SoCal Beast Race 1 of the Season

Well I really didn’t take that much time off of racing if you truly think about it.   I had originally not planned on racing this weekend due to work commitments, however the weekend was available and some awesome friends called me an hour before leaving and said “Hey Cassidy, do you by chance want to go to California to run a Spartan Race??”  Now, we all know how hard it is for me to turn down the opportunity to race.   I apparently may have found a passion that I find extremely hard to turn down.  So I had just literally gotten home from crossfit, PR deadlift of 155lbs, not knowing that I would be driving to California to run a race.  I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared, or so I thought, more on that later.   I said yes of course through a ton of random racing stuff into my duffle, showered, and was off with some amazing people.   There would be a total of 8 people caravaning from good ol’ Colorado to Temecula, California.   David, Laura, Shay, Joshua, Bryce, Elizabeth, and Michael.   Good times were to be had.

We took off and were well on our way to California.   Things were going great and we were making good time.   However around Greenriver, Utah, we noticed that my car started making noise.  A sound which progressively got worse until we were able to find an open Hyundai Dealership in Nevada.   I was worried, were we going to be able to get to California?   I didn’t want something wrong with my car to cause people to miss a race!   While they checked out my car, we had breakfast, probably a good idea considering we drove through the night.   They called and the lug nuts were loose on my tires, good thing we stopped!  So it wasn’t a show stopper and we were off to the races, literally.

Road trips are always interesting, we played a lot of musical cars and had some interesting conversations that’s for sure.   Your race family will never leave you hanging in being there for support in any form, including lots of laughter.

We reached California and were going to stay at David’s grandmas house.   This house was GORGEOUS to put it simply.   The view off the back deck was simply amazing and peaceful.   We were welcomed with open arms as we were all exhausted from traveling for 15+ hours, thank you lug nuts 😉

The night before a race, no matter the length, so many things can run through your head.   Was I going to be prepared for this?  Was I going to struggle?  Was the lupus going to be a problem and cause issues throughout the race like it was at the Utah Beast last year?  So many questions, and I am sure every person has some sort of questioning they go through with themselves the night before a race.

I went to be early, I wanted to be sure even after driving as long as we did that I would be rested and ready to go in the morning.   I know I am not running for top five or top of the pack, I am running for myself, to make myself better and healthier in the long run.   Now to some yes this may seem counter intuitive.   But in all actuality, racing is what got me to make a turn for the better when the lupus was at it worst.  So to quote my best friend Laura “You not only want to race, but you need to race.”  She gets it.

Race day was upon us, and I knew since I am taking part in my challenge at the gym, I was going to fail in my five meals a day routine, I would be out on the course for awhile.  In my head I prepared myself for a good amount of time, you see Utah beast took me over 8 hours to finish.  That’s a long time on the course.   However, I pack efficiently to ensure that I am fueled throughout the race.  I keep Spark in my Camelback, as I truly do love the Advocare products, and this has helped me with race day hydration.   I had re hydrate by Advocare as well, which I ended up giving to fellow racers who needed something to allow them to continue.   I also pack almonds and almond butter.   I don’t do the gu’s or shot blocks or any of the artificial items.  I have determined that they don’t work for me or my stomach for that matter.

Colorado Obstacle Racers started at 8:45 and we were off.  Before the race started I had chosen to stay back and race with Laura and Shay.   They told me they weren’t shooting for time and I was completely ok with going there pace and making it through the race.   You know the race is going to be great when you hit a mud pit not too long after the start!  Woohooo for mud !   Next up was the shorter walls, which I am able to jump and get myself over fairly easily.   Then onto a short hill climb.  Now this hill climb was steep and had some loose dirt.  There were some newer racers next to me and I was able to help and support them up the hill.  I know for me to have a complete stranger help me and encourage me through something difficult is always helpful, so I aim to do this for others so that they will want to come back and race again.  Next up inverted walls, after some good trail running of course.  It was definitely starting to warm up and was looking to be a great day.  Even after climbing those hills, I was surprised to say I felt great!  I didn’t hurt, I was good to run and keep on trucking.   We met a couple who hadn’t done many Spartans yet.   This is where Laura, Shay, and I excelled.  We were able to help the two as much as we could with encouragement or a boost over the wall.  Or for me if they chose not to do the obstacle or couldn’t I did their burpees, because we all know I do love me some burpees.  Sick and twisted, I know EVERYONE tells me this over and over 😉

