Random Fact: Shakespeare and Pocahontas were alive at the same time.
I have written numerous times about how this simple race (well it is far from simple) has driven me, given me a purpose, and makes me a happier human being. This race has also taught me many life lessons and it continues to help me learn more about myself. Over the last 4 weeks I have completed four Spartan races in three different states and each gave me valuable insight.
Life Lesson #1: Overcoming obstacles and getting back in the game.
My first stop on this mini Spartan tour was Colorado. It was almost a year to the day since my journey with Spartan had begun. It was only fitting that it was at the same venue at Fort Cason in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This race had me more nervous than normal because it would be my first race since my Achilles injury. Mentally I was worried and physically I was out of shape because I hadn’t been able to train the way I normally would for an event like this (that means running). However, as soon as I exited the plane, I was like a child on Christmas morning…EXCITED
Day 1: Saturday, May 13th Spartan Super Distance 8.5 miles
The Achilles held up quite nicely and as the run progressed it felt great. My struggles were elevation induced (6000+ feet) as it was very hard to breathe during the exertion.
There were two other challenges I was facing on this day. The first was how many burpees would I have to do. 30 burpees must take place when an obstacle is failed. The answer to that would be 90 burpees. I failed the z-wall (an obstacle I rarely fail), the twister, and my nemesis…the rig. The second challenge was could I beat my colleague, trainer, and friend Regan Burns. Despite us both being injured, the man continues to impress me and keeps finding a way to best me. He beat me by 6 minutes. The sour taste in my mouth remains.
Day 2: Sunday, May 14th Spartan Sprint (Elite) Distance 4.5 miles
Despite me only preregistering for one race this weekend, Regan (as he always does) found a way to challenge me and convinced me to register for the Elite wave. My goals for today were to see how my Achilles would react in terms of two days of intense racing and to beat Regan #beatburns2017.
The Achilles held up yet again, but I was still not able to beat my coach. I missed the Spear throw and that set me back by 2 minutes and you guess it…that is exactly how much he beat me by.
The best part of today’s race, however, had nothing to do with me. Instead, I got to see one of my inspirations and great friend, Taelor, finally overcome the hurdle and podium among the pros. After falling short a few times in the past including a 4th place finish the previous day, Taelor ran a strong race and got 3rd.
Between myself, Regan, and Taelor, we all overcame some kind of obstacle and got ourselves back in the game. Life happens, but it is how we respond to it that makes us the people we are and become. If you love something, put in the work and get yourself back in the game.
Life Lesson #2: “Every day may not be good…but there’s something good in every day”. – Alice Morse Earle
The following weekend I boarded another plane to Austin, Texas to take on another Spartan. I had not been to Austin in quite some time and was not only looking forward to the race, but also getting to spend time with my college friend Jim and his family while rediscovering the city.
Saturday, May 20th Spartan Super Distance 8.5 miles.
It is a little different to do one of these races by yourself. Most of the time my coach and fellow racers accompany me from the gym, but today I was racing solo. As I woke up at 4:45am (2:45 pacific coast time) I did my morning ritual and was getting excited about the race. My friend Jim was kind enough to drive me the 47 miles to the venue and as we were about 4 miles away, this is where things got interesting.
About 4 miles from the venue traffic was at a standstill. We barely moved and I noticed I missed my start time. As time went on traffic didn’t move, another start time missed. 2 more start times had gone by when I told Jim that I was going to walk the distance to the venue in hopes I would make the last competitive start time. As I walked/ran the 2.5 miles with my gear to the festival area I realized I had only 9 minutes until the last wave started. I quickly put my gear on, threw my bag in a corner under a tree and ran to the start line.
With no warm-up or mind preparation, I was off. The course was muddy, wet, and rainy. My mind was all over the place and as I failed my first obstacle, the monkey bars, I could tell this could be a long and frustrating race. Long story short, I missed many obstacles which meant a lot of burpees. 215 to be exact! I was chased by a cow and lightning struck the course, which played havoc on the time keeping.
As a few of my race buddies said, “Sometimes you just have to write one off.” Not every race can be my best. All I can do is learn from it and move on. In the end, the frustration has turned to motivation and keeps reminding me I can be better.
Life Lesson #3 “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” ― Bob Marley
Let me change that quote just a little bit. “The truth is, every race (Spartan) is going to hurt. You just got to the find the friends who will suffer through them with you.” –Tyler Gosley rendition of Bob Marley’s friendship quote.
I had a couple weeks off until the next race, which took place in beautiful Monterey, California. I was excited about this race for a few reasons. The first is that this was a televised race, which meant most of the pros would be there and the energy would be electric. Second, I was riding that motivation from my frustrations in the previous race. Third and finally, I was racing with a great group of people.
Saturday June 3rd Spartan Super Distance 8.5 miles.
This race wasn’t on my original line-up. It was a late addition and I am more than happy I decided to do it. Still on my comeback trail from the Achilles, this was the best it had felt so far so my plan was to show up and push myself.
The race went well. Running up and down the hills, completing every obstacle thrown at me, and pushing myself at a great pace. I felt absolutely awesome. Don’t misunderstand me, the course was brutal and more than challenging, but there is something to be said about being challenged, encouraged, and motivated by friends when you are enduring something as challenging as this.
After the race we all gathered and prepared for a celebratory night out. We all did awesome, placing well in our respective age groups (Sammi placed 1st in hers), and couldn’t pass up a night out in beautiful Monterey, California. It was when we were exchanging stories of the days events while having a few drinks that I realized just how blessed I am. As much as I love these races for the challenge and travel, I love it even more for the people it has brought into my life.
All of these people (and the many more that I have done other races with) find the positives in the hardships, find the fun with most challenges, and have similar passions. As I get older, I find it more important to be surrounded by like-minded people who are positive, supportive, and ambitious. These are the type of people that will make me a better person. These are the people that I want around me when training and taking on not only the race of Spartan, but also the game of life. I can’t count my blessings for the numerous individuals that this new chapter of my life has given me. Simply put, I love you all and can’t thank you enough for pushing and inspiring me.
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Top 5: More Lessons From Spartan
1. Preparation is key.
2. Burpees are hard, but doable.
3. Expect the unexpected.
4. When the unexpected happens, you have two choices; Quit and fail, or figure it out (always go for the second)
5. Comfort zone = complacency. Step out of it in a big way. You’ll like what you see.