Disclaimer: if you have or are currently struggling with exercise addiction and/or an eating disorder, please read this post at your own discretion.
Back in 2011 when I first became involved with obstacle course racing I would have never foreseen myself becoming so involved to go as far as doing an ultra marathon and the Spartan Death Race, let alone within two months of each other. Some call it reckless or daring. I call it bold, a learning curve. While it does not lie on the list of my best decisions, it also doesn’t lie on the list of my worst decisions.
Participating in multiple back to back distance events, some of which that require a loaded carry, is a considerable task to undergo. These races are designed to push participants to their max both mentally and physically. In reality the tagline behind the Death Race is “You may die”. While nobody actually dies, people do get hurt. There is blood, injuries, and a whole lot of stress placed on the body and mind. I decided to sign up for the challenge after my first Spartan race. I remember thinking that I wanted a harder challenge. I wanted more competition. At this point I was absolutely craving competition after being away from it for years.
In a sick way participating in the Death Race for me was a way to stay in my eating disorder – all while tricking people into thinking I was healthy. Think about it – here is this young woman, an athlete, who competes in some of the more difficult events in the country… how could she possibly do it as a form of abuse? Most people look at this situation and think “how” (could someone possibly put their body through this all while struggling from an eating disorder) or “why” (would this even come across as a good idea). For me, there was absolutely no choice to not take on this challenge. In my mind I had to do it. Why? Because I would be inadequate if I didn’t. I also had to finish.
That picture is the picture of a young woman. A woman who wasn’t taking care of her body, who was training an unnecessary amount every day. A woman who wasn’t feeding herself properly, and hadn’t been for years. A woman who wasn’t getting her period, who had osteopenia, among other medical concerns.
I looked healthy if you saw me on my good days. I looked strong. I put all of my energy into the gym. At this point I was in my gap year between graduating high school and starting my college education. I was working full-time and training full-time. (Note: there is absolutely nothing wrong with this scenario IF the participant does not have a medical, mental health, or other health concern – and are taking care of there body – and cleared by physician.) However at the time I saw absolutely nothing wrong with this. If someone were to have asked me if I recommended it I would say no, but for me, I was indestructible. I felt my body being destroyed from the inside out but kept telling myself that if I just kept pushing harder I would end up stronger. HOW DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE? That is a question I have asked myself for over a year and am finally starting to figure out, accept, and work with.
As the race grew closer I had connected with other individuals in the obstacle racing community and signed up for an overnight challenge in March 2012, an ultra marathon in early May 2012, a 60-mile ruck in late May 2012, and then the Death Race was June 2012.
Without a doubt in my mind I can say the year of 2012 was equivalent to putting my entire being through a gauntlet – the goal was to make it out alive.
Stay tuned for part 2 on Wednesday: crash and burn.