By Heathyr Stanics
Thanks for taking some time out of your day to teach us something about a Spartan Race and all of it’s dirty, bloody messiness. But lets start with who is Heathyr Stanics?
That’s a loaded question. Ha! I am a 30 year old insurance agent, residing in middle Georgia. I am a yogi and an obstacle course racer but I am not your average athlete. My life consists of being fiercely independent with a strong will to succeed in all aspects in life.
I had previously read your story about getting involved with Yoga. Can you tell us about that?
I began to get involved with yoga in March 2014. What started as a social curiosity with a friend, wound up turning more into an obsession. I became dedicated to finding daily improvements in my strength and flexibility. Yoga has become a huge part of my life. I feel like I need yoga just as much as I need to breathe fresh oxygen.
Not being an average size American woman in the fitness world, what obstacles have you encountered with Yoga? Are they things you are able to work around or do you force yourself to work harder to achieve some of the more challenging poses?
I probably AM average sized for an American woman. At a size 16, I know I don’t have the ideal looking “yoga body”, but I refused to let that stop me from practicing. There are obvious poses that challenge me; certain twists and binds, for example. My chest and stomach at times can become obstacles of their own when I practice yoga. I have tools that help me work around those interference’s, like my yoga strap. I try not to ever force myself into positions, but I do strive for perfection. To me, the purpose of yoga is to focus and connect with my body. I pay attention to my breathing and how my muscles react to the stretches, twists, and binds. But don’t let the size of my body fool you. With my daily practice I’ve become extremely flexible, can balance on my head, and it’s even help me become a better runner/obstacle racer.
If someone wanted to start yoga, what advice would you give them?
My best advice would be to seek out a local class and get instruction from a certified yoga teacher. Absolutely nothing beats the hands on training you get with a professional. If that is not an option, then YouTube is your next best bet. You can plug in any type of flow into YouTube’s search engine, and immediately find tons of one-on-one virtual instruction.
With the advent of activities like Crossfit, Color Dash, Spartan Race and Tough Mudder, what was it about Spartan that drew you to it? Was it a double dog dare from friends?
I began my fitness journey with fun runs like Color Dash. I absolutely loved those as my first 5k’s because there was no pressure, as they aren’t timed races. After I completed a few fun runs, a friend suggested we try something more challenging. As soon as she uttered the words “Spartan Race”, I immediately said “No way, you’re crazy” and dismissed her proposal for a more challenging race. I knew very little about Spartan Race, but I didn’t think I was cut out for it. At that time I had only seen the fire jumping photos circulating social media. Naturally, my curiosity got the best of me, and I pulled up YouTube and plugged in Spartan Race. The results pulled up the Atlanta Sprint from 2014, and I watched closely. I’m not even sure I blinked during the 7 minute video. It looked so challenging, but incredibly FUN.
I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish, but I knew I had to try. After doing some research on Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), I took note that Spartan Race was the most difficult due to the different race lengths and penalties (if you fail to complete an obstacle you must complete 30 burpees). The Spartan Race offers three race lengths:
– Spartan Sprint (3+ miles of obstacle racing, 20+ obstacles)
– Spartan Super (8+ miles, 25+ obstacles)
– Spartan Beast (13+ miles, 30+ obstacles)
Upon completing all three races within one calendar year, you earn a special Trifecta medal. I needed this. Knowing there was a special medal for doing something extraordinary motivated me to sign up for a race.
How did you first get involved or begin training for it?
Within hours of mentally deciding I was going to do this on that cold November day, my friend and I researched the Spartan Workout Of the Day (WOD), and began training that night after work. We started jogging, doing burpees, and attempting pull-ups. It wasn’t easy. It downright sucked. Running outside in the freezing cold temperatures made my lungs feel like they’d explode and my nose would fall right off my face. But after we finished our WOD, we felt amazing! During our 15 weeks of training, we worked hard on our endurance and upper body strength, as we knew we had to get through these distances while climbing over walls, crawling under barbed wire, and swinging across monkey bars.
Once you decided to compete in your first Spartan race, what were the emotions and the overall experience like?
After a few nights of trying out the Spartan Workouts that we received daily in our email, I bit the bullet and officially signed up to race the Spartan Sprint in Atlanta, which took place in early March 2015. Anxiety set in. I actually paid money to sign a death waiver! Seriously, I couldn’t believe it. I was training to compete in a race where I could actually be seriously injured…or die. Or I could flourish. It was like a battle of fear and excitement within myself. Ultimately, excitement won.
