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Spahten Story: Chris Marinin – A battle buddy who believes in you. Yes, you!

spartan-muckChris Marinin, AKA Lunchbox, was nominated for a Spahten Story by friend, Nathalie Beaudoin.

The Spahtens are what they are because of people like you.

Chris’s Nomination

Why are you nominating them?

He is the best battle buddy, teammate and friend to have out on the course!

What about them inspires you?

The fact that he goes out there and helps others no matter what it takes to confront obstacles and will encourage you no matter what it takes to get you through.

helping-new-friendsWhat quote would you use to describe them?

“Believe in yourself.”

Chris’s Responses

What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated?

Successful, After my first race I got so much encouragement and help I wanted to keep that feeling on the course for others. Doing one of these races can be really scary for some people, and knowing there might be a helping hand when needed can put someones fears at ease.

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.spartan-cheesing

My first race was the 2013 Spartan Sprint at Fenway Park! I had never even heard of Spartan Races or OCR until a month before when an old high school (Andrew Fogarty) friend put the bug in my ear that it would be fun. Once I accepted the challenge that Andrew but before me I trained as hard as I could with a month till race day. That was also my first race with the New England Spahtens!! Needless to say I was instantly addicted.

What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)hugs

For me completing a race is the biggest accomplishment. Starting a race for me is easy. You are surrounded by family and love, then you begin the journey. It’s the middle that scares the life out of me. Basically it’s all the What if’s that can and will go wrong that makes the completion of the race worth every step. It’s all about how far will you push yourself when your mind says your are crazy stop.

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

The People!! I have met some of the most amazing people while racing! The friendships and bonds made on these courses can’t be described with words. Not a day goes by that I don’t talk to at least one member of my OCR Family

What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?hugs

Next Season is there is going to be a lot of juggling. We have our first baby Spahten due on Nov 1 so even if I’m not racing a lot you will see the newest NES member at several races. My biggest goal for myself next year is to just continue working on obstacles that have been issues for me this year specifically the Rope Climb and the Rig.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

If you are reading this and thinking I can never do one of these races I have two things to tell you:
1. Believe in yourself and amazing things can happen.
2. If you have trouble believing in yourself come find the New England Spahtens and we will help you along the way!!

spartan-finishHow has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?

Spahtens is really all I know. My first race was with NES and I wouldn’t want to change it. It was a perfect fit and no need to change something amazing.
Do you have someone YOU would like to nominate for a Spahten Story? Click here!

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Spahten Story: Kim Frechette – A woman on her own journey.

On August 23, Kim Frechette shared a before and after photo and a brief message:

“So its hard for me to post this picture. From FB PostI am not proud of the June 2015 side. I had left myself get that big. I didn’t eat healthy or eat for what my body needed. In Jan 2016 I started eating for my body. I started belly dancing and Zumba. I then started walking. In June I did my first Spartan Sprint. Thanks to the support of Chris Marinin I finished it with a time of 3 hours 20 mins. Then with the support of this group I signed up for the Super. I completed that with my friend Amy, this past weekend. With a time of 4 hours and 27 min! I am super proud of the Aug 2016 pic. I am super proud of my finishes! I am down 55lbs and hope to lose more. I am hoping to sign up for more races this year and next! You all are an amazing group that has welcomed me in and supported me out on the course. You have now become a part of my journey to being healthier and I just want to say thank you!”

I reached out to Kim to get a little more information to share.  This woman is amazing and a total inspiration!

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.

Finished the Sprint with ChrisI started ocr this past June. I did my first Spartan Sprint in Barre, ma. Prior to that I had heard of ocr but hadn’t thought I would ever be able to do one. I asked my friend Chris about Spartan because I knew he had done a few. He told me all about it and had me join the group NE Spahtens. My first race I was excited, scared, nervous, hoping I didn’t kill myself on one of the obstacle and just hoping I could get to the finish line. My friend Chris was right there beside me, along with other NE Spahtens, rooting me on and challenging me to try every obstacle. I’m not sure I would have made it through without him there. I was so happy when I got to the finish line, I just wanted to collapse. I couldn’t believe that I had done it. 6.1 miles 20 something obstacles! I think I was in a state of shock for a few days afterwards, but what a great feeling to have accomplished it. I did my second Spartan race a few weeks ago, the Super in Barre, ma again. This time I brought my friend Amy to do her first Spartan. I was excited this time and new I would finish no matter what.

