See that picture above? That is the only picture taken of me during the Spartan Super that I ran last weekend on August 15, 2015. While I may look like I'm doing good in that picture, things did not turn out that way. Look at me. I'm covered in mud. I look out of breath and I could probably pass out at any minute, so why do I do this to myself?
This all started when I had my first child. I know I told this story a thousand times before, but I knew that I needed to be in better shape to take care of her and also to be able to play with her even on days when I came home tired from work. This extra stamina has sure come in handy, especially after baby #2 was born. My little guy is non-stop energy and it takes a lot to keep up with him.
After my first Warrior Dash I was hooked and wanted to do more. When doing these races I would come home with a few bruises here and there, but the bruises were an awesome reminder of what I just accomplished. They were also a story to tell. A way to share my experiences with others and hopefully trick... I mean, convince them to join me in one of these races.
Not only did I really get into obstacle course racing, but I also got into running, too. There was something about the calmness of just running by myself, okay sometimes I would be surrounded by other runners, but just something about pushing your body to make it across the finish line. I started with simple 5Ks then gradually moved up to 8Ks and finally running a full 10-mile race.
So again the question is why do I do this to myself? Why do I put my body through this pain? I guess the answer is to feel alive and know that I can accomplish anything if I focus on it. Now while I know that sounds like some "George Mcfly/Zen/Load of crap" it's the truth.
As a dad, there are days when I feel completely overwhelmed. I wake up and hear nothing but my kids calling my name all day... well not my actual name, but I hear "Dad" about a million times throughout the day. "Dad, my brother hit me!" "Daddy, I don't want to take a bath!" "Dad, I want the computer now!" "Go ask your dad."
Now before you start thinking I hate this, I hate that some of the things that I am called for is something that they can either do or find themselves. When I was little I was always taught to be self-sufficient and not rely on other people and that is what I try to instill in my kids. I don't want them to become spoiled-entitled-kids that are always relying on their parents to do things for them.
So when I run, it is just me out there. No kids calling me to do something. No kids crying because one is playing with a LEGO set that the other one wants at the moment. When I run it is just me and my music tuning out all that is wrong with the world and just letting me focus on getting to the next mile.
I run, crawl and jump through mud, because I want my kids to see that I am doing most of these things on my own. I say most, because during these obstacle course runs you help the person next to you if they are struggling and vice-versa. You become part of a community that does not give up and helps those in need. I want my children to grow up this way. I want them to see an obstacle in front of them and not be afraid to overcome it. I want them to be independent and always do their best.
And you know what...I think this picture below is the start of my little girl going on that path to independence.
My little girl rocked that course and all her fears disappeared as soon as the word "Go" was shouted. It was such an awesome experience seeing her run, jump and crawl like I have done so many times before. She felt so great afterward that she has been wearing her medal and headband everywhere we have gone for the past few days.
As for me. There was no medal put around my neck that day. No pictures of me jumping over fire or carrying logs on my shoulder this time. I did the one thing that I told my kids not to do, I gave up. I started cramping in my legs and while I tried to tough it out and walk it off, the cramps were just too strong to let me continue. I could have pushed myself harder, but who knows what bigger injury I would have caused myself if I continued.
Yeah, some tears were shed and I felt like I failed myself, but sometimes you have to know when to quit to come back stronger the next time. Just like the quote from Batman "Why do we fall.. so we can learn to pick ourselves up." Yeah I fell to the race this time, but now I know what I must do to overcome it next time.
Oh yes, there will be a next time.