Temecula, CA at Vail Lake. This was my second Spartan Beast race and much like the first beast, the views were amazing. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This Spartan Beast was a make up for the Beast at the same location last September, when the shade was 117 degrees. Thankfully I was not there for that hell beast, but I was glad there was a beast at this time. I had already planned to be in the area for the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland, so it was good to also get part of my Spartan Trifecta taken care of earlier in the year as well. Training for my “Marathon Weekend” was going very well, until I tweaked my left calf a week before the Beast. I wasn’t too happy, but what is life without a few roadblocks, right? (At the time I was not this chipper about it.)
I got to Vail Lake a half hour before my heat, went to bag check and got ready to rock! I knew that I would be a burpee factory, thanks to my calf, so I told myself to enjoy the moment on the course and do what I can. Jumping over the 4 foot wall to enter the starting corral, my calf gave me a sharpish zap of pain and I knew that anything that involved jumping I would be in trouble for. The first mile of the race was learning to adapt. Going uphill I learned quickly to not lead with my left and dominate leg as I would get a nice zap from my calf. Going downhill was modified as well by performing a trot keeping my left leg forward. Even ground I was good and could jog as I normally would.
My nemesis obstacles are still double for me, the rope climb, the traverse wall (did they really have to zigzag it too?!), monkey bars and anything where I have to hold my body weight with just my arms or hands. I know where I need to improve, so knowledge is power. Somehow I managed the Hercules Hoist and the weight there was close to 200lbs as it almost picked me up off the ground. The hoist was a challenge for sure, but I was able to complete it.
The bucket full of rocks and the sandbag carry I didn’t have an issue with, which surprised me with my tweaked calf. Not only did I not have a hard time with the sandbag carry, but I got the best race photo ever! I didn’t even see the photographer until I was up on him and I already had my trifecta tattoo showing. Nice!
A few obstacles that were not issues previously got me because I was over thinking them because of my calf. The log crossing I lost my balance because I was going to slow, I didn’t throw the spear straight so now I’m 1 for 6 at the spear toss. The new obstacles were nice to see and make the Spartan Race that much harder. The Spartan Sled was rough, a weighted sled that had to be pulled along an uneven path that if the sled starts to go sideways, it gets stuck. That obstacle gave me bruises. Swinging over a moat was really fun and no burpees if you hit water. There was also a new obstacle where you had to crawl across a single rope 20-30 yards and ring a bell. I was optimistic that I would complete this obstacle as I didn’t have to rely on my arms to support me as my legs would be helping. My feet wanted to slip off the rope and my calf did give me issues, but I was able to power through it and ring a bell. Finally! This was the first bell I’ve ever rung at a spartan race!
New to me was the memory challenge. Based on the last two numbers of your bib number, you had to memorize a word and telephone number. I saw a lot of people writing the information down on their arms, but since memory is not a strong suit for me, I went for the challenge. I didn’t look at my bib number remembering that I had 4501. The code for me and the rest of the 01’s was BRAVO-386-1557. B for Brian, 386 for computer and 1557. I repeated the code to myself many times and almost a month later, I still remember it.
I was doing good on my calf until mile 9. I looked a head to see what was coming and tripped on a root and caught myself with my left leg and tweaked my calf even further. It hurt, a lot, but I never once thought about stopping. A few of the volunteers and medics asked me if I was ok when they drove by and I always said ‘yes’. I was determined to finish and finish I did. I may have beaten my Monterey time by a minute, but the terrain of this course was not as difficult as Monterey and I’m sure if I was 100% I would have done 30-60 minutes better.
A side note, two days before the race, I tweaked my calf even further. At the time I felt I was at 95% and in a way, I’m glad I tweaked my calf at that time. I would have gone all out at the Beast and I’m certain if I tweaked my calf on the course when I thought I was near tip top shape, it would have hurt me more mentally at that point, so going into the race with the mindset I had really helped me finish.
Side note number two, the people that I met from the Weeple Army are some of the nicest racers ever.
Many thanks to my sister who worked on my calf the night before and after the race. She is the reason why I was able to complete my marathon weekend.