Tag Archives: Spartan SGX

Charlotte Spartan Sprint 2016 Debrief

If you would have told me on January 1st that I would be running in the April Charlotte Spartan Sprint Race, I would have shrugged my shoulders.  If you follow my blog, you remember that it was during the Asheville Super the prior year that I dislocated my shoulder and was ultimately sidelined from many upper body exercises.  I sure did make a comeback.  Let me start in January.  I regained the ability to lift my arm overhead.  I was released from physical therapy.
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I eased my way in to some serious lat exercises through training with an incredible group of women led by the one and only Emily Breeze Ross at Stax – an incredible crossfit gym in Charlotte.  It was in these workouts that I gained confidence in the workload that my shoulder could handle.  Let’s face it, I was afraid.  In the confines of my home gym, I was hesitant to try certain movements for fear that I would end up in physical therapy again (even though it was evident I wouldn’t).  The environment was supportive and the push from other women forced me to work outside of my comfort zone.  It was during these workouts that the wheels started turning that I actually might be able to pull off this race (this year).

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I completed my Spartan SGX coach certification in February.  This gave me the ability to lead my own Spartan training classes.  I started teaching my first class in March.  It all happened so fast.  I was introduced to an incredible group of people, who welcomed me with open arms into a pretty tight knit community.

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So positive.  So tough.  Regardless of what was going on during my day or theirs, these individuals (my team) pushed through some high intensity workouts while also having a lot of fun discussing races and attempting to complete several obstacles. I signed up for the race in February and put the pedal to the metal.

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I focused on strength, but also put a major emphasis on conditioning.  This year’s course was 25 obstacles spread over 5 miles.  It favored those who could run (and run fast).  Let me start at the beginning. Conditions were about as bad as it gets for Charlotte in April.  Temperatures in thirties.  15-20 mile per hour winds.  Warm up was imperative.  My husband was set to start at 7:30 AM.  I was set for 7:45 AM.  After picking up our packets, we went back to the car and sat until 7:00 AM.  At that point, we stripped down to our race wear and a long sleeve shirt that we could chuck at the finish line.

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I have to admit, this is one moment in my life that I will remember being the coldest (and I went to school in VA where winter wind chills were in the negatives).  See my choice of apparel above.

  • Mudgear Compression Socks
  • Reebok Women’s All-Terrain Super Running Shoe
  • Reebok Compression Short
  • Athletics8 Compression Arm Sleeves – I ordered just days before due to the weather forecast.
  • Nike Racer Dri-Fit Singlet

I dropped my long sleeve shirt at the start.  Surprisingly, the arm sleeves made an incredible difference.  I would consider wearing these more often.  I already knew the socks were key.  Outfit set, I was ready to start.  See details below.

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  • Run hard as hell down a cattle beaten hill straight over a small creek.
  • Upon climbing a short hill, OBSTACLE 1 – hurdles.  Beams suspended about 4 feet off the ground.  Clear them.  Any way possible.
  • Mile 1 done.
  • Approach OBSTACLE 2 (“classified”) – over, under, through.  You got it.  Jump over a short wall, roll under a raised wall and jump through a wall with a hole in it.
  • Loop back to start.  OBSTACLE 3 – A-Frame Cargo Net climb.  See below.

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  • OBSTACLE 4 –Multi-Rig.  I made it halfway across before my cold hand grip failed.  I failed.  I was sent to the burpee zone.  30 burpee penalty for me.  My hands just got more cold.

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  • OBSTACLE 5 – Hercules Hoist.  Lift a heavy bag up and lower it controlled slow.  The women’s bag is around 60 pounds.  I am still not sure how I was gripping the rope.  The only thing that I could think about was how my hands were working, but I wouldn’t feel them.

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  • OBSTACLE 6 – Spear throw.  It’s hit or miss.  I actually hit the target dead on, but it fell out.  That counts as fail.  I’m in the burpee zone.  With that I am 60 burpees in and I haven’t even run 2 miles.

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  • We have hit the 2 mile marker.
  • OBSTACLE 7 – “classified” – Monkey Bars.  I failed these in Asheville. I nailed them in Charlotte.  Nothing is better than kicking that bell to let everyone know you made it.

