RACE REVIEW: SAVAGE RACE GEORGIA (spring)

Race Summary: The Mud. (photo credit: Lloyd Parker)

I personally had a ton of energy coming into this Obstacle Race, and not all of it was necessarily positive energy.  I was very anxious and nervous… both were new feelings about an OCR.  I usually set out to just do my best, not get injured, and have a good time.  But this time, I had set some performance goals that I really REALLY wanted to meet at this race- just for me… because I wanted it.  I wanted a finish in the single digits for my gender/age, and I wanted to finish well under 2 hours.  Hitting both of those goals at a Savage Race would definitely feel like an accomplishment.

Last year I ran the Georgia Fall Savage, and I managed an injury that required four sutures, and a finish time/place that I was honestly surprised by- since I got pulled off course by medical.  Savage definitely brought a race “built to kick ass”… the obstacles were physically and mentally demanding (seriously, you have to get over your issues and force up some courage)… the running portions were moderate in difficulty- all trail, and BEAUTIFUL… and not too bad on the hills at all.

The 2015 Spring Georgia Savage Race will forever be remembered in one word- MUD.  Most Obstacle Course Races do require some mud bathing along the way to the finish line.  However, the Southeast received about a weeks worth of rain leading up to the day of the race (the build had to have been miserable). The grounds were not muddy… no, my brothers and sisters… they were entirely over-saturated.  Thin mud floating over top thicker mud, layered on top of some good, wet, sticky Georgia red clay.  It was a glorious fabulous nasty MESS… and I loved it. So before I get into the rest of my race review- take a good look at the anchor picture up there^^^– that is not the trail… that is on the way from the parking lot to the festival area… yeah.  lol

THE TERRAIN:
Moonlight Stables in Dallas, Georgia has some of the most beautiful pasture and wooded acreage that you could ask to run through.  Grassy, rolling hills… twisty, little creekbeds… and winding wooded paths make up much of the landscape… even mud covered- it is simply stunning. The layout and use of natural resources (creeks and hills namely) were more proliferate this year.  During the fall race I remember the terrain being more visually stunning than technically difficult… the course would have still required more technical running this year even without the mud.  The over-saturation only stood to increase the intensity.

Traverse Wall... with grips that make sense!

Traverse Wall… with grips that make sense!

THE OBSTACLES:
Savage’s trademark obstacles (Shriveled Richard, Colossus, Davey Jones’ Locker and Sawtooth) all returned to the race this year… but a few new ones were included as well. Colon Blow went up onto a teeter-totter (crawl from one end of a tube to another that was situated see-saw style over a pivot point), inverted walls, and a traverse wall with rock climbing grips (yes! thank you!!!!). More insidious than the individual obstacles was the placement- nut smasher was arranged directly after a nice hill sprint and well into the race… creating added rubbery leg difficulty.  Tackling Colossus after several inverted walls and a couple of heavy carries seemed just cruel… grip strength was toast, but you had to call it up from somewhere if you were going to make it up to the top.  In other words- the designer seemed very focused on just how exhausted he wanted you to be when you made it to each obstacle.

THE FESTIVAL:
The mud did put a bit of a damper on things for the spectators… it was an unholy, muddy mess EVERYWHERE.  And while Savage did their best to be hospitable (wood chips and gravel were spread about to calm it down a bit)… there was only so much that could be done with the amount of total rainfall last week.  The Junior Savage race was fantastic (2 of my sproglings ran it). The course was so much fun for both of them. They had to balance, crawl, climb, and push through to get to the finish line.  The organizers could not have been more encouraging and excited for the little savages as they passed out medals, shirts, and high fives.  If your children haven’t ran a Junior race- they MUST.  It is such a thrill and achievement for them to experience.

All of the necessities seemed to run without a hitch save one area- Gear Drop.  Gear Drop was very slow this time… I am not sure what really happened- as I do not remember that being an ordeal at all in the fall.  I waited nearly an hour in line to pick up my bag- and I had an early heat. I can’t imagine that it got much better for a while.  I do also wish that Savage Race would roll in with more “feminine cut” merch… I would love to sport less-boxy Savage Race Tee’s… However, that’s totally inconsequential compared to everything that went right:  Parking was easy and smooth (I got stuck and unstuck by the volunteers in less than 5 minutes, lol), check in and packet pick-up made sense and was not bottle necked, and there was plenty of spectator access to mill through to watch the racers.

kids

As for me personally- It was a banner day! I met both of my goals (3rd place for my age group, with a 1:51 finish time), watched the accomplished expressions on my kids faces, and saw so many friends out there this time!  Everyone went home exhausted and in one piece… woot! Early Bird Registration is going on now for the Fall Savage Race- I’ll be there and you should be too!

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RACE REVIEW: SAVAGE RACE GEORGIA

Remember that right arm... it'll be relevant later.

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:

Just go to your warm happy place.

Just go to your warm happy place.

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.

 

As close to terminal velocity as I ever want to be.

As close to terminal velocity as I ever want to be.

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.

 

Just a little up and over, and you are done! /sarcasm

Just a little up and over, and you are done! /sarcasm

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.

Tis a flesh wound.

‘Tis but a flesh wound.

Battlewounds...

Battlewounds…

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!

Girls gotta stick together ;)

Girls gotta stick together 😉

Giving a hand... see bandaged arm. lol

Giving a hand… with bandaged arm. lol

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!