After a bit of a break from the Reebok Spartan Race world I returned this past weekend to the Georgia Sprint. It was really a homecoming as sorts and the final leg of a month and a half long travel bout. I landed Thursday afternoon and headed over to Chris Davis’s house, as hosted me for the weekend. It was a reunion of sorts since we had not seen each other for a couple of months.
Thursday night we caught up and right away I told Chris we were going to get up early and head to the famed Stone Mountain in the morning for a little climb up the 800ft gain. Coming from the west and VT it’s hard to call it a mountain but it’s the best they have in the area. Friday morning the alarm sounded at 5:00am and we were up, coffee was made and in the car to head to Stone Mountain on a rainy damp morning. Quickly we fell back into our rhythm, you never really stop being someones coach. We pushed up to the top then came down the slippery granite. The rest of the day was spent with friends and relaxing.
Saturday morning was race day. The alarm once again sounded early and we were off to the races and the Georgia International Horse Park. Returning to Spartan is always a little like returning to home a flood of familiar faces, and hugs all around. The morning was chilly with temps in the low 40’s. A far cry from the recent weather I had been use to. As I warmed up I tried to get my brain ready for the mud and advertised cold water. We watched the men take off and in a last minute change before our race started Amie Meyer and I both darted down to the bag check to change into tall compression socks, a change I was thankful for later!
We lined up shared hugs and hellos then we were off. The majority of the course was flat or rolling hills and in the first two miles it felt more like a trail run than an obstacle course race with what felt like only 5-6 obstacles in the first part of the race.
The final 2.5 miles saw more obstacles. I was not sure my position in the race but I was running at my pace running my race. I approached the wild card in every race, the spear throw. Looking around I saw at least 7 women doing burpees. I knew this was my chance to make a big move in the race, I picked up my spear, calmed myself and nailed it right in the center. I even heard the volunteer say “wow” as I ran by. This started a string of obstacles including a hercules hoist, up and over cargo containers, traverse wall, and 7-foot walls. The hercules hoist was no problem and again I heard a volunteer say “wow”. Calm and focused I made my way across the traverse wall, passing a few more women. Again a volunteer commented on my skill, I mentioned back “I have had A LOT of practice”.
We went into another section of running where I could see the racer in front of me and one of the women was hot on my tail. I turned on the limited energy I had for the final 2.5 mile push of the race. Only one of the 10+ women I had passed would pass me before the finish line. I tiptoed over the balance logs past a competitor who said, “that’s not even far how fast you are going”. The comments throughout the day really made the whole event for me.
At the sandbag carry I caught up with fellow racer and friend Haidar Hachem aka Piggy (known for running in a speedo and piggy hat). I asked him how he was doing and passed him. He caught me at the rope climb right before the finish. Normally I have no problem climbing the rope but for some reason I struggled, whether it was cold or just mental weakness I thought I wasn’t going to make it. Then came a familiar voice, “you can do it Margaret. You are almost there!” It was Haidar, the perfect encouragement at the perfect time. I hit the bell, and dropped down, he offered a hand helping me out of the pit before he climbed the rope. His voice and that encouragement saved me 30 burpees. A reminder it doesn’t matter how long you are in this game a voice of encouragement is always a welcome sound!
I made my way up and over the slipperly wall and into the final barbed wire crawl. I saw another woman in front of me and tried to catch up to here. I was able to close the gap a bunch but not enough. She crossed the finish line seconds before me and I would cross finishing 10th for the day in a good field of women. A result I was happy with, and was able to help my team in the new “Wild Card” Team finish 3rd for the day. The rest of the day was spent with racers and showing people advance copies of Obstacle Race Training: How to Beat Any Course, Compete Like a Champion and Change Your Life. A great day overall.
I woke up the next morning with intentions to race once again. Upon waking up I felt finally the weight of 6 weeks of travel, 2 international trips, and multiple races come crashing down on my body. I was not sore but the thought of running wanted to make me cry. I had an ego vs. head & body battle in the morning. I knew there was a potential of a podium if I raced, and yet from experience the last time I raced feeling his fatigued I had a season ending injury. So I told my ego to take a hike and headed to the race to instead support this around me including Dirt in Your Skirt Ambassador Valerie Smith who would earn her first Spartan podium!
As I headed to the airport Saturday afternoon I had a singular goal, get home and take a break. The weekend was great but all I wanted to do was get home and be with my family. I love all the travel and adventure, but coming home is something worth more than any trip or adventure. Thanks to Gaspari Nutrition for making this weekend and race happen for me!