a.k.a: My battle with monkey bars and hypothermia
My birthday weekend finally arrived. My celebration wouldn't be complete if i didn't run a race. So I hit the road and drove to Portland for the weekend. I somehow managed to convince my incredible aunt who lives in Portland to enter this race with me. With this race having two options; the 5k or the 10k, I knew she was fully committed when she eagerly jumped at the chance to sign up for the 10k.
This was a really cool experience to have her with me from the beginning of the race day, because all of my other races I complete by myself. It was really awesome having breakfast made when I woke up that day at 5:00 AM, as well as having someone to dance to gangster wrap to get pumped up before our start time. We registered and got our brown bands to wear, meaning we were in the "elite" heat. This meant that if we could not complete and obstacle our bands would be taken and could not qualify to podium.
After stretching and watching the elite males take off on the course, the elite women were corralled into the start gate. It was nice to see a few familiar faces of woman that I have previously raced with. Racing in a different city is always nerve-wracking because you don't know who the "locals" are or if they have ran this terrain before. I gave my aunt the "We got this" look, and a miniature canon sent us through the start gate and my nerves went away. I knew I wanted to be slightly above my pace the first mile so I could establish a good position in the race and make sure I had no other runners next to me when completing the obstacles. This was well established and knew I was in second place without anyone next to me. Around mile two it began to rain. I first embraced this and enjoyed being slightly cooled off as I was running up these horse pastures. But after a few water obstacles, my attitude on the rain changed. My first lap felt really good, and I was ready for the second lap.
On my second lap, I was hoping over this 5" wall and I see my aunt about to submerge herself into another obstacle with water and mud. I try to yell her name but all that came out was this awkward, out of breath scream. To my surprise she turns around and yells across the field "SPARKLE BABY!" I gave her the thumbs up and the thought of me "sparkling" pushed me over the next two walls I needed to tackle. I approach the dreaded monkey balls. (see picture below). This contraption required you to use every ounce of grip strength you had, and if you failed you would plunge into cold water. I spent about 10 minutes on this obstacle and then my hands started to bleed while my arms cramped up. But there was no way I was going to give up my brown band. At this point the race director comes up to me to suggest I go into the medic tent due to the possibility of hypothermia. I told him there was no way I was giving up. I tried several more times but my bloody hands had enough. He told me that if I completed 20 burpees I was able to continue because I was able to complete it the first lap.
I might mention this obstacle brings quite a crowd to watch people try to tackle this. So as I am trying to block out all these people starting at me wondering why I don't give up, I see the girl that was in third and fourth place overtake me. After my burpees were complete I was in 5th place and determined to get back to my second place spot.
To be honest, I should have stopped and went into the medic tent. I started getting slightly delirious on the next obstacle and I really don't remember a good part of the race. I don't really remember passing the girl that was in 4th place either. Somehow I got through the rest of this course finishing in 3rd place. I do remember striping off my clothes in the changing tent as if there were no other women in the tent. There was no concern for privacy at that point, only warmth.
I remember watching my aunt cross the finish line and I thought this is what a proud parent feels like. For her to battle though two laps of those not-so-easy obstacles and not let the cold get to her really inspired me. I'm so happy she went though the whole experience to see what I love and to get an understanding for why I do it. I may have created the next Journeywomen's world champion of 2017 (stay tuned).
As for my podium photo, all the mens photos were taken first. They all took their photos without their sweatshirts on, so I assumed that is what us women were going to do. Apparently I was the only one with that crazy idea.