We made it.
I have to admit that although I knew today was going to be challenging; both because of an 8 mile Spartan Race combined with 12 obstacles, and because my body is a bit depleted from my meal plan for my upcoming bikini competition.
This was an understatement. I figured that together with our team; we would just “have fun” and get through at a comfortable pace. I have a sprained ankle and there were various other injuries and slight issues from other team mates.
We lined up at the starting gates, just before 1pm; which was the start of our wave. Excitement began to build and we happily warmed up and stretched our eager bodies. The announcer commanded us to complete 25 jumping jacks; in a very crowded setting. Following that, we were off.
It was a tight knit race, due to the narrowness of the path. We ran out about a 1/2 mile before we began a slow ascent up our first hill of the day. This seemed to take longer than we expected. It had become bottlenecked, due to the uneven terrain and heavy winds that increased as we climbed to higher elevations. At the top of the hill, it opened up and we were off again.
Our first obstacles (if I can even remember correctly) were to crawl under some netting and then jump over some walls. More running. More obstacles. And so it continued for about 4 miles.
Some of the obstacles that I can remember at this moment (and be kind, I’m a bit exhausted from the day), were:
Walls; jumping over, climbing under and jumping through a “window” of the wall
Balance beams (and if not completed; 30 burpees were demanded)
Monkey bars (today, I made it all the way across! Last time, I had to complete the burpees)
Tire runs (down and up a hill, carrying a large tire)
Running through mud and water and sludge
Jumping over more walls (there were quite a few!)
Filling up a bucket with sand and running around a path
Pulling or carrying a rope with a cement block attached; carrying it through water
Climbing a rope and ringing the bell at the top
“Rock Climbing” style wall and ring a bell or do burpees ( I rang the bell!)
Running through many “holes” filled with dirty water and climbing out
rolling or crawling under barbed wire; 2 sets on this run
8 miles of hill running
Maybe there were others but I can’t recall at this moment. The most challenging part of the entire day was the run itself. Why? Because all of the running was done on extreme hills; either going straight up or straight down. It was grueling. I remember my body feeling tired, legs feeling like lead and then a bit lightheaded. I figured it had more to do with my current eating and training program than anything else. But after the race, I heard the same from everyone else so I know it was just a grueling run.
There was one hill past the 1/2 way point that went up, up, up, up and when you thought you were almost done; it continued for another unimagineable time. The whole run consisted of passing people who were doubled over trying to catch their breath, throwing up, passing out and more. The most common complaint I was over hearing was leg cramps. I have never suffered leg cramps in any of my previous runs or races.
But…after that enormous hill that left me wondering if I would be able to complete the rest of the race, we came upon a few more walls. I jumped up and lifted one leg over the wall…
And then it hit.
The worst leg cramp I’ve ever had. I panicked, looked at my calf and there was a rock-like formation on the inside portion of my calf. I couldn’t move my leg. I was left paralyzed at the top of this wall.
My teammate, Laurie turned back and noticed I wasn’t moving. She asked if I was okay and I yelled out that I had a cramp. She encouraged me to climb over and she would help me; the gentleman behind the wall offered to help me back the other side. I still sat, panicked. Then the volunteer who was standing by the wall asked what the problem was.
“My leg is cramped”; I said.
“People! Everyone has leg cramps so there’s nothing special about your’s!” he yelled back.
I was quickly slapped back into reality of just continuing. So, laughing, I jumped over and came upon the next wall. It took me a few seconds to compose myself and stop worrying that my leg would repeat the cramping on the wall when the same volunteer who obviously looked at the wording on my shirt yelled out: “If you’re wearing an ARMY tshirt; I don’t want to hear about any cramping!”
That did it. I was laughing hysterically at his callous remarks and climbed the wall and while sitting atop the wall; I raised my arms in victory and that’s when he gave me a thumbs up and said that’s the energy he knew I had.
And then we continued.
I realized as I was running that although it was probably the most challenging race I had ever competed in; I had an epiphany on how much this race resembled certain difficult challenges in our lives. Each step was both calculated and unknowing. How much higher will we climb? What will be around the corner? What challenges lie next for us? How could we continue when we were already so fatigued?
The answers lie in just moving forward. Like one gentlemen stated to the rest of us around him today: “It’s just one foot in front of the other”. That’s it. Life can be the same for us. We can be climbing an arduous “mountain” and not know how much more we will have to continue or what else may lie ahead as an added challenge. But what other choice do we have other than continue forward or give up altogether?
I vote to keep going. Even when it hurts. Even when we lose our breath. When we are doubting our efforts. When we feel like we are in it alone.
Know that there are others around you who would be willing to help when asked. Know that there will be an end to the climb. Know that you are stronger than you think. It’s amazing how the human spirit is willing to reach out and help a complete stranger. Here we were; running, walking, climbing, falling and when needed, a random stranger nearby was willing and ready to lend a hand or helpful tip on staying focused and safe.
Let’s use this valuable lesson and ‘pay it forward’ as they say. Reach out this week and notice when someone needs a “hand” with something. Let a car move in the lane ahead of you. Allow a person to cut in front of you in line. Smile genuinely at everyone you meet eyes with. Do a random good deed for someone you don’t know.
It will come back to you. We can all be “Spartans”; by staying focused, steady and willing to lend a helpful hand at the blink of an eye.
I’ll say that’s a great day! My body is exhausted, depleted and is looking forward to my massage appointment and complete rest day tomorrow; but I’ve learned some valuable lessons.
One; that I won’t be repeating this race again anytime in the near future!!