A Racing Year in Review: The Tippity Top

So the world didn’t end today, though judging by the looks of the weather outside here in Chicago, it may still choose to do so. I guess that means that we’ll make it to 2013 and another year of racing will commence. The end of the year is always littered with the “best of”, “year in review” or the “top 10” lists from various outlets, my favorite being this one from The Onion. So if a lemur can have its place in a year in review list, I sure as hell can write my own about my racing year. Right? Right? Obviously, all of these highlights will involve yours truly, so call me self-important or egotistical, but I certainly can’t write about it if I wasn’t there, so deal with it. Without further ado, the inaugural 2012 “Amelia’s Top 16 Moments in Obstacle/Adventure Racing”* (and challenges, to encompass GoRuck and S.E.R.E.)

[*Because Top 10 lists are so cliche.]

(1) The Burpee Board at the Winter Death Race: It’s a thing of beauty right? And very precise and scientific. But after 3000 burpees, you’d lose count, too. Some of us lost count repeatedly, but that happens after 30+ hours awake. And some of us had WAAAAY too much fun doing burpees (I’m looking at you, Mark Webb burpee-sandwich).

(2) Acquiring Weapons as Prizes: Top Team at S.E.R.E Chicago received KA-bars, which I have now used for everything from opening cans to a using as a steak knife to cutting through wrapping paper. And first-place prize at the Super Spartan Midwest was a 2-ft sword, which I have used for…nothing. It’s still sitting on my living room floor until I figure out what to do with it. And a smattering of kettlebells could technically be considered weapons–have you ever dropped one of those suckers?

(3) Carrying the concrete bag at the Death Race. There were very few times this past year at races where I didn’t think I was going to make it. At 50+ hours into the Death Race, after being handed a 60lb bag of concrete to add to my 35+lbs of gear and being told to carry it to the top of Joe’s mountain (without breaking it, mind you), I was fairly certain I couldn’t make it. And was praying for them to call the race. I’d never carried close to 100lbs on my back, which is about 3/4 of my body weight. But slowly, surely, step by step, I made it up that mountain. 10 steps at a time, I told myself, as I fought being pulled backwards and falling over due to the enormous weight on my back. I hugged my bucket as a counterbalance, and leaned forward almost in a crawl position. I don’t know how long it took me to get up that mountain, but you best be believing I’d never been so happy in my life when that cabin at the top came into view. (and then I flipped out on Olof–sorry dude. You rock)

(4) Successfully making it across the rings and monkey bars multiple times at WTM. While this may not seem like a huge feat for a lot of you, I had struggled with these obstacles for the longest time. I’m going to go ahead and thank the cult of Crossfit for my success at this one (hello grip strength!). And I’m no longer frightened of these.

(5) Finishing GoRuck Class 129 on an 80 degree day St. Patty’s Day in Chicago. The picture says it all.

(6) Nearly dying from eating a Larabar at S.E.R.E. Beta. I am VERY allergic to certain trees nuts, particularly cashews. I am also apparently VERY bad at reading labels, as I found out when I stuffed a Larabar into my mouth at 3am at SERE Beta in D.C., and immediately went into allergic shock. Thanks to some speedy classmates (and an injured Joel Gat who managed to run like the wind), some liquid Benadryl saved me. And after some puking on the street in Georgetown with Petrizzo rubbing my back and then giving me a Honey Stinger waffle, I made it and completed the challenge. And now Deavilla will ALWAYS volunteer to give me CPR when there are cashews around. You guys were the best.

(7) Todd’s sled at the Winter Death Race. We all laughed with Sedlak rolled up with a plastic sled strapped to his pack at the WDR, particularly because the rules made clear that anything you brought with you had to be carried with you at all times. In typical Todd fashion, he made fantastic use of that sled, nearly killing himself sledding down the mountain several times. So think outside the box on your gear lists, Death Racers. (though his wheeled shopping cart at the Summer Death Race didn’t work so well)

(8) This picture at the Midwest Super Spartan:

I’d highly recommend volunteering, particularly to hand out medals, after you finish. Most fun you’ll have congratulating a bunch of muddy people.

(9) The hills at the Ultrabeast. You will never see me get more excited about something at a race than when there are massive hills/mountains involved. I could have run up and down (nb: I hate the down part, so really, just up) those things all day long. And I did. And I loved every second of it. To me, that course was perfection.

(10) Winning first overall (for men and women) at Civilian Military Combine. For all the talk of what happened at WTM and people finding it incredible that I could be that close to catching J.Pak, I had to remind myself that I already beat all the boys once this year. At CMC at Camelbak Mtn, PA, I took first place overall. And there I also met Alyssa and Carrie (in person) for the first time, and they are now two of my favorite people out there. So I’d call that a victory in itself.

(11) Having TSA open up my sandpills for inspection. Ha! Fooled you, suckers. #notcocaine

(12) Breakfast sandwiches at the Pittsfield General Store post-Winter Death Race. Or really, just the Pittsfield General Store in general. Because after finishing at 3am, sleeping on the floor of the barn for 3 hours, and then getting up and heading to the general store with fellow Death Racers, there is NOTHING better than the General Store. Really, just Death Racers in general deserve their own “moment.” Obstacle racers are cool and all, but there is something special about, and a strong camaraderie among, those that have finished a Death Race.

(13) A sub-8min Helen, a 4 and a half Fran, and a 3:45 Grace. Oh wait, that’s not obstacle racing. But I’d like to think that obstacle racing got me into Crossfit, so I’m going to call it tangentially related. I’m marginally passable at Crossfit–never going to compete with the big girls. But now I can be super cool and measure my self-worth in workouts named after girls and the number of times I rip my calluses, and then talk to everyone nonstop about it.

(14) Bikram Joe-ga at the Winter Death Race. Because nothing is more motivation than a second 90-minute session of bikram where Joe yells at you “grab your heels and PULL like a motherfucker!” during standing-head-to-knee pose.

(15) Having legs that always look like this:

And going to summer weddings like that.

(16) And finally, how I felt at this moment:

It’s been real, folks. See you next season.