I am SPARTAN.
I have been wanting to run a Spartan race for the longest time, probably ever since a fellow trainer asked me to run it about two years ago. It never worked out, but there it was on my bucket list year after year. After reading Spartan Up, I realized more than half the battle is mental. I may not have believed in myself and my abilities back then, but this year I knew it was going to happen no matter what, which is why I created a team and asked everyone at the gym to join me! Clicking the button to register was tough because I knew there was no turning back, but as person after person signed up, my nerves started to turn to excitement. We started to train together, and when we weren't training, we were checking in with one another to make sure we were getting our workouts in. Aside from our group training, I incorporated weights, Spartan workouts, toning routines, and runs into my own race training - making sure I got in at least 6 workouts a week. For the most part, my eating was on point and balanced well with my workout plans, aside from the occasional cookie dough ice cream cone - because come on... Summer.
The week of the race started off strong, but we stopped our workouts on Thursday, allowing our bodies to rest until race day on Sunday. Before we knew it, race day arrived, and we were carpooling to Tuxedo, NY. A quick 45 minutes passed, and we were there. We got there and my excitement only grew as our team of 23 started to gather together wearing their Dysfunctional Kickboxing Elites shirts proudly.
As we registered, hair was being braided, sunscreen applied, and headbands were being put on, along with the million and one bracelets - but hey at least one was for free beer.
We walked together into Tuxedo Ridge ski resort, and looked up at the hill that was staring at us, holding all the secrets of the race inside. My nerves started to get to me, so instead of focusing on them, I thought back to the quote, "The hardest part for all is convincing our minds what our bodies are capable of" (Spartan Up, pg. 77). I took some nice deep breaths and decided to breathe out my fear. I knew I was ready for anything I was about to face. Part of being a Spartan is expecting the unexpected, and while that usually gives me anxiety, I didn't feel it as we lined up at the start line.
I didn't hear anything the announcer said, instead, I heard the advice from those who has run Spartans before me - don't run up that first hill, as excited and energetic as you are at the beginning of the race, you'll exhaust yourself, I heard my own voice telling me that I could do anything I set my mind to, and I saw everyone on our team staring at what lay ahead and then back at me. I quickly gathered everyone in a circle, and putting our hands in the middle screamed, "AROOOO!!! I AM SPARTAN!!!!" We were off!
5.2 miles + 21 obstacles = finish line.
We started out trail running and hopped over a few walls. I didn't invest in trail shoes but my old Reebok shoes worked well enough and for the job done before being thrown i the trash. When we came to the tougher obstacles, I was ready for them. Even though they were tough, I was tougher and I knew that if I believed I could make it, I would. Out of 21 obstacles, I successfully made it through 19, some with help, but most on my own. I did everything from jumping over and getting boosted over walls, swimming under a wall and climbing over cargo nets, to making my way through the monkey bars, carrying a sandbag and bucket of rocks, and CLIMBING UP THE ROPE! The spear throw and the multirig were not my friends, but like I told my team - as long as you try and give it your best shot, that's all you can do. Then you take your "failures" and work that much harder to become stronger and better so that when you sign up for the next race, you're ready.
There are not enough words to say how proud I am of not only my team, who worked so insanely hard and stuck together through the whole race - literally leaving no one behind, but also of myself. I know that I could not have made it through the race without my teammates cheering me on, but I also would not have made it without the voice inside my head screaming, "YOU CAN DO THIS!" Swearing at each obstacle definitely helped too!
The most incredible thing I saw on the trail though, had to be the teamwork and camaraderie. Strangers were helping one another over, under, and through every obstacle. They made sure fellow racers were okay, and not injured. They even cheered them on when they accomplished a feat they didn't think they could. Everyone wanted to make sure every single person made it to that finish line.
The entire race was exhilarating, but when I saw the fire jump right before the finish line, I felt adrenaline pumping through me! I was almost there! I ran out of the woods and onto the steep terrain. I tuned out everything and everyone, and had my eyes on that fire. All I had to do was run, jump over the fire, and I would finish my first Spartan Sprint. Knowing they took a picture of the jump, I made sure I made a great face while jumping! I had done it, I ran right through to the finish line and received my medal.
I all but devoured my refuel - fit aid, an Organic Valley organic fuel protein shake, and more water. I loved the protein shake so much that I went back for more! If you haven't tried them, YOU MUST! Some of my team and my biggest supporter was at the finish line, waiting. Quick high fives and hugs were shared all around, and then we were back to waiting for the rest of the crew to make their way over the fire.
I'm so glad I took the chance, and did something way out of my comfort zone. If you always stay in your comfort zone, nothing will ever feel extraordinary, and you will never know what you're capable of. You'll sit on the sidelines watching everyone else do what you wish you had the guts to do. You must realize you might never be 100% ready for anything in life, and do it anyways.
Next up, The Spartan Super! Did you think I could stop with just 1 piece of the Trifects medal?! HELL NO!