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  • OBSTACLE 8 – Atlas Carry – pick up a heavy stone, carry it several feet, put it down, do 5 burpees, and carry it back to start.
  • OBSTACLE 9 – Vertical Cargo Net.  Take that A-frame net and make it go straight up.  My tip – stick to the sides where the net is the least loose.  You can climb quicker on the tighter sides.
  • OBSTACLE 10 – Plate Drag.  This should not be hard.  In fact, it isn’t for me.  However, being the one of the first groups of people to get to the obstacle, it was nearly impossible.  The grass was 2-4 inches high.  There were hidden rocks underneath.  My sled got wedged in the clumps and rocks.  I took longer than necessary to get my sled back and forth.
  • We are at mile 3.
  • OBSTACLE 11 – Sand Bag Carry.  Run/walk/put on your shoulder/back/biceps.  Do what you need to do to carry it around a large loop through the woods.
  • OBSTACLE 12, 13, 14 – 6, 7, 8 foot wall.  Elites have to complete by themselves.  I am at a disadvantage being so short.  Either way, I made them.
  • OBSTACLE 15 – Z-wall.  I am convinced that my height makes this almost impossible to complete.  I just can’t reach some of the hand hold blocks.  I’m back in the burpee zone.

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  • With that, we are at mile 4.
  • OBSTACLE 16 – “classified” Bucket Carry.  I dominate this.  Could we do the bucket carry the entire race?  Having two 20 pound children that I carry around together regularly, easily prepares me for this. See picture at start of post.
  • OBSTACLE 17 – Pond run.  I never saw a pond.  I just saw a lot of mud and nearly impossible terrain to run on.  I was forced to slow down.
  • OBSTACLE 18 – “classified”.  Again, I never saw this obstacle.  Maybe they forgot it?  Maybe I was just so cold nothing phased me anymore.
  • OBSTACLE 19 – Barbed wire.  My downfall.  My new nemesis.  I chose the route where the barb wire was closest to the ground. I tried to roll.  I tried to change directions.  I tried to crawl.  No matter what I did, I got dizzy, was unsuccessful and I ultimately got passed by 4 people in a matter of 100 yards.  It shut me down.  The anxiety of two weeks of racing set in.  I just wanted to make it to the finish.

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  • OBSTACLE 20 & 21 – Rolling Mud and Dunk Wall.  I was actually starting to feel warm before I was forced to submerge myself in water, which eventually led to me having to swim under the dunk wall. I began to hyperventilate and had a very hard time catching my breath. The picture is pretty hilarious.  It says it all.

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  • OBSTACLE 22 – Slip wall.  In past races, this obstacle has not actually been that slippery for me.  In this race it was imperative to use a rope with the knots. It was slick.  My shoes held up for me, providing me the traction that I needed to stay up.
  • OBSTACLE 23 – Inverted wall. Another obstacle that I am not used to being so slippery.  Climb/jump/find a way to reach the top of an inverted wall and slide down the other side.
  • OBSTALCE 24 – Rope climb.  No water underneath.  A big fan attraction.  You better practice this and get it.

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  • OBSTALCE 25 – The famous fire jump.  I tried to edge someone out over the pit.  I didn’t quite make it.

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I was reluctant to check my place at the end of the race.  I thought I was much further behind than I actually finished.  My initial check left me at 13th.  I was in shock.  I thought for sure I would be high 20’s.  After final results were posted, I ended up 14th.  I snagged a picture with my husband before chatting with him about her experiences.

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In my comeback race, I finished 14th overall, 7th in my age group and failed three obstacles (completing 90 burpees).  I missed the top 10 by less than 1 minute.  Jeff ended up 26th overall, 5th in his age group.  He failed one obstacle (completing 30 burpees).  It sounds like somebody worked a little harder.  Kidding.  Here are my biggest takeaways from this race.

  • The sport is getting much more competitive.  In the first mile, I was running hard.  I have improved my run a lot, averaging 7:28/mile in race the prior weekend.  The women running in my heat have run races in 2016 with average paces in 6:30-7:00/mile range.  They are fast.
  • Sponsorship is everywhere.  Elite Spartans are making money racing. This is no joke.
  • I was not phased by strength, but rather conditioning.  I could have saved time transitioning quicker between obstacles and the run.
  • Anyone can do these races.  I am so proud of my team and all of the other groups out there helping one another to complete these races.
  • Most importantly, I am back.  I am injury free.  I am confident in my ability to do another one.  That is HUGE.

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One Month Out

Race season is upon us.  My family and I spent Saturday morning stationed on the side of Queens Rd West cheering on runners in the Corporate Cup 5k/half marathon.  I feel so inspired watching people run in these races.  I also have to admit, it is kind of nice to be on the sidelines enjoying a coffee with no pressure to perform.  I will use that as my segway into today’s post.  I am one month out from my first two races of 2016.

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I have talked a lot about how I am working to help other people train for future races on the blog; therefore, I have placed talking about my own racing in the back seat.  That said, I would like to pick back up describing my training as it leads into my upcoming competitions, so my readers can follow my preparation.  So what’s on the calendar?  The Cooper River Bridge Run (10K) and the Charlotte Sprint Spartan Race (elite heat).

