Tag Archives: AROO

Spartan Race Red Deer 2015-Weekend Recap 

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So I am doing my race reports a bit out of order. I’m also behind on them, so something is better than nothing! While my next report up is the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, I haven’t finished looking through all the unidentified photos on MarathonFoto to see if I can find more of me. I want to wait until I have those photos to do that recap. So up next is my Spartan Race weekend up in Red Deer, Alberta, which took place on Friday, September 11th-Sunday, September 13th. During these three days, I participated in 3 events: The Hurricane Heat, Spartan Super and Spartan Sprint. This recap will cover all three events, and while I’ll try to be concise, I’m sure this post will get pretty long! Be forewarned!  

I headed up to Red Deer Immediately after work Friday, which I knew would get me in town right on time for the Hurricane Heat. The Hurricane Heat is a Spartan event I had not yet participated in. While I had signed up for the Saturday and Sunday events I think way back in December, this Friday night event I did not register for until end of August. What is a Hurricane Heat? Well, it’s a 3-4 hour “boot-camp” style group workout, where you work as a team, in smaller groups, as pairs, and on your own. It began in August 2011 when Hurricane Irene forced Spartan Race to cancel their Sunday event in Amesbury, Massachusetts. The founder, Joe De Sena, got a bunch of Spartans together the Saturday morning and did basically whatever the hell he felt like. And now the Hurricane Heat happens the night before many Spartan Race events. Whoever runs the Hurricane Heat decides what tasks the group partake in, some heats run the whole course for the weekend events, and some run parts. The great thing is that every Hurricane Heat could be different!

 

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John Bouwman of JohnnyB FITT led the Hurricane Heat. He did a fantastic job. I don’t remember how many of these he said he led before, but I know he has pushed Spartan Canada to let him lead them, as otherwise only the U.S. Races regularly hold the heat. We had received an email about a week prior to the event with a list of items we needed to bring with us. Listed were: hydration pack, headlamp, 2 chemlights, NHL toque, salt/electrolyte packets, energy or gel shots, 5 zip ties, a regulation length hockey stick, a 500 word essay on Why I Race, and to wear all black. We also were told to arrive by 5:30 pm. I took this list seriously, as I had read online that if you didn’t have items you may be penalized. I wish John had been harder on the people who didn’t come prepared, because those were the people at the event that slightly irritated me. I mean, if it says to bring a hydration pack and you show up to this event without one, you look like an idiot. Maybe it sounds cruel for me to say they should have been punished with burpees, but that is what I was expecting. There were a handful of people at this heat who, in my opinion, didn’t have a clue what they were getting themselves into. But, each to their own I guess.
We started with splitting up into teams. John picked me as a team captain (he picked people with a Montreal Canadiens hat on) and I got to pick one person to be on my team, and then we had to all split up evenly in a set amount of time. A lot of the evening would be spent with John giving us a somewhat simple task, and if we didn’t complete it fast enough we would do burpee penalties. Like, when we had to take our hockey sticks and clear a path through the weeds and brush from the race site to the shower site so people could walk there the following day. Wasn’t done well enough so we had to do burpees and then try again.
The evening went on for a little over 3 hours. It included running to different obstacles (we did the course partly in reverse) and then completing some of these obstacles. At one point, we zip tied our wrists to a partner and had to get over the 8 foot wall tied up! We also all helped organize the Tire Flip obstacle and the Stairway to Sparta. Near the end of the night, we even did a little swim in the creek before heading back to base with our head lamps and glow sticks. Upon finishing, we were all presented with our Hurricane Heat Dog Tag, a shirt (I ended up giving mine to my husband because I wasn’t fast enough to get a size small) and the honour of being part of class HHI-005! As someone who has done now a dozen Spartan Races of various distances, being able to participate in the Hurricane Heat was a great opportunity. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be doing the Saturday and Sunday events for time, just completion, and since I knew what the terrain was like in Red Deer, I knew doing this event on Friday night wouldn’t completely waste me. If you haven’t done a Hurricane Heat and have done a ton of Spartan Races, I would highly suggest registering for one!

  
So Saturday morning came around and I was up at my normal school day alarm of 6 am. I had the 8:30 Super Spartan heat time to be at, and I wanted to make sure I arrived with plenty of time to park, warm up, and check my surroundings. My in-laws house is only a ten minute drive from the site of the event, Heritage Ranch, so it’s a super convenient location! I parked close by in a neighborhood, which was worth it by morning end (more on that later). My heat started right on time and I positioned myself near the front, as I knew I wanted to be ahead of the masses as we approached the first obstacles (over-under-through, hay bales, and 8 foot wall). If you get stuck in a mosh of people initially you end up waiting at obstacles. So since running is my strong point, I made a point to stay ahead!

