I grew up a tomboy. I have two brothers – all of us within 3.5 years of each other. My childhood friends remember me being ‘one of the guys’ when we were younger, and that’s honestly where I was most comfortable. I played football and wrestled with my brothers and just never really fit into any of the stereotypical girl trends. Fast forward 20 years and I’m still a pretty low-maintenance, non-girly girl.
I got into fitness after I graduated from college ten years ago and really found my groove about four years ago. I started taking pole dance fitness classes, and having a sport to train for gave my workouts a purpose. Everything I did was to be stronger in pole.
After a while, I realized I was actually getting stronger. I couldn’t believe it when I did my first pull-up…something I had never been able to do in my life!
Aside from the obvious benefits, the greatest gift fitness has given me is the empowerment to try new things. In the last four years, I’ve conquered my fear of taking Zumba and other dance classes at my gym, performed in pole showcases (in front of a ton of people…eeek!), run two half marathons, tried trapeze and found my true passion: obstacle course races.
I did my first “mud run” three years ago.
I was intrigued by obstacle course races, so I signed up for the Mudathlon with my brother and a friend. It was a 3 mile course that included 40 obstacles. It felt awesome applying some of the strength I had gained over the last year to the obstacles. And I was surprised by how much fun I had being in the woods and feeling like a kid again.
I was hooked and did some research on longer distance events. The following year, I got a team of 7 together to do a Tough Mudder. It was intense. Tough Mudders are 10-12 miles in distance, with obstacles ranging from jumping into an ice bath to army crawling under barbed wire to carrying a large log as a team. They emphasize teamwork and camaraderie. I loved that aspect…leave no (wo)man behind.
I then heard about Spartan Races. Spartan Races are a competitive race with (in my opinion) bigger and harder obstacles. The courses are a surprise, so you never know what to expect. I’ve now completed three Spartan Races and love these events for the simple fact that they push you to your limit and it’s up to you to step up to the challenge.
I realized after the Tough Mudder why I love mud runs.
I’ve been working professionally for ten years now and I’m always conscious of being professional. I have a reputation of being all business at work and have a pretty type-A work ethic.
Mud runs are my release. My inner tomboy comes out, and I get to push myself, not worry what I look like, not worry what comes out of my mouth, not worry what other people think of me, really not worry about anything but me, my team and the course. I love feeling like an athlete and have had some of my biggest fitness breakthroughs in these events.
I can’t describe how excited I was to complete the monkey bars and quarter pipe obstacles at the Tough Mudder. This summer, I completed a Spartan Race Super. I climbed a 16 foot rope for my first time! Although I didn’t hit the bell, and immediately had to do 30 burpees, I can’t describe how excited I was to overcome my fear of heights and actually climb a rope…another thing I was never able to do as a kid!
I also love the teamwork aspect of these races. You learn to accept help and give help to anyone around you. I’ve done these races with my husband, brothers, friends and people I met for the first time. Being pushed together and overcoming the challenge together is so special. It creates an unspoken connection that ultimately brings us closer together.
At the Spartan Race Super, the temperature added an extra challenge to the race. There were a couple of times (namely after doing burpees…) where I started to question if I could do this. I pushed myself hard and listened to my body when I needed to walk for a few minutes. And we finished!