I know there’s lots of Spartan Racers. I ran my 1st yesterday. A sprint, here’s my perspective…..
The most unexpected thing? I cried most of the way back to my truck after the race. I wasn’t sad, but so overwhelmingly proud. I guess there was no other way to release it. I was calling cadence in my head, left, left, left right. I was afraid if I stopped my pace back to my truck where I could finally sit, that my legs would lock up. They were cramping pretty hard at this point. 30 something years ago my Drill Sergeant called cadence and it got me through all those miles. I needed him for this one mile back to my truck, he got my up the hill and into my front seat.
There are some things in life you just can’t do alone.
The 1st wall, getting into the starting lane. It scared me, I better get over this one easy, it’s little, but its the 1st wall I’ve jumped in a bazillion years. I made it. I looked cool doing it. Did everyone see that ? No they didn’t, but I did. I’m here alone. This is about me with me.
The release, The start of the race, can I keep up?
I did, I’m doing it ! this is great, running with my pack as it were. 1st real obstacle, A wall, Went right over it, nice….. this is working.
The 2nd obstacle, bigger wall. ok I see what people are doing, I approached, jumped. I don’t think I left the ground. I’m not up there on top of the wall. Im still on the ground. what happened?
I Backed up and tried it again, and a third time. I’m watching my pack disappear over that wall. I’m getting left behind. I tried It again, nothing. People are getting help from their partners, team mates etc. I’m alone. I can’t do this alone. Now I’m the last one left. Staring at a wall, the noise is gone, no chatter, no cheers and no foot steps behind me. Clint Eastwood whistle sounds fill the emptiness and I think I heard a rattle snake. I’m alone. The wind is lightly blowing dust between me and the wall that is separating me from my pack. My heart is breaking already. I just started. I jump again, I’m hanging from my arms, ok arms, pull me up! what the hell are you doing, the rest of the race is on the other side. The monitor guy says “it’s cool man, you tried, you did good, go get the rest of it.” So I went around the wall and started jogging.
I didn’t believe him.
Next Obstacle, I had trouble again. I already made two attempts. One landed me on back, slammed right on the ground, on my back. That sucked. There was a guy, a racer, helping people over the hurdle, Same guy who was helping people over that wall. I caught up to my pack. He asked If I’d like help. “Yeah, thank you”, He helped me over a hurdle, literally and figuratively. Thank you sir.
So now it’s a long run to the next obstacle. I’m running out of breath, I’m failing, I’m already defeated. I’m walking now and feeling pretty bad. This is gonna be a long day.
I get to the next obstacle, the Atlas carry. Thats a big round rock for anyone who doesn’t know. It’s heavy, I don’t know how heavy, I don’t want to know, and it’s not only on the ground, but it’s in a hole created after being dropped by however many people were in front of me. So ok, I worked construction and carried lots of heavy things. No round things that I recall, but heavy things. So I reach down and I can’t get a grip, I try to roll it up my legs, nope! ….I reach down again, push my hands under that rock and I just stand up with it, Boom, I got this fucking rock! Fuck you! It’s not only up, but up over my tits and I am a fucking beast! I walk to the end and drop it, do my Burpees and pick it up again, with confidence this time. I go back to the other side a drop it, in the hole where I found it. I did it.
Now where’s the rest of these obstacles …… Im pissed and Im gonna kick some ass.
So that feeling faded. I had some more failures, but I had some success. That rock though, was my best friend, my only friend, Im alone.
Later, I’m walking, winded, feeling pretty defeated after my failures. A young girl comes jogging by with a small group and pats me on the back and says, “you’re a champion” I wasn’t feeling like it, not even a little. She inspired me with that pat on the back. It transferred some energy to me. I don’t know if she knew what she was doing was as big as it was or not. Maybe once someone patted her on the back, I’ll never know, but It was huge. Now I owe someone a pat on the back some day.
I started jogging again. Rolled ankle, mud filled shoes, sore arms and back. Pain is temporary. I kept saying that, my friend said it to me the day before the race. That was helpful. Thank you for that.
