Tag Archives: fit mom

What Running Gave Me in 2018

I’m not an emotional person.  However, as my husband broke off from me for the last two miles of the Charlotte half marathon, I found myself starting to tear up.  As I crossed the finish line, I cried.  I have run a few half marathons.  I have even run a marathon.  What made this race different?  A lot of things.  Mostly being the impact my children have had on my life.  Being a good mom, a mom my kids are proud of, ensures a different level of love that will always be in my life.

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When I saw the Charlotte Marathon was looking for ambassadors to represent the city’s race, I felt a calling.  This was something I wanted to be a part of.  I have preached that I am someone who keeps a very diverse training plan.  I am ready to do all types of things during any given week – ride an indoor bike, do an obstacle course race, crush a 5k or finish the competitive wave of beers and burpees.  How could I challenge those who considered themselves “non-runners” to get off a bike, treadmill or out of a crossfit studio to support this event?  I kept my same training regimen and showed up week in and week out at several local running races.

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I ran some of the fastest races of my life.  Will I remember that? Sure.  However, what  I will remember most about running all these races, rather participating in all of these fitness events, is the community. It gave me inclusion.  Access to a new group of inspiring friends that showed me a whole new side of Charlotte.

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Let’s talk race day.  I had been sick for several days leading up to the Saturday race.  I spent most of Thursday and Friday laying on the couch with a low grade fever.  I didn’t intend to dwell on it, which is why most people didn’t even know I was feeling under the weather as race day approached.  I woke up Saturday with the intention that I would run my half marathon without music, without expectation and with the intention of seeing my city.

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I parked in a parking deck that I didn’t plan to park in due to road closures.  I wore shorts based on advice from my husband and other ambassadors and I did less than a half mile warm up.  Nothing went as planned.  I met fellow Flywheel instructor, Abbie Cooper, and the Charlotte Marathon ambassadors at the finish line to take some pre-race pictures.

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Whatever nerves I may have had were released through the ambassador’s version of a 90’s boy band photo op and a short jog over to the start line where I met fellow FiA (Females in Action) friends for a group picture.  I had every intention of starting with the 8:00 min/mile pacer, until I couldn’t find him.  That’s where I was supposed to meet Abbie too.  Couldn’t find her either.

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I did find Katie Gregory (another Charlotte Marathon Ambassador).  We had already talked about trying to run a majority of the race together, so I felt good about having someone who I knew wanted to run an 8:00 min/mile pace near me.  As quick as the national anthem was played, the race started.  We walked across the start line.  There were a TON of people.  The first mile was slow.  Over the course of the mile, Katie and I picked up Alejandro (another Charlotte Marathon Ambassador).  He was running the full marathon, with a goal of sub 3:30.  GREAT.  Someone else who would pace with us.

The energy at the start of the race was fire.  Katie, Alejandro and I chatted, said hello to friends and before we knew it we were done with the first mile (8:10 pace).  Shoutout to all my FiAs we touched that first mile (Lindsey, Natalie, Katharine).  Katie and I joked about giving and getting high fives.  I ran past a group of police officers running down fourth and high fived each one of them.  It was after the first mile that we also passed a man who eventually completed the half with crutches.  SO inspiring.  There truly are no excuses.

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Somewhere in between the transition from mile 2-3, we lost Katie.  Alejandro and I chatted as we rolled down Randolph at the Colville intersection where I saw Shane.  Shane.  His smile so big, his arms extended up in the air, his voice echoing from 100m away.  He jumped in with us.  He documented on Instagram.  He entertained us.  These are the moments you will never know unless you run without music and technology.  Shane followed my pace as we ran with a man wearing American flag running shorts and a camelback.  He typically doesn’t do races on the road, but rather on the trails. We made the turn on to Providence in the midst of a huge crowd of runners (the first relay exchange zone).

We talked about how I was now in my home.  My neighborhood.  The roads that I knew and had trained well on.  We crushed the hills.  I took my first water.  I ran into so many people on this stretch.  Mary Merlin and her jogging stroller, a former co-worker Danny Weiland (I know his wife, Allison, was out there running) and the Lululemon crew! (Lynn and Allyson).

