After my four days of snowboarding in Keystone, Colorado, I was feeling amped up from again not dying. That trip was only the second time I had gone boarding. The first time was ten years prior on an icy bunny hill in Vermont.
I was just telling my friend, who also went on the snowboarding trip with me, that I always wanted to do a Spartan. And on one of the night’s we were there, I happened to see on social media that this Crossfit gym was organizing first time Spartans to participate in the Las Vegas course.
I sent in the request to join the team, received an email, and that Saturday after my trip, on February 11th, I signed up to do my very first one.
Now anyone who is not familiar with Spartans, there are three different distances, technically four, but if you’ve heard of someone say they got their Spartan Trifecta, what they are referring to is obviously just three. The first is the Sprint, which is about 5 miles with 15-20+ obstacles. Second, is the Super, which is about 8-10 miles with 20-25+ obstacles, and the last is the Beast, approximately 13-15 miles with 25+ obstacles. The fourth one is called the Ultra Beast which is a marathon, 26+ miles with several obstacles.
I met a client who has down all four, and he said the Ultra Beast is just “stupid.” Meaning, it’s just stupid for anyone to put themselves through it, unless you really are a masochist.
I figured that because this would be our first Spartan, we would be doing the Sprint. Nope, we were doing the Super. “Oh, crap,“ I thought, “I’m going to die.”
As part of our commitment to run with the team, we had to go to at least one of three designated workouts each week. I tried to go as often as I could, and I did go to at least one a week, but with traveling I couldn’t make all three. Now these workouts were focused on our mental and physical conditioning for the Spartans, as well as instructions for some of the obstacles we would see in the race.
I also tried to go to as many Crossfit classes as I could to build up strength. On Tuesdays and Thursdays at my 24 hour gym, they offer RPM cycling and Vinyasa Yoga. So after my Crossfit class, I would go to those too whenever I could.
Five weeks went by quickly, and at the beginning of the last week, the owner sent us an email saying we could either choose to run the Super or the Sprint. The Super was on Saturday, the Sprint on Sunday. I was leaning towards doing the Sprint, but with the prodding of one of the trainers and finding out that most of my newbie teammates were doing the Super, I decided to commit to Saturday.
Some people on my team were saying it was only forty-five minutes to Mesquite. And I stupidly didn’t bother to check until the night before. It actually takes ninety minutes to get there. So I realized I needed to get up at 5:00 AM and I should have already been asleep in bed. It was already 10:00 PM.
One melotonin, and a couple puffs of a bowl to help me relax, I still was awake with anxiety and anticipation. I’m really bad at relaxing and getting sleep prior to an event. Same thing happened when I did the NYC Marathon a few years ago. I work myself up with not only thinking about the physical task I’ll be doing the next day, but also with saying to myself, “You need to get to sleep!” But then as the hour’s tick on by, I get more anxious.
I don’t think I ever went into a deep sleep the night before my Spartan race. I may have nodded off there and again, but I remember thinking, “Fuck, I’m not going to get any real sleep.”
Five AM soon rolled around and I slowly went through the usual wake up routine– locating my glasses, pissing, brushing teeth, and putting in my contacts.
My scientist made me banana and blueberry pancakes and couple eggs. I tried to eat as much as I could because I knew I would need the energy, but my nerves were preventing me to enjoy the full meal and plus, we were crunched for time.
I packed the cooler with water and Gatorade and filled up my camel back. We backed up my vehicle and I was soon speeding up 15 towards the race. I got off the exit, just past the border into Littlefield, Arizona, and followed the line of cars that I assumed were all going to the same spot I was.
There were lines of vehicles in the middle of this field. It was $10 to park and $20 just to be spectator and I wondered how much money they profit off each of these races.
I put waterproof bandages on my dermal piercings in hopes it would help protect them from being caught on anything. Slipped on my compression socks and Inov-8s and I headed towards registration.
My gym won biggest team, so we had the biggest tent and I soon spotted where we were located. A lathered myself with few layers of sun block, attached the tags, and I was soon at the starting line.
My team went off at 9:15 AM. It hadn’t gotten too hot yet, but by the end of the race, I could feel the sun beating down. People can choose to start in the afternoon, and I had no idea how people can make it through starting at 1:00 PM, when it was up to the high 80s that day.
I started off with my novice team, but I couldn’t find the one young woman who was usually there at practices. She and I were similar in pace, so I was hoping she was there to keep me motivated. I later found out she missed her alarm and had to start at 9:30 AM.
I was soon running ahead of my novice team members. Running in the sand sucks, but it actually wasn’t too bad for me. During the obstacles, there were times I needed assistance, like going over the 8 feet wall. But mostly I was battling with myself, such as carrying a sandbag for a certain distance.
