Dirt in Your Skirt Profile Series – Rhonda Bullard
Rhonda Bullard, the 42-year old woman who burst across the finish line first at the recent Ultra Beast and said to race officials, “that was a fun workout” shocked the racing world when she came from nowhere to take down some heavy hitters in obstacle racing a few weeks ago. This district administrator in Ithaca, New York was all smiles after she crossed the finish line. As soon as we saw her cross we wanted to learn more about this “dark horse” winner. She was kind enough to take the time and answer some questions for us.
How did I get involved in your sport?
Friends, we created a team (Vicious and Delicious) and did our first spartan race June 2012 in Tuxedo Ridge. I was hooked ever since that race completing a super and beast to get my trifecta medal both in 2012 and 2013.
We’re you always an athlete?
Yes, I was a tomboy as a child and was an avid swimmer and softball player. Sports just seemed to come naturally to me.
What are some of my athletic achievements?
2014 Vermont Ultra Beast 1st place female finisher
2014 Tri Oswego 1st place female finisher in Olympic distance
2012 and 2013 Trifecta medal winner
2011 Tri Oswego 1st place female finisher in Olympic distance
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Complete the Philadelphia Marathon November 2014 under 3:25
Become a member of the spartan pro team
Volunteer Ironman Lake Placid 2015 to register to compete in the IMLP 2016
Complete the Trifecta in Hawaii in one weekend in August 2015
Repeat as 1st female finisher Vermont Ultra Beast 2015
Participate in 2015 polar plunge to raise $ for special Olympics (did this 2014)
Participate in a cancer ride with my dad (who is now cancer free) to raise $ for cancer research
Who is/are your inspiration?
My husband who survived being shot in the line of duty 10/11/12. The bullet hit his subclavian artery resulting in him having a stroke that made him lose left peripheral vision in both eyes, left arm and hand nerve damage, atrophy, and decreased mobility and strength. Even though he may not be allowed to return to work he goes to the gym 3 days a week, participated in an eye study which has improved his field of vision (even when some doctors said he would not make gains after 3 months). 7 months after his shooting he participated in a team obstacle 5k race ( Blood, Sweat, and Cheers) to raise $ for a local fallen soldier. He I also selflessly took the $ donated when he was shot and bought sport equipment and technology for the Greater Ithaca Activities Center to support keeping kids involved in positive programs versus being on the streets. He is my hero! Also Jillian Michaels who is a brutally honest, bad ass trainer that helps people change their lives both physically and emotionally. Her books share her life story which is both easy to relate to and inspiring. I would love to meet her and pick her brain.
What is my most proud moment in sport?
A tie between winning the Inaugural tri Oswego 2011 as the 1st female finisher in the Olympic distance ( hometown race) and being the 1st female finisher 10th overall 2014 Vermont Ultra Beast.
What is my most proud moment in life?
Hmmm, I guess it would be everyday when people comment on how impressed on how hard I work and that I am inspiring and approachable. I love to pay it forward:)
How do you overcome a bad race or training day?
I never make excuses and realize there is good and not-so-good with everything. However, as a “glass half full person” I break down the race or training and figure out what I could change to to make it better.
What is your training routine?
Run 3 times per week (speed work, hill repeats at the end of a taper, and long run usually 12-20 miles) I try and keep my weekly mileage between 32-40 miles
Cardio 40-60 minutes followed by one of my homemade WOD’s 2x’s a week
1-2 evenings a week I participate in island extreme which is a boot camp like fitness class. Great mix of core and cardio/muscular endurance. Love it!
Rest 1 day a week which is usually active recovery with walking my dog
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your sport?
Sign up for a race as it will give you something to look forward to. Write down both short and long term goals and refer to them often. Remember not to compare yourself to anyone else as it is YOUR journey. Don’t be afraid to ask people questions or watch them workout, race, etc. be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as you can that will help you achieve your goals. You can do anything that you put your mind and energy into.
What is your favorite pre-race and post-race food?
Homemade healthy waffles with nuts n more pumpkin spice peanut butter and advocare spark. Post race- banana, water, large veggie omelette with rye toast and a diet coke.
When not training and competing what do you do with your down time?
Read fitness or nutrition related books and magazines ( just finished Spartan Up), rollerblade, paddle board, travel to see family or friends
What is your favorite quote to motivate you?
Strong is the new beautiful (this is what the medal holder says hanging up on my wall)
What is the best advice a coach gave you?
If you gave 100% effort than you should be proud no matter win or lose.
If you could share some advice to the next generation of athletes, what would it be?
Put down the phone, iPad, laptop, game controller and get outside and PLAY. Stop making excuses, self reflect, challenge yourself, and get out of your comfort zone. Following a healthy, fit lifestyle is COOL!!
What is/are the races you are most looking forward to this year?
2015 Hawaii Trifecta in August- who wouldn’t want to earn their trifecta medal in one weekend in Hawaii.
2015 Vermont UltraBeast
Any additional information you would like to share?
I am glad that I am a positive role model for the staff and students of the district that I work for. I am truly blessed with supportive parents, husband, and friends. I take nothing for granted and hope that being the 42-year young Dark Horse female winner of the 2014 Vermont Ultra Beast opens up some opportunities within the Spartan Organization or their sponsors.
Because we heard the rumors we had to ask Rhonda a few extra questions about winning the Ultra Beast.
Is it true the UB was the first time you ran a beast distance or longer race alone?
I did have a friend running this year in the race with me but he did not expect or want me to stay with him. Prior to this year I ran as part of a team of friends (Vicious & Delicious) so I would sprint between obstacles and wait for the group to meet to motivate team members that were struggling. I decided this year that I can still motivate people along the course while performing at my level of fitness.
What made you decide to do the UB?
I had done the Vermont Beast the past 2 years and really wanted to challenge myself. I must admit I was a bit nervous signing up and had several people tell me that I was crazy. I would like to say I am a bit “touched” versus crazy. Signing up for the UB really allowed me to get creative with my training/workouts. As a person who loves running and strength training, Spartan Races are the best invention ever in my mind! My ultimate goal would be to become part of the pro team so that I could be around like minded people to learn more about nutrition and specific training techniques while participating in something I truly love and have success with.
How did you feel when you crossed the finish line?
I felt amazing, accomplished, disappointed that I wasn’t more successful with a few obstacles on the 2nd lap, shocked, and like a true role model for the PE/Health teachers and students that I oversee in my position as a district Coordinator for Health, Wellness, and Physical Education. I also felt like I had made a lot of new friends on the course and was excited to see if my win would open up any opportunities within the Spartan Race Series in my near future. Overall I am very proud; a bit sore, but eager to share my experience with others.