill climb, neither was particularly elevated. I had such high hopes for the multi rig. It was just rings. I could swing on rings, right? I'd developed sufficient upper body strength to conquer this, hadn't I??

I started out well. I transitioned from ring to ring. And then one of my hands just slipped off. One second swinging, the next sitting on the ground. About two rings from the end. I got a high five from the volunteer for a good effort and went to do my first 30 burpees.

The ground was dusty, and I ended up eating a lot of dirt as people upwind did their burpees and poofed dust in my direction. I got through the burpees and went on to the hurdles. The hurdles are "walls without the wall part." They were tall enough and awkward enough that I had a little trouble getting on top of them, but I managed to get over both of them with some yells of encouragement from strangers.

For the 6 foot wall, I decided to try the technique I had seen on a youtube video. Run at the wall, kick up and try to grab the top. I made it, barely, and I hung there for a moment with just my forearms on the top. Then I swung my right leg up and hooked my ankle. And hung there for a moment. I scooted my arms and hips closer to my ankle and then I was able to use my ankle to get my hips onto the wall.

After I dropped down, another racer came up and over the wall. He congratulated me on my attack of it and I hung back to exchange a high five with him before continuing on.

Another water station was next, and then the twister. I didn't have high hopes for this one. But I knew I had to try.

I did a sideways approach, but I couldn't bring myself to go one handle per hand. I went one hand forward and then let the second join up instead. I surprised the heck out of myself when I made it past the first section. But in the middle of the second I could feel myself running out of energy and I dropped to get my next 30 burpees over with.

Next was the bucket brigade. This time, we would be carrying our weight downhill and then uphill, opposite of the sandbag. The buckets were sealed, which took care of my worry that I wouldn't fill my bucket properly or that I'd drop it and spill. I wrapped my arms around the bucket and grasped my left wrist with my right hand and got started.

Like with the sandbag carry, I didn't put the weight down and I never stopped walking. I did switch which wrist was being gripped about halfway through, but I never stopped. I can hike with weight.

The race continued downhill for a while to another water station, where the volunteer told us the Herc hoist was just at the top of the next hill.

to be continued...

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Crushing Goals

I stopped doing my old pull up workout a few months ago. I was focusing my training on preparing for my next section of the Idaho Centennial Trail, and I didn't want to take the time out of that to continue with the three day a week routine.

But that doesn't mean I gave up on pull ups entirely. I did continue to work on pull ups most Sundays with a group of other women at my cross fit gym. This work was more about endurance. We do 3 dips and 3 pull ups, every minute on the minute for 15 minutes. Then a bit of rest, followed by 10 push ups, every minute on the minute for 5 minutes. It's a nice workout.

I still use bands for the pull ups and the dips in this workout because of the volume, but most weeks, I will do the first few sets off the pull ups without any bands (I'm still working towards strict dips, so they stay banded).

I'd had the goal of 10 linked kipping pull ups on the board for something like 8 months, and I figured it was time to try a different tactic than just doing my same old workout. So after a couple of months of this new routine I came into the gym on a Sunday and none of the other women were there to do the regular 15 minutes with me. I decided to give the kipping goal a try.

I'd gotten to the point where I could do 8 in a row back in January. And in May I managed to do a set of 8 during a workout. I figured I was close - I even dreamed that I'd gotten 15 in a row.

I pulled a short box over to the rig where I was going to give my set a try so I wouldn't have to jump up to the bar. I did a quick warm up set of 5.

And then I tried for 10.

I got 12.

And that was after doing a class where I PR'd three lifts. 3 rep max front squat at 115 pounds, 3 rep max push press at 95 pounds and 1 rep max thruster at 100 pounds.

I hadn't expected to get my goal so quickly. In June, my gym was doing a bingo game, and with all that I needed just two more things to fill a row. Do a "girl" WOD and post a picture with a workout buddy.

So I did Annie, which is 50-40-30-20-10 of double unders and situps. I didn't post my best time really, because I think I could have beaten this time if I hadn't been time capped the last time I tried it. But I was. So the time I posted was indeed the best Rx time I had recorded for yet another PR.

Well, after all that, I had to find a workout buddy to take a picture with, and luckily for me, Nat was game. I finished my bingo row and checked off my goal.

Next goal is a 10 second freestanding handstand hold.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

6125 Training Hike

Ambrose and I drove out to Sheep Creek past Twin Springs, ID for a training hike early on a Saturday morning. We left before the sun rose, so I got some pictures of the light rising in the east. 

The dam was looking decently full. Not a lot coming out of the spillway, but the water level was right up there. 

I continued to take pictures as the sun rose over the distant ridges.

Just past the main part of Twin Springs (population 2). There were more tents pitched on the other side of the "town" than I'd ever seen before. Also, 4 speed bumps now instead of 3 and a porta potty.

 I didn't take a lot of pictures on the training hike, because I was trying to go fast (kinda). But I got one, with a bit of artistic blurring from the fact that I was carrying my phone in a plastic baggie.

My plan was to run up to the peak at 6125 feet. Round trip of about 9.5 miles with a gain of 2800 feet. I could at least jog that, right? And Ambrose would take his time and hike up and I'd be waiting for him at the car, taking a nap before driving us both back. 

Well. That was the plan. 

I did start out jogging. And though my legs felt leaden, I made it up the first little bit of switchbacks to where the trail starts following Sheep Creek. From there, the trail just rolled a bit, and I tried to pick up the pace. Not that I was going fast, but I wasn't walking. 

I had to slow down where the trail got really rocky, especially descending down to the bridge over Sheep Creek. That's just a whole bunch of ankle rolling rocks, and I did not want to risk another sprain, so I took my time. 