What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)

I think my biggest accomplishment at my first race was just finishing. At that point I had lost about 40lbs and had only been walking a few miles a day. So to get to the end and not have given up was amazing to me. My biggest obstacle accomplishment was that dam slip wall! My first race I went up and came right back down. Thanks to Chris and other racers helping me and encouraging me to try again. I was able to get up and over it! This last time at the Super I made it up and over with the help of Chris and my friend Amy the first time! That felt amazing. Knowing that even though I still needed help I was stronger and able to get over in one try was the best feeling!

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

Well first I think ocr are like potato chips, once you’ve done one you are hooked! I was first attracted to ocr for the challenge. I had been doing belly dancing, zumba, walking and some weight lifting. I had been losing weight and felt so much healthier and full of energy. I had seen others do ocr and seen how much fun it looked. I wanted to see if I could do one myself. I wanted to see if all my hard work was paying off.

What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?

Top of the Dunk WallMy next goal is to do the F.I.T Trailfecta with my mom! We just signed up for all three and I think it is going to be a great thing to do together. I am also thinking of signing up for the F.I.T Challenge with my husband. It would be great to get the whole family involved. I know my two little ones can’t wait until next summer when they can do the Spartan Kids race. What is in my

future? Well I hope more races, more Spartans. I would love to get my trifecta next year. I want to be the healthiest that I can be.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

So I started this journey to be healthier about a year ago. I started small by signing up for belly dancing and zumba. About 8 months ago I really changed my eating habits. I have pcos (poly cystic ovarian syndrome.) This makes it hard to lose weight; it makes you crave sugar and carbs. In lots of cases it makes it hard if not impossible to have children. We ending up adopting 3 great kids. Looking back I can say that I used this in part as an excuse for letting myself gain so much. I thought it’s too hard to lose weight, it’s too hard to exercise I have pcos. I was up to 259lbs! I didn’t want to see 260 on that scale. So Kim and Amy at the Dunk WallI cut way down on carbs and sugar. I stared walking more and for longer distances. And guess what? The weight started coming off! I could do it. Was it hard? Yes in the beginning it was, I had cravings. I was obsessed with the amount of carbs in each thing I ate. Did it become easier? Of course. I have now lost 55lbs. I still eat low carb/low sugar but I don’t deny myself the occasional treat. Like the yummy ice cream at Carter and Steven’s Farm at the end of the Spartan Race! If I can do it so can everyone else. Start small; don’t try to do it all at once. Take each day one step at a time.

How has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?

The NE Spahtens are an amazing group of people that support each other no matter what. It feels
amazing to be part of a team, there like a big extended family. I think my racing has changed because of the Spahtens in the fact that I know if I go out on the course I’m not alone. They will always be there to help me over that obstacle I just can’t get over yet or to cheer me on as I get over one that I couldn’t the last time. They also push me to join more races and give encouragement on my goals.

Finished the SuperOne piece of advice you would offer to a newbie?

Believe in yourself. You can do it! Try everything; even if it looks impossible try it at least once. You are
never alone out on the course. Sorry that’s more than one piece of advice but I think it all goes hand in hand. 

*All photos courtesy of Kim Frechette.

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Spahten Story: Danielle Mitchell – Tackling obstacles on and off the race course.

    Danielle was nominated by good friend and teammate Michael Downey, one of our Ambassadors!

muddyDanielle Mitchell’s Nomination

Why are you nominating them?

In part doing OCR helped her realize she is a much better person when sober.

What about them inspires you?

The fact no obstacle stops her and she dosent fail, she finds a way

What quote would you use to describe them?

Anyone who has Danielle as a friend is a VERY lucky person. She is loyal to all her friends and will always go above and beyond for a friend at a moments notice. She is one of the most fun people to battle buddy with at races and event when it gets challenging her spirit never changes

Danielle’s Responses

What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated?

Surprised!

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.

fenway with mikeMy first OCR was Fenway Park 2012. I had no idea what I was getting into but because it was at Fenway
and no mud I said lets try. It took me and my friend Mike over 2 and a half hours to complete it. I was huffing and puffing the whole time, wondering what I had gotten myself into and vowing to never do this again. It pointed out every flaw and how out of shape I really was

What was your biggest accomplishment at an fenwayobstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)

My biggest accomplishment, oh boy. I think my biggest accomplishment was finally getting up the rope at a Spartan race, not only once but three times out of the four laps I ran at Fenway in 2015. Heights are one of my biggest fears and I tend to scare myself once I am half way up the rope about how high I am and how the heck am I going to get down.

