AROO!

In the early part of 2014, I was about 2 months into a workout routine and starting to feel pretty good about myself. Despite a lack of a serious gym routine for the past year well,  two years FINE pretty much since I’d moved to the city, I was holding my own on the treadmill, slowly building endurance and kind of kicking ass on weight training, pushing myself harder and harder each day at the gym. While surfing Facebook after a particularly awesome workout, I saw my sister T had tagged myself and our brother in a post, announcing that the Spartan Race had finally scheduled a Connecticut event, and were we interested in doing it? Blame it on the gym endorphins or the fact that the date hadn’t even been scheduled so it seemed pretty far-fetched we’d actually go through with it, but I sent back a resounding HELL YES almost immediately, and thus LB does a Spartan Race begins.

For those who aren’t familiar, the Spartan Race is an OCR (obstacle course race), where obstacles, ranging from flipping a tire to trudging through waist-deep mud and jumping over a 6 foot wall, pepper a running course – in this case, about four-and-a-half miles. My partner-in-crime R had signed up with me back in March, because at the time it seemed like a great idea. Three months to train ourselves to run and jump and crawl through mostly dangerous obstacles? Totally do-able! I was great about keeping up with a solid workout routine until about mid-May, when work exploded and I had a lot of travel planned. I went from total humblebrag confidence that I’d be able to kick the course’s ass to absolutely terrified that the race was going to end me. The weeks leading up to the weekend are a blur of work and personal nonsense and all sorts of craziness that culminated with me exhausted, frustrated and disappointed with myself while traveling to CT with R and her pooch after a long day of work on Friday.

Early Saturday morning, T, R, twinster’s boyfriend and I piled into the car after quadruple checking we had our signed waivers and race bags packed and ready, and made the trek up to Mohegan Sun for our 12:30 p.m. heat. We arrived probably too early, giving ourselves about an hour and a half to register, hydrate, pee, re-hydrate, pee again (I may have overhydrated) and shake up the nervous adrenaline that coursed through our veins like a drug as the minutes inched closer to our race time. Finally it was 12:15, time to line up, and time to face the first of many obstacles to come: the 6-foot wall jump required just to get to the Start Line. If that was a preview of the whole race, I was already nervous.

After much “AROO-ing” and a pump-up speech that sounded cheesy when I heard it before but got me super hyped to run the fuck out of this race while at the start line, we heard “3… 2… 1… AROO!” and took off. In one hour and forty-five minutes, T, R and I stuck together and supported each other through every one of the obstacles, the mud run, lifting the concrete balls, scrambling under barbed wire and running, running in between. We spotted each other crossing the traverse wall, shouted encouragement after failing the spear throw (WHICH EVERYONE FAILS I’m just saying) to keep counting and keep going through 30 hellish burpees. I twisted my ankle on a tire jump at around mile 2 and they walked with me until I was ready to run again, T fell backwards a little harder than expected off the cargo net and we limped with her until she felt okay, and we all walked down the final hill so R’s knees, beat up from years of lacrosse, could take a break.

Covered in mud, exhausted in the best possible way and grinning from ear to ear, the three of us finally reached the last hurdle – jumping over a fire pit before crossing the finish line. We took off and took some great action shots as we triumphantly kicked over the smoke and grabbed our medals, hugging and laughing and shrieking that we survived. A few more celebratory photos from papa B, who documented the event for us, and we walked to the beer tent to claim our free Shock Tops, which will forever live in my mind as the greatest beer I’ve ever earned. The rest of the night was spent reliving moments, retelling stories of funny spectators to moments we pushed each other a little harder to do a little more, shooting past our comfort zone in to Spartan glory.

I woke up sore in places I didn’t know existed on Sunday with a swollen ankle to boot, an injury that turned out to be HILARIOUS walking around the city and up-and-down the stairs from the subway to my building. Even this morning while getting dressed, putting on a bra (which let’s be honest, is already the worst part of the day) was like torture, my shoulder screaming at me to stop moving and get back to bed. Hobbling around the office with my wrapped foot, people keep asking what happened and if I’d ever do the race again.

Would I willingly subject myself to running in mud, under barbed wire, over fire and through wooden walls, lift tires, run up and down an 80 degree hill with 25 pounds of sand, climb a cargo net with questionable safety restraints, throw a spear into a hay barrel, climb up a rope wall, do burpees until I can’t feel any part of my body and more, all for a medal and a free beer?

Absofuckinglutely. AROO!

Advertisements

Humblebragging.

This past October, I was moping around my lovely friend M’s apartment, complaining about money and facing another 24-hour plus stretch of not hearing from the boyfriend, when she semi-slapped me across the face and said “Cheer up bitch! Want to go to the gym?” Now, all things considered, I’m more of a chocolate-and-whiskey girl than a “sweat-out-your-problems” girl, but M was really excited and I could tag along for free, so I ran (“ran”) home to put on my highly unattractive gym clothes and give it a go. It took me all of three minutes on the treadmill that first day to realize two very important things: I was DEFINITELY out of shape, and I hadn’t felt that good in weeks.

Seems legit

Seems legit

I’ve never been able to get a gym routine to stick in the past. I’ll work out for a few months and then stop, finding this excuse or that as a get-out-of-gym free card: I work really long hours! I’m exhausted from running around in heels all day! I just don’t want to! I’m not an out-of-shape person necessarily, I just have zero intention of taking $100+/session classes (unless there’s a champagne bar in Cardio Barre, I’m uninterested) and for a long time, I couldn’t find the motivation to join, let alone actually go to, a gym. I spent three years of sometimes-running a few miles in the summer, relying on juice cleanses and a fast metabolism in the meantime to keep me “in shape” on the outside, but perhaps not so much on the inside.

As I stopped sharing my time and attention and started to focus on myself, the gym became a steady part of my ever-changing life, something that I could focus on when things got really difficult or overwhelming. I can’t change my circumstances, but I can push a littler harder, run a little faster, lift a little more. It’s an hour a few days a week where I can stare straight ahead and stop thinking about anything but the dull ache in my legs and keeping my breath steady for just another few minutes, just another few reps. It’s not the most convenient part of my routine, and there are so many days where all I want is to sit on my couch with a bag of Sun Chips and Netflix, and yes, sometimes I’ll give in. But I’m focused this time: I want the routine, sweating like crazy, lost in my headphones and myself, surrounded by strangers, all taking an hour for themselves.

I’ve already changed so much in just five months, both physically and mentally. Physically, I’ve never felt stronger or more capable. The unfortunate side effect of this is that I humblebrag constantly (to the point N has actually had to ask me to stop), dying to share this new confidence I’ve found with everyone around me. Mentally, I feel stronger, more alert, like I know what I’m capable of doing if I just take a few minutes to focus and breathe. My sister T, herself a seasoned runner, hiker, skiier and all-around active person, has already convinced me to run a half-marathon with her this year, something I swore I’d never do and now I can’t wait. Having a goal set that’s entirely personal and up to me is a tangible reminder that I’m in charge of my life, I’m in charge of myself, and I can push a littler harder, run a little faster, and just be a little more.