In less than a week, I venture back to the motherland also known as Vermont. Beyond being excited to see some familiarity, be around friends, family, and of course my AWESOME mom, I have a lot of things planned. First and foremost, the Montreal Spartan Race. This year I made a decision to make this the “Year of the Spartan”, and as I get ready to take on another with some of my best friends, it got me thinking about my last one in Colorado. I thought it would be good to share one of my first blogs that made it into the notebook.
May 16th, 2016: Written in the Denver Airport
Colorado you’ve stolen my heart. You’ve also given me a gnarly sunburn, hypothermic conditions, a few scrapes and bruises, and one tired and sore body. All things considered, this state is full of amazing beauty, friendly people, and an energy and feeling that makes me feel at home.
I ventured to Colorado for a Spartan Race weekend. A Spartan Race is an obstacle course race designed to push your limits physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is a very good analogy for life. You can prepare, prepare, and prepare some more, but life always throws the unexpected at you. These races do the same. I think it’s why I am drawn to them. Not only has the preparation made me stronger, healthier, and more energetic, but also there is something to be said about coming face to face with the unexpected and how I respond. How do you react to this adversity? Do you give up and crumble under the pressure or do you persevere and find a way through it?
This weekend I had two races scheduled in Colorado Springs. Saturday’s race was 8-11 miles and solo, and Sunday I was with a teammate, which was supposed to be 3-5 miles. I was looking forward to my solo run on Saturday. I have put in lots of time, sweat, and blood and I wanted to see what I was capable of. The mileage, the obstacles, and the nerves I was prepared for. However, I wasn’t prepared for the 6000-7000 feet of elevation, lack of sleep, or the conditions that were an amazing 39 degrees and raining. So faced with the unknown, do I fold or push through? I kept telling myself it was just another workout and that I could do this in my goal time of 2 hours.
After 3 grueling hours I finally crossed the finish line. My body was sore, the muscles were cramping, my head was pounding, but my heart was happy to have crossed the finish line. After my body and emotions calmed down, I checked my race results and lets just say I was very disappointed in myself. I had a goal that I thought and knew was attainable and fell short of it. It was a somber drive back home feeling that I had let my trainer and myself down. After a recovery nap and plenty of water I looked at the start times on Sunday for my friend Aimee and I. My start time was posted for 8:45 am and hers at 10:45 am. At that moment an idea came to me, why not redeem myself and do two races tomorrow, one solo, and one with my teammate. I talked it over with Aimee and got her support.
Sunday’s race, a Sprint, which is a little shorter, had very similar conditions to Saturdays race. There was no rain, but it was still 39 degrees. Despite the sore body, I was going to push myself to the max and erase the melancholy feeling from yesterday. As I pushed my pace, scaled walls, crawled under barbed wire, climbed ropes, and trudged through a cold, muddy water pit, I reached the finish line. My body was aching, some parts were bleeding, and I was feeling some hypothermic symptoms. I had 20 minutes to somehow get in the right mindset and get warm to take on this course again with Aimee. I had the “Oh Shit, what am I doing?” feeling.
Changing into a dry shirt, jumping into a tent to try to get control of my shivering, I kept moving with hopes of no cramping. I jumped back into the start line and listened to Aimee’s motivational encouragement, and said to her, “lets get warm by killing this race!” She was on board and it’s exactly what we did. After each mile, we did preventative stretching to avoid cramps. As we continued, I coached her through the obstacles and she kept me pushing the pace. It was teamwork at it’s best. Even though my body wanted to quit, Aimee kept my mindset in the right place, and told me to focus on my trainers voice in my head telling me to “keep going”.
6 miles, 20+ obstacles, and more cuts and bruises, we crossed the finish line. That euphoric feeling of accomplishment rushed over me as the second medal of the day was placed around my neck. It is hard to describe exactly what it feels like after enduring mental anguish, physical pain, and the emotional roller coaster, but I assure you, it is AWESOME! As we looked at the race results, Aimee had found herself finishing 13th overall for her age group. Not bad for her first ever Spartan. I focused on my race results from the first race I did solo. I placed in the top 10% for my age group and top 14% overall. The celebration beer tasted great!
Besides exploring a new place and seeing an old friend, I was reminded that some things don’t go as planned. Despite a bad race or messed up travel plans, you can always take away something positive. In this case I only worried about the factors I could control, and kept my mind focused. From a poor showing at race one, I had one of the best races of my Spartan career in race two, and complete three races in 2 days, a first for me. What are some events that didn’t turn out as you thought but you changed into a positive result?