Two weeks ago today I was standing in the cold morning air with a smile on my face as my friend Matt (aka Stitch) and I did our volunteer time at the Indiana Spartan Sprint at Haspin Acres in Laurel, Indiana. This was my first Spartan and second OCR (Obstacle course race aka mud run) and his first OCR.
We had left around midnight for the four hour drive and arrived super excited and ready to start our shift. As volunteers we “earned” a free race so after 7 hours of working we’d be heading to the starting line for our own chance to yell AROO (the Spartan chant).
As people were coming in and signing up you could feel the excitement in the air. Unlike other “mud runs” the Spartan doesn’t have a map of the course up so you can see it in advance, you go into it not knowing what to expect! Stitch and I were assigned to the spear toss which consisted of a stick with a long nail on the end being thrown at a bale of hay set a bit away. This one seemed so easy that it made it harder and I was part of the crew who had to count (cheer you on) burpees for those who missed. (If you’re clueless on what a burpee is check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa53r_FvgM and then attempt 30, the amount you have to do at each obstacle you don’t pass!). I tried to make the burpee area fun by cheering and chanting “remember, once you do the first one you’re in the 20’s” and “it’s only 29, the other is a bonus because you’re just that tough”. It seemed to help or at least brought some chuckles.
Practice makes perfect, until it’s your turn for real!
I won’t lie, when the team we recently became a part of, the Corn Fed Spartans had their heat I tried to put extra cheers and applause into. This is my race family and I wanted to make sure they knew we were proud of them even when they had to hit the burpees!
After finishing our shift we went and did our race sign up (I was #5958 and he was #6005…we were officially in!), wandered a bit and got into our race garb. My hot pink hair and hot pink boots stood out needless to say but I was being “me”! The call to the start line came across and we headed to get in line. Motivational speech and chants of “I am a Spartan…I am a Spartan” lead to goosebumps and crazed excitement! After looking to the sky to say my hi to Uncle “Mud” and a “this is in honor of you” the Spartan chant of “AROO” “AROO” “AROO” started us down the course!
Note the video camera…it was on then…sigh
We were the final heat of the day and it was getting cooler by the minute. The first splash in the mud was a system shock but we were going to get through this! At that time we had no idea that we would encounter our own physical and mental obstacles but even when we did our determination made us keep going.
I could detail this until I drove you nuts but I’ll go with the highlights and lowlights!
Top Spartan memories:
~ The starting line goose bumps and the sounds of AROO AROO AROO as we headed out….that moment when you’re like “Yeah, we’re here and we’re doing this”
~ When we realized the course we thought was a little over 4 miles was actually 5.2 miles!
~ Learning about determination and perserverance with 3 other amazing people…we were the Last 4 of the race….we fought through a twisted ankle (around mile 2), hypothermia, a handful of thorns (twice), shoes lost in the mud, muscle cramps that were unimaginable, and more. We still….even though it took us over 4 hours to complete…we never gave up. The other 2 with us we met on the course and we all stayed together til the end.
~ Ohana….gained a new meaning as we bonded with one another along the way. None of us were going to give up…we wouldn’t allow one another…we were going to finish and we did. Along the line Lilo and Stitch became our race names, it fits!
~ There were 5 (I believe) people who were with us through most of the last few miles. They had already did their heats and they were there supporting us, cheering us on, offering hands and words and support. Those people (I know at least 3 were Corn Fed Spartans and those 3 who stuck with us…I’ll never forget that) were part of what kept us going and no words will ever thank them enough!
~ Doing this with a friend…there was a cargo net that stretched up 2 cargo containers…across the width of 2 more and down an additional 2…I reached the top and when I went to go across I froze, literally. I was NOT going to do this and that was that. I generally don’t mind heights but something just snapped off in me for a moment and there was no way. Stitch talked me across step by step beside me even though he could have already made it across. I don’t know that I could have made it had I not had that encouragement.
~ “I got you” “If you fall then I’m falling with you” “Walk towards the sound of my voice” “Rocky didn’t have to do burpees” “Who’s hands are on my butt” “I got this, oh shit!” “it’s the two minute mark, hit the red button to turn on the video camera” …..quotes of the day. (Note, 2 people can read directions for a video camera and still manage to turn it OFF instead of on resulting in no race video but a great laugh later!).
~ Climbing under barbed wire and trying to keep your ass down and your face out of the mud all at once!
~ Over a wall….under another wall…..through a…did he really do that….I can’t explain the whole story other then if you’re going though something falling back out and on your back does slow you down
~ Camelbaks are awesome…until the mouthpiece and mud meet too many times!
~ Mud …dried…flaking….I have experienced many painful things in my life but the feeling of dried and flaky mud rubbing off your skin is one of the most painful! It was like little needles being jabbed in my skin over and over and over!
~ I thought I wanted to do a Polar Plunge at some point….after chugging through freezing creeks over and over…I think not!
~ The moment you’re holding hands with 3 other people that you have just been through a 5.2 mile piece of hell with….and you’re crossing the finish line…feeling those medals as they are placed around your neck ….there is nothing like that…nothing!
I don’t think this even begins to describe how much that day meant to me but I will say this….I wouldn’t change one single moment….. not one. I am so grateful to those who were a part of it with me and to those who encourage me….to those who walked those miles with us and to those last people who stayed, who were there at the finish line applauding us and hugging us and just….wow, just wow.
What I am most proud of is we didn’t even acknowledge not finishing this. We were going to do it no matter how long it took, how cold it was, or if we had to hobble the entire way. We planned to go home with our Spartan medal and we did. We will not make excuses and we will not accept defeat and we will Not quit!
This was only the beginning of a Summer full of mud run fun! I personally have 5 more to go (maybe 6) and Stitch will be doing 2 of those with me as well. More to come as I continue my journey. And keep your eyes open for any of the Corn Fed Spartans at the races you might attend or be a part of. Say hello and come join us! (You can’t miss the badass jerseys we wear…look for Lilo 88, Stitch 13, or anyone else wearing a jersey with a Corn Fed Spartan on the front!)
As the motto says “If you want to know, run with us.”
Now….go get MUDDY!
Much Love~ Lilo88