As Spartan Race continues to grow, we are excited to announce the arrival of another new Pro Team member, Orla Walsh. Never actually believing she would be rubbing shoulders with established names like Amelia Boone and Rose Wetzell-Sinnett, Orla is a racer to be taken very seriously. A remarkable achievement when one considers the past year is her first in OCR.

Of the signing onto the Pro Team she said, To be on the Pro Team can mean many different things to a variety of people. Soon after I started OCR – less than a year ago – I figured out who was who and what athletes were on the Pro Team. I never thought my name would be on the team roster. In the past year I decided to commit my training and workouts towards OCR.  The hard work and dedication I have put in the last year is being slowly showcased in my performances in the races I have competed in.”

“Being a part of the Pro Team makes me want to work harder, train harder, be stronger. I feel so honored to be a part of an amazing group of athletes and hope to continue to grow as an athlete. Making the Pro Team is surely an honor and I will work hard to prove to the team, to Spartan, and all the obstacle racers out there I belong on the team for a long time.”

But she’s not assuming that she’s “made it.” Like a true professional, she’s taking this as a reason to step up the training and not rest on her laurels. With her training background one of being a sprinter, she’s adapting her training, looking at nutrition, adding weights and transitioning her skills into Spartan Races.

Orla’s explosion on the Spartan Race circuit has impressed many.

Bringing this skill set with her to the races has helped Orla podium at a 50% success rate. This incredible stat of landing a podium position in at least one of every two races she puts down to her strengths at short Sprints.

I believe my strengths are the short sprints, downhill running and I am pretty quick on the obstacles. To be honest, I am still learning techniques to get over obstacles quicker, but that will come with time. I couldn’t even climb a rope or do Monkey Bars my first race! My weaknesses are definitely hills and long endurance as I have a 5k background. Even fueling and hydrating during races is all fairly new to me. It has been a great education learning about all these training additions I was never aware of as a short distance runner! I am willing to push myself and get the miles under me I need to race in the future.”

Looking ahead, Orla is hoping to strike up some banter and fun with the other female elites. While competition is clearly the most important factor, the bond of the team makes the whole thing so much more fun. “I’d have to say we are all friendly rivalries!”, laughs the Vermont-born runner. “The women’s elite is an amazing group of talented and super athletic women! Not too long ago, I never thought I would be able to run and hang with these women. I may not be in the lead yet, but I am closing the gap between us.”

What advice does she have for those starting out in Spartan Race? To not listen to the word “quit.”

“For newbies out there…DONT GIVE UP! I went out for my first race with my friends, I had no idea how to climb a rope, monkey bars or rings. I did my 90 Burpees and vowed I would hit the gym and learn how to conquer them. Be strong mentally, love what you are doing, train for the goals you set in front of you. You can achieve your dreams and goals by believing in yourself and getting after it!”

We are excited to have Orla Walsh on the Spartan Pro Team, keep your eyes on her, she’s making big moves and fast.

See you at the finish line, Orla!

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Spartan Race is proud to announce the latest addition to the Spartan Race Pro Team, Chad Trammell. Of 12 races, he has taken podium places 9 times. A highly enviable achievement.

Speaking of his signing onto the team, Chad said, “It feels great! I have so much respect for the athletes on the team, and am very proud to count them as teammates. I’ve always liked the team aspect of running, which many consider to be an individual sport, and it’s the same with OCR. Being part of the Spartan Pro Team gives that extra push, knowing that you’re representing The Spartan Pro Team, the organization, and most importantly everyone out there who races.”

Being on the Pro Team was something he has been working towards for some time. Noticing that he was sometimes finishing ahead of many recognized Elites since his first race in Arizona of 2013, he made the assumption that he’d be picked up immediately. When he wasn’t, his true character shone through and it only fueled him further to dig deeper, push harder and run faster. He understood he needed to prove himself over time. So that is what he did.

Now that he’s on board officially, he rubs his hands with glee, relishing the chance to pick up some friendly rivalries with members of the Pro Team.

