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Rising to Meet the Challenge

In life we are certain to run into obstacles, that at times can prove challenging. Leaving us often feeling defeated by those barriers placed in our way. Often not realizing at the time, those storms are placed along our path; to test us, and strengthening our personal development growth- preparing us for many great things to come.

We must learn to realized, that each obstacle is merely a test of our will and determination to push forward. Understanding that winning is in the willingness of trying and never giving up.

The Spartan Race is definitely a marathon of strength and endurance and not for those who are not up for getting down and dirty.

SLU met up with a woman, Tricia Dean (TD), a strong woman who decided to challenge herself in the Spartan Race and came out a winner.

Tricia ran track in her high school years and ran sporadically during college and throughout her adulthood. An accountant by day, Tricia races daily to meet deadlines, but decided to push the envelope, and rise to new type of race: The Spartan Race.

trish-slu-1-use Photos courtesy of Spartan Race Photographers

SLU: What is a Spartan Race?  TD: A Spartan Race is not your typical race; it is the leader in the sport of obstacle racing. The race offers open heats for all fitness levels, as well as competitive and elite heats for those with something more to prove. The first of its kind to feature timing and global rankings, Spartan Race provides a proving ground for beginner and professional obstacle racers looking to test themselves in new ways across the world. There are Three Main Race Types:

Sprint – The Reebok Spartan Sprint puts endurance aside and tests your quickness through 3 – 5 miles loaded with 20 or more obstacles. This race is a great starter distance for beginners, or a perfect test against time for the more advanced racer.

Super – The Reebok Spartan Super is as much mental as it is physical, spanning over 8 – 10 miles that are just as unforgiving as the 25 or more obstacles that litter the distance.

Beast – The Reebok Spartan Beast is just plain hard. This is our longest and most difficult race out of our three main race types and is aptly named for its brutal 12 or more mile circuit with more than 30 obstacles that try to keep you from your finish line.

The ultimate challenge is to become a member of the Spartan TRIFECTA Tribe by finishing one of each Spartan distance: Sprint, Super and Beast, in a calendar year (January 1 – December 31st), anywhere in the world.

SLU: What inspired you to participate in the Spartan Race at this point in your lifeTD: One of my goals for 2016 was to step up my fitness game.  I wanted to challenge myself by participating in various races.

SLU: How many Spartan Races have you participated in? TD: Two.  The first was the Spartan Sprint and the second (which I did a month later) was the Spartan Super.

SLU: Have you ever quit during a race?  TD: Never. Quitting is not an option for me.

SLU: Why did you choose this type of race to run?  TD: A friend told me about the Spartan Sprint Race and suggested I give it a try. I chose to do the Sprint because I wanted to challenge myself and the race seemed like a fun way to do it. I chose to do the Super to test my limits and to see what I was made of.

SLU: How did you prepare for the race physically and mentally?  TD: I didn’t know what to expect for the Sprint race. I figured since I run/walk 4 miles as a normal part of my fitness routine the 3 – 5 miles distance of the race wouldn’t be an issue for me. In preparation for the race I continued to do my 4 miles but added hills to make it more challenging.  I also trained with a personal trainer for cardio, strength and core training to prepare for the obstacle challenges.  For the Super Race I knew what my weaknesses were and what I needed to work on to complete the obstacle challenges.  But most of all I knew this race was a race of endurance and I needed to be more mentally prepared.  I mentally prepared by relying on my body and my training.  Also through prayer, putting all my faith and trust in God to fuel me, guide me and protect me.

SLU: Had you ran a marathon before becoming a Spartan?  TD: No. A Spartan Race is not a marathon and certainly not your typical race. I don’t know if running a marathon would have prepared me for the Spartan races.

SLU: When is your next race? And how long is itTD: I don’t plan to participate in any more races this year. The final Spartan race for me to complete would be The Beast but I’m not ready for that one yet. However, I would like to run a half marathon in 2017.

SLU: What are you doing to prepare for it?  TD: Right now I’m taking it easy and allowing time for my body to heal from the Spartan Super race I just completed. I have started back with my regular fitness routine and plan to follow a 3 month training plan when I’m ready to start training for the half marathon.