  
Red Deer Spartan Races are, in my opinion, a “runners race” more so than other Spartan courses. There is a lot of single track trails through the woods and then wide open areas of cross country running. If you are a strong runner, you can take advantage of these areas and just cruise from obstacle to obstacle. There were many sections on Saturday (and Sunday) that I was solo as I would go slow through an obstacle but then get a good pace going through the woods.  

  
  
I am most proud of being able to do the monkey bars all by myself on Saturday (and Sunday!) I didn’t hit the spear throw, so now I still have only made the spear once in all my races. The course for Saturday was 14 kilometers of fun, and I am so happy I had an early heat as it started to really warm up later. I would not have been able to run as well as I did if I had been later in the day. I finished in a time of 1:42.14, which was 327/2327 overall, 24/1008 females, and 8/222 in the F 30-34 age group in the Open category. Oh, and that parking spot? Came in handy because as I walked back to my car to change before heading to the beer garden (which didn’t have a free beer for us, even though a coupon was accidentally enclosed in everyone’s packs on Saturday…apparently Spartan Canada couldn’t secure a beer sponsor this year so no free beer!) a dad and his kids had a lemonade stand set up. And a sign offering a hot shower for $3! I inquired and I went and rinsed off on their patio with the hot water hose, and then his wife led me to a change area set up in their mud room. The hot shower, lemonade and tip put me back $8, and it was worth every penny!

 
 So I’ll keep Sunday’s recap short, as the course was just a shorter version of the Saturday’s (approximately 5km). I woke up sore…and hungover. Saturday night consisted of hanging out with my sister in law and drinking a bunch of vodka club sodas. I got her to say she would come sign up for the race morning of, but she slept through it. When my 6 am alarm went off, I was facedown on the couch in their basement. Oof, I just needed to get through this day. I needed this race under my belt because then I would be just one step away from my Double Trifecta, which will be earned in Sun Peaks after completion of the Ultra Beast. I again had the first open heat at 8:30, so getting the race started right away and over early was great. It was surprisingly a lot less busy Sunday morning. I guess I had expected more people to show up for the shorter distance race, but I think a lot of people in Alberta had participated in the Calgary Sprint in August, so if they were going for a trifecta this race was not needed for them.  

  
I just went through the motions of this race, as I just wanted to be done with it. I ran hard in the stretches where running was possible, and I strongly believe that is what helped me place well in this event. I finished in a time of 55:53, and ranked 145/1352 overall, 22/724 in female and 5/157 for 30-34. I collected my medal (both the super and sprint medals had a special Canadian band on them) and another shirt (size small men’s, but I was able to shrink it as it was cotton. The super shirt was an XS small dri-fit men’s, which I’m not sure I’ll wear much). I made my way back to my in-laws, showered, packed, and hit the road back to Lethbridge by 11 am. I wanted to nap so bad, but I also just wanted to get home. Upon arriving home, I collapsed for a solid two hours before unpacking.

   
 So the weekend was a huge success! I participated in three Spartan events (Hurricane Heat, Super and Sprint) and spent around 5+ hours doing it in total. The somewhat funny thing is that when I compete in the Sun Peaks Ultra Beast in one week I will be running for longer than that all in one day. The Ultra Beast will be a fantastic way to cap off my 2015 Spartan Race season!

  

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Initial Thoughts and Rambles from my Spartan Race Weekend in California

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I am still not fully recovered from my whirlwind weekend in Southern California.  I flew out at 7 pm on Friday, and then was back at LAX on Sunday by 3:30 pm.  I drove home and got into my bed by 3 AM Monday morning in Lethbridge.  I am tired, my body is tight, I had chaffing marks on my ankles from my calf sleeves, my eyes hurt, I am sunburned, and my number is still etched into my calves with permanent marker.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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This weekend I ran the Spartan Race So Cal events-Super Spartan (9 miles) on Saturday, Jan. 24th, and the Sprint (approx. 5 miles) on Sunday, Jan. 25th.  Both events were held at Vail Lake in Temecula, California.  My best friend Ali, her boyfriend, and their dogs picked me up from the airport and we headed to Temecula on Friday night.  We were at the race site nice and early for check in and to peruse the site.  I also spent a lot of money on merchandise!  I would run the Super with Ali and Kevin.  This would be Ali and Kevin’s TRIFECTA race weekend (completed the Beast the weekend before, a distance of a half marathon).  Heading out at the start of the race, I didn’t think the wind would be to bad, seeing that I am used to Lethbridge winds.  I was wrong.  These winds were just as strong at winds in Lethbridge, but add the gritty sand and dirt from the course blowing around and the sun, and that makes it a whole different experience.