“Absolutely!,” he beams, “one of my goals is to beat all the top racers in the sport at least once, and I have been able to best almost everyone at least once, including Hobie Call, Brakken Kraker, David Magida, Max King, James Appleton, Matt Murphy, Glenn Racz, John Yatzko, and Matt Novakovich. The two guys who are still on my list are Hunter McIntyre and Cody Moat, and I’ve come very close to both of them, so I’ll have a little extra motivation next time I’m in a race against them.”

Coming from a background where his strengths were running at pace with endurance, Chad quickly realized that he had weaknesses at some obstacles, especially around the heavy carries, such as the sandbag and bucket brigade. Such was his determination that he now considers them a strength, highlighted by wins in the heavy-obstacle driven race at Colorado and also in Monterey. His next target is to improve on his steep inclines so that he can compete with climbing specialists like Matt Novakovich.

Spartan welcomes Chad Trammell with open arms and looks forward to watching his growth as an athlete and member of the Spartan Pro Team. Congrats on your success so far Chad, we’ll see you at the finish line!

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It was the Virginia Super of 2013. Hobie was in his prime and the Spartan Pro Team were a very recognizable who’s-who line up of OCR. From nowhere, an unknown racer named Matt Novakovich appeared on the scene by not just winning the race, but establishing a crushing margin of over six minutes.

A flash-in-the-pan, one-hit wonder? 14 podium finishes since that race would beg to differ. The man from Alaska runs up hills at the same speed most people run across a football field. His almost inhuman ability to ignore pain married with his incredible muscle memory means that not only should his appearance at a starting line be respected, but feared. Add to this the way he breezes through, over and under any obstacles put before him, he is the complete racer. There is nothing, it seems, that is capable of slowing him down.

A heavy hitter within the elite ranks he is someone to be taken seriously, and with the additional training he is doing courtesy of Joe Desena – in the same way Hunter McIntyre did before him – only time will tell if Matt’s experience will defeat the youthful exuberance of those a little younger than him. The Vermont World Championship weekend is shaping up to be even tighter than last year.

But for all his firepower and strength, his cheeky sense of humor and trademark grin are the first things you notice about him. Just don’t mistake his friendliness for weakness…after all they do call him, “The Bear.” 

Matt “The Bear” Novakovich
DOB: 3/27/74
Weight: 148 height: 5’9”
Hometown:  Anchorage, AK

Current residence/location:  Anchorage, AK
Pro Team member since: August 2013
Podium finishes (up to end Dec 2013): 14
Best strength: Climbing and Heavy Grinding

 

1) What is your background?
I ran the steeple chase for Brigham Young University. I graduated with a degree in business and information systems. In 2000, I started Novakovich Roofing and have been carrying heavy roofing materials for 25 years of my life. From 2000 to 2009 I competed as a category 1 cyclist and then switched to sky running steep mountains from 2009 to 2013. In 2012, I set a record for climbing 24,000 vertical feet in 9 hours and then won Mt. Marathon in the same year. I switched to Spartan after beating Hobie by six minutes in the climbing focused Virginia Super.

2) What does Spartan mean to you personally?
Spartan racing is a new challenge to me. I’m enthralled by the premise that the skinniest of runners can be beat by the 200 pound juggernauts and vise versa. I also love how the Spartan experience challenges everyone in a very special way. Everyone has a weakness at the Spartan venues and we all have to try to overcome them without giving up what our original strengths are.

3) How do you prepare?
I believe that there is no substitute for volume. I train my aerobic system twice as much as the 20 year olds and I am willing to grind out 3 hour sessions on the treadmill unlike the younger athletes. I believe in the concept of experienced muscles getting better with age. I believe that years of endurance training and racing cannot be substituted with short cuts and I take pride in crushing younger, cocky athletes ☺

4) What is your favorite WOD?
My favorite WOD is to climb 3000 vertical feet. Then do active stretching, drills and strides and begin 5×5 intervals on the incline trainer at 40% at 3 plus miles per hour. I believe that this is my gold standard and the 40% is equivalent to sub 5 minute mile pace without the pounding.

