I’ve been running and lifting weights for 20 plus years but the thought of combining the 2 honestly never really appealed to me.
My good friend Doug has been doing Spartan races for years and I loved hearing about em but I could almost feel my low back giving out as he would describe the races to me.
The sound of the OCR intrigued me, but all the lifting, crawling and climbing intimidated me for sure. And the monkey bars and jumping, oh well, definitely not! I have lead feet and can’t do a pull up so I guess I’ll just stick to the gym to lift and the roads to run. Bottom line, as impressed as I was of Doug and how usually up for a challenge I was, I just didn’t think it was in the cards for me.
Fast forward to the ‘year of change and personal growth’ for me coupled with the televised Team Spartan show that my kids and I watched religiously and the idea of actually doing one of these crazy mo fo’s crept closer to the front of my mind from the cobwebbed far reaches where it had been for years.
I was constantly telling my kids to embrace fears, it’s okay to be afraid, just go for it. You’ll regret it more if you don’t. All these mantras: change is good, you have to struggle to reap the reward, when was the last time you did something for the first time are running thru my head as I drink tea from my daughter, Bella’s YOLO mug. Hmmmm? I’m thinking I should just go for it. Ya think?
In the meantime I get introduced to Larah, a gym owner, personal trainer and spartan BEAST! We have many things in common and enjoy getting to know each other and I feel inspired by her (and Doug) to finally just jump in.
She writes me up a plan to follow (an awesome one). I don’t follow it. The weeks tick by and the Citizens Bank Spartan is nearing.
Then one day as my friend Chris is leaving my class he says something or I said something, who knows. But the word Spartan had life breathed into it. We agreed “yep, scared #^$%LESS but let’s do it!”
Deal is sealed, now I actually should probably register since it’s about 2 weeks away. LOL always the way I roll.
Ahhhhh maybe I should do a couple of Larah’s workouts, man they are hard and my body is tired. I do a couple but still can’t do a pull up and box jumps are iffy at best. Oh well, I’ve moved from trying to do this Spartan well to pure survival and just have fun mode. It always used to crack me up when Eric used to say to me “why are you so stressed out, just have fun” before a marathon. Yes, parts of the marathon could be fun but I knew the inevitable pain that would usually ensue and that’s what always made it hard not to stress a little. But I knew this race was very little running so maybe I could actually try and have some fun. We’ll see.
The one obstacle that I wasn’t stressed about was the rope climb.
I’ve been teaching Boot camp classes (Railyard Athletics) at CrossFit Mainline and the facility is macked out with everything I would want to get my hands on for a killer training, including ropes.
Coach Daniel at Crossfit Mainline reviewed for me what Doug has already taught me the J (or the S) hook foothold was the way to go. Wrap the rope around your foot and bring knees up to chest and “stand up” he coached me. “WOW” I thought, “seriously I can use my leg strength for the rope climb?” I was so excited. I practiced a few times and felt stoked that at least there was one burpeeless obstacle in store for me on race day.
Day before race I’m panicking. Who do I drive with, where is the start, where do I park, how is this going to work? I’ve been so used to racing with Eric or racing with friends that doing it alone was kinda foreign to me.
Enter the Spartan posse aka the Philly Spartans. Anthony (Chris and Doug) linked me up and the supportive comments started flowing in. The warm and fuzzies feeling surrounded me, I was not alone. Panic was dissipating (well not really) but at least I knew I’d have a crew to race with me and that felt great.
Race day comes, I connect with the group. Butterflies are in full effect but I’m excited beyond belief. THIS is what it’s all about. Doing something you’ve never done. Testing your limits, pushing yourself. Here we go! No matter what happened, I knew it was going to be epic.
And it was. The running up and down the steps in the stadium was surreal. Was I really doing this AT Citizens Bank Park, crawling under ropes up and down the ramps of the stadium? I can remember a volunteer at the traverse wall obstacle saying “wow, you are a pro at this, you’re doing awesome.” and it lit me up. I pulled that rope with the weight on the end of it up to the top in no time, I jumped over the walls no problem (well the 8 ft one was UGLY but I got over it).
Spear throw was my first set of burpees, no big deal. Monkey bars, another set of burpees (that’s okay, if I’d done Larah’s workouts I might have had chance). Now I was entering the stadium for the last couple obstacles.
Here comes the rope climb. I am so psyched that I won’t have to do 30 more burpees. I hear Anthony say “watch Allison” (I had confidently told him earlier, “sure I know how to do the footholds, so the rope climb will be fine”). I jump up and think the rope is wrapped around my foot where I want it, bring knees up and stand up. Wait, I’m not standing up, instead my legs just slip down. WHHHAAAAAAT? This worked so well in the gym. Let me try this again before my upper body gives in, knees up toward chest and stand up. Nope, I was not moving up the rope, nada. I may have given it 1 or 2 more tries, I don’t remember but I do remember finally realizing something was wrong with my foothold and this wasn’t working and I was gonna have to let it go and give up! And, that’s when I caught a glimpse of myself on the jumbo tron. Seriously, of all the countless games I’ve been to and never ever been on the big screen and there I am amidst my epic fail for all to see (not that anyone was really looking). So I slid down the rope and begrudgingly did my burpees.
To say that I was disappointed is an understatement. Ask Anthony and Chris and any of the Philly Spartans who would listen. They had to hear about it over and over after the race and poor Doug even got an earful when I called him on the way home to tell him all about it. And I’m sure you can guess what their answers were. Now you have something to work on for next time. A Spartan is born (sorta).
What an empowering day. Even when I failed an obstacle I still felt like a badass. It was Epic (fail or no fail)!
Just like I have found with the running, triathlon, crossfit communities, and the Les Mills Tribe, these guys are the real deal. They are uplifting, supportive, energetic, accepting, like-minded fit people looking to stay healthy and push themselves harder than they think they can go. And they celebrate each other every step of the way.
No matter your sport or what workout you love, there is always a group out there waiting to accept you into the fold. A group is waiting to lift you up and connect with you and the others in the group. Don’t ever let those excuses in your head be the only voices you hear. The voice in your head that says you can’t do something, is a liar!!! You can always do so much more than you think you can. And it feels incredible when you do.