Frugal and Fitness Freak

OK, well freak might be a strong word but in addition to being increasingly frugal, I am also a fitness nut.  Yes, I actually enjoy exercising most days and I love the results of being fit and in shape.  Although I have always been active, last year my fitness activity increased and I am in the best shape of my life (in my mid-30’s none the less).

Last spring my friend came across a LivingSocial deal for the Spartan Sprint race at Killington, VT.  She tried to recruit lots of friends but I was the only one brave enough to join.  A Spartan Race is an obstacle course race where you have to complete 30 burpees for every obstacle that you cannot complete.  Obstacles include going over/under walls, climbing ropes, carrying lots of heavy things, spear throws, barbed wire crawls, mud pits, monkey bars, etc.  The race we signed up for was advertised as a 3+ mile course with 15+ obstacles (it was actually 4.5 miles but I will get to that).  Now I have always been physically active but I knew that I would need some additional strength training in order to prepare myself for the race so I signed up with a personal trainer.  I signed a three month contract to work a trainer two times per week and although it was expensive I loved it.  I continued on for a few more months after my contract ended but only going once per week.  I got a full hour of one-on-one training designed for me and my goals.  Its too bad personal training is not more reasonably priced because I think more people might do it.  Alas, I am off track…

After months of training (and a lot of money spent) I had muscle definition in my arms for the first time in my life and was in great shape.  I was pretty proud of myself and about as ready as I could be for the unknown of what lay ahead.  The race started with a 100 yard run downhill and then a full mile going straight up the ski slopes of Killington mountain.  This was a brutal way to start, but then again these races are not meant to be easy.  We ended up power hiking most of the uphill because it was so steep but we made good time.  We went a full three miles encountering only a few obstacles before we finally arrived back a the bottom of the mountain to our cheering husbands.  I have never been so excited to see my husband and civilization!  The next obstacle was one of the hardest that I encountered.  We filled up a big bucket full of rocks and then walked a little loop, uphill of course, and then back to dump out the bucket where we started.  Being small (I am only 5″ tall and 105 lbs), I had a hard time wrapping my arms around the bucket and I estimated that it probably weighed close to 50 lbs, so almost half of my weight.  We then had a wall traverse, a rope climb, the dreaded spear throw which was the only obstacle I missed, and then more than 100 years of a barbed wire crawl (which was easy for me due to me size).  We continued on, having fun as we tackled the rest of the obstacles as if we had done them many times before.

Ringing the bell on the rope climb. Photo courtesy of Benjamin D Bloom Photography
Ringing the bell on the rope climb. Photo courtesy of Benjamin D Bloom Photography

We finished the 4.5 mile course in just over 2 hours and it was the most exhilarating experience I have ever had.  Spartan has a saying “you’ll know at the finish line” and I finally knew what this meant.  We earned it.  Every mile, every obstacle (every damn burpee).  And from then on, we both have been hooked.  We immediately signed up for the Spartan Sprint at Fenway Park in November (Go Sox!) and crushed the course, cruising past many people and finishing in under an hour.  We both even mastered the monkey bars unassisted at Fenway as many people watched in awe.  (OK, I am normally pretty modest and am tooting my own horn here at bit but I am proud of my accomplishment!)

With our adrenaline still pumping from the race, we then decided that 2015 would be the year of the Spartan Trifecta, something that was completely terrifying only a few short months before.  To earn the Trifecta you need to complete one Spartan race of each of the three different distances within a calendar year.  A Sprint: 3+ miles with 15+ obstacles, a Super: 8+ miles with 20+ obstacles, and the Beast: 13+ miles with 25+ obstacles.  Our first race this year is the Super in central Mass exactly one month from today, then the Beast in Ottawa in August, and finishing it up where it all started with the Sprint in Killington in September.  I am super pumped and want the Trifecta more than anything I have wanted in years (other than Financial Independence of course).  And as a side note, Spartan is brilliant with their marketing.  I mean they create this whole Trifecta thing just to get you to sign up for more races.  Pure brilliance!

In order to keep my training costs in check this year (I spent a whopping 15%+ of my take-home pay on fitness last year-eek!) I created a schedule that would take me through all three races.  One of the benefits of having a Type A personality is I will plan everything out in advance.  I started with half hour sessions once per week with my new trainer (my old one moved) in March and then bumped up to 1 hours sessions at the end of April.  I had a few full hour sessions prepaid from last year and I used the last of these up last week.  Going forward I plan on having 12 more full hour sessions with periodic half hour sessions scheduled the week before and after each of my races.  Today I bought a 12 session bulk package to get a pricing discount for a total of $749.  Once you add in all 8 half hour sessions that I have planned over the course of my training I will have spent $1,035 on personal training this year.  I know this is a lot of money and could be seen as an unnecessary expense but to me, this is important as racing and exercising make me happy.  Through my planning I am able to minimize the cost as much as possible and am saving a ton of money compared to what I spent last year so this is still a win for me.

With only a month to go I have a lot of training to do but am confident that the Super will be achievable, and then with my friend’s support, we can conquer the Beast together before rounding it off at the Killington Sprint.  Let’s do this!  AROO!

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