I actually never wrote about the Spartan I ran year before last.

I guess in part because I didn’t feel like I had to say what I was supposed to say about it.


First off, I say “ran,” like I actually ran any of it, which I didn’t.

I did get through it.  Sort of.  For a while I had a medical truck following me like some kind of EMS vulture. Like I was going to go down any second and maybe I was.

Folks, I wanted that empowering moment. I really wanted that TV moment, that video moment of HELLS YES I AM DOING THIS. I wanted… what do they say?  “You’ll know at the finish line,” like somehow I was going to have some huge revelation about myself.


Okay, here’s my revelation:

Shit talking myself as I’m trying to do something kills me. Kills. Ends. Finishes.

I caught it way too late in the race. Because I was fat and slow and did some stuff really strong but mostly stumbled through it, burpees on burpees. I was alone the whole time, which totally sucked. I mean, I was alone except when people kept pace with me for a while then passed me. I think I was one of the last couple of dozen people in.

Anyway, I was on the top of this major hill, and I came out of the trees fucking aching, hating myself for the terrible showing and having flashbacks of failing firefighter agilities, and looking bad in my clothes and fuck knows what else. And I heard my voice, this litany of how I was fatter than everyone else and slower than everyone else and how I probably didn’t do all the burpees and cheated or something at the spear throw jesus fucking christ I thought. Like the hill isn’t steep enough and the mud isn’t thick enough.  Like this isn’t hard enough without this constant soundtrack of you suck you suck you suck going through your head.

Like every time I failed it was some kind of sick, twisted, wrong triumph.  Hah, see, you suck. I knew it.

Up at the top of the hill, I shut that voice up. Like I just… I shut it up. I said shut the fuck up, voice.

Look around yourself. It’s a gorgeous fucking day, you’re covered in glorious mud and you’re hiking in the woods. You got this far. Even if you didn’t get any further you got this far. You came all this way, why not fucking enjoy it?

Look around yourself. Woods.  Grass.  Nature. Shut up. Have fun. The fuck.


Any one obstacle was doable. The race itself was doable; I did it. I did it in shape far worse than I’m in now, undermedicated, with none of the cardio prep I should have done.

What I carried away wasn’t some sudden insight about how awesome I was.

What I carried away was how much, just how much I stood in my own way.


In the end, knowing that is probably worth the price of admission. I know these days that in the gym I just… don’t allow that shit in my head. Anything about fat, anything about weak. Anything about how I’m not here enough or not trying hard enough. I say “I believe in victory” a bunch of times, I listen to my music or watch the guys around me lay everything out, draw my inspiration from them.

Clear my mind of anything but the task at hand.

Just you and the iron, I think.

That’s it. Nothing else.

2 thoughts on “

  1. Preach it, sister. Absolutely, right on, and other such phrases of agreement. I “ran” the Tough Mudder two years ago. I had no cardio. I had no upper body strength. I failed all obstacles that required you to use your upper body. I fell off the balancing bar. I took 7 hours where others took 2.5, and I skipped the last two obstacles. The penultimate wall because I didn’t want to injure myself, and the ultimate wall because I did not have the speed to get up there, helpful hunks at the top notwithstanding.
    And I felt GREAT when I was done. Completely without prep, and bumbling all the way through it, I had still done a Tough Mudder, the entry drug and littlest brother to all the races. Fuck yeah.

    I’m not sure what will happen this year. My shoulder’s fucked up because of stupidity with a snatch 1.5 years ago. It may not be ready for the Mudder. Which means I may just skip all obstacles but the crawling ones, and be just as slow as two years ago, because, still no cardio. And it’ll be a blast, again.

    99.many-9s percent of the population never even show up for these things. Just for showing up and shleping up the first hill, you are awesome. Finishing it? Awesome beyond description. Particularly when it’s hard and you are undertrained.

  2. Here’s the thing. I think you f’ing rock. You’re incredibly strong physically, you’re absurdly talented, and you generally come across as not necessarily fearless, but damn smart about fear.

    Knowing you struggled with this, and learned from it, and talked about it anyways, gives me hope on doing one of these myself some day. Thank you.


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