by Carrie Adams

When Spartan launched the stadium series in Fenway Park, we knew we were onto something special.  We added new locations and dates and with Citizen’s Bank Park, Miller Park, and Fenway fast approaching again, we can’t wait to get our ballpark on!

One of the women who inspired us was Marina Gentile.  She is an inspiring woman who, for the first time, at the age of 45 calls herself an athlete, she’s telling her Spartan story of how training for the Fenway Sprint helped her lose over 125 pounds.  She’s raced many a Spartan since, but here is her recounting that fateful day in 2012 where it all began.

by “The Phoenix” Marina Gentile

I will never forget the day I lost my “Sparkle” – over, under, and through the bleachers at Fenway Park – to become a true “Spartan Chick.” It was last Sunday,November 18, 2012, starting at 11:30 a.m. and lasting for an amazing 1 hour, 36 minutes. I even managed to chick three guys in my path… My special shout out to the one by the rowers, he gave me perspective. I was so mad at myself for just missing the 500 meters in two minutes rowing challenge, when I got up from my 30 burpee penalty to see his face in a trash barrel… and thought, “forget this one and move on to the next, at least you are not tossing your pancakes right now like that guy!”

So, here’s what I knew at the finish line…

I knew that “Highway to Hell” blasting from the stadium speakers in my final run past those gladiators and across the finish line was truly awesome!! I don’t know what song was playing when other racers crossed that line but can’t be more metaphorically awesome than that one.

I knew at the Hercules Hoist that there was no way I would have let go of that rope, no way. I was exhausted from pulling that heavy block of weight up but I just kept hanging on until I got the job done. I’ve been swinging and pulling far too many ropes for far too long in training to be done in by that one.

I knew that I truly focused only on the obstacle currently in my way, not behind or ahead. So that let me move from past defeats quickly without them messing with my mojo, as well as eliminate future fears before they start.

I knew that if I kept smiling and laughing through those 180ish burpees, they would not suck so much, they would not break me. Not one of them that I did that race as penalty for missing the rowing, rope climb, spear throw, traverse wall, and ball throw obstacles – or for Burpeeville (where we did just for kicks) wiped that smile off my face.

I knew I brought the right friend along to share this milestone. Mat Villamil raced on Marina time instead of his peak, redeeming himself for that sneaky eleventh hour NY Yankees tattoo he got on his face.

I knew my fearless trainer Robbie Sherwood (aka Robbie Superman from my home away from home, NYSC in Stamford, CT) delivered again on his early promise to me that he was “all in” for this wild ride of transformation I’m on. Hanging back at my pace, he guided me through my toughest challenges by yelling out key advice (“get low” – “distribute your body weight” – “you got this” – “come on, fire it out” – “breathe”), by positioning that 60 lb sandbag onto my shoulders for our extended trek through the stadium seats, by letting me trample him fully to help get my short body up and over some 10 and 12 foot high walls, and by taking a burpee or two hit for me. Sure he got a little distracted at times – by a volunteer’s bag of Doritos at those sick jump ropes, by a free beer ticket he found while jumping off a high wall (you would have thought he found a winning lottery ticket), or by his own “awesomeness at the spear throw” – but the rest of the time he was laser focused on guiding me through so we could check this milestone off our goals list.

I knew that I had earned the right to call myself an athlete for the first time in my life at age 45. At least my own personal definition of an athlete – someone who shows up for life, brings her relentless determination and drive to move her body, to challenge herself, to push her body as far as it can go, then beyond that still. Someone that sets goals, then crushes them and sets more goals, because she is driven to move forward, to keep active. Her drivers are internal, she wants to be her personal best. I am an athlete for the first time in my life at 45 – maybe a little late to the game by societies standards but I have no doubt that is how I define myself – I think like one, I move like one, I train like one, I eat like one. And what I may lack in skill right now and possibly innate ability always, I make up for in enthusiasm every time… Bring on my next Spartan!!

I knew that I did not over analyze everything like I usually do. That I just let my body lead me through the race and trusted that it would know what to do, that I had trained hard for this, that my body would perform for me at Spartan. This is unbelievable from a girl with a long history of being disconnected to my body, or hating it, or feeling like it was so limited from being 125 lbs heavier for so many years. To learn to trust it in this way, to feel it leading me through, staying strong to the finish, feeling limitless… A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!

I knew that 3 of my 4 predictions printed on our Team Relentless shirts came true … Spartan Fenway was my reward, my challenge, and most definitely my bitch… but it was NOT my punishment.

And I knew that I showed up to Spartan Fenway and brought my relentless determination when my trainer somehow managed to immediately post this FB photo and shout out as I was standing right in front of him. “So incredibly proud of Marina Gentile who just beasted her first Spartan Race!!!! 125 pounds down and counting. She just made Fenway her bitch!!!”

