When talking to Misty Diaz, it’s always advisable to wear shades. It’s not just due to her radiant personality, but her smile is so bright it could blot out the sun.

The native of Long Beach, California is well known on the half marathon circuit, having already blasted through many races. Now turning her hand to Spartan Race, she’s been bitten by a new bug. The Malibu Sprint in 2013 was her first foray into the world of hills, ropes barbed wire and fire, but not content with that, she immediately decided that she was going to step it up. The Super in Temecula was quite the step up, but something she decided she was going to do. What makes this scenario just that little bit different is that that Misty has Spina Bifida.

How would her love of half marathons compare to the Super?

“I love half marathons,” beams Misty, “but it doesn’t compare. Spartan racing is a whole different game. It’s totally a mental game, you’re having to push fear aside and take the next jump, while not knowing what’s awaiting you next. I love Spartan races, it allows me to train in a different way than I would a half marathon.”

That training done with her trainer and Spartan SGX Coach Michael Ainis, amongst others, has taught Misty not just the skills she needs to attack a Spartan Race. It’s also taught her that the mental factor was one only actual experience can bring you.

“I wouldn’t say scared, as such, more like, ’Are you for real? You want me to climb up those hills?’. I did the Super on Saturday and let me tell you, Spartan …you did good with those hills! I was a little scared, I won’t lie. When it came to the rope climb, well, if you saw me last year in Malibu I wasn’t even one pull away from the bell, I just couldn’t do it. You’re cold, tired, and shaking you think that’s the end, then boom there’s a rope obstacle. Same thing with the fire, I can’t jump, so I literally walked over it, no joke! By Sunday, I had my team help me! It’s all a mental game. I’m very happy to say, I rang the bell twice this past weekend. Aroo!”

Completing both the Super and the Sprint the following day came as a huge triumph for Misty, especially given the battles she already faces every day. It’s those everyday battles that forge Misty’s will and fortitude that help make the unknown or unfamiliar not as much of a test as they otherwise could be. This ‘life training’ was something Misty brought into the weekend with her.

“The hills caught me a little off guard or a certain obstacle you knew would be bad, but not *that* bad? The incline of the hills caught me by surprise. I’m a different athlete than most, I use pink walking canes to walk and run, so when you give me a hill at such a steep incline, my only choice is to give my runner my canes and crawl up that hill. I had to stop at a certain point on those hills in Temecula and crawl on my hands and knees. I had an amazing runner name Kevin (Kierce, regular Spartan Slosh Pipe Champion) who helped me along the way on Saturday. At one point he carried for a short time. But let me tell you, the view was amazing from the top!”

Her victories in Temecula and Malibu have only stoked Misty’s fire and she plans to aim even bigger for the rest of 2014.  Having now tasted what Spartan offers, she’s hungry for more and already has sights set on a new target.
“Well, I also completed Arizona and I plan on being in Texas along with receiving my first trifecta in Monterey. My goal is a double Trifecta in 2014. I have it all mapped out! We will see how I do in Monterey for my first trifecta. I hope to be the first with Spina Bifida to accomplish receiving the Trifecta badge of honor.”

Taking that adage of “go big or go home”, Misty is proof that life is for living and drinking in every golden moment it offers. Something she is very quick to point out.

“Here’s the thing. When I first thought about Spartan racing, I knew I needed to build my endurance. Mind you, when I started running in early 2012, I could only run for 20mins. Little by little, thru not stopping, and creating a routine, things got easier. So running half marathons really helped me. Once I reached a point in my half marathons where I was comfortable, I knew I could accomplish a Spartan race.”

“My point is, if you train, ask questions, work really hard and find ways to make things work, you can do anything. The amount of love and support I get from Spartan athletes is amazing, everyone helps everyone. That’s what this is about. I do my obstacles sometimes a little differently and that’s okay. I don’t care what you have to do, just finish! Anything is possible. No matter what, never ever give up!”

Sign up for your next race at spartanrace.com. You may run into that beaming smile of Misty Diaz.

See you at the finish line…

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