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What My First Spartan Race Taught Me

I did my first Spartan race on June 12, 2021 in Bethel Woods NY. It was a sprint, so only 3.7 miles. If you haven’t done one before, it’s a bit…intense. I mean, I’ve run a crapton of races from 5Ks to marathons and runners are intense and dorky and we geek out on things. But I’ve never been to a race or event where there’s like a special cheer or something…Interesting!

Due to COVID, they were spacing out the heats even more than usual. The alarm sounded and off we went.

This is what I learned:

  1. I learned was that people are competitive and even as one of the tinier folks out there, I was capable of intimidating or motivating people! While I may not have been the strongest or the fastest over obstacles, but I could run. I would be running up behind people who were either slower or walking even. I would feel like I was breathing hard and kind of unsure if I really wanted to overtake them, so it would take some effort to speak up and say “on your left.” When I did though, more often than not, they’d start to speed up! Especially the men J Perhaps they didn’t want to be overtaken by a girl, or maybe they were struggling and an outside voice reinspired them to push a little harder for a bit. I was good with either. Once or twice the person stayed ahead, but typically they’d drop back down and shift over. Again, all fine with me, but definitely interesting.

  2. My inner gymnast is still there! At one point we had to jump up on this like 4x4 beam and over it. A couple of people were struggling over it and Jon was clearly a little worried. I just went up to it and ended up feeling like I was back at the uneven bars! I can’t even remember what the freakin’ skill is called when you just jump up to straight arms, legs hanging down, but it felt so natural! I actually wanted to like swing my legs back and jump up both feet onto the beam but I thought that might be pushing it. And, we were in a race! However, it’s amazing what the body and mind remember and can recall when needed! Hopefully I’ll remember this for other areas of life and figure out how to leverage it.

  3. If you tie your shoes tight enough and have the right type on, you won’t lose them in 10 inches of mud! We had two places where we had to trench through mud. Sometimes when we would run trails, I could be a bit of a baby about the mud. This was pre-mudclaws (the shoes) and I would argue that when it’s just a bit muddy, I was concerned about falling down and getting hurt. Here, there was so much mud and it was so deep, there was no real concern about falling down or getting hurt. I didn’t complain at all J A few slight…quiet…yells when my feet did get stuck and I had to yank them out, but that was it!

  4. Grit and belief are more important than training. There were points during COVID when I had been actively training. I had been doing hiit like workouts with Jon, hitting the pull up bar, etc. However, all I had done recently was four days of push ups for 30 seconds a day…Sure, I wasn’t in the competitive race and I didn’t come in first. I also had to do 90 burpees because there were 3 obstacles I couldn’t do. But, I did a lot. I did 17 obstacles! I pulled myself over beams, gripped my way across walls and slats, carried buckets of weight and pulled sandbags high! I’m sure training would have helped it all go faster, more efficiently and perhaps with less bruising, but I did it! I believed I could do them, gave them my all, and I overcame them! Of course I know this, but it’s always good to receive a reminder to keep it fresh.

  5. Fear is freakin’ real and sometimes I can’t overcome it as it exists in that moment. There were monkey bars. The bars were thicker than what I’d have preferred and they were fairly far apart. It wasn’t even that high; my feet probably would have only been like 2 feet off the ground. I never thought I would be that afraid of them! I was a gymnast and had loved monkey bars! I don’t know if I was worried about the dizziness I felt on and off, or fear of the monkey bars. It felt like fear of the monkey bars. Jon was great in encouraging me to just go for it. I didn’t want to. It felt scary! It felt far from the ground! But, I made a half-ass attempt to take one hand off and reach for the second rung. I dropped to the floor….I realized I would have to go back to a kids playground and start small. Figure out what was bothering me and work my way up. So a playground is now in my future for a workout!

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