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I enjoyed all the obstacles on the course—some that are the same as previous years’, and many that are new.  Seeing that this is my 3rd year doing Spartan Races it is appreciated that they change things up.  Like the Traverse Wall—while they still had one, instead of this one going in a straight line, it now zig-zagged.  The terrain of Vail Lake also just added new natural obstacles that reminded me of the Montana Sprint.  Ali and I finished this race together in a time of 4:40.06.  I know I have said this before, but considering this girl wouldn’t even run 900 metres last year at this time and was now doing 9 mile obstacle course races is amazing!  I am so proud!

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That night I realized when we went in the hot tub how sunburned and wind burned my thighs had gotten.  It stung like HELL getting in the hot water.  Whoops. That being said, I still decided to go out and push myself during the Sprint.  Seeing a preview of the course the day before was a huge help, and I was able to tackle those hills just like I would if I were in the Coulees in Lethbridge.  I even nailed the Spear Throw obstacle!— a Spartan Race FIRST for me, and this was my 9th Spartan Race ever!  I still move quite slow over any height obstacle, as my fear sets in, but I made them.  I fell on the Monkey Bars, Rope Climb and also made it 3/4 of the way on the Traverse Wall….so 90 burpees for me.  Even with those burpee penalties, I finished in a 1:21.52, which was good for 33/1655 females in the Open Division!  My running came in handy for my lack of upper body strength!before sprintI knew what to expect coming into a Spartan Race, but I am very happy to say that I feel the organization is back bigger and better in 2015.  The obstacles did not disappoint, the race swag was new and improved (finisher shirts that are specific for each distance, instead of a general shirt!), and incredible medals!  I am very excited for my Spartan Beast in Montana this May so I can become a member of the USA Trifecta Tribe!  AROO, AROO, AROO!!!!

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2014 Running Recap

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It is almost a wrap on 2014…what a year! Ok…I hate that I used that as my first sentence, but I am currently going on my 26th hour in a sleeping car on the Amtrak and am not thinking straight. So maybe writing my recap now isn’t the smartest idea, but I don’t have anything else to occupy my time with really (or that I want to be doing?) so I may as well type this on out!

The numbers

My total of unique race events (ranging from 4km, 5km, 10km, 10 milers, halves and full!) in 2014 is currently at 24, and my 25th event will be on New Years Eve when I run the Brita Resolution Run 5km in Red Deer, Alberta. Last year, I finished with the Lethbridge version of the Resolution Run and that made for my 22nd event. So I will be up three events from 2013 when the clock strikes midnight! Doing the Dopey Challenge (4 individual events) and Dumbo Double Dare (2 distances) in 2014 made the yearly total add up quickly, that’s for sure! And in the process, I ran personal best times in the 5km, half marathon and full marathon distances. Now, will I be trying to “beat” that total and “feats” next year? Not exactly…

This year actually could have been a few races less than 25, especially since before Dopey, I didn’t even have another full marathon planned. After Dopey, I had gotten the bright idea that I could maybe push for a Boston Qualifying time. While I did drop my time in the two latter races I ran (in Calgary and Edmonton, June and August, respectively) it wasn’t enough to qualify. Looking back, I probably did too much in between if Boston had been my main focus for 2014. Going into 2014, Boston wasn’t even close to being on my radar…but my mind started going after seeing some of the possibilities. Was I frustrated I didn’t qualify for Boston last year? You bet I was….but now, I can look back and realize that looking at the progress in my full marathons is something to be proud of. My old personal best before 2014 was a 3:56 full from 2007. In 2014, I ran a 3:50, 3:46 and 3:44 over the course of my jam-packed year. And now I know what I need to work on more of while I prepare for 2015.

Boston qualifying is the main focus for 2015, as I am going to officially start my training program on January 11th. I will be running in the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 3rd, and my events leading up to Vancouver will help supplement my training, while not overdoing it. I have been able to get the half marathon distance down pat (running sub 1:40 now three times in 2014) but will need to work on building distance/endurance in my training.

