Every so often it is important to sign up and commit to something that scares you a little. Or a lot! April 18th 2015, Pao Mai, Jen and I attacked what was advertised as the toughest Spartan Beast yet. (Turns out it wasn't. 2015's Beast at Killington,VT still holds that claim as testified by so many Spartans that did both. ) Regardless, Mountain Creek was a Beast to be reckoned with. The mountain itself was as much an obstacle as any of those listed. 6 miles in and it was tough but it was not "Norm" tough. Still too early to early in the event to say those words out loud though. It was only at the bucket carry that I had to dig deep and find the mental strength to just get through it, one step at a time. Surrounded by others in the same situation you are still very much alone for this obstacle. Like no other, this obstacle puts you in your place at a humbling rate. After finishing the climb, descending the steep uneven terrain was a completely different kind of Suck.
Without boring you too much , the day got steadily more difficult after this, including the worst leg cramps I have ever experienced even though I was sure I had hydrated and fueled well. I made the rookie mistake of doing my training for this running the steep but short trails at Pocono Environmental Education Center. It didn't occur to me that I would be power hiking most of this event and that's not the same thing at all. Breaking on the down hill bucket carry with feet wider than normal, followed by a sled pull and drag followed by the next ascent was the limit for my quads apparently. They started tightening up, and all around me people were trailing off and dropping down to massage their own legs in the same spots. It was surreal. I haven't had muscle cramps outside of a swimming pool in decades and now it seemed we had all ran into an invisible cloud of lactic acid gas ( not a real thing!) at the same time. So severe were the cramps that even my reliable dynamics seemed to fail me. It took way longer for them to have an effect. Realising it was just over halfway through the course was concerning. At no point were there thoughts of not finishing, but I was glad my friend Jen was running at a similar pace. The mental game would have been a lot tougher on my own. 30 minutes later we are running through rocky wooded terrain and passing a crew supporting a Spartan in a wheelchair. I wouldn't take a bike through there and just when I think my quads are going to split open, I witness these guys... A couple in front pulling on ropes attached to the chair, a couple behind helping to lift and balance the chair over the rocks as the guy in it powered those wheels forward and over the terrain. It was an unbelievable humbling moment. It realigned my perception of struggle in a heartbeat. It wasn't that my legs hurt any less after seeing this act of real warriors in action. It's was just that the pain wasn't as significant anymore. 'Yeah, they hurt, but so what?!'
With the exception of my legs failing, the day was a complete success. So many victories. Only 60 burpees for failing two obstacles, the Spear Throw of course and a new bar to ropes to bar fun that was just too challenging on the day. The memory test, a word followed by 7 digits to be recalled 10 miles later, was one of my proudest achievements of the day. the ten foot wall, in the last 2 miles, unassisted, beats out the bucket carry as my number one proudest moments though. Before we climbed into out starting pen, we met Amelia Boone and chatted with her. She described the course as 'A fun one!' before she went to collect her award for 1st place. Whatever happened after that, the day was already a win.