Friday, October 4, 2013

Spartan Race? I made it! (Post-Spartan Race Reflection)

I've been overweight since 19 after I had my daughter. For over 20 years, my scale reading has not read a number that is "within normal limits" or "within body mass index (BMI)".

Everyone who knew about my journey 2 years ago, knows that I tipped the scales over 200 in 2011 and I knew it was time for me to get into shape especially because I was blessed with a grandson that year.

In May 2013, my friend posted about the Spartan Race in Hawaii that would be held in August. I signed up because she wanted to go as a team.

She didn't end up registering because her family had other commitments. 

I was stuck...I didn't know what to think.

So I asked one of my friends that I know on Twitter what was her thoughts because she also trains and teaches bootcamp. She encouraged me and shared that she believes I can do it.

I asked my trainer who texted me back and said that it was mostly a mud run and that I can do it (I'm thinking she mistaken this for the Tough Mudder). I was sketchy and knew the type of workouts I had to do to get back into shape for this race. 

I could do hills at work (I even bought sand bells to train!)

Did I do it? No, because I didn't time manage myself well and only ran 3 miles here and there. And as I ran, it was in the back of mind of what I was setting up myself up for as the race was drawing nearer.

I was setting myself up for failure

I was setting myself up to back out

The more I though of that, it killed me because I wasn't able to make it to the Nike Women's Half-Marathon in Washington, DC back in April AND my name was randomly drawn to participate!!! However, I didn't run because of my foot. I kept saying to myself, "Probably this Spartan race is to redeem yourself and just the thing you need to just push you to another level."

So, because I hardly trained and knew that I would gas out if I didn't prepare myself adequately, I decided to research and read the Spartan blogs on what I could do despite little training.

I read the blogs of the people that didn't train

I read the blogs of what to wear for the race

I read the blogs on what to do during the race

I researched which was the best hydration pack to take along on a Spartan race

And I started becoming apprehensive and admitted this to my sister-in-law, who told me bluntly, "Don't read other people's experience, CREATE YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE."

But, I still wanted to make sure that what I lacked in training, I was successful in making sure that I could complete the race by pacing myself and keeping myself properly hydrated because I knew it would be a lot of uphills and obstacles.

The week before the race, I was more nervous than ever. I seriously thought of backing out and then I though of all my posts on Instagram and knew that I needed to walk the walk if I can talk the talk on social media and in-person.

Two weeks prior to the race, I bought Vibrams Sprydion (this version is specifically for hiking and trail running) because I could not find my other Vibrams that I was planning on using.

I bought under armour compression shorts and top because it was light and it wasn't cotton!

I bought NUUN electrolyte tablets for my hydration pack and bought CLIF bars, Gel Bloks and Sport Beans (which I was worried because I never tried it AND I was afraid that it would upset my stomach).

The days before, I started loading up on healthy carbs and drinking water like crazy.

The day of the race, I only ate bananas, wheat bread with guava jelly and gatorade (because of one of the blogs that I read and I figured his suggestion sounded pretty sane).

That morning, my husband knew I was nervous because I shared with him the night before that I was scared but I knew I had to do this because I just had to do it. I wanted that medal. I needed that medal yet I knew my consequences. My husband was silent then shared, "Then, don't do it for time. Get that out of your head and pace yourself. Never mind about anyone else-just pace yourself, take your time and you'll make it. I give you a lot of credit because not many would go through. You'll be ok."

So, before I was about to head out the door in the morning (I wanted an early start despite my heat time was in the afternoon), he prayed with me (he had to attend a Outreach Ministry before heading out to Kualoa Ranch).

I was glad I drove out to the windward side of the island early because I knew it was going to be crazy and outrageous because of the traffic.

What made it further outrageous is the fact that I was tanking down gatorade to where as I sat in traffic, my bladder started knocking and clamoring to be let loose. Now, if you have ever visited or live in Hawaii,  you know that this side of the island is mostly scenic. I kept thinking, "There is no beach parks within my site! What the heck am I supposed to do?"

