A Spartan Amongst Us

CJ Silas as radio personality in San Luis Obispo for ESPN radio and a Race SLO announcer at many of our races.

I turned 50 this year. What an eventful 365 days since I turned 49. I love a physical challenge, something different, something a little crazy and something outside of my comfort zone.

Since living in San Luis Obispo and playing Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby now for over 10 years I have grown into a fearless being, sometimes to a fault. I’m actually not even sure somedays if I know myself, or my limits. In fact, being here around such empowering, strong, physical, athletic women, has made me feel unstoppable at times. The fact that we have clear and sunny skies for the majority of our days here, offers me the chance to work out outside, in the hills almost every day, sometimes twice a day.

Spartan came to my life in an unusual way but on a usual Labor Day Monday morning while on my annual “Tri-Tip Challenge.” Three hikes in SLO County back to back to back. Those that finish share a tri-tip sandwich or salad and of course an adult beverage. A few guys had heard about the challenge on my ESPN Radio show and decided to join us. I had never met Roberto, Mario, Carlos and Chris, but as we hiked up Bishop Peak, Cerro San Luis and the Avila Ridge our conversation focused on our drive as we age, to continue to stay healthy, fit and challenged each year. By the time the day was over I think I had committed to the Spartan Sprint (3–5 miles) in Los Angeles at Castaic Lake over the first weekend in December. I automatically thought of my most driven, athletic fearless friends. I found three women to do the race with me. And as I said, it was going to be “my one and only Spartan Race.”

Like my Spartan Coaches told me, “wait until you’re finished, you’ll be planning your next one before the day is over.”

They were right.

Fast forward to this year, I knew I wanted to do something fun, different, challenging and special for my 50th birthday. I looked up the Super Spartan Race schedule and found one on Oahu, Hawaii at the perfect time in my life. So bam, I signed up. I had hoped I would get one of the people from the L.A. Sprint in 2015 to do it with me. That didn’t happen, but I was already committed and determined to finish the 8–10 mile race. As I competed in the event on August 13th, I encountered, muddy rivers, barbed wire, thunderstorms, greasy trails to run in the tropical mountains of Kualoa Ranch. All I wanted to do was finish the race between 3–4 hours and do less than 100 burpees. (In a Spartan race if you Do Not Finish (DNF) a challenge cleanly without failure or penalty you have to do 30 burpees) I knew what my goals were ahead of time and spent six months training with Southern California Certified Spartan Coaches Rob and Shannon Yontz. I felt ready, but was still nervous and anxious over those last few days leading up to the race.

I did it. I felt strong. I felt like a badass. That’s the way we should all feel when we put our mind to something, especially an athletic or physical challenge. Being around the women at Race SLO helps lift me up to be the best I can be.

2017…the year of the Spartan Beast, a Half Marathon in Seattle, Washington. Bring it on!