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Before we knew it, we were on to mile 6.  A steady downhill in which I saw my husband all geared up on the side of the road.  I yelled, “HUBS” and the man beside me looked over and said “huh?”.  I said again, “HUBS”.  He jumped in with Shane and I.  It was at that point that we made one of the most important turns of the day.  Queen Road West.  I knew I would see my kids. The most important people out on the course that day.

Y’all Queens Road West was MAGIC.  There were people lining both sides of the street.  Cow bells. Posters.  Cheers.  I saw my girls and ran by giving high fives and smiles.  I was proud of them as I hoped they were proud of me.  Thank you to all my friends and neighbors that we passed through this stretch.   Kelsey, Shelby, Cody.  The FiA station at the bottom of the hill.  If I didn’t say something or wave, it’s because I didn’t see you.  For that I apologize.  I am truly grateful for the warm showing of people out to support the every day runner.  Shane dropped us at this point, and the hubs (Jeff) took the task of leading me to the 10 mile marker.

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I took my first Gu pack as we cruised down Queens. I actually stopped to walk to make sure I got everything in and drank enough water too.  We picked things back up at a quicker pace as such I wouldn’t lose time.  That’s when we got in a fight.  As we cruised down Kings Drive, I told my husband I wanted to slow down to conserve energy for the big hill coming (Morehead).  He offered his advice, which I did not agree with and we stopped talking.  Sometimes big mama needs a time out.

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So I took one.  As I ran straight up Morehead with a chip on my shoulder, I saw one person standing at the top of the hill out cheering people on.  Allison.  She has been riding with me for over four years at Flywheel.  Allison has been through so much in the past year.  I can’t begin to explain to you how special it was for me to hear her yell, “Let’s go Jen” as I pushed to the top.  Just months ago this girl was admitted to the ER for blood clots in her lungs (from birth control, nonetheless).  She and her doctors attribute her ability to survive at her state to her level of fitness.  Read that again.  Her ability to survive.  Allison, thank you for being my inspiration.

We hit Latta park and found the people.  Charlotte Running Company had a set up.  We ran by the Fillnows.  As we passed the Charlotte Hornets painted basketball court in the park, we ran by Jeff’s friend, Scott Williams and his two boys.  He was as surprised to see us as we were to see him.  I walked through yet another water station before I headed to the home stretch.

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As we approached the point of the race that I knew Jeff would drop me to meet me at the finish line, he said to me “Jennifer, your girls were so excited to come cheer for you this morning.  They are proud of you.”  Mind you, we hadn’t said much since I got mad at him on Kings.  I didn’t say much, but I heard him.  I told him that.  I was listening.  So he kept talking to me.  This is why I love this man so much.

We split as I headed to SouthEnd and he headed uptown. By myself.  I had run the entire race with someone else.  I was finally alone.  Fatigue was setting in.  I was no longer distracted by someone  or something else.  I got sad.  Ha. Weird.  I felt like I was going to cry.  People say running is mental.  I kept trying to figure out why I was getting sad.  I was so close to the finish line.  I saw Scott Williams and his two boys again and I was reminded to embrace the experience and just have fun.

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I cruised by the turn into Panthers stadium fulfilled and slow moving, also alone.  I felt emotional again.  This whole season.  This whole experience.  It was almost over.  I wasn’t ready for it.  It was in these last moments that everything came full circle.  Abbie pulled up beside me and said, “Let’s go girl.  WE got this.” WE.  She didn’t say you.  She said we.  We, two moms, would finish together.  Not out to beat each other.  Not worried about time.  Just there to support each other as we finished.  This amazing feeling swept over me.  The end.  End of an incredible season.  End of this race I had been training for for what seemed like forever.  Regardless of time, I felt so loved as I crossed the finish line.  No matter how fast or slow I ran, I felt loved.  What a feeling.  Running gave me that.

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Don’t get me wrong, I feel loved by the ones who love me, but being a mom is hard.  There are a lot of days that go by unappreciated (especially with kids my age).  At my job in corporate America it was often that I was rewarded and recognized for my hard work.  The days are few and far between in my line of work these days.  My kids (and most people) don’t see me working during the hours they are sleeping.  Moving my whole day around to spend a little bit of extra time doing something for someone else.  Working out on a full stomach, when I’m run down or when I really just don’t feel like it.

