Tara Roch, age 39, lives in Southampton Massachusetts, and is the mom to two boys ages 18 and 4. Yes you read that right, 18 and 4. She started running 18 years ago, after her first son was born. " I was in the Navy and worked with a bunch of guys who would run every day on our lunch break. When I got back from maternity leave I started running with them and have not stopped since."
Despite all those years of road running, Tara is still new to the world of Obstacle Course Racing (as are so many of us!) How did she get started?
"My first obstacle race was the Vermont Spartan Beast 2011. I was seeing these races pop up and they all looked so fun so an old friend from HS asked if my husband and I would run it with her and her husb. People laugh because we chose the hardest level Spartan for our first race, but I didn’t want to deal with the hurry up and wait that you get at the smaller distance obstacle races. And believe it or not when I first signed up for the Beast last year, it actually started out as a Super and was only supposed to be around 8 miles. As the course was built, it morphed into a 13 mile course and so the Beast was born. I feel really lucky to have been part of the very first Spartan Beast and the birth of the Spartan Chicked movement."
I often ask the moms featured in this series what their family thinks of their obstacle course/mud running adventures. Typically responses include supportive families and husbands that cheerlead from the sidelines. Tara's family takes it to the next level. What I love most about Tara's story is how obstacle racing truly is a family affair.
Now, it may seem easy to train as a mom with an 18 year old. They can (essentially) take care of themselves. But let's not forget, Tara is ALSO mom to a four year old, is a wife AND holds down a job. How does she find the time?
"When my oldest was little and I was a single mom, I would take him to the track and I could keep an eye on him while I ran as boring as a track may sound, it was fun for him and good for me. Now he runs with me and is much faster than me so he usually will pick up a rock or tire to run with so he can slow his pace for me. My husband and I just take turns watching the 4 year old to work out. We have sandbags and a pull up/dip bar in the house and I do pushups and pull ups and squats all over my house. It’s definitely hard to work all day and come home and ditch my work shoes for running shoes and try to head out. I find the time when I can. Some mornings I will wake up and run before work while everyone is sleeping, some days I’ll try to stop and run on the way home, some days I run around my house trying to squeeze in pushups when I can without child jumping on me, and some days I don’t get it in at all…and that’s ok too."
Tara's advice to the newbies?
"I’m constantly trying to convince moms/ other women to get out there. I hear a lot of “I can’t run that far/fast” I say you can walk/hike the whole thing if you have to and there is such great camaraderie that you will have help at any obstacle if you need it. There is something special in that mud that will keep you going back for more. It’s a challenge that will change your life. I promise."
Tanya Logan, Fort Drum, New York, is the mom of 2 little ones, ages 2 and 3. Tanya just "officially" started running in September of 2011. She admits to running in the Army, however feels it "wouldn’t really qualify that as 'running', it was more of a shuffle while trying not to die" Her first mud run was the Spartan Sprint on June 4th 2012 in Ottawa, Canada. When asked if she prefers mud runs to road racing, Tanya says: "I like mud races more than traditional road races because it’s always a surprise. The courses aren’t always the same and the mental battle is constant. I do enjoy road races for the challenge but there is something to be said about getting dirty and using all your strengths while you race."
Many moms often have to explain their desire to train, run, and race to family members who just don't get it. Tanya's family, compromised of athletes, DO understand. Well...sort of....
"My family, comprised of tri-athletes and marathon runners, think I am crazy! They support me 100% in my racing adventures but always remind me that it’s insane. My kids are always around when I’m training and they are excited about competing in their own races. My son will be 4 years old soon and is already registered for his first Spartan Kids Race at Citi Field. He has been running around the house and climbing the furniture for “practice”. When I run local 5ks with the jogging stroller the kids cheer me on and “coach” me to go faster. Although they are young and haven’t actually said so, I like to think my kids are very proud of their momma."
The big question for all of my Bada$$ Moms, and the one I know you all love to read: How do you find the time to train?
