Tag - Spartan Race

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To Conquer All Fears
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Midwest Super Spartan 2013. Lilo hits Insane Terrain!
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Spartan Sprint : Indiana 2013
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The Corn Fed Road to the Huff 50K
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My Road to The Death Race Entry 3

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

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!

Spartan Sprint : Indiana 2013

 

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This was my first Spartan race/OCR event. All I have to say is that this was the most awesome and rewarding experience I have had in a very long time. I started training for this event back in November. After doing two cycles of a weight loss program, I finally dropped enough weight where I felt comfortable to start running. After reading so many stories about success and perseverance, I knew that joining the Corn Fed Spartans was a step in the right direction for my health and for my spirit.

Honestly, I couldn’t wait to get to the hotel on Friday. I remember getting up, rummaging around, and trying to get my family (wife and four kids) organized and out the door. It seemed to take absolutely forever for us to leave. As those of you with kids will know, it is not easy to travel any distance without covering the basics of food, potty breaks, and children fighting amongst each other. I thought the continental drift would move faster than this family. Nonetheless, we got to the hotel.

After unpacking, organizing, putting my gear together, I met some of the members of the team running the Hurricane Heat (HH-029) at the Long Branch Tavern in Laurel, Indiana. The funny thing was, I had never met many of these members before in person. However, it just seemed like it was a family get together. We laughed, shared stories, ate some food and drank a few brews before heading off to one of the toughest things I have ever done…. the Hurricane Heat.

The Hurricane Heat was interesting. We started off by hauling a bunch of stuff around. John Shue and I carried fences what seemed like a half mile distance and we set them up. We then hauled rocks in buckets, and stacked wood for fires. Then I went with a small team to get a gator out of the mud. When we arrived, it had already been pulled out, so we had the luxury of pushing the ATV back up a steep hill. Then the course creator had us go along a creek to help clear thorny bushes and branches for Saturday’s races. Afterwards we joined the other team members to run the course.

The course was filled with small walls, over unders, 8 foot walls, monkey bars, barbwire crawls, lots of hills, atlas carry, spear throw, water obstacles, rope climbs, and lots more. Needless to say, there was enough there to challenge everyone. It was just over 5 miles in length. While I can run that distance, running alone is not enough. Key thing for me was improve upper and core body strength. Early on I felt I pulled something in my calf or I was cramping. It worked itself out somewhat and I was able to continue.

After the Hurricane Heat, we cleaned off as best as we could and headed back to the tavern. Two bacon cheeseburgers, a pile of fries, and a brew, and I was back to normal. I congratulated the crew, said my goodbyes, and headed back home. Jennifer was there to greet me with ice bags, a protein shake, and a vitamin water (big props to super wife).

The next morning was funny. Breakfast was a-buzz with CFS eating chow and getting psyched up for the race. After breakfast, I packed the family up and headed to the course. It was an awesome experience. Arriving, signing in, and registering my minions (Jayelle (Dozer), Evelyn (Evil Lynn), and Jeff Jr. (Lil’ Grizz), we headed to the Corn Fed Spartans Tent. It was filled with tons of people. We hugged, fist bumped and greeted everyone. We got our official red headbands, a few wristbands, and got ourselves ready to race.

When they called our team name for the 10:00 Heat, it was an awesome site to see that many people lined up on one team. We filled the entire corral! They got us pumped, we started our race. I ran with the sweeper team to make sure that all or our team members would complete the course. Tim carried the Corn Fed Spartans Flag and we started our race. Unfortunately after going over the low walls, Tim fractured his tibia at the knee joint. We called in a Medic and got him off to receive care. Once he was taken care of, we proceded down the course. Not once did we allow our flag to fall! Corn Fed!

There are tons of other tales to tell and not enough time to write them. My most memorable moments are those helping the Biggest Loser team with their obstacles. These women were absolutely awesome. To see their grit, and commitment to finish the races was inspiring. It was a true blessing to run beside them and help them accomplish what would seem impossible. From supporting them across traverse walls, to coaching and encouraging them up, across, and over a rope climb, to getting them across monkey bars, you saw in them the fighting spirit. The will to not give up!

Other moments made me proud of my team. Watching them support not just their fellow team members, but continue to reach out hands and encourage everyone on the course. Hearing people say, ‘Don’t worry, there is a Corn Fed up ahead. They will help you.’ summarizes what makes the Corn Fed Spartans the best obstacle course racing team.

After jumping over fire, and behing slammed by gladiators, I received my medal. My family was there to greet me. The minions got their own medals and completed their own race. I rinsed off in the showers, got changed, and headed to the festival area. After visiting with folks, congratulating team members, I was exhausted, super hungry, and in much need of a hot tub.

Ater a course of mexican food, a pitcher of beer, a hot tub, I went to bed. Slept for a couple of hours and was up to help Jennifer put the minions to bed. We then went down to the lobby which was the hub of the after party. It was fun to see everyone again. Share war stories, compare wounds, and share in copious amounts of drunken gummies (yum). I even convinced my wonderful wife to do the Super Spartan in Chicago in July. Time to start training!

