Spartan Beast Ohio: Thank You

“I just want to sit down and cry.” -Random Spartan Racer Mile 12

My asthma doc on Monday had given me (sort of) clearance to run on Saturday.  Ok, really, she didn’t say no nor did I ask.  She did give me several rules regarding any future races (no burpees, no sticking my face in the grass, no full throttle for at least 2 months, etc).  So, with those rules in mind I headed towards Ohio to run the Spartan Beast.  Hey, she didn’t say NO….

Up to this point the entire weekend was already a shit show.  First, because I got wicked sick after the Austin Super my lungs are not exactly where they need to be (Doc said it would take 3 months for them to return to normal) and then my running partner massively twisted her ankle two days prior.  What that translated to was me doing this race completely on my own.  Mentally, physically and emotionally I was fried before I even toed the line on Saturday morning.  I actually called ShooterGirl crying Friday.  She gave me the following piece of advice, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with a DNF.  You need to go, you need to try, but if you get out there and your lungs give out don’t be stubborn and try to power through, walk off course.” 

Friday I left work early and drove out to Ohio.  As I was checking into the hotel there was someone traveling through who was trying to get a room.  They were told, “Oh sir, there are no hotel rooms for at least the next three exits, Spartan is in town.” I don’t know why but that made me chuckle.

Saturday I got up and was so just not feeling it.  My goal for the race was to just survive.  I barely being held together by duct tape and bailing twine physically. I choked down hardly any breakfast which is a absolutely awful thing when you are headed into any race let alone a 14.5 mile Spartan Race.  I think the only reason why I got anything into me at all was that I was seeing it as fuel and not as food (yes, there is a distinction.) 

I texted Dad and told him I was nervous.  His first response was, “What for?”

“This is an obstacle race, like what I did with Cindy only 14.5 miles.”

“Go with God as your copilot”

There may have been an eyeroll on my part. Ugh, of course he would say that.  

“Wait, I thought Perry was my copilot.” I retorted. 

Pretty sure there was an eyeroll on his part with that snarky response.    

As I drove to the race site I IMG_9125used my new Airial nebulizer.  Hey, I may be an asthmatic, but I’m not a stupid asthmatic.  Probably the only way I wasn’t going to get sick or die on course (a real possibility) was if I actually was a “good girl” and take my extra medicine.  The great thing and horrible thing is that now I have no excuse whatsoever to not take my medicine.  Hm, perhaps I should have rethought my whole “let’s get a neb machine that I can use anywhere” plan.   

IMG_9138Getting my number and getting everything situated was much easier when your car isn’t that far from the festival area.  I had an 0845 start time and as I watched the 0830 wave take off there was a super nice lady who was “pit crew” for her husband.  We started to chat a bit and she offered to take my picture and send it to me.  Considering my phone had been purposely left in the car I said thank you.  So to that random lady, thank you very very much. It’s the only clean picture of me.

I stood in the corral next to a nice 32 year Vietnam Era Marine.  He and I started to chat about the race.  His plan was just to survive too.  I like knowing that I’m not the only one out there whose sole goal is survival not competition.  He looked a bit like Santa.  Hm, wonder if it WAS Santa.   I digress. Like clockwork they released us right at 0845.  

IMG_9132This course was most definitely NOT easy.  As I slowly chipped away at the terrain and the obstacles I kept leap frogging with a very cool group of girls; Finn, Ella, and Lilly.  They were friends  doing it together.  Ella was having some allergy issues (she sounded like she had exercise induced asthma to me).  Those three girls kept me going for more miles than I can count.  Just listening to them banter back and forth, checking on each other, and just being around took my mind off of my own pain.  We traveled together so long that by the time we got to the finish line we had to take a group selfie.  To Finn, Ella, and Lilly wherever you are, you guys rock, thank you. 

The first 7 or so miles of the course was where the largest thwack obstacles were.  After the spear throw (where we could see the finish line) they turned us away from the festival area and into the woods.  Gee, thanks, way to screw with our heads. Oh God, the woods.  Now, you would think with all the trail running I do that I would have loved this part of the course.  Yes, there were parts of it that were amazing.  However, the hills, for the love of God, the hills.  These weren’t just ANY hills.  No, no, these were straight up mud slicks.  No real trail.  Just up and down and up and down.  

