4-0-300 Blog 094
Coming right back with part 2 after taking way to long getting part 1 written.
After hitting a mental wall hard midway through lap 2, I went into my tent to rest quickly, change shirts and eat something which I was planning on taking me about 45 minutes. However, after curling up in my sleeping bag to rest I kept resetting my alarm every 15 minutes, I could tell that it just wasn’t enough so after the third time I just gave myself permission to sleep a little longer. After what turned into an hour and half nap I finally felt rested enough to eat something (that’s how tired I had been). I wolfed down a pack of ichiban, a whole lot of M&M peanuts, a chicken breast and a whole lot of water. I waited 15 minutes to digest a little bit and then finally went back out on to course for lap 3, my 45-minute break turned out to be about 2 hours when all was said and done. This lap I came out far more prepared I brought my race vest out with water, Biosteel packs and some Endurance Tap gels.
I felt really good on this lap I was holding a pace I was comfortable with running the for the whole loop. I still failed the same 4 obstacles as the lap before but it was the closest I came to finishing each of those during the race. It was different running by headlamp as I really didn’t do any during training and for lap 2 I felt like I only needed it for the last half, when the storm hit. Finding your footing through the bog was tricky with minimal light and in a spot or two I had to slow down to look for trail markings as I just couldn’t quite make out some turns and hadn’t memorized the course by this point. All the obstacles where vision would be important like the rigs, rings and cargo net were fairly well lit so it wasn’t an issue there, whereas the obstacles you just needed grunt work like the log carry and some walls you were only going by your headlamp but that didn’t affect your success on those obstacles. Also, luckily for me on this lap as I was coming into the time sucking obstacle that is the X Funnel I saw a few other racers just going by. Now I couldn’t tell from the angle I was on if they were just finishing it really fast, if racers were teaming up to help get through or if everyone was just taking the penalty instead. As I finally got close enough I saw that it was actually closed, this was the best feeling I had all race and gave me a third or fourth wind, at that point I had lost track. I to this day still don’t know why it was close and to be honest I really don’t care but that 2 seconds I looked at the caution tape in the light of my headlamp will stay with me for a long time. The hills on the other hand after the rain and sheer amount of humanity that gone over them became a little harder due to mud, not impossible or even overly difficult but just enough of a trial to slow you down.
During the whole lap I was really paying attention to my pace as I now had to do some mental math to make sure I was going to finish my final lap in the 1 hour “finishing window” racer had to complete their race. Part of the challenge of Black-Ops is that you are required to finish your final lap during the 11thhour of the race, meaning for this race that I had to cross the finish line sometime between 8:11 and 9:11 AM to actually be counted as a finisher. This lap was the fastest pace I felt I could maintain while doing the obstacles considering I wasn’t hungry and was hydrated but I also knew I would slow down during any subsequent laps. Now that was just down to the fact I knew I would fatigue because of how difficult the obstacles were and also due to nutritional needs. I also know that I’m not an endurance runner or even that fast of a runner so that would break down as time wore on. The other factor I had to consider was I still had the goal of completing a heavy lap carrying a 40-pound sandbag for one circuit. So, I had to decide on if I should hit all of goals or sacrifice a smaller goal with the sandbag in order to surpass my distance goal by a considerable margin.
Now I say all this as I was on pace to hit my distance goal of 30 kilometers as I only needed to finish this lap plus one more and I had about 4.5 hours to spare to the cutoff while at the midpoint of lap 3. What I came up with that worked in my mind was to set a deadline of 4:45 AM to finish the lap I was currently running. If I was done before that time I was going to forgo the heavy bag and run my hardest to get two more laps in, hopefully around the same pace but if I came in even one-minute past I would grab the heavy bag and just take my time towards the tail end of the course so as to not cross the finish line to early.
Well finished that lap at 4:57 AM (that’s burned into my memory) so I lived up to my mental pact. I grabbed a few more gels, refilled my water and then collected a heavy bag and headed back out for what would be my final lap. I knew I would be slower with the bag but I wasn’t sure how much so I speed shuffled like when I “run” wearing a weight vest for as long as I could to start the lap, mostly to give myself a little bit of a time cushion. As I said in part 1 the first third or so of the course was relatively obstacle free so I knew if I could get through that at decent pace I could even walk the last two thirds and I would still get to the finish line in time. As I was out for this lap the sun started to rise and that was another time where you got rejuvenated on this race, which fun enough led to another problem for me. With the burst of energy, I actually started to move a little too fast as I was ahead of the pace I need to be at in order to finish after 8:11. So when I got to Hang Time as it was one of the obstacles that was right next to the tent village I actually stalled for time. I went to throw out my empty gel packs, grabbed more of them, fill my water and even use the washroom. Going back out I failed the same 4 obstacles again this lap with the axe being the most frustrating as I took chunks out the target all three times as I was throwing with enough force to stick the throw but I was catching too much of the side.
The heavy lap was the most fun of the four laps because of the interaction with other racers. The only lap where I was around other racers most of the lap was the first one but everyone was so focused on getting a good head start that no one was talking other than the quick “on your left” or “good job” as you were being passed or passing other racers. For this lap it was cool as the racers who would go on to podium all pretty much passed me, but almost all said something more substantial on the way by. From the “wholly crap, good job with the sandbag” to “keep it up we’re almost done” the last lap felt much more social and like you weren’t all alone out there. Towards the end I was talking to another heavy bag racer for most of it as we were coming in and out of obstacles at a very similar time repeatedly. The two of us even talked to a couple other racers who like us were just trying to make sure they finished after 8:11 and were either moving at our pace or faster but then taking breaks off to the side.
After finishing my penalty loops for my final lap I came up around the final wall obstacle to see it wasn’t quite 8:11 yet, so quite a few racers had lined up just short of the finish line and I needed to do the same so as to considered a finisher. I dropped my heavy bag on the ground off to the side as far as I could and just used it as a cushion until it was time. Once it was time the mass of racers made their way across the line, which led to a different finish line experience than I’ve ever had as there were so many racers collecting medals at the same time.
That was it, the 12 hours actually flew by. The only things left was tear down my tent, make the 3 trips back and forth to my car with gear, watch the medal ceremony and collect my patch awards. It really was quite the experience one I do want to test myself on again, probably not next year but I’m thinking the year after as I do want to see what I could do if I stayed on course for the whole event. Thanks for taking the time to read both parts of the review and I’ll post a quick scorecard summary review of event in the next day or two.