So instead of the tire pull, Spartan changed things up this year and have a sled and a sand bag that you use the same technique as the tire pull on.   It’s different and I almost like it better!   Hercules Hoist was up next, we all know my hands and grip strength are weak and that is an area that I would love to work on this year!   Laura Beast Mode Curtis is awesome, oh did I mention she did the men’s sled instead of the women’s, she showed the boys how to do it right ! Back to the Hercules hoist, the weight is much more this year with women at approximately 90lbs and men at 125lbs, if I am remembering correctly and they took away the fencing.  That’s right boys and girls all upper body strength.  However this is a lot of weight for me to even get up every time I got to a certain point the weight was pulling me up, so I had to take assistance on the obstacle despite not wanting to 😉

So I have noticed as I have done crossfit for three weeks now that my strength is increasing, yes I have areas that need improvement but I am getting stronger.  Next obstacle would prove that.  Bucket Brigade would test my strength, you basically fill a bucket up with gravel and have to carry it a distance.  This distance happened to up the hill and back down and around, this becomes a common theme throughout the day.   In Utah I struggled with this obstacle quite a bit.  I was unable to take but a few steps without having to set the bucket down.   However, Saturday in California I felt great I stopped a few times, not nearly as many as Utah and felt amazing afterwards.    I was in this state of awe and confusion, wait a minute, I am about two miles into the course and I am not hurting yet, WTF?!?! It’s a pain I am used to and it wasn’t there at all.   Z walls, yep look them up, pretty sure they made this obstacle out of hatred for short people because I could barely reach between the two with some aid, and you had corners to go around, which my T-Rex arms just don’t reach the next block of wood.   I did complete this one and Laura and Shay and I were off!

Spear thrown, oh how I am don’t like you!   I watched several individuals in front of me hit it with ease, and I am thinking to myself how hard can this really be? New this year would be the very thin paracord that allowed the racer to pull the spear back to the throwing area.  New and definitely useful.  It was my turn, yep missed.   This is on my list of I really need to learn how to get this one nailed.   Our buddies we had met at the beginning of the race failed as well, I knocked out my 30 burpees for missing then helped both of them finish theirs up.   Laura how ever nailed her very first spear throw!! I could hear her scream from the burpee area, was proud of her for getting it !!

Oh walls, you are usually the source of all my rib cage bruises.   However in order to get to that we had a pretty good hill to climb, in the back of my head all the time I was thinking ok take it nice and easy at a good pace and get up the hill, and go figure did that with no pain?? What the heck was going on, I was jumping up and down all full of energy like I was a little school girl.    Laura gave me a boost over the 6ft wall.  As we waited for Shay to catch up to us, we both assisted people going over and back down the wall.  Its very humbling to be able to help those who aren’t quite sure how to do it or need advice, I am no seasoned pro by any means but my little teeny weeny bit of knowledge was able to help others!

