The 2014 obstacle course race season has come to a close. This year has been a whole new experience for me, teaching me all new lessons and helping me to better learn about myself.
I didn’t train as hard this year as I did in 2013, and I only have myself to blame. I kick myself now for letting that happen, but since it did I’ve spent some time reflecting on the reason behind it. Some have said things along the lines of ‘oh, well you’re in a relationship so it’s normal to let yourself go a bit.’ NO. That is not okay, nor is it acceptable. I love that I found what I wanted: a man who would either run obstacle course races with me or wait for me at the finish line, but I’ll never keep fit just for him. I do this for me.
I think sometimes he thinks he’s partially at fault, that he de-motivated me enough to not work as hard. I see things in the reverse.
I ended a 15 year relationship last year…no easy feat, but I did it with no regrets. Looking back though, I think I ignored my unhappiness by distracting myself with exercise. When I reached one goal, I pushed myself harder. I set my sights on the Spartan Race Trifecta and spent the year wondering, can I really do this? My ex would always wish me luck before a race, but he didn’t truly take much of an interest or try to understand why this was so important to me. Upon reflection, I think that made me want to work harder.
I remember stomping up the mountain at the 2013 Super, angry at him for making decisions that impacted my future but proud of myself for putting me first and leaving. It motivated me to push more. I remember thinking about the two guys I had been speaking to on Plenty of Fish, both of which took the same interest in my racing as my ex-husband – the difference was, both of those guys had yet to even meet me. Now it’s one year later, and I’m marrying one of them.
I should’ve realized that a healthy, happy relationship and hard-core race training are not mutually exclusive. It sounds like common sense, but I didn’t consciously come to that realization until about a month before this year’s Beast, and even though I had started to feel like myself again by the time race day came around, my body told me otherwise.
I climbed Killington with an ulcer that started hurting me about 36 hours earlier. I chalked it up to my own personal obstacle – I was getting on that mountain. I sprained my thumb and had my left hand wrapped but still, I continued. But it got to a point where I had to stop. I was disappointed, but I don’t regret my decision. Last year I earned my Trifecta; this year I earned my first DNF, and lessons were learned from both.
I wasn’t ready to end my season though, and signed up for the Merrill Down & Dirty. It wasn’t a difficult race, but it involved a lot of trail running which in turn, would find me on the floor around mile 5. Both knees were skinned, my pants were ripped, my nose was bleeding and my lip had been cut open. Volunteers ran over with water, offering to call a medic. I declined. My fiancé suggested we quit. I could see the look of concern in his eyes.
No, I am not a quitter. I’ll limp to the finish line if I have to, but we are not stopping.
So I’ve closed the season knowing that I didn’t race to my full potential this year, and I can never get that back. But I didn’t lose heart either – something a friend told me long ago could not be taught. So season four will be about combining it together, all while gearing up for a wedding and a pregnancy, because as my fiancé says, I’m a tough chick.
And I knew at the finish line.