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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Nanila The Spartan: A Race Report [20100919|16:38]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |exhausted]

The bloke & I had to drive to Royston from deepest darkest Norfolk this morning in order to participate in The Spartan Race, which was my very first competitive race. As we headed down the A603, we noted what wonderful weather we had for our race. It was pissing rain, about 13 Celsius/55 Fahrenheit and very windy. I immediately began regretting the very skimpy costume I had on underneath my zipped hoodie.

We drove up to find that although none of our friends had been able to make it to cheer us on, several hundred other people were there to run it. And they all seemed to be about 21 and extremely fit, whereas our last two weeks of training had mostly consisted of sitting around with my visiting relatives, drinking wine and eating chocolate. I started to regret the costume even more.

There was nothing for it, however. We handed in our waivers and picked up our race shirts and numbers. We jogged to the car to shed our outer layers and returned to the lineup for the 11:30 AM heat. A man came through, handing out Red Bulls. The bloke took one, but I didn't since I already needed to pee, probably because I was nervous. Other people in silly outfits materialized. None of them were women. I jogged up and down and hugged the bloke a lot, trying to ignore everyone else, mostly unsuccessfully.

On orders from the marshal, we let out a huge whoop and started. I tried to rein myself in so I didn't get too exhausted. The first 500 metres were largely obstacle-free. And then we hit the creek. "Get in there!" shouted a giant. We slid down the bank into thigh-deep water and sloshed along the muddy onrushing current for a hundred metres or so. Once we climbed out, we immediately entered the tunnel. This should have been the scariest part of the race for me. It was absolutely pitch-black, you had to crawl, and it was at least a hundred metres long. However, everyone was being extremely nice, calling back and forth to one another, keeping up the spirits of the people who were getting scared and letting everyone know when to stop if someone up ahead had slipped.

We unscrunched ourselves into the daylight and shook ourselves out as we ran toward the next obstacle, a hill of slippery gravel. It had to be surmounted with a running start. I slipped, but made it over with a skinned knee. Another stretch of running warmed us up again, just in time to reach the lake. And this, to my surprise, was where I balked.

I'm not afraid of swimming. I am, however, afraid of leaping feet-first into freezing murky water. The bloke coaxed me into a flying jump, and then I began to pull myself along the blessed guide rope they'd put in for people who are afraid of swimming. I started to hyperventilate. I couldn't get my legs to kick me along. With the bloke behind me and a chap in a canoe in front of me chivvying me along, I managed to drag myself the length of the swimming course, which fortunately was only about 50 metres long. The bloke pulled me onto the bank on the other side and I gasped and started to run again, cursing my soaking skirt.

The leap through fire seemed like a doddle after that horrific swim, as did the face-first crawl through the mud under canvas.

A short jog through the woods and we reached the next filthy crawl under barbed wire. I was grateful to be small at that point, as I had at least an inch of clearance from being snagged even when on my hands and knees. We had to climb over a net wall next. I nearly failed at this, but with a bit of a boost from one of the guys keeping pace with us, I managed to clear the top of the net, though I lost my paper number at that point.

A lady with a fire hose met us on the other side of the trees. Somehow she managed to soak me without making me any cleaner, or at least it seemed like that at the time. Two men passed us wielding sticks. One of them landed a good wallop on my backside. This was supposed to be encouraging. For some reason, it was. I noticed that some large, fit men were now passing us and realized that the 12:00 PM heat must have started a while ago. If the race had been a straight 5k, I would have been depressed, since I know I can run 5k in under half an hour. Clearly this was not a normal 5k, however.

The wind had picked up and was directly in our faces. The last kilometre and a half consisted mostly of hills and hurdles. If you couldn't surmount one of the pieces of army training equipment, you had to forfeit with pushups. I didn't know this in advance, but I have been doing the six-week 100 pushups course and it paid off, since I could only do about 75% of the challenges. Chinups: fail. Balance beam, hurdles and monkey bar crossings: win (yay for being an ex-gymnast).

Just before the finish line, two men wrapped in red tunics and wielding huge padded sticks awaited us. I charged at them, screeching with the last of my energy. They tripped me, but I didn't go down. I staggered toward the timekeepers, gasped out my number and turned around to see the bloke - who let me cross first, bless him - get thumped thoroughly by the padded sticks.

A Spartan lady handed us our medals and a bottle of water and we retreated, panting, to watch a few more people cross the line while we gradually became aware of the injuries sustained during the race: ripped hands, skinned knees, bruises. We patted each other the back and hobbled back to the car to take a few photos before peeling off our still-soaking clothes.