5) What is your favorite single exercise and what is you least favorite exercise?
My favorite exercise is climbing mountains fast and light. I love the scenery, fresh air and being away from people. I love taking routes that typically get me lost or at least delayed by hours from my original “plan.”

My least favorite workout is running. I used to enjoy it obviously as that was my background, however as I’m older I find that the cons of running for me include, stomach distress, knee surgeries and repetitive boredom.

6) What is your favorite FOD?
My favorite food is anything I don’t have to cook. I never have followed a recipe and I don’t plan to start. My breakfast is typically 2 packets of instant oatmeal, yogurt and diet coke.  Lunch is a sandwich that includes lots of veggies and hopefully egg whites for the protein.  Dinner is whatever we are doing for dinner. My wife, Tiffanie, is a really good cook so this is my weakness:  Pushing the plate away before I’ve had 2nds, 3rds, and 4ths.

After 7PM is the curse of the athlete trying to lean up for major events. If I can avoid the gram-crackers and milk, Coke, cereal and yogurt in the late hours I can generally be lean and mean going into important events.

7) Advice for newbies going forward that have no idea where or how to start.
It is never too late to start.  If you have become overweight through years of poor eating be patient and realize time and consistency are your friends. It is okay to “feel hungry” when cutting calories and starting a new training plan. “Feeling hungry” is our bodies way of saying “it’s working.” If you are not overweight, but just a little out of shape, realize this:  Trained properly most of us are a mere six months away from our best fitness ever.  

8) What is your favorite Spartan Race to date?
Vermont World Championships.

I had a lot of pressure to win and I fell flat on my face. Google “Vermont World Championships” and watch the footage of me shivering and cramping and considering quitting. I did not quit. However, through pushing to my 16th place finish I learned a lot about my will power, my desire to succeed and what it takes to be a champion.

9) If someone was on the edge about doing a Spartan Race, what would you say to them?

I’ve never been to an athletic event in my life where 1st place looks like they are having as much fun as the person finishing last out of 20,000 people. The Spartan experience makes everyone feel like a champ because everyone is.  Until completing a Spartan Race one will never understand the fulfillment that comes from completing one. After finishing one your friends will unfriend you on Facebook because that will be all you ever talk about anymore.

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Spartan Pro Teamer Isiah Vidal takes us through how to complete the inverted walls and gives tips and coaching advice for how to prepare for them.

Beat the obstacle and avoid the burpees!!

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In this installment of “How To”, Elite Pro Team athlete Miguel Medina shows us how to get past the Atlas carry without too much worry.

With each person comes different skill, strength and technique levels. Just bear in mind that simple golden rule: lift with your legs, not your back!

Use this technique at your next Spartan Race and we’ll see you at the finish line!

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The sun rose slowly over the hills of Southern California Saturday morning. Blue shirts swarmed the hills of Vail Lake in order to bring the Spartan Race to life. Saturday marked the first time that Spartan Race had done both a Super and a Sprint in the same day and the weekend promised to be epic.

Tony Matesi launched the days activities off with the morning Hurricane Heat. The HH is a different kind of event. Not so much a race as a challenge to be taken on. It forces people to work together as a team to overcome obstacles together. Tony took the participants that signed up through his various tortures starting at 6am for a full four hours. For a complete rundown on the HH look for Tony’s report coming later in the week.

Cars filled the parking lot as the Elites began warming up for what promised to be an epic battle. The men’s elite had high-octane racers in Spartan Pro Team members Hunter McIntyre, Matt Novakovich, Miguel Medina, and Chistopher Rutz. The women’s Pro Team showed up in the likes of April Luu, TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, Jenny Tobin and Tiffany Novakovich. The rest of the field outside of the Pro Team was stacked. Rose Wetzel who stormed through Malibu was in attendance as was Laura Messner, and as was expected the legendary Hobie Call came to push the men to their limits and beyond.

The weather on Saturday was sunny, warm, and not a cloud in the sky. It promised to make the course fast, but dangerous as was seen through the day where people cramped up from a lack of sufficient hydration. The Amphib Medics crew, as well as Spartan Race Staff, was there to help those injured on course to safety or to help get them back into the fray.