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I’m not going to lie, my approach to training for my first running and Spartan Race of the new year has been in many ways significantly different than last year.  For one, I’m further out from having delivered my second child.  Remember, it has still been less than a year since my daughter was born.  Even my husband admits that he continues to see gains in my performance directly as a result of time passing (that’s it).

Monday – Flywheel 

My cross training day.  Nothing beats getting on the bike to reset my focus and shut everything around me down.  I teach two classes on Monday –  6:30 AM and 10:45 AM.  I ride to what I teach.  By the end of my second class, my legs are beat.  I have said it once, I will say it again:  Riding the bike is a great cross training tool for runners to build endurance, leg strength, and anaerobic thresholds.  I will never let it go.

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Tuesday – Strength and Conditioning

While I still utilize my home gym, my workouts have evolved.  It was during 2016 that I completed my Spartan SGX certification and I found a great group of women to workout with at Stax (a crossfit gym in Charlotte).  I forgot how important the push is from having a workout partner.  On days that I am exhausted, I find that if I show up to workout with these women, I get a much better workout in than I would have by myself.  The workouts are total body, but many of the movements mimic strength building exercises of a Spartan Race (pull ups, rope climbing, box jumps, sled pushes).

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Tuesday’s and Thursday’s have also now been reserved for my time to train others in Spartan racing.  I strictly train others.  I do not workout when they are working out.  I will do the workout that they do on my own time.  I am incredibly excited about this program, the facility and the impact that it should make on the community and the obstacle racing sport.  It is in the next four weeks that we will start to train specific obstacles as we phase into the first Charlotte race of the season.

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Wednesday – Running

One of my biggest takeaways from the Asheville Super Spartan race was that I wasn’t as prepared for the run as I should have been.  I got passed on the downhills.  I had to walk on some of the extreme uphills (we are talking mountains here).  While the obstacles are a big piece of the race, you can make up (or lose) a lot of ground in your run.  My injury created an urgency for me to get better at my run.  I developed speed (on the track) and hill training workouts.  The purpose of the speed workouts is essentially to teach my legs how to carry that faster turnover through intervals.  Trust me, you can’t expect yourself to run faster in a race if your legs don’t know what fast feels like.

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I ran my most recent speed workout around a park nearby our house.  Relatively flat.  See workout below.

  • Warm up – 3/4 mile jog, increasing speed each 1/4 mile
  • Upon reaching park, dynamic stretch, form running drills
  • 2 x 800 – 3:10-3:15, 2 minutes rest in between
  • 6 x 400 – 1:30 target, 1 minute 30 seconds rest in between
  • Cool down – 3/4 mile jog, decreasing speed each mile
  • Static stretch, foam roll

Thursday – Strength and Conditioning/Flywheel

I am now spending Thursday specifically completing a Spartan SGX workout.  While I love my time with the women at Stax, it is imperative that I really start hammering power and agility as it relates to the upcoming races.  Since the workouts are included on Wodify, if I can’t get to the gym to complete a training session, we now have most equipment at home to get what I need to get done on my own.  I made out in a close out sale this week for a national exercise equipment manufacturer and distributor.

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See my most recent post on Spartan SGX training that details what these workouts entail.  If you would like to learn more about them, please reach out to me.  I would love to continue to share workouts, but that wouldn’t make you want to show up!

Friday – Long Run, Steady State

My idea of a long run is not what you are thinking.  Long for me equals five to six miles.  Steady state means relaxed, controlled, enjoyable.  I am working on mileage here and not trying to press heart rate and anaerobic thresholds.  I do this to teach my body what it feels like to run six miles.  Simple as that.

Saturday – Mobility/Recovery

Saturday is recovery (which I used to not do much of).  I spend Saturday doing mobility exercises, fascia release, body maintenance, and drills that my physical therapist and movement specialist have given me to practice keeping my body loose.  Sounds weird maybe, but I swear by it.  My husband and I recently did a yoga class together on our family trip to Florida.

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Sunday – Flywheel

With a recovery day Saturday, I am ready to ride Sunday.  If you know me, you know I covet my 6:30/7:30 AM Sunday Flywheel classes.  I know almost everyone that walks through the door.  I know they work hard.  I love getting up to see them each week.  They are all so unique.  They all inspire me to ride harder.  If you decide to check this class out, please stop and introduce yourself to me.