I did the most stupidest thing ever...I stopped on the side of the road and knocked on one of the houses asking if I can use their restroom (can you visualize Texas Chainsaw Massacre? I did but thankfully it was old Hawaiian lady that allowed me to use her bathroom).

I got back into the traffic and parked my truck onto the field like everyone else. I noticed families, individuals and groups getting ready before they headed out to the race site.

Note: The walk to the site was about a mile and a half (it was our warm-up as well as for the spectators). I was literally sweating and panting by the time I got to the site.

I stood in line to get my bib and chip and sat down looking at it then took a picture to post on Instagram. 

As I sat on the fields with everyone else who was getting ready, I watched the finishers trek up to get their bags. I noticed the fit people but then  I noticed the not so fit people and you know what? It was hope that beamed down on me with the sunny skies of Hawaii. It was as if it was God's way of telling me that everything will be okay. Plus, it made me dig in my heels and say to myself, "If THEY can do it and walk out of here with a medal, I CAN."

Around 12:30, I decided to check in my bag. I have to say that they were very organized and very helpful in making sure none of us had jewelry or anything else that could get lost along the race route.

As I stood by the Start line, I looked across the valley that was also featured in Jurassic Park and noticed the rope climbing obstacle. I gulped and knew that would be a burpee station for me instead.

I started stretching, jumping lightly and did leg lunges. I mentally berated myself but stopped and chose to say to myself, "Don't run-remember to PACE YOURSELF even if you're the last person in your heat. WHO CARES."

Our heat was called and the announcer was so enthusiastic and just getting us pumped up. Before I knew it-we were off! Everyone ran-I didn't!

1st obstacle: climb a 4 foot wall

2nd obstacle: under the wall

Walked through a puddle

3rd obstacle: Climb over 5 foot wall with the volunteers letting me know if I needed help, they would help me over but I made it!

Rounded the corner and I had to go down into a creek/stream. As I waded, all I could think about was bacteria, impetigo and the survival show, Naked and Afraid of the character who almost died drinking this type of water.

As I got out and walked up, there was our water station (Note: I didn't pay attention to my husband as he was showing me how to use my hydration pack because it wasn't our normal camelbak) and I drank the water gratefully even though one of my friends told me not to drink the water station water. I didn't care. It was good.

Then, I reached the 4th obstacle, which was to climb up a netting to get to the path above. I swallowed nervously because I'm thinking, "Will this thing even carry my weight?" I stepped onto it as I about to climb and the entire thing groaned... SHUT UP. Yeah, I know but guess what-it held and  I made it to the top. Then, we had to single file go down a make-shift dirt path that all of us had to hold onto the branches or else we would have slid and injured ourselves if we weren't careful.

Then, as we reached the end of the path, what did we all encounter?

Our 5th obstacle: Slide down into the mud. Climb over and crawl under the barb wire. My biggest mistake was not taking off my hydration pack and leaving it with the volunteers until I was finished. So, heads up if you are doing a Spartan race and it is your first time? If you have a hydration pack-I would recommend you leave it with the volunteers as you finish this obstacle.

Right after that, we ran around the corner and there was our 6th obstacle...a 6 foot wall. Dang it and the young girls that was there smirked at me. I swear, I wanted to slap them from my motherly instincts but I asked them to wash the mouth part of my hydration pack, which she reluctantly did.

As I got to that wall, one guy was about to help me, however, I cramped. So, I ended up doing my first set of 30 burpees.

After I finished and because I was so out of breath, as I attempted to walk/run up the hill-I stopped to rest but was seized with cramps...BOTH LEGS and I'm thinking "Oh hell no...I ate all those bananas, wheat bread and Gatorade to be brought down by cramps?!"

