88 Acres celebrates those in our community doing incredible things using the power of seeds.
Within one calendar year, Taylor Nakakihara, a full-time student and employee, plans to compete in six Spartan races. All told, she’ll run between 46-58 miles and conquer 148-174 obstacles to earn the Spartan Double Trifecta.
If you told Taylor she’d accomplish this feat four years ago, she’d think you were insane. At the time, Taylor had just been diagnosed with celiac disease.
“I was really sick. I lost about 35 pounds in three months and at 5’8”, I was around 87 pounds which was really tough,” said Taylor. “But one of the things that ended up happening was that I got really angry about being so weak.”
Taylor channeled her anger into action. On a whim, she decided to volunteer at a Spartan race and was instantly hooked. She spent the next 12 months training; building her strength and stamina. When that same race rolled around, Taylor was no longer a volunteer. She was a Spartan.
“I remember I crossed the finish line and immediately started crying,” said Taylor. “Because I felt like I did this thing that was a little bit crazy and people actually told me, ‘Are you sure you want to do this? Are you sure this isn’t too hard?’ And I said screw it, I’m going to do this anyway. And when I crossed that finish line, it was like I had control over my illness. I was stronger, both physically and especially mentally.”
If Taylor had never participated in another Spartan race, she’d still consider her experience a valuable one. But she loved the race; called it the best moment of her life. So that same year, she ran two more, a Super and Beast, to earn her first Spartan Trifecta.
Both of those races were brutal. For her Super, which consists of running 8-10 miles and completing 24-29 obstacles, Taylor was extremely dehydrated and struggled with the consequences of that for three miles. For the Beast, her recurring hip injury flared up two miles into a 15-mile race, but she still found a way to fight through the 30-35 obstacles and finish.
“Being able to finish has been the most valuable experience of being a Spartan athlete while having celiac disease,” said Taylor. “I needed to feel like I was strong again.”
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Taylor’s day starts at 5:00 AM. An hour later, she’s at her job, where she works as an office manager — soon she’ll be an executive assistant for a university president. But for now, her shift ends at 2:30; from there she heads to the gym and trains for her Spartan races. The work doesn’t stop after that. Taylor then either heads to class or home, where she’ll study, work on her blog or complete chores around the house.
To sustain this schedule, Taylor knows that she needs to get enough nutrients from her diet. For breakfast she’ll usually have rice and eggs; lunch is chicken and rice. For dinner, she gets a bit more creative, though lasagna is a go-to meal.
“The more that I can incorporate better options into my diet, the better I can help myself perform,” said Taylor.
For the longest time, Taylor struggled to find the right snacks that she could use on-course to help power her through the finish line. She hates energy gels so she tried other gluten-free granola bars and even baby food before she heard of 88 Acres.
Now, Taylor plans to have Seed Bars — Ginger Apple is her favorite — with her as she completes the race. They’ll come in handy when she reaches Mile 14 or has to face the Herculean Hoist, which entails pulling up a 90 pound sandbag.
“Being about a 100 pound person and trying to move something on a pulley — it’s not a matter of not wanting to do it, it’s a physics problem,” said Taylor. “And for a long time — two whole years actually — I’ve never been able to complete the Herculean Hoist. And I don’t know what happened at Dodgers’ stadium but I finally did it.”
Next April, Taylor hopes her good fortune will continue in Los Angeles when she tries to reach the podium for the first time. But regardless of the outcome, Taylor’s certain that all of the hours she devotes to training and racing is time well spent.
“One of the best things about this sport is that it makes you feel very capable and strong,” said Taylor. “For me, it has really helped me to feel more confident in everything I do in life.”
Taylor Nakakihara is an aspiring landscape architect from Mesa, Az. On top of her job as an Office Manager, Taylor attends Scottsdale Community College and plans on transferring to Arizona State University in the fall of 2019.
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