The fear is taking hold…

Today I had a dream about a seemingly wicked 21+k obstacle race that involved bouncy things. Sort of like a Wipeout trail race.

(I have a lot of dreams that feature really neat race concepts, lol) 

But in the dream I had only done half of it and then couldn’t figure out where I was going and I couldn’t find any volunteers to help me and everyone else was long gone… All I could do was just cry hysterically in disappointment and frustration,  and eventually I just gave up because I knew that  I’d never finish before the cut off time.

CLEARLY my brain is starting to connect my experiences with Tuffest 10 (although to be fair I injured myself and that was the main reason why I couldn’t complete the full 21k) and my feelings of failure and disappointment with the impending Beast this weekend…. Logically I know that this will be a much better outcome (and the course will be adequately marked, haha!), but the fear is setting in because the last time I attempted a half marathon trail run, I failed miserably.

This will  be my first of that same (and most likely longer) distance since that race,  plus I’ve never done a race on a mountain before (well besides in Grande Cache, but it wasn’t a ski hill). I AM scared that I will fail again and all of the time, training, and more importantly, MONEY spent on my two big weekends of Spartan races will be a waste…. I NEED that last piece of the trifecta medal or all of my effort will be for naught!

Realistically I KNOW that I will finish in time…. I have 9.5 hours before they take people off of the mountain. But still, the fear…. Tuffest 10 broke me, it was the first race that I basically gave up on, and now the Beast will be here in just 4 short days….

😕😕😕

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When the Hurricane Heat almost broke me….

After I did my first Spartan race, the 2014 Edmonton Sprint, over a year ago, I made the goal that I would get my trifecta in 2015.

For those unaware, a trifecta is when you do the Sprint (5+km), Super (12+km), and the Beast (21+km) all in one calendar year. With each medal you also get a pie piece, and the 3 different pie pieces fit together to make one trifecta medal. You can also do multiple trifectas in the same year and then get cooler, larger medals as well.

pie pieces

pie pieces2

Neat, right?

I couldn't find a X3 one, but you get the idea.

I couldn’t find a X3 one, but you get the idea.

In order to make my goal as cheap to obtain as possible, it involved compressing as many races into one weekend as possible. Since the only Super in Western Canada was in Red Deer, and the only Beast in Western Canada is in Sun Peaks, I was then forced to do my Sprint in either weekend as well….I chose Red Deer since I figured that I would be pretty sore after the Beast. (Completing my trifecta outside of Western Canada is not an option).

Spartan also offers a 3-4 hour Hurricane Heat, held on the Friday night before a race weekend, where everyone operates as a large group to finish the Sprint-length course also as a group. You receive a special dog tag with the Warrior Ethos on one side, and a HH shirt.

About a month ago, I had emailed Spartan to see if there was a HH for Red Deer and was told that there was not one for that weekend or Sun Peaks -.- Of course, the only locations that I was attending did not have a HH! I wanted the dog tag so bad!

Imagine my surprise when about a week before the race, it was announced that there was in fact going to be a HH for Red Deer! I quickly signed up….I knew that it would be tough to do 3 races in one weekend, but I have no idea if I’ll be able to do any Spartans at all next year (racing is a ridiculously expensive hobby and my recent change in life circumstances means a  huge shift in my finances…) so I figured I might as well do it…..I was going to be in town anyway, so why not! (That was the same attitude that signed me up for my first Spartan as well!)

Then I was sent this ridiculous mandatory gear list and I wondered what I had gotten myself into….

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Thursday night came around and I realized that I had COMPLETELY forgotten about the essay due to being distracted by making sure I had everything else I needed. So there I was at 3 am on Friday morning, trying to write an essay on my phone, thinking that I would swing by the condo tomorrow to print it off. As I was writing it, I stopped making sense and I couldn’t process what I was reading anymore, so I decided to call it a night and in the morning I would proofread and email it to myself so that I could print it off.

The next morning I quickly threw it through a word counter and it was only 275 words!! Noooo!

So instead I decided that I would get my friend/carpool-mate Brittni to drive the first leg to Edmonton so that I could finish it off while we were on the road, and I would either send it to Cheryl, the Mudd Queen that I was picking up in Edmonton, for her to print off for me, or worst case scenerio I would email it to myself and make use of the “Business Centre” at our hotel, which I hoped would have a printer. Cheryl ended up being able to print it off for me, thankfully.

Brittni and I got to Edmonton super late, and ended up getting there right at rush hour so it took me an HOUR to get from one end of the city (where I dropped Brittni off) to the other to pick up Cheryl. We were running horrendously behind schedule. The HH started at 6PM on the DOT, and we didn’t even leave Edmonton until after 4!!

We had to make an emergency stop in Ponoka for gas because with all of the stress and worry of a) making it across the city to where Cheryl was and b) being so far behind schedule, I had completely forgotten to get gas in Edmonton! While we were filling up, I got changed in the back of the van and Cheryl quickly used the bathroom at the gas station as her changing room as well.

