The views from Reno to Squaw Valley...just breath taking!
It's a little late, but here is my write up on my trip to Lake Tahoe for the Spartan World Championship's October 3, 2015.
After 3 plane rides and over 6 hours of layovers later, we finally landed in Reno, Nevada Thursday evening around 8:30pm. Got our rental car easily and made our way to our hotel which was about 1.5hrs away in Susanville, California. It was dark when we landed so we had no idea what was around us. Heading to bed early, our goal was to head over to Squaw Valley early in the morning and check out everything Spartan had to offer! We ate breakfast and headed out, oh the view of the fields and mountains as far as the eye could see. I was excited so we programed our GPS for Squaw Valley. 2hrs and we would be there it said...ha! After our GPS took us on a 4.5 hour mountain adventure with the wild cows of the mountains, we finally made it there! To my surprise, they had the hills open and you were welcome to walk the course and check it all out! And that's just what we did. Taking pictures of everything we could. The views would take your breath away (if the altitude didn't). The winds were gusty at the top but not too cold for mid afternoon. I felt so honoured to be at the top and be able to stand under the Olympic Rings!
After spending the majority of the day there, we decided to head back to the hotel for a good nights sleep and then back again for the race in the morning. We re-programmed our GPS who I now named 'Gar' to take us through the city back to our hotel this time, another 2 hours it said...ha, ha, ha...he had so much fun with us! Well, somehow our lovely paved road turned into a mountain road from hell and we got lost...another 4.5 hours in the mountains. This time it was dark and not so much of a fun adventure. Anyway, I managed to get a 5 hour sleep in before it was time to get up and try this drive again on Race Day. We made it this time and in under the 2 hours that 'Gar' told us! Right on, he finally knows where he's going I thought.
We get there bright and early, or I guess, dark and early, and it was freezing out! I think it was only 32*F which is only 0*C and frost was on everything. I was so excited I was bursting at the seams! After a quick walk through, a quick little warm up, it was time to jump the gate and get started! the first obstacle was a couple of 4' walls and then rolling mud...and water...brrr...only waist deep so far. Then we ran a single trail around and sorta up the mountain and back down. Next we were back to the start for the vertical cargo climb and the uneven monkey bars, which by the time I reached them, they were broken. Some of the bars had come out of the bindings and the bars would spin uncontrollably which meant burpees for a lot of us....me included. Then it was a really nice run around the trails again. Another 4' wall and then the over, under and through, (one of my favorites), and a very scenic climb up the mountain to the Hercules hoist. This year, they made the women's bags 100lbs and the men's 150lbs!! I got mine up easily but the burpee section was jammed packed with those that couldn't. Then there was a 6' wall to get over and off on a good stretch of trail running before hitting the inverted wall followed by the log carry. I didn't realize the women's logs had the weight written on them and it turns out that I grabbed a 41lb log...wahoo!! I only had to put it down once, thanks to training with my 6 foot long, 50lb log at home.
Then we ventured onto the longest up hill climb ever!! I think it was about 5km straight up to the top of the mountain. It was so steep at times, you had to put your hands on your thighs and push....whew, it felt good to reach the top. Just look at the view!!!! A sandbag carry at the peak of the mountain, I'm very thankful that the women only had to carry 20lbs up, by then my lungs were feeling the altitude! A few hurdles and then we were off for the swim. Mandatory life jackets for all...thank goodness! The water was around 43*F when I approached it, and in my head, that meant 10*C.....so wrong...more like 4*C! I knew the second my head hit the water, yes, I dove in! There was a camera man there and I wanted a good picture, which never got posted, go figure lol....anyway. When I came up, everything in my body seized and I thought for sure I wasn't going to make it. So I played it off, screaming and yelling about how warm the water was, within 30-60 seconds, my body went completely numb letting me swim it as fast as I could without cramping up. Awesome, I swam it so fast I think I passed everyone in the water. I got out, got dressed and started running up the hill to the next obstacle, and that's where it all went down hill. My legs completely seized up and I could no longer walk let alone run. My teeth started chattering and my entire body was shaking uncontrollably. Oh my Goodness...I don't like the cold!!! We then had a series of obstacles starting with a sled pull and farmers log carry, then to the barbed wire crawl 1, a 5' wall, barbed wire crawl 2, a 6' wall, barbed wire crawl 3, a dunk wall with more freezing water, a slip wall and then 1 more barbed wire crawl and 6' wall.
Now here's where I thought, there's no way I am going to survive another dunk in cold water, I still couldn't stand straight or talk without my teeth clanging together, so in my mind, doing burpees would save me by warming me up. So off I went for the burpees. In hindsight, 3 minutes of burpees in the gusty cold wind as opposed to 30 sec in cold water, I would choose the water if I had the chance again.
Then right after that was the rope climb. much shorter than we have in Canada but no matter, if you can't open your hands, you can't climb a rope. So more burpees for me. Then off to another cargo climb and then the atlas stone carry. here's where Megan found me shivering and trying to eat my frozen bar. I remembered learning that if you are freezing, eat something,. The thermal effect of metabolising your food will warm your core and keep you from turning hypothermic. I'm sure I was already close but I was willing to try anything at that point. There were a lot of vehicles taking people down the mountain in blankets and I refused to be one of them.
After completing the atlas carry it was my first chance to try the Tyrolean traverse! I thought I was going to fall. There were some AMAZING volunteers there and one of them got right in my face and motivated me all the way to the bell! I know I would have fallen without him! A huge hug and a Thank you didn't even come close to the gratitude I as feeling at that point!
Then the dreaded spear throw...I have been practicing...practicing a lot, but still to no avail, burpees. Here is where I got saved...lol. The burpees section had a lot of dry grass there that had been soaking up the sun all morning. It was like laying in a warm blanket of heaven. So I stayed there for a few minutes until my body warmed up and then I was ready to kick it again! Wahoo!
Onto the stairway to Sparta and the bucket brigade. This being my first bucket brigade, I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, expect the worst, that's all I can say. It was a VERY steep, long hill to climb with my bucket of dirt and rocks, but I broke it down by counting 20 steps on the way up and 50 on the way down. Finally made it with no light showing through the holes!! Then a few more walls, hurdles, another barbed wire crawl and 1 more wall, we are almost to the finish!!
Then there they were, the last 2 obstacles standing between me and the finish line. The traverse wall...made it to the last 2 pegs and just couldn't hold on...burpees. But then the platinum rig.... wait, what!! This was torture! I had no grip left and to even attempt this I must be crazy. Yep, just as I thought, only made it to the second ring and fell off....more burpees, but then a sprint to the finish and it's over!
I made it! Not even close to the time I was hoping for but 5:59:15 for my first beast is alright I guess. Now I have met my goal this year of my first Trifecta!!Thank you to my great friend Megan for enduring all the incredible adventures with me, To Spartan and all the amazing volunteers for a race I will NEVER forget and the mountains of Squaw Valley for taking my breath away literally and figuratively and giving me a lifetime of memories!!