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

I keep coming back to OCRs because I want to continue to improve physically and it is a mental escape. You don’t think about anything other then the what is in front of you. I also like to see how far I have come and how much strength I have gained.

hubbyWhat are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?

After finishing my double trifecta last season, I don’t know what is in my future. I want to continue to have fun, push myself and see how many more obstacles I can over come.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

One year ago 3/10/15 I decided it was time to change my life. I become sober. The friends that I have made in this group have stood behind me 100% and I know I can always count on them. Whether its some one checking in on me or reminding me that they are on the same boat if I never need it, is one of the many reasons I love the family that has been built within this group. I have come so far since deciding this both in my racing and regular life that I can not wait to see what the next year has in store. Always remember there is someone that understands what you are going through, whether it is sobriety, or things like weight gain, low self esteem, lack of confidence or just needing that push to get your butt going again. There is someone there to talk to. Reach out you will be presently surprised 🙂

How has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?fit

Racing with the Spahtens has made me try things I would never think were possible. They push you to be someone better physically and mentally. The peer pressure to do new races or races that you have done and said “never again” is sometimes needed and a healthy reminder to keep pushing and never give up on yourself. It can be done and the finish line will be crossed.

 

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Spahten Story: Chris Bordenca – Leading by Example

Chris Bordenca was nominated for a Spahten Story by his friend, Greg Hale.

The Spahtens are what they are because of people like you.

Chris Bordenca’s Nomination10488123_10206387606716352_8251714795455945340_n 

Why are you nominating them?

He inspires us younger guys to keep at it, stay in shape and to drink less and run more.

What about them inspires you?

Everything: Mainly his attitude and the example which he sets by encouraging his wife and kids to be their best.

What quote would you use to describe them?

There isn’t any one, but a multitude of such that all  describe him in one way or another.

Chris’s Responses

What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated?

What the?! What?!

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.

The 2013 Amesbury Spartan was my first race of any kind. 12494885_10207658049636631_7427289713903728076_n My wife has a way of inspiring / tricking me into getting healthier and better.  First she got me running and then doing P90X.  Until then I hadn’t really been too active except for chasing our kids around.  I was a smoker on and off for over twenty years and really struggled with quitting.  My brother, who’d done the Sprint the year before, asked if I wanted to give it a shot since he knew I’d started working out and trying to get healthier. A mixture or terror and excitement were all I felt for months leading up to that first race. The adrenaline, the fear, the challenge and afterward the feeling of accomplishment had me hooked immediately. When a Sprint was announced for Killington that would run alongside the Beast a few weeks later I signed up and then right away signed up for the Fenway Sprint and convinced my wife to join me.

Once she was hooked it was like a landslide and we started looking for as many OCR’s as we could find.  We even got our three kids running kids’ races too. That’s when I reconnected with Al Heard and Tony Demauro, old friends I hadn’t seen in over a decade, save for Facebook, who noticed the Spartan race pics being posted.  They opened my eyes to the magical (super expensive) world (addiction) of all the other obstacle races out there and to the New England Spahtens.  

What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)

11022622_10205994213681772_7363817972493487220_nFinishing the 2014 VT Beast with has to be the hardest thing I’ve ever accomplished. It wouldn’t have happened if my wife, Andrea, wasn’t there to keep my spirits up and not let me quit when my legs cramped up somewhere around mile 10.  The one I’m most proud of is finishing the 2015 VT Beast penalty free and with a pretty decent time.  I ran solo on that one, but ran into some great Spahtens, like Kevin Grant, along the way who kept me going with encouragement when cramping was slowing me down greatly.

Oh, and every single time I do Walk the Plank at Tough Mudder it’s an accomplishment.  That makes one me crazy.

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

Obstacle races are far more exciting than straight up road races.  They’re more interesting than triathlons. The people, the camaraderie, the sense of insane purpose.  I love that most of us are just out there competing with ourselves, just trying to get better.  I love the challenge of a new obstacle or the feeling of knowing you’ve got one nailed.  I even love the frustration of failing an obstacle and stewing on it until I get another chance at it.  I love feeling like a teenager running through the woods from the cops after a party got busted up.

What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future? 

In 2014 I earned my first trifecta.  In 2015 I earned the 11393272_10205236356641383_6259984117709668951_ndouble trifecta.  The new goal for this season, is to see how long I can continue to train and race without drinking.  I had a tendency to finish a race and go a little crazy with the feeling of having done something super healthy, which meant I could indulge that much more afterward.  There was nothing better than drinking a ton of beer and smoking a bunch of cigarettes after a race.  I’m not kidding.