Now, I was smart.  I knew that the course was around 14 miles.  When everyone around me was whooping at mile 5 that we were “half way” I knew we weren’t.  Being out in the woods, though, sucked every ounce of mental strength out of me.  There was a small group of us that just kept going up and down together.  “Oh dear, God ANOTHER one.” “Please, no more.”  “I just want to sit down and cry.”  I should probably mention that these are comments made by folks who have run multiple Spartans.  The “this is worse than (fill in other Spartan Beast here)” was probably the most prevalent recurring comment. 

My personal opinion is that Spartan doesn’t do anyone any favors by saying it’s 11+ miles.  People aren’t properly planning for fuel.  Granted, they have a couple of aid stations out on course, but in this nearly 5+ mile slog through the woods there wasn’t any aid stations.  I wound up giving out my back up fuel to a couple of guys who were bonking on course.  Out on course I managed to consume; 1 Tailwind (in my water), 2 Picky Bars, Mama Chia, Justin’s Maple PB, Justin’s Hazelnut Butter, and a Honey Stinger.  All of that fuel just to keep me from bonking.  

Just about the point, in this back woods portion of the course,  as I was ready to sit down and give up/loose my mind I met April.  Nothing bonds two middle aged women more closely than hills peppered with slogging up, over, and through mud.  We dreamt of wine, naps, and baths.  She told me how this was her 17th Spartan and how running a marathon was easier.  We mentally propped each other up along the way pulling and pushing each other.  That crazy woman was not only doing the Beast, but the Hurricane Heat and I think the Sprint on Sunday.  Secretly she told me that she was hoping and praying for lightening so they would cancel it because it was her teenage son that wanted to do the Hurricane Heat not her.  April, you rock.  Thank you for being there when I needed you the most. 

Somewhere the back woods we all became demoralized.  Running got harder.  One guy said it best, “I’m just trying to keep moving because if I sit down I’m done.”  Yeah, I’m with you man.  My legs would go forward and back, but every log I stepped over was a searing sensation of absolute pain.  April and I kept trying to “run”, ok it wasn’t a run as it was more of a fast shuffle.  

As we approached the slip wall there were Finn, Lilly, and Ella. I was excited to see them.  IMG_9134Finn scamped up the slip wall first.  After sliding down the wall a couple of times Ella just said, “screw it I’ll take the burpees.”  Finn offered to split them with her.  Lilly, God bless Lilly, she kept trying and trying and finally got over it.  I started up the slip wall and got within 3 inches of the top and was struggling to sling my leg over.  This really nice guy next to me grabbed my leg and slung it over for me.  To that random guy, thank you.  

Four more obstacles and April and I continued to stick together all the way through the fire jump.  I know that if it wasn’t for her I mentally would have lost my shit somewhere out there.  It wasn’t the running, it was the sheer demoralization.   We crossed the fire jump together.  I finished.  I finished in one piece.  I was sore.  I was beat up, but I finished.  The little asthmatic that could. 

As I got in the car (post incredibly cold rinse off) I fired up the nebulizer machine.  I always know when I really needed the neb treatment when I start to get the tingling sensation in my fingers and face, and boy did I get that in spades as I drove down the road.  Guess me being a smart asthmatic isn’t such a bad thing.  

Total Tally: 

13.4 miles

1876 feet in elevation gain

Average HR: 140

Highest HR: 173

Calories burned: 2721

Advertisements

What were you thinking???

What exactly were you thinking??? –My asthma doc

And just like that I am toss squarely on my ass.  Ah, yes, life as an asthmatic.  Last week (prior to the Spartan Super) I started experiencing some burning in my lungs. No big deal, I thought, I’ll just take my sick protocol.  All asthmatics have one.  I started taking my Dulera twice per day.  I went about my business on Thursday. By Thursday night I was really wheezy.  No big deal, I thought, there is a huge fire in Shenandoah and the smoke is drifting this way.  By Friday morning, I was coughing up what I affectionally call ‘lung biscuits’.  Again, no big deal, I thought.  I’m going to Texas I’ll get away from the smoke and the yuck and all will be good in the land.

