This is the third year that Spartan Race has offered a Montana event, with the past two years being the Sprint Distance. This year, they kicked it up a notch and added the Spartan Beast on Saturday—12+ miles and 30+ obstacles of fun! Dan and I had done the Sprint the past two years and loved every second of it, so when they made Saturday’s event the Beast, I registered us for it right away! This year, we also decided to go back to where we stayed the 1st time around—Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge in Big Fork, Montana. This dude ranch has been in operation for 70 years! It is absolutely gorgeous, and as long as we keep doing the Montana Spartan Races, we will always be coming back here! Part of the fun for us during Spartan Race weekend is getting away from Lethbridge for the weekend, and being able to drive 3.5 hours south and be surrounded by such beauty and fun is fantastic. Big Fork is a small vacation “town” (I even think it is unincorporated) but there are a handful of restaurants and bars to enjoy before and after the event. We opted for the new Flathead Lake Brewery for dinner and drinks on Friday, and we’re very happy with our meals. The beer was excellent also! On Saturday, we went into “downtown” and ate at Kiska’s by the Lake, a Cajun restaurant that was also new. Excellent food and drinks all around! My Cajun pot pie was AMAZING! Now that I just gave a lodging, food and drink rundown, onto the race recap….
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.
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.
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!
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!I 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!!!!
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!
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!