Training for a race was the time when I’d really stop everything so that I could be prepared.  But after a race, all bets were off and eventually that attitude slid into the days following a race.  Suddenly I’d be a proper smoker again.  Craziness.  The same held true for drinking to the extent that the feeling that I could be a little more unhealthy for a few days following a race led to a few more hangovers than were necessary.

11665599_10206465292338444_8004200105871781027_nI’ve got at least one OCR a month booked this season to keep me focused and training.  So far, so good!

Is there anything else you think we should know?

I think the mustard craze we all experienced last year in regards to cramping was manufactured by big mustard to boost sales.

How has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?

Races are no longer solitary events.  The Spahtens have forced me to engage with more people.  I’m generally an introvert, I work from home and I spend more time with my kids than I do with actual adults. The Spahtens are this unique blend of people who all love the same relatively off-beat sport as m1508990_792732887481726_7374552293348113464_ne with a matched level of enthusiasm and as a result an obstacle race where I’m surrounded by blue team jersey’s has become one of places in the world where I feel at home even when it’s miles from Massachusetts.  I love seeing the same faces at different races.  I love when the crew that I tend to run with, recently dubbed Al’s Crew at Blizzard blast, encounters another Spahten who asks if they can run with us because they’re new, or got separated from the people they were supposed to run with.  If it weren’t for the Spahtens my races wouldn’t be as full of smiles, laughs and pretty cool swag too.

The main thing that’s changed though… I do waaaaaaaaay more races because of the Spahtens.

See what Chris does when he isn’t running obstacle course races at his website, www.bordenca.com.

 

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Spahten Story: Larry King – Dad, Friend, Survivor, Inspiration

 BlizzardBlastOnesieLarry King was nominated by a friend and since I neglected to ask who was doing the nominating in my original form, I have no name to thank!  If this was you, please step forward as I would love for Larry to know who finds him inspiring.  

The Spahtens are what they are because of people like you.

Larry King’s Nomination

Why are you nominating them?

He’s a dad, a computer programer, amazing friend, a cancer survivor, bowling master, obstacle crushing, inspiring, hard working man. And he is the lime to my tequila. And he manages to crush the courses even though he had a knee replaced!

What about them inspires you?

His uncanny ability to be there for anyone who needs him no matter what he is going through, always TMElectriclifts people up (figuratively and literally) on and off the course. I am a better person for knowing him. He is the one on the course to high five and clap every person he meets, lend a hand or a knee to complete strangers, and always pushed me further than I could have dreamed.

What quote would you use to describe them?

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me”

Larry’s Responses

What was your first reaction when you found out you were nominated?

I was surprised. This NE Spahtens is a fantastic group with lots of people who are an inspiration and to be singled out was surprising.

When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race and/or what got you into OCR.

I have done OCR for about 4 years. My first race was a foam fest and that turned me on to other races. I had gone through a lot of medical issues including cancer and knee replacement but wanted to show myself I could do it and also others that they don’t have to stop an athletic life after major issues.

SpartanGroupWhat was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)

My biggest was the Killington Beast in 2015. I had never done Killington before and a month before tore the MCL in my “good” knee so it was going to be even harder. This combined made it mentally challenging to get up for it. The great thing was that I was staying with a group of other Spahtens (none of whom I had met before) who were all emailing and posting how great it was going to be get to know each other and race together.

What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?

The camaraderie that comes with racing with the Spahtens and finding people who are willing to challenge themselves no matter what their own personal story may be. They inspire you to be there and make it a great place to meet friends. The OCR courses themselves present a challenge to each of us in different ways and BattlefrogGroupfinishing them and seeing the smiles of everyone else who finishes makes it all worthwhile. Ok, the beer at the end is a kinda nice treat too…

What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?

My future will be continuing to rehab the ‘good’ knee and be able to do 6 to 8 races this year. I am also going to take up biking which will have less impact on the joints. I plan to volunteer at several races to see the NE Spahtens team and be able to support them as they race.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

The NE Spahtens attitude and support is without any bias or restriction. Anyone who wants to try is fully supported and encouraged. This has made me a better person and something I will share with my children as they get to try OCRs.

BattlefrogWallHow has your racing changed because of the Spahtens?

The Spahtens has shown me a reason for racing rather than just for my own accomplishment. Everyone is truly happy for everyone else who finishes and that type of selflessness is just not seen that much anymore. It makes me want to be with the Spahtens more.