First flaw in my logic, I had to fly to get there.  Flying is notoriously awful for people let alone people (cough) like myself who have compromised immune systems.  Then, I get to Texas and my brother dropped the little bomb that he would like for us to mow the lawn “if we could, please.” Of course I’m going to do what my baby brother wants when he is in Korea.  Myself and Cindy (the SIL) took care of the grass.  Yeah, probably not a good idea on my part.  We’ll call that flaw two and three and most likely four. I’m really really allergic to grass and weeds.  Then, I didn’t bring my allergy pillow cover with me (I almost always travel with it).  Friday and Saturday nights were hard sleeping for me as one of my MAJOR allergies is dust mites.  Flaw five(ish).

Saturday rolls around and I’m still coughing up lung biscuits, but now I’m face first in grass (doing all the burpees) and surrounded by trees that were spewing pollen.  Did I mention the running?  Or the inhaling of all the air? Or the fact that I managed to give myself HIVES, yes, HIVES last year from doing a race and inhaling too much pollen.   Post race sitting in the car I start coughing up bright technicolored lung biscuits. Oops. Flaw six, ok, seven and eight.

Sunday. I get up at 0300 to get to the airport and my face feels like it’s going to explode.  My lungs ache.  I now have a cough that racks through my entire body.  Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have  gotten on an airplane.  I had to get home, though.  Flaw nine.

By the time I got home on Sunday I wanted to die.  I couldn’t breathe.  My lips and fingers were numb.  I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.  Now, I’ve done enough races to know the difference between the dump truck of love that visits post workout and the dump truck of awful that comes when you can’t getting enough oxygen.  I knew which one this was.  I crawled into bed and proceeded to sleep for the next 12 hours.

When I woke up this morning my wheezing was so bad I couldn’t even get my Dulera in.  Crap.  That isn’t good.  I knew I was going to need to get an appointment with my asthma doc.  After nearly falling over from coughing during my spirometry test I got put back into the exam room.  Now, I’ve been seeing the same asthma doc for over a decade.  She’s been very tolerant/encouraging (within limits) of my escapades.  However, today as she walked in the door and she was pissed.  The very first words out of her mouth here, “What were you thinking??!”  Second words out of her mouth, “You’ve become one of those people.”

“But I had a plane ticket,” I sputtered back.

“I write notes all the time.” She retorted

“But I thought Texas would be better.”

As the words were leaving my mouth I knew that there was nothing I could say that was going to justify all of the stupid choices that I made.  As she peered into my ears with the mom I told you so tone in her voice, “Yep, blood on your ear drums/canal you did some damage flying yesterday.  See, I TOLD you.”

Sigh.

IMG_9059You know you’re not doing well when they break out the nebulizer machine in the office.   You really REALLY know you aren’t doing good when they drop not one but two meds into the machine.  I sat there breathing in the medicine. A couple of minutes into my treatment my face started to tingle and my fingers started to tingle. Yay! Oxygen returning to my extremities.  By the time I was done with my treatment I felt oh so much better.  She came back into the room looked me square in the face and with a no nonsense tone in her voice, “Are you running today?”

“No ma’am.” I replied meekly.

“Are you SURE?”

“Yes ma’am. I’m sure.”

Satisfied that I wasn’t going to go running today she set about figuring out what cocktail of IMG_9060meds to put me on.  We settled on a new nebulizer medicine (the same one I just took) and an antibiotic.

“I don’t think you need steroids.”

PHEW! At least I have that going for me.  Steroids make me want to pull a chair up to the fridge with a fork in my hand and devour the contents.

“Look, you need rest.  Your body needs rest.  You are not normal. Taking your albuterol during the day other than for exercise is NOT ok. If you do, you aren’t well enough to race. Period end of discussion.  You need to remember, that despite your high functioning you are still an asthmatic.”

Now, trust me when I say, I know I’m an asthmatic.  That being said, I can be an asthmatic who sits on my ass and feels like crap OR  I can go out and live my life and feel like crap.  At least with the latter I have some awesome memories.

I’m going to be the good asthmatic.  I’m going to take my medicine.  I’m going to take it easy, but I will say this I’m not about to let any of this stop me from achieving anything I set my mind to.  I will just have to remember that my lungs, much like a Latin American dictator are propped up by drugs, and need to be given a little extra love.

