Friday, April 27, 2012

Spartan Sprint III: Processing the Experience

It has been exactly 5 days and 9 hours since I limped across the finish line at Haspin Acres, and I'm still processing the experience and what it has done for me. Even though many have called me Spartan, I'm not quite feeling it, not yet.

ALWAYS do what you are afraid to do

After the race I sprayed the dirt from my body with a hose and discovered that I was covered with numerous bruises and bumps. I was so excited to see them, evidence of what I had done, proof of just how physically challenging a Spartan Race is. I've shown many people my battle scars with pride because I earned every one. I am proud too because I've always avoided activities that could end up with me getting hurt, yet here I was embracing the risks of bodily harm.

Hobie Call :-) 

However, I didn't just get hurt, I completed the race with a sprained ankle, injured at the fire jump and again when I attempted to jump over a trough. In my mind, getting hurt means that life stops because I never learned how to deal with it. I've been working with a personal trainer for three months and for the first two I hated feeling "the burn" and would retreat into my mind amid mental screams of "I can't do this!" and fight my exercises every step of the way. I finally decided that I needed to accept how my body felt because, well let's face it, it's always going to be this way. I learned to keep my eyes open and my mind clear and discovered that, when an exercise becomes difficult, I'll focus on a spot on the wall or ceiling, concentrate on breathing steadily, and move fluidly through the exercise. Having done this for a few weeks I've successfully conditioned my mind to take over when my body wants to crumble. I brought this into the race and made the most use of it the second time I hurt my ankle. I gave my body a rest by sitting on the ground for a few minutes and flexed that mental muscle, willing it to take over where my body had left off. It worked and I achieved my goal of crossing the finish line.

I knew going into this that I wasn't the strongest, but I pushed anyway. I knew that I wasn't the fastest, but I didn't have to be. I knew that the biggest battle wasn't the barely-above-freezing temperatures, the mud or the military-inspired obstacles. The biggest battle was accepting myself, my abilities and focusing on my strengths instead of my weaknesses. Right now I'm actually more excited about overcoming these personal obstacles than I am about earning the medal. For me, for this race, this awesome medal represents the achievement of finally truly believing in myself.

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