Sandy Sanders - FinishMaybe it was karma. Maybe it was the at-home Insanity endurance-building workout challenge group I’ve been leading. Maybe it was a second wind. Or maybe, it was a mix of all the above. Whatever it was, it allowed me to maintain a 6:28 min pace for 4 miles of my 4.6 mile race, keeping the lead woman in sight the entire time, only to push past her the last .6 miles for the overall win. I’m leaning towards karma because her attitude made snatching victory during the last few seconds very gratifying.

The fastest way to turn me off is to put down others who are trying.

After I ran through the finish line, I made sure to congratulate the finisher that I’d just edged out. We decided to go for a post race jog… well she decided. I just wanted to stretch as I’d done enough running for one day. But, alas, I’m a pushover and soon found myself jogging alongside the second place overall finisher. We proceeded to talk Tough Mudder. She did one. Cool! Then she proceeded to tell me how she flew through the “easy” course and watched as three big guys worked to help this “fat lady haul her big ‘arse’ up this wall.” THEN, she noted that she never laughed so hard in her life. Not cool.

Mean people SUCK. Attitudes like hers are what keep people, already intimidated enough without some cruel person laughing at them, from believing they have an inner athlete who CAN participate in fitness events. I’m all too familiar with the feeling of intimidation–of feeling as though you don’t belong in a fitness class, or from my own recent personal experience, on a race course.

As a fitness instructor, I see this feeling of intimidation with the timid “newbies” who are in my class for the first time. They seem to find some obscure space in the back of the room–visible enough to allow them to see the instructor, but out of the way enough to not get in the way of any regulars who they feel actually belong there. I hear it as I strike up a conversation with them before and after class. (And it never fails that they’re hot n’ sweaty messes, and ALL smiles that they made it through class, ready to return again.)

As I was putting together my Insanity fitness challenge group, I remember seeing it as a few of those who took a deep breath and signed up, expressed doubt in being able to make it past day one (they’re on WEEK FOUR and still going strong).

In fitness events, I see it as porta potty lines filled with nervous-looking athletes grow exponentially prior to the event start time.

When I competed in the US Triathlon National Championships this past August, I personally felt waaaaaaaay out of my league amongst the competitors. I even remember nervously joking with a fellow competitor saying, “Great, I happen to have one good race day during one of my TRIs and I end up here.” (Once I started racing however, my intimidation and nervousness were soon all but forgotten.)

There’s something invigorating about finding the courage to push aside that feeling of intimidation to overcome a challenge.

I get so inspired when I see those who NEVER thought they could, realize that they just did. The mean people who take the wind out of those awesome sails, and snatch away from people the desire to even want to attempt to challenge their obstacles, literally suck.

So the more I think about my victory, the more I believe it was karma that gave me that second wind, that pushed me forward during the last few seconds to snatch away the title of Overall Female.

When I think of that runner at that Tough Mudder, laughing hysterically at that warrior doing her best to make it up a wall, I know there was definitely one “big arse” on the course–and it wasn’t the warrior attacking the wall.

April Massett

October 10, 2013 at 9:38 am

THANK YOU for this article! I’m a Girls On The Run coach, and this story is EXACTLY why I know we need to touch and inspire young women. Mean people suck! We teach girls to do their best, to start somewhere and no matter what, just keep moving forward. We all have different body types, but strive to be healthy and challenge yourself. You are beautiful from the inside out! I’d gladly spend some time with that Tough Mudder, helping her understand those concepts. Or better yet, have one of my Girls On The Run groups teach her!


October 10, 2013 at 10:06 am

Well done, thank you for saying what needs to be said! It is the duty of an experienced athlete (even if your “experience” is a few weekend 5k’s) to pay forward what was likely done for you-encouragement! It’s never easy to be new at anything, but all of us remember that person who made us feel like we belong. Always better to be better on karma’s good side!


October 10, 2013 at 10:26 am

I sure hope you forwarded this article to the #2 competitor.


October 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Good for you and blah for her. Mean people do indeed suck, and I find it all the more distasteful when women don’t help each other. Good on you for being both a blazingly fast and strong athlete AND being a nice person. 🙂

Sandy S

October 11, 2013 at 9:24 am

Ladies, thank you for your kind words but I can tell from your comments, that any one of you would have had the exact same attitude with her.

April, LOVE that you’re a coach within such an inspiring organization!! Such a positive message you’re sending out there to female athletes!!

Carly and Elaine — EXACTLY! EMPOWER your fellow female ahtlete by supporting and encouraging her. It’s obvious that we all “get it,” and will continue to inspire our fellow athletes to “get some!”

Haha Michelle, no I didn’t — but maybe one day she’ll come across this blog and realize that she is the mean person who needs to check herself (and her crappy attitude). 😉


October 11, 2013 at 9:35 am

How disheartening to hear. Karma is the best title for this post and that woman will experience it in some form or another for her comment. Congrats to you and thank you for bringing this up. Often times, people get too caught up in competition at the sake of others and what they are also accomplishing and “winning” even if they are not getting a first place medal.

Sandy S

October 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

Trailmomma, SO TRUE about people getting caught up in competition! The fact that she “blew through” the Tough Mudder course told me right there that she just didn’t get it. The Tough Mudder staff will remind you that it’s NOT a competition; and encourages all mudders on the course to help each other. I think part of the experience of doing a Tough Mudder is the camraderie out ther, helping total strangers overcome challenges/ challenging obstacles. That’s one of the reasons I costume it during mud runs. I’m SUPER competitive, and the costumes remind me to keep it fun. 😉

Christine Y.

October 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Thank you! I have been been in races where others have been supportive and some when people been rude. I know I shouldn’t care what people think, but it is huge when someone says something kind. Once during a Sprint Tri, someone said a horrible comment to me. I let it get to me mentally and I barely was able to finish. I do these races to compete against myself. I have to train really hard and long, to even do horrible in some peoples eyes. But for the most part, I just love the running community. I love the way they support each other. Thank you for your article. I really appreciate it.


October 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Well-said, Sandy! Well-said!!!!! Thanks!

Sandy S

October 15, 2013 at 3:17 am

Christine Y, UGH that peeves me that someone ruined your experience for you out there. WHY do that to someone??? What does it accomplish, other than to affect the other person negatively and detract from their race. Why not offer positive words instead — the result is much more rewarding. I remember when I first started in the world of TRIs and I didn’t quite move over fast enough when someone yelled “on your left.” I got some not so nice words from this guy who basically told me that I didn’t belong there. Well just know that those out there who are jerks on the course are bullies and jackasses, and their words should mean NOTHING to you. Instead, listen to us, your Athleta family and know we’re cheering you on girl. YOU GO GIRL!!! 🙂

Thanks Gen! 😉

Leave a Reply