 

I must really love my brother

Approximately 8 months ago when my brother got moved out of Alaska and got orders to Texas I declared that the only way I’d come back is for him. I hate Texas. I love my brother. I’m currently sitting in Texas. That must mean I REALLY love my brother. 

Why exactly did I come to Texas? To run a Spartan Super on my baby brothers birthday of course. Duh. 

When I decided I was going to get my trifecta this year I started looking at options. When I saw the Austin race which happened to be by his new house AND it was going to be on his birthday it became a must do. I called him up; 

“Let’s do the Austin Spartan together.” 

“You and Cindy can. I’ll be in Korea.” 

Fuck…..

I asked Cindy, his amazing and beautiful wife, if she was game. 

“Yes. Wait. What’s a Spartan?”

Snicker. 

  
Oh the poor girl has no idea the suck fest that was in front of her. 

We drove the hour from their house to the race site. The closer to the race venue we got the more wild flowers we saw. Dammit Texas it’s hard to hate you when you look like this. 

  
 After we parked, I slathered myself with sunscreen before we got our crap together and headed towards the shuttle buses. If I didn’t apply early and often I was going to fry like an egg. The heat was already starting to ratchet up. Cindy now understood why I said, register for the earliest wave possible. 

By the time we got our packets (hey we both have 23 as our last 2 numbers) and checked our bag there was only ~20 minutes until our wave left. Perfect timing. Can’t get too keyed up that way. We looked at the map one more time and it was like suddenly it hit her. 

“Wait?! There are how many obstacles?!”

I told her. 

“That’s like an obstacle almost every quarter mile?!”

“Yes. Yes it is. Did you not read or watch anything I’ve sent you? WOMAN!” 

  
I had to laugh. This was going to be even more fun than I thought. 

As we stared at the wall before we jumped into our start corral she looked at me and said, 

“Why am I suddenly so nervous.” 

Snicker. 

We stood listening to Dustin be his amazing self (as always) until he said, “…and there are rattlesnakes out there…” Cindy turned wide eyed at me. I shrugged. It’s Texas. He released us out into the wilds and we started down the trail. She started off at a break neck pace. I had to remind her to pace herself. Spartans are long slow grinds not sprints. (This lesson will be important later.) Plus the goal is to finish in one piece. (This will also become important later.) 

The first hill and obstacle came up fairly quickly. I helped hoist Cindy over the wall and then I asked for a boost. Hey I’m only 5’2″ and even jumping I couldn’t manage.  This is the thing I love about Spartan; everyone is out to help everyone. 

“Low bridge” (Watch your head) 

“Feet!” (Root, rock, etc) 

My personal favorite yesterday; “CACTUS!!”

Somewhere during one of the first obstacles as I was helping Cindy over I tweaked my knee. Crap. Onward I pressed.  Every single hill I felt and could hear the grinding. Oh this isn’t good. Nothing I could do about it. 

When we hit the 7′ wall I warned Cindy;  DO NOT drop hang as long as you can to decrease the drop. Yeah…..about that. She cleared the top of the wall and dropped. And pomptly landed on the side of her foot, straining her ankle, and landing on her ass. If I broke her my brother is going to have my ass, I thought.  She got up and managed to limp along. 

We continued to push through the course succeeding on some obstacles and failing on others. Some I may always fail (like the monkey bars) just because my wing span is not wide enough to swing bar to bar. I helped folks I could help and requested a boost when I needed it.  Every time I broke out the sunscreen I offered it to others. I had lots of takers. 

Passing mile 6 we were still running along. Granted not a fast run but a run/fast shuffle nonetheless. Those folks that had gone streaking past us earlier? Yeah they were walking. See, pace yourself kids it’s a long slog. 

We crossed the finish line in 3 hours 14 minutes and some change. Along the way we did an ass ton of burpees. All that said, we finished.  For that I couldn’t be prouder. The best part? I didn’t get sun burnt! That in and of itself is a major win! 

  

Today I Spartan-ed Up!

I did it!!! -Me

I’ve made it no secret why I started doing CrossFit.  I wanted to get stronger to improve my running and for running Spartan Races.  I mean, if you are going to do something that scares the living crap out of you (CrossFit) you have to have a reason to get you to show up for the workouts. Although, to be honest, knowing that ShooterGirl and CrossFit Runner are going to be there gives me extra oomph some days to get there.

