Spartan World Championships 2015 in Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, CA. Elevation up to 9,000 feet, some serious winds at the highest points and not to mention a chill to knock people down. Literally.
Saturday morning arrived and it was cold. I had medium length compression shorts and a long sleeve compression shirt with high compression socks. I felt that would be fine once we started to move. On the course the first obstacle was Running Moats instantly getting in water that was ice cold and definitely a wakeup call. Throughout the race I stayed a good temperature and the sun was out. I just remember feeling my hands being cold and constantly shaking them out. Towards the middle of the race on the down hill we hit the lake. As an Elite you have no option to burpee out and for some this was daunting. This obstacle in itself was one to knock down some of the best Elites I know. With the dunk wall and the brutal barbwire crawl after, there was not much activity to warm up how some would want. Rolling under the barbed wired with my hands at my mouth blowing my hands to keep them warms so I would be able to climb the rope following the long crawl. Do able? Yes. But for some it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I did it and got through it, not once, not twice but three times that weekend.
Having the first experience that Saturday was a blessing and I was able to learn from that day and prepare for the Ultra Beast. Making sure to have extra layers, zip loc bags, food and water, I was ready to take on the Ultra Beast.
Here are some simple tips to help beat this cold and maintain warmth in and out of the water:
1. Make sure to prepare. Have extra layers ready in pre-packaged ziplock bags ( any waterproof bag will do) to fit in your pack you’re running with, or you can bring an empty one. If you're ok to wear less when out of the water I suggest doing so, so you can dry faster! I chose to strip my shirt off before getting in the water, putting it in the waterproof bag and swimming across and after out putting it back on. Same with the dunk wall, may take a few seconds but it's better than a DNF.
2. Stay fueled and hydrated. If your body is functioning properly it will maintain some of that heat and adapt to what it needs to do. I made sure to carb up the night before the race and also have some good fats. For an event this long it is acceptable to do so.
3. Wear a hat or beanie. Prevent the heat from escaping the head, face and neck. I wore a hat and also had a Buff to wear around my neck especially at the top when the wind picked up. Being able to cover my face was awesome!
4. Have warm fluids. Use a thermis at the transition area in your bin . It will save you physically and mentally. It made my day when someone handed me hot chocolate on my second lap. I got the sugar I needed and instantly felt warmer and was all smiles.
5. Keep moving. I know you want to just crawl into a little ball and rock like a baby, but DON’T do it! NO MATTER WHAT! My hands were so cold on the first lap that the spear throw was a complete mess…. But doing 30 burpees did my body good.
6. Have some body fat. I’m not promoting people go and get fat. BUT I believe having more body fat (FOR ME) saved me that weekend. I wasn’t 12-15% but around 19-20% and kept a good layer to maintain some body heat.
If you're heading out to any event that is during cold weather, don't underestimate it. Come prepared, stay fueled and hydrated, wear a hat, drink warm fluids, keep moving! Oh and try taking some cold showers :)
I hope to see some of you in Tahoe this year ready to rock!