It was a great thing that Cheryl was able to print my essay off for me, because we pulled into the race grounds parking lot at 5:45PM! We didn’t have time to check-in at the hotel first!

“Before” – group photo

It was a long and difficult 3 hours. As expected, I was the slowest of the group. Us turtles were supposed to lead the group (as we were only to go as fast as the slowest person), and it started that way but switched halfway through for some reason as the faster people started going to the front and I pulled up the rear.

At one point we were ziptied to a partner, I was the odd man out of the group (sigh) so I was attached to our leader John of JohnnyB Fitt Fitness Centre in Fort Saskatchewan (check it out if you’re in the Edmonton area!). For obvious reasons this was a little humiliating….it’s happened before in school where I’ve been picked last and forced to go with the teacher for whatever, or had to be a third in a group of two. Plus being the slowest person and him being arguably the strongest/most in shape of the group, we were an uneven team, particularly when we had to navigate a bit of trails. I had to hyperfocus on where my feet were going so that I didn’t twist my left ankle (and as a result have to sit out the rest of the weekend), and being attached to someone who is fast AND the leader of the group made that incredibly difficult and more than slightly embarrassing.

Then we had to get up and over the 8ft wall while still being attached to our partner. John and I were demoing and it went about as well as you may expect, I straddled the wall wrong and hurt my vagina ( :/ ). Then when he went up, instead of sitting up on the top and jumping down together, he went down, and snapped the ziptie on my wrist. Thankfully I was holding on tight enough that he didn’t also pull me off the wall.

During the Hobie Hop (a rubber band worn around your ankles, you have to hop around a little mini course), the band rubbed on my bare skin and was quite painful. I was already feeling pretty low at that point and the pain of thick rubber on already broken skin broke me a little.

I was so frustrated with myself and how out of shape I am (relatively speaking) that I started hyperventilating and almost cried, I had to walk it off and be far back from the group for a bit so that I could get myself together. This in and of itself made me annoyed….why am I about to cry here? Why am I so weak? Ugh. I managed to hold it together, but jesus. There was no way in hell that I would let anyone see me cry, especially in that environment. I am supposed to be a strong Spartan, a Canadian Mudd Queen, a warrior! Warriors don’t cry!

People kept asking me if I was okay. I really hate that, it happens when I’m walking in road races as well….yes I am totally fine, I am just fat and out of shape, thank you! To be fair, I was also not putting 1000% in, only because I didn’t want to wreck myself when I still had 2 more races to do that weekend!

A little while after that we had to build a raft out of our hockey sticks and zip ties…. that also went about as well as expected and immediately sunk as soon as John got on it, lol.

We had to swim across the water, and let me tell you….I don’t have any fears or issues with water, but having to swim in cold water in the dark while wearing actual clothing (I feel like wearing actual an actual bathing suit may have made that seem less intense, no idea why) made me have a minor panic attack where I couldn’t remember how to swim besides treading water. One girl was afraid of water and was freaking out getting into it, but she was a strong swimmer once she actually got in. It was interesting to see.

After around 3 hours, John checked to see if we had written our essays on “Why I Race”. There was a whole family that were doing the HH, and for some reason they all had the exact same essays! Not going to lie, I judged! Maybe I’m just a keener but that bothered me immensely. I never would have thought to copy someone else’s essay, everyone’s motivations and life experiences are so different, there’s no way that the dad runs for the same reason that his 16 year old son does!

John asked who would like to read their essay aloud. I, of course, did a little jump in the air while shooting my hand up and saying “me! me!” uh….yeah. Is it a surprise that I was a total teacher’s pet and I am the first to volunteer to be on stage for things (in the context of being at a bar or a performance or whatever where they ask people to complete tasks on stage, etc)? John chose me and two other people.

The teenage boy of the family, who apparently was the original author of the essay that his entire family used, read first. After he was done, John had Jaime (a fellow Mudd Queen) and I rock, paper, scissors to see who would read theirs’ as the first one had taken so long. I unfortunately lost, but was visibly disappointed enough and someone from the group said something like “oh but she really wanted to read hers!”, that John ultimately let me read mine as well.

(You can read the essay here)

Afterwards we ran as a group and jumped over the waiting fire, which was a very welcome sight at that point!

And we were done!

And we were done!

And the Hurricane Heat was done. It was beyond challenging, stressful, and humiliating at times, but overall it was also incredibly rewarding and something I definitely don’t regret doing.

A few of the Mudd Queens came up and asked me when I was running Sun Peaks (8:30!) and when I said that I was running alone, they offered to run it with me 🙂 so yay! I found people to run with! lol!

A beer, a group photo, and some chatting later, I was beyond ready to go check in at the hotel, get a hot shower, some food in my stomach, and then get some sleep for the 13+k Super I had to run the next day.

🙂

So proud. So hungry.

So proud. So hungry.

“Why I Race”

For the Hurricane Heat, we had to write a 500 word essay on “Why I Race”. I volunteered to read mine aloud.