Spartan racing is something new to my wheelhouse.  I did my first Sprint (a short 3(ish) miler) in September with He Who Shall Not be Named.  That was his thing, but I wanted to experience the thing that he loved.  As Fall went on, he did a Super (a mid length) and a Beast (a long length); I was there to drive him, fuel him, and encourage/support him. All the while though I was watching.  I was watching the experience.  I was watching the people.  I was watching the obstacles.  I knew, at that time, I just didn’t have what it was going to take to be able to go out and do one of the longer races. Especially with many of the obstacles requiring upper body strength.  Run 13 miles, great! Carry heavy objects, sure, I’ve got that down.  I’ve moved literally tons of horse manure via wheelbarrow.  Climb a rope? No way, no how.  What does every single Spartan race have?  You guessed it rope climbs.

About a month after I started CrossFit there was a WOD that required rope climbs.  I knew that this wasn’t in my wheelhouse.  However, after the workout Chriss was nice enough to let me give it a whirl on the rope with knots.  I got about 25% of the way up the rope, I looked down, my legs started shaking and I knew it wasn’t going to end well.  I knew at that point going to the climbing gym and spending some time up on the wall to get accustomed to heights again was going to be in order. This was all in addition to needing more strength to get it done.

Months have gone by and I’ve slowly been working on my strength.  Adding 1/2 pound here and there.  Tonights WOD had rope climbs in it and I was actually excited about it.  I wanted to see what, if any, kind of improvement I had made.  In the 2+ months since I did it last.

With CrossFit Runner and one of the coaches guidance/assistance I did it!! I made it to the top.  Granted, it is a rope with knots, but you’ve got to start somewhere.  One more tool for me to use.  One more demonstration of the growth I’ve had over the last 14 months.  Today I Spartan-ed Up and I’m very proud.

2015: The Year of the Sine Wave

“If you have a body and move it regularly for physical health and mental sanity, suck it up you’re an athlete.” Sally Bergesen.

If I had to describe 2015, I would describe it as a high frequency, high amplitude sine wave.  There were a significant number of ups and downs but a constant movement forward.  The ups and downs were hard to take, but forward is always a must; and my forward led me to the point where I had a couple of epiphanies.

img_7726My first came out on the trails earlier this year and that is; I am a runner.  All of my life running is something that I had a love/hate relationship with. Even when I was a child and my cousins would do races on my grandparents farm; I always came in dead last.  This year, though, I had a moment where I realized just how much I loved it.  Granted, I will never be Sally Bergesen or Anna Frost, but I love to run.  It’s the absolute best part of my day getting out on the trails and clearing my head.  One of the biggest lessons I learned this year was that when I cut the cord and stopped running with music out on the trail I actually started to run better.  My running became more present and more focused.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still slow, but I’m happier.  On most days, anyway.

I realized I am not EVER going to be a fast runner.  What I do have, though, is endurance.  There was a quote by  Gunhild Swanson, the oldest finisher of the Western States 100 that encapsulates my running style perfectly; “I can’t out-sprint them, but I can certainly outlast them.” The hike up Hurricane Hill with my brothers where they dubbed me ‘Mountain Pony’ made this crystal clear to me.  I may not get there very fast, but I can go all day long.  I think this is why I’m actually excited about the Utah 50k with my brother.  He’s the fast one in the family and likes to rib me constantly. Perhaps this is where the tables are turned and Big Sister gets to have the last word.

Second, is a more recent realization and one that I am not 100% comfortable wearing just yet, but that is;  I am an athlete. I remember the first time that word was used referring to me.  I was attempting to do kettlebell swings at CrossFit and one of the coaches said to me after I made a minor correction they wanted in my swing form; “Excellent correction, I see you are an athlete.” No, no.  Really, I’m not.  When I hear the word athlete, I think of my idols; Amelia Boone, Sally Bergesen, Anna Frost, Rose Wetzel.  In my mind those are athletes.  They are powerful, graceful, strong, and fast.  Definitely not words I would describe myself, especially in the graceful category.  Yet, somewhere along the line it had snuck up on me and bit me in the ass.