In addition to Vancouver, I am currently registered for 8 additional events. Six of these events are Spartan Races. I will be doing the Temecula Super Spartan & Sprint on two days back-to-back in January, alongside my best friend. Then in May, my husband and I will be making our way down to Montana for their yearly Spartan Race! Only this year, we aren’t doing the Sprint….we are doing the newly added Beast! This means I will earn Spartan Race Trifecta Tribe Status by May! So I should be done with Spartan Races then, right? Of course not, as that is a Trifecta in the US, so I also want to earn a Trifecta in Canada! September will be the Red Deer Super and Sprint, and then off to Sun Peaks for the Beast! But not just the regular Beast….the Ultra Beast! I have already tackled the Beast in Sun Peaks in 2013, so I needed to take it up a notch and give the 26.2 miles of hell a shot. I guess that’s the main thing that’s bound to happen once you start trying all the different types of races out there…you want to keep pushing yourself beyond the proverbial limit.

I know I will pick up other smaller, local races throughout 2015, but my focus is on my full marathon in May and the Spartan Races. And oh yeah, I do have some things to worry about in addition to running…we have a new house to put sweat-equity in, an old house to sell, and I have a killer schedule for second semester that will take up all extra energy I have. Spring will be very busy for myself (and my hubby!) and while the training takes up time, and one might say I should “go relax or something”, I think I can beg to differ, as my running, training and racing is how I, in the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X !!!

Cheers to 2014 and here’s to looking forward to 2015! And GO PACK GO!

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Calgary Spartan Sprint 2014 Recap-Not Just ANY Spartan Race for Me…

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The 2014 Calgary Spartan Sprint was my 7th Spartan Race event. I have previously ran this event last in 2013, along with the Montana Sprint (2013, 2014), the Red Deer Super, and the Sun Peaks Beast & Sprint. But more important than reaching number seven was the fact that my best friend Ali would be competing in her first EVER Spartan Race…and this Spartan Race would also be her first EVER timed running event!

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We headed up to Calgary the morning of the event. The weather reports were a little nerve wracking, with chances of thunderstorms all day. We arrived to the race site, Wild Rose MX Park, about two hours before our race time. Pre-race packet pickup was a breeze! The last time I did day-off packet pickup for a Spartan Race was Red Deer last September, and that was a nightmare. Perhaps having a later in the day heat was helpful, because we honestly filled out our waiver and walked right up to a volunteer to get our packets. Took one minute! Before we knew it, we were getting marked with our bib numbers and were ready to go!

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We walked the festival grounds, and I have to say I quite enjoyed the setup compared to the year before. All the food trucks, displays, merchandise, and bag check were above and away from the actual racing area. This alleviated congestion down below. Ali purchased an awesome long-sleeved burnout shirt as a souvenir, and then it was off to check out the course.

We could see quite a bit of the course before actually racing. The vantage points at this Spartan Race are awesome, and as a spectator you can actually view your family and friends quite easily in many spots. Without even venturing that far into the race venue/spectator areas, we could see the following obstacles: Unders, Under a Container, Over Under Thru, Monkey Bars, Container Crawl, 8′ Wall, Rolling Mud, Mud Pit/Barbed Wire, Traverse Wall, Slippery Wall, Rope Climb and Fire Leap.

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What couldn’t be seen from spectator viewing, and what would become Ali’s least-favorite part of the course, were the switchback hills! These were tough! Ali lives in Redondo Beach, California, which has an elevation of 62 feet above sea level. She was now running an obstacle course race in Calgary, Alberta, at an astonishing elevation of 3,428 feet above sea level, and you can tell why the hills may have been a ‘small’ issue!

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When our heat started at 1:00 pm, we barreled out with the stampede. For the first 1/3 mile or so (I’m guessing because I didn’t have my GPS) we were trucking it. Then between bottlenecks and crazy hills, we had to slow down. If we had to power walk up hills, we did that. But whenever there was an opening that we could gain ground on, we ran it.

I am most proud of myself being able to do the monkey bars at this race. This is an obstacle that is sometimes hit-or-miss for me. My hands were clean, the bars were dry, so I got my momentum going and across I went. Ali had major shoulder surgery sophomore year of University, so obstacles like this were a challenge. However, she tried every obstacle out there—she never just walked past it, giving up without trying and just succumbing to the 30 burpees penalty.

The 30 burpees penalty is something Spartan Race does. Now, even though the event is timed, unless you are in the Elite Heat there are not age group awards. Reason why, I would say, is because many people out there have little to no integrity and don’t follow the rules. Dude I saw cut under the plastic tape to skip a section after the Tractor Pull—you’re a loser. And the three people, two women and one man, who failed the Rope Climb and came next to Ali and I at the burpee area, did 3 each and said “That’s good enough”—why did you sign up? If you’re going to sign up for something like this, and you start cheating it, what does that say about your personal mantra? I know it’s not a major event like the Olympics or anything, but don’t do this shit half-ass. Yes—you do have to train. If you don’t and you plan on taking easy ways out, you should just drop out. You are not a true Spartan.