And here’s what I realize in the days after crossing that finish line…

I realize that following my strategy/technique – the same one I’ve brought to my training and my Phoenix-like transformation this year – helped me to cross that finish line feeling super proud of my performance and accomplishments at Spartan. It is always the same math for success in all areas of my life: Great Attitude + Positive Energy + Relentless Determination + Showing Up + Keeping Things New and Fresh + Leaving My Comfort Zone + Connecting Mind to Body + Staying Rooted in the Moment = Living Every Day of My Life.

I realize my young boys are so proud of me, yet so concerned about my swelling ego, so they took it upon themselves to (try to stick) a “kick me” post-it on my back as I was walking out the door to go to my office proudly wearing my new Spartan bling around my neck.

I realize I’ve never felt my body so fully and thoroughly sore, that every last muscle, in every corner of my being got used that day in one way or another to get over those obstacles. Amazing feeling, makes me feel alive and like my life has a purpose, need to be there again.

I realize the meaning of “sometimes you’ve just got to stretch” – using  everyday objects in an airport the next day as I was traveling to do just that, regardless of the weird looks.

I realize that I view the world as one big obstacle course now, wondering how I will get under/over/through the various objects in my path.

I realize that I was so wildly happy when my first bruise appeared, that I kept showing it to people as some kind of badge of honor. And that I was disappointed that I did not have any scrapes on my body. Kind of crazy, but I’m hearing it a lot from career OCR’s so I know it’s not just me.

I realize that as the body aches subside and the bruises fade away, there is a sadness setting in. I trained so hard and for so long to get to Spartan, it was a huge milestone moment for me, and I loved it so much, that I’m a little bit lost right now. I know that just means I need to set and break more activity goals in the very near future, and most definitely that I need to sign on for another Spartan Race very soon… Hmmm, wondering if 2013 or 2014 will be my trifecta year?

I realize it’s such an honor that Carrie Adams referred to me as The Phoenix, that kick ass female mythical creature that – in my case – is burning down old behaviors, habits, negative body images and limitations on her life – and rising from the ashes transformed into a kick ass active mom/woman/Spartan Warrior with limitless potential.

What’s your excuse?  Get out to the ballpark!  Find an event HERE. 

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by Carrie Adams

Every journey begins with a single step, and for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by starting, there has never been a better time than now.  There has never been a better reason than because today is the day.  For Marina Gentile that story has been a memorable one.  For the last year, she has been on a mission – to become an athlete for the first time in her life and at the tender age of 45.  She’s lost 125 pounds in the process and proved that setting goals, investing in your own life, and taking chances opens doors never thought possible.  Her next stop?  Spartan’s Fenway Race.

“Spartan Race was among one of the first goals I set for myself. I have had quite a re-birth, completely transformed my life in the last year, I am training aggressively at the gym now, trying new sports and activities, and becoming more and more active in my life and with my kids since now I am able to introduce more activities to them too.”

Gentile is in her gym six days a week, three of those days working with her personal trainer , Robbie Sherwood.  While she admits she probably has 50 pounds or so left to lose, she’s stronger than she’s ever been and more the athlete than she ever thought possible. When the Fenway Spartan Race was announced, the self-proclaimed, “Boston girl born and raised, living in Yankee country way too long,” knew she had to be a part of the event.  She emphasizes that for her it isn’t about the number on the scale.

“Honestly, one of the biggest things I attribute to my success has been that for the first time in my life it is NOT about the weight and dieting… it is like the weight coming off is a natural consequence of my new active lifestyle and not the focus.  I feel so strong & healthy and great about myself, so fit.  I focus on the positives of having lots of fun every day and trying new activities, loving my training, setting activity goals for myself instead of weight goals.”

“Fenway is calling to me…” she laughs.  Gentile’s trainer knows she is ready and she’s been training for race day with the expectation that she’ll be even more competitive the next time around.  Running with Team Relentless, she and several others will descend on Fenway to race.

“They are all threatening to wear Mets & Yankees jerseys to my hometown so I am just hoping we don’t get beaten up on the streets before we even get through the gates!” jokes Gentile.

She’s had a tough time getting any women in her age group to go with her, but she’s not going to stop trying.  “My amazing husband of 18 years, Alan Alford, is coming along to Fenway as well, he has promised to take great pictures and video and hug me at the finish line.”

Inspired by the infamous Phoenix fabled to rise from the ashes, Gentile says, “I am fascinated by the Phoenix lately and all that it symbolizes, have had such a rebirth through burning down old ways and habits and negative body image messages.”

“I have been limited for so long, that now all I want to do is feel limitless, for me that means trying new activities and pushing and challenging my body to see how far it will go.  I have a lot of limited years to make up for, but I am still pretty young and strong and (as Robbie pointed out to me) seem to have enough positive energy to take on the world single-handedly right now!  I am so out of my mind with excitement for Spartan Fenway right now, and really super terrified all at the same time!  But I am so doing this… bringing the same A-Game and relentless determination that has gotten me through the last year of taking control of my own life and moving it in a very positive direction!

See you at the finish line, Marina.

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