Amy Lawson is the mom of two boys, ages 12 & 14, and lives in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Amy has been running for about 5 years now, and had completed a few 5k's and 3 half marathons before she entered her first obstacle course, the 2011 Miami Super Spartan . Her husband began forming a team to race with some of his coworkers, and Amy, intrigued by the challenge, signed up herself. So I asked Amy, which did you prefer, the road races, or the obstacle races? (As you'll begin to notice a theme among all of the women I interviewed, not one of these muddy chicks picked the road. I'm just saying...)
"I do prefer this type of racing to road racing because I am not super fast, but I am pretty strong, so I can place closer to the top in obstacle course races than in traditional races. I also greatly enjoy the training-- if I am out on a run, and I run by a park, I'm likely to go play on the playground for training. I'm doing things in training now that I haven't done since I was a kid-- jumping rope, climbing trees, doing monkey bars, and running through mud puddles in the rain!"And what does her family think about it? Turns out they are just as big fans of the challenge as Amy
"I think my husband probably feels like he created a monster by inviting me to join his team for that first race! They are not spectators (my husband believes racing is not a spectator sport), and I understand how boring it is to sit waiting to watch me run by for 30 seconds of a 2 hour race. However, he is my personal trainer, and my biggest encourager. He has been both a competitive body builder and a power lifter and is getting ready to move into a fitness career after 21 years of service in the US Coast Guard, so he brings a wealth of information to my training and nutrition. My younger son is looking forward to being old enough to race beside me."Amy admits that having older kids certainly makes it easier to train, or even include her sons in her training. But before the rest of you moms with younger kids roll your eyes, read this: Amy is also a full time working mom, helps coach her sons sports teams, AND takes care of her family.
"Teaching 8th graders requires lots of mental effort, so I'm often very drained at the end of the day. However, that is also good training-- to force my body to workout even when my brain says it's time to rest. During the school year, I'm up at 5 a.m. and out the door by 5:30. My husband makes breakfast and lunch for the boys so I can run/workout. After school is workout #2, if I don't have any meetings or basketball practice (I'm an assistant coach) or football/baseball games (my boys play). And as long as workout #2 doesn't interfere with getting dinner on the table. We eat meals together at the dinner table every night, except pizza night when we sit around the t.v. I'm in bed by 9 p.m. to make it all happen!"Amy's future goals in this sport include placing top 3 in a local obstacle/mud run, as well as completing 20 weighted push ups...to which her husband will reward her with an entry to the Spartan Death Race . Amy's advice to newbies?
"It's OK to be intimidated! Find a really good strength training and running program and sign up for a race. These races provide us a chance to be a kid again-- really they are just giant playgrounds for adults."
HOPE (RunFasterMommy note: I may be biased on this one, but Hope is my favorite. My "running partner in crime", still, even though we are now 1000 miles apart, Hope and I were side by side for our first official Spartan race. She is one of the baddest chicks I know and has been an emotional rock by my side for my crazy last year. She'll be venturing up to Vermont this year to cheer me on for the Ultra Beast, and then toe the start line with me on Sunday as we run the Beast together. Arooo!)
I asked Hope about her training....
"Oh training... people do that? I'm not sure if I am confident or ignorant but I do not train like I should. Of course with 15 years between kids, and having been a single mom for the first 13 years of my sons life, you get done what you can. It's always been a lot of early mornings, some of it with a baby on board in the jogger. Balance is always a challenge, family is important, cleaning the toilet, well its not so high on the list. My house doesn't sparkle and I wouldn't recommend you eat off the floor but when it comes to fitness and family, you can't have one without the other. I think as moms we tend to put everyone before ourselves. The balance is where we make our health a priority in order to be there for our family. It's not always easy, but doing what you can when you can is all you can do. Now that the baby is 19 months old, and sleeps until 630am, I can run basically any morning that I can pull my butt out of bed at 5am. I also work from home, so during lunches I can get in a HIIT workout in. I *try* to get at least 5-8 workouts in per week, sometimes I get more, sometimes less. I guess I just try not to be too hard on myself, I want to enjoy the process, and do not want to look at it as a chore. I will admit, I need to 'train' more for events... sometimes I think I like to challenge myself on the spot."Hope's favorite obstacles? "Puddles", she calls them, especially when they involve jumping off of a cliff (true story). Least favorite? Monkey Bars. One thing she never wants to do ? Get electrocuted for fun (Sorry Tough Mudder!)
Advice to newbies?
"Find a friend to do it with, and just have fun! Since obstacle/mud runs are still a fairly new phenomenon, you will not be the only newbie getting caught in the mud puddles. "You can follow Hope's training and adventures at her blog, SportyMomme
Kathy is the mom of two little ones, ages 2 & 4, and lives in Lancaster, PA. She has been running road races for fun for 10 years now, but just recently started participating in mud/obstacle races, starting with a Warrior Dash in 2011, saying " it was the pretty much the first one that I heard of that I wasn't totally terrified of." And it was love at first mud puddle...."Mud running is absolutely preferred to road racing, it is more challenging. Running you use your legs, OCRs you have to use everything and get a better workout. My wallet on the other hand prefers road racing"
So, wanna make excuses about your schedule? Kathy works 12 hour shifts. TWELVE HOURS. That's almost all day. And she still finds the time to train.
"I am fortunate enough to belong to a gym that offers childcare. If I go to the gym and the laundry or dishes don't get done, there is always tomorrow for housework. When I work I work 12 hour shifts. I try to get to the gym on all my days off, usually about 3 or 4 times. Road running with a jogging stroller is a lot harder than running alone, if you have to take your kids with you do that. Or the park, climb on as much stuff as you can"
Kathy's future goals include completing the Spartan Trifecta (a sprint, super, and beast distance in once calendar year) as well as run a Tough Mudder next year. Her favorite obstacle? Wall climbs and weight pulls...but isn't a huge fan of the rope climb.
Kathy has already been spreading the good word of the mud run to her friends. When asked what advice she would give, she said this
"I have told many of my friends already (even convincing them to try to some racing), just go out there and have fun. There are always people racing around you that offer their help. If you happen to fall there are at least 5 people asking to make sure you are okay. Don't go in the first heat of the day, those people are serious and going for time. Just have fun, who cares how long it takes!"
Real moms. Real athletes. Proof that it CAN be done, if you don't let excuses get in the way. Thank you ladies, keep on inspiring!!!
If you are or know of a bada$$ mom that should be featured (not limited to mud runs!) feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org