Chrissie Bader
Let me just preface this by saying that it is a very long post and it has been a long time coming. I just wasn't sure how to go about sharing something that was both deeply spiritual and overwhelmingly physically trying. I am thoroughly convinced that this post doesn't even begin to shed light on the kind of accomplishment it is to complete one of these races. Those who go on to complete Spartan Supers and Beasts have my utmost respect and admiration.

Ok, where to start, where to start? So you all know by now that I'm a Beachbody coach and I love seeing the impact that proper exercise and nutrition can have on someone's whole life. Whether it's through use of a Beachbody program or not, the changes that take place mentally, emotionally, and spiritually when you make the choice to get off the couch are absolutely unprecedented! That's why, when last year my brother (5 years younger, who was, at the time, expecting his first baby) asked me to sign up to do a race with him, I said "Hell yeah!", wanting to give him all of my support. [***Disclaimer** I am by absolutely zero means a runner of any fashion. I don't run. And I have always supported the statement 'If you SEE me running, you had better run too because there's something chasing me'!] I told him to pick a local race and we would train for it and do it! Little did I know that he would pick the Spartan Sprint to be held in a mere 7 months!!!!

Not knowing much about the Spartan Race other than it being what I considered to be "extreme" I set off for Google and YouTube. If I could use one word to describe my reaction, it would be 'terror'. I was completely terrified. I read comments from others describing painful injuries, hypothermia, broken limbs, permanent disability, and the possibility of death!! To say I was scared is an understatement like no other. I procrastinated on signing up. Then I got the email invite from my brother to sign up with Team Mudstache so I bit the bullet and began filling out the forms. When I got to the liability waivers, I panicked! I had 3 small children; how could I sign a waiver of liability in the event of my permanent disability or even death?!? So, I stopped and prayed about it for a couple of days and the Scripture that kept coming to me was 2 Timothy 1:7 "For I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." So, I signed the waiver.

I had planned to train much harder than I actually did over the months that followed but I completed P90X and started T25 before we bought a house and began packing for a move. The move consumed nearly two months of me as well as a procrastination out of self pity over the loss of my grandfather just days before Christmas. Before I knew it, it was just days before the race. I got some workouts in early that week and then figured I was as in shape as I was going to be. Instead I concentrated on hydrating and trying to stay injury free despite a tumble down the stairs in our new house mid week. Aah!! Thankfully, I was only bruised in the fall! 

My nerves twisted into bundles that grew each day that week. The night before the race Mike took me and the kids to my favorite restaurant to eat my "last meal", lol! I barely slept the whole night, I was so on edge. I had nightmares and waking anxiety about oversleeping. Once I woke up in a cold sweat and nauseous, convinced I had come down with the flu and would not be able to race. Finally, my alarm went off and the adrenaline began to rush! It was race day!!

The day before I had bought myself some awesome new workout clothes to wear for the race so I got dressed, made my Shakeology, and waited for my brother to arrive to pick me up. When he arrived, the kids wished us luck and I hugged them goodbye. Mike exchanged words with Casey which were something along the lines of me returning in one piece. Ha! I hopped in the truck and we were off. We picked up both of our team members along the way and headed for the horse park in Conyers for what would be a first Spartan Race for all four of us. My stomach was light and jumpy the whole way there and as we pulled into the park and found our parking space, I was sure I would faint. 

The walk to the sign-in stand from the parking lot was a distance all by itself and I retreated into my own mind during the walk, contemplating several times turning around and waiting at the truck for the guys! The weather was perfectly gorgeous! Sunny and cool, 50ish early and probably close to 70 by midday. As we approached the entrance you actually walk under one of the obstacles, The Bridge. I got in line and picked up my envelope and the guys and I went in and started attaching our timing bracelets and race bibs. After we got our stuff stowed away we made our way toward the start gate for our 11:45 heat time. Right before you get to the gate, there is a table with people handing out sharpies and offering to "mark" you. I let one of the ladies mark my bib number on my left calf and we got in line at the gate for our heat. At this point my nerves went into overdrive. I can't quite explain what was happening in my stomach at that moment. I began reciting Scripture in my head, "You were made for such a time as this." and "Nothing shall in any way harm you."

When they unlocked the gate to let our group in, to my surprise, you had to go over an obstacle just to get to the start corral. It was a 5 foot wall, which I pitifully attempted and failed miserably at. It was humiliating and I wanted to cry, run and hide, and die all at once. Casey said, "Really?" and boosted me over. That is when dread set in, not just fear or nerves, but dread and terror. For 5-10 minutes while waiting in the corral with everyone else I fought an overwhelming urge to run into the woods and vomit repeatedly. Oddly for me, the shame of quitting scared me more than the fear of going through with the race. There was a guy at the head of the line with a microphone and he must have been saying something motivational because everyone was cheering and shouting. Then the crowd of racers began chanting, "Aroo, aroo, aroo!", a gunshot sounded and we were off!!

