This past Saturday I ran the Super Spartan Race. It was 14 km of running, mud, and obstacles. I did the race with a group from our gym and I’m pretty sure we all had a great time.
This was my third Spartan…I’ve done the Spartan Sprint (5 km) last year in Calgary and this year in Edmonton. In some ways this Spartan was the easiest, and in others it was the most difficult.
For the Sprint last year, I was not trained. There were lots of hills. It was about a million degrees with searing mid-day sun. I was miserable. We slogged through it as fast as I could and finished in 1 hour 13 minutes and change. For the Sprint this year, I was trained and there were lots of hills, but we were doing that race in a group and going at a pace that was slower than I could have pushed at.
For this Spartan Super, I was trained, the course was primarily flat, the weather was cool, but I was not at 100%. Earlier this summer I got a bone bruise on one of my heels. I was sprinting on a track and ended up striking my heel way harder than I should have, causing the injury. This injury has persisted since June and has kept me from running at all (400-800 m in occasional workouts has been my max). Regardless, I was able to run the entire 14 km, though the last few kilometres were pretty painful. The majority of the obstacles were easy, with some of them providing a challenge, and with only the damn rope climb being outside my grasp.
We ended up finishing in 1 hour 56 minutes, which I am incredibly proud of. That time marks a huge improvement in my fitness and ability over the past year. It was further than I have ever run before and I was able to get across monkey bars for the first time ever. Like EVER ever…I wasn’t even able to do that as a kid! Most (but not all) of the obstacles were downright easy for me and I’m so proud of that fact. And did I mention I did the monkey bars!?
In the days after the race I was getting a little down because I kept hearing other people from the gym who did the race talking about how easy it was, or how they could have done it so much faster. Hearing these things actually stung quite a bit. I went from being so proud of myself and so excited to feeling down on myself for not being able to do the race faster and keep up with these others. I had to make a conscious effort to reframe my thoughts about the race and remind myself of all that I accomplished on Saturday. I knew I couldn’t allow this comparison to take away my pride and joy.
I’m taking so much away from the Super Spartan experience. I pushed myself to new places physically and mentally. There were numerous times I just wanted to quit because I was uncomfortable…multiple times before the race, multiple times during the race when the rest of my group raced off ahead of me or when my foot was screaming, in the middle of 30 burpees at the end of the race. But instead I kept on and ended up with a great accomplishment.
This has been a great reminder to remain focused on myself. I shouldn’t allow my excitement and joy to be taken away by needlessly comparing myself to others. Of course there are going to be people who are fitter and faster than me! But I have my own journey to live and need to take pride in all that I do achieve along the way. I’m trying to be a little more confident and vocal in my pride for what I accomplished in the Super Spartan (even if this just means sharing a bit of my story with only person in a quiet conversation so far…). It was also a great reminder that we cannot rely on external validation or motivation. All of that has to come from within me.
The Spartan Race series has a special challenge called the Trifecta. If, in one calendar year, you complete all three Spartan distances (5 km, 14 km, 21 km) you achieve the Trifecta and get a special medal. The idea of going for the Trifecta in 2014 has been tossed around the gym. I haven’t completely ruled it out, but I’m still not convinced that this is the next fitness goal I want to work on. I’m still thinking on what the next challenge/goal will be for me….