This was my essay:

“My son Noah suffered a severe brain injury at birth. When he was 4 days old we found out that he was essentially “brain dead”. On Christmas Eve 2010, at 5 days old, we took him off life support and prepared to say goodbye.

He ended up pulling through and we took him home 5 days later.

He is now 4.5 years old, has severe cerebral palsy, and is wheelchair-bound and non-verbal.

After Noah was born I suffered from PPD and PTSD. I gained back all of the weight that I had lost from giving birth, plus 20 more pounds. I was a total of 60lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight by Noah’s second birthday. I was severely depressed and actively planning my suicide when I finally got the help that I needed. In 2013 I got a hold of my mental health and grew to accept myself and my body.

In January 2014 I weighed 250lbs. I decided that I was finally ready to do something about it, and Noah was my inspiration and motivation. He will never be able to walk, run, or do anything that a typical child would be able to do. I already have to be his voice… I have to be his arms and legs too. He is only going to get bigger and heavier, so I needed to get smaller and stronger.

I found Crossfit and that ignited a fire in me that led me to signing up for my first Spartan on a complete whim… the 2014 Edmonton Sprint. By all accounts I didn’t do very well, but I did something for ME, and the sense of accomplishment I felt jumping over that fire led me to setting a goal of doing 25 races by the time I turn 25.

Finding a love for fitness and racing has allowed me to deal with my depression in a positive and healthy way.

Throughout the last year and a half I’ve learned that I need to be “selfish” and do things that don’t revolve around being a mom. Noah helps me push harder when I want to give up, and he gives me the strength and purpose to even be alive today. When I struggle I think about seeing my baby in the NICU and all of the emotional pain I went through when we were told we would lose him. I know that I’ve already been through the absolute worst and most painful experience that I could go through…. Any physical pain is nothing in comparison. Noah has taught me to be thankful for the fact that I have a fully functioning body and mind.

The biggest reason why I race is because I deserve to treat myself and my health as the number one priority. I race for the sense of pride I have in myself when I cross that finish line, knowing that I can push my body to limits that I never thought possible.

‘It’s a shame for a woman to grow old without ever seeing the strength and beauty of which her body is capable’

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My essay ended up getting shared via Allison Tai’s blog here, and the Spartan Canada blog here. That was pretty neat.

Changes

The last couple of weeks have been full of change and weirdness.

Caleb and I are separated.

I moved back to my parents’ house.

Noah is living with Caleb.

I got a job. It’s going alright, there’s quite the learning curve, especially considering that I have not had a real job in almost 5 years.

I am still in town every day taking care of Noah, which is sort of awkward. It’s like I am still living at the house and eating the food like normal (I don’t have to buy my own food yet), but none of my stuff is there and I don’t sleep there at night. The drive to my parents’ house is also an adjustment, it’s pretty brutal having to drive out of town in the middle of the night when you’re exhausted.

I wish we could have a cleaner break, but Noah makes that impossible, unfortunately.

I had to step down as web coordinator for the Run/Walk Club….with everything going on I’ve been severely neglecting it and I needed to walk away for the time being.

I’m also dating, which has been mostly successful. Even though I don’t have a lot of actual dating experience, I feel like I know more now what I’m actually looking for. But I am primarily just having fun and meeting new people.

I am mostly happy. The living situation is a huge adjustment, but I think it will work out…or maybe I will just get used to it. It’s a strange juxtaposition, feeling like a stranger in my own house, and also feeling like I never left. Seeing “our” bed no longer being “our” bed is hard. Trying to adjust my vocabulary to reflect the house being “Caleb’s house” or “the house” vs “my home” is almost heartbreaking, and it’s worse when Caleb either says it wrong or says it right, really. Him saying “…when you’re at my house tomorrow” last week made me cry (he didn’t say it to intentionally make me upset). Then it’s a whole other emotion when he refers to it as ours still….I can’t even describe it. It’s mostly melancholy, I guess.

I’m not sad about the separation, I’m sad about losing my home and also not seeing Noah go to sleep at night. I was comfortable. I had my house, and sat on my couch with my TV with my Netflix that I watched almost every night. Now nothing besides my personal belongings are mine. I am essentially a drifter, having to take a huge suitcase and/or an overnight bag and my “hobo pillow” (as I call it) to town every day, depending on what I am doing that day.

Change is hard.

The next few months will be really interesting, I think. I am hoping to move back into town for November 1st (moving in with my sister if it all goes to plan), in the meantime I need to sort out my work hours and try to figure out how to get as close as full time hours as possible so that I can even afford to live. I also am not really sure how to navigate us towards actually getting a divorce. The process seems very complicated. But I’m sure we will figure it out eventually.

Onward and upward.

10847928_10156020083875434_2708233565610939978_nPS: I am writing this in a Starbucks right now and the super depressing mellow music is not helping my mood very much.

PPS: SPARTAN NEXT WEEKEND (yes I am still going)!!!!!!!!!!!!!