Tag - Corn Fed Spartans

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To Conquer All Fears
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A moment with Stitch and his ‘Littles’ as they do the Jr Spartan Race
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Midwest Super Spartan 2013. Lilo hits Insane Terrain!
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Starved Rock feeds the soul…my hiking adventure.
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Why I am a Spartan! By Denise Haley-Hall

To Conquer All Fears

At the starting line! Photo credit to Tina Basinger

At the starting line!
Photo credit to Tina Basinger

When Tonya Stogsdill asked me to do a Spartan race with her I thought she was out of her mind. I’ve been a runner for 12 years now, but this insane new type of race did not interest me in the least. Or, that’s what I told myself to keep from signing up. I watched the videos of runners throwing themselves into mud and slithering under barbed wire and a twinge of jealousy hit me. I wasn’t that good. So, I convinced myself I’d never finish and that I should just stick to flat road races. Six months later I was standing on the starting line of my first Spartan race in Virginia. What changed? I didn’t want to be afraid anymore.

I raced in high school and college and the pressure and constant reality of never being quite good enough ruined it for me. I avoided improving as a runner because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to meet my own standards. But, when my running hit a plateau in improvement the disappointment I felt woke me up. Running means to

o much to me to be afraid of being the best I can. So, I started racing again. This time, I picked the races I wanted to do and I forced myself to relax, to actually enjoy it. Soon, staring me in the face was the challenge of a half marathon, and again I was terrified. I didn’t want to lose the freedom I had in running if I failed and couldn’t finish. I remembered how Tonya raved about her love for the Spartan race and I figured that if I could complete a Spartan I could do just about anything. I jumped on the website and much to my dismay found that in my state, just an hour away, was a Super Spartan. Now I was stuck.

I trained hard, ran hard, and found myself doing more miles than I’d ever imagined. I passed the mileage of a half marathon a week before the race. I didn’t want to admit yet that the Spartan Race had already pushed me past my limits and I hadn’t even made it to the course.

The day of the race was a gorgeous 75 degrees and sunny. I met up with the Corn Fed Spartans that morning and they told me how hard this course would be. All of the anxiety from every race I’d done flooded into my mind. I’d fail. I wouldn’t finish. My mind was stuck on repeat. I trudged to the starting line, shaking in my running shoes, surrounded by the Corn Fed Spartans who I’d joined to force me to finish. We took off and as I tackled the first obstacle I begrudgingly admitted I was having fun. I was actually laughing. The Virginia Super Spartan was just starting with me though, as I left the open fields and ducked into the muddy woods of Wintergreen Resort. The trails were treacherous and narrow with mud-covered rocks, hidden holes, and impossibly steep hills. In the first 2 miles, we went uphill four times. It was like déjà vu each time we stared up an endless slope.

I broke away from the group with Kevin, who would end up kept me on pace and sane for the first 5 miles. As we pulled ahead a bit, I realized that I’d conquered another fear: being last. Through racing in school, the word had become something of a curse to me. Coaches warned us just to never be the last runner. By the time I did finish, it occurred to me what a meaningless concept in running that is anyway. No one who finishes is ever last. Watching the Corn Fed Spartans never leave a man behind, and the Wounded Warrior Team carrying their own across the finish line, revolutionized the way I think about racing and winning.

The hills in the last 2 miles made the ones before seem like bunny hills. I hiked up the mountainside what felt like 10 times and I dragged my tired legs past other Spartans who had sat down to rest. I discovered I was not alone out there. I dared myself not to stop until the finish line. After destroying the first two walls, 6 then 7 feet high, the 8-foot wall loomed above me. The tallest men around me hesitated, and some missed the top. After nearly 4 miles of hills, I felt more like it was climbing over the Hoover Dam. I had a vision in my mind of jumping but just slamming my entire body into the wall and sliding down. Comical in hindsight, but a serious concern at the time! My jump barely got me off the ground and I caught the edge of the wall with just my right hand.  But, after 30 sadistic burpees at the spear throw, my mental determination lifted my left hand to the top of the wall… then my leg. I was over. At that point, I knew I would finish.