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To Abbie.  To my moms and dads that work day in and day out.  To my friends and family who made me feel loved on this day.  I’m proud.  Proud of you.  Aim High.  Dream Big. Never settle.

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Week 24 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of an eggplant (approximately 1.7 pounds)

Weight Gain – 17 pounds. It seems like every 2 weeks or so, the baby has a growth spurt (or mom has a burst of weight gain).  We went to a block party yesterday and I had a chance to talk to a mom of four about our last pregnancy.  Our conclusion?  It just seems more enjoyable.  I had my first child when I was 29.  Maybe it was my age, maybe it was because it was my first pregnancy, but seeing my body change was difficult.  I was definitely not one of those women who embraced the change and loved every second of being pregnant.  I was tired. I was uncomfortable.  I felt like time crept by SO slow.

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While I am still tired and uncomfortable, my perception of the whole experience is just so much better.  Time is going by much faster and better yet I am physically and mentally feeling the most clear and strong than I have with any of my other pregnancies.  Somedays I blame it on the fact that I know I only plan to do this one more time.  Other days, I beg to differ that I was in better shape going into this one.  Either way, the third round has been worth it.  In fact, I feel like our family wouldn’t be complete without us going through this process one last time.

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Movement –  I have started to notice the baby move more and more when I am standing than I did before.  The movement is still concentrated to the lower part of my abs (or what is left of them).

Sleep – Let’s just say, I am going to bed early and getting up early.  I taught a lot of early morning Flywheel classes this week.

What I miss – Climbing!  I held my regularly scheduled Cross Conditioning OCR climbing workout at Inner Peaks on Wednesday.  The girls usually go with me to hang out until dad has a chance to swap cars and pick them up.  They thoroughly enjoy watching.  They have both started to get the itch to try themselves.  That said, my bump definitely bumps into the climbing wall when I boulder now.  They do make harnesses that are adaptable for pregnancy, however, I am going to call it until  baby number three arrives.  I will be watching from the sidelines for a few months.

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Best Moments this Week – Since preschool is not in session when the kids can celebrate Father’s Day with their dads, my oldest daughter’s class had a dads and donuts get together at school this week.  The children’s dads were invited to join them for donuts prior to pick up.  At the event the kids sang two songs and gave them their Father’s Day gift (early).

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As much as I begged my daughter to tell me what she made for my husband or even practice singing the song to me, she kept things a secret.  Her teacher sent us some pictures, my husband recorded the song and I later saw the gift she made him.  A bookmark all about her dad.  It’s certain, she sure is observant!

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My husband’s parents also came to visit on Friday and stayed through the weekend. The girls spent hours playing with them outside and in the garden.  My mother-in-law was able to help us finalize any and all planting for our fruit and vegetable garden.

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Cravings – Whatever that old wives’ tale is that pregnant women having girls crave sweets doesn’t seem to apply to me.  I am craving french fries and grilled cheese.

Symptoms – Dare I say not much (other than a growing belly and weight gain).  I’m tired.  However, that happens when you have two kids under the age of three and you are getting up at 4:30 AM several days a week.

Workouts – It’s the end of another month, so I have some real life data to compare to previous months.

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Since I did teach more Flywheel this month, my running mileage was down.  Total mileage for the month of April was 35.5, as compared to approximately 60 miles in March.  I have been focusing on strength two days a week (in which I don’t try to get my heart rate up), only because I am running and cycling several other days a week.

  • Monday – I taught my regularly scheduled 6:30 AM Flywheel class.
  • Tuesday – I did some strength work in the garage before teaching my regularly scheduled 3:30 PM Flywheel class.
  • Wednesday – EASY 30 minute run.  My easy pace is now 9:45 – 10:00 miles.
  • Thursday – I met my running group for our interval workout.   See workout below.  I did most of the workout and without my belly band.  I am back to feeling comfortable running without support.  This is the best that I have felt running in weeks (albeit slower).
    • .75 mile warm up
    • 2 x1 mile hill repeats
    • 3 x 800 (I only did 2)
    • .75 mile cool down home

I went on to teach my 3:30PM Flywheel class that afternoon.

