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.

Eyes Wide Open

I was on my way to Vermont for the Spartan Beast when I had a bucket list worthy experience that I never imagined. I had to take a flight from Dulles to Boston to Rutland. My flight from Dulles to Boston was on a standard size commercial plane. I knew my connecting flight from Boston to Rutland would be on a smaller plane, but I had nooooo idea that a Cessna Prop was only a nine-passenger plane! Before boarding the plane the attendant weighed our bags and recorded our personal weight to ensure proper distribution. While we were standing outside on the tarmac I was taking pictures (until I was nicely yelled at to stop) and I didn’t realize I had volunteered to be the “co-pilot”! Boarding the plane wasn’t the typical leisurely stroll on inside, we had to duck and enter as if we were getting into a mini van. There were only six of us on the flight. I figured I would be sitting behind the pilot like on a commercial flight. Nope! I was sitting right next to the pilot with the steering wheel and controls all directly in front of me. I had a genuine oh sh** moment! The pilot made his speech, but I was still in shock about where I was sitting and didn’t hear a word he said. As the plane took off the wheel and pedals in front of me started to move automatically and I immediately froze up. I didn’t want to accidentally touch anything!!!!! When we reached cruising altitude it seemed like we were suspended in air hanging by strings. I didn’t breath for what seemed like a long time. When I finally started to relax, I distracted myself with the amazing aerial view — a perspective I never had before, not even when I rode in a hot air balloon. I embraced the situation and tried to soak up the experience. Having 360 degree views of the deep green beautiful mountain ranges of Vermont contrasting with the powder blue sky and cotton-like clouds while coming in and landing is something I will never forget. My nerving situation turned out to be peaceful and majestic. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have an opportunity to be a co-pilot, put your fears aside and go for it!