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One Thing I Learned Today From the Spartan Sprint

May 19, 2013

I don’t often write outside the topic of domain names on this blog, but here’s one.  There’s a moral at the end.

I ran a race today called the Spartan Sprint.  It’s essentially a race of the ‘Tough Mudder’ variety which I’d guess is a name more folks will be familiar with.  It’s a distance run + obstacle course.

The Spartan races come in varying lengths, and we did the shortest of those, the Sprint which was advertised * as a 5k run + 15 obstacles.

Let me add, I am not a runner. That is to say, I am not a distance runner, in any way shape or form.  Although I did once run a half-marathon, I was 20 years old at the time and had spent the three weeks prior backpacking through high-altitudes of the La Sal Mountain Range in Southwest Utah. When we came off the mountain and dropped our 50+ lb packs, the run was practically a cakewalk (though its possible memory fails me as to just how challenging it was at the time.)

However in the many years since, it’s been rare if I run even two miles in a stretch.  I’m just not particularly fond of running, and these days too much of it will aggravate my knee.  Still, it was fun to anticipate running a 5k, and spend the past 6 or so weeks training up.  I pushed myself harder than I normally would have, and set some challenging workouts.  But here’s the fun part …

* Spoiler alert:  The distance of this run was not as advertised.  Needless to say we were surprised when we hit the 4-mile marker, and as we came to the next obstacle a little further up the trail, it was announced that we were yet another 1/2 mile away from the finish line.  I would estimate it was about a full 7.5k, which was 1.5 times the race I had trained for.

Couple that with the many obstacles, which helped fatigue the muscles even more, and it turned out to be a fairly grueling event.

Now here’s the thought that came to me today, somewhere between scaling sideways across a 40 foot wall clinging to the 6″ square wood blocks tacked on at varying degrees trying not to fall, and snaking my body through the mud under 30 yards of barbed wire …

It’s not important that you break through someone else’s limitations, it only matters that you break through your own limitations.

This means, not measuring oneself to the standards of others.  I realized this toward the last leg, as it became apparent we were beginning to be passed by folks from the next heat, which started 15 minutes after ours had.  That far along and they seemed to be cruising, whereas I was busy mustering the internal fortitude to continue pushing my body forward.

Blogger Shane Cultra recently wrote about his experience running a full marathon.  I can tell you I have a heap of respect for that accomplishment, especially after today. For Shane, the race I ran today might have been a walk in the park.  And by someone like his standard’s I might be considered a bit sally in this context.

That’s okay.  Not everyone is running the same race.  The point is that we find out what we’re really made of only when we attempt to push ourselves beyond our own limitations.  When I do, it helps to reinforce and re-instill in me the indomitability of the human spirit that I believe we have all inherited.  My body may fall apart on the field, as my shoes did today, quite literally, but I will never, ever, ever allow my spirit to be dominated.

Happy Sunday 🙂

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