The Weight Is Over: From Unfit Mom To A Beast-Mode Dynamo

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

By Michele Ziegler

Three years ago, I decided to quit smoking cold turkey.

Michele Ziegler gets dirty in one of
many obstacles. Spartan Race Photo

After two months of getting over the cravings and stress, I decided to get a membership at the YMCA. After quitting smoking, I gained about 20 pounds so I wanted to get into better shape.

I went one or two days a week doing 30 minutes on the elliptical machine and thought that was hard work! About two month later, I looked into classes. I saw they had a Boot Camp class.

I thought to myself, ‘boot camp is for really fit people, and I am NOT a fit person.’

But, while I was doing my little 30-minute workout, I saw people came out of the boot camp class and they were old, young, fit, not fit. So, I decided to try the class.

I went to class twice a week for about a year, and really enjoyed it. I definitely did not see the results I wanted, but I knew that it would pay off eventually.

In June of 2015, a friend asked me if I wanted to do the TMC A Mountain Half Marathon. For a month I thought about it, going back and forth as to whether I could do it or not. I was convincing myself that I couldn’t do it. One day, I decided to do it. I was so scared that I made the biggest mistake of my life! There was no way I’d be ready to run 13 miles on three months preparation.

A week later, I found a friend/trainer who is also a sports coach. I told her I wanted to train for a half marathon. She asked me how long I’d been running and I told her “I have never run a day in my life! But I go to boot camp twice a week!” She probably thought I was crazy! Well, I was.

Getting ready wasn’t easy. The gym was hot and so was being out side. There were sprints and short runs to be done. Tammy, my coach, told me that I would have to train extra on my time if I wanted to make this run happen. I forced myself to run a couple times a week, going a little further each time.

As I trained, Tammy told me, “You should sign up for Battle Frog!” I didn’t know what it was, but found out it was an obstacle course race. I laughed and told her I would never do it. I don’t get wet, and I hate mud! She kept pushing it on me.

I completed my first half marathon on Oct. 25, 2015. I finished 129th in the female category and 295th overall. My time was two hours, 14 minutes. Not bad for my first run! I only wanted to run one race and be done. After that, I continued to go to Rise Sport Conditioning and Tammy continued to train me. She convinced me to sign up for Battle Frog! It would be my first obstacle course race!

In February 2016, I did it. It was eight miles of hell. Yes, hell.

I was not ready for it, although I thought it would be no problem. Once the race started I was running with a couple of people from Rise. It was almost six miles of running in the wash! My legs were so sore and tired and at one point I wasn’t even sure I could finish. Monkey bars, sand bag carries, running, A LOT of running! So different from road running! I did complete the race, and I told myself, I’m done! No more.

I lied.

I do not give up that easily. Tammy then spoke of some amazing Spartan Races.

Nope, I wasn’t going to do it.


Then, I started looking into Spartan. Tammy did one and was amazing in it. I was so inspired. I wanted to be just like her … fit and a beast!

I signed up for my first five-mile Spartan Sprint in Breckenridge, Colorado. And yes, everyone thought I was crazy to do it at high elevation! Lucky for me, I had the best Spartan coach. We trained every day, running, rope climbs, wall climbs, more running, rock carries and running miles at Mt. Lemmon for elevation!

In August 2016, when we arrived in Colorado, the atmosphere was amazing. The venue gave me chills. Just seeing the obstacles, and all the racers everywhere was great. I could not believe I signed up, but I kept telling myself, this is why you train.

Race morning, I was a hot mess. I was so nervous and didn’t think I was going to be able to do this. Amazing athletes were everywhere. Five minutes before the race I had a bad anxiety attack. I was crying and shaking! Everyone said I’d be fine. The first obstacle was a five-foot wall, just to get to the start line! I could barely get over it … but I did.

The race was so amazing! The beginning of the race you have to run up the ski lift! It was straight up a hill! Followed by Hercules hoist, bucket carry, several 6-8 foot walls. The walls were my biggest obstacle. I finished third in my age group, seventh for females, and 81st overall. I did OK for my first race!

I was already looking for the next race!

My goal was to get my Spartan Trifecta by the end of 2017.

Next up came back-to-back races in February 2017. One came in Phoenix in competitive heat. It was five miles of fun, short but definitely taxing. There were strong guys and super fit girls, and I was passing them with my bucket full of rocks, there was a hoist, and heavy tire flip, bear crawls in the mud under barb wire.

I was so proud of myself, it was almost the end of the race and I had passed all the obstacles! I knew I had a few more to go until the end. I was dreading the spear throw! I suck at the spear throw. If I had to catch dinner I would starve. I finished in fifth out of 139 females, second out of 32 for my age group, and 85th overall out of 567 racers.

The next day, I ran the competitive super. It was about 8 miles and a little harder. I finished second by 16 seconds – disappointed  I’m competitive – in my age group. I was sixth out of 85 women and 108th out of 403 competitors.

Then came Montana … and I knew I had work to do.

I went to Mt. Lemmon to train, carrying bucket full of rocks and logs up hills. I ran and ran. It was all worth it though.

In May 2017, I arrived in Montana for my hardest race! I ran with the Elite females. There were 13 miles of uphill running, bear crawls were long (my knees were so spent), the bucket carry was the hardest bucket carry I have ever done.

I finished sixth out of 13 in my age group, 33rd of 77 females, 178th overall. Not that great but I will be going to Tahoe in September, and I am training every day to do better.

This crazy stuff has been the best thing ever … and all because I decided to stop smoking.

Posted in Tailwinds