If you are my Facebook friend you likely know by now that I did something a little crazy last weekend.  OK, OK, I may have over-posted and you are probably saying “enough already.” Sorry not sorry.


I completed my first Spartan race in Diablo Grande. Considered the “San Francisco” installment of the event, it was a bit of a misnomer as the course location was about two hours from The City in the middle of hilly nowhere in California’s Central Valley. Unlike those famous cool San Francisco summers made legendary by Mark Twain, there was nothing “cool” about the near 100 degree temps on the course that day. Considered a “Super” distance event, it was approximately nine grueling miles of steep hills and more than 20 obstacles. What was “cool,” however, was crossing the finish line.


They say Obstacle Course Racing (or OCR) is the fasting growing sport ever. “In 2016 an estimated 5 million people will pay to suffer through ice, fire, electricity, barbed wire, mud and more.” www.riseofthesufferfests.com Participants in these events come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of fitness. So there is nothing particularly special about ME completing the course. I get that and that’s actually why I’m sharing this.


At 46, this former marathon runner (I haven’t done one in 4 years and I’m not sure I’ve got another one in me, I guess that makes it “former”) still stays active daily. Since starting my own coaching business over a year ago, then subsequently being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease whose symptoms can best be kept at bay through exercise and good nutrition, I am committed to staying fit both for my own health and as a daily example for my clients.


But why this type of event?  “Because it is there” is not an answer that really resonates with me. There are lots of things out there I could try because they are there. Yet I don’t plan to do any mountaineering and I won’t be doing any events requiring swimming any time soon. But this type of event speaks to my inner athlete, the one I have been training since I first strapped on my figure skates at the age of five and fell in love with the discipline of athletics.


There is something inside me that says “Push a little harder. Why not see what you are really capable of?” I’m not a psychiatrist but I would guess that that quirk in my personality is also what made me think law school and the bar exam were somehow a good idea and that running marathons was fun. This God-given trait, along with my faith in Him, also helped me to endure a four-year battle with infertility, loss and ultimately a twin pregnancy with serious complications. Sure, these are completely different “activities” but all required some degree of mental toughness.


But I know that a lot of people are much stronger than I am and have endured things much greater than I have. Yet they don’t run obstacle course events. So it still begs the question “Why do it?”


I love the discipline of training. I like the structure of a schedule. Although my workouts challenge me every day, the discomfort is short-lived and the strength gained is what lasts.


Signing up for an endurance event is scary. It always makes me question whether I am strong enough for this one. Am I too old? Am I out of my league? As the day gets closer I start to freak out a little. The morning of an event my stomach and my nerves are all a little jangly.


Then you arrive and there is nothing like toeing the starting line. Waiting for the gun to go off you wonder if you’ve got what it takes. What story will be told out there on the course today? Am I prepared?


Even knowing I did not learn how to do some of the skilled obstacles, I did know my strong legs and the tough girl that lives in my head would get me through most of it. I figured I could do a lot of burpees and even if I had to crawl to the finish line I could do it.


So why do I share this? Certainly not to just allow you in my crazy brain, but rather to say IF I CAN DO THIS, YOU CAN DO IT TOO.



That night as my husband and I reflected on the event and we looked through race results online, I saw that a woman I know from my hometown finished the race in second place. Now THAT is badass. She trained hard and she went out and kicked butt. And she was successful at what she set out to accomplish, earning herself a spot in the Spartan World Championship in October. But you know what? Her accomplishing what she did in no way diminishes what I did. We both toed the start line and gave it our all and we both finished, achieving our respective goals.


There is no comparing yourself to others when it comes to testing your own strength. There will always be someone stronger, faster, better. The question is, are you pushing yourself to do more? Are you getting outside your comfort zone to see what you are made of?  Did you do more today than you did yesterday? Growth in our character comes when we stretch ourselves, when we go just beyond what we might have thought possible.


So what’s holding you back? Are you pushing yourself? Are you growing? Trust me when I say that there were times out there on the course on Saturday when I really had to dig deep and tell myself to move forward, even when everything in my physical body was screaming at me to stop. Towards the end, even after a long hot day on the course, I was full out running. I felt strong, I felt victorious and I knew I was going to make it.


The feeling I had crossing that line arm in arm with my crazy companions that day is indescribable. We were euphoric and we were alive. And we were stronger than when we crossed the starting line several hours before.