The Elites took off early for the Super where money was on the line for that event. With the men first out of the gate it was a tight bunch until coming to the first gamble where racers could choose to either take the shorter harder route or the longer faster half of the course. Hobie and Matt “The Bear” Novakovich veered to the right while Hunter took the left shorter route. As Hobie and The Bear came out of their gamble they caught sight of Hunter and the group that went left far up ahead.

Ever the fierce competitor Hobie caught Hunter making it another epic showdown between the two friends. Newcomer John Yatsko form Arizona was right on the heels of the two titans for the men. At the end of the day it was Hobie first, Hunter tacking second, and John in third.

It was universally considered to be one of the toughest women’s fields people had seen in awhile. It seemed to be that only reigning World Champion Amelia Boone, still recovering from a hamstring injury, wasn’t on course. Rose Wetzel and April Luu promised to make this women’s race one to remember trading back and forth on the course until April missed the spear thrown and Rose stuck hers resulting in just the break she needed to take the win. April cruised into the finish line in second place with TyAnn Clark placing third. 

The Saturday Sprint was not a money heat but still saw Laura Messner dominate as she warmed up for the Sunday Elite Sprint. Saturday also introduced the first time Spartan Race recognized the top age group finishers from the open heats. 14 year old Josh Novakovich dominated the Under 20 open taking first place overall while placing fourth overall on Saturday in the open.

Sunday the money heats for the Sprint were run and the podiums didn’t look too different. Hunter took first for the men with newcomer John Yatsko in second and Glen Racz in third. For the women it was a tight race. Kk Paul came through the finish line ahead of Rose Wetzel to take first place. A battle between April Luu and TyAnn Clark decided third place. The epic finish came down to the wire as April barely edged out TyAnn for the last podium spot.

The weekend wasn’t just about the Elite’s however. Families spread out on Saturday to cheer on their loved ones as well as soak up some of the beautiful weather that graced the event. New sponsors Core Power Protein delivered much needed post-race beverages to racers at the finish line. 

Spartan Race began the year trying some new things with team results and rankings. Each team that signed up were ranked according to the average time of the top 4 finishers on their team. P4L Fitness took top in the team standings with an average time of 53:05 with the mighty Weeple Army (who had 269 racers in attendance) in second and Warrior Showdown placing third. Looks like it’s time to get serious about team racing.

Lastly the great medal question of 2014 came to an end with Spartans receiving the new medal and being told they would need to perform an additional round of burpees for their second medal. The second medal being of course the one everyone had come to expect from previous events. No one walked away disappointed, and the beach by the lake was a swarming mass of muddy bodies flying through burpees in order to collect not one, but two medals. Some even wandered around with four.

As mentioned earlier the 2014 SoCal Spartan was the first time racers could take part in not just one race but had the option to run two distances in one weekend. There were those brave souls taking up the gauntlet thrown down by Spartan Race and running both courses in the same day while others chose to run the Super on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday. Either way these brave Spartans are two thirds to their Trifecta with only one weekend of racing under their belt in 2014. As we talked to some that had done both they made it abundantly clear that they would be finishing out their Trifecta before the year is out.

The kids races were amazing to behold, especially the Special Needs kids race. Seeing the families going around the course together made it hard to not feel that pull on your heartstrings. Spectators dried their eyes as these amazing families came rolling through the mud together with smiles a mile wide.

All in all the weekend was a huge success with tons of muddy smiling faces, a few cuts, some bruises, but a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by those who raced. Next sop on the Spartan Race calendar, Arizona. Will we see John Yatsko make another appearance and if so will Hunter and Hobie be there to take him to the limit? The best way to find out is to be there. Sign up for the Arizona Sprint and we will see you at the finish line.

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Written by guest blogger Ang Reynolds

This Saturday and Sunday Spartan Race returns to Malibu California.  Calamigos Ranch has hosted each year Spartan has come and never  disappoints. The hills and water at the ranch lend for a muddy course  year after year. To honor a three-year tradition, Mother Nature has  promised cool temps and rain again this weekend, so don’t expect to  bask in the Southern California sun.