"I try and train 6 days a week. I am currently a stay at home mom and full time student. I run shorter distances on Tuesday and Thursday with the kids in the jogging stroller (an extra 70lbs). Monday, Wednesday and Friday I do strength training. My local YMCA offers free child care, which has enabled me to get some lifting in. I also have a lot of homemade training equipment that I use. While the kids play in the yard I’ll flip my tire, lunge with my slosh pipe, climb my rope, etc. I also have a play room for the kids in the basement near my workout area so I can do an inside workout like Insanity. Traditionally Saturdays are my long run days. When my husband is able he watches the kids but sometimes I take the kids with me in the jogging stroller. When I do that I break my run up by running to a kid friendly destination. We will run to the zoo or park, have a picnic, and then I’ll run back home. It’s also a great excuse to use the playground for training!"
Here's a bada$$ mom quote for the books: Tanya's favorite obstacle?
"My favorite obstacle has to be the sandbag carry. I usually grab the men’s sandbag and haul up the hill past people taking a breather on the sidelines. I think mothers have an advantage on this obstacle because we are use to walking with that much weight in our arms and it’s usually squirming." LOVE IT!
Tanya's advice for those who want to do their first race?
"My advice to other mom’s out there is to not be afraid to think of yourself and do a mud run. We often feel, as mothers, that when we do anything for ourselves it’s purely selfish and we should be spending more quality time with our children or organizing the house. The fact is when you workout and follow your goals you are setting a great example for your children. The greatest reward of this journey for me has been inspiring my kids to want to be healthy and fit. That will be a value that stays with them longer than the memory of a spotless house. "
I couldn't have said it better myself! You can follow Tanya's adventures on her blog Tuneses Mewings
Last but not least, we have Katy Greenbauer, from Villa Park, Illinois. Mom to four daughters, a 16 year old that is severely disabled, a 12 year old, 9 year old adopted from Guatemala at age 3, and a 5 year old. Katy said she ran here and there in college, but never considered herself a "runner". In fact, her very first race was an obstacle course race, and wasn't until last summer.
"My first of any kind of race was the Warrior Dash in June of 2012. I don't think of myself as a runner so I was never interested in any road races. A friend of mine told me about Warrior Dash and thought I might like it. AND I DID! That got me hooked and also gave me the confidence to try the Super Spartan in October 2012, where I finished 4th in my age group. Which completely shocked me. I thought I was going to finish in the top 50%.
I have never done a traditional road race but OCRs appeal to me because I still don't think of myself as a runner. The obstacles make the run more interesting. And because they are so tough it really hones your sense of accomplishment and pride at the end of the race. Plus I used to be claustrophobic and afraid of heights. But when I'm running on an OCR course that fear is replaced with concentration and complete confidence in myself. I don't know of any other therapy or drug that could do that for you. You really do learn so much about overcoming obstacles in both the physical sense and the mental sense."
Katy always makes training a priortiy. With four daughters, it is hard to find the time, but Katy says she'll get up and work out at 5:30 if she has to. Need a little motivation? Katy's got it for you.
"I've heard people say they will do an OCR when they are in better shape or when they have lost a few more pounds. But I think with OCRs it's OK to put the cart before the horse. Go now and do it. Who cares of you can't run the whole way or complete every obstcle. Just go and try it. Then you can work on getting better. It really changes how you think about working out. Before I was just working out, now I'm training. It has given me more focus on improving my fitness. The other question people ask me a lot is how I stay motivated. My motivation has gone through so many stages. My first stage of motivation was trying to develop the strength to care for my special needs daughter. She is completely dependent on us for all activities of daily living. Lifting her, pushing her wheelchair ups ramps, etc.. takes a toll on your body and I wanted to be able to care for her. I started noticing how strong and confident I got from working out so that lead me to my next stage of motivation which was working out to look good! Now that I am running in OCRs my motivation is to continue to improve my time and performance. The 2 things that I have always told myself throughout these stages are: 1) Somewhere out there someone else has faced this exact same barrier and had the exact same excuse I have for not training and some how they found a way to train anyway. If they can do it so can I.
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