Back in April of this year I ran in my very first obstacle course race. I signed up for the Indiana Spartan Sprint on a whim and little did I know it would completely change me. Allow me to share a little bit of that story with you.
The Indiana Spartan Sprint was a founders race. I had no idea what that meant at the time other than this was the first race Indiana every hosted. When we showed up to the race site, things looked pretty basic with very little fanfare. Some of the standard Spartan obstacles were missing, but the course was still very rugged. I talked with fellow racers who had finished other Spartan races and they said the Indiana course was one of the most difficult Sprints they had ever done. This was due to a few things; such as the terrain, the weather, and the course length. This race was advertised as a Sprint, which is typically around three miles. There were reports of this race being closer to five miles though. By far, this was one of the toughest things I had done in quite some time!
After finishing the Spartan Sprint in April, I was instantly hooked on obstacle course races. I completely immersed myself in everything I could that had anything to do with them. I started finding and liking different pages on Facebook such as the Corn Fed Spartans, followed the Spartan Race blogs, and even started befriending fellow Spartans on Facebook so we could talk about these races. Friends of mine who haven’t done any of these races, just don’t get what all the hype is about. They don’t understand why I get so excited about paying to beat myself up and exhaust myself physically. Spartans completely understand!
Having completed the Sprint in Indiana, I started looking into signing up for other races. I had come across people talking about a “Trifecta” and of course I wanted to know what that was. I discovered that a Trifecta is when someone completes a Spartan Sprint, a Super Spartan, and a Spartan Beast; all in one year. I thought this would be something that I could definitely work towards and made up my mind to make that a goal for 2013. I figured that would give me time to continue working out and condition myself better for these races. After all, my showing at the Indiana race was less than stellar.
My workout routine was all across the board. I didn’t really have a routine that I followed religiously, I just kind of went about and did work. Sometimes I’d go hiking, sometimes I’d lift weights, sometimes I’d go running or riding my bike. I always did burpees; always! I really just stayed as active as I possibly could. I signed up for a couple other local obstacle course races hoping that they would help me prepare for future Spartan races. The Mudathlon that I ran was fun and we had a great time doing it, but it just didn’t give me that feeling of accomplishment that I had after finishing the Spartan Sprint in Laurel. Same thing with the Warrior Dash. It was a good time, the obstacles were fun, but that feeling just wasn’t there. That’s when I realized that I needed more Spartan Races in my life.
I signed up for the Midwest Super Spartan shortly afterwards. The only problem was, the Midwest Super wasn’t until October. That was months away and I was feeling the itch to run another race! During some training exercises it was brought up that Spartan Race was going to be doing something that was completely unheard of. They were going to introduce a marathon distance obstacle course race. The 26.2 mile Ultra Beast. In Vermont, at the same location as the coveted Vermont Beast in Killington! At first I thought, “There’s no way I’m ready for something like that!” But after some coercing I applied for the Ultra Beast and got accepted! It was time to step up my training a few notches. With the Indiana race already under my belt, the prospect of completing the Trifecta a year early was beginning to look like a real possibility!
A few months of training and running the 15k Rebel Race (what a joke!) it was almost time to travel to Vermont to attempt the Ultra Beast! I was excited and nervous all at once. I had never ran a race of this caliber…nobody had! It was the first Spartan Race of this size, this magnitude, this was HUGE! I traveled to Vermont with a couple of friends whom I had talked into signing up for this insane race with me. The first three miles of the Beast/Ultra Beast were brutal! Unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. We ran straight up the mountain, for three miles. We don’t have mountains in Indiana. I immediately knew I wasn’t as prepared for this race as I had hoped! At about mile four it was decided that we were most likely only going to have time to complete the Beast due to cut-off points that were predetermined. At our pace, we weren’t going to make them, but we would DEFINITELY finish the Beast. After all, we did just drive from Indiana to Vermont for this race! It took us about 11 hours to finish the Beast. Feeling extremely humbled and elated that this race was finally over; we realized we could tackle just about anything at this point. But first, we had to recover from the brutality that was thrown upon us! I think it took me about a week before I started walking right again.
The “high” from finishing the Beast in Vermont lasted quite some time. Stories were shared; in person and on Facebook. Pictures were shared on Facebook and that kept the memories fresh. Even though, admittedly, some of the memories I’d rather not have. I literally had dreams about hiking up those mountains. Every time I closed my eyes I could see myself climbing even higher on a seemingly never ending trail that went straight to heaven! But, every time I had those dreams or those visions, I would look at the medal I received and think to myself, “I can do anything now!”
Part of that anything was to get prepared for the Midwest Super that was to take place just a month after the Vermont race. Realizing that I was severely underestimating the benefits of lunges, I immediately added more of them to my workout routine! The days went by quickly between the Beast and the Super. On race day we set out at 6:00am to make the drive to Illinois. When we got to the race site we knew it was going to be a cold race, much like the Indiana Sprint. That wasn’t going to stop me though; I was here for TWO medals! The race was one of the more fun races I’ve ran thus far. I think that’s due in large part to running with the Corn Fed team. There were several obstacles on the course that were virtually impossible without the help of a teammate. As a team, we helped each other as well as several other racers through some of the more difficult obstacles.
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” ~Henry David Thoreau
After crossing that finish line at the Midwest Super, that feeling came back. The one of overwhelming accomplishment. This time it meant even more. This race was the culmination of two years worth of hard work, dedication, and determination. The journey I have been on over the past two years has been nothing short of amazing. The people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made, and the person I have become would have never happened without Spartan Race and their genius marketing ploy they have devised to get people to do more of their races; the Trifecta. I’ll admit, I was originally just chasing after a highly sought after medal. But there is so much more to it than just a hunk of metal and some ribbon. It’s who I’ve become during the pursuit of that medal that is more important than any physical award. If you want to know what it feels like; run with us!