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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