In about a month, I’ll be running/walking/racing/doing the Spartan Beast – a 12+ mile race with about 30-35 obstacles, ski hills and a lot of elevation – and listen, I’m not going to lie: the anxiety level is rising almost daily.
And I really hate hills.
The bottom line is I’ve never done anything like this before and despite an outward bravado and a mindset that tries to convince myself otherwise: I’m not in very good shape, my body is in a constant state of ache, my 50s are closer than my 30s, and 12-miles is a long frickin’ distance!
Yet somehow I wouldn’t have it any other way. These races are fun; they’re challenging. And the comradery and community at-large is nothing short of incredible. (Besides, traversing some mountains in California has to be preferable to sitting on a couch watching re-runs of Ancient Aliens.)
So as I head to the starting line in Big Bear, CA on October 28 – I’ve created a few goals. Goals that need to be stated publicly to help provide some accountability and motivation; to provide a little bit of focus.
Essentially to put my ass into gear.
Goal #1: Completion
This is a no-brainer, really. No one signs up for these races to quit. No one pays their entry fee, pays for travel and hotel rooms and other expenses with a goal of NOT crossing the finish line.
It doesn’t matter how I cross that line or how long it takes (though my mind is telling me seven to eight hours). We’ll see what the body says on race day.
It’s about taking one step at a time, one obstacle at a time and one mile at a time.
Goal #2: Run 35% or more
Let’s get this out of the way now: I will not be running 12+ miles consecutively. Not now. Not in a month. Probably not ever. That said, even if I do a fat-guy slow jog that’s about the same speed as the average person walks, so be it.
Without ever seeing the course, knowing the elevation or exact distance, my obstacle completion rate, or knowing when (not if) my lower back will stiffen up – it’s impossible to predict a total time.
Nevertheless: keep moving forward and do so at a quicker-than-snail’s-pace.
Goal #3: Ring a frickin’ bell!
A lot of obstacles – monkey bars, rope climb, Z-wall, Twister and Olympus to name a few – have a bell at the end that must be tapped before it’s considered complete. In four Spartan races, I’ve never hit a single bell. The best I can say is that I came really close a few times.
I know I can do the monkey bars. I know I can do the Z-wall. I’m kinda sure I might be able to someday conquer Olympus.
I just have to prove it.
Goal #4: Not to cry
Tom Hanks famously said, “There’s no crying in baseball!”. Well there can be in Spartan Race. I’ve done it.
But not this time. I expect the aforementioned bravado to kick into full gear and I plan to just STFU (Spartan the Fuck Up) and do this.
Some parts are going to suck (did I mention I hate hills?) Some parts are going to be incredibly awesome (like the a free beer at the end of the race). But on that Saturday, the experience is going to win the day; not emotions.
Goal #5: Help others
Personal goals are one thing, but the OCR community isn’t about self. It’s about everyone.
Whether you’re an elite who can finish this race in 2-hours or you’re the last person to cross the finish line in darkness eleven hours later (which I hope isn’t me!), every one of the thousands who earn that finishers medal will go through the exact same course, climb the exact same hills and throw the exact same spear.
It’s truly a shared experience no matter what your fitness level.
Some, however, will need a little help along the way: a boost over a wall, advice on technique, help with the tire-flip, some extra water or just a lot of encouragement to push on.
While there’s little doubt that one of those people will be me – there’s even less doubt I’ll be there for someone else. It’s just how it is and just how it should be.
Aroo! And I’ll see at the finish line!