Away from that rant, the course itself was incredible. The volunteers were great. Ali’s best obstacle was the Tire Flip, and she even opted to take on one of the “guy tires” with no issue at all! Special shout-out to the lady at the Traverse Wall giving everyone help and insight on how to help each other across the wall, as it was caked with mud beyond description. Ali and I both got across it thanks to her help!

We finished the course side-by-side in 1:44:01. I cannot wait to see the official photos that get posted, as I know there was a photographer not only at the finish line Fire Leap, but also at the Sandbag Carry and Barbed Wire. We received our kick-ass Spartan Race Canada medals, a finisher shirt, and then I ran up to bag check to get my camera. We needed post-race photos, to go along with our “clean” pre-race ones!

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We enjoyed the lovely delicacy of Coors Light in the Beer Garden (I would never drink this by choice, but it was free, and tasted surprisingly refreshing after that course!). Ali later would tell me that this Spartan Race was the hardest thing she’s ever done…but that she wants to do more. And, she also said she feels extremely confident going into the Disneyland 10km on August 30th! I am so proud of Ali and all the work she has put into Crossfit the past year (hello Crossfit 310)!and the fact that this former swimmer has become a runner.

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UPDATE FROM TUESDAY, AUGUST 19
Pictures! Just a few!

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Spartan Race Montana 2014—We Loved it so Much, We Came Back Again!

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Last year, Dan and I participated in our first ever Spartan Race in Kalispell, Montana. That recap can be found here: Spartan Montana Sprint 2013

After that race, I participated in four more Spartan Races—2 more Sprint distances, 1 Super, and 1 Beast, thus earning my membership in the Trifecta Tribe. I had a great time doing all the races that I knew I had to do some again this year! Naturally, Dan and I signed up for the Montana Spartan Sprint again!

We headed down to Kalispell, MT, the night before so we could get to packet pickup. Pickup was running from 5-8 PM outside of Sportsman Ski Haus. We arrived at 5:10 PM and the line was out of control. Last year, Dan and I maybe waited ten minutes tops. I am not sure why the line took so long to move, but we waited a solid 1 hour and 20 minutes. There were some people who waited even longer. If the weather had been bad, or if we hadn’t been able to take the beer we purchased out of the beer garden back to our friends standing in line (and vice versa) this would have been completely unbearable. This is my only complaint of the otherwise awesome weekend. I truly hope the organizers of the race do something about this next year, because obviously more people utilized race pickup the night before than last year.

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I did win a parking pass for us (and a sweet long sleeve burnout-tee!) at the pickup pre-party! The pass came in handy the next morning, as we could drive straight to the race site and park our car on property, versus taking the shuttle. We had a 10:45 heat time, and our friends Matt & Kelly would be racing along with us in this heat. It would be their first ever Spartan Race experience!
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The course, while in the same location as last year, started and ended in a different spot, and also went in what I would consider to be reverse direction as the year prior. This was awesome as someone who had done the race the year prior. Another cool thing about this event was it had been deemed a “Founder’s Race”, as Joe De Sena and other founders of the company personally helped construct it. They would also be participating in a Founder’s Heat later in the day!

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There were many traditional Spartan Race obstacles, such as the Over, Under, Through….Cargo Net…Sand Bag Carry…Spear Throw…Barbed Wire Crawl….Rope Climb. But that last one was with a twist! I was all set to attempt this rope climb, but the climbing rope was swung from another rope between trees like a hammock. This caused a bouncing movement when climbing the rope as other climbers also climbed. I did not like this! Dan with his arborist skills made it up no problem. I, on the other hand, had to do burpees.

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The terrain is crazy on this course, just like last year. Such steep climbs up the sides of mountains, to then only descend down slippery falls full of mud. It was also very wet and humid, in my opinion, but this just has to do with the surroundings. My glutes burned pretty much immediately upon climbing the first hill. This was expected though!

After the spear throw, Kelly and I told the boys to go ahead, as there was just the sandbag, 8-foot wall, and fire jump left. I finished in 1 hour 46 minutes. I even did two terrible cartwheels over the finish line mat! I am hoping that they caught it on camera, so when pictures are posted I will let you know! Being a bling junkie, I was excited to get the medal and see how it looked this year. The Spartan Race medals at split into 1/3 this year, and if you do one of distance they piece together as a giant medal. This race also included a special black medallion for the Founder’s Race, which is very cool!

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We collected our bags, went and got an after photo, and proceeded to hose ourselves down. I didn’t even care that the water was ice cold, it just felt good to get semi-clean! After changing into crappy sweats, we collected our finisher shirts. I was pleasantly surprised with them, as last year they were just a standard cotton black shirt. Not comfortable or breathable at all. This year they are a heather grey, very light, and just plain awesome!