I think it was around mile 6 and there was this obstacle that was this curved bar. It curved inward and although it looks easy, you need to have the muscle strength and technique to get over it. I was actually able to get onto it with no issue and started climbing, but there was another girl on the left of me and she was hesitating to climb over it. It is pretty high up so it is a little intimidating. I noticed her hesitation and allowed her to go ahead, but that was a mistake because I spent my energy waiting for her and then I didn’t have enough strength to get myself over, so I actually fell down on my back. Luckily, there was straw underneath to break my fall, but it sucked that I couldn’t get over it. And every time you can’t do an obstacle, it’s 30 burpees.
My legs cramped for the last mile. And of course the last mile is where most of the obstacles are. I didn’t attempt the rope climb because I couldn’t do it at the gym, so that was another 30 burpees. Missed the spear throw, 30 burpees. And two of the last obstacles were monkey bars and the multi-rig (where you’re hanging and have to get across like you would with monkey bars). I attempted the first one, but my leg immediately cramped up and I had to fall down, 30 burpees. So I didn’t attempt the multi-rig, 30 burpees.
I finished in approximately 3.5 hours. If I didn’t have to do 120 burpees in that last half a mile, I probably would have finished closer to three hours.
The last obstacle is jumping over fire. I ran through the finish line, a lady hung my metal over my head, and I grabbed a banana they were handing out at the end of the race. I limped to my scientist and back over to the tent.
Sore, beaten, and exhausted, I reclined my seat in the car as we drove back to Vegas. I wondered how people who just did the Super like I did, were doing the Sprint the next day.
But I made it through, and with some things that cause pain, like tattoos and piercings, I was hooked. I’ve signed up to do a Super and a Sprint in one weekend in May. And I’m trying to coerce my Northeast friends to do a Beast with me in the fall, so that I may achieve my Trifecta this year.
I’ve been continuing with Crossfit and started back running again. As I’ve mentioned in my tweets, losing fat has been much more difficult this year. Just with cycling and rollerblading, I haven’t seen much change. I’ve certainly gained muscle with Crossfit, but my fat percentage hasn’t significantly decreased the way I thought it would.
Age is definitely a factor, but I do believe this birth control implant is not doing me any benefit in the weight loss department. I’ll see how it goes after six weeks of running approximately 20K a week, and if I don’t see significant change, I might just slice my arm open myself and take it out.
It definitely feels great to be stronger. Last year I was thinner, but all I was doing was running pretty much. Now I’m doing deadlifts with 175 pounds.
On my gym’s social media page, there was another young woman who’s been working out there for three months, and posted her transformation journey. She was teased for her muscle structure all her life and her sole purpose of HIIT and cardio was to break down her muscle mass. But she has since learned to embrace her body and now her focus is to be stronger and faster than she ever has been.
Although I don’t recall ever being teased specifically for my body structure, actually I’m probably criticized more now by haters than I was growing up, I definitely understand where this woman is coming from.
Everyone has different tastes, but as a young girl, I only had the skinny and slim models to compare myself to. I’m broad and not narrow. I’ve always had muscular thighs from sports and horseback riding. And women who had muscle were seen as gross.
I appreciate that being fit and muscular is far more “in” than before. But women are still built differently, so we can look different even if we’re fit and muscular.
Take Kayla Itsines, for example. I love the positivity and motivation she has within her program, as well as the food pictures she posts, they’re always so colorful, and she’s without question very fit. But she has a completely different body structure than I do.
Most men really cannot understand how much we torment ourselves when we are girls and even into adulthood. And men can be cruel and stupid, let’s be honest here, and they usually have a misconception on what women are supposed to look like, and if there is any variation from that perception, they then think a woman is fat.
I weigh 155 now with 22-23% body fat. At the end of October, I wrote I was 138 and 22% body fat. So guess what? I gained muscle, not fat. But do you know how many men would think I’m a fatty if I put that I weigh 155? Even with recent photos, men would still probably think that my photos must by years old, and now I’m the size of Kung Fu Panda.
I get very defensive about this, and not only for myself but other women. A client asked me who I do duos with, and I told him my good friend, Jasmeen Lefleur. He responded, “Okay, don’t take this the wrong way, but is she a bit heavy? I like petite and small.”
My immediate response was, “She isn’t fat. She’s curvy and muscular. And if you like women who are petite and small, what are you doing with me?”
Ugh, men. *Rolling my eyes as I type this.*
By the way, I love Jasmeen’s body. Her skin is deliciously smooth and I like that she’s strong. I like women who look like they won’t break while being fucked. Plus, Jasmeen has an incredibly kind soul.
Anyway, back to society’s perception of beauty.
So men, again, let me repeat, since some of you still haven’t learned this, women come in all shapes and sizes. We don’t all have to have a 22-inch waist and a space between our thighs to be beautiful. Some of us have muscular thighs that can be used to choke you out or run Spartan races.