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In the grand scheme of things it seems like a lot, but it’s not.  My anticipation of both races is building.  I am starting to get a little pre-race anxiety.  To be honest, I didn’t think I would ever get my shoulder back to where it is this quickly.  It is kind of surreal that I will be diving back in, in just a few weeks.

 

So What is Spartan Training?

The paperwork is in!  I am officially a certified Spartan SGX coach.  With a personal training prerequisite, this certification officially allows me to use the Spartan SGX name when marketing specific classes designed for obstacle races.  The thing is the “sport” is so new to this area that it is about time someone explains why you might want to train, or simply use the training, to make racing or every day life easier.12821613_10104133957542803_7477580119651217040_n.jpg

Let me give you a brief background.  The “Spartan” methodology is based on seven pillars. The seven pillars just happen to be ordered in the manner of the word Spartan.

Stamina – Developing endurance and strong conditioning.  Stamina is not just being able to run for long durations, but alactic for quick bursts, and lactic for sustained, intense pushes.

Power – Used to complete obstacles as well as the EMPOWERMENT derived from completing a race.

Athleticism – Through training, a functionally balanced individual.  A functionally balanced individual can do everything well.  You can be good at running, but if you don’t have power obstacles will be difficult (and vice versa).

Readiness – Are you ready for what obstacles you might encounter during a race or life in general?  Teaching your mind to handle the unexpected without anxiety is an important way to approach racing and life.

Tenacity – NEVER QUIT.  Simple as that. This, again, applies to all aspects of life.

Attitude – Surround yourself with people that motivate you, inspire you and push you forward.  Remove the negativity.  It only affects your attitude.

Nutrition – I hate to say it, but it is something we all need to focus on.

The background of the program has been built on the seven pillars.  Through the training and coaching program, the goal is to help individuals not only be prepared to finish a Spartan Race, but also, be a better human being (in all aspects of life).  Hence why I say, this training doesn’t need to be done with the ultimate goal being the race.

Strength Workout

With the background in mind, know that a typical training week includes two strength workouts that are based on a phased approach.  The first phase is based on body weight and animal movements, second phase on metabolic conditioning and various weighted exercises (including TRX, Bosu, and rings), and third phase power and metabolic conditioning.  See below for two recent workouts performed at the Harris Y Spartan SGX class.

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Phase 2 Strength Workout

  • Warm Up
    • Hip Flexor Stretch
    • 10 Body Weight Squats
    • Bear Crawl Down/Backs
    • Lunge Down/Back
    • Shoulder Pass Through
  • For Weight 2 rounds
    • 5 RDL each leg
    • 5 Goblet Squat
  • Back Squat Progression
    • 1 x10 50%, 3 x 5 70%, 4 x 4 85% 1 Rep Max
  • Metabolic Conditioning 3 rounds
    • 10 Step Ups each leg
    • Sled Push
    • Hip Bridge x 10 each leg
    • Calf Raise x 20 each leg
  • 30 race burpees for time – 3 rounds

Phase 1 Workout

  • Animal movements – focus is mobility, less on speed, 3 rounds:
    • :30 work, :30 rest
    • Ape (side traveling)
    • Bear Crawl
    • Crab Walk
    • Inchworm with push up
  • Front Squat
    • 10×3 Ascending Weight
  • 3 rounds each station
    • :40 work, :20 rest
    • Rowing (cals)
    • Heavy Farmer Walk (m)
    • Burpee (Reps)
    • KB Swing (Reps)

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I want you to notice a few things about the workouts and the pictures above.

  • The Spartan SGX workout from the Harris YMCA is included in Wodify.  It is comparable to a Crossfit workout with some major differences.  We will not be doing any overhead cleans, jerks, pushes using a bar.
  • There is a bigger emphasis on conditioning, since the ultimate goal is to race.  While strength is a major focus on these days, several of the strength building exercises will significantly test metabolic thresholds and heart rates.
  • The room is kind of a fusion of Orangetheory and a Crossfit Box.  There are rowers, bikes, treadmills, rigs, plyo boxes, sleds, sandbags, etc.  Rope climbing is done in the gymnastics room with the ability to utilize the outdoor track.

Running (Cross-Training) Workout

The ultimate goal for someone competing in a Spartan Race is to be able to run the race, at least partially.  For some people, walking is the only option.  That is fine.  Running and/or cross-training makes up 2-3 days of the program.  I oftentimes complete one sprint/hill workout, 1 long steady state run, and a few Flywheel classes a week.  The great thing about the cardio piece is that it can be easily modified.