Follow Larry on Twitter @kingerredsox

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Spahten Story: Stephen Sweetser – All it takes is a little courage.

blizzard blast wall top backOn February 1, Stephen Sweetser shared a photo of himself going over an 8-foot wall and a small story on the challenges he faced before the race and how his own courage and the encouragement of his battle buddies got him through.

“I normally don’t post anything like this, but the overwhelming urge is killing me. I just want to throw out a huge thanks to the people I met at Blizzard Blast. It was my first OCR ever, and it was a very emotional and motivational event for me, and it may be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

When I told people I wanted to get into the OCR scene, I was mocked, jeered, and put down by most. I’ve heard it all from “You can’t do that” to being laughed at while I get a disheartening and mocking “Good luck”. Even a family member of mine had little faith, and was so surprised about it that it destroyed me on the inside. But thanks to my brother Brian, I didn’t have a choice but to prove everyone wrong (he bought the tickets, thanks again!). And I did.

blizzard blast wall topYes, I’m overweight. You can say I’m obese. It’s obvious, I can’t hide it, Yet society never lets me forget that I am. So therefore, I’m fat, and I’m not fit. Right? It was so easy to be discouraged by stereotypes. I’m 340ish pounds, and thanks to society, I thought that I was basically “going to kill myself” at this event. I didn’t think I could do a single obstacle. I thought that I was going to be a quitter and just throw in the towel half way through. But thanks to all of the NES I met so far, and my family running beside me, I gathered the courage to go out there. I felt like a totally different person while I was around you. I wasn’t fat anymore. No one looked at me and said “you can’t do this” or “what is this guy doing here?”. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more accepted in my life. And for that, I thank all of you, even those I haven’t met, because I already know that you all have the same mentality.

I’ll try and keep this short. I could write a 12 page essay on this, but I’ll save some time for everyone. I was a nervous wreck getting out there. Finally 1 PM came, and I was off. And of course, the 8-foot wall was the first obstacle. Here comes the negative thoughts. I can’t do this, just walk around it. But for some reason, then and there, I shut everything out, and I said to myself “no, we are going to do this”. And to my surprise, I made it. I climbed that wall. I made it to the top, and went down the other side. I wished everyone that doubted me was there to witness that. I proved them all wrong. I did it. That one obstacle meant more to me than anything I’ve done in my life since graduating high school.

So again… THANK YOU to everyone. Without the support of people like you, I’d still have so much self doubt and negativity. It’s time to blizzard blast wallturn things around for myself. I look forward to MANY new adventures with you all, and I hope I get to meet more and more of you. It was so much fun out there, and I feel like a new person in just one day.

But for now, I’m off to rest my sore muscles and join a gym, I have so much I can improve on!”

The courage to step out of your comfort zone is pretty incredible.  Stephen has it in spades and was able to answer a few more questions to go just a little bit deeper into how it helped get him through
.

What made you decide to sign up for Blizzard Blast, your first OCR?

Well, my brother signed me up, along with my sister and my mother. This race was our Christmas gift from my brother. I’m glad he did it too.

bb end groupStepping outside your comfort zone is never easy, especially when mocked and jeered, but you did it. How hard was it to not give up?

It was really tough. While waiting at the starting line, I started to feel really anxious. To the point that I felt sick. My mind was telling me to give up before I even got to the first obstacle. It definitely helped to have some NES and family with me, because I didn’t want to be “that guy” and throw in the towel, they helped me keep going.

What are your plans for this next season?

I’m already signing up for races left and right! I can’t remember a time that I’ve felt so motivated and so determined to do better, and be better. So far you will be able to find me at Boldrdash Winter Dash, F.I.T. Challenge, Wason Pond Pounder, and the Spartan Boston Sprint (in Barre). I can’t get enough! Like I told my brother, I have to see how far I can push myself, and how much I can improve!

One piece of advice you would offer to a newbie?

Don’t be afraid of failure! I think that all my fears boil down to being afraid to fail. Becuase unless you are Spiderman, you are most likely going to fail at least one obstacle. And you can NOT let it stop you from trying. Like I was saying about the 8-foot wall, I didn’t think I could do it, but I tried it anyway. And I DID do it! Like my brother said to me when I voiced my concerns about OCR to him “you are going to surprise yourself”. And I did. And so should you.

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Spahten Story: Linda Rae – This is what it is all about.

