Background noise

The NE Spartan Sprint is this upcoming weekend. I am fairly unprepared, apart from being, as they say, swole as fuck from all the lifting. But I haven’t been playing much hockey and I think I’ve run all of twice this summer.  And, you know, in theory it’s a footrace among other things.

I’m told it’s not that difficult. I’ve also read accounts online that contradict that.

I had to stop reading the Spartan facebook pages because I compared myself to every person posting and felt like I came up lacking.

The weight of failure of all those firefighter agilities has stayed with me, some twenty years later.  What doesn’t matter is the ones I passed, what doesn’t matter are my successes in fire, what doesn’t matter is that I gutted it out in Feburary in the fucking Staislaus for two straight days in the water in a goddamn wetsuit when everyone else was in drysuits, going down class four rapids on my back. The Swiftwater Tech 2 doesn’t matter. When I finally sucked it up enough to do the burnover evolution and sat in a piece of tinfoil with wildfire raging over and around me heating the dirt I was breathing… none of that matters.

Just the failures.


I fail to see the progress, I look at my body in the mirror as I do squats and hate my shape instead of reveling in the power of how much I’m lifting.

I know better. It doesn’t matter. I do it anyway.


I watch the Spartan video.  Over and over.  The one that made me decide to do it. This one:

I watch it and cry, and cry. At the gap between what I am and the hero I imagined for myself, for my life.

And also for the gap between what I feel, and the hero I actually am.


I am afraid.

A lot, often. I’m afraid of cancer recurring. I’m afraid of my shape. I’m afraid of not doing what I need to do before I die. I’m afraid I’m wasting my time here, on this planet. I’m afraid of being a shitty parent. I’m afraid of doing less… then my potential. I’m afraid of not writing with the kind of honesty I should.

I’m afraid of not finishing.

I’m afraid of being alone in this.


There’s a key difference between myself 20 years ago and myself now, though. I’ve gone through a failure process at the gym every night, on the ice, over and over again. I’ve failed lifts and dumped plates, I’ve shown up and lifted 40 pounds less than I did last week for no apparent reason, I’ve fallen, I’ve missed the net, I’ve played for shit and I’ve played well.

I’ve beaten all my previous personal records.

In a few months I’ll be able to bench my bodyweight.

I have, these days, despite everything, a fair idea of what some of my actual limits are, but not just the lower ones. Also how much I can do, physically.

Two nights ago I got 145# up unspotted, halfway, on the bench. 145 pounds. I was almost there.


What’s changed, in 20 years is that I can put my head down and move, past the background noise. I can move my feet, my body, put my skates out on the ice again or grab the bar and dig deep, I can keep my feet moving and call it willing sacrifice.

I’ve realized that sometimes it’s enough just to keep moving, to not stop, to go the the gym over and over even though sometimes it stops making sense and you have no idea why you’re doing it anymore.

I have that, now.

Sometimes, there is no reason. Sometimes you just block out everything including your fear and your doubt, but also all your hopes and dreams and aspirations

and just without anything other than will do to do it… no matter what. Just move, and do.

6 thoughts on “Background noise

  1. I’ve been going through a similar thing with Fitocracy, comparing myself to everyone on there and just getting all sorts of bummed out. Ditto with the knitting career I want to launch. It’s like we have to put our brains on hold and just let our feet keep taking one step ahead of another.

    Just keep swimming.

    • Yeah, I think that’s what it boils down to. Like blinders. Reasons stop mattering and you just do stuff.

      But on your end… hang tough. Maybe the reasons for all of it won’t be clear to us for a long time but my gut instinct is that we’re on the right track.

  2. fitocracy seems like a great site to get people motteaivd to level up like you said (who are also into gaming/stuff like that). i’ve never heard of fitocracy but it seems like it’d be really helpful for others who need an extra push to get motteaivd to work out! (so good post!!) :Di know what you mean by the whole leveling up thing. though i never played world of warcraft, my brother did years ago. those games are seriously addicting hahah! I did play counter strike before in middle/high school though i quite afterwards. (leveling wasn’t involved there :P)

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