In January 2014 I ran my first Spartan Race. They offer three races that differ in length and number of obstacles: Sprint, Super and Beast. The distances range from over 3, 9 and 12 miles, with 15, 20 and 25 obstacles, respectively. Visit their website to learn more since this post is more about my journey leading up to the races, my participation and how I overcame both mental and physical obstacles – www.spartanrace.com
My first mud-run was in November 2013. I ran the Rugged Maniac at Vail Lake in Temecula, CA. It was a 5K obstacle course and it was more fun than challenging. The race had all the ingredients of an OCR but lacked the intensity that I needed to push my limits. Don’t get me wrong; this can be a very challenging race for some participants, depending on your fitness level and endurance level. I had a blast while meeting some amazing people of every degree – shape, size and fitness. I recommend the Rugged Maniac for varying fitness levels and for great fun and camaraderie. Check it out – www.ruggedmaniac.com
And then came the Spartan Race. I approached this race with the same course expectations as the Rugged Maniac . . . a horrible misconception. My workouts leading up to the race were amateur – 3 days a week at the gym (maybe), 3 mile runs along the sidewalks once or twice a week, and maybe a CorePower Yoga class on Sunday.
This type of training clearly did not cut it. As a result, my body crashed during the 5K Spartan Sprint. The race ended up being a little over 4 miles long but took me an embarrassing 2.5 hours to finish. I surprisingly completed 13 out of the 15 obstacles while failing the javelin throw and the 20 foot rope climb. Spartan rule says there is a 30 burpee penalty for failing any obstacle. My calves caved and responded with wicked cramps at about mile 3. The medics rolled up to shuttle me off to the first aid station but I waved them off. I was determined to finish! But could I?
My friends helped massage and stretch out my calves as I attempted to complete the next 5 obstacles. Their support helped as I used the last bit of determination to leap over the flames of the finish line. Flames are not an analogy; you literally must jump over logs that are on fire in order to cross the finish line.
Where does this journey bring me today? As a result from my Spartan Sprint experience, I discovered a few things about myself. Some attributes I knew dwelled in me and others surfaced. I don’t back down or cave under physically challenging circumstances. I’m determined to complete what I’m passionately enduring. I’m weak.
Everything IS in me to cross the finish line . . . any finish line. The Spartan Race mantra is, “You’ll know when you cross the finish line.” This rings as true and victoriously as the bell at he top of that 20 foot rope climb (which I ended up ringing by-the-way during my Spartan Super race).
You have strength and determination. You only need to take that first step to discover it . . . actually, that’s BS. You need to take two steps, one to enter and one to cross the finish line. Every step in-between will scream at you to stop. This is were I learned two things: One, I understood that failure is not eternal. I get up, dust off and try it again. I keep trying until I take that second step to cross the finish line. Two, the battlefield is in the mind. Don’t listen to it.
But let’s not forget, though I’m determined, I’m also weak. I’m not weak in every area but I do have weaknesses. This is the TRUTH I discovered . . . That which made me weak made me stronger! My weakness fueled my determination. It was not fear, jealousy, anger or overcoming some deeply rooted weed of rejection that lifted my legs over the fire. It was the understanding that weakness and failure is not eternal and there is nothing outside my skin that can push me harder to succeed than the essence in me.
Let me back up a little . . . after I had my ass handed to me during the Spartan Sprint, I vowed to overcome. Within a week after the Sprint race I signed up for both the 9 mile Super AND the 12 mile Beast runs. I had exactly 2 months to train and get in shape for the 9 mile Spartan Super, which I completed this past weekend in Las Vegas, NV. Now I have less than 6 months to equip myself for the 12+ mile Spartan Beast, back in Temecula, CA where I ran my first Spartan Sprint!
You see, my calves were still very sore, my legs were still bruised, my cuts from the barbed wire crawl had not even scabbed over . . . and I signed up for TWO MORE RACES. It’s in me! A determination to set goals and succeed IS deep inside of me. I took the first step. On September 13, 2014 I’ll take the second step over the Spartan Beast finish line. It’s then that I’ll achieve my goal of completing all 3 Spartan Races in a calendar year to gain my Spartan Trifecta.
I want to get this posted. But I’m already typing up some of the pre race “obstacles” that I had to overcome during my 2 month preparation for the 9 mile Spartan Super. I’ll post it in the next couple of days! I intend to blog more, leading up to the Spartan Beast and other OCR’s that I’ll be participating in this year, like Tough Mudder. Please let me know if you’ve read this and found it useful or inspiring . . . that will inspire me to write more.
Stay determined and enjoy Life’s Moments ~