What is an average time for a man or a woman to finish a typical race?
The time it takes to finish a race greatly varies. The elite racers can finish a Sprint in 40 minutes, or a Beast in 3 hours. There are so many variables to consider when talking about completion times. The terrain, your start time, and how crowded the course is, will play a huge role in the length of time it takes someone to complete a race. For example, I completed the Spartan Super in Atlanta this past October. I had a start time of 12:15 pm, and didn’t cross the finish line until almost 8 hours later.
So comradery is a pretty large part of Spartan? Friends encouraging friends to complete the entire course they chose?
Absolutely. The terrain was extremely muddy thanks to a week long storm that seemed to hover over the venue, and one of my fellow Spartans was experiencing serious leg cramps after the 3rd mile (we still had 6 miles and 15+ obstacles to go). We made sure we did everything in our power to ensure she finished her race, as well as ours. For me, racing for time was not high up on my list of priorities. Crossing the finish line was my number one priority.
Have you been able to finish all of your races you set out to and how is that Trifecta medal coming along?
As of this date, I have completed three Spartan races. I earned my Trifecta on November 14, 2015! The Spartan Sprint took me 3 hours and 47 minutes. The Spartan Super took me 7 hours and 53 minutes. I completed the Spartan Beast in 7 hours and 11 minutes.
Wow! What an incredible series of accomplishments! Taking a look back, what is the one thing you took away from that day?
It’s impossible to limit my takeaways to only one thing from these races. But, if I had to pick the most meaningful lesson, it would be that I am capable of absolutely anything; no matter my size or physical ability. While competing in the Spartan Race series you’re forced to dig deep in moments of struggle. Whether you run, walk, or crawl, crossing the finish line and receiving your medal is always the goal.
Quitting is NEVER an option. The greatest thing about these races, and discovering my own strengths, is that I was never alone. I was fortunate to race with an incredible group of athletes. And while out on each course, I was surrounded by literally thousands of racers willing to lend a hand to stabilize me, a shoulder to step on, or an encouraging word that gave me an extra boost of motivation. These racers genuinely become family.
What did your friends and family have to say after that first time out?
If I recall correctly, my parents were a little apprehensive when I told them what I had signed up for. My friends thought I was absolutely crazy. But once they saw how dedicated I was to my training, and that I wasn’t backing down from this race, their views shifted and they all became excited for me to conquer these obstacle races. Now that I’ve successfully earned my Trifecta upon the completion of the Sprint, Super, and Beast, my family and friends now want to give these races a try.
What’s next on the Heathyr To-Do list?
Well, with 2016 right around the corner, I’m starting to map out my race calendar. I would like to earn a double Trifecta with Spartan Race. I’m also starting to train harder for this season. My goal is to one day race elite; with the big dogs. Racing elite means that you don’t need any assistance with any of the obstacles on the course. I may not race elite in 2016, but I will train hard and use each race as added practice to reach my goal.
Is there anyone you want to thank or give a shout out to?
Cher Miller (mom), Rick Stanics (dad), and Robyn Borich (sister) – They have been my biggest supporters throughout this journey.
Taylor Jenkins – She is my yoga buddy and race partner. She is the one who piqued my curiosity about yoga, and the one who suggested we give Spartan a try. She has been there with me throughout this entire process; training hard and having fun on the course.
Adam Johnson – He has motivated me to become a better athlete. He pushes me during our workouts and doesn’t go easy onme just because he’s my boyfriend. In fact, he pushes me harder in spite of that. He also keeps my nutrition in check and constantly reminds me that I have goals to meet when I want to drink my sweet coffee.
Team Compound – Every coach and athlete at Team Compound in Macon, GA has inspired me to break through my own perceived walls. They are incredibly motivating and make the BEST racing team anyone could ask for!
Thank you so much for sharing with HerSUPPZ your incredible journey to #FindYourStrength! We look forward to watching all your successes and are honored to watch you soar!
For more on Spartan, their schedule and how to get started:
HEATHYR MARIE STANICS
Heathyr began her fitness journey in August of 2013 by going to the gym by herself, walking the treadmill or slowly easing along on the elliptical. Soon after, she decided to set a goal and give herself something to look forward to. Heathyr signed up for a colorful 5k and also started dabbling in yoga because she was so fascinated with inversions. Heathyr is now 3 sizes down from when she began, and continues to work on her physical fitness. She practice yoga every day, and is also a Spartan Race finisher. She loves to post fitness and yoga videos on her Instagram page , along with healthy food ideas.
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