Huh.  Maybe nearing 40 I’ve finally figured out how to operate the controls of this body of mine.  I say this and then I look down at the scar on my left knee  acquired from landing Superman style not once, but twice, during a trail race.  Then again, maybe not.

 

2016 Big Hairy Ass Goals

TerrifyingI saw this posting on social media and I immediately smiled.  It succinctly sums up 2016 for me.  It is going to be terrifying and amazing, but mainly terrifying.  That my friends is exactly what I wanted it to be.

This past year has been a pretty big year in the changes department.  I’m only now starting to truly realize just how big those changes are.  Just in mileage alone I had a 290% increase in miles over 2014.  I weigh 30% less than I did last year.  I’ve halved my clothing size and I doubled my half marathons (to two).  I even ran my first Spartan Race.  As the weight has come off and my fitness has improved my goals have grown.  I want to continue to push myself to be the very best version of myself I can be.  With that in mind I sat down and laid out my 2016 goal (and races);

My big hairy as goal is to complete every race (12) that I have entered.  Let’s be honest, that count is accurate as of today most likely it will only go up because, apparently, I’m an addict.  Now, some of these races are freaking HUGE in distance (like my 50km), some are HUGE mentally (like any of the Spartans), and some are going to be HUGE physically (like the two races at altitude when I live at sea level.)

As such, I’ve also set out this summer to start running/climbing/training in the mountains; well, what we out here in the mid-Atlantic like to call mountains.  I’ve already booked my campsite to enable me to climb Mount Rogers.  I’m also looking to climb Spruce Knob.  I’m going to start spending as much time as I can out in the mountains to try to push myself and my training.  Ok, plus I really love it out there so there is always that perk…..but I digress.

I’ve also set the goal to do the Maryland portion of the AT.  One of my co-workers who also has set some massive goals for 2016 needs to get some mountain miles in too.  We are currently working the logistics for us to be able to knock that portion out.  Who knows, maybe that will lead me down the 10 year plan of finishing the AT one state at a time.

Finally, my goal for 2016 is to run happy.  That may seem silly, but it’s taken me a very img_7726long time to say “YAY! RUNNING!!!” I’m going to continue to cross train for that specific reason.  I never ever want to get to the point where I hate running again.  Granted, I have places that I love to run more than others (dirt vs. pavement, parks vs. city), but I still find that lacing up is the best part of my day.  From the grin on Perry’s face I think it’s his favorite part of the day too.

One year later: Seeing the change

On December 19, 2014 I finally had enough of struggling on my own and I made an appointment with a nutritionist. To this day, is probably the most sane thing I have ever done in my life.  Bringing in “adult supervision” is what truly has made the difference in my journey.  Sainted Mary has worked with me, encouraged me, allowed me to make controlled decisions, and has hidden most of the math from me thereby making it nearly impossible for me to fall into the dark place.

As I sat in my appointment this week with her going through my food journal, still struggling with some of the most recent events and their ramifications, we realized it had been almost a year to the day that I walked into her office.  She asked me if I remembered what I weighed when I walked into her office.  I told her.  According to the “official” scale I have lost 54 pounds in the last year.  That’s a pound a week.  Considering there were weeks that we planned for no weight loss (e.g. half marathon weeks) that’s not a bad average.  I’ve also been taking measurements at home because, well, you can’t live life by the scale alone.  In the last year I’ve lost;

  • 7 inches in my waist
  • 5.5 inches in my hips
  • .75 inches my arms
  • 4.5 inches in my thigh
  • 4 inches in my calf

My hips are currently smaller than my waist was a year ago!  I’ve gone through several changes of wardrobe.  So many, in fact, that I’m fairly certain that Goodwill knows me by name now; from a 16 to a 6/8.

Last weekend I ran, with friends, the same course that I ran for the 12ks of Christmas last year.  I’ve cut over 2 minutes off of my time and I ran the entire way without a single walk break. I’m sure much of that has to do with the weight I’ve lost, but hearing my heart through the stethoscope at the docs office I know that my heart is most certainly healthier too.  That is kind of the point isn’t it? To avoid double bypass surgery like my Dad had when he was 40?

I’ve really struggled, though, actually seeing the change in myself.  I look at myself every day.  I can see that the numbers on the scale are changing and that my measurements are going down, but it’s still hard to see the change.  I’m still me.  I’m still the geeky goofball I was.  I don’t actually FEEL any different.  It wasn’t until last night that I truly saw the change.

