Sandy recently completed an amazing experience that is only offered once a year. She lived, breathed and trained – daily – on the Shale Hill course for 30 days straight. This is her story.
30 Days of Shale Hill. I finished it more than a week ago and have been planning my write-up in my head ever since. Not sure why it is so difficult for me to do this. I think that it’s not that I don’t have anything to say, but that I have too much to say. No one wants to read a novel, and I really don’t want to write one. So, let’s see how this goes.
First, this was an incredible opportunity that I passed on the first time it was brought up. I couldn’t fathom being away from Vince for a full 30 days (sue me, I like his company!), I had no desire to get up every morning at 4:00a, and it meant time away from work. It was actually Vince who talked me into it. He knew how much I really needed it and how much I wanted to do it despite the drawbacks. He was willing to let me be away for 30 days despite what that meant for him and made his own sacrifice to encourage me to do so. I love him even more for it.
When I went, I had several goals in mind. First and foremost, I wanted to kick start some weight loss. I had been working on doing so for several years, but needed to be removed from my normal environment and pushed to really get going. Second, I wanted to get stronger. Third, I wanted a reset of some habits and, like the weight loss, I needed to be in a fresh environment to do so.
Shale Hill is not for the faint of heart. It is an incredible course that has the ability to chew you up and spit you out. (**For those who want to go try it but are frightened/intimidated to, please be assured that there are plenty of options for all levels – I’m talking about doing it 100% and being as close to 100% successful as possible.) Before the 30 days, I knew what I was going into. I knew what obstacles I found easy and doable already and I knew those that were still out of reach, but doable eventually. While there, the repetition allowed me to create a spreadsheet of all 65 (*current as of 8/1/15 – I’ll post a second time with the current list) obstacles and indicate whether I had been successful on them already or not. Prior to going, I was able to complete 54.5 of them. That sounds like a lot. However, of those 54.5, 10 of them were only with help or great difficulty. That really means that I was successful with some degree of ease and consistency on 44 of them. (*The half is the fireman pole you have to climb up. There is an option to climb a cargo net in order to then complete the rest of the obstacle’s parts. I could get up the pole with help, or the cargo net on my own.)
Goal #2 was to get stronger. I’m pleased to say that by the end of day 30, there are only 3 obstacles I cannot do (Tarzan Ropes, Uphill Monkey Bars (which women aren’t required to do anyway), and the Fireman Pole). There are 4 that I have done at least once, but aren’t what I consider to be easy yet (Warped Wall (I get up every time, but not by running), Parallel Bars (these completely jack my shoulders up), the new obstacle going across the tires (done twice now but still not easy), and the Zig Zag of Awesomeness(which I got for the first time at the 24 Hour event)). All those others that I needed help on or struggled with can now be done with ease. Needless to say, I’m considering Goal #2 to have been met. On top of that, my speed increased as well.
For Goal #1, I’ll post my first day, 16 day, and 30 day photos below. I think it’s pretty obvious that I met that goal as well. In total, I lost 10 pounds and 10 inches in 30 days. And, every bit of that happened in the second half. Now, it’s my job to continue the process.
For Goal #3, time will tell better. I’ve fallen back into some old routines, but am conscientious of it and know what to do to break the habits for good. Vince will help if I ask.
All in all, this was an incredible experience. I absolutely would do it again if the opportunity arises. If anyone is thinking of doing it when it is offered again, I will happily share more specific information and lessons learned if you simply ask. A month is a long time, so if you can’t make it for that full amount of time, I also highly recommend the week long and/or weekend training sessions offered. It will make you stronger and a better obstacle course racer.
Photos are Day 1 – Day 16 – Day 30 from left to right.