On October 29, Linda Rae Krov, shared a before and after photo and a brief message:

“According to Sara Jean Norman I should share a glimpse of my story:
After a conversation with some of my fellow Spahtens, I looked back on the last year in races.
Before joining this family, and I do mean family, I didn’t know anyone in New England outside of my job. Being as social Linda Raeas I am, this led to a lot of weekends stress eating junk food and drinking with co-workers. Needless to say, I gained a bunch of weight (almost 40 pounds).

I met a Spahten in the bathroom line at Blizzard Blast and next thing I knew, my weekends were booked with #‎racelocal and tons of other OCR events. I didn’t actually notice a change in myself until I put the pictures next to each other. The comparison is from Fenway 2014 and Run the Gauntlet 2015 (a little under a year apart).

Thank you all for being such a wonderful inspiration and positive influence! (Especially with the dirty jokes😉) Love you all!!!”

It was a “this is what we do and why we do it moment for me.” So I reached out to Linda Rae to ask for just a little bit more.

What got you into OCR?

Linda Rae SnowMy first OCR was the Spartan Sprint in Palmerton, PA back in 2012.  My Muay Thai training buddy had done a few Tough Mudders, and figured I would love the challenge of a Spartan.  While I loved it, I didn’t really do more than one a year until I moved up to Boston in 2014.

I moved to Boston to help open a school and I didn’t know anyone besides coworkers. I also realized that needed something besides school to keep me sane (and battle the pounds that kept adding up.) I read about Renegade Run and Blizzard Blast on a random facebook ads, and signed up for those two plus, the Fenway Sprint.

Thank goodness I signed up for Blizzard Blast because I randomly talked to a Spahten in the line for the bathroom.  She brought me over to the team space to meet people and they talked me into signing up for FIT with the team.  The rest is history.

How have battle buddies affected your racing?

The biggest change I have seen in myself, thanks to my battle buddies, is that I have a ton more GRIT.  In the past, I would have bypassed or burpied out of obstacles that made me even slightly uncomfortable.  (My first race, I cried at the top of a cargo net because the height freaked me out so much.)  Now, I try everything, and sometimes, even make myself do it again.  I NEVELinda Rae Battle BuddiesR would have even attempted doing three laps at Tuff Scramblers without a few very specific Spahtens there to push me and remind me that I was capable.

The other glorious thing about having such a large group of battle buddies is that I can ALWAYS find someone at the pace I am looking for.  Sometimes, I want to push myself to run more, sometimes I am all about aggressively hiking the whole race.  I have a people I can do either pace with.  To be completely honest though, the BEST part of having battle buddies, is definitely the jokes.  When you are covered in mud, exhausted, with a giant hole in the seat of your shorts, the jokes carry you through the race with a smile…. Among other things.

What are your plans for this winter and next season?

This winter, I will be doing Blizzard Blast again (maybe two laps?) and Polar Bear at Shale Hill.  I am also doing my first solo Half Marathon at Disney World in February. (I couldn’t resist a medal with a tiara). #blingwhore

Linda Rae LogNext season I have a few goals.

  1. At least a double Spartan trifecta, my first eluded me this year because of an injury.
  2. Completing a double lap at Shale Hill.
  3. Hitting the century club in Race Local.

These are pretty big pushes for me, but I think with enough of a push, it WILL happen.

One piece of advice you would offer to a newbie?

Don’t say, “I can’t do it” before you have attempted something.  If you are afraid of heights, take it one step at a time, let people help you. Take your time.  If it is too much to do the whole thing on your first race, go halfway.  Don’t just tap and walk by because of fear.

Also, don’t be afraid to talk to people!  My random talking to people at a race got me connected with the best group of people I know.

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Out of Dagobah

Somebody crashed a damn X-Wing into my swamp and spoiled my slumber. Now I have to go fire up an ancient Macbook and take to the keys. 40 years old you become, cranky too, you will be.

“Fear is the path of the Darkside. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Master Yoda

The worst fear is the fear we don’t even realize we have, and that is the fear that leads to anger. Its not the fear from with out that breeds hate. Its the fear from within. The things we fear about ourselves that we fear will be let out into the light. Jung’s “shadow”. When we see it reflected inn others, that which we fear in ourselves, we lash out. When you take to the internet and condemn others, your own fears about yourself spill out.

“Just because you are a character, doesn’t mean you have character.” The Wolf

Everyone is the the lead character of their own story. Most people believe they are the Hero. But if you are the villain of someone else’s story. you are probably the Villain of your own as well. It’s been said time and again that most people are their own worst enemy and I think that’s accurate. If your choice of options is to belittle, degrade or dehumanize another person for some trumped up reason in your own mind, you’re a bad person. It’s really that simple. Instead of being someone who others look up too, you simply attract sycophants who agree with you out of fear. Which leads to anger, and hate, and then suffering. So instead of being a bright, happy, respectful person. You become a twisted, bitter, angry, wrathful wretch.

