Yesterday was my sixth Spartan Race and perhaps other than the first time, when I really had no clue what to expect, I think I’ve been doing it all wrong. At least in terms of attitude.
In the past, I would set goals – and be pissed off when they weren’t reached. Failed obstacles could (almost) ruin my race. More time was spent whining about what I did wrong rather than smiling and celebrating what was achieved.
The ol’ mindset would be focused on ideas like accomplishment, toughness, challenges and grit (go ahead and cue “Eye of the Tiger” now).
But where’s the fun in that?? I needed to change that way of thinking and believe this past weekend’s AZ Spartan Sprint provided a good start.
There were no goals set beforehand and none of this “I have to beat last year’s time” bull shit. Going in, I knew I’d fail (more than) a few obstacles and the bucket carry would certainly suck balls. Getting worked up or anxious about it before the race started wasn’t going to change that.
From the proverbial git-go, it really was all about running my own race, getting muddy, helping others, smiling at the cameras and having fun. If I could do that, everything else would sort of take care of itself.
I smiled and flexed for the camera guy at the sandbag carry. For the fire jump (see picture above), I set my hat, sunglasses, and backpack down beforehand so I could leap into the perfect pose (though totally botched the landing and almost face-planted 20 feet from the finish line in front of a hundred or so spectators – hopefully the money-shot picture from Spartan isn’t of me stumbling like a fool).
I even joked in the last blog about singing a Tiffany song while straddling the top of “Stairway to Sparta”. Turned out – sounding like an out-of-breath-25-year-smoker – I decided to sing Celine Dion and needless to say that didn’t go well.
The bottom line is that I really do enjoy obstacle course races (OCRs) but have always tended to psych myself out when it came to Spartan. Somewhere along the way I convinced myself that Spartan wasn’t supposed to be fun. Yes. Spartan Race is tougher than many other races, yet there’s a balance to be had; and in the past, I tended to skew towards the side of suck.
It’s about perspective and for me (and for Spartan Race), that perspective needed adjusting.
Another big factor in this past weekend’s attitude shift was the time spent volunteering on the course. I saw incredibly fit athletes fail the Z-Wall. I witnessed non-athletic looking runners make it look easy. There were others who took just a small piece of advice and take what was once an almost impossible obstacle to being one they may never fail again.
People, may times strangers, were helping each other out to help ensure successful completion for those struggling. This is what makes OCR truly great: community and comradery.
Most importantly, however, there was a lot of laughter and that’s what it should all be about.
Now. In my best Celine voice: Near… (gasp)…. far… wherev (gasp)er you (gasp) are… I be (gasp) lieve that (Don’t laugh, I almost frickin’ died!)