Ever do something on a whim, so pumped up by ego and peer pressure and all those hell-yeah-I-am-awesome feelings, only to have that cold, clammy feeling of “Oh s#!%” immediately afterwards?
Yeah. That’s where I am right now. I signed up for the Spartan Trifecta. Not one race. Three races. Of increasing difficulty. With only a three week break between each.
It was the perfect mix of I-am-woman-hear-me-roar bravado, a pep talk from a friend that brings out my physically competitive side, and a couple glasses of wine. This friend and I did the Spartan Sprint in 2012, and I managed to drag my sorry, muddy butt across the finish line. It was empowering and amazing, but it was also only 5km, and only one race. I got all riled up in the moment, and now I’ve committed to three races of increasing difficulty: the ~5km Spartan Sprint with 15+ obstacles; the ~14km Spartan Super with 20+ obstacles, and the ~21km Spartan Beast with 25+ obstacles. The longest distance I’ve ever managed to race is 10k, and my longest run to date is somewhere in the 13k range. So it makes perfect sense to sign up for a half marathon with obstacles, right? Of course it doesn’t. Nothing about this makes any logical sense to my brain. But I’m doing it anyway. My pride won’t let me back out. And neither will my friend.
I’m in a state of denial. Half my brain is totally chill about this – these races are seven months away, that’s loads of time! Right? And the other half is freaking out like a squirrel on speed. Seven months? How can I possibly train for something so monumental, so physically demanding, in only seven months?! I’m going to embarrass myself.
A little backstory: I have never been particularly physically fit. As a teen, I loathed phys ed. The end of grade 10 couldn’t come soon enough. I did have a love of hiking and team sports, so I wasn’t a total sloth, but I wasn’t one of those cute sporty girls that was good at every sport. After graduation, what fitness I had took a total nosedive. Sloth in my early 20s and pregnancies at 26 and 30 left me in a bad place. There were a smattering of attempts to be active, learn to run, and lose weight in there, but none ever took hold. Bad habits returned or something derailed me, and I was back at square one. Shortly after my second child was born, I got a reality check: my mom had a heart attack at the relatively young age of 51. I remembered a Christmas vacation in my early teens, where my beloved grandmother, who was in her sixties, had a massive heart attack and required an emergency pacemaker surgery to survive. I was scared then, and I was even more scared when I got the call from my stepfather. Heart disease runs in my family, and the thought that I could be next was terrifying.
So in early 2012, I set a goal for myself: I would not be next. This time the exercise and diet stuck, because I made sustainable changes. I started eating clean and working out. I committed myself wholly to team sports, playing floor hockey three days a week, and running and weight training in between. I ran two 5k races and a 10k too, with pretty decent times for a newbie. And most importantly, I lost a ton of weight – well over 70 pounds from my last recorded high in the fall of 2011.
Despite all I’ve achieved so far, I wouldn’t consider myself particularly fit. I’m still overweight and flabby, just less so. I don’t eat that healthily all the time, in fact I still have a major soft spot for ice cream and chocolate and chicken wings and beer. And I have motivation issues, falling off the wagon is something I’m pretty good at. I’ve become better at maintaining my loss, but I’m going to have to do a hell of a lot more than that to finish the Spartan Trifecta. I’m going to have to find my way to a whole new level of fitness that is unimaginable to me.
And I am scared. The bravado I had before has given way to a feeling of dread.
How can I possibly do this?
I have to find a way. There’s no backing out.