All this said, I had a wonderful time. I am still sore. I was pushed to my limits. I did what I thought at times I couldn’t do. I definitely couldn’t have done it without my Corn Fed family. Thanks again to everyone who encouraged and supported me. For helping me and pushing me to exceed!

I placed the mission first.

I never accepted defeat.

I did not quit.

I never left a fallen comrade behind.

 

Aroo!

The Corn Fed Road to the Huff 50K

 

I have never been conventional…

After losing 100 pounds since last June, I knew that I needed to keep challenging myself lest I lose momentum and tumble back to my large-ess manliness. I have never, EVER, been a fan of running. It was painful, it was miserable, and I S-U-C-K-E-D at it. That was until I got tired of being out of shape. I couldn’t run away from a zombie horde if the apocalypse ever happened (yes, I have a paranoid crazy delusion/love affair with zombies).

I was quickly on my way to the grave (a friend reminds me of this all the time). After running a two martial arts school with my father for several years, my father passed away. It was a huge blow to me. Not only did I lose my father, the economy tanked. With a poor economy, having to change locations, and all ambition gone, the weight just piled on. I stopped caring. I was on the road to diabetes, cpap machines, and heart disease. I had a wake up call last year when I turned wrong in a chair and felt like my back went out. I was literally hunched over like Quasimodo and in pain. The chiropractor told me that my trouble was exacerbated by the excess weight. He recommend a weight loss program. A month later, I started it and haven’t looked back to those old ways.

So, last November on Thanksgiving, I started the C25K app on my iPhone. From there, I progressed to the 10K app. It all started because I remember a conversation I had with someone who was talking about military style obstacles races. Feeling a little intimidated that I couldn’t run nor get my fat butt over, under or through the obstacles really ticked me off. I don’t know if the person said it outright, or was it my subconscious kicking in, but I heard ‘You couldn’t do that Barnes.’

That is about all I needed to change gears. Challenge me. Tell me I am a loser, and I will do about anything to prove you wrong. I will explain my ‘Marty McFly’ syndrome on another post, lets just say it is deeply ingrained. That is where I am now. I started running to get myself in shape to run the Spartan Sprint on April 27th in Indiana. It will be my first obstacle race. I have ran a couple of 5K and 7k races ramping up to this event. I couldn’t have done it without my friends the Corn Fed Spartans. They are a source of inspiration. One of which specifically (Kathy Bacon) who inspires me so much to never give up!

After reading ‘Born to Run’, followed by ‘Eat and Run’, I started reading just about EVERYTHING there is out there on Ultra Marathons. Where I am in my training schedule is getting myself up to the marathon distance. My long run weekends to date go about 8+ miles.  People like Jonathan Nolan inspire me that I can continue to surpass my own limitations. So, I wanted to finish strong. What started out as just a goal to run a Spartan race on April 27th, has inspired me continue on my healthy journey. My goal is to learn my new limits and surpass them.

So, the Huff 50K is December 28th this year. I signed up because I know that it will be tough. It will challenge me. It will keep me focused on a long term goal so that I won’t easily give in and quit on myself. So, 50K? Yep. I am going to do this. I am going to wear that belt buckle EVERYWHERE!

Don’t think I can?

Tell me I can’t and I will prove you wrong!

My Road to The Death Race Entry 3

Day 23Sitting down and doing this after my run allows me to think about my day and what I have went through physically and mentally.  I had 6 miles to think about my day which took me 50:51 (still over my goal time of 45).  This was, by far, was the best Christmas I have ever have.  It started with us waking up and  having Lucas walk Ethan out to all the presents with him saying “wow” every 5 seconds!  It was a big joy to hear the boys so happy and eager to open their gifts.  Laura, who had to have makeup and be all prettied up for pictures (I have to admit, pretty beautiful), made us all open our gifts first with her waiting till the end.  We had a great morning and enjoyed the company of each other and had a lot of fun.

We knew that my mother was going to visit us for Christmas, which was quite a surprise because of the relationship I have with her.  A few weeks ago, she had a major heart attack (blew out her coronary artery) which had a 50% mortality rate.  Up until this point, she has really missed out on her grandson’s life ( he is almost 2) and maybe this has given her some perspective on what is important.  I was happy that she came over and actually got on the floor and visited with him, interacted with him, because he sat down right beside her and did so well with her.  Let’s hope for change….

Anyway, this was my day in my mind as I ran.  My life, much like the people reading this, has had a lot of downs, curves, disappointments, people telling me I can not do this or that, and the Death Race is my middle finger……go ahead and doubt me, call me crazy, ignore me, tell me I don’t matter…..but, just remember who you are because when I finish the Death Race, you can look in the mirror and STFU!!  I remember Joe DeSena, one of the founders of the Death Race say that this race was just like life in that is always threw you curve balls and you never know what to expect.  If that is the case, then the opposite should be true as well.  Life is just like the Death Race….and I have been preparing for this my whole life.

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