Lauren Cisneros is a young woman who has overcome many real life obstacles as well as those faced on the course in her racing career. At 22-years old she is a Death Race finisher, has completed a GORUCK Heavy, and recently ran the TransRockies multi-day stage race. Read about what motivates her in and out of OCR.
How did you get involved in OCR?
Honestly? Groupon. In 2012, my dad and I signed up for the NJ Super Spartan. We had no idea what OCR was, or what to even expect. I was training at home to lose weight and needed something that would motivate me. Signing up only two weeks before the event, my dad and I went in blind. After learning several lessons that day on what gear to wear (NO COTTON) and how to better train, we both got hooked and made a promise we would get our Trifecta’s the following year. My life has completely changed since then.
Were you always an athlete?
Yes. I’ve been skiing since I was 3 and also took dance classes at the same time which I continued until I was 14 years old (wish I never quit!) Years following that, I took up basketball, and tennis in high school.
What are some of your athletic achievements?
Finishing GORUCK Heavy as my first GR event, completing the Spartan Death Race this year, getting sponsored by Kahtoola and able to finish TransRockies Run 6 out in Colorado (120 miles, 20,000ft of elevation change) with only having done my first ultra this year!
Who is/are your inspiration?
My mother/father. My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer last July and passed away this past January. I witnessed her determination and mental strength to keep fighting even when she had nothing left in her – she showed me what mental fortitude really meant.
My father has shown me what selflessness is. He was by her side 24/7, 365 until her last breaths. In today’s society, that amount of dedication is rare and I am blessed to say that I have learned so many of life’s lessons early on in life.
What is your most proud moment in sport?
During the Spartan Death Race this year, there was a part where we had to navigate through extremely dense, quicksand-like mud with our soaking wet packs on that were 120+ lbs with cold temperatures and heavy rain. This “pit of sorrows” was of course integrated into DR by infamous, Norm Koch (SR Course Designer). I took one wrong step and ended up in mud up to my waist with my pack on. Instead of freaking out and saying things like, “I’m going to die!” I started hysterically laughing. Norm saw me and kept suggesting that I should quit. I had one of those zen moments like I was in a Kung-Fu movie. I became so calm and focused on what I had to do to get me out of that horrible mud. It took me a full two hours to navigate out with the help of others, but I finally did and continued on.
Even more recently, at TransRockies in Colorado I had all intentions of finishing dead last every day. Why? The views were absolutely breathtaking (literally)! I wanted to be out on the course for as long as possible to enjoy every second of every day. Being out there was so self-healing and made me realize that there is more to life than just our hometown, comfortable circles.
On day 5, I had an urge to not be last and to try and run most of the course (not easy when you’re dealing with 11,000ft altitude). We were summiting Vail and I started to feel dizzy and lightheaded. Once I reached the summit I felt a panic attack coming on and started wheezing. I immediately sat down on the trail and felt my airways closing. A few friends I met out there saw what was happening and luckily had an inhaler on them. I never had an attack like this but knew I had to calm down and get to lower elevation. I did calm down and was able to complete the day by walking down the rest of the course.
I never felt more alive than in that moment of struggling to breathe. It was almost like my two guardian angels (my mother and my best friend who passed away a year ago) were making me realize that I wasn’t meant to be out there to rush the course, I was meant to get out there and understand what life is really about – to take in the beauty and see that even in our most tragic moments, we can also have beautiful milestones that change our life forever.
What is your most proud moment in life?
Understanding what selflessness is and dedicating my life to honor my mother.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Start out small. Let evolution happen. I had no idea I would be where I am today 3 years ago. I always thought endurance athletes were crazy and were superhuman. I now realize that the term, “crazy” is a relative term. 😉
What is your favorite quote to motivate you?
“Sky above me, earth below me, fire within me”, and “HIYAH!”
What is the best advice a coach ever gave you?
Embrace the moment, remember your “why” and find your passion.
If you could share some advice to the next generation of athletes, what would it be?
Don’t get sucked into the “me” culture. Life isn’t only about winning races and getting sponsored. Let yourself evolve, learn as much as you can, try new things, and talk with different people. There are so many people out there with such organic and valuable information to share.
I am so blessed to have the people that I do in my life. I could have quit on myself when tragedy hit, but instead used that to fuel my fire, to fuel my “why” and the reason as to why I have dedicated my life to helping others.
Any additional information you would like to share:
I wear my red kilt at every event I do. It started as a joke and now I can’t do an event without it!
I don’t do races/events to win necessarily – I do them to help others change “can’t” to “can”. In the past three years, I’ve found out who I am as a person and have learned too many life lessons to list. From starting off with the NJ Spartan Super to being a Death Race finisher and now a huge fan of ultra & trail running – I evolved. I took the road less traveled by. I took advantage of opportunities that appeared and embraced them.
I keep seeing time and time again people that are miserable in their 9-5 jobs. When I ask individuals as to why they are in their “miserable” jobs, they often tell me it’s because of the money. We are taught at a young age that we are supposed to follow a “line of progression.” Our goal in life is to have a house with a white picket fence, three dogs, and to be happily married with kids.
Why is that the case?
It bothers me that individuals feel “stuck” and think that they can’t make a change. The term “fear” is such a relative term. We are comfortable in our daily routines – we are programmed that we HAVE to have a desk job to have a decent life. We are taught that college is the solution to being successful. We are taught that taking on loads of student debt is OK because we are investing in our future. Yet, when college students graduate they have this realization that every single job in their field requires a degree and 5+ years’ experience.
So, as a college graduate we accept that desk paper shuffling job and think that we must take on these mundane jobs to get “experience” and eventually get the job that fuels our passion. A job that we are HAPPY to wake up in the morning for, and not regretting the fact that it’s a Monday and not a Friday. So what happens next? The weekend warrior.
This is what we are seeing in the OCR world time and time again. People participating in races, OCR’s, endurance races, and other events because they are simply TIRED of their miserable jobs they either got right out of college or they were able to get because of experience at that “miserable” job. These events that we all do motivate us to get better, faster, stronger and is a nice distraction from our desk jobs during the week. We plan our weekends months in advance and find a way to take off a few more Friday’s a year.
But what happens after you’ve completed multiple OCR’s, endurance events, road races, ultras and adventure races?
It all cycles back to the main problem. Distractions are Band-Aids. In order to change, we must evolve and in order to evolve we must take action. Leave the job that you hate. Take a minute to understand your passion, your why. There are thousands of jobs available across the country. Change doesn’t have to be so scary. Let your adventure sport drive you in the right direction. Growing pains are a good thing. You only have one life, live it!
It’s pretty incredible to see a baby be able to walk before they can even talk, isn’t it?
Follow Lauren’s adventures on Instagram : babyybeastt