Central Florida Spartan Beast 2017 - The First and Last

I'm fresh off my first Spartan Beast. I've wanted to do a Beast since the first year Spartan added the Beast. But responsibilities of life prevented me... the expense of the race, expense of travel, my family, my job, etc. The timing was never right. So, here I am, 6 and a half years since my first Spartan Race-- finally a Beast finisher.

And this latest Spartan Race was in many ways similar to my first. My friend, Tabitha, and I signed up to race together, but not as a team (mistake). When heat times came out about 10 days prior to the race, I discovered we had been placed in separate heats. We paid the fee to move to a later start time, emailed Spartan requesting to run together, and were placed in the 2:00 heat (or so the email stated). The 2:00 heat = the last heat of the day.

This was going to be a much different race than all but one of my previous Spartans.

My 1st Spartan
In my very first Spartan Race, I ran with my husband's Coast Guard team from Taclet South. He convinced me to race. I ran with no expectations. Each obstacle was new and different-- challenges I wasn't sure I could overcome. But somehow I did. The trails brought freedom and a thrill I hadn't known in road 5k's and a half marathon. I ran with a friend. It was 8ish miles of muddy fun. My only frustration was waiting in lines at obstacles because we were in one of the last heats of the day.

After that first race, I began running in the elite waves, not because I believe I'm elite, but because I always wanted to see how I could perform with nothing but my own limitations to slow me down. I'd start fast, at a heart-pounding, breathtaking pace. My concern for other runners being limited to Who's doing burpees? and How far ahead are the frontrunners? 

All these years later and I found myself in much the same place. As we checked in to registration, a mere 30 minutes before our start time (thank you, confused map app that led us way out of our way to the "fastest" route), we discovered that our start time was 12:45. Oops. We hurriedly checked our bag and found the start.

There the announcer informed us that we were the last Spartan Beast heat of the year. Then there was the "I am a Spartan" speech and off we went.

The difference between the elite or competitive waves and the last wave of the day? No pressure. I was truly there to run my own race. I chatted with my friend (imagine-- running a Spartan not being so out of breath that I couldn't speak!). I chatted with fellow racers, including 2 young men dressed in chicken onesies. I both received and gave help to fellow racers on obstacles. I completed obstacles more slowly and carefully. I did burpees. I stopped and used the porta-potty. And it was great fun.

Oh, the competitive heats are fun... in an exhilarating, breathless, slightly reckless, I cannot fail kind of way. Ok, maybe they're not fun. They're a thrilling sense of accomplishment.

But so was the last heat of the day. For the first time in a long time, I ran for joy of running. I noticed people (and cows-- there were cows on the course). I had a blast. And I still feel the thrill of the accomplishment.


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