The brutal hills finally gave way to a cluster of obstacles at the end. I made it through each one until I found myself staring straight up at over 10 feet of rope to climb. Here, I faced another fear: heights. As a hiker, it’s my dirty little secret. But, this obstacle, out of all, would be the hardest. I pushed up with my legs, one knot at a time, coming closer to the bell. But, there wasn’t a knot in the 4 feet before the bell. I stood on that very last knot, shaking, pleading with myself not to look down. I closed my eyes and hit the bell. It was done.

Over one more wall, through the fire and I was across the finish line. I overheard runners saying they’d finished the Spartan Beast in less time than this Super. I’d finished in about 4 hours. I stumbled to find my husband and despite my bruised, battered, exhausted legs I felt light. I not only finished, I missed only one obstacle. Now, a marathon would seem the less challenging race this year, a half marathon would be dessert! Crossing the finish line wasn’t my victory- it was that I wasn’t afraid anymore. My time didn’t really matter and racing wasn’t to win. I met and passed my own standards and I found strength I didn’t know I had. I’m hooked now and I’ll definitely be at another race this year. The Spartan Race freed my running from expectations and pressure, and gave me back the joy I lost in racing. The next time I think I can’t finish a run, or anything else I face, it’s the absolutely brutal course of the Mid-Atlantic Super Spartan and my Corn Fed teammates that will remind me: I can, I will, and I will only be better.

Corn Fed Family Photo Credit: Tina Basinger

Corn Fed Family
Photo Credit: Tina Basinger

A moment with Stitch and his ‘Littles’ as they do the Jr Spartan Race

I received a memo recently from Stitch who wanted to share his and his girl’s experience with the Jr Spartan Race.

His girls, Lillian and Jasmine, have watched as Daddy has went and played in the mud a few times now and admired his cool “bling” afterwards. Since the Spartan is one of the races that offers a kid’s course, he and his wife Michelle decided to let the girl’s check it out last Sunday! Here’s their story:

We arrived at the course at about 11am and headed to the registration. The heat for the .5 mile course was at 12:55 so we a little time to walk around and look at the different set ups. My ‘Littles’ Jasmine (5) and Lillian (4) were both attracted to my Spartan “bling” from the day before and wanted to confiscate my medal. They were told they would have to earn their medals before they could steal mine (although I couldn’t say no when they gave me their sad faces, what can I say….I’m a sucker for my girls). So I let them wear it and took pictures of my Corn Fed minis.

We wanna be like Daddy!

We wanna be like Daddy!

I asked them if they wanted their own and they excitedly shouted “Yea!”. So at 12:20 I did stretching warm ups with them and reminded them that Daddy and Mommy would make sure nothing happened to them and not to be scared. The obstacle course for the .5 mile was one lap. The obstacles were 3 back to back mud pits, 3 pyramid walls, 3 balance beams, an over under through (Lilo interjects to say this is Stitch’s favorite obstacle since the Spartan Sprint in April), a 3 foot wall, and a “barbed wire crawl” (instead of wire it was string), then a run up the hill to the finish line.

I ran with Lillian and Michelle with Jasmine. When we got to the first mud pit you could see the terror on their faces. Both of my Littles were crying and wanted to give up. I kept telling them they were ok, it was a little mud and it doesn’t hurt. I jumped in, Michelle jumped in, and they both just stood there for a moment. Jasmine was the first to come in, sliding in with Lillian following slowly. After the second mud pit you could tell the fear had subsided and the fun spilled out.

After that Jasmine ran almost the entire course and Lillian kept it nice and slow. The pyramid walls were tall for the adults but were a little challenging for the kids as well. I jumped over and tried to help Jasmine over but was told “No Daddy, I got this!” (Lilo interjects to say Go Jasmine!). As my pride swelled and as I helped Lillian over Jasmine was clearing the second wall. “Good job baby!” I yelled!