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Other than the race itself being awesome, the after-experience at this particular Spartan Race is incredible. Just like last year, they had food trucks on site and beer flowing from local breweries. We stayed for over 3 hours after finishing and just enjoyed the food, beer, weather, and other racers finishing! It was a blast! I had been worried about the weather all week, as chance of rain was at about 80% for the whole weekend! but the afternoon photos speak for themselves! as we really got to enjoy the best Montana had to offer! When there is so much going on at the race site, beautiful May afternoon and all, why would we want to leave?!?! This is what makes the whole Spartan Race Weekend special—you don’t just go and run a race and are finished…you take it all in all weekend long! If you take advantage of all the things Spartan Race pulls together to make the whole weekend tie in, then you will have an amazing time. AROO! AROO! AROO!

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How Do I Sum Up 2013?

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There is that. That picture is worth a thousand words.

While this is a mix of finisher medals, placing medals, and challenge medals….they all share in common that they are some pieces of special bling I earned during 2013. I registered and competed in 21 unique races so far in 2013.…I say “so far” as I will be doing race 22 tomorrow when I run the Brita Resolution Run 5km with my good friend Kelly! The mix of races I ran this year weighted heavily on half marathons, along with some 10kms and unique distance 10-miler and 35 km trail races. I also got snatched into the whirlwind that are Spartan Races, where I completed 3 Sprints (5km), 1 Super (14km) and 1 Beast (21km) which earned me a coveted Trifecta Tribe medal!

Those aren’t the only important numbers of 2013.…I went into the year with a two year old half marathon PR of 1:54:19, from Woody’s RV Half in Red Deer 2011. I wanted to break that sometime during this year! While back in Wisconsin for Easter……First race out, I hit 1:52:53….holy crap.….I was hoping that wasn’t the peak! I went on to break this NEW PR three more times during 2013! My best ended up occurring up in high elevation-ville of Lethbridge, where I ran a 1:41:07 at the Bare Bones Half! I never thought I would now be setting my sights at sub 1:40!

More numbers…..1155 & 1621. These are the dollar amounts I have fundraised so far for the Heart & Stroke Foundation (Canada) and the American Heart Association, respectively. I began this fundraising journey at the start of 2013, with the roll-out of this very website. My year would be devoted to running more races than my previous years, and all races would be ran in memory of my father, Andrew Lammers. This April 25th marked the 9th year since his passing. He was only 51.

While the medals are the tangible item I can now hold in my hand to reflect and remember the races of this year, there is much more that I have gained by competing in this ridiculous number of events. The personal bests…the fundraising goals being met and surpassed…the new race experiences….doing it all for Dad…….and now it’s one week until I leave for the culminating event of the year….the Dopey Challenge….2013 has been an amazing year. I can’t wait for the start of 2014!

Race Recap-Day 1, Sun Peaks Spartan Beast

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A few weeks ago I had a post about “Race Envy.” Well…it struck again. Bad. After completing the Red Deer Super Spartan at the beginning of September, my husband’s cousin and I had the wise idea to drive out to British Columbia a few weeks later to compete in the Sun Peaks Beast. And the Sun Peaks Sprint. I mean, come on….just a mere 10.5 hours away was our chance to earn a Trifecta medal…and do something completely bad ass! We both got on the bandwagon, registered ourselves, and started the planning for our weekend adventure!

20131006-102534.jpgToday I am going to touch on our Spartan Beast experience, and in a later post i will talk about the Sprint. The weather for Sun Peaks was not looking promising for race day—-pretty much a chance of rain all day. And cold. And on race morning we found out there was a solid 15 cm of snow near the top of the ski hill we would be climbing. Hello September 28!

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We started in the 10:30 am heat. We were fired up and ready to go! The race started at the base of Mt. Tod, which is about 4,200 feet above sea level. We would be climbing up the mountain and back down during our 21km adventure, eventually totaling around 4,000 feet of climbing.

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While I have done Spartan Races before, this one provided challenges unlike any other. Basically, take the Montana Sprint and times it by 5, add in polar opposites of weather, and you have an idea of what we faced. There were the standard Spartan obstacles on the course, with the over-under-through being one of the first. The obstacles had to be strategically placed, as the trails we were running were mountain bike or hiking trails up the slope. The obstacles had to be placed in open areas that were relatively flat—-this was hard to come by. Some that could be placed in the trails, like the first rope net, were fun, but got backed up due to the narrowness of the course and the fact you couldn’t have more than one or two people attempt it at a time.