  • Friday – I subbed the 6:30 AM Flywheel class.
  • Saturday – I squeezed in some strength work in the garage EARLY.  Saturday is a big training day for me with clients.  With family in town, I wanted to be available to participate in activities that afternoon.
    • Still doing Pull ups, Toes to Bar, Turkish Get Ups, Kettlebell Swings, the list goes on.
  • Sunday –  I taught my 7:30 AM Flywheel class.

Week 17 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of the palm of your hand (approximately 3-5 ounces)

Weight Gain – 10 Pounds – Holding steady at about a pound a week in the second trimester.

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Movement –Starting to feel little kicks very low in my belly.  I typically feel nothing when I am on my feet moving around with the kids/working out.  It is when I finally sit down at night that I feel something.  My one cup of a coffee a day doesn’t even get her moving.

Sleep – Sleeping great these days.  I am less restless and sleeping through the night.  My parents offered to have the girls over for a “sleepover” this week, so we jumped at the chance to have a parents night in.

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The girls took ownership in packing for their trip up the road.  While the picture above may seem like a lot of stuff, there was actually more.  I thought they would miss me, but I missed them more.  We didn’t hear from them all night.

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We haven’t had a date night in a few weeks, so we bounced around a few places (while I enjoyed “mocktails”) before joining friends for dinner at Block & Grinder.  We were still in bed by 10PM.

What I miss – It’s funny because I looked back at what I said week 17 in my second pregnancy, and I feel exactly the same.  The answer?  I don’t miss much.  Right now, I am enjoying the second trimester energy surge and the fact that this will be my last time experiencing a baby growing in my belly.

Best Moments this Week – I would say date night in, but I have already talked about that.  In all seriousness, spending quality time with my girls has been the best part of the week.  They were out of school on Tuesday because of a teacher workday.  Lucky for us, the weather was nice, and some of the other parents had coordinated playdates for the week.

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Realizing my time with just the two of them is getting shorter, I am trying to get them out of the house (either together or by themselves) and excited about doing something with their mom.  If something fun comes up, I work to be unselfish with my own time to let them have time with me to themselves.  Even if that means my youngest daughter asks me to take her to the playground at Chicfila for lunch at 10:30 AM.

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Cravings – I am finally starting to enjoy eating healthy foods again.  I am craving less salty, high fat foods and more fruits and vegetables.  I opted to eat a salad several days this week.  Bring on the veggies!  The picture below is a salad from Johnny Burrito.  If you haven’t made it over there, you are missing out.

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Symptoms – Whatever took over my hands last week is gone and hasn’t come back since.  No real symptoms other than a bigger stomach.  I haven’t started wearing maternity pants yet.  However, my wardrobe most often revolves around elastic waistband athletic pants.

Workouts –To be honest, I am feeling stronger than ever.  My OB/GYN rode in my Thursday Flywheel class, so I had time to catch up with her outside of the office.  Having a relationship with her like this has made all three of my pregnancies significantly less stressful.  She encourages my workouts and supports all FOUR Flywheel instructors who are pregnant at this moment in time.  That’s right, I said FOUR.

  • Monday – 6:30 AM Flywheel – I just taught my class.  I have also been volunteer coaching pole vault in the afternoon at Myers Park High School.  I consider all of the walking around that I do in the track area a workout.

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  • Tuesday – Knowing the girls had a teacher workday and I would not get any time to squeeze in a workout, I woke up early to do a garage workout before my husband left for work.
    • 15 minute warm up Run
    • 2 Rounds
      • Bosu knee to chest crunch, raise legs over hurdles x 8 each side (HARD)
      • Bosu Burpee x 10
      • Ape Crawl x 25 yards (this will be the last week I can do this, belly is too big)
      • Glute Bridge, heels in TRX, mini band around thighs x25
    • 2 Rounds
      • Side Knee to Elbow on Bosu x 25 each
      • Lunge on Bosu with Bicep Curl x 10 each
      • Leg Raise with Flex Arm Hang on Gymnastics Rings x 10
      • TRX row x 15
    • 2 Rounds
      • Side Step Up x 10
      • Ab Mat Sit Up x 25
      • Pull Up x 10
      • Overhead Press x 15

*Let’s talk about the fact that I am still doing straight leg toes to bar.  My doctor was surprised I could still do these (not in a bad way, but she is interested to see how much longer I can do them).  That said, I will attempt to continue to do them before modifying by doing knees to elbow.