Pardon my skirt, it is falling off


The costume holding together...just


The bloke celebrates


Our medals


This race forced me to face most of my physical fears in quick succession. Like the outfit, the worst part wasn't the one I expected. (If I ever have to run a race in a skirt again, it's getting rolled up and pinned to the waistband before I start.) I didn't finish last in my heat, although I still don't know exactly what my time was. I'm proud that I did it, and that I managed to raise £245 for charity to boot by running it in a silly outfit.
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[User Picture]From: chickenfeet2003
2010-09-19 17:20 (UTC)
Congratulations! I am proud to have friends who do silly, physical things for good causes.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-19 19:51 (UTC)
Hurrah! Thank you very much. I enjoyed it. I am also very, very sore now.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-19 19:52 (UTC)
That's the face I made every time I came up to a new challenge during the race!
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[User Picture]From: moosedevil
2010-09-19 19:17 (UTC)
That race sounds brutal! Well done :)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-19 19:57 (UTC)
If you like adrenaline rushes, it's definitely one to consider! Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2010-09-19 19:22 (UTC)
You are always so brave to me with the things you do, the goals you set, and sometimes just sucking it up and doing something anyway, even though you are afraid or not thrilled to do it!

And dang you look good in that first photo, although not as muddy as I would have thought.

And how many pushups can you do now? I really suck at them, despite doing them at my bootcamp every week, and have wondered about the 100 pushups thing...
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-19 20:05 (UTC)
I got some of the mud washed off me by the lady with the fire hose - she clearly missed my legs, though.

I'm only on Week 3. Like you, I'm not very good at pushups, so it's actually taken me six weeks to get through to Week 3. I can do 25 pushups in a row now, but I have a feeling it's gonna take a loooong time for me to get to 100 in a row. I'm getting closer to the 200 situps*, though - I can do over 100 now!

*Whoops, just noticed I wrote pushups there originally!


Edited at 2010-09-20 10:15 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: inahandbasket
2010-09-19 20:46 (UTC)
Fantastic. ^_^
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-20 10:17 (UTC)
Thank you! I think I might be convinced that this competitive race business is actually fun. I like running outdoors for my own fitness. I never push myself as hard as I did at this race. I don't care much about trying to be good enough to win, but it is nice to know just how much my body can do!
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[User Picture]From: angelcityblues
2010-09-19 22:00 (UTC)
Most awesome.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-20 10:21 (UTC)
Thank you! I'm very sore today. But also happy.
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[User Picture]From: melissa_maples
2010-09-19 22:55 (UTC)
That is so, so awesome. And I'm glad you didn't end up naked!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-20 10:21 (UTC)
Thank you. Me too. I have to recommend, however, that if you ever decide to run a race in a costume, don't do it in an underwire bra. The most painful part of me today is my ribcage just under my boobs. OW.
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[User Picture]From: sanat
2010-09-20 03:26 (UTC)
That is just harrowing to read, but exciting!

And that's funny, Aaron has been doing the hundred pushups regime too. I think he's on week 5 now.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-20 10:23 (UTC)
Yes, it was definitely one for the adrenaline junkies - which I'm typically not, although I enjoyed it.

The hundred pushups regime is hard. I have had to repeat Week 3 twice now. I'm just not very good at them.
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[User Picture]From: painted_dreams
2010-09-20 06:02 (UTC)
I am extremely impressed and proud that you made it through. From the sound of it that is definitely and interesting course. It sort of reminds me of the military training courses only without the being gassed in the face part.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-20 10:24 (UTC)
It was a military assault course, essentially, which is why the race was held at a barracks. I see I failed to mention that in the post - I'll add it in.

And thank you!
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From: pbristow
2010-09-20 06:27 (UTC)
[STARTS READING]

[JAW-DROP]

[GIBBER]

I thought it was just going to be *running*! =:oO

[GETS TO THE BIT ABOUT THE RIVER]

[GOES TO HIDE UNDER A NICE, WARM, *CLEAN*(-ISH) DUVET AND NEVER COME OUT AGAIN]
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-20 10:25 (UTC)
I don't blame you! I'm not an adrenaline junkie by nature so this was, um, excessively thrilling, shall we say.
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[User Picture]From: victorine
2010-09-20 09:02 (UTC)
I always hated swimming in ponds; the mucky mud, the weird plants and random twigs on the bottom, the occasional film of algae on top. Cheers for jumping into it!
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[User Picture]From: victorine
2010-09-20 09:03 (UTC)
And congrats on finishing the race with modesty intact!
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[User Picture]From: bryangb
2010-09-20 16:16 (UTC)
Brilliant!! And well done - I feel exhausted just reading that... LOL!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-24 15:14 (UTC)
Thanks very much! The bruises still haven't faded.
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[User Picture]From: seismic
2010-09-21 03:31 (UTC)
Awesome. That sounds wonderful and terrible and fun!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-24 15:14 (UTC)
I was pretty drained by end of the emotional rollercoaster, yep.
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[User Picture]From: danaid_luv
2010-09-22 01:17 (UTC)
Gooood grief! *eyes wide* That's...wild. And I'm glad you made it through. Golly.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-24 15:15 (UTC)
You know, I saw some reviews of the race on the forum that said "the obstacles weren't challenging enough". Whaaaaat!
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[User Picture]From: swerve
2010-09-23 02:31 (UTC)
What a course! You rock.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2010-09-24 15:16 (UTC)
Thank you! I did my best. The aim for next year is to be more fit. Not spending the preceding two weeks chowing down and drinking too much wine with my family should help. :P
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