SLU: Have you ran or walked for a cause/awareness?  TD: Yes, I’ve participated in the Susan B. Komen cancer race in DC a few times.

SLU: How do you motivate yourself to train for a race?  TD: My motivation is prayer and knowing that I am capable of MORE if I put my mind and heart into it.

SLU: What do you do to avoid injury?  TD: I do a lot of stretching and I make sure that I am in proper form when I’m exercising and using fitness equipment. Baths are highly recommended. Warm baths help heat up your muscles before a race which can improve your performance and prevent injury. They are ideal after a race as well to ease sore muscles, aches and pains. Ice baths help cool your muscles after a race. The temporary pain of the cold water suppresses inflammation and helps flush blood to your body which allows you to recover quicker and remain healthy. Ultimately the best thing to do before during and after a race is to listen to your body. You should be equally committed to let your body rest and recover as you are committed to working towards your goal. I have learned that training for an endurance challenge is not just about all the work and sweat you put in at the gym. It is also about allowing yourself time to rest, recover and re-energize.


Photos courtesy of Spartan Race Photographers

SLU: What part of the race (s) were most difficult? And what parts were the most fun?  TD: The most difficult part of the Sprint and Super Races were the rope climbing and monkey bar challenges. I don’t know if any part was “fun” but I would say it was a fun experience and I learned a lot about myself in the process.

SLU: What do you enjoy doing besides running races and challenging yourselfTD: I like reading, listening to music, spending time with family and friends. I’ve also discovered a new found passion for all things food! I love cooking and baking, trying different recipes and tasting different cuisine. I hope to go on a food tour in Italy one day.

SLU: What advice would you give to someone thinking about participating in an endurance challenge or race for the first time?  TD: Be prepared before, during and after the race. It goes without saying to prepare mentally and physically.  But you should also get plenty of rest the days leading up to the race, eat a sustainable dinner the night before the race and breakfast the morning of the race.  Stay hydrated and an energy boost supplement if needed during the race.  Drinks with electrolytes help with hydration and energy blocks or gels help with the energy boost. Finally, some sort of fitness recovery drink or a protein bar are good after the race.

SLU: What are some of your memorable moments and the least?  TD: The most memorable moments are the support, encouragement and friendship of my teammates. I would not have made it through these races without them.  It was truly a bonding experience and we are a part of a remarkable tribe…we are SPARTANS for life!

SLU: What should one have during a race?  TD: I can’t speak for all types of races but for the Spartan races it helped to have some type of sports drink, energy gel, and mustard packets or pickle juice for muscle cramps and adequate gear (proper shoes, clothing etc.)

SLU: How do you stay hydrated?  TD: You should drink an aggressive amount of water the week leading up to your race. My goal was to drink a gallon of water a day.  I also drank lots of Gatorade and water for the remainder of the day after the race.

SLU: What area of the course proved most difficult?  TD: The Super Race took place on a mountain that is best known for skiing. A part of the course was more of a hike through rough wooded terrain and proved to be too difficult to actual run.

SLU: What were the best parts of the race(s)?  TD: The best part was finishing the race, being presented with my medal at the finish line and knowing that I accomplished something that mere mortals can’t do. I am a SPARTAN! The race organizers had a way a making us feel invincible and proud of what we had accomplished. This race is not for the weak.

SLU: What are some of your pre- race routines?  TD: First I remind myself of my goals and what I hope to accomplish which eventually leads to my second routine which is prayer. I also repeat a couple of mantras before and during the race…”Fuel me, Guide me and Protect me” which reminds me that I am fueled, guided and protected with what I need to persevere to the finish line and “Always More” which reminds me that I always have more in me than my body tells me.

SLU: What is the farthest race you think you may run?  TD: Next year I plan to run a half marathon which is 13.1 miles and eventually a marathon which is 26.2 miles.

SLU: Do you prefer the front, middle or back of the pack?  TD: I don’t know if I can answer this question. Every race is different and I believe every race is YOUR race to run. Whatever mental or physical challenges you have you can’t focus on the other racers. You have to stay in your lane and focus on YOUR race.

Thank you Tricia for sharing your brave story in rising to meet the challenge with SLU readers and for showing how staying on coarse can be victorious.


Dawn M. Dean


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