Character is one of those words which many can define yet, few seem to understand. It’s quite simply the moral and mental process which lead to an individual’s choices and actions. Correlation does not imply causation however. What I mean is just because you do something good for others to see, does not mean you really are good. Dave Barry the humorist wrote: “If someone is nice to you but rude to the waiter, they aren’t a nice person.” To really be nice, you first have to think nice, then speak nice, and then: AND THEN, do nice.

Dennis Prager wrote: “Goodness is about character- integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage and the like. More than anything else; it is about how we treat other people.” Similarly Buddhism is often attributed to these five factors when speaking; Is it spoken at the right time? Is it spoken in truth? Is it spoken affectionately? Is it spoken beneficially? Is it spoken with the mind of goodwill? With all of these things in mind, when you interact with other people either in person, or over the internet, if you can’t qualify your thought and your speech by these ideas, your probably speaking with fear. And with fear you will only find anger, hate and suffering.

Master Yoda told us that the path of fear would lead to the Darkside. Lucas however didn’t define the path of the light side. Probably because it would appear too religious and didn’t fit his sci-fi movie. But we can discern it for ourselves with no need to attach currently practiced religious canon. Understanding is the path of the Lightside. Understanding leads to joy. Joy leads to happiness. Happiness leads to love. Love never finds fault. Some guy long ago tried to teach these ideas. We haven’t come to understand his message or any other great teacher who tried. Some day we will though. Some day.

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Spahten Stories: Nele Schulze

ed. note: Everyone and their Mom know Nele in the OCR/ Endurance circles as of now. If you don’t know her, well get out from under the rock and read one the most impressive and inspiring stories, that c’mon, you really should know by now. This British expat shows what true grit and determination can do for anyone. Nele has run OCR’s around the country, and some outside. She has done multiple Death Races (earning a skull during Winter), she’s been to Nicarague multiple times for Fuego y Agua and a long list of other events. Thank you for sharing your story, Nele!

nele8Where to start… Well, I’m from the UK (Liverpool to be exact) and I moved to the states in 2008, basically on a whim. I’d never been to the east coast before; the furthest east I’d ever been was Colorado. So after being accepted for a position working for developmentally disabled adults in Massachusetts I packed my bags, said goodbye to family and friends, and hopped on a plane.

I have never really been sporty. Sure I took some gymnastics classes when I was about 10 and I would kick around a football (soccer ball) at the local park with my friends, I also roller bladed and skateboarded for some time. But other than that I was pretty unfit. I was actually probably very unfit, a combination of bad diet and one too many beers at university. In 2012 my boyfriend Ben (now my husband) found a 4-mile obstacle course race called Ruckus. He was planning to do it with his friends, but I thought it looked like fun so I asked if I could tag along. We both registered, his friends didn’t, but we decided to still go and do it.

nele11I’d never really run before, I couldn’t do one push-up, and the thought of me doing a pull-up made me laugh. So I went to a sports store, bought the cheapest running shoes I could and went for my first ever run. It did not end well. At about the 1-mile mark I was sat in the middle of the pavement with my head between my knees convinced I was going to die, or at least throw up. I didn’t think that there was any way possible that I was going to be able to finish Ruckus. After that incident I started to run more regularly, and then I actually started to enjoy it. I remember the first time I ran 2-miles and text Ben because I was so proud of myself, and the first time I did 5 actual real men’s push-ups I blew up Facebook.

nele4A few months later I finished Ruckus. As soon as it was over I had post-race blues. I had been looking forward to this race for so long, and I had had so much fun. So I got onto the Internet and found a Spartan Race. Not only did I find races, but also I found an amazing community of people who loved races just like I did. I began to get addicted, wanting to push myself harder. A friend of mine suggested the Death Race. It took a lot of convincing for me to actually sign up, but eventually I did. Roughly 9 months after I started exercising I participated in the Winter Death Race. This event changed my life.

