Sunday, February 26, 2012

Enjoying the Training

"Enjoy your sweat because hard work doesn't guarantee success, but without it you don't have a chance."
-Alex Rodriguez

Training. I've spent the last 6 months or so training for the Miami Super Spartan Race. The Super is 8+ miles of mud, water, trails, and obstacles. And today was the day: February 25, 2012. I've been salivating at the chance to do this race. I had lofty dreams... the top 3 finishers win a free entry to the Spartan Beast (10+ miles with obstacles). I figured that the only way to convince Craig that I should do a Beast would be to win an entry. I'm usually not a dreamer. I tend to be a pessimist. But I was doing a lot of dreaming, and even more training. 

Race Day. I woke up at 3 am. I lay there and pretended to sleep for about an hour. Between feeling very hungry and extremely nervous, I was not finishing my night of sleep. I got up and ready and drove myself to the race. The race itself is a blur or mud, sand, water, wood chips, and ropes. It was amazingly challenging. I was pushed to my limits. The most frustrating obstacle for me was the monkey bars, right after a swim. I fell once and again--flat on my back-- in the second attempt. Burpees were my penalty. The miles of trails were amazing. It took me back again to my childhood, running through the woods at my Grandma's house. So freeing. There is nothing out there on those trails except for my feet and the root riddled earth. The easiest obstacle for me was probably the tire flip. I have been practicing with tires about twice the size of the one I was asked  to flip in the race. The most rewarding obstacle was the cargo net climb which included a crawl across the net that was suspended very high over the ground. I forced myself to focus on the ropes under my hands and feet (and knees), instead of the ground  20 feet below. The most difficult moment was having to get up after cramps in both calves drove me to the ground. I had felt the cramps teasing me for a few miles before they hit. And they came on with a vengeance. 

The Finish. I crossed the finish line. Completely spent. After an hour and fifty-one minutes I couldn't believe it was over. Trembling, exhausted, mud-covered, and elated, I stumbled around looking for the showers. I placed third in my age group and sixteenth out of all women. What surprises me is that I am not disappointed at placing so far away from the top 3. I gained so much more than a cool medal and t-shirt from this race. I gained an even greater respect for the women who win these races. I am finally beginning to understand and appreciate just how really great some people are at what they do and just how much one has to train to be great. I am finally beginning to learn to enjoy the journey, the process, and the progress that I am making.

One of my favorite training songs.