In December 2013, while at a friend’s Christmas party I was talking about how I had just completed my New Year’s Resolution to do a ½ Marathon. One of the other party-goers joined our conversation and started talking to me about my running. He told me about a series of runs called The Spartan Race. He told me about the different distances and about some special medal called a “Trifecta”. The seed had been planted.
Over the next couple of weeks I looked into these Spartan Races. I had previously completed a Warrior Dash so I was familiar with obstacle runs. I decided to set my goals high for my 2014 New Year’s Resolution and I was not only going to complete just one Spartan Run, but I was going to earn my Trifecta Medal too.
I have been running for about 2 years and was a member at a crossfit box for about 6 months. I started running more consistently and doing some home strength training exercises. I wanted to get a taste for what I was in for so I signed up for the Spartan Work-Out in Houston. 2 hours in a cold, wet, muddy field. I did an astonishing 200 burpees! And I was hooked! I loved every minute of the madness.
I continued my crazy thinking by signing up for both the Super and the Sprint in the same weekend. May could not get here fast enough.
As the weekend of my first Spartan races approached I started to get more and more anxious. I had signed up to participate with a group of new friends. After I signed up my friends told me they would not be able to join me and had actually not signed up themselves. They did not think we were having a serious conversation when it had been discussed. This left me without a team. I was going at it alone. Boy, oh boy was I nervous about that. I started doing some research on Facebook and online about other groups that would be at the Super and Sprint in Burnett, Texas. I found a group called This is WOR – Women of Obstacle Racing. I started following them and decided I was going to try and meet them.
May 17th had finally arrived. My wonderful husband, Giles was driving me to the race. Thank goodness because I wanted to turn around a half dozen times. While waiting in line for parking surrounded by cars which all had the Spartan stickers on them, I started to look up the groups on Facebook I knew would also be at the race. I found a photo of Liz and Lizzie from This is WOR and showed my husband. I told him “I really want to meet these 2 ladies. They are supposed to be here today.” Giles says that he will help me look for them but not to get my hopes up. I mean, look at all the hundreds of people who are here. We finally got to park. As I look around at the cars near us I see that Liz and Lizzie have parked right next to us! I was so excited! I point them out to Giles and he tells me to calm down. I walk over and introduce myself to them. I mention how excited I am to meet them and that I follow them on Facebook. They were both so nice. I was given some WOR armbands and hugs. I felt so much better about things after having met them.
As I waited for my heat time I mingled and talkedwith other racers. Many of them belonged to the sameteam, Lone Star Spartans. After talking to a few of them, they found some team members with my same starting time. I was feeling much more confident in that I would be able to finish this first part of my Trifecta.
Standing in the starting gate is the worst part. I was so ready to just go. I kept thinking, ‘I don’t have to do this. This is crazy. Who pays to do this torture?’ Some of the LSS ladies started talking to me and telling me the responses to yell at certain times so I could participate in the pre-race pump up.
Along the course I went through many emotions. I was ill-prepared for the type of terrain the course had. All my preparation had been done in flat Houston. This was super hilly and very steep in some places. I found that the Spartan Races test you mentally as well as physically. You look up this never-ending mountain and you think that you can’t ever get to the top. You have been climbing forever and the summit looks no closer. You want to quit. You want to cry. You stop and stand there staring at the top, wishing you were already there. Then something amazing happens, a fellow racer stops with you and asks if you are okay. Asks if you are hurt. You say you are fine and not hurt. This other racer, a stranger to you, looks you in the eyes and tells you that you can do it. They take your hand and help you get going again. This, I have come to learn, is what the Spartan spirit is all about. We start together, we finish together.
One of the obstacles that has defeated me many previous times is the slippery wall climb. I had help from some fellow Spartans and I made it up! I cried at the top and hugged the man who helped me pull myself to the top. I did finish the Super. I jumped that fire and I was a SPARTAN! AROO!!!