**This is not my photo but one I found on Google of the same race. 

I took off after my brother at a decent paced jog and at about 200 yards in I was already tired of running! Bahahaha!! You see, I thought that all the cardio I had done in my super awesome workouts like P90X, Les Mills, Combat, and T25 had prepared me enough so I never bothered with any running training. The first obstacle was The Steeplechase. It was a series of low fences preceding knee deep mud pits which you had to jump over and into which ensured muddy shoes from the get-go and for the remainder of the day. Running became even more enjoyable after that. <insert sarcastic smirk>

I no longer remember the exact order of the obstacles after that but there was a series of over-unders, a very long and low crawl-under obstacle that we opted to roll under which made it so much easier, and a slanted inversion wall to start with. The slanted inversion wall was awesome. I was so proud of myself having the strength to pull myself over that wall! Early on were also the giant mud pits. The pits were about 8 feet deep and half filled with mud so that when you slid down into the pit, you were waist deep in freezing cold muddy water that you then had to wade through to find a rope to pull yourself up and out the other side. There were 3 of these to get through. My favorite part of this obstacle was when, after climbing out of the 3rd and last pit, the guy next to me turned to look back at the obstacle we had just overcome and said, "That was fun!" Something sparked in me and, at that moment, I could feel the Holy Spirit smiling in my own spirit. 

**This is not my photo but one I found on Google of the same race. 

There were more walls, traditionally called Hobie walls, each time getting taller, 7 foot, 8 foot, and finally 9 foot. Casey and Steven boosted me on all of them. I wouldn't have been able to do it without the two of them. There was more running, steep climbs up and down, sometimes in deep mud. And there was mud, lots of mud. Deep mud, slippery mud, sliding mud, crazy mud. When I started feeling weak and tired on the trail I would recite Scripture to myself. On the slippery sharp rocks in the creek and the mud slides going downhill it was, "He makes my feet as the hind's feet." When I hit a wall of exhaustion it was "He renews my energy and I mount up on wings as eagles."

The spear throwing obstacle was the first one we all failed and had to take the 30 burpee penalty. Let me just say that 30 burpees when you're already exhausted is brutal. The Herculean Hoist was so FUN!! The sandbag is about 50 pounds and is attached to a rope and pulley. You have to hoist the sandbag to the top of the pulley and then lower it back down without letting the sandbag fall or land hard. It was hard and it totally wasted my forearms but I rocked it like a beast! Immediately following was the bridge obstacle which happened to be the bridge we entered the race grounds through when we arrived that morning. The nearly vertical climb to the top of the bridge was on widely spaced, narrow, wooden boards. It should have been fairly easy for me but with my forearms shaking and weak, it was not at all. The top is made from the same widely spaced boards. No room for error at all and nothing to hold on to. It was just high enough that I felt queasy getting across. Next up was the traverse wall which was another team fail and 30 burpees each were paid. At this point you believe you're almost done because you've already come approximately 3 miles. Wrong! 

The trail continued back into the woods for more trail running. At one point, the trail wound along the edge of a cliff that looked over a beautiful valley and I literally stopped to admire the amazing view and praise God for the gift of it all and for encouraging me to go out and play in it. 

One of the next obstacles we came to was called The Choice. You could either climb a 500 foot sheer cliff face with nothing but a cargo net or you could run to the top following the trail the long way around. The guys chose straight up so that is what we did. I walked up to the net and began to put one hand and foot in front of the other, focusing only on my hand and foot placement. I never looked up, down, or back and became quite oblivious to the others around me. I was terrified. Once I became aware that I was at the side edge of the net and realized that I was very high up with nothing to catch me if I was to fall off that net, except about 20 other Spartans behind me, lol. Others around me caused the net to shake and wobble and the cliff face curved inward where there was nothing to hold onto BUT the net. Again I started quoting Scripture, "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." and "Nothing shall in any way harm you." I could hear Casey calling down to me from the top. When I finally reached the top and climbed over the edge of the net to safe ground, I dropped to my knees nearly in tears, completely overcome with emotion. But...ever onward. There was still more racing to do. 

**This is not my photo but one I found on Google of the same race.

After that I had new passion, new oomph! I ran with more speed and more energy. We ran up for what seemed like forever and the scene reminded me of Band of Brothers when they climbed Currahee up in Toccoa, GA. When we came to the sandbag carry, I grabbed my sandbag, slung it over my shoulder, and continued the upward trek. Casey came up beside me and we commiserated over sore muscles for a moment before I suddenly felt inspired and shouted 'Currahee!' and picked up the pace, finally heading back down the trail and jogged past the guys. I heard one of them wonder out loud, "What the hell is she doing?" Hahaha!

I opted out of the rope climb after watching all 3 guys fail out and imagining myself breaking an ankle, so I gracefully (or not) paid my 30 burpees and headed over to the slippery 10 foot inverted wall. You have to use a rope to pull yourself over. I started out well until I was about a foot from the top when I slipped and fell down dangling from the rope. I couldn't get any traction but was so wasted with exhaustion that I was chanting, "No! I can't do more burpees!!" About that time, Steven popped up from the other side and gave me his hand! I was able to throw my leg over and got to the other side. Whew!

The next and almost last obstacle was a mud crawl/swim almost a quarter mile in length under barbed wire. It was slow, cold, slimy, and painful as there were sharp rocks (and other things) in the shallow mud that you had to slither through. But it was awesome!! The guys were waiting on the other side for me and we jumped over the fiery logs and fought the gladiators (basically dudes in costumes hitting you with giant marshmallows, lol) and....crossed the Finish Line!!

When I crossed that finish line, the one that actually says You Will Know at the Finish Line, I nearly broke down in tears. And when the cute muddy girl came over to me and put my medals around my neck, I did break down in tears. I will never be able to accurately describe that feeling with words. There are no words for that amazing feeling. I may have been that girl walking around collecting my banana and protein drink, muttering "I did it! I really did it! I finished! I didn't think I could and I did! I really did!" I cried again when I wrote that in my journal and I'm crying now typing it here. What an overwhelming accomplishment for me. 

And I completed my journal entry that day with these final words:

"And it's over now. Thank God!! I'm a Spartan!!!"