Last night a friend of mine from Biker Barre was having her holiday party.  Another friend IMG_7577of mine had donated to my closet a couple of months back when she was cleaning out her closet.  Knowing I had to get dressed rather ‘fancy pants’ for the party at BikerGirl’s I pulled out this rather sleek cut Calvin Klein.  Not only did it go on, but it zipped! I stood in my bedroom for a minute completely stunned.  When I got to BikerGirl’s house knowing that this was a rare occasion she and I were not only in ‘real’ clothes, but all dolled up we asked her boyfriend to snap a picture.  When I looked at the picture it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Who the hell is THAT girl? Where did she come from?  I barely recognized myself.

I’ve always avoided the camera.  I’m just not one who likes getting my picture taken, except in certain situations (e.g. weddings, special events, etc).  So, I haven’t really seen a full body shot of myself.  I don’t own a full length mirror.  This truly was one of the first times I’ve seen myself with this new body. Good grief what a different a year makes.

I’m not done yet.  I’ve discussed with Sainted Mary how I would like to try to loose a bit more.  My body fat percentage is not where I would like it to be.  Doing CrossFit this winter should help with that.  If this weather continues to hold running slow with the Maffetone Method will help my aerobic base, and if not, then I have my home away from home, Biker Barre.   All I know is that slow and steady wins the race and there is something to be said for adult supervision!

My goals for next year; complete a Spartan Trifecta, run my ass off at all of the races that I have registered for (and not come in last), lose at least 5% more body fat, who knows maybe I’ll finally hit ‘normal’ on the BMI chart!  It’s good to have goals.

My first Spartan 

In an effort to embrace progress trumps comfort I decided to try my hand at a Spartan Race. Ok, so the decsion wasn’t made quite that lightly. I had seen what lots of folks look like post Spartan and I honestly wasn’t sure I’d have the strength to finish. That said, it didn’t matter how I finished just as long as I finished.

Saturday morning came and I was super nervous as I am for every race. Doesn’t matter what kind of race I always pull into the parking lot wanting to throw up. It was a 1.5 mile walk to the start area through the Cornell Ag campus. It was enough to get me to relax.

I was incredibly lucky that I was traveling with someone who had done several of these before which helped ease me into the registration process. As we picked up our chips I felt completely overwhelmed. Good grief what did I get myself into??

The course was laid out in such a way that I could see a majority of the obstacles. That helped a bit. I was still scared but I knew I would be ok. I knew I was going to be running it on my own as I wasn’t going to force my companion to run slow (or have to wait for me to do burpees) so I put on my big girl pants and dug deep.  I knew I was going to have to dig extra deep because the whole race was being run in/on/around fields filled with some of my worse asthmatic triggers.

Once I started I fell into a rhythm running. The first couple of obstacles were things I was 20150907130635comfortable with; hay bales and mud pits. That’s when things started to get interesting and I started to get pushed; walls, barbed wire crawl, pulling cement blocks, and the inverted wall.  Every obstacle I completed I knew I was getting one step closer to the finish.  I struggled.  I will completely admit that I was getting pushed hard.

When I came to the inverted wall (think of a wall on an angle like this \. You climb up the back side before you go over the top.  Now I’m 5’3″.  However, I also used to climb.  Used to.  I haven’t been on a rock wall in probably 15 years or so.  Conquering that wall was a huge boost to my ego.  Even if it meant that I got a wicked black and blue mark on my arm IMG_7050where I came down with my full weight onto the soft squishy part of my arm as I pushed/leapt/swung myself over the top of the wall.  I gave myself the biggest noogie ever.

As I came to my last quarter mile my companion was there cheering me on from the side lines.  I was positively thrilled.  That was exactly what I needed to finish the race. It gave me such a boost.  It was new, different, and awesome to have someone cheering like that.

As I crossed the finish line I was incredibly proud of myself.  I know that I had to dig deep to finish.  I also know that here is no way in hell that I could have done that even 6 months ago.  I’m not 100% certain if I am going to do another.  I might, especially if I have the right company and if I can spend some time in the climbing gym this winter and work on my upper body because at the end of the day progress, indeed, trumps comfort.

IMG_7046