Sunday, March 31, 2013

Overcoming Fears

This past Saturday, in the freezing 44* weather, my family and I competed in the Reebok Carolina Spartan Sprint at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC.  If you are not familiar with the Spartan Race series, then go check it out here. We ran the sprint distance, which is a minimum of 3 miles and 15 obstacles for each event. Our race was 4.5 miles and minimum of 18 obstacles (I cannot remember all of them for an accurate count).

 Whether it was your first race or your 50th,  you had fears going into the race, even if it was never said aloud. It may have been the temperature, the potential of swimming in an ice bath, or a specific obstacle one had seen or heard about. 

Mine? Mine was the monkey bars. I could handle the cold, the mud, and the potential ice cold water, but those monkey bars haunted me. You are probably thinking, "really, girl?" but you gotta remember one thing. MUD. 
(And North Carolina doesn't just have mud. We have red clay, which is worse.)
You are coated in it. The thousands of people before you are coated in it. The bars are coated in it. 
Oh those monkey bars. I remember them so well from last years race in New Hampshire. I couldn't even make it to the second bar. Sad, I know. 

Well this year, upon arrival, we were able to watch the earlier heats attempt the monkey bars while we parked. 
This. This right here, scared me even more. These Spartans are CAKED in mud. 
I stood watching these Spartans attempt the monkey bars for a good 5 minutes. I saw ONE person make it across, and he was as clean as a whistle. It didn't make sense. However, the kind parking attendant gave me piece of advice I never once forgot, "the trick is to clean your hands with pine straw." 

After a few more minutes watching, we made our way to check-in to prepare for the race. 
Bro and JS getting marked with their bib numbers
Post marking
Securing timing chips and bib numbers, and layering on more clothes
We then proceed to check our bags, warm-up, and stretch for the start of the race. 

I think we stayed dry for close to a mile, or whenever our second obstacle started. We had to climb into a muddy bath with barbed wire above it. It was all down here from there.  When I stated ice bath earlier it was a figurative term, but the water was as cold as an ice bath because we were climbing in rivers. Warning: water in March has NOT had the time to warm up.

A few obstacles later, we were lucky enough to have my Sis and one of her best friends, Ace, cheering us on and taking pictures of our race.
Climbing mounds of mud and sliding into moats of  cold water
Bro and I
Mom and Dad
Mom and I climbing under barbed wire

 After the barbed wire crawl, we ended up back in the woods for a little bit. I kept waiting for the monkey bars to appear, I knew they were close. In the parking lot, I had every intention of skipping the monkey bars and completing the 30 burpees one must due when they fail an obstacle. But, I am not one to give up. It took 2 miles of running, and a lot of courage, but I finally talked myself into attempting the obstacle. 
Then, there they appeared. 

I waited patiently, and scoped out my track to follow. I looked to the left and saw that EVERYONE had attempted the monkey bars over there, so I opted for the right side, the cleaner side. 
I cleaned my hands the best I could.
I watched my dad complete the monkey bars.
I watched more people fail the monkey bars. 
I jumped on the starting block and wiped my hands on my legs to grab the bars. 
'WAIT. Whoopies, more mud on my hand.' 
I jumped back down, cleaned my hands. Again.
I jumped back into position. 
I remembered what my dad told me last year, and again this year. "Two hands, one bar." 
Pretty much, don't swing like a monkey.
I swung onto the first bar. 
Swung to the second bar. 
'Phew, already farther than last year.' 
I started repeating my running mantra, over and over again, 
'Dig deeper. Push through. You got this.'
I added, 'Be patient. Take your time.'
If I rushed, I was doomed. 
If I took to long, I was doomed. 
Now, I am a mere two bars away from the finish. 
Everyone is cheering me on.
'Wait. I can do this'
Next thing I knew, someone was encroaching on my monkey bars. 
I hear and feel him getting closer. 
I could hear spectators and other Spartans, talking about it.
I stopped moving.
He was one bar behind. 
What now?
Now, you have to watch the video to see what happened...
I was so nervous when I heard him closing in on me. Everyone around was nervous for me. 

I turned around and told him, "I am not moving for you." He understood and waited patiently. 
Because he jumped the gun, and I wouldn't move quicker for him, he fell. I felt bad for half a second, but who cares...
I was the SECOND female ALL day to complete the monkey bars.
I was high on life the rest of the race. I was ecstatic with myself. And to think, I almost skipped it all together. Boy am I glad I didn't. 

We quickly moved on. Back into the woods and more obstacles. 
Bro, aka Thor, crushing the rope climbing
By the time we reached our last stretch of obstacles, my arms were dog gone tired. I ended up doing ninety burpees. It was one set more than last year, but I was okay with it. 
I faced my fear, and I smashed it into the ground. After that, nothing else mattered, other than the finish line. 

We began as a team. We competed as a team.
We helped each other through the mud and ice cold water.
We helped each other over 8 foot walls.
We helped each other pulling cinder blocks up hills and lifting them off the ground.
We cheered each other on when that was all we could do. 
We finished as a team.
We became Spartans as a team. We became Spartans as a family. 

Team 'It's a Family Affair'
Do you have it in you?

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