  • Wednesday – While I have energy, I have been trying to keep my strength work consistent.  I did a shorter workout Wednesday that embodied aspects of obstacle race training.
    • 2 Rounds
      • Run 800m easy
      • Marching crunch on Bosu x 25 each
      • Pushup with one arm roll out x 10 each side
      • Elastic Band Upright Row with shoulder rotation to overhead press x 10 (HARD, but great for shoulder mobility)
      • Miliband around thighs, side walk x 15 each leg x 3 rounds
    • 4 Rounds
      • Run 400m
      • 15 Pushups
      • 5 Pull Ups
      • 25 Squats
      • 5 Pull Ups
      • 15 Pushups
  • Thursday – I ran an early morning workout with my run group before teaching Flywheel at 3:30.

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*Let’s talk about my run intensity on the one day I do interval training a week.  The workout that the group did was as follows:

  • 1.5 mile warm up
  • 5 Rounds – Run 1000m, recover 400m

I only did 4 rounds, and my pace was somewhat consistent outside of the first round.  If you look at line 3, 5, 8, and 10, you can see my 1000m breaks.  I averaged about an 8:00/mile pace when I was on.  When I was recovering, I was closer to a 10:00 mile.  That said, prior to getting pregnant, my average interval pace would have been somewhere around 6:45-7:00 pace.  I am dropping anywhere between a minute to a minute and a half of speed when I am on.  I am totally okay with this.  I am also totally okay with being done when I feel like being done (which on this day was before everyone else).  I feel excited about the fact that I am just outside being active.

  • Friday – After a long week, I spent some time playing around in the garage, but not doing a structured workout.  I did end up seeing how many pull ups I could do.  Somehow I managed to do 12.  I am shocked I still have the ability to pull up the additional weight that many times.
  • Saturday – For two weeks in a row, I have gotten up early to get a “longish” run in before the kids wake up.  On these days, my goal is to run easy.  That said, I try to keep my heart rate in the 140s, leaving my pace somewhere in the 9:30/10:00 mile range.  On this day, I squeeze in 4.78 mile at  9:41 pace.

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I went on to train my obstacle training group later that morning – this time only watching people workout and not actually doing a workout myself.  The first Charlotte Spartan Race is coming up in less than 4 weeks!

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  • Sunday – I taught my regular 7:30 AM Flywheel class, which was rough with the time change!

 

 

 

Asheville Super Spartan Race Recap 2016

Let me take a deep breath.  I haven’t posted in awhile.  For various reasons. The summer has been busy.  I haven’t really had much to say.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anyone cared to hear what I was saying.  Clearly these are excuses.  In the moments leading up to and following last weekend’s Spartan Race in Asheville, NC, I felt so much support.  While I will likely never find myself on the podium in the elite section of a Spartan Race, I am not ashamed to put myself in contention with some of the best athletes in the world (and let the public see it).

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I had done several obstacle races before I actually began my Spartan journey in 2015.  The transition from full time, corporate America to a mom of two girls was very hard for me.  I spent all of college and my first few years in Charlotte building self efficacy through climbing up the corporate ladder and traveling all over the United States.  After the birth of my second child and when I ultimately left work full time, I almost had to find myself again.  I had to find a way to get a piece of me back from before I had kids.  That came in the spirit of competition through obstacle racing.

This year’s Asheville Super was and will be one of the hardest and most competitive races of the 2016 race series.  After competing in last year’s event, I thought I had my hands around any and everything that the course director might throw at us.  Boy was I wrong.  Last year’s course consisted of 8 miles over an 1,800 foot elevation climb.  I finished it in a mere 2 hours and 5 minutes.  This year’s course on the other hand was over 10 miles over a 3,000 foot elevation climb.  It took me exactly 3 hours.  Plenty of racers have gone on to to post images of the differences in elevation and difficulty year over year and it really is mind blowing.

