I Did It! – Conquering My First Spartan Race

A few weeks ago I posted a blog-post about how I started training for the Spartan Race in Vienna on May 12th. And yes, I did it, I actually made it through.

But let me tell you the whole story. First of all, I didn’t race alone, but with a friend of my boyfriends who had done some races before.

Our start time was 13:45 and after warming up properly and watching the race for a bit we lined up for starting. The atmosphere and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect and we were even lucky enough to get a few raindrops during the race.

Anyway, let’s talk about the real stuff. Before signing up for the race I had watched numerous youtube videos about Spartan Races around the world, just to get a little insight of which obstacles were to expect. And honestly, I was pretty confident that I would at least be able to tackle a few of those. But, yes here comes the but, that made this whole experience REALLY challenging. So, you need to know I’m not a huge fan of heights, never was so having to somehow get over an 8 feet wall certainly is not as easy-cheesy for me as for some other people. Besides from that, my arms are definitely my weakest point. Long story short I had some huge respect for those walls.

Well, that being said let’s get back to race. As some of you may know before you even get into the “venue” if you can call it that, you have to get over a wall. It’s not a super high wall, but it’s a wall nevertheless, soooo there we or more I had the first problem. I couldn’t get over that wall. I just couldn’t. Whether that was because I was afraid, or simply don’t have the strength necessary, I don’t know but fact is, that I couldn’t even have started the race if my boyfriend’s friend hadn’t been kind enough to give me a lift. We are not going to talk about what that did to my pride and honour, but I guess you can imagine anyway.

Well, after that incident the race commenced and off we went. During the first couple of kilometres we didn’t come across many obstacles and if we did they were definitely on the easier side. But then the famous Barbed Wire came and since we were in the Military Academy we did not only have to crawl under the barbed wire, but also under an enormous tank. I don’t know why, but I found that actually pretty exciting. Then we went on to the rope-climb where we had to make the first of many, many burpees. ūüôā

With the next obstacles, neither of has had that much of a problem, except of course for those goddamn walls. Somehow we tackled them though and came to the area where the obstacles were placed more frequently. There have been the Tyrolean Traverse, Inserted Wall (Burpees for me) and a container filled with ice-water, which was surprisingly very refreshing. Naturally, we had to conquer more than that but they went by rather unspectacularly.

The venue in Vienna was so set up that if you went to the start you had to pass the finish, therefore I had already seen the last obstacle even before we started. And what could that have been? You guessed it. A f*ing 8 feet wall. I seriously had no idea how I should ever get over that thing and I still hadn’t figured out a way when we approached it, tired and dirty as we were. Honestly, there hadn’t been any other obstacle I was afraid of,¬†but that wall drove me nuts for like the entire race. Nevertheless, we got closer to the wall and then I realised just how high 8 feet are from close up. Admittedly, the thought of quitting didn’t occur me once, but if I had waited just a moment longer I’m sure I would have given up at some point. But, I’m not that kind of person who runs 9k just to throw the towel, because things might get a bit challenging.

8 feet wall

Sorry, I haven’t got a better picture, but that was that last wall we had to get over.

My racing buddy helped me up and things were going rather well until I could see over the wall and with that suddenly found out, how much I disliked being up in the air. I tell you, the ground was just so far, far away and that was the exact moment I panicked. I remember saying I can’t do this. I just can’t. And I think I would have had a serious problem, if not another racer simply put my leg over the wall so that I could at least sit up there. And then I had to make a simple decision because I had to get down there somehow, so I chose that side that would get me farther and with whatever power, I all of a sudden had in me, leaned forward, pulled my other leg over and let myself as awkwardly as humanly possible down. And that’s how I got over that thing. My boyfriend and his brother were watching the whole scenario and cheered us on as we tackled the last few metres including the fire-jump. Truth to be told, I was very glad seeing those two standing there, so close to the finishing line because it’s just a good feeling knowing that someone is supporting you, so that kind of restored my scared mind a bit and in the end, things weren’t even that bad.

In the finish-area, all racers get some drinks and protein-bars to restore their energy and you also get to pick up a medal and a Finisher-T-Shirt. And then it’s on to showering and picking up your stuff before you grab a beer and talk about your experience on the run.

That concludes my very first Spartan Race. It’s been an awesome experience and I’m already looking forward to the next one in September. Also, I want to point out the great community on the trail. Everybody is so incredibly helpful and supportive and just stands up for each other and that alone has made the experience unforgettable. Apart from that, there’s hardly a better way to gain self-confidence and trust in yourself than participating in a race like that. Sure, it’s challenging and exhausting but once you’ve made it, it’s highly rewarding and I have to admit to actually sometimes tell myself that I’m Spartan now, and therefore I can achieve anything. It’s pretty helpful and makes me push myself further out of my comfort zone.

