by Colleen Gilleran

I weigh 320 lbs. I am by no means the definition of a healthy or a fit person. I am a cubicle rat, book worm, socially awkward, kitty rescue working, Rock Star Boot Camp attending, dedicated woman out to change my life…one step at a time and this is my story of my Arizona Sprint experience in February of 2013.

In July 2012, my beginning weight was approximately 387 pounds, I almost quit boot camp from embarrassment. Instead, I buckled down for a wild ride. August 2012, I register for the Arizona Spartan Sprint! What the what!?!?! Naysayers…they crawled out of the darkest corners of places I had never been before. Who did I think I was registering for a Spartan race? How could I possibly make it half way, let alone finish? Wasn’t I embarrassed for myself? What have I gotten myself into…obviously I enjoyed setting myself up for failure, public failure at that! I then begin to train harder, eat smarter, get closer to the people I train with and connect with the women on the Spartan Chicked Facebook page. I asked questions like they were going out of style. I got answers, I got support, I got excited!

Race day was upon me. I was a bundle of nervous energy that didn’t know whether to throw up, have a breakdown or get the race started! There were 6 of us that would be doing it together, a small little pack of slow movers that were intent on not quitting, putting one foot in front of the other. A little more than a mile in, one girl injured her knee, but wanted to keep going. We kept going, slower, but going. Every obstacle was attempted and every obstacle debt was paid, whether it was success or burpees. We banded together to get up severe inclines and down the declines. Spartan strangers offered hands of help, cheers of motivation and words of encouragement when we would pause to let them pass.

I cannot speak of each person’s journey, as each one is individual, but for me I was surprised at how well I could complete some obstacles, despite looking different than the majority of the Spartans that day. I realized that I may not have been fast, but I was strong. I had a strong base of support, I had a strong will, and I had a strong heart. When I found myself facing the slippery wall after more than 5 hours on the course, I dug deep to get over that wall, even if it took 4 attempts, and the help of many people I do not know and never got a chance to thank. I had to finish…we had to finish…even if it was taking much longer than I had originally planned.

I jumped the fire. I wiggled through the Gladiators. I stopped to pick up and help another broken teammate across the finish line. I got my medal. I stopped to breathe…I…got…my…medal. It wasn’t until later, when I got to my car, that I cried. An emotional dam had opened and would not be closed until every last drop of everything was out. At first, the more I thought, the more I struggled. I struggled with the knowledge that I know I could have done better, gone faster, finished stronger and the satisfaction of knowing that in the end, I chose to leave no team member behind and that given the same choice again, I would not change that answer. I came to learn that sometimes the race isn’t about how fast you can go, sometimes it is about learning about who you are deep inside. On the day I lost my Sparkle at my first Spartan Race, I may have been bloodied and bruised, but my light shone brighter than it had ever shone before!

Going forward, it may take me a bit to get my Trifecta, but be Spartan sure that I will do just that! In the meantime, I will be whittling down my waistline, volunteering at Spartan races where I can and working to inspire more people who think they can’t, who think they aren’t ready, who think they aren’t fit enough to get off the couch and start putting one foot in front of the other!

[Editor's note: What motivates you to get off the couch and hit the course?  Have a story you want to share?  Email carrie@spartanrace.com with the details and a few photos and you might end up on our blog!  In the meantime, get signed up for an event today!  Click HERE.]

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25 Responses

  1. avatar

    I am blessed to ‘know’ Colleen via Spartan Chicks and even more to have gotten to meet her in person before the start of the AZ Sprint. She is a fighter and has a true warrior spirit. I am consistently motivated by Colleen. Go Get ‘Em Girl!!!!

  2. avatar

    That is awesome and inspirational! I am so happy for you and wish I could reach inside and find some of that get up and go!. One day, hopefully sooner than later, I will do it. B right now, keep up the great work

    • avatar

      There is NO day like TODAY! You are never guaranteed another day. ONE STEP IN FRONT OF THE OTHER! It doesn’t have to be extreme…just START moving! :-)

  3. avatar

    Incredible story! Congratulations on your finish and on the inspiring journey you took to get there! Wishing you the best for your next phase!!