I kicked ass on the climbing obstacles and a wall you have to submerge in muddy water to go under. There were people flying by me on the other obstacles who when they got to these obstacles, were frozen in fear. They had the physical ability, way more than me. But I wasn’t afraid of these things, I’ve been on roof tops when building houses and climbed things my hole life, Trees, bridges, what ever, the higher the better. Going under water, cold and muddy or not, I got this. dunk, done.
So wait a minute, some of these obstacles are challenging my fears and some are challenging theirs. That makes sense. Maybe its ok that I failed some… this is starting to make sense.
I came out from under that wall soaking wet, didn’t even wipe it off. I embraced the mud and water dripping down my forehead and onto my face. Shirt sticking to me like Saran wrap does when I want it to stick to something else. Mud, It seems, washes away pain and fear. Same friend said that too. It’s true and this is good to know. I need more mud in my life.
I get to an incline with ropes. Looks like a roof of a house before the paper and shingles get put on, I’ve walked up and down a million roofs without rope. I’m in line watching people struggle. Many are giving up, saying to their friends they can’t do it. Now it’s my turn. I take a couple leaping steps, one, two, up the roof, grab the rope and I’m walking up to the top standing straight and proud. I throw my leg over like a hook, and that’s it, I’m over.
Now Im moving again. As I meet obstacles that require upper body strength I realize I gave all of that to my best friend the rock, who gave me the confidence to keep moving. It was a fair trade off. I’m good with that deal. I don’t need every obstacle. I need the ones meant for me.
I see the finish line.
One more upper body strength obstacle, pulling a weighted bag in the air with a rope. All upper body strength. No worries, It’s not meant for me. I accept this completely. I’ll try but I’m ok with burpees. I’m getting pretty good at them. I only did 5, and really felt like I was gonna fall over so…
The finish line is right over there. down a small hill, I can smell the wood burning in the fire that I have to jump over. I want to jump over, it’s why I thought I came here in the 1st place. It wasn’t though. I came for a lot of things. Finishing was only one of them.
Down the hill I go, I run up to the fire and jump over. It was pretty uneventful as far as an obstacle goes. The spirituality of the smoke took my pain away.
The little 11 or 12 year old that handed me my finisher medal. She was digging her job. She was directing the adults. She was a little angel of reward giving out pride pressed into a piece of medal.
As I’m walking to the bag check to get my things and then go grab some pictures I’m thinking, There are some things in life you just cant do alone. Is that what this taught me? Why is that standing out. What else did I learn? I don’t know yet, but it must be important to remember. There are some things in life you can’t do alone.
I got my pictures and my stuff, everyone is washing off their mud and changing into dry clothes. Not me, I’m wearing my mud all the way home. I’m also wearing my head band and my medal all the way home. I might sleep with them I don’t know, but I’m not taking them off right now.
There are some things in life you just can’t do alone, like walls. These walls were not just literal physical walls made of wood. They are mental walls blocking you from keeping up with your pack. I wonder if the people who knock these walls together for the course know that. They are not just wood and nails. They are knowledge. Thank you for that.
So I’m writing this and I’m realizing, I wasn’t alone.
I had my Drill Sergeant with me, calling cadence while I walked back to the truck crying. He was walking, I was crying. I wasn’t even looking where I was going. I was in my head, my body was doing this by itself while I reflected. I didn’t see the road I was walking on. I was seeing the obstacles. There was a car behind me at one point and someone had to call out to me, ” hey there’s a car behind you” I couldn’t speak with all the emotion running out of me to say thank you. I just looked and moved out of the way.
I had my friends with me from the online group I’m a part of, many of them digital friends. A lot of them Spartan racers and they all gave me encouragement. Their stories are amazing ones. They are all athletes and I’m impressed by all of them. Karen gave me the inspiration to try this. She wasn’t an athlete when she approached her 1st race either. She provided the maybe I can do this too. Scott gave me the presence of mind to remember pain is temporary. Thank you both for reaching out to me the day before my race with your advice.
Thank you to all that ran with me, in my head, sending me your energy precisely at 12:45. Thinking of me as the day went on and reaching out to me after the race. there really are some things you cannot do alone. I didn’t do this alone, I had everyone one with me. In energy.
I learned a lot.