Over the past weekend, I had the opportunity to compete with the pros during the elite heat of the Spartan Super in Seattle, Washington. I would like to make apparent that the beauty of Seattle and the surrounding area are breathtaking! However, the chilly temperatures, the constant rain/ moisture, and gray skies hid the potential of sunlight and warmth!
I have been preparing and eagerly anticipating this race for quite some time. It was the first time I was going to compete with the very best in obstacle course racers in the nation. What a privilege! The morning of the race, I woke up with such an excitement to see where I was going to stack up among the elites. My excitement was shrouded by less than ideal race conditions. The darkness of the morning gave way to gray skies, rain, and quite chilly temperatures. As I jogged around the starting line, trying to warm up and keep the jitters to a minimum, my concerns of the elements were actually replaced by composed anticipation- I was ready to give my best, with absolutely nothing to lose! We all took our places on the starting line, and I felt a sense of joy to be beside some amazing competitors; women to my left and to my right who I have the upmost respect for.
Before I knew it, we were across the starting line and sprinting up a muddy hill.... as the race progressed through the forest, we began to settle into a pace. Barely a mile into the race, I noticed someone on the ground up ahead, as if they had fallen down. A few steps closer and I realized that the individual was a racer of the men’s elite heat, and this gentleman had no legs. The men’s elite heat had began before the women’s heat, and he was the last of the men’s elite racers. As each of us women racers ran past him, he voiced encouraging words to us. I responded with “Thank you- YOU ARE AWESOME! “ and went on my way.
The race was fabulously miserable- as the cold and wet temperatures caused me to fail a number of obstacles. Not being able to feel my hands was a hindrance to all of the grip strength obstacles. But I gave my best race, and after 150 burpees I ended up 24th overall female, and 2nd in my age group! Now that I know where I stand with the elites, I am so ready to continue a new phase of training! In early June, I’ll be able to race again, this time in the East coast time zone.
The hype of the race, the challenge of the elements, the culmination of months of preparation were all aspects of the race weekend that linger in my brain. But, something that has had the greatest impact was the experience of running by that man with no legs. There he was- his story unknown to anyone- taking on a Spartan Race (this one being 8+ miles in length), which is difficult enough with both arms and legs. Not only was he racing, using his fists and knuckles to propel himself up the hills, through the thick mud, across logs and trees, but he was shouting encouragements to those running past him. What an inspiration! Even though I have pushed myself through many mental barriers in training to be a Spartan competitor, I don’t think I have what this courageous man has. He has a tenacity and a willpower that I admire, and aspire to possess.
How many of us prepare in life for something (increased salary, prestige, status, physical capability, etc) and become so self-focused that we fail to see what is going on around us? The challenges that we face, and the struggles that we go through as we experience them are framed by our choice of perspective. What if, by taking a moment to see, actually see, the lives of people around us, we can take a refreshed perspective on the challenges that seem to tower over us? As you take on the next several weeks, I encourage you to look for the “double amputee” in your environment - embrace a perspective that cultivates gratitude. Embrace a mindfulness of the larger picture of life around you!
Be the spark of joy in someone’s life this week!