  4. avatar

    You rocked it like a Rock Star Colleen!!!

  5. avatar

    Wow! Truly inspiring story from a truly inspiring women! Your story literally brought a tear to my eye and made me smile for you! Amazing!!!

  6. avatar

    Way to go, Big Squeezie! Your determination and Spartan spirit are motivation to us all, whether you know it not. Our lives are much richer with you in it. <3 you!

  7. avatar

    Very moving story! You are my hero! I’m in the same boat as you. I am not built like most of the Spartans racing. I’m overweight (220lbs to be exact) but I leave more heart and determination on the course. I completed the Indiana Spartan Sprint and the Midwest Super, hoping to secure my Trifecta at the SC Beast this November.

    Whether it’s in our battle to lose weight and gain strength or on the race course, the motto is the same “RELENTLESS FORWARD PROGRESSION.”

    AROO!!!

  8. avatar

    Good for you! This is an amazingly written story of your beautiful journey. Keep up the AMAZING work, and keep on trucking.

  9. avatar

    NICE!!! YOU JUST GAVE ME THE PUSH I NEEDED….KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK I WAS ONCE 326LBS MY SELF IM @ 190 LBS I CANT GET IT OFF

  10. avatar

    You go girl! You are an inspiration!!!

  11. avatar

    Inspiring! Way to go!!

  12. avatar

    Amazing story. So inspirational. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  13. avatar

    I think you are AMAZING!!! you keep pushing nothing can stop you!!

  14. avatar

    Well I’m definitely not crying at work. Nope. That would be embarrassing…

    You are an inspiration and should be incredibly proud. Always.

    YOU GOT YOUR MEDAL!

  15. avatar

    I’m with Brett, not crying at work, nope it’s allergies!!!

    So incredibly AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!
    You Rock!!!!

  16. avatar

    GOOD. FOR. YOU!!! Never let the naysayers get you down. The more they say you can’t, tell yourself “Yes , I can!” Great inspirational testimony. Thank you for sharing!

  17. avatar

    I have the honor of knowing Colleen and attending Rock Star Boot Camp with her. She is an amazing women and a true inspiration!

  18. avatar

    Congratulations!! No one can take away the medal or the pride or the accomplishment or anything else you earned while believing in yourself. Keep that faith in yourself when you conquer your next challenge in work or life or Spartan country. Keeping that spirit is far better than waving a medal in the face of any naysayer and saying “I told you I could”.

  19. avatar

    You are my hero! After losing a ton of weight and completing my first Sprint, I have created a group that helps others prepare for their first sprint. I hope that your story inspires them. Thank you so much for doing this. :)

  20. avatar

    Aroo! The team spirit of Spartan is great, and finishing- no matter how long it takes or the help needed, it is so gratifying. Great job Colleen! That damn wall- the one I almost conquered–next year… Stay inspired :-)

  21. avatar

    Excellent! Don’t listen to the comments of people who only wish they could do what you have done! Hope I will see you at a race some day, thanks for your amazing testimony.

  22. avatar

    Colleen you rock. Be the completer and not the competer (spelling I know) is my motto! Gets me through all my races. You will rock your next race and your times will improve as you do more races! Keep of the awesome work!

  23. avatar

    Colleen, I have to tell you that your story has given me the final push I needed to sign up for my first Spartan. I was toying with the idea and my best-friend and workout buddy has been pushing me for weeks to sign up. She sent me your story and what an amazing story it is. Keep up the good work, and if you wind up traveling to the NJ Spartan Race this year I will see you there!

    Thank you!

  24. avatar

    Thank you all for your kind words! Each day is a struggle, but when I lay my head on the pillow at night, I know that I have done something…something great, for myself, for others, for strangers…it doesn’t matter… I have a long way to go and that is OK…as long as I keep going…

    ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER!!!

    Going forward…my goal is Trifecta 2014 with the following races: AZ Sprint, Vegas Super and Monterrey Beast. I am waiting on race codes I earned volunteering…IF I get those I will get my registration in for Vegas and Monterrey. AZ is already on the books.

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