A mix up in the norm this year was the monkey bars, ohhh these weren’t your plain Jane monkey bars.  They had all the bars at various levels going up and down unevenly across.   Until I can get a better grip strength I had help on this one too, I have to thank Laura, my super strong friend for helping the people McNugget, that’s me, on the obstacles.   And off to more running.   I love trail running, especially down hill I LOVE flying down a hill, and to make it better I was feeling the best I have felt since I was diagnosed with Lupus 9 years ago, well while exercising anyways.   Tire flips, what girl doesn’t love some tire flips!  They changed it up to 4 down and 4 back, no biggie this is right up my alley.  Log hop up next and balance is decent but always nice to have help especially when you choose the ones that are probably the farthest apart, damn short legs 😉

During these running sprints I was playing the game of running ahead and felt great and would hold back for my two ladies, Laura and Shay.   All the time while in my head thinking what the hell, this isn’t normal!  I never feel this good this far into a race.   Log hop next, which is a newbie, as far as I know.   Its a log about 5ft high and you run and hit it like you were climbing a wall, got help on the first one but then figured out a running start helped!  Ohh and I do have some bruises from that one as well.  At this point I had decided to run in my sports bra and shorts, it has taken me a long time to get to this point to be confident enough to be able to do this.

8ft walls, ohhh I can’t even imagine being able to get over you without any assistance.  One of these years 😉 but we all made it over without issue and were off to the next obstacle.  Atlas carry!  Carry a cement ball across and do some burpees, now remember burpees are chest to ground, I think this annoys me more than it should squat thruster don’t equal burpees 😉 Just saying 😉

Rolling barb wire, now there is an obstacle where short people have an advantage 😉 I could easily walk under them squatted down and make my way through 😉  A people McNugget obstacle finally!   At this point I was feeling amazing and talking with Laura about the fact that I felt so great.   She didn’t want to leave Shay alone and wanted to be a support for her.   She kept encouraging me to go on.   I felt terrible, I had promised I would race with them and not leave them behind.   Finally in her mom Laura voice, I got told to go ahead, as long as I would wait at the finish line for them.   We said our byes and off I went, still thinking wait this is far from being normal.   But I pushed on and picked up the pace.  Another steep hill was next entitled Cliff Climb, not sure how I feel about making landscape an “obstacle”.

Sandbag carry was up next, and at first you see only what appeared to be a smaller lap.  After making it around the first bend you could see that there was quite the hill to climb with the bag.   Surprisingly I felt great still trucking on with my sandbag, after I got to the top of the hill, I sailed down the other side running and feeling great, so this is what it feels like to race without the lupus fighting back.  Did the lupus finally get the hint?

At this point I was looping my way back to the festival area, A frame cargo net.  Which is easy as long as you aren’t afraid of heights 😉  Stairway to Spartan was a newbie, you had a short wall that was up against planks of wood that you climbed up and came back down.   Really liked this one !  Rolling mud and Dunk wall, at this point saw a fellow racer who is a speed demon and had already finished, David.  Let him know where Laura and Shay were and I continued to the obstacle.   Graceful picture of me falling into the mud pit considering the drop was as tall as me !   Slippery wall up next and I got it, without help!!!! I am not sure how I feel about all these successes 😉   David mentioned that I needed to pick up the pace that the sun was setting, little did I know what time it really was, and the sun wasn’t setting, but it worked it lit a fire under my ass and I was off like the wind.

Well Spartan decided to get rid of the knots on the ropes this year.  I was so damn excited about being able to do the climb with the knots and nope all gone, so yep had to do some burpees on this one!   I will get this by the end of the year!  More barb wire crawling except that there were damn sea shells everywhere since we were next to Vail Lake.   But wasn’t terrible, once again shortness is an advantage.   Bridge climb which consisted of planks up to a cargo net across and back down.  I think this obstacle is more of a mind twister.  Crossing a net that is draped across a structure where people are running under can be intimidating, I find focusing on what I am doing and not worrying about them is the best.

