Recapping this past weekend's races in West Virginia
Spartan Beast 21K (Glen Jean, West Virginia)
Late in the afternoon on Friday, August 26, I made the drive from Charlottesville to Glen Jean to get ready for the weekend's races, after spending the prior couple of days in Virginia with my best friend. I got to my hotel without any issues, getting in around 8:00pm, then taking my time to lay out and prepare all of my gear by 9:00pm before unwinding the rest of the night to try for a decent night's sleep.
I was only staying 20 minutes from the race site, so I was able to take my time in the morning getting ready, parking at the venue at 7:00am for a 7:45am start. While this was already plenty of time for me, having done all of my stretching and physical therapy at the hotel, our start time was actually delayed 20 minutes due to dense fog preventing volunteers from being able to be stationed at obstacles.
When the race ultimately did start, as per usual, it felt like the first 1 mile was primarily about warming up the lungs, with the next 2-3 miles to really get the legs activated and firing on all cylinders after all of the travel. The terrain started with rolling hills, a beautiful mystique as the West Virginia mountains and forests were shrouded in the fog. However, a bigger downside to the fog than the delayed start was the condensation that had built up on the obstacles, leading to a few early misses on grip movements by me that meant burpees / penalty loops. Spartan did a good job of giving us the full West Virginia mountain experience, sending us up a couple of solid ascents, but it helped me stay sharp thinking how I had done Big Bear back in May, and those mountains were arguably more grueling. Spartan apparently also seemed to know that I've been looking at easing myself into triathlons, as around mile 8 they threw in a 1/4 mile open water swim, which felt incredibly refreshing (due to Spartan's event liability, however, all racers had to secure a life preserver for the swim). When it was all said and done, I had put forth a solid race - not quite as great in the rankings as I would have otherwise wanted, but I constantly reminded myself on the course to a) take what the course gave and b) listen to my body. With those reminders set, I felt great about this performance.
Spartan Trail 21K (Glen Jean, West Virginia)
After completing my Spartan Beast the day prior, I was not able to do any of my normal recovery work, as I opted to volunteer on the course Saturday afternoon, keeping me out until 7:00pm. All the same, it was definitely worthwhile as it is always a great time to be surrounded by the Spartan community.
When I woke up on Sunday, I knew I had not gotten as much rest as I would've liked, but I still felt ready for the day. First things first, one of my toe nails had mostly come off during the Beast and, if I was going to be able to run another half marathon that day, I needed to first tear the nail off completely. Not fun, but necessary to make my foot more comfortable for more racing.
The rest of the body took a few miles into the Trail 21K to get that memo that we were racing again, but once the initial soreness subsided, it turned into a solid recovery run. Fortunately, while the distance for this race was the same as the Beast, Spartan opted to mark a completely distinct trail, so everything Sunday felt fresh and exciting to experience a new course (they still sent us mountain climbing at times though). I've learned one challenge unique to the trail races is that, unlike the obstacle course races when you're constantly going back and forth passing other racers, you can go most of the trail without seeing other competitors, as everyone falls into their pace pretty early. The day was less foggy, so I was just out there enjoying the landscape and (again) listening to my body...which ultimately meant that I finished 1st in my Age Group! To celebrate, I made my way back to Charlottesville so my best friend and I could get a few rounds of classic Virginia cider.