Hobie Call will be in Malibu this weekend hoping to claim yet another  Spartan victory. His son Hawk will also be racing this weekend,  following in his father’s footsteps. Don’t expect Hobie to walk away  too easily though. Several Spartan men are ready to challenge him.   Spartan elites Matt Novakovich, Hunter McIntyre, Brakken Kraker,  Elliot Megquier, and Miguel Medina are ready for the kill.

Miguel Medina is living in the mountains of Vermont, building his own cabin.

Miguel is  traveling cross-country from his new home in Killington, Vermont where  he spends his days training, hiking up and down Killington Mountain  and trudging through freezing water. (He hopes to build himself a  cabin for the winter before it’s too late to stay warm.) Other notable  men include Spartan Pro Team Elites Chris Rutz, Tony Matesi,Chris Obertlik and Michael Tobin.  Tobin will be making his Spartan debut.

Our Spartan elite woman will be ready to go this weekend. Ty Clark and  Jenny Tobin will go head to head. While Alaska native Tiffanie  Novakovich won’t be slightly bothered by the temperatures this  weekend. Atlas Pro Team member Rose Wetzel Sinnett will make her  second appearance at a Spartan Race. Don’t count out Irene Call. She  just set the world record for lunging a mile, something that will
definitely give her an advantage on the steep hills. Andi  Hardy will be there in all of her green glory ready to rock the barbed  wire. Other notable athletes include Laura Messner and Danielle Ross.

Regular Slosh Pipe event champion Kevin Kierce will lead a team of competitors who are more physically challenged than most.

Ross is ready to rock the slosh pipe and will be joining Weeple Army member Kevin Kierce to lead a heat for Weeples overcoming obstacles. That heat will  consist of blind athletes, several deaf athletes, and Misty Diaz, a woman with Spina Bifida. Weeple Army and biggest team leader Dave  Huckle will race both days after traveling around the world this year courtesy of Spartan Race  and recently completing the Australia Ultra Beast. Dave will finish  his season next weekend in Glen Rose Texas, rounding out  9 Trifectas!

Team SISU leader and Death Race veteran Daren De Heras is looking to break his own record of most laps by attempting 8 loops of the course weighted down with various logs, sledgehammers and other various weights. We wish him the best of luck!

Keep an eye out for the man in blue this weekend, Stephen Sinek and  his talented wife Aeni will be there to debut their oceanic design from  The Painted Warrior’s recent design contest. Whether you are looking  to P.R., have a good time with your team, or run with a friend, you  won’t want to miss the race this weekend.

See you in Malibu!

Are you ready for a Spartan Race? Look through our future events and sign up here.

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It has been a week since the Vermont Championship Beast. Arguably the hardest Spartan Race this side of the Ultra Beast. We had a chance to catch up with some of the Pro Team to get their feedback on the race. Despite their toughness, training and experience, they suffer the same mental and physical challenges along the course. Here is some of what they shared with us.

Elliott Megquier, who has completed more Spartan Races this year than any other Pro Team athlete, shared his thoughts.

“It was about of mental and physical toughness. It was not about who was the fastest runner (a two time NYC Marathon Champion quit), not about hype. It was about determination and plugging away. I was discourage after doing 30 burpees for the spear and then for the Tarzan swing. But I brushed it aside and ran through cramping.”

Jenny Tobin, finished in 4th place and was the ProTeam’s top placing women.

“I had three goals: goal C was to finish, goal B be in the top 10 and goal A be in the top 5. I felt like I could at least accomplish my C goal but I had thought that in Vegas too and did not finish…Anyway, I lined up a few rows back and started very slowly not knowing how I would feel and knew it would be a long day so no sense in going anaerobic from the get go.” She went on to say, “The obstacles were tough but the mountain seemed like the biggest obstacle. I also felt like there were as not as many obstacles as the year before other than the mountain this year, however, the killer obstacle was the 60 lb sand bag carry straight up hill and down that seemed to go on forever!!! I would have liked to have seen Morgan Arritola carry that thing being that she probably doesn’t even weigh a 100 lbs.”

