It has taken lots of time and lots of contemplation to come to this point, and then some more nudging and pushing from some awesome people to finally take the plunge and sign up for a Spartan Race.  However if it be because I am up for an extra challenge or just a little crazy, I decided to go for the Spartan Super instead of the Sprint.  You see I missed the Sprint with a really awesome team because I was traveling around the country haha.  I knew I had some extra time on my trips so I decided to purchase the book Spartan Up! which is written by the creator of the race itself.  I could not have chosen a better book to read on my trip.  In fact, I liked it so much that while in California I ordered his other book so it would be at my mom’s house when I got home so I could take it to Chicago with me.  

Lots of things in the books stuck with me, one especially being that once you make it public that you are doing a Spartan race, you need to do it and train a little harder for it knowing that it is on the horizon.  It may sound dumb but after reading the book there is a piece of me that is forever changed.  It talked about a cost-benefit analysis and the best example that he stated is whether or not to take the stairs or the elevator.  The stairs will likely take a little more time, however the benefit of taking the stairs is improved cardiovascular health over time.  These small changes add up even if you do small things here and there like 10 burpees when you have a min.  That is a small step that could get you in the right direction.  I noticed myself planking in my room at night just to get a little strength workout in.  I had my mom time me in Chicago to see that I was improving.  It really is the little things that add up to bigger accomplishments.

Anyway, the race is November 4th in NJ.  It is 8-10 mountainous miles that packs 25+ obstacles into it.  Rope climb, bucket carry, sandbag carry, walls to climb over, monkey bars, spear throw, etc.  All things that when I think about them scare me half to death, but that is also what really intrigues me about doing this whole thing.  I want to challenge myself, I want to do something new.  The half marathon will be a challenge, but as stated in the book it is something that is predictable.  It is 13.1 miles.  The course is marked out, you run.  That’s it.  The Spartan however is not the same every time and there are obstacles that test not only your physical strength but also your mental will.  

The other day it rained like the dickens at our auction.  Sideways, straight down, you name it, it rained it…and I thought to myself, “What if this is what happens on Spartan Race day?”  I thought about it and really if that’s what happens then so be it.  I will be slower and probably sloppier, but at the same time it will be just as rewarding knowing that is an obstacle itself to overcome.  Dancing in the rain instead of wallowing in self-doubt if you will.  

The penalty if you fail an obstacle is 30 burpees.  While I am going to try my best at the obstacles, I am also going to keep practicing burpees and getting really good at them so that I can recover faster between obstacles even if I do end up paying the penalty.  

It took me a good three weeks or so to commit to signing up for this race and another three to start telling more people about the idea.  I know I post a lot on social media, but believe me it is all for good reason and not to flaunt anything.  It is to let people know that you CAN do it.  You CAN succeed even in the face of adversity.  Even when that voice inside of you is telling you to stop, you can carry on no matter what.  It is truly the embodiment of what happened to me at my last 5k.

Picture this:  5k race, 84 degrees, humid, 7pm, the start line goes right uphill for a good .25 mile stretch.  At .6 miles your shoe becomes untied.  Do you stop to tie it and lose time or do you keep going and risk falling?  There was no option of stopping in my mind.  I knew I had to carry on in order to make my time so my shoelace was going to have to wait til the finish line.  It was HOT.  It was rough, and there were times I thought about walking because more hills came and went, but I didn’t stop.  I told myself on the next to the last hill that the mind always quits before the body.  My basketball coach in high school always used to say that before he passed away from cancer.  It is the truth.  My mind was telling me that I needed to stop because I was hot, but my body carried me to the finish line 7 seconds under my last 5k that was in much better conditions than this run.  6 months ago I wouldn’t have dreamed about any kind of 5k or even a 1k.  

We all need a positive influence in our lives no matter in what form they come in.  There is always someone to look up to that came before you or helps you to achieve the goals that you set out to achieve.  I truthfully can name to a bunch of people that have shaped my life in a positive way throughout my life and expecially recently in this fitness journey.  Family, friends, trainers, trainers that become more like friends and family…all these individuals have helped to shape me into this positive ball of energy that I am.  6 months ago I wouldn’t care really what was on a food label.  I didn’t care how much pop I drank.  I didn’t care how much I ate.  I liked working out and teaching Zumba, but I was honestly burnt out in my own routines.  Now I am excited to go to classes, to teach, and hell I even wake up at 5am because there are some sweet workout classes to attend.  I love my life.  

I got way off track so let’s bring it back to this race.  Scared as I may be, I am also so very excited to take on this challenge.  We all need goals, we all need something to work for that is attainable over time.  It is not something that will come overnight.  I may struggle through a lot of it, but the book says, “You’ll know at the finish line.”  I have no doubt in my mind that I can achieve this.  It may not be in the fastest time, it may not be in the most graceful manner, but I will do it because that is what a Spartan does.  

I don’t expect everyone to understand why I want to set goals like this for myself and that’s okay.  Everyone should have different goals to meet them where they are so that they can be attainable.  Six months ago, this would never have been one of my goals.  Losing weight was my original goal until I realized that it isn’t about how much you weigh as much as how you feel and if you are satisfied with what you can achieve.  People that are solid muscle weigh more but that doesn’t mean that they should define themselves by a BMI number that shows little to no meaning in that world.  My goal is to keep working through this journey, not to diet, but to keep my now healthy relationship with food going.  To live my life to the fullest and allow myself small cheats here and there that keep me on track.  I make conscious decisions everyday on what to eat and how to exercise to keep on the path towards my goals.  Not everyday is perfect, but it really isn’t about being perfect at all.  It is about staying true to who I am as a person.  

I believe everyone can attain sustainable change through the setting of goals.  It takes time.  I can be the biggest advocate for this because of the challenges I have faced through my life.  Setbacks are the way to even better comebacks, believe me.  

At the end of the day, the best we can do is try our hardest.  If we are satisfied with our own performance that should be enough for everyone else because we are enough.  We are worthy human beings that deserve nothing but the best.  I. Am. Spartan.  

To Be Continued…