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A lot of things have changed since last year.  The biggest being that Spartan will post the course map with obstacles prior to racers arriving on site the day of the race.  It’s interesting to me.  Last year we showed up the day of the race and crowded around the race map trying to see what was in store for us.  This year, Spartan posted the course map the day before the race giving us a chance to set a race plan over night.

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When I say set a race plan, I had time to determine where I would take fuel (as it relates to water stations), how fast I wanted to get out depending on the terrain and how I would tackle the ridiculous clumps of obstacles scattered around the start/finish line.

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Before heading out from Charlotte, we hit our favorite pre-race dinner spot, Roasting Company.  See picture above -pulled chicken with rice, squash casserole and stewed okra.  I eat a lot the night before a long race because I do not eat a lot before the actual race.

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Rather than stay at a ridiculously priced hotel (or even motel) in downtown Asheville, we found a bed and breakfast just outside of the town  and rented a room.  I used to have thousands of hotel and airline points, which made trips like this easy.  The transition to finding more creative places to stay has been interesting.  Needless to say, I absolutely loved The North Lodge on Oakland.  I enjoyed coffee in my room with a cookie before going to bed.  We didn’t hear a thing all night, and we both woke up feeling like we had slept in our own bed.  We will be back.  Next time for fun, not a race.

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We woke up Saturday at 5:00 AM.  I had a Luna Bar, a bite of bagel and a cup of water.  We were at the race location by 6:15 AM.  We checked in, warmed up and grabbed everything we needed to start.  Since it was an NBC sanctioned race, things moved a little slower loading the elites into the starting corral.  The top 10 elite racers were announced and allowed to run to the front of the line.

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After pre-race instructions and some “AROO’s” we were off.  We were fast.  I had no doubt that it would be that way.  After a short trail run, we hit the first obstacle.

Obstacle 1 – Over Walls – Jump over 2 four foot walls.  Easy.

After that, we found ourselves in the creek.  Everyone still had that beginning of race anxiety.  There were people literally flailing trying to find their footing and still move as fast as possible (including myself).

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After hitting mile 1, we made our way out of the creek only to hit obstacle number 2.

Obstacle 2 – Hurdles – These are beams suspended about 4 feet off the ground.  This obstacle is more difficult for shorter people like myself.  Two in a row and we were off into the woods.

Thick woods.  Hilly woods.  Extremely steep woods.  At one point they even had a rope suspended off the side of a steep cliff to guide individuals safely down.  I literally bear crawled on my hands and my knees up the steep ridges.  The terrain was rough and everyone was forced to slow down.  See picture below.

Obstacle 3 – 6 Foot Wall – As the name implies jump over a 6 foot wall.  These are easy at this point for me.  After jumping the wall, we proceeded through more thick terrain and mile marker two.

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Obstacle 4- Plate Drag – In the midst of the thick woods, was the plate drag (along with a water station).  Participants were asked to drag a weighted sled about 10 yards across a muddy path.  You then had to drag it back to start.  No problems here.

We ran quite a ways on more even and open terrain before we arrived at the next obstacle.

Obstacle 5 – Barbed Wire Crawl – This was much easier than prior races I have done.  The wire was higher than usual.  I could crawl without rolling.  The biggest issue was how ROCKY it was.  I think the majority of the cuts and bruises on my knees came from this obstacle. What looked like smooth mud was actually mirky water covering sharp rocks.  I was passed by two women here.

Obstacle 6 – Atlas Carry – Things were quite wet here.  I was smart about which line I chose to carry my atlas.  Racers are asked to pick up a stone that weighs over 50 pounds, carry it about 15 feet, put it down, do 5 burpees, pick it up and walk it back to start.  The last thing I wanted to do was drop my atlas into a muddy hole making it more difficult to pick back up.  I did my first set of burpees here – the 5 that are required to complete the obstacle.

From there we took another open terrain path back to the festival area where we hit several difficult obstacles in a row.

Obstacle 7 – 7 Foot Wall – This obstacle typically gives me no trouble.  That said, I ran at the wall on my first try only to miss and land back on my feet.  I got a great reaction from spectators.  My second try I used the kicker that the women are allowed to use and had no problem hoisting myself over.

