Next week I’ll fly to Tampa to run in my last race of the year. The longest and most challenging one yet.
A group of us started training in January and next week we’ll get to experience the joy of accomplishing what we set out to do……..the reward of almost 12 months of dedication and hard work.
Our goal: The Spartan Trifecta – to conquer a Sprint, Super, and Beast in one calendar year.
This race is the final piece of our Trifecta. The culmination of all our training and commitment. It will be grueling, but oh the joy will be sweet.
Because the longer and harder you work…….the more it means.
And this means a lot. Three years ago I couldn’t run a quarter mile without stopping. I’ve come a long way since the Couch to 5K app and running my first 5K in 2015.
I’m not sure what’s next in my journey but whatever it is I plan to work at it with as much courage and dedication and surround myself with those that will cheer me on, push me, and lift me up when needed.
I couldn’t do this alone. These women and my family have been a vital part of my conquering.
So here’s to setting goals and making them happen. Here’s to taking on new challenges and overcoming obstacles. And here’s to doing it with some of the most beautiful and strongest people I know.
I raced in my 2nd Spartan Sprint at Fort Benning, Georgia this weekend.
Before you’re tempted to think I’m a hard core athlete or a fitness guru, let me tell you, I am not. I’m a 40-something wife and mother of three who ran my first 5K two years ago in honor of my mother and to support the local hospice organization that helped care for her.
Something changed when I trained for and finished my first race though. I wrote about my journey from believing I could never run to finishing my first 5K in a post called Run.
I continued to train for other races on my own but then joined a group of women training for our first Spartan Race last summer. It was incredible. I wrote about that too in my post Together and here we are together again.
Something special happens when you join a group of people working toward running a hard race. You show up to the workouts when you’d rather not. You work harder because you see the others working harder. You cheer for one another and learn from each other. Then it becomes something more than working out together. You talk and laugh and get to know each other. You conquer fears together. You share life stuff and you care about these people. You want to do your best in the race and you want them to do their best too.
I realize this race wasn’t my race….it was our race. Each one of the ladies in our group made me better in some way. I run better. I’m stronger. I’m more confident. I have more fun. All because of these amazing women!
As part of my Live Like It Matters Challenge, I challenge you to do the same. Gather a group of people…..friends, co-workers, family, whoever and set a goal to do something hard. Find a local 5K and train for it together. Pick a Relay for Life event and raise a certain amount of money together then participate. Gather a team and train to compete in dragon boat races. Do a Warrior Dash or a fun run with your kids.
There are one hundred creative ways to do something hard with a group of people.
After months of training for a race like I’ve never run before…..I ran the course and finished.
And I finished well.
The race was 4.22 miles with 22 obstacles and it was amazing.
It was the teamwork. The encouragement. The ability to do more than I thought I could. It was strangers offering a hand or a knee to help and me offering one in return. It was how I pushed myself. It was conquering fears and obstacles and it was watching others conquer fears and obstacles. It was hard and eye-opening. It was humbling and heart-opening too.
Running a Spartan Sprint was a good thing to do on a Saturday morning.
I almost missed it though. In short, a wrong map took us to the wrong place. We turned around and took the right map to the right place and finally arrived at the military base where the race was held. But 100,000 slow moving vehicles were between me and where I needed to be (not really that many but it seemed like it). I jumped out of my husband’s truck, sprinted a mile to the registration tent, picked up my racer’s pack and made it to the starting line in time.
This race was more than just a race for me. I learned a great deal about myself and others. I learned the importance of doing new things and taking on challenges but two things really stand out.
Training made a significant difference in my race. And not only my race……but getting to the race in time. I ran the mile to make the race with no problem because I was prepared. I trained with other women every Saturday morning for months leading up to the race but I worked out on my own 5 times a week. Our Saturdays were great but not enough to prepare me adequately. I was consistent and disciplined in my own preparation and it made all the difference in my race…..in my confidence going into it and in how I performed.
The other major lesson learned is that we are better together. The women I trained with were a constant source of encouragement as we prepared for the race. We lifted each other up on our bad days, cheered our victories, and talked down our fears. We held each other accountable.
I made it to the starting line on time because two friends helped me get my gear and chip timer on and made sure I was hydrated before we started.
And I could not have finished the race well without my racing partners. We stayed together throughout the entire race. They pushed me and lifted me (they literally lifted me at one point). We laughed. We strained. We cheered and helped each other. We cheered and helped other racers. We joked at all the mud and we raced with all our hearts.
The encouragement from these women…..the help, the drive, the smiles and laughter were vital to my race.
Life’s that way, too.
We are better together. We just are.
And being prepared is better than not being prepared. It just is.
Try something new and do something hard. And help others do it.
And let them help you.
Because it matters. Live like it matters.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT
In three weeks I’ll do something I’ve never done before. I will run my first Spartan Race. Six months ago I didn’t even know about a Spartan Race. All I know now is that my race is called a Sprint and that it’s a 3 to 5 mile obstacle race. Not only will I be running but I’ll be overcoming some crazy obstacles. We won’t know the obstacles until we run into them.
I’ve trained for the last two months with a group of women called Spartan Chicks, a small group formed at my church. A few of the women have run a Spartan Race but the majority of us have never done anything like it.
I’m excited because I’ve dedicated myself to the training and I feel prepared. I’m nervous because it’s new and there are a lot of unknowns.
I won’t bore you with all the “what ifs” in my head, but as nervous as the unknowns make me, the things I do know give me confidence I will finish the race well.
First, I have a team of women that have worked together, pushed one another to be better, and lifted each other. We’ve lifted each other not only with encouraging words but literally lifted each other up, helping each other conquer obstacles and fears. We’ll cheer each other on and help each other during the race if needed.
Second, I have prepared for the race. This is going to be hard. Really hard. But I’ve done things that I never thought I could do. My mind knows my body can do this. When it hurts I’ll remind myself of that. When I think I can’t go another step, I’ll remember the feeling of crossing the finish line of my first 5K. For so long I believed I couldn’t run but then I started to run. I found out I could run…..I just needed to train. I’ve trained for this and I can do this race.
I’ve made a decision to continue training………for something……..all the time. After the Spartan I plan to train for a 10K that I’ll run with my niece in the fall. Having a goal helps keep me motivated to eat “good for me” foods and exercise consistently.
I don’t stay fit to look a certain way or so that I can wear a particular dress size. I want to be as healthy as I can be because God gave me this one body and I want to care for it. I should care for it. I want to honor him with my life….my body and health included. That doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy a cinnamon crunch scone or eat a plateful of fettuccine Alfredo on occasion. Just in moderation.
I urge you to think about ways you can train for better health. Make one change…….keep at it until it becomes a healthy habit, then make another change. The point is for you to take better care of the one body you’ve been given. We can all make a healthy change. Get informed and find out what works for you. There is no perfect weight or size so don’t measure your progress with a scale. Measure it by how you feel.
Because your health matters.
Live like it matters.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20