The 2015 racing season opened this past Saturday with the New Jersey Spartan Beast. I knew I had trained hard and was confident that I’d do well. I’d finish strong and be towards the head of the team. I promised myself that I wouldn’t let Spartan break me. But that’s not exactly what happened.
The team dynamic had already changed months earlier. The novelty of the tutu was wearing thin. My great friend and (now ex) team captain Kim and I had discussed it on multiple occasions and eventually she left. Initially, the team was a supportive group who always vetted out new members with enthusiasm. We were friends, each at different athletic abilities, but we shared the same values when it came to racing.
But it’s not like that anymore. I consider only one of the girls a good friend and the truth is, had I not been part of the team almost from its inception, I’m not sure I’d even be invited to join. This version of Badass Honey Badgers are much more light-hearted, taking pictures on the course—not the race—seriously.
The tone was set the night before, when I arrived to find my teammates smoking. There was a pile of gu sitting on the table, but no sign of actual race preparation. It continued the next morning, when most of the group was running late. I was really annoyed and I know it showed on my face. Looking back, I should’ve just left without them, but in the moment that option didn’t even cross my mind so I ended up taking off late. More troubling was how I was feeling that morning—panicked and nervous. And when Kim called to tip me off on a few race-related things and wish me luck, I got hysterical. Kind of like my first Super in 2012….she asked how I was at the finish line and I burst into tears. But like a good captain and friend does, she made me feel better.
The cannon went off and I lost my team along the way—they were ahead of me. I was frustrated with myself for that. We caught up with one another several times, but I was irritated nonetheless. I pushed on and tried not to think about it and instead concentrate on the positive.
And the positive hit when I approached the bucket carry. This obstacle first appeared at the Spartan Beast in Vermont in 2013. I couldn’t do it then. It re-appeared at the Beast the following year and was completed only because Kim and I had teamed up. This year I was strong enough to do it on my own.
I was proud of myself for moving at my desired pace of 2 miles an hour for a fair chunk of the race. I am not proud of myself for letting Spartan (or so I thought) break me down. I thought, why am I doing this? Maybe I should quit…a DNF isn’t a big deal. Yes it is. I don’t want to DNF. My mind was racing. I actually questioned whether earning a second trifecta was really as important to me as I had initially thought. As I kept the training tips I had originally been taught in my head, I realized what it was. It wasn’t Spartan breaking me down. It was me breaking myself down. This team, in its current state, isn’t for me anymore. Turns out I’m still learning things about myself on the mountain…even four years later.
After I crossed the finish line, I noticed two of the girls had bought Trifecta finisher shirts. I laughed to myself. They’re not trifecta finishers yet, I thought. One of them isn’t even a true Beast finisher. Two of the girls were smoking cigarettes and pot during the race. I couldn’t believe it. I told Jeff about it when I got home Saturday night.
You have to stop. You take this more seriously than them.
I had been pushed over the edge, and a few hours later unbeknownst to him, I threw my tutu in the trash. So I’m trading in my Badass Honey Badger shirt with fond memories of what we were originally for something better. No regrets. No looking back.
And I knew at the finish line.