The Chris Davis Project: Week 14 – Race Day
by Chris Davis
I woke up and the fear started to settle in. I got another text message from Margaret (from Dirt in Your Skirt), “Ready to go today?”.
Trying to hide the fear I am feeling inside I reply with “Yeah, this is going to be great”! While inside, all I can think is, ‘my God, what am I doing?’
All of the feelings I had from my first Spartan Sprint in Atlanta started to race through my head. I remembered how hard that race was, and it was only 4 miles on relatively level ground, compared to this 5 mile, ski resort course I had ahead of me. I decided that it was time for me to test and see where I was and what I needed to work on for the Ultra Beast. Besides, I was going to be accompanied by one of Spartan Race’s best female racers, so I knew that I was going to be in good hands. That helped to calm my nerves and helped me to focus on the task ahead.
Once we got to the race site I picked up my timing chip. There was no turning back now. I was in the race, but not only was I in the race, I was in the competitive heat. As the 9am heat got closer I met up with Margaret and we headed up to the stage to fill the rest of the runners in on what were we doing. It was incredible, the amount of support I got from the racers, which was just what I needed before the start. After talking to everyone we got off the stage and headed down to the end of the coral getting ready for the race to start.
When the race started we were accompanied by Tom McCormick (the leader of the Spartan Hurricane Heats). We started out kinda slow because we knew what was ahead of us. When we got to the first set of walls I knew this was going to set the pace for the day, so I tried to stay positive as I approached the walls. But it was what I had feared, I did not have the upper body strength or the coordination to get myself up the simple 4 foot walls without multiple attempts. With some coaching and encouragement from Margaret and Tom, I made it over them. I had the grace of a brick falling off a building, but I made it over. I think this is when Tom and Margaret both realized what was in store for the rest of the day.
When I finished the first obstacle I was totally exhausted. I had worked 12+ hours on the course the day before, and I had only eaten a couple of apples, bananas, and a salad the day before, and a couple of apples earlier that morning. But I knew that if I just slowed down for a bit my body would start to recover and I would be ok. And that is exactly what happened. So we kept going up the mountain. It was slow going, but Margaret kept having me set small goals. When we hit an obstacle I could not do or failed, Margaret split the burpees with me. This helped me so much, not just physically but mentally as well.
Throughout the race there were a few other obstacles that really stick out in my memory. The next one being the vertical cargo net. This one killed me for a couple of reasons. First being that since coming to Spartan Camp, we have really focused on only lower body workouts. The vertical cargo net requires both lower body and upper body strength to complete. I was able move up the net, but I could not keep my body close to the net, so I was in a constant fear of falling backwards due to my hands failing. I made it to the top but I could not climb over it.
When we made it to the pancake challenge, I was surprised to see Hobbie Call from Conquer Any Course, and Chris Irving (Hurricane heat racer). Norm Koch stopped by to help keep me motivated though the challenge. Even though I knew what I was in for, I was still shocked at how badly my body started to fail me at this point. It took everything I had to make it up the hill, and along the way, I started to get sick.
Looking back on it, it was funny. You could almost see the joy on Margaret’s face when I started to loose the water I had in my stomach. Especially when I told her that this was the first time I had pushed so hard since getting to Spartan Camp that I lost it. The next thing I know Norm is it calling out over the radios that I was puking, and you could hear everyone celebrating on the radios, especially when they found out that this was the first time I had puked in a race/workout. It was a surreal experience.
The Huckly pull completely caught me off guard. This was one of the obstacles that I did with little problems in Atlanta, but when I got to it here, I had a lot of problems.
The rope climb was another one that sticks out in my memory because I wanted to at least make it high enough up the rope to completely get out of the water, but no matter how hard I tried I just could not get my feet onto the first knot. I kept trying until my arms just gave out and I fell back into the water. But the important thing is I tried my best, and that is what matters.
The obstacle that I feared the most was the log hop. Out of all the obstacles you may be asking yourself why would this one scare me the most? It comes from being so overweight for so long. For several years, I had a hard time clearing any obstacle over about 6 inches. Anything more than that meant I had a good chance of spraining an ankle or knee or something worse. This is an obstacle where you have no choice but to jump at least 2 or 3 feet in the air, and you have no control of how you land at all. I was so happy when Andi Jory and Chris offered to help me to get up and keep an eye on me as I went across.
There is no way I would have made this obstacle if I had not spend some time over at Dirt in Your Skirt HQ practicing on Margaret’s balance blocks. But since I had, I knew once I got up I could make it across. What scared me was getting off of them. The first time I attempted to get up I fell back down scraping my leg, but since I did not touch the second peg, I was allowed to try again. On the second attempt I was able to get up, and that was huge for me. I took a deep breath and started across. I about half way thought I started to lose it but I was able to re-center myself and before I knew it I was on the last log. Now the scary part, trying to get down. I took a deep breath and tried as low as I could and just jumped. When I hit the ground my knees just bucked, and on to the ground I went. Andi and Chris helped to make sure that I didn’t hit too hard but it still did shake me up a little. I can not tell you how important it was to me to complete this obstacle. I still have a long way to go before I am comfortable jumping, but I am sure it will come with practice and experience.
The barbed wire crawl is always one that sticks in your mind, but the once at this race was incredibly painful by the time we got to it because it was late in the afternoon, and they had been washing it down for 2 days, so all the dirt had washed away, and all that was left were rocks. It is funny, when I was heavier the rocks did not hurt nearly as much as they do now, because the fat acted as a pad between my skin and muscle. But this time it felt like every rock was splitting the muscle in half or were hitting bones. It is so funny how you start to notice these things as you lose weight.
The best was as we neared the finish line you could hear the thunder in the background. I was so happy that we made it across the finish line. It was great because it was like the skies were just waiting for me to finish before they ripped open and let the rain started to fall. This race was so much harder that the Atlanta Sprint Race in my opinion. I know that even with all the training I have been doing, I would not have made it across without the support of Margaret, Hobbie, Chris, Tom and Andi. I will always be grateful for their help in completing my second Spartan Race.
Tags: Chris Davis Project