My final race for this season was the Fall Savage Race at Moonlight Stables in Dallas Georgia. This event was billed as “The Race Built to Kick Your Ass”, it promised 6 miles worth of gnarly trails and intense obstacles that have a reputation for getting in your head- with freezing ice baths and high jumps into watery graves. I was originally set to run this event with a team- but between spinal surgeries (my racing partner), and a general chickening out by hardened MMA fighters… I was running this bad boy solo.
THE OBSTACLES: As I was driving on to the property there were really only 3 things on my mind- Shriveled Richard, Davy Jones Locker, and Colossus. These are 3 are just a couple of Savage’s Signature Obstacles- a quick description of each:
Shriveled Richard: A storage container filled with ice and a bit of water… but mostly ice. To navigate- you jumped in at one end, completely immerse yourself under a submerged baffle, then swim to the end and hoist yourself out. I was in the second heat of the day, directly behind the elite heat (I always register early to avoid truly slopped up obstacles and trails) so the ice was really, uh, “fresh”. This obstacle was just horrid… and there was little relief once I got out. I really needed to run to get blood circulating and moving again- but this is where faith in muscle memory comes in… because you just can’t feel a damn thing below your belly button. I was shocked to shit to look down and see that my feet were trotting along down there.
Davy Jones Locker: It’s a high jump into water, simple and straight forward. I have never done a high jump at a race- and simply free falling into not-a-swimming-pool really worked on me. As I ran up to it- I felt pretty good- ballsy and ready to go. And I did jump with very little time spent thinking about it. But about .04 seconds after I jumped, I started questioning some of my capabilities as a responsible adult decision maker.
Colossus: Colossus is approximately a 20ft quarter pipe with a dangling rope. You run like hell, grab the rope, climb, and pray that someone will help you navigate the transition from the rope to plank. This is always the hard part for me. I have no problem getting to the top of any wall… but when a rope is involved, I totally don’t know what to do once I get there. I usually end up just flailing my legs over and free-styling it. However, on this behemoth- you are damn near vertical at the top of this wall- which would mean some type of muscle up to get on the plank… but with my injury (more on that later)… well nobody had time for that. Thankfully, a fellow racer grabbed my wrist and put it on the lip- because I just couldn’t trust I would catch it on my own. From there I got the rest of myself up, and then climbed up and over to the slip-n-slide.
I am thrilled that I conquered the 3 obstacles that were totally un-nerving me pre-race. The obstacles at Savage ran the gamut from pure fun, to miserable, to unique, to vomitous (colon-blow, anybody?). I was not disappointed in any way- they were all constructed solidly, and I felt the volunteers did a great job encouraging folks, but also avoiding bottlenecks.
THE TERRAIN: I feel that the terrain was average in difficulty… but STELLAR in beauty. The run, in and of itself, was such a gorgeous and beautiful run. The property at Moonlight Stables is just breathtaking- we ran through thick woods, winding trails, and open pasture. We had some fog, mist, and rain… and I managed to be out by myself for a large percentage of the running and it was just stunning.
THE FESTIVAL: This race was well-organized and the festival area ran like a well oiled machine. I was parked in less than 5 minutes from entering the property, and the walk from the car was not bad at all. Once inside the gates, there were tons of super knowledgeable and helpful volunteers…smooth check-in, plenty of porta-potties, a clean showering area, and ample room in the changing tents. I don’t normally complain about the standard $5 bag check that most races charge these days… I accept it. But all of the other major races are also giving race images for FREE these days,too. Not so at this race… this is a huge deal for a solo runner (I didn’t have any spectators to grab pictures for me)… and I am simply unwilling to pay the Marathon Photo fees. Savage needs to join the big boys and ditch the paid photos.
OVERALL: The only major issue I had on this course was totally self-inflicted! Gah! I managed a pretty long and deep laceration at the “Me So Thorny” obstacle (the 17 year old boy that lives in my brain loved all of obstacle names SO MUCH, lol)… which ultimately ended up requiring 4 stitches later that day. But again, the staff at Savage Race (in this case the EMT on the course, and the paramedics in the First Aid Tent) were thorough and diligent in not only quickly treating my wound- but also getting me back on the course- which I truly appreciate. I had a good streak- 16 races without a major incident. I am kinda okay with Savage taking that honor, and being the first race to leave permanent battle wounds. That said, I lost approximately 20-30 minutes being treated- and subsequently I didn’t run as hard or fast, and stopped several times to help others up obstacles. I was having a great run up till that point though… which I saw in my results that were published the next day. Had I kept the pace and not got injured- I would have likely been in the top 5 women for my age group (I love that Savage does age/gender awards)… With the setbacks I still finished 21st out of 150. I am pretty stoked about that… but that just means I am ready game for a re-match in Spring!
This racing season has been such an amazing season… I hate to see it end. From taking my buddy Stephen on his first Spartan Sprint, to running the inaugural BattleFrog, to my very first Savage Race… I simply couldn’t ask for any better. As I sit here typing I am so grateful for so many many things… To have a body that has not only survived years of neglect and shitty food- but that has grown and served me in endurance and strength… For my trainer, Beth Andrews RKC, that has worked with me, modified countless workouts, helped me train through injuries, and answered eleventy-seven times “Should I run?”. I am grateful for all of my running partners… namely Jennifer, David, Don and Stephen… for listening to me bitch about being hungry or needing to pee, being hot, hating elevation, or cursing speedwork… or just totally jumping into a race completely blind- just to do it. Finally- I am most grateful for my husband- Duane, and my 2 kids… for being so supportive of my hobby… They listen to me dawdle on about which races I want to do, what my goals are, watch you-tubes of races, and put on Academy Winning performances when I re-tell my own race stories. It has also meant ignoring me bumping around at 5am to beat the heat in Summer to get my miles in, or meeting me at the gym when the schedule called for a “two a day”. It meant metric tons of Epsom Salt, Arnica Gel, band-aids, and motrin. I am so so grateful… there is just no way to say thank you enough.
That brings me to 2015! (I know, I know!) Here is how my race schedule is shaping up so far. I will have a team at each race- please let me know if you would like to join our wolfpack! I would love to have anyone that would like to attend! If the group wants to- we can possibly even get together to train some before each race:
2015 OCR Schedule:
Feb. 28: BattleFrog Miami (15k)
March 7: Atlanta Spartan Sprint (5k)
April 18: Savage Race Georgia Spring (10k)
April 25: BattleFrog Carolinas (15k)
May 16: BattleFrog Atlanta (15k)
More to be announced as the dates become available! Additionally, I have a big HUGE announcement forthcoming about what I will be doing with all of my time between now and then!