I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to one of your fellow Spahtens – someone who is known for her accent (she sounds as funny as me), as well as for her ability to leave many of us in the dust on her way to the Championship Heat at Ruckus – or running with Team Reload at the Fenway Spartan Race.
You may not know that only a few months ago, Nele hadn’t really been active at all – having been a skate boarder and competition roller blader back home in the UK – since moving to the US she hadn’t picked up any active sport, and obstacle course racing jumped in at the right time!
Since replying to Facebook post about Team Reload, she is now one of their team of 7 pro racers hitting the course first thing Saturday morning – before she hits it again with the team heat and the New England Spahtens.
Her story is inspirational – let me introduce you to Nele.
My Story 11/8/12
“I’m thinking about running Ruckus…” my boyfriend Ben said to me one day, “what’s Ruckus?” I replied.
And this was where it all began…
Before April 2012 I was just your average person, working, applying to grad school, hanging out with friends etc. Then at the beginning of April that changed. Ben and some of his friends were thinking about doing Ruckus at Marshfield MA on June 16th 2012. I had no idea what this was so he sent me the link to the website. I had never seen anything like it before, a 4 mile long race with lots of obstacles and plenty of mud.
I immediately wanted to do it, so I began training. I started running, going to the gym more frequently, and eating better. The first time I ran a mile, I almost vomited and had to sit down in the middle of the path until all the pain, nausea, and aching in my body went away.
Being at Ruckus and completing an OCR for the very first time felt like a massive achievement. I had friends come cheer me on and I was thankful for their support. I was in awe of all the people around me. I saw everyone covered in mud, wearing their medals with pride, laughing and smiling with a beer in hand. I couldn’t wait to be one of them.
I beat my goal of one hour by completing Ruckus in 58 minutes and 33 seconds. The ‘post-race blues’ set in almost immediately after finishing Ruckus. I had worked and trained hard for two months all for that one race. Now that it was over, I felt a little lost.
One day Ben told me about Spartan Races. “They’re like Ruckus, but harder,” he said. I couldn’t register quickly enough and I was back into training mode, setting a goal to work towards.
The Spartan Sprint in Amesbury on August 11th was when I began to feel ‘at home’ in this sport. My first Spartan experience was the Hurricane Heat. I then ran the race; climbing up ropes, crawling under barbed wire and leaping over fire, in just over 1 hour and 6 minutes. I could feel the improvement in myself and my performance. Just completing a race wasn’t enough anymore, I had seen the elite athletes and I wanted to run with them.
After my first Spartan Race, Eric hosted an event at his house, now known as Mini Sparta. That day I met too many people to name and the atmosphere was fantastic! Everyone wanted to push themselves and work towards their goals. I left feeling stronger than ever and with a whole load of new friends.
It was then that I knew what my next goal would be, The Spartan Beast in Vermont. It was quite a leap, from a four mile race to a 14 mile race, but I knew I could do it. I threw myself into training, running, doing the Spartan Workout Of the Day, or going to running clubs every day after work.
My non-OCR friends thought I was becoming obsessed, that just made me train harder. I registered for the Warrior Dash as training for the Beast. I completed the race carrying a rock the whole way. It seemed like everything I did became training for the Beast.
I completed the Beast with someone I had never met and who will now be a friend for life, Patrick. Without him, some obstacles would have gotten the better of me, especially the rope traverse. Hanging upside down from the rope, hands burning and legs aching, ice cold water beneath me; that was the one and only moment I ever wanted to give up. Patrick wouldn’t let me; swimming next to me in that freezing water, shouting words of encouragement, I forced myself to complete the rope traverse. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a sense of accomplishment when I finished the Beast in 6 hours 15 minutes.
After the Beast I took part in Tough Scramblers, a small yet fantastic adventure race, with some amazing NE Spahtens. I remember being at that start line and asking Ben if he wanted me to run with him. I was looking at some of the other women running and never thought I could beat any of them. “I think you can do this,” he said to me and with those words of encouragement I was the first girl to cross the finish line and finished 8th out of the women.
A few weeks later I went on to finish second in the women 20-29 category in a local 15k trail race. Even after getting my second place medal, I still couldn’t believe it.
On November 3rd 2012 I ran Ruckus Fearless Fall 5k, returning to the place where it all started. In June 2012 I ran with my boyfriend, both of us new to the world of OCRs and with three friends there to support us. Five months later I was running with a large group of NE Spahtens, all supporting each other and cheering each other on. I was even able to qualify for the Champions Heat (top 10% of categories, in this case Open Women, qualified. I finished top 1.7%). What a difference. I finished 9th in my category and 29th overall.
I recently took part in a Worlds Toughest Mudder practice run with someone I had never met. Josh was doing 10 mile loops of the Charles River in Boston, complete with exercises, starting at 10am and going for 24 hours. How could I miss an opportunity like that?!?! I have yet to do a Tough Mudder, that’s on the schedule for next year, along with GoRuck and Run For Your Lives.
So on a Tuesday evening after working 8 hours I drove to the house of a person I didn’t know to see how many laps I could do. The first 10 mile loop I did with Josh, Sean, Keith and Lubo. Then for the second lap, more people joined. It was just wonderful seeing people arrive and saying bye to others. Everyone just wanted a piece of the action and to show their support, whether or not they were doing WTM. I turned 27 at midnight at around mile 15.
In the space of 7 months I have gone from not being able to run a mile without wanting to throw up to being able to run a half marathon, completing the Beast, and finishing in top 10 of 3 races.
My focus is now on the Spartan Race at Fenway on Saturday November 17th. I have been lucky enough to have been selected to run on Team Reload Fitness with 6 other athletes. I also plan to run it with my fellow NE Spahtens and then again on Sunday November 18th. I will be ending 2012 with a new small local OCR, the Renegade Run, on November 25th. From there I will be looking onto 2013 and what that year will hold. 2012 has been a life changing year for me, I can only hope that I can push myself harder for 2013.