*Name: Shaina Brooks
* Age: 29
* What is your day job, and do you have other hobbies?:
By day I work as a Quality Assurance Coordinator at a large human services agency that serves mostly youth and families Central Massachusetts and beyond. I’m the behind the scenes person at a desk all day making reports and going through data making sure things in the agency, from programs to staff work, are going the way they should. I HATE working at a desk. Like my job, and going through data and such, but sitting all day is such a drag! Someday I will figure out what I want to do when I grow up that includes not so much bum sitting.
By night I’m a mom of 3 girls, and have been a “single” parent most of their lives. I also have a wonderful boyfriend and a step daughter who I never get to see enough and am due to add to our family in August 2013. My hobbies revolve around these people. I love to dabble in new things all the time, but the constants for me are hiking, camping, fishing, working on the farm, and finding adventures every chance we can get. It is rare to have a weekend at home for us. I was also getting into rock climbing but an injured belay partner and a far away life partner forced me to put climbing on hold and now I’m just too big to try to scale a wall!
* When did you start obstacle course racing? Tell us about your first race
In May 2011 my work held their first 5k and I decided that it was time that I actually try exercising and see if I could actually run. After completing my first 5k I was pumped and Scot (my guy!) and I decided that would should definitely do this Tough Mudder thing we heard of and started training (kind of). Well, the Army intervened in our big plans and Scot ended up being shipped off to NJ and we didn’t get to complete our Tough Mudder as planned. Instead we decided that we were going to try out this Spartan Race we saw something about that was in Amesbury in August 2012. Training for the race was something we could do together without actually having to be in each others’ presence. In the mean time I found the MA Spahtens on facebook, somewhere around the beginning of 2012, and started following these amazing new type of people.
Long story turned shorter… I dragged my sister for my first practice OCR to the Run for Your Lives event in May 2012 in Amesbury. We dressed up as “survivors,” including the large hydration pack I would carry to many races and runs throughout the year, and we had a blast. It was no OCR in my mind, even then. No challenge, the obstacles were minor inconveniences, the biggest obstacle was the mud, which I spent a lot of time playing in, not so much running through. Why not since the “zombies” got all my flags early in the race? It was still a lot of fun, and got me amped for the Tuff Scrambler race that was next on my calendar a couple weeks later with some random girl asking for people to run with, some “Kay Norm”….
* What was your biggest accomplishment at an obstacle course race? What made it your biggest accomplishment (overcame a fear, injury, disability etc?)
“Of course she would say the Spartan Beast!” Yes, I HAVE to say the Beast. And of course I have a big story to go with it…. I spent a lot of 2012 plagued with poison ivy rashes. Very horribly bad poison ivy rashes that put me out weeks at a time. This killed my immune system, along with the steroids the doctors thought would be a fabulous idea to put me on (never again!). If you see many of my pictures from 2012 Spartan races I’m wearing arm sleeves. This was not necessarily cause they are very handy for OCRs, but because my arms were either sleeved in poison ivy blisters, or to protect the scars. It was very handy that the Spahtens came out with their very own for the Beast!
After doing the Amesbury Sprint, then the NJ Super 3 weeks later, by the time the Beast rolled around I was sick. Respiratory Infection type of sick. I could stand without coughing a lung. It was awful but Scot and I were getting our Trifecta, he would carry me if need be! Luckily that was not necessary, even though I was an idiot an badly bruised my tailbone 2 days before, fell in a hole and sprained my ankle at the sandbag carry, and spent most of the race coughing and dry heaving and just miserable. I wasn’t going to give up though, I had a race to complete, a goal to meet, and it was going to get done. And it was done. It took 9 hours and waayyy too many burpees, but I did it. I made it across the frigid water with my horrible swimming abilities, I tackled those hills, I did every obstacle or every painful burpee to go with it. When I crossed that finish line, I earned that medal, and the trifecta medal to go with it. And I am so lucky to have had the best and most suppo
rtive running partner through each race to get there, and especially the Beast. We had done it, despite the miles and everything that got in the way (getting time off from the Army is not easy!), we had earned our Trifecta together. It was the ultimate start to a racing “career” and the defining point in an amazing relationship.
* What attracts you to obstacle course races? Why do you keep coming back?
Well it’s certainly not the running! I love the thrill of a race though. Crossing any finish line is such a great feeling. Obstacle races are so much more though. It’s an all over body and mind test. I love it, I love not only completing the race, but each and every obstacle that it took to get there. Plus getting dirty. Getting dirty means you had fun, just ask my kids!