The weather was the biggest factor in the Beast. The higher we got, the more the weather turned. It started out just damp and slightly muddy. And at one point Erin and I did notice little patches of snow flurries at the base of some trees. No biggie. But then the ground started to become a horrendous mix of mud and snow, and then pretty soon just snow and ice. When we got to the Hercules Hoist, we had to climb up a little incline that was covered in fresh wet snow. We would not be messing around. I would dare say we reached blizzard conditions when we got to the highest point of the course, the sandbag carry.

20131006-102344.jpgDuring our descent, you had to go almost as slow as you did going up, due to footing issues, ice, snow and mud. Erin and I used her patented “McLaren Slide” to get down many of the narrow trails—-a squat down to the ground, with both hands anchored behind your butt, and your right leg extended as a guide. I got a sweet bruise almost immediately after sliding over a rock, but it was better than tumbling face first and ruining my whole septoplasty procedure!

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All in all, the race was incredible. Erin and I finished in a respectable time of 3:33:28. They had to shorten the course about 4 km due to the dangerous weather conditions even higher up the hill. We understand and appreciate why they did this, but now we want to make sure to do another Beast in the future so we can do a full 21 km! But, this Beast was my Trifecta Tribe race and I am happy that I had my trifecta be all Canadian races. My Trifecta Tribe medal is being mailed out to me soon, as they did not order enough for the event, but Tara (new friend from Edmonton!) let me borrow hers for a photo in the beer garden! AROO!

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Spartan Race Calgary-Race Recap

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Dan and I participated in our second Spartan Race on August 18, 2013. This race was held in Calgary, Alberta, and was classified the same as our first Spartan Race, which is a Spartan Sprint. And while the race had many similar obstacles and was undoubtedly a Spartan Race, there was some small differences we noticed in the race setup, feel, and overall experience. I am going to talk about that today.

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We live in Lethbridge, Alberta, which is approximately an hour and a half from the south end of Calgary. Dan and I set out on Sunday morning at 8 am to our Spartan Race, which was held at a BMX course in Calgary off of Glenmore Trail. It took us just about 2 hours to get there—a perfect day trip distance. Unlike when we did the Montana Spartan, we did package pickup on race morning. This went smoothly, however, we both realized how much we enjoyed doing the pickup the night before Montana, as it was set up at a sporting goods store, and there was live music, food trucks, beer, and practice spear-throwing for charity. This was just a standard pick up, but I guess that’s what we get for doing just a day trip.

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The Calgary Spartan was a two day event. Last year when they hosted the Spartan I believe it may have also been two days, but the numbers this year were twice as many. When I looked at the results, Saturday had 5186 registered participants and Sunday had 3668! Montana was one day. A Saturday, and had 3396 results posted. I wish I could have seen what the setup was like for Saturday, because Dan and I noticed a few things on Sunday that let us down. First, food—there were only two food trucks. One in the packet pickup area and one down near the course. And when we were done racing and hungry the one in packet pickup was closed already. In Montana there were about four food trucks lined up all day pumping out food for the athletes. This was a let down, as in Montana we hung around for a long time after and enjoyed food and drinks and took tons of photos. At least Calgary was just a day trip anyway, because when we were done there really wasn’t much to do.

Another thing that is more of a petty complaint is the beer gardens
. Now, this may be due to different laws in Alberta versus Montana. But, the beer gardens had one thing–coors light. I know Molson is a sponsor, so a Molson product is expected, but come on!! COORS LIGHT? We had our one free beer after the race, Dan could barely drink his, and we left. Montana had Tamarack Brewing Company and another local brew available and it was awesome. We spent money on more drinks after our one free because they offered quality beverages . This again may be due to location and laws involving alcohol consumption.

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So far it sounds like I am a complaining bitch and we didn’t enjoy ourselves. That is far from the truth! Our heat time was at 1:00, so at 12:30 Dan and I headed down near the start chute so we were ready to walk to the starting line when they allowed us. While we didn’t go into this being “competitive” we did want to be at the front of our heat so we could get to the first obstacle ahead of a backlog of people. We lined up and about 5 minutes before our start time the emcee did his Spartan spiel. Spartan Race Canada must use someone different than Spartan Race US, or the guy we had in Montana must have been at the Hawaii race that was occurring that same weekend, because this guy was weak. He was reading from his script to pump us up, and had this been our first race I am sure it would have. But the man we had in Montana—-oh boy. That guy was a pro. But, whatever—that is just a fine detail.

