Final Piece of the Spartan Trifecta Puzzle

The day had finally arrived for the last leg of my Trifecta pursuit. It was 59 degrees and partly cloudy; a beautiful fall day for a race in Boston. On my way over to the stadium I could see participants walking along the top of Fenway Park carrying large jugs. I looked away, not wanting to psych myself out. I already conquered the Super and Beast, BUT the cement grounds of the ballpark were different from the grass/mud terrain I was used to, and just because it was a Sprint race, didn’t mean it would be easy. I was very torn because I wanted to get through the course quickly and to the best of my ability, but at the same time, given the historic location and access to special areas like the locker room and dugout, I wanted to pause at points and enjoy the experience. It sort of didn’t go down as planned. I tore through the course because I was unsure how to pace myself through the stadium. Toward the end, when I was running around the clay warning track past the famous Green Monster wall, I slowed down a little to look up and around. While I was taking in the awesome 360-view, I thought WOW, I never imagined I would be running bases at Fenway Park one day! I’m not even a baseball fan (I’m a hockey gal), but I appreciated the significance of the venue. I proudly finished the course in 51:56.

The Spartan obstacle races became addictive, which is something I didn’t expect when I originally signed up for my first, and what I thought would be only one. I never imagined the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northern Virginia would lead me to Killington Mountain in Vermont and then to Fenway Park in Boston. The journey to accomplish my Trifecta goal took me outside of my mental and physical comfort zones and revealed capabilities to me that I didn’t even know I possessed. I’m not sure what my fitness goals are for 2016 yet. I’m going to take some time off from racing this winter and figure them out.

(FUN FACTOID: The Green Monster aka “The Wall” was part of the original Fenway Ballpark construction of 1912. The wall is the highest among current Major League Baseball fields, and is the second highest among all professional baseball fields, including minor leagues.)

Visit Last Word on Sports to read my article on tackling challenges races from a rookie to seasoned competitor perspective.

Beast Officially Conquered … and Aptly Named

My original fitness goal for 2015 was to train for the Virginia Spartan Super and improve my previous year’s time. However, all that changed when I met and interviewed Desirée Rincón (see my article about her on the Last Word on Sports website). Her story inspired me to pursue a trifecta and become a member of the Spartan TRIFECTA Tribe! A trifecta is the successful completion of all three Spartan distances: Sprint, Super and Beast within the same calendar year. The Virginia Super took place at the end of August, so I had to devise a plan quickly for fitting in the additional two races in order to achieve my revised goal. I read on the Spartan website that the Vermont Beast was coming up, and since it’s known as the most difficult Spartan course in the country I figured why not do it — go big or go home mentality.

The morning of the race I was nervous and shaky. I was by myself and the terrain and level of competitors were intimidating. Right before I had to enter the starting gate my boyfriend Chad sent me a text telling me to view the race as ONE obstacle. I repeated that mentality several times as I waited in the stale with fellow racers for my 8:30 a.m. heat to start. The 13+ miles and 39+ obstacles I tackled throughout the day tested my endurance. You never know exactly how your body will perform on a given day — an obstacle that’s easy one day, may be more difficult another day. For instance, I had never come close to being able to do a rope climb challenge, but I completed my first one during the Beast! It’s wild how when you’re mentally spent you’re sometimes able to tackle and excel at something because you’re not overthinking.

There were about two and a half miles left to go in the race when I was doing a barbed wire obstacle. Due to exhaustion I miss judged the height of one of the wires and was impaled with a barb in my head. (Shout-out to the awesome Spartan Medical team who took great care of me after the race!) Right before the barbed wire challenge, a man walked past me and commented how he had done 40 of these races over the years and that he was impressed how consistently hard I had been working throughout the race. His positive words gave me a mental push that I needed at that point to channel what little energy I had left and power through to the end. I finished the race with a time of 7:10:59. I am very proud of my performance time given the fact that it was my first Spartan Beast, on the Vermont course, a male dominated sport, AND a Founders’ Race edition (which meant the course was made to be extra challenging).

I learned that people compete in the Spartan Races for a variety of personal reasons — some with a goal of just being able to finish a race, some hoping to beat their previous time(s), and others trying their best to make it to the end without having to do a single burpee penalty. All equally commendable. I was supposed to do the Pittsburgh Sprint as my next and final race to achieving a trifecta, but other racers told me that I HAD to do a stadium race because they’re unique and a blast. So I modified my plan and registered for the Fenway Park Sprint set to take place on Nov. 7. I’m very excited for the Sprint in Boston and for being close to reaching my end goal!

Visit Last Word on Sports to read my interview with Joe De Sena, co-founder of Spartan.