On the other side of the creek is where things get radical. There's a bit of a climb, then a stream crossing, then a bit more climb to a meadow. Then the trail starts going basically straight up for a mile and a half. 

I stopped even trying to run before I hit the meadow. That was okay though. I was still moving. I could just walk up the trail without using my trekking poles which would be excellent training. 

I typically hike with trekking poles, and as my upper body has gotten stronger, I've come to rely on them. I can feel how I work my lats a bit, especially when climbing. And there's some grip to it. But mostly they relieve pressure on the feet. 

The trekking poles were in my pack, because the trail is so steep that I wanted to be able to use them for balance on the way down. So every step I took without them, I knew I could just stop and get them. They were right there, a weight on my back. 

About halfway up that section, I gave up on the "no stopping" goal and pretty much collapsed onto the ground. It was nice, soft dirt. I started in on the snack I had packed, a sliced apple and a peanut butter sandwich. With some fuel in me, I was able to make it about another quarter of the way through that section. I stopped and ate some more apple slices. 

Then I forced my inexplicably weary body up to the end of that torturous section and gave myself a rest. I finished my food and mentally kicked myself for not packing more things to eat. I was trying to lose weight so I would have less body weight to haul around obstacles during the Spartan Race, but my experiment was just that - an experiment. And I did not have the correct solution that day. 

I had a choice there. I could just turn back. Be done for the day. It was still a good hike, nearly 3 miles. Most of the uphill was done. 

But that wasn't what I was there for. I was there to finish. Just like I'd be there to finish for the Spartan Race. I wasn't going to quit. Even though I was out of food and had hit the wall...

I kept going. I went slow. I didn't run, even when I hit flat spots. I took breaks when I needed to. I focused and made my way up to the peak. Then I turned right around to the nearest shade tree and got horizontal in the dirt for a good rest. 

I also pulled my trekking poles out. 

And then I made my way back, all the while waiting to catch sight of Ambrose making his way up. I thought he'd catch me higher than last time, but I caught no glimpses of him as I made my way down. I wanted to see him both to know he was doing okay and to steal some food from him, because I was totally running on fumes by that point. 

But I kept going down, into the steep, hard section, with no sign. 

It wasn't until nearly the bottom of the steep area that I saw him ahead. I caught up to him near the meadow and promised to meet him at the stream crossing so we could both get some water. I was energized enough by seeing him that I didn't ask for food right away. 

Ambrose had gotten dizzy climbing up past the scar formation and decided to turn back for safety's sake. More sensible, really, than what I had done. I got us watered up and stole a fruit smash from his pack. Then we headed back to the car.

I went ahead, and didn't take the trail to its new trailhead. I cut over cross country to the car when the trail decided to start climbing again, because I had just had enough. 

At the car, I went down to the river to rinse off and then arranged myself on a sleeping pad on a tarp next to the car while I waited for Ambrose. I was hoping to tell him to just cut over to the car, but he ended up going to the new trailhead and then walking back by the road. 

It was a good reminder to me to always pack a bit more food than I think I'll need. I've bounced back and forth on that stricture, sometimes wildly overpacking and then underpacking. But even on a day hike, I should have been carrying some "emergency" food. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend

I thought I'd packed everything, but when Ambrose asked me in the car as we were driving off on Saturday morning, I said, "I've packed everything I'm taking."

And, a few minutes later I had this to add: 

"I forgot the camera."

Luckily, my current phone is able for taking some pictures, in addition to the writing duties that I put it to. It's also a lot better at taking video, the better to record how our new tent weathered the traditional Memorial Day downpours.

Clouds and car at campsite.

More clouds the next morning.

Ambrose's new tarp/emergency shelter.

Flowers a bloom.

Ah, the Queens River Trailhead...

Happy daisies. 

New sign at the juncture of Queens River and Little Queens River trails.

Oh, hello, Mr. Fox. 

Fearless fox.
Clouds rolling in, blocking views of distant mountains.

Deer on the road.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Throwback to the Sawtooth Solo Trip 2016 - Day 5

Back at the trailhead first thing in the morning. 

A creek crossing with some logjam assist.

I wasn't sure if the trail crossed or continued, so I climbed up and got a better view. It crossed. 

A left at the junction towards Stanley Lake. The hand on the left belongs to a Boy Scout. 

The Lookout Peak junction where my path diverged from the Boy Scouts.

Leaving the Sawtooth Wilderness Area.

Fern Falls that-a-way, says the sign. Sure, I'll go take a look, why not, says I.

Why not? Because it's a lot of steep climbing and I'm tired. But this was a nice shot.

The day was overcast, but the trail was flat.

I banished the rain by putting a cover on my pack.

Ambrose waiting for me where the trail met the road.

Then he drove me to the lake shore where I took a dip in Stanley Lake to cool off before we headed home.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Throwback to the Sawtooth Solo Trip 2016 - Day 4

It took a lot of effort to get the bear bag hung way up there. 

A nice little bridge to start the morning.

I'd never seen such purple pine cones.

Trail junction! I'm on the road to Grand Jean.

As close as I got to Smith Falls. 

Crossing the South Fork of the Payette River.

Elk Lake would be nice to camp at, but my timing wasn't right.

Fern Falls.

Smoke beginning to creep into the valley.

Even more smoke.

So close to Grand Jean!

I took the log over this stream.

I wondered if someone was missing this boot...

I thought Ambrose would be meeting me at the footbridge.

Okay, to the left I go.

Ambrose was at the trailhead. 

The sky remained smoke-filled at the campsite Ambrose found at Grand Jean.