After clearing the second wall and helping Lillian over I looked to see Jasmine about to round the corner and had to yell for her to wait for us to catch up. You could tell she didn’t want to but did long enough for us to clear the last wall. After that I ran towards Jasmine which she thought was great and took off running again. When she came to the obstacles she did them by herself and when we reached the “barbed wire crawl” I tool the cue from her. Hands and feet all the way through then she waited for me on the other side and we finished side by side. Lillian and Michelle must have been hustling as well because they finished less than a minute behind us.

The Little's and their own bling!

The Little’s and their own bling!

 

I was, and am, so proud of them. I know they liked it because everyone they saw for the next few days heard their story of the “mud” run and saw their medals that they wear proudly. (Lilo interjecting to say….I’ve seen the girls twice since and both times I got a recap as they held their medals up to show me again! Hooray girls!).

Great job girls, Daddy is proud of you! You are both now Spartans……Arrooooo!!!!

Still proud of being Spartans! AROO!

Still proud of being Spartans! AROO!

Thanks Matt aka Stitch13!

Lilo’s last thought:

I adore both Jasmine and Lillian and I’m so proud of them for  being a part of the Spartan world! If you have Little’s take a moment and do something silly and fun with them. It doesn’t have to be a mud run but there’s lots of fun things you can get outside and have a blast doing together! Thank you Stitch for sharing the story of the girl’s first OCR and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing them at a Spartan race in 2014 and as future Corn Feds!

And thank you to the Spartan Race for creating a cool Jr Spartan course that I know was busy with future OCR junkies all weekend long!

Get muddy and have fun! Ohana!

Lilo88

 

Midwest Super Spartan 2013. Lilo hits Insane Terrain!

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The adventures of 3 begin again. It’s Friday night and the car is overflowing with camping gear, race gear, and 3 very excited Corn Feds! Lilo, Stitch, and Puppy are on the road again and heading to Marsailles, IL for the Midwest Super Spartan. 8+ miles of….we don’t know yet but it’s bound to be wicked!

The evening sky was perfect as we headed down the highway. Music was cranked up and we were all singing along and feeling the excitement in the air. This would be the 2nd Spartan race for Stitch and I and the first for Puppy. As much fun as I’ve had at all the races we’ve been in there’s something about a Spartan that takes it to a new level! You know that it’s going to challenge you and you know the intensity will be unlike all other races.

Heading down the highway ready for adventure!

Heading down the highway ready for adventure!

We arrive at the Four Star Campground under a full moon and in our own brand of “full moon fever”. Unable to find a spot in the midst of where our brothers and sisters have set up we find the perfect little hideaway area across the road and begin to set up camp. I admit to being clueless when it comes to setting up tents and the like so I leave that to the guys while playing greeter to the Corn Feds who stop over to visit (and share a sip of some “Apple Pie Potion”). We visited a while and headed into town for a few supplies. Many of the Corn Feds had participated in the Hurricane Heat that evening (a night exploration of the course) and the campground was quiet as everyone rested for the next day.

Bright and early Saturday morning arrives. It’s a perfect day. The weather is just what we want…not too hot not too chilly…and we head over to hang out with our fellow racers at the CFS campsite for a bit before the race.  Corn Fed tattoos are being placed on one another to represent, jerseys are all over with nicknames that fit the wearer, and we are all hyped and ready to go!

Tattoo application in progress!

Tattoo application in progress!Placement is always important!

Placement is always important!

 
Placement is always important!

And so it begins. After registration and visiting at our hospitality tent for a while the 3 of us wander and check things out. Stitch and I decide to be a little crazy and try out a mini ‘Wipeout’ style course that leaves us both winded (and wiped out!) a couple of times!

I think I can I think I can

I think I can I think I can

“Who am I?” “I am a Spartan!” Aroo Aroo Aroo! And we’re off. Within minutes we hit one of the first obstacles; a mud hill climb into mud pits up another hill and down into the mud again. THIS is what we’re here for. The mud, the teamwork as we all help one another, the challenge. This is why we’re all Obstacle Course Racers. This is why we’re Corn Fed Spartans! No matter if there are 10 of us at a race or over 100 as in this one, we are there as a team to help, support, and cheer one another on.