Trail running is the bestest!  Yes that is a valid statement.  I have learned that I am good at adapting on the fly and adjusting what I need to do so I don’t fall flat on my face.   New obstacle next was the weave.   You were required to work yourself in between the black and red pipes all the way to the apex of the structure.  Which I figured out a technique of going backwards and using my legs to my advantage.  No burpees here and was smart and climbed down rather than jumping, it was about 2 1/2 Cassidy’s down…….not going to break an ankle for that 😉

New to me that I have never done was memorization challenge, they give you a code based on your bib number, Quebec 7333456, happened to be mine.   Later on in the course after some work of course and a good few miles you are asked to repeat this.  I am fairly good at this whole memorization thing so hadn’t brought a pen.  I saw many others with pens writing down their code, I just repeated it to myself while I worked.

Spartan Sled, aka act like you are a mule pulling a heavy cart obstacle.   Haha the thoughts that go through your head, leg obstacle and oddly enough they were still feeling AWESOME!  Another new to me obstacle was the Tyrolean Traverse, I had never done it but wasn’t going to let that stop me.  I locked my legs and the plan was to use all arms, calves started cramping at this point so had to make it a fast one!  Had to stretch the calves at that point, but hell we were at mile 8  and that was the only problem I had.   I will take that!

Vertical Cargo net! Let’s go straight up and then straight back down!   Which was ok because I knew what was coming next a beast of a hill climb.   I jogged that obstacle off and headed to the hill climb.  This climb can’t even really be described in words but bascially, incline on crack.   Lose dirt and rocks and go straight up.  I headed on up figuring this would take me FOREVER!  But wait it didn’t a few breaks and I powered through it.  Seriously at this point I was questioning if aliens had stolen my body and replaced it with a Lupus free version.    I head on out running “what goes up must go back down”.  So down the hill I went and enjoying the fact that I was flying down the hill with no issues.

New obstacle up next was a Multi-Rig, much like the one that they had at the festival grounds.   Well running alone I had to get some random person to help me, the great thing about Spartan races is that random people will help you.   Once again no burpees, wait what can I finish a Beast with only 60 burpees that were mine??

At this point they wanted us to repeat the memorization, which in my mind was simple, it had been my mantra to myself for the previous few miles.  And onward! 7ft wall next once again needed a boost but up and over!

Thermopylae, had to look this one up because I had no clue what the heck this one was supposed to be!   Thermopylae is a location in Greece with a narrow costal passage.  This was the run along the banks of lake in the sand.  Good leg burner, but wait I kept going and at a good pace!  I was feeling great, I honestly was feeling so great I could have ran again.    Under the previous bridge that I climbed over.

Onto the slip and slide.  This obstacle and I have had previous encounters.  I always end up going mach 1 and can’t stop.   Yep it happened again but made it down, later to find out that there was a photographer on this one……those should be some GREAT pictures haha.   Mud pit at the end and one more obstacle then the fire jump.

The last obstacle was a rope swing across water.  We were supposed to swing from the location to the other side without hitting the water or the wall on the other side.    I chose for the better of the rest of my race season, after watching almost every clock their knees or ankles, to skip this one, we didn’t have to do burpees.  I was at the fire jump already and I wasn’t limping???   I jumped that fire pit and got my Beast medal.   I had knocked the second half of the course out in under two hours.   The last 1.2 miles or so in less than 25 minutes.   What was this, who was this person.

I am truly speechless at how well I was able to do on this course.   Its amazing how much you can do when you put your mind to it.   And I did it, without pain.   I have  never had this great of an experience that I am chiper and completely fine after a race. EVER.   I am always hurting somewhere from something but I wasn’t!

I have come to the realization that crossfit and running combined have made a huge difference in my life.   Physically I am able to do things that I couldn’t even imagined doing before.   And that after only three weeks???  Well holy moly!  I like where this is headed.   I am excited the race season has started and I got to go this weekend.  It made it all worth it.

The ride home however tired we all were went by quickly.   I have to thank Michael and Bryce for taking really long shifts on driving.  You two are awesome and helped us get home a lot sooner!  Road trips are always a blast and a ton of one liners happen throughout the trip! Amazing what a little racing and a whole lot of driving can do!

image1 Modified copy of IMG_4557 IMG_4563

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