I keep coming back for the thrill, but it’s the NE Spahtens that keep me from forgetting. If it weren’t for my teammates I wouldn’t be where I am. I’ve had lots of lows, and watching them inspires me to keep going. I’m on a racing hiatus until November, but I’m still here, I’m still hanging out, chasing these people around where I can. I love their energy, their support, and especially all the laughs they are good for!
* What are your training and/or diet routines? Do you have other athletic pursuits?
I tend to do a lot of HIIT style training, so mostly body weight training. Running is also a must of course. I also am very big on hiking with rucks and carrying weights, which is what you would tend to find me doing most weekends. Last year it was usually with my 3 year old in a pack with weight and carrying a rock. I have a pet rock and it is fabulous. And don’t forget the playground- parents with kids must show all the children and especially the lazy parents up on the monkey bars! Most of all I find getting together with other OCracers is the best training. Knowing you’re amongst your peers gives you that extra drive, and also teaches you new skills. Plus they’re damn fun to be around. As of right now though, I have tried to follow for Spahten workouts, but mostly I am doing weight training with some cardio in the form of wogging (walk/jog/waddle), stairmill, and hiking. It’s fun working with weights, especially with the big belly and the funny looks, but I can’t wait to
get back to the real training! All of this is when I have time I should add. I have to work 40 hours a week and so squeezing in workout time before I have to pick up my kids from daycare is always a challenge. And I suck at working out at home, I’m not going to hide that, I like my away time in the gym or woods.
My diet is pretty lax. I tried counting calories and such before and all it did was leave me stressed beyond belief and hungry. I eat as clean as possible, sometimes I’m able to make our bread and bars and breakfast, etc. but again that takes time and time at home and I’m not always the best at it. We rarely eat out of a box, unless it’s one of those fancy meatless products. We eat a variety of proteins, trying not to eat meat every day. I try for fruits and veggies at every meal in large amounts. Most of what i cook has something veggie added to it, Scot has certain names for my cooking and him and my kids know that there’s usually a healthy catch. I’m not afraid to eat a chili dog with a good beer either and follow it up with some ice cream. I’m strong, I’m fit, I kick butt, I’m going to eat to make my body and my mind healthy.
I was supposed to do a half this year and try for either the Ultra or Team Ultra with Scot, but those aspirations will have to wait until next year. The half will be not a big thing, the Ultra though… getting in is the real battle!
* Were you always athletic? If not, what athletic changes have you made to keep up the obstacle course race lifestyle?
I was always active, not so much athletic. Growing up in an Army family we moved a lot and I never signed up for sports. Once I reached high school I wanted to play sports but the kids in the small town I moved back to were already in their clicks and I was too embarrassed about my lack of athletic abilities. Until my first 5k, running even a mile was a joke to me. The only thing that really needed changing with me was my attitude. It’s definitely our minds that stop us far before our capabilities. I always had the athletic body, (have you seen my calves?!) I just had to learn how to use it, and how to quiet the “can’t do’s” in my mind. Believe me, I still think “What the hell am I doing?!” a majority of the time when I’m working out, especially running, but I know that at the end I’ll be very happy I did it.
* Who, alive or dead, would you invite to run an obstacle course race with you?
I invited my mom over and over and over again. She’s run with me, she’s done some training with me, she’s watched me race. And now that I’ve been training with her while pregnant, she’s finally agreed to do my return OCR with me! It could be cause it’s the perfect year for it on the perfect day, but she’s doing it and she is definitely a badass Spahten!
* Tell us a fun fact about yourself that we may not know!
I’m a pretty open book, not much you don’t see! How about I’ve moved in some amount over 15 times, maybe closer to 20, (college doesn’t count) in my life, in 2 countries and 3 states. I love the mobile life and really wish I could travel around the country and beyond, which is one of the reasons why I always wanted to enlist in the military. Some day I will travel again!
* What are your goals? Next race, next season … what’s in your future?
My short term goal is to complete the Rugged Maniac about 6 weeks postpartum with my mom and my best friend for both of their first OCR. This will help prep me for my first Spartan of the year at Fenway. Next year I want to get in a half and as many OCRs as I can but with 5 kids and little time, funds, and severe lack of sitters, I’ll be doing mostly training! I can’t say what’s in my future. I hope big things. I don’t plan well, and times always change. Three years ago I never thought I would run a mile, a year later I ran my first 10k pushing my 3 and 4 year old in a stroller I had just bought a few days before. I’m ready to jump at any opportunity life sends my way. I would like to do some adventure racing, some day probably far away. No, I don’t plan on ever running a marathon, it sounds torturous to me, but who knows what future me thinks. As long as I’m inspiring my girls and making sure that they don’t ever have to be too afraid to do anything that comes their way, wh
ether it be a sport at school or a college application, I’m happy with whatever I am doing.