Obstacle 8 – Z- Walls – This is one of my least favorite obstacles.  I just can’t figure it out. I looked at several different paths I could take before I opted on the first wall facing the crowd.  I made it half way across before I fell off trying to reach around the corner of a wall.  This was my first failed obstacle. Burpee count = 30.

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Obstacle 9 – Dunk Wall/Rolling Mud – I hope you aren’t afraid to get dirty.  Just a few yards away from completing my burpees, I dove right into the muddy water only to submerge my face under a wall and go through a series of muddy pits.

Obstacle 10 – Rope Climb – Wow.  All I can say is wow.  This obstacle singlehandly threw off the entire race for many elite runners.  The ropes were ridiculously slick because of the rain and mud from the night before.  Women were given two tries to get up while men only had one chance.  Good thing because my hands slid right down the first rope I tried before I moved to another rope with no problem.

I went on to learn that two top 10 finishers for the men were disqualified here for doing the same thing I did and not completing burpees.  That is huge for point standings and money.  As the day went on, this obstacle cleared up.

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Obstacle 11 – Spear Throw – Another one of my worst obstacles.  I have been practicing.  I wound up only to have the right distance and miss merely to the left.  Fail.  Burpee count – 60.

In a matter of a few feet, I had now done 60 burpees.  I was feeling gassed.  However, I had made up time on several women with my speed in burpees.  I was headed back into the woods feeling good about things.

Obstacle 12 – Memory Chart (omitted) – Elite are not required to perform this obstacle. 

We began our trek up the mountain on a gravel road.  The grade was not as steep as we had already seen.  I opted to follow a pattern of run 20 steps, walk 10 steps so that I would not wear myself out too soon.  It was during this time that I went back and forth with several women. One of whom actually offered me fuel as she consumed it up the hill.  Really, a very generous offer given the circumstances.

Obstacle 13 – 8 Foot Wall – At the clearing of the top of the hill was the tallest wall we would encounter the entire race.  I definitely had help from the kicker here.  We were off into the woods yet again from there.

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Yet another clearing and we were at Mile 4.  What?  We weren’t even half way and I felt like I had been put through the ringer already.

Obstacle 14 – A-Frame Cargo – At the quarry clearing was the A-Frame Cargo net.  I am definitely more cautious on this than most elite athletes. Take the path up the sides of the middle where it is tightest to the bar.  I made my way over before taking my only other fuel for the rest of the race as we hit the water station.

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Obstacle 15 – Bucket Carry – SUPRISE!  This was a “classified” on the obstacle map.  We had no idea what to expect.  What came next was one of the hardest parts of the entire race.  The fog covered the side of the mountain as we approached the start (and finish of the bucket carry).  Go ahead.  Load it up to the designated line.  Carry it up very muddy 45 degree incline hill.  Walk back down. Then walk back up without the bucket.  I NEVER put my bucket down.  I did several times in this instance.  I could barely take 10 steps without feeling like I needed to rest.  As I walked down the hill, I saw my husband for the first time.  I yelled at him.  SERIOUSLY?  He had already caught up to me even with a 15 minute head start?

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The picture below so accurately depicts the feeling that I experienced as I made my way back up that hill without the bucket.  It was BRUTAL.

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What came next was just plain mean.  We ran a little bit more.  I couldn’t tell you how much, but it wasn’t long.  Then I saw the monkey bars.  Soaking wet.  My forearms were still quivering from the carry and I literally looked at the guy beside and said, “Of course they would do the monkey bars after a heavy forearm carry.”

Obstacle 16 – Monkey Bars – I couldn’t find a path that wasn’t wet.  There were at least 15 people in the burpee zone already.  I went for it.  Again, an obstacle I never fail.  I made it three quarters of the way and fell.  I yelled an explicit word. I went to the burpee zone.  Burpee count = 90.

Obstacle 17 – Stairway to Sparta – Let’s climb/walk/jog.  I was exhausted going into the woods for the start of the climb up the backside of the mountain.  The Stairway of Sparta was fun last year because it was at the top of the mountain.  You grab the top of a 5 foot wall then climb up the 2×4’s of an A-frame.