Oh yeah, May 18th. I had signed up for 2 races back to back. I am crazy. This time I felt more prepared but did not realize how much energy the Super had drained from me. I ran for a much shorter distance at the start of the race. I had lost my team of Lone Star Spartans I had started with that day. I knew I would finish because we are all one big team. As I plodded along I was thinking of all the things I need to add to my training to be better prepared for theses types of races in the future. A hydration bag is one of them. I did not have one and I was feeling the effects of not being properly hydrated.
The heat, thirst, and solitude were starting to get to me. That is when I once again ran into Liz and Lizzie from This is WOR – Women of Obstacle Racing. They shared their water with me and offered me some electrolyte packing snacks. As we continued along the course I started to tell them my story. Diagnosed with a heart condition in 2006. Put on a life-supporting LVAD later that same year. Having the device removed in 2007 because of my heart recovering. My condition being considered in remission due to my current health situation. We walked, talked, conquered obstacles and also picked up another Spartan who needed to be part of our team. I don’t think I would have finished the Sprint without those 3 ladies.
We met up with some Lone Star Spartans close to the finish line. We all helped each other to complete those last few obstacles. It got very crowded in those last bits of the race. I lost sight of my team but not of the finish line. I just kept going thanks to the renewed strength and drive they had given me. I jumped that fire once again and truly realized what the saying “You’ll know at the finish line” really means. I could not believe that I had accomplished so much in this one weekend. I was 2/3rds of the way to my Trifecta. AROO!!
After my Super and Sprint weekend I knew I needed to change my training to be better prepared for the much longer race The Beast. I joined the Lone Star Spartans and found some training groups in Houston to help me prepare. I also continued to follow This is WOR – Women of Obstacle Racing on Facebook and became friends with Liz and Lizzie. Over the next few months I spent many, many, many hours training. I skipped functions with friends. I stopped watching TV. I mainly just trained. I bought a hydration bag so I could still run in the summer. And I started lengthening my runs. It is never posted the exact distance of any Spartan Races, so I was unsure how long the Beast would actually be. I just kept training and telling myself it was going to be 15 miles.
The week before the Beast I was a bag of nerves. I would cry myself to sleep worrying if I had trained hard enough. Put in enough miles, bought the right shoes or sock. What was the weather going to do? I kept hearing horror stories about the frozen water obstacles of lasts year’s Beast. Then I would wake up each morning knowing that all I needed to do was start the course. Once I started I would not stop until I was done.
November 1st, Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead. This seemed rather fitting to me that I would complete my New Year’s Resolution on this day, since I had come backfrom the brink of death. I felt like I really belong when Giles and I walk onto the race grounds. I knew why I was there and I knew better what to expect. As we walked around getting our bearings we ran into Liz and Lizzie. Liz tells me I should run with her on Misty’s team. Misty’s team? Wait, Misty Diaz? I have been following her online. Heck yes I will run as part of her team! I kiss Giles goodbye and run off to start this final piece of my Trifecta. We are a team of 6: Misty Diaz (who has Spina Bifida and does not let it stop her from doing ANYTHING), Liz (Co-Founder of This is WOR – Women of Obstacle racing), Jais(who wrote an article which went viral about being close to 200lbs and in the best shape of her life), Lacy (has done a number of Spartans and is working to become a personal trainer), Jamie (has done many Spartan races and traveled all the way from NEBRASKA to be here), and me. Wow, did I feel honored to be a member of this team.
Once we got the signal to start we were off like a shot. Man, Misty is fast. These ladies are amazing. Together we conquered the Beast. I could not have wished for a better group. The Beast was taxing both mentally and physically. Luckily I was prepared this time with a hydration pack and snacks, as well as an extremely motivating team. The Beast was also long and grueling, but I loved every moment of it. As we pasted the mile 12 sign I was starting to cry. I could not believe I was really about to complete my Trifecta. I could not believe it. I could not stop smiling. When we jumped that fire at the end I had tears in my eyes and overwhelming joy in my heart. We did it! I did it! Holy cow, I did it!!
I am part of the Trifecta Tribe! Aroo, aroo, AROO!!!