Puppy awaiting the AROOOOOO at the start!

Puppy awaiting the AROOOOOO at the start!

Lilo and Stitch representin'

Lilo and Stitch representin’

The course itself had some great challenges, not only with the built obstacles but also with some of the most wicked terrain I’ve encountered so far. There was muck that some of us sank in up to our hips. It was like quicksand and sucked you back down as you were trying to get out. Having a team with us saved getting stuck for long periods of time! The hills were steep and in come cases the only way to get up them was to dig in with your fingers and toes and just pull. I’m not going to lie, there were times when I was not sure how much I had left in me (after spraining my wrist that was even worse for a short bit) but just when I thought I’d reached that point I would hear someone yell out “Corn Fed” and then we’d all answer back “Corn Fed”. No matter where you were on the course you’d hear that now and then and it would just boost you right back up. Team, family.

Tackling the cargo net...as a TEAM, Corn Fed style!

Tackling the cargo net…as a TEAM, Corn Fed style!

The group we were with was part of the Corn Fed “sweepers” meaning we were there for an extra boost, our group had the cheerleaders and the helpers and carried the CFS flag (which our fabulous team member Dre aka Sweet Junk carried the entire course without the flag ever getting dirty or touching the ground. Kudos to her!). We had a few moments that were a bit nerve wracking including a couple of our team going under water in weighted vests, a few faceplants, and some serious quicksand like mud.  We also had the silly moments of stopping the creeks to lay down and play in the water, finding a random “bus stop” sign that we had to get a photo with, and having a mini picnic on a hill before tackling more of the course. We take the races seriously but we take ourselves with smiles and that’s more important.

Pausing for a group shot...that flag stayed clean!

Pausing for a group shot…that flag stayed clean!

And 7 hours later we linked arms, jumped the fire,  and faced the group of gladiators together as a team, as family and we crossed the finish together all smiling and high fiving as we felt the blue medals around our necks.  Corn Fed!

Gladiators beware we are Corn Fed!

Gladiators beware we are Corn Fed!

I could go on and on but in the usual Lilo sort of style but I’ll leave you with this thought for now…..find something you love to do and do it with people you love to do it with! I’ve been with Corn Fed Spartans for close to a year now and I’ve learned SO much about teamwork and being a family as a team. Kudos to everyone of you out there that is part of this group.  I can’t even begin to thank the individuals who do so much for this team, you know who you are, but I will thank Jonathan Nolan for finding me and adding me and for changing my life in so many ways because of it!

And an added kudos to Four Star Campgrounds for having the BEST campground showers I’ve seen lol! And to the Dirt Runner crew for some crazy terrain that I’ll never forget! (There are hills out there that have my blood, sweat, and tears all seeped in).

Lilo's celebration!

Lilo’s celebration!

Until then….get Muddy and much fun love. Ohana!

Starved Rock feeds the soul…my hiking adventure.

Those who know me have learned I’m always up for an adventure so when my friend, Sara, asked me if I would be interested in joining her for a couple of days hiking in Starved Rock State Park in Illinois I jumped at the chance. I had heard from a few people that it was a beautiful place and since it was just a couple of hours away I didn’t want to miss this.

After working a 12 hour shift I came home, grabbed a bag filled with what amounted to too much clothing as always (hey I may hike and run in the mud but I’m a girly girl and I pack like one!), said goodbye to the furkids and headed out. Sleep be damned, I wanted to hike!

2 hours later after a beautiful drive with perfect skies and surprisingly little traffic I arrived at the campsite. I don’t even think I had everything out of the car before we were heading out to explore. We started off trekking to the namesake of the park, Starved Rock, which gave an amazing view of the area surrounding.