After The Race

That are my Spartan-Buddy and me after the race. Also, please note that I managed to run the entire race with my headband upside down!

As you can tell, I’ve enjoyed racing very much and would recommend doing the same to you. It’s so worth all the dirt and bruises.

The Pleasure Of The Mountains

“Although I deeply love oceans, deserts, and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty.” – Victoria Erikson

Every mountaineer will probably be able to relate to this quote. There’s something so unique and fulfilling in the tranquillity and silent majesty of the mountains, that once you’ve been lucky enough to taste it, you only want more.

Growing up in a small village in Upper Austria, surrounded by mountains and hills, I’ve come to take mountains for granted when I was a teenager.¬†Although I loved hiking as a child,¬†over the years¬†I¬†lost¬†the pleasure in conquering a mountain and couldn’t understand why¬†people would voluntarily sweat¬†like sh*t in the blazing sun just¬†to be able to say they¬†have¬†climbed an enormous pile of rocks.

Hiking for me was an activity you do with other people, never alone. God knows where I got that idea from, but so it was. The idea of going on a hike on my own never even occurred to me since I was like 18 years old. And there actually lies the reason of why I quit hiking as a teenager –> I didn’t want to spend more time than absolutely necessary in the company of¬†other people. Also, I didn’t¬†want to be seen¬†with a sweaty, tomato-red head and¬†a pumping chest. In case, you are wondering, yes¬†I did suffer from social anxiety, though I believe it was a very low form of¬†that illness, nevertheless,¬†it got in my way. Anyway, I simply couldn’t bring myself to go on a¬†hike with my¬†family and¬†rejected them¬†so long they eventually stopped asking me to accompany them.¬†Years went by and I started¬†my therapy and after a few months in¬†I started to read “Wild” by Cheryl¬†Strayed. (¬†In case you are¬†interested in¬†my Review¬†click here). And¬†in¬†the midst of reading, I thought I want¬†to have that feeling as well. I want to be in the mountains, completely by myself and only surrounded by trees,¬†without any permission to interact¬†with¬†my fellow human beings. So,¬†I bought myself a pair¬†of¬†proper hiking-shoes and went on my first ever solo-hike. I conquered the¬†“Kleinen Sonnstein” in the middle of Salzkammergut, where after an hour of a rather steep ascent the hiker gets rewarded¬†with a breathtaking¬†view of lake¬†Traunsee,¬†the mountain Traunstein and¬†Gmunden.

Kleiner Sonnstein

That’s a small portion of the view you get on the top of Kleiner Sonnstein.

Thus commenced my love for¬†hiking and the mountains. After Sonnstein, I¬†tackled “Gr√ľnberg” and a few others, at this time already in the company of my beloved Australian Shepherd Hercules.

Hercules

Meet Hercules. He loves hiking, playing in the snow and cuddles. Lots and lots of cuddles.

Anyway, that’s the Story of how I got into hiking and spending time in the mountains.

But,¬†doing it more frequently now than ever before, I started to ask myself why exactly so many people are drawn to the beauty of the mountains and want to stand on top of one. Of course, there’s always the glorious view, but could that be the only reason hundreds of people in the world set out every day to climb a mountain? I believe not. Hence, you’ll find a list of some of the advantages of¬†hiking below.

  1. Freedom –> There’s hardly anything that makes you feel so free than standing on top of a mountain
  2. A challenge completed and the sense of achievement that comes with it –> the feeling of success and having made it is quite unbeatable and something everybody needs to experience every now and then
  3. According to Health Positive hiking has helped provide so many new benefits to mental health that experts now prescribe it as a supplementary for ADHD and chronic depression. How astonishing is that? And how wonderful?
  4. There’s no better way to get away from the every-day stress and to unwind. All you gotta do is put your phone in your Rucksack and try to take not too many Pictures. Hiking provides you one of the best opportunities for escaping your stress and the constant pressure of today’s Society.
  5. You get a nice workout in. It may be a bit more time-consuming, but therefore there’s hardly an exercise you could do at home or in the gym that works your core, your cardio and your strength at the same time.

To put it all in a nutshell, spending time in nature and seeing the beauty of your home country is worth, sweating (and peeling yourself out of your sports-bra afterwards ;)) and getting dirty. Those five benefits are only the peak of the iceberg if you will when it comes to hiking.

