Recently, I participated in my first outdoor obstacle race, The Spartan Race. It consisted of 4 miles of trail (or should I say mud) running with 20+ obstacles interspersed along the way. Obstacles ranged from rope and net climbing, to carrying logs, mud pits, balance beam on logs, swimming, and crawling under more barbed wire than I’m accustomed to… which would be none.
Honestly, it all sounded good on paper. I can run four miles on the road at a seven-minute mile pace if I push myself. I already do some trail running as it is (which I prefer over the road anyway). I had just completed a round of P90X2 and had gotten great results, with some nice gains in strength and loss in body fat. So I mean really, how hard could it be?
In hindsight, it could be as hard as it sounds. I was miserable from the get-go. First of all, the temperature was in the low 40’s. When I got there, I realized I had not only forgotten to take my asthma maintenance medicine (I have a mild case of exercise-induced asthma, which is especially aggravated by colder weather), but I had also forgotten to bring my rescue inhaler.
Next was the actual race. The very first thing you do is jump through and climb out of a four foot water/mud pit. Within seconds I realized that my off-road running shoes were a poor choice. I should have worn some cross country shoes that were lighter and would hold less water.
What do you do when you face disappointment? How do you handle defeat? Do you crawl in a hole? Do you give up? Do you accept it because, well, that’s life? Or do you do something about it?
And speaking of footwear, acrylic over-the-ankle socks would have been a much better choice than the below-the-ankle Bounty Quicker Picker Upper cotton pair I so brilliantly selected. In my defense, I knew the socks would be ruined and I didn’t want to throw away a good pair. I was trying to be both physically and fiscally responsible. What a moron.
Oh, and speaking of cotton, I chose a cotton sleeveless shirt, basically for the same reason. I would have been much better off going shirtless or wearing a tight shirt in a synthetic blend.
I have a hard time doing competitions “just for fun.” I wanted to do well. I should have been smarter and done some research as to which heat to register for. The later the heat, the worse the course conditions get. Furthermore, certain obstacles bottleneck and you lose time… namely the aforementioned barbed wire, where I lost at least 20 minutes.
It was essentially a freezing cold frustrating comedy of errors from start to finish. I was banged and bruised and cut up. My time was pathetic. And once it was all over it took me an hour and half to get warm.
So needless to say, I’m doing it again.
Yeah, that’s right, I need a do-over. A mulligan. Like I said, I’m competitive. I want a chance to redeem myself and give it another shot making the appropriate changes. This wasn’t a question of fitness. It was a question of preparedness. I never was a Boy Scout and it showed.
Looking back, it was a fantastic memory. My family was there cheering me on. I can still hear my four-year-old Gigi yelling, “Daddy Daddy Daddy!” Our Mexican food afterwards tasted incredible. I could do it over again for that memory alone.
But more than anything, I want to do it for me. I want to prepare properly by following my obstacle race course training guide and I want to exact revenge.
What about you? What do you do when you face disappointment? How do you handle defeat? Do you crawl in a hole? Do you give up? Do you accept it because, well, that’s life? Or do you do something about it?
While I failed to reach my goal time, I didn’t really fail. But if I don’t face my disappointment and take on that course again, for me that’s a form a failure in and of itself.
The competition was hard. The course was rough. The weather unfavorable.
And I’m willing to be humbled… but not humiliated.
(I was so cold, I could barely form words with my mouth. Gigi didn’t have that problem.)