I thought my story would end there, but then I had a huge setback. I felt like my OCR career was just taking off and I was the fittest I had ever been when I developed a stress fracture in my foot (the 4th metatarsal to be precise). For weeks I ignored the pain, thinking it was probably just a bruise or an ache. Eventually I went to a podiatrist that diagnosed a neuroma. Several weeks of cortisone shots and no running and the pains were still there. At this point I was getting pretty depressed. I was watching all my friends race and all my fitness gains disappear. Eventually I went to a sports podiatrist and had an MRI and found out it was a stress fracture. The cortisone shots I had been receiving for the pain was slowing down the healing of the bone. I was given a boot, walked several OCRs in it (completing as many as the obstacles as I could) and about 6 weeks later I was given the all clear.

nele10I was back to square one, in terms of my fitness. I’ll admit that the thought of starting over was daunting. So I start training again, running, going to the gym, and going to CrossFit. I was starting to feel good again. Sure, I had some aches and pains, but that was because I had just started training again, right?

Wrong…

I would wake up in pain and such terrible joint stiffness that I could barely move. I was taking as much ibuprofen as I could just to get through the day. I had basically stopped working out, the pain was too much and I felt exhausted all the time. I went to my doctor so many times. For a long time I thought I had tendonitis, but it wouldn’t go away. I tried every remedy possible; steroids, NSAIDs, ice, heat, icy hot, and foam rolling. I was getting depressed again. The frustration I was feeling was unbearable. I was reaching the end of my tether. I had big races coming up; I wanted to get back to feeling like myself and without pain.

nele7In December 2013 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). I went into denial, arthritis is for older people, and I was 28. As it turns out RA is an autoimmune disease, so my own immune system attacks my body. In January 2014 I went to a rheumatologist and began the long road to recovery. Except RA can’t be cured, so I was basically experimenting with different medications to relieve the symptoms. The Death Race came around. I was very nervous to race. I was not as fit as I should have been because I was still in pain. I decided to race anyway. About 36 hours into the race I started to feel a slight ache in my knee. An hour later I could barely move it. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish. I could barely walk. My amazing wonderful friends rallied around me, gave me knee braces, painkillers, food, but it was too late. I missed the cutoff.

nele3DNF-ing the Death Race had a huge impact. I became angry, mostly at myself. How can my immune system attack my body? Why did I get RA? How did I develop an autoimmune disease? I DNF’d a race because of RA. That was very difficult for me to handle.

So now I take three different types of pills twice a day, self inject a biologic into my abdomen every other week, and have to be very careful about what I eat. All just to try to keep the symptoms away. Most days have been good recently. Occasionally I will have a bad day when the pain returns. I become immobile, lethargic, and sad. I can’t workout or go to work. The only difference is that my good days out number my bad days. It’s been a long time since that happened. I am finally working out, a lot. I’m happier and finally starting to feel like myself. I have amazing people in my life who have helped me more than they’ll ever know.

nele1

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Spahten Stories: Stephen Rodericks

10547422_725327274180728_2003134098723538717_nWhen I was growing up as a child, I was most happy when I was active, running around and playing outside. Minimal serious sports, I played them at recess and even brought my own lunches (that I made) to school, healthy stuff, (I remember how hard it was to eat raw broccoli, raw carrots are fine though) life happened, and I got away from fitness and the healthy diet.

Flash-forward to 2008 (I think, maybe 2009) when a friend from work told me about the awesomeness of Planet Fitness, nice place and cheap! He started helping me workout for several months, then I was on my own.

166_92f70aaa9324285e702b3b9f704eb392_Saturday_BucketZoneAnother friend told me about the Spartan Race in Amesbury in 2012 (a month before the race). Through 2012 I got a book that I used to help me turn things around. I got up to 200 as a max, then down to 160 as a low. I did not look good at 160.

I experimented a bunch with diet, specifically a heavy calorie restrictive diet. So, I changed it again.

I started cooking everything from scratch (I think it started in 2010) focusing on nutrition. I had dropped grains that did not agree with me. No grains, and I looked tiny. I started eating grains again and looked healthier because. I’m focusing on healthy eating although still eat some junk, but in small amounts.

221_3b2acd54eb6a014c0d0c0fe99566d947_Saturday_ThirdBaseZoneThrough 2013 my friend that got me into OCR, helped me train for it. Sometime in 2013 I found this team. Then in February of 2014 I joined the Harvard crew. Through all of the people I met last year, I have made great strides and done crazy things in the greatest of company. One of the things that I have noticed is I am happiest when I am active and eating right.

This year i have planned to run a marathon. It’s my hope to qualify for the Boston marathon before I die. I am signed up for infinitus. I also have a half on my plate and basically anything fitness wise that I can cram on my plate as long as I can afford it, get the day off, and be around cool people.

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ed. note : The latter should be easy, Stephen. You are a Spahten, what other “cool people” do you need? Thank you for sharing!