One girl stopped and massaged my right calf (thank goodness I shaved my legs that morning!). While I'm resting and trying to stretch my left leg too, the group asked if I wanted them to call anyone? NO. I wanted that medal and I didn't want to fail now especially since we were only at the 6th obstacle.

After a few minutes, I shared with the girl to go because I didn't want to hold her up. She reluctantly went but I told her I'd be fine and will just rest for a bit. I drank from my hydration pack that had 4 tabs of the Nuun electrolytes.

I got up and walked up. And up. And up. Around the bend for a water station.

7th obstacle: Climb over a seven foot wall (There were young adults so willing to help me over. Yay! No burpees)

Walked a little further down and there was the 8th obstacle...the 8 foot wall. Again, young adult and participants going their SECOND time around helped me. YAY! No burpees!

Walked down and up to where I believe this was the 9th obstacle of climbing this wooden thing and crab walked down the slats of wood to the 10th obstacle.

The 10th obstacle was the tire pull, which to me was pretty easy because we just had to pull the tire that was attached to a rope to where the rope was tight. Then, we had to run back to where we started and pull the tire back.

11th obstacle: Cinder block pull (One block for girls, two for the guys) *easy*

12th obstacle: Monkey bars. Tried it once and fell since I didn't have the swinging momentum like I did when I was a child. 30 burpees again!!! Boooo

13th obstacle: Sandbags. Huff. Huff. Pant. Rest. Huff. Huff.

14th obstacle: Atlantis lift? Carrying a block from one end to the other with 5 burpees.

15th obstacle: Climbing across a wall without falling off.

16th obstacle: Crawl under barb wire in a mud pit (BLECH)

17th Obstacle: Rope Climb AKA burpee station for me since I have no upper body strength.

Slide down this hill and ran around the bend.

18th obstacle. Slide into mud to climb a slanted wall with a rope and climb down.

Did I make it? Nope. There was one guy at the top instructing me what to do. There was another guy who was going to help me push my feet. As I was about to grasp and move up, I fell off the side of the obstacle, onto my back not realizing I had a cut on my arm because I wanted to cry. As I got up, the guys asked if I wanted to try again. I said, "No" and waded through the mud to the volunteer waiting for me. He must have felt pretty awful and told me, "You tried-run on!" I didn't hesitate-I ran. That's right, I wasn't going to say, No, I'll do the 30 burpees."

19th obstacle: Jump over the fire. 

20th obstacle: Go through the great and wonderful gladiators who were so nice to me especially because I probably looked like their mom's age.

And I seen my husband smiling and cheering me on to where I wanted to burst into tears because I knew I made it.

The guy placed the medal over me and I staggered to get my FINISHER's SHIRT minus the headband because they didn't have any left. Had my husband take picture at the wall. 

Then, I tried to wash off the mud first at the site then across the road at the beach like the other racers.

Trekked back a mile and half to my truck, posted up pictures of my finish. 

...and knocked out when I got home...

I have to share this was redemption for me. I thought this would quench my thirst for obstacle racing but it hasn't. I actually pre-registered for the Spartan Super that is coming to Hawaii next year.

I have ONE WHOLE YEAR TO TRAIN. Do you know what I've been doing since Monday? Eating healthy and starting to workout. I want to make sure that I'm giving my best.

See, it's not about a mid-life crisis or wanting to post-up "Look at me photos". It's about getting healthy back into my life more consistently than ever not just physical but mentally and spiritually too.

But most of all, I want that blue medal.

“Accept challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.” –George S. Patton

Tips for Spartan Races:
1) Train for it especially if you're going for timing. Check out Spartan website for their WOD

2) Hydrate well-don't be stupid and think it is ok, it won't be when you cramp up. Read the Spartan blogs-great tips

3) Use shoes that are good for hiking or trail running. I used my Vibrams Sprydion and I love them!

4) Use clothes that have dry-wick NOT cotton.

5) Expect the unexpected and have fun!!!

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