View from Starved Rock

After that I can’t even begin to remember all the places we visited by name but I had the wonderful experience of standing under two waterfalls and just feeling all my stress and cares being washed away.

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We hiked for most of the day and then went in search of firewood at one of the local “camp stores”, Jack’s. Now Jack…yeah, he was a character. You pull up to his home which has a garage full of odds and ends to purchase as well as clothes baskets with firewood. You have to honk your horn if you don’t see anyone. For $5 you get approximately five or six pieces of wood AND the treat of having to fill up a new clothes basket as well. Yep, you pay to work. I didn’t quite catch this at first and I’m sitting in the car as I see Sara head over and load two baskets!

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After the camp store we headed out to dinner at a tiny little place called the Cajun Connection. When you walk in it’s just like any little hole in the wall restaurant (well, other then quite a few alligator heads and such) and we sat down to what has to be one of the best meals I’ve had in ages! Alligator and crawfish both deep fried but light and tender, hushpuppies like none I’ve ever had that melted in your mouth, and shrimp etouffee that was amazing!
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Full from our wonderful dinner we head back to camp for a little bit of fire and relaxing before the storm came in. I was exhausted and slept through everything including the attack of aluminum foil by a raccoon into shiny things in the midst of the storm.

Morning light breaks through the trees and we were up and ready to explore more after a trip to town. We stopped and hiked in another nearby park for a bit and be still my heart it was a trek through mud! Lilo came out full force as I happily slipped and slid though the muck (and crossed a bridge that was beyond sideways; learning after I had completed my crossing that it was on one leg and the bolts were coming out of that one!).

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After what felt like a training for the next mudrun was completed we ended up at what might have been THE most beautiful area we found in those two days. The waterfall we found could have been enough all on its own but the reflections dancing on the walls from the water looked like liquid fire. I was in awe. Stunned and silent awe. The photos do not do this justice at all!
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I could go on for hours about the beauty that I was able to explore and the amazing journey we had but I think that the best thing I can do is to tell you….go! If not to Starved Rock just go, find a place to hike and explore and let everything just disappear for a while.

Live and Love Life!
Thank you Sara for allowing me to be a part of your journey as well!

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Ohana my friends!

Lilo88
Muddy and loving it!

Why I am a Spartan! By Denise Haley-Hall

I hadn’t worked out for 20 years. And this spring, I decided I was tired of it all! So I begged a friend to let me lift weights and workout with him. Between our schedules, we were sporadically working out once a week or so. When I started, I couldn’t lift the bench press bar alone off the rack. I couldn’t run one town block.

This sporadic workout regime kept me going through the summer, and even though I didn’t do enough I did see some small results.

I planned to do a few Warrior Dashes, and those dates passed me by, obligations got in the way. Then along came Month of Denise (what I call the celebration of my birthday month). It’s the month where I focus on doing things FOR ME, and focus on what makes me happy each day. Kind of finding the good in each day… Anyway, I decided that this should be the month that I do my warrior dash! Then I looked again and realized it was 4 and a half hours away. A friend told me about the Midwest Spartan Sprint, and said “it’s just like the warrior dash, only it’s an hour away, same day!” We signed up about 10 days before the race, maybe 12 lol.

SO I signed up, and coaxed my friend into doing it with me by telling her it’s just like a warrior dash!! Oops was I wrong. I did a little more research, and wondered what in the world I’d gotten myself into! I still wasn’t working out more than once a week, I wasn’t hardly running, and I sure couldn’t climb a rope or do a burpee!

But we signed up, we showed up, and we did not give up! And the more I looked at Spartan Race, the more I realized I’d stumbled upon an awesome group. People who weren’t in this for the business, but were in it to improve people’s lives!

I still don’t run much, I do workout more, but I am a Spartan! I am strong. I will never quit. I will always continue to try to make myself a better person.

My knees no longer ache, I don’t get winded playing with my kid, and I can wave to someone without the back of my arm waving back ;). Small steps perhaps, but definitely steps in the right direction.

~Denise Hall

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