Obstacle 18 – Sandbag Carry – When I got to the sandbag carry the bags were saturated and filled with wet sand.  They were heavier than usual.  They pointed us in the direction that we were to follow.  It was ridiculously steep and again muddy.  One girl ran by me and I never saw her again.  More power to her.  I set my bag down over and over and walked the entire way.  Going back up that hill, I didn’t know if I would make it. Every time I set my bag down and heaved it over my back I wished away the leaking sand that was falling out of the bag.

As I placed my bag down to finish the carry, I asked the volunteer if we were close to the top and she kind of laughed, kind of joked, then said we had another 1.7 miles to the top.  WHAT. I started walking.

I walked sideways 10 steps, switched sides, 50 steps forward, turned around.  Rested 10 seconds.  Passed a bunch of people.  Talked to a girl who was on the Spartan TV show.  I thought a lot about Flywheel. The people I train.  My husband.  I saw these mushrooms on the ground.  My one year old loves to try to pick mushrooms.  Every time I saw one, I thought of her.  Then I kept walking.  I had a lot of time to think as I walked by myself.

We reached a clearing that seemed like a down hill before we were forced back up hill.  I broke.  I bent over and I couldn’t breathe.  As I stood hunched over on the side of the mountain, my husband found me.  He inspired me.  He got me going.  It was in this moment that this race became more about us doing something together than me trying to beat the person in front of me.

Obstacle 19 – Vertical Cargo – We finally hit the downhill.  I’m talking a 1,000 foot drop over 1 mile.  He stayed with me.  He had decided to do the race because of me. He wasn’t really happy with where he was at.  He wanted to push me.  That he did. He helped me manage obstacles and terrain the rest of the way.  We cleared the vertical cargo no problem.

Obstacle 20 – I have no idea.  I still can’t figure it out.

Upon hitting the final clearing of the woods before the final set of obstacles, we were forced back in the creek.  My husband took the lead.  As I followed, in what seemed like slow motion, he slipped on a rock and landed flat on his back.  I thought it was all over. He told me to press on but how could I?  I stopped.  We slowed. We let people pass us.  We would finish this together.

Obstacle 21 – Barb Wire – Another easy obstacle.

Obstacle 22 – Slip Wall – As I approached the slip wall I told my husband I felt delirious, I felt weak.  He helped me figure out the best route to take up the wall.  We cleared it no problem.

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Obstacle 23 – Tyrolean Traverse – My first time.  LOVED it!  My husband went first and fast.  He prepped me up and yelled at me the entire way.  I opted to hand upside down and walk my opposite hand with opposite foot until I hit the bell.

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Obstacle 24 – Hercules Hoist – I feel ill saying this, but I FAILED.  My first time ever failing this obstacle.  I had literally given everything I had to this race.  When I went to pick the bag up I pulled it down and just had nothing left.  I went to the burpee zone.  Burpee count = 120.

Obstacle 25 – Bridge – Seriously?  Can I just be done.  Climb up a ladder, walk over, climb back down.  I am going through the motions at this point.  My husband, who finished the hercules hoist, went on to run through the finish line only to circle back up with me at the bottom of the bridge.

This picture.  Terrible.  I look awful.  I am sharing it because I feel it really shows what I felt in this moment.  Terrible.  Awful.  I am covered in grass.  Ashamed from the burpees I had just put myself through.  Over it.

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Obstacle 26 – Rig – Within 200 yards we were doing obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. The rig.  You know that circus looking thing.  Within 50 feet of the finish. I made it half way across.  I fell.  I failed.  My husband watched in shock as I walked to the burpee zone and did 30 more.  Burpee count = 150.

Obstacle 27 – Fire Jump – I had nothing left.  Maybe Spartan knew that.  They didn’t take my fire jump picture.  Thanks.  I’m sure it was awful too.  Thankfully, I have the one below.

Defeated. Yet not broken.  As we sped down the mountain together, we talked terribly about how hard this course was and how we would never do it again. Spartan had gone too far this time.  It is in the moments after that you truly appreciate what the human body is capable of. Regardless of what a picture looks like or what size you are, you feel incredibly satisfied with yourself.  You feel strong.  You feel confident.

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I had a team this year in the mountain with me.  I thought about them a lot.  I worried for them.  I felt their strength.  I am more proud of them than ever.  I underestimate their strength, and I am so proud that each and every one of them walked across the finish line. They are why I love doing what I do.

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