In my post last week I began discussing that first OCR I ran, the BoneFrog, and how I knew that if I trained I could do better. This is what I set out to do almost immediately. I took a brief look at my strengths and weaknesses from a very narrow perspective, and these were easy to identify. I killed it on most obstacles that required my upper body and failed epically on anything related to running and grip strength. I thought instantly I knew what I needed to do and how I would achieve it.
I was already use to a 5 day routine and it was easy for me to start running a bit more since my ex and I were still living together and it was quite difficult. Exercise was the perfect release and reason to be out of the house. Her and I coordinated times and days where one of us was home more and the other was out so I was able to start running!
Now when I say I was running I am using that term loosely. At this time I could not run more than a mile straight, and I was slow. There were mornings I would run a mile in 11 minutes and 30 seconds. I was embarrassed about these times, but I had read somewhere that it didn’t matter how fast or how far one runs, they are a runner if they are out there giving it there best! I kept telling myself that and in no time at all I was able to start getting farther distances down. I would run about 15 miles per week, which was a lot compared to any other time in my life, while also lifting a traditional body building 5 day split. This was not to become a body builder, but because through my research I found that it is the most effective at building muscle. Seems silly to have to point that out, but lets face it these guys know how to build muscle and fast!
The next race was only about a month and a half away and I felt better and more confident than I ever had in my life. This race was going to be more of a local fun mud run and I wanted to do better than I did last time so I was a little overly competitive. I got there and met up with my two friends from the previous race and found a very fun environment with a lot of kids and adults. I made sure to eat a good hearty breakfast before the race and I felt unstoppable.
Once our heat was released from the gate I was keeping up with my friends a lot better and felt like I could handle the trail run with much more ease. I was really excited until we approached the first real obstacle. The line was a bit ridiculous in my eyes. I couldn’t believe how many people were struggling with a cargo net wall climb. I got frustrated and started to let this get to me a bit. As soon as I got over the net it was like I was shot out of a cannon. I was tearing through the course and really happy. But then I learned an important lesson on any obstacle course!
Remember that hearty breakfast I mentioned earlier? I had not learned anything about proper dieting or what to eat prior to a race. I was sick! I felt like I was going to puke at every step I took. Soon I was very grateful for all of the “slower” racers and the kids that were congesting many of the obstacles. This provided me incremental breaks that allowed me to hold down my breakfast and not make a complete fool of myself in front of what I thought were all of these people that were training for months for this.
I continued to push myself and I was able to do every obstacle on the course, even the ones that were optional! I crossed the finish line and was satisfied with my time and how I did, but I felt like something was missing. I looked around at all of the people that finished together and the community that was being built and realized I missed the word “Fun” in the fun run. Even though I ran this with a few friends I was disappointed that we did not stay together and create some of the shared memories that many other friends and families had done that day.
We talked of other races after that, but in my head we were not going to do another. There was talk of this race called Spartan that had a penalty of burpees if you failed an obstacle and I almost instantly disregarded it. I just missed out on the “fun” from this last race, why on earth would I do one that takes things so seriously? I gave my loose “sure” as an agreement but had no inclination to actually participate in it. Plus by that time I would have finalized my divorce and be taking care of my daughter with only one income. I really did not think it would be a wise decision, but in the back of my head I really wanted to do something like this again! “How long could my body hold up to this kind of activity?” Questions like this would often go through my head when I thought about it. I started obsessing about the BoneFrog Trident, but the races were so scattered I would have to travel, but I wanted to see if I could do that. Plus BoneFrog was Navy Seals! Nothing says tough like Navy Seals so why wouldn’t I just run that one race?
I went back to training, but just my normal routine. I would occasionally run but it was so minimal it was insignificant. With nothing to train for why bother giving it everything I had? I was already working out more than the average person and I was looking and feeling better. Maybe I should just keep up this routine and coast a little. This is how I thought until one fateful January day a group text went out between 3 people. “Spartan will be in Cortland in March... We should do it!” My two buddies were all in and amped up whereas I was hesitant. Money was my biggest concern and I could not rationalize spending money on a race when I was trying to make my paycheck stretch farther than it ever had. I said that I would think about it, and that is exactly what I did... obsessively.
It took me over a month, but finally I agreed and signed up for my first Spartan Race. I could have never guessed just what an impact this one simple decision would have on my life. In my mind all I could think about was how I would ensure avoiding embarrassment again. Go and have fun but also be in good enough shape to run the whole thing on ANOTHER ski resort. Oh, and since I live in Central New York I would also have to deal with a new obstacle that was not a part of the race set up. The snow! How does one run an obstacle course race in the snow? I was scared but excited, and now I had a reason to push myself a bit at the gym!
In next weeks post I talk about that first Spartan and exactly how it changed just about all of me simply by participating! Thank you for reading this week and come back next week for the 3rd part of this series on why I run OCR!