Post team awards, Caroline suggested I ask the race director if I could get a free entry into the sprint (8k) the next morning. If there is one thing that I hate more than asking for help, it’s asking for favors. Reluctantly, I put on my best Canadian charm and asked the RD for the compped entry and much to my surprise he actually said yes. Which was fantastic because race day entries are a pricey $180 for elites. Yikes! Right?!
I woke up Sunday morning to yet another very very cold day and a pair matching large bruises on my legs from falling off the rope climb, so I opted for pants rather than shorts. I didn’t have any expectations for the day, I just wanted to go and race hard and gain more experience. Most of the elite females race 2-3x a month and know the obstacles like the back of their hand. I, on the other hand, only raced 3x the whole season until that weekend, so needless to say, I’ll take all the practice I can get it, even it means running on sore and tired legs in negative degree weather.
Since I raced the course the previous day I was pretty familiar with what was ahead of me. I knew that most of the obstacles would be the same for the first 3k (which included the infamous 100m long swampy creek bed) as it was for the team event. Mentally, this made me quite calm at the start line. My only goal for the day was to not bonk on the rope climb like I had during the Team event. (Back in August, I had joined Crossfit just so I can practice my rope climb: there should be no excuses for failing this obstacle.) Also, being a relatively fast and short course I would try my hardest to stick with the front of the pack from the get go.
As soon as the gun blasted I took off with the lead ladies. We headed straight for the swamp to find ourselves now chest deep, rather than thigh deep like the previous the day, in warm muddy water. Having had 6000+ racers romping through the warm waters the day before it had kicked up the muddy bottom making it much more difficult to trek through. Also unlike the day before, I was not able to get the same head start through the water, however I was right close tucked in behind the top 4 or 5 women.
Around 2k I was sitting in 6th place with no one insight behind me. Coming through the 2nd section of swamp my shoe became untied. Uh Oh! I clenched onto my shoe with my toes hoping that it would get stuck in the mud and raced to the next clearing to tie it up quickly, only to have it become untied again a few minutes later. In a race where 30 seconds separates 6th place to podium, every second counts.
The 3rd obstacle was a log flip. There were no volunteers at the entry of the obstacle to tell me that I was actually flipping the men’s log and not the women’s log. Only after the fact of completing all 6 flips did it come to my attention. It may have slowed me slightly, but I was still held on to 6th place.
At the traverse wall I was able to take over and move myself to 5th place. Since I don’t actually get to practice the obstacles, I spend a lot of time watching ‘How-To” YouTube videos and visualizing them in my brain, so that when it comes to the traverse wall, or vertical log hops I can be a bit more mentally prepared and scoot through them relatively quickly.
Now on the topic of mental preparation; next up the rope climb. I took a few deep breaths as I jumped into the water, looked for the driest rope, and started my way up. I opted for the “s’ hook this time around and was able to get up to bell with relative ease in comparison to the day before. Goal accomplished! Anything at this point would just be the cherry on top.
I raced the final 2k through the cactus patch, down the grassy hill to the spear toss. (Another obstacle I spend a lot time visualizing) I noticed that 4th place runner was doing penalty burpees, I just assumed I’d be joining her real-quick as I have yet to even come close to hitting the target. I grabbed the spear, ran through technique in my brain tossed a perfect throw straight into the target. I scream in victory! I couldn’t believe. I didn’t waste any time and booked it to the finish line. Although 3rd place was still 90 seconds ahead of me, I could feel 5th place right behind me. I don’t think that smile left my face until…well.. until a week later I’m sure!
I finished the race with a nearly perfect performance, with the exception of the 2x shoe-tying and the flipping the men’s log, and I was just the happiest person to ever come 4th place. The Texas race was the last of the season, and after a disappoint trip to Vermont, I couldn’t have had more confidence boosting, fun, and positive race to end the season.