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At 1:00 our heat started and we barreled out the gates and down the first BMX hill of dirt. Dan told me to make sure I didn’t fall right away. Thanks. This course was completely different than Montana, which makes SpartanRace pretty sweet. In Montana we had the picturesque mountains that doubled as ridiculous obstacles to run up and down. Here we had the up and downs of a BMX course, with all the dusty moguls and poor footing. It posed as a different challenge!

I made it to the first obstacle, the cinder block pull, as Dan had just finished it. He was willing to wait for me, but I waved him to just go on alone. I knew I needed to be taking the race slow as 1) I had just gotten back from my 16 day Disney vacation on Friday and only sort of ran once while there and 2) I have a half marathon on Sunday in Edmonton and didn’t want to hurt myself. So I went solo on this race after about the first 8 minutes, and it made the race different. I didn’t have my husband to whine to was the first difference, but more noticeably I didn’t have him to help me over the 8 foot wall. The nice thing about Spartan Races is that even if you don’t know anyone and are doing it solo, people will help you out if you need it and that is great. A woman gave me a boost to get to the top of the 8 foot wall, and after I got over it, I came back around and helped her out. So if you are nervous about doing one of these races solo, don’t be, because people will help you if you need it! And if you are doing it for pure enjoyment and completion, I suggest taking your time and helping others along the way.

Many of the obstacles were similar to ones in Montana, but not exact replicas. There were monkey bars again this race, but the bars were closer together this time and the length of the challenge was shorter! Also, since we were a Sunday heat, and thousands of people had already done it, there was caked on mud EVERYWHERE! So one thing to think about when picking a heat time and day is how used the obstacles may be by the time you compete! Same with the traverse wall—which I was able to complete in Montana, but in Calgary I fell off immediately. In the picture below, you can see how caked with mud my husband is and how the bottom half of that wall looks! So even if you find success in an obstacle at one Spartan Race, it isn’t guaranteed at another, as circumstances are always going to be different!

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One different obstacle in Calgary was a balance beam. It was a zig-zag of boards where you had to walk on the approximately 2 inch thick side. I saw many guys fall off right away and have to do the 30 burpees as punishment. Dan told me later he was close to falling off on that, but focused on making it to each corner and pausing. I hope to see more balance obstacles at our next Spartan Race, though, if they are covered in mud I might not find success!

Dan finished in a really fast time of 37:12 and placed 162nd out of 3525 finishers from Sunday! Thing is, Dan didn’t train. So yes, we can hate him for that, but the 5 km distance was just right for someone who doesn’t run regularly, as it was short enough to get him through. His strength are the obstacles. He only failed at the spear throw, so he only had to do burpees once. He has the ability to do all upper body strength obstacles no problem—even the tricky rope climb over the mud pit. I guess all his lugging of landscaping materials all day doubles as strength training! Anyway, he is now actually motivated to start taking these races a little more serious! Case in point—yesterday I went on a 4 mile Dopey Challenge training run and at 3.5 miles, who do I run into but my husband! He said this is the most motivated he is ever going to be so he might as well take advantage of it.

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With his fast finish, he was able to see me suck terribly at the rope climb and the spear throw. It was great having him at the last four or five obstacles to cheer me on and give me hints! After finishing, my time was officially 54:04, which is 1371st place overall. I am hoping that when the results get posted over to the main Spartan Race site they have different category placings, but it seems like the Canadian races don’t do that. Dan and I got a picture together afterwards, and it does show how caked on with mud we were! While I know there are other “mud runs” out there, this one isn’t necessarily about just jumping in mud pits. This race has extremely challenging obstacles, and depending on the landscape of the course, you may get more muddy one race than another, and some races maybe not at all.

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Would we do this race again? Yes! Would we recommend this race to someone? Yes! And while I know I had my complaints about the Calgary setup, know that had this been our first Spartan Race experience we would have given it a 10 for sure. Dan and I just had a ridiculously amazing experience in Montana that is now what we have as our holy grail of Spartan Races, so any Spartan Race we do now will unfortunately be compared to that. Our next one is on September 7th in Dan’s home town of Red Deer, Alberta. And this will be interesting, as it is a Super Spartan, not a Sprint. This race is listed at being 15+ km, which means it will be well over 8 miles…a distance Dan has never ran. So his lack of running may catch up to him at this race, but with Super Spartans, you don’t just have a longer distance, but you have more obstacles. Dan will do this race solo, and has an earlier starting time than myself. I will be running with my friend Amie, who has never done a Spartan race at all! She is even shorter than me (I am 5’3″) so we will be hurling each other over tall obstacles! My 6’0+ sister in law is also doing this race with her friends, so I may need to use her heir to help me out!

If you don’t know what a Spartan Race is, head over to the Spartan Race site