Project Spartan Race 2018

Alright, since I’ve been enjoying blogging a lot so far, I thought it was about time to add some new topics to JourneyThroughTheMind. Therefore I’m now announcing the new Lifestyle-section, which will mostly cover topics such as Health, Fitness, the occasional recipe, general Life-Advice, etc. Those blog-posts will go live every Thursday, 6pm CET.

To kick this off, I’d like to tell you about my participation in the Spartan Race Vienna on May 12th. ¬†I hadn’t heard of this race until my boyfriend mentioned that he had taken part in various races before we met. His description of an Obstacle Race where you get dirty and challenge yourself made me curious so I decided to come along to watch him and his brother run the Spartan Race in Munich on April 14th.

I probably should have known that once I was there, experiencing the amazing atmosphere, I would want to do a race myself. I love to challenge myself every now and then and running a 5+k race with various obstacles to face seemed a very interesting way to do so. Hence, I announced I’d participate in next year’s race in Munich. Now, as you can tell by the title of this post, that plan somehow didn’t go too well, because my boyfriend and a friend of his persuaded me in the evening to come along to Wiener Neustadt, where the next Spartan Race in Austria is going to take place. Obviously, I had in mind coming again along to take pictures, but that’s not what the guys wanted. They planed on me running as well and since I’ve had a few beers already my resistance wasn’t at it’s highest point, so after a short discussion, I said yes.

Now, that was three weeks ago and I’ve been training hard to get my body fit for that race. Don’t get me wrong, but I feel like a Spartan Race is not something you should underestimate since it can get dangerous if you aren’t fit enough to handle it. At least, that’s my impression and also my motivation at the same time. I agreed on participating only if I felt my body and my mind were strong enough to do so, otherwise I would continue to train and participate in another race. That being said, I can get quite ambitious from time to time and once I’ve set myself a goal I’m sticking to it and I’m also working hard to get as good as I possibly can.

That’s why I started working out six times per week, doing everything from running, hiking, climbing, yoga and strength¬†training. You can imagine¬†how sore I was at the beginning, but I stuck with it and although it’s only been a few weeks, I can already see some changes on my body; the muscles in my arms and legs are growing, my waist and stomach are getting more defined and I can tackle longer distance whenever I go on a run. Please keep in mind though, that this is absolutely not about losing weight and getting thinner. I like my body the way it is, but I also like to be strong and healthy and those are my main motivations to roll out my yoga-matt and grab those weighs.

Anyways, in addition to having an impact on my body, working out so frequently also made some changes in my mind, which I am very happy about. First of all, I haven’t slept this good in like forever. I honestly cannot remember ever having such a good nights sleep, and this just feels like a major improvement. Secondly, I feel more energised and willing to make the best out of each day. Furthermore, my confidence in what my body is actually capable of doing has been growing non-stop and I also managed to face my fear of losing my footing and falling down somewhere, which gives me the feeling of being unstoppable. And last, but not least, I’m more tanned than ever during this time of the year, due to various hikes¬†in the blazing sun. Overall, I’m just feeling damn great and happy in my own skin these days. ūüôā

But we mustn’t forget that working out alone just doesn’t do the job, the way you fuel your body is at least as important as a regular workout session.

What I’ve been doing lately was actually eating more but a lot healthier. I cut back on sweeties, fast food and all that “good” stuff and focused instead on getting my body the protein and energy it needs. Of course, I still have that piece of chocolate or that scoop of ice cream every once in a while, but my consumption of processed food has become more moderate and I’m feeling very good because of that.

On a normal day, I have four to five meals, depending on my schedule. For breakfast, I always prepare myself some oats topped off with either some fresh and seasonal fruits or some honey and cinnamon. That keeps me going for quite a few hours and is also one of the best ways to fuel your body before a workout. If I’m working out in the morning I like to have either a banana or a chocolate smoothie afterwards to stock up in energy. For lunch, I love having scrambled eggs and a slice of wholemeal bread or some tuna with cucumber and olive oil. Dinner we try our best to cook ourselves as often as we can and since I don’t eat pork and beef, it’s mostly chicken in some variation, some fish or something altogether vegetarian like the falafel-kebaps my boyfriend and I are currently trying to perfect.

So, to wrap this up, I’ve come to the conclusion that saying “Yes” to the Spartan Race was an extremely good decision, since however it may turn out, it definitely brought me back into health and fitness and I’m sure I’ll stick to working out regularly even after the race.

In case you got any health and fitness related tips to share, please just leave a comment down below.

Thanks for reading and take care

LivingInsideABook