Wednesday, May 22, 2013


This weekend in Texas I learned more about drive, dedication, determination, support, and strength than I have learned at any race thus far.  I had the opportunity to run and film the "sweeper heat" Saturday and Sunday night.  To date this was the most rewarding thing I have ever done with Spartan race.  

Saturday afternoon Tony, Joe and I set off just a little after the last heat and began to walk the course picking up trash and releasing volunteers from their stations.  We walked for two miles before we came to our first participant still on course.  It was there at the tire flip that we met Chris Reedy.  A man who forever changed my perception of what is possible when you believe in yourself and push your limits.  

Chris Reedy was not your typical Spartan racer.  Tipping the scales at 460 pounds and with a heart of gold Chris Reedy was in the middle of his first Reebok Spartan Race.  He was joined by his brother's who had flown out to complete the race with him and support his adventure.  

Over the next four hours we stayed with Chris as he conquered the tire flip, nailed the spear throw, beat his brothers at the Hercules hoist, rocked the tire pull, made a valiant effort at the slippery wall, rolled like a beast under the barbwire and finally jumped the flames to the finish line.  

It was not an easy journey for Chris but he never gave up.  He put one foot in front of the other and step by step completed the course.  He never complained or said "this sucks", he even smiled a lot!  Parts of his journey were painful to watch...the look on his face when he saw the uphill section after exiting the pipe crawl, the concern when we discussed the possibility of him being pulled if he didn't finish in daylight. But through the concern and pain Chris pushed forward.  He attempted obstacles I never thought he would even consider... the pipe crawl, the cargo net, the slippery wall... and he dominated them.  He told me about his struggles with weight and how he was trying to get back on track to be healthier for himself and to inspire others.  He inspired me with every inch of terrain he covered and as he crossed the finish line my eyes filled with tears of happiness.  

Chris is what Spartan Race is about.  He signed up for what even the healthiest individuals consider insane, difficult, and crazy.  He showed up with determination, a great family to support him, and the biggest heart I have ever seen.  He completed the course and never gave up.  He proved no matter where you are in life, no matter what size you are, no matter who believes in you or who doesn't... if you believe in yourself and if you set goals... anything is possible.  Thank you Chris for reminding me of this.  I reach out to anyone considering signing up for a Spartan Race and say - DO IT.... there are no excuses.  Give up the self doubt and put yourself out there.  If Chris can do it, YOU can do it.  

Sign Up. Show Up. Never Give Up.

Look forward to photos, interview, and video footage of Chris completing his 1st Spartan Race on the Spartan website in the future. 

Corinne, Ang, and Andi. 

Photo Credit: Anthony Matesi, and The Painted Warrior - thank you!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let me make mistakes so you don't have to - Obstacle racing in contact lenses

A few weeks ago I made an appointment to get some new glasses.  As I explained to the eye doc how I lost my old pair of glasses in lake Nicaragua during Fuego y Agua a blank look came over her face.  "You were doing what when you lost your glasses!??"  Yes, I was wading in a lake and the lake was more like an ocean and a wave knocked them off my face.  I couldn't see long distance for the rest of the race and subsequently got lost on a volcano....

Last known photo of my glasses!  LOL!  Fuego y Agua race just before the lake.

As the doc stares at me like I'm crazy a smile begins to crack... "you need contacts" 
I had never wanted contacts before because I have really sensitive eyes and was worried about putting them in and taking them out. My eye doctor convinced me otherwise and also convinced me that they would be the perfect solution to me not being able to see at my races.  I told her about the mud, the water, the smoke and the dust involved in my races and she still seemed to believe contacts would be great so I gave them a try.

Since then my contacts have completed two Spartan Sprints, and one GoRuck.

The first day I wore my contacts I was thrilled.  I could see the entire race course,  I could wear cheap sunglasses over them and not care if they got muddy, I could recognise my friends in the crowd!  This was awesome!  Saturday went by flawlessly and while my eyes were a little dry from the long day I was very happy with my contacts. 

Saturday pre-race.  Thank you Navy Federal Credit Union for this cheap pair of sunglasses! They were a perfect way to protect my contacts and eyes :)

Sunday started out the same until I hit my spear throw!  I was so excited that I hit my spear I flew through the traverse wall and literally dove head first into the underground mud tunnels!  I emerged covered in mud and totally blind.  I could not see ANYTHING and my eyes were on fire!  I stood up and stumbled forward until I ran straight into the camoflauge netting seperating the next half of the tunnel.   " I cant see!!"  I yelled.  "I'm blind!"  somehow I made it out of the tunnels and continued to stumble forward, literally wobbling as the mud was thick and I couldn't see my foot placement!  Was this going to end my race??? I was horrified as with my spear I had moved into first place!!  "Help!!"  Somehow from the sidelines someone yelled for me to walk over.  I slowly made my way right and someone placed a water bottle in my hand.  I dumped it over my eyes and my right eye began to open up again.  Light... i can see light!.  Out of my left I could see only darkness but my right was good enough to make out shapes.  I approached the slippery wall and began to grab for a rope.  "Go to the right,  go up the right"  people yelled at me from the sidelines.  I moved right a few feet and began climbing.  I made it over the wall. 
The rest of the race was a muddy, painful, and amazing blur!  I ran with my left eye closed and my right eye squinted, feeling pretty stupid. 
As a first time contact user I forgot to bring any solution or eye drops for after the race, I didn't even have a mirror so I could take them out.  Big mistake.  My eyes were gooy and red for days after the race. 

Mud face :)

So with Texas this weekend i am going to attempt the contacts again with some things in mind.  This may sound like common sense for long time contact lens wearers but it was a big lesson for me. 
I recommend the following things:

1.  No matter how excited or pumped you are about the race, DO NOT jump face first into the mud pit!
2. Bring an after race contact cleanup/recovery kit: water, contact solution, eye drops, and a mirror to take them out.
3. If you have prescription glasses or sunglasses to wear in case your contacts fail - BRING THEM
4. If you are wearing contacts, get some cheap dollar store or gas station sunglasses to wear over them.  Saturday I feel this helped protect my eyes.  Sunday I didn't have them. 
5.  Ask you eye doc which lenses might work best for races.  Mine recommended disposable in case I lost or damaged them... and I have done all of the above.  I lost one about 5 hours into GoRuck friday night :)
6.  Have fun!

O.K. Good luck racers.  See you in Texas :)