Ang Reynolds, one of the most experienced Spartan Pro Team women on the course had her own finishing doubts along the way.

“Coming back down that mountain I rolled my ankle on a rock under some grass. I went down, picked myself back up, and made the decision to walk off the course. At this point, I realized my will to finish could not supersede my lack of training. I was completely spent. I limped down the mountain and finally caught sight of my fiancé. I told him I
was going to quit. I told him that it was the smartest thing I could do at that time to avoid further injury. He looked at me and said, “Well, let’s make sure. Why don’t you pick up that sandbag and start climbing while you think?” I grabbed the sandbag and headed back up the mountain. I have since heard that those sandbags were between 65-75 pounds, more than my 7-year-old son, and well over half of my body weight. That wasn’t very fun.

Miguel Medina, who has seen the podium many times this year, most recently at the NorCal Beast had his own personal triumph on the race course.

“Dealing with an injury less than halfway through the race hampered my efforts and shattered any hopes of achieving a top finish, at this point the race was completely mental; finish…adapt or die. I refused to be beaten by this beast, regardless of my placement I was going to finish this race, and I reject the idea of quitting so almost 6 hours later, it was all over…beat up, tired, weak and weary…but not defeated.” and “Adversity tests our will and asks us to do more, so I’m answering the call…next year The Beast won’t know what hit it.

Cody Moat, last years winner and this years 4th place man almost DNF’d. Here is what went through his head at that point and how he came back to finish strong. After a failed attempt at the Tarzan swim

“Half way through my burpees my legs began to cramp. Instead of the burpees taking 2 minutes they took around 3 minutes. I knew at this point that it would be hard to regain the lead but I thought perhaps there was still a chance. So I took off again and only made it 200 meters and my leg really cramped. I sat there on the ground while Matt Murphy ran by. I didn’t know what to do, I’d never had a cramp that bad. So I began hobbling back to a DNF when I decided that I was going to find a way to make my cramped quad bend. So I pushed down on the ground as hard as I could to make my knee bend and it finally bent and released the cramp. By this time Matt had probably gained 5 minutes on me so I knew that it would be tough to catch up with anyone ahead of me. So off I went through the woods but I couldn’t really get going again because I knew any minute my cramp may return. After about 2 more miles of running I had worked out my cramped muscles but there was no catching anyone up ahead so I finished the race in 4th place.”

Christopher Rutz, the Tough Training guy and the oldest man on the Pro Team hit a huge obstacle at the Tyrolean Traverse.

“Coming into the Tyrolean Traverse I was in a good position in the course. So I aggressively decided to traverse under the rope. In hindsight, this was a big mistake for me at this point in the race. I should have been more conservative and used the ‘on the top’ approach. I attempt the traverse 3 times, and each time I failed. Once trying on the top, but without a shirt the impact of rope burn on my chest was unpalatable. Pumping out thirty burpees after each attempt really zapped my strength, but not my spirit. I was determined to finish the race despite the impact this would have on my time and placement. You can be sure I will have revenge on the Traverse and The Beast next year.”

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by Andi Hardy, Spartan Pro Team

One day I woke up and just couldn’t bear it anymore. Somehow I had let life get the best of me and I had tipped the scale to a number that totally disgusted me. It wasn’t just the number that glared at me from that little square thing on the floor beneath my feet, but it was the discomfort of my clothes, the zippers that took an extra jerk to get up, the buttons that pulled a little too far to side of the buttonholes and the tire that wobbled around my middle.

It was April Fool’s Day and I felt like I was the fool. I just couldn’t stand the way I felt in my own skin anymore and I was going to do something about it starting that very moment. Yes, I had tried diets in the past as my weight had crept up in number each year. I tried cutting out certain foods, I tried New Year’s Resolutions, I tried one thing after another. Each attempt ended with a big bowl of ice cream topped with peanut butter and chocolate syrup. Not this time, this was it; I had had it with myself.