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Final Talking Points

I continue to get several questions about scheduling, pricing, etc.  Here is the run down:

  • Spartan SGX strength classes are now offered at the Harris YMCA (the only Spartan SGX sanctioned location in all of Charlotte) every Tuesday/Thursday at 10:45AM and 6:00 PM.  Both workouts are the same.
  • If you are a Y member participating in the Fit Challenge, classes are free this month!  FREE!  If you are not a Y member, the cost is $75/month (8 sessions total).
  • Free childcare.
  • The first Charlotte race is the Spartan Sprint on April 9th-10th.  The Spartan SGX training group from the Harris Y will run a group on Saturday.
  • Through training with me, you are eligible with a 20% discount on your race fee.  Based on pricing for races, that 20% will cover a decent part of the monthly fee you pay to train.  No brainer right?

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Pursuing New Opportunities

New year, new opportunities.  That may be an understatement.  It’s official.  I will be following through with my Spartan venture on a much different scale.  Where do I begin?  It’s only fair that I start at the beginning.  My first gym in Charlotte? The Dowd YMCA.  At the time (2007), it was THE place to be.  It was the Dowd YMCA where I met some of my best friends and my future husband.  It was the Dowd YMCA where I waited outside the door to get in at 5AM.  I built relationships that will last my entire life.  If you aren’t from Charlotte, this might sound weird.  Trust me.  The Charlotte area YMCA system is unlike any other.  Since having my second child, my relationship with the facility has changed.

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I now frequent the Harris YMCA – a branch further south, much larger, and a facility that offers just that much more.  What does this have to do with my post?  You guessed it.  I will be joining the team.  In an effort to match some of the activity going on at many of the boutique fitness studios in Charlotte, the YMCA is looking to add some valuable programs that differentiate themselves.  Case in point – Spartan SGX training.  You got it.  For only a small fee over regular membership, members AND non-members have the opportunity to get specific training to get them prepped for an obstacle course race (or not!).  They are investing in this program.  Not only is there an outdoor track, but a new turf runway and the set of outdoor exercise equipment above.  Due to high levels of demand, I will be coming on board to lead two evening classes a week.

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What does all of this mean?  What is Spartan SGX?  This form of training is methodical.  Structured.  It isn’t just about physically working out, but it also involves building self efficacy, learning about nutrition, changing pieces of your lifestyle through small attainable goals, and truly making yourself a better human.  Trainers (instructors) aren’t just leading individuals through a class, but rather coaching them during the week as well.  I am in the final phase of my training – building a 12 week program.

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I won’t be the first person to say this, but you don’t have to be training for a Spartan race to pursue this system.  Through three phases, the body is prepared to hit a peak performance before partaking in regeneration and recovery.  As part of each trainer’s program, exercise type and intensity are detailed with regressions and progressions of each exercise.  That makes each workout very focused on making it adaptable to any and every one.  Trust me, you won’t be jumping over a wall your first day there.  You also won’t be climbing a rope until you have built a foundation. Each workout also includes a proper dynamic warm up and stretching/cool down. Whether it is your first race or you an elite level athlete, the program is adaptable.

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All of this said, something else had to change.  I have put my notice in at SmartCore Fitness.  While I loved everything about the people and training methodology, the opportunity to start a program at a facility that offers something completely different than anything out there is a risk I am willing to take.  More than 290,000 children and adults used the Charlotte YMCA system in 2014.  As I continue to try to build my client base, aligning myself at a place that I can be seen is crucial.  For limited hours during the week I will also be open to training individuals or small groups at the Harris YMCA.    In an effort to kick off my new endeavor, I will be leading a FREE workout at Athleta Southpark on February 14th from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM.  Please reach out to me for more information!

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On top of training others and working with this new program, I am full force back in Spartan training mode.  Shoulder is feeling extremely good, and I am building strength exponentially.  Burpees (as seen above) no longer create uncomfortable impact, and I am doing pull ups, toes to bar and overhead swings without pain.  My plan is to be running elite in the Charlotte Spring on Saturday, April 9th.

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We have been spending some family time at Lowe’s buying supplies for Spartan training at home – 2×4’s for balance drills, PVC pipes for mobility drills and mounting devices for mock rigs and gymnastic rings.  We are all in.  I am going to give this a big go.  You better believe I will still be teaching at Flywheel.  I truly believe that the indoor cycling workout has been the key to me maintaining leg strength while building endurance – such a crucial piece of my training.  I also plan to bring the girls along for the ride.  Another perk of being at the Y is the childcare.  They get to come with me!  Who wouldn’t want to tote these two around everywhere?

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I am anxious, but I am ready.  I want to make this something special.  I want the people who participate to feel a change in their life.  I want to see this through.  Are you up for the challenge? Please contact me directly for more information, and I will continue to keep you updated!