In horror I jumped off that blasted scale and into the shower. I hurried to get dressed, fix my hair, and makeup. Then, upstairs I scurried to the deadly kitchen to have breakfast. Or not? Should I try skipping the most important meal of the day again? It worked for some people, but I knew myself. I would be even hungrier by 9:00 AM and then would grab whatever edible thing I could and gorge myself. I decided I had better eat something. So I settled for oatmeal and fresh strawberries, with a bit of sugar. That had to be healthy, right? I ate that down and made myself drink a 16 oz. glass of water. I knew water would help ease the hunger pains. After all, I was used to a big bowl of cereal with my fruit.

I quickly packed a few “healthy” items I found in the fridge for my lunch. I had been a fairly healthy eater up to this point, so chips, candy, and other junk foods were not a staple to my current diet. I had been a vegetarian for several years and fresh vegetables, fruits, and lentils were always on hand, but so were breads, cereals, cheeses, pasta, and potatoes.

I still had ten minutes before having to leave for work. I ran to my computer and googled “online weight loss programs.” I knew that I would not stay committed to Weight Watchers, but thought if I had a program like it that I could easily do at home; I’d do it if I set my mind to it. And my mind was set. I just needed a little help. Many matches were found, oh what to choose in my remaining nine minutes. I clicked on one called “Spark People.” That was it! I quickly entered my name and created a password. This was what was going to save me from obesity!! In those 9 minutes I learned that each day I would have to enter every food that passed through my lips, including chewing gum. I would have to log my glasses of water and every minute of exercise. There were calculators that would help me limit a number of calories, fat grams, carbohydrate grams, and protein grams each day. I would log my weight and body part measurements each week. This would help keep my accountable.

I filled two huge water bottles and took off for work with hope. Finally I was going to do something about this uncomfortable skin I was in. It wasn’t going to be easy, but I was determined. I ate my measly lunch at noon, resisted junk food that was around the office, and threw out emergency snacks stored in my desk. I drank water like I was a camel preparing for a trip across the Sahara. The hour long commute back home seemed forever as I was anxious to enter all of my info into the “Spark People” program.

I started out exercising three days per week for 30 minutes a session. I walked, rode bike, lifted a few weights, each time logging my exercise and time into the program. It was only a few weeks before I increased those days to five and sometimes even to 45-60 minutes. I was super religious about logging my food intake. It didn’t take me long to realize that my favorite food of mashed potatoes was not helping my diet. I learned that squashed cauliflower gave my tongue a similar experience without all of the carbs and starch. Bread and pasta were soon replaced with veggies. Cereal and oatmeal was replaced with Greek yogurt. Ice cream was now being measured to ½ cup even. I bought a little food scale and carefully weighed each portion of veggie chips, cheese, or whatever it was I wanted to eat. Going out to eat at restaurants was difficult. I stuck to salads without cheese, dressing, or croutons.

Not going to lie, it was incredible difficult. The hunger pains were miserable. It was so hard watching others around me eat my favorite things while I chomped on carrot sticks. But the weight was dropping. My confidence in myself was increasing and I started feeling better and better in my skin. Three months into this new me, I decided to step it up and sign up for a triathlon, something I’d always wanted to do. I had been biking and swimming, as well as walking and hiking, so I knew I could complete the event. But knowing myself, and knowing how much of a competitor I am, I wanted to do well. I started training harder, but still accounting for every calorie I took in. Three months later I did that triathalon, and placed in the top ten in my age group, of over a hundred. I wasn’t completely satisfied, but tried to reason with myself; after all I had “bad knees” and hadn’t run for years. That day was the first I had run, and my 5K time wasn’t all that bad for my first time running. I celebrated the success of my goal at IHOP allowing myself to eat anything I wanted. Eggs, pancakes, and hash browns it was. Then home to recover.

Upon returning home I had a lot of energy left, I got online and signed up for a local 5K mud and obstacle run for two weeks later. I got back on my “Spark People” plan and ran 5 kilometers every day until the race. I placed first in my age group of 129 women. I was so excited and felt so good, too! I am so happy to be able to race in spandex shorts and not be too embarrassed by my reflection in the mirror. That day I heard about Spartan Race, supposedly it was the “best of the best of obstacle races.” I just had to find out. I went home and signed up. Training for that first Spartan Race was not easy either. I knew that I had to train hard, but also really had to watch what I put into my body. I kept learning about food and portions.

It has now been over two years from that miserable April Fool’s Day. I no longer count calories on a daily basis. However, I do watch what I put in my mouth very carefully. But I do not deny myself the foods that I still love and thoroughly enjoy. I am comfortable in my skin. I am not the skinniest woman, nor do I have the body of a model, but I wear what I want and race in a skimpy outfit and don’t feel embarrassed by my skin (or what used to jiggle around under it.)

Remember, losing fat is not easy for most people, especially when this thing called the aging process happens. But it is something that can be done naturally. You must give it time, you must be patient, and you must be diligent!!! Don’t give up, even if you have a cheat day here and there.

What’s your excuse?  Find a race for yourself!

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It all comes down to Vermont.

Spartan Racing reaches its pinnacle this weekend in Killington, Vermont. There are many opportunities to race, a Sprint or a Beast on Saturday and a charity Sprint, Beast and Ultra Beast on Sunday. Each course will present a challenge with the professional and Olympic level athletes expected to take about four hours to complete the Saturday Beast course. The weather in Killington on Saturday is expected to be cloudy with a high around 70 and a chance of rain. In other words, like in any Spartan Race, plan for anything. The majority of our racers will be out there most of the day and will need to be self-supported. Killington Mountain is no joke. Top elevation is 4,241ft with a vertical gain of 3,050ft. You can expect Spartan Race will make full use of this mountain.

All eyes will be on the World Championship Race Saturday morning. Top athletes from around the world will be present for what will be the most competitive race in Spartan history. In addition to the podium spots and cash purse available for the Saturday Beast, the US Spartan Elite racers will also be racing for their final placing in the 2013 Points Series.

So who will be racing in the Elite wave at the World Championship Beast on Saturday?
On the men’s side:
Australian Spartan Racers on their way include Matt Murphy, Will Lind and Shaun Phelps. The top 3 ranked racers from down under. From the USA you can count on seeing most if not all of the Spartan Pro Team and other Top 10 ranked racers including Hobie Call, Isaiah Vidal and Brian Hoover. Currently 7 of the Top 10 US Points Spots are occupied by Spartan Pro Team members, Elliott Megquier, David Magida, Brakken Kraker, Alec Blenis, Hunter McInytre, Cody Moat and Alexander Nicholas. Mexico will be represented by New York Marathon winner German Silva and Tavito Oliveros.

On the women’s side:
The Top 10 ranked US women are also dominated by Professionals. Olympic Cross-Country skier and professional mountain runner Morgan Arritola will be tough competition for returning champion Claude Godbout, a Canadian National Team biathlete and Olympic hopeful. Spartan Pro Team members. Top ranked April Luu will be racing to maintain her number one position and a number one spot on the podium. Battling it out on the course with her are expected to be Rose Marie Jarry, Hannah Orders, Leslie St. Louis, Jenny Tobin and TyAnn Clark. Beyond these Spartan Pro Team women other Top 10 to look for include Ameila Boone, Shaun Provost, Karlee Whipple, and Elise Fugowski. Mexico will be represented by Olympian Fabiola Corona.

New for 2013 are awards for the Master’s men and women in the Points Series. While some are also competing for a spot in the Top 20 overall, they will also be recognized for their performance as Master’s athletes. Brian Hoover, Christopher Rutz and Tadd Morris will be racing for the top 3 Spots for the men. Jenny Tobin, Andi Hardy, Jolene Wilkinson and Juliana Sproles will be battling on the women’s side.

Beyond these seasoned Spartan Racers look for some new faces and familiar faces from other sports to show us what they have to conquer Killington and the Spartan Race Sprint, Beast and Ultra Beast. There will be many high powered athletes looking to claim the title of Spartan Beast World Champion.

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