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Challenge Keeps You Humble

As many of you know, I competed in the Spartan World Championship race this past weekend. This event was held in the Olympic Village in Squaw Valley, Nevada; the same place they held the 1960 Winter Olympics. Being an Olympic venue, I expected nothing short of extraordinary, and it held up to expectations. The championship heat consisted of athletes from 25 countries to include Canada, France, Mexico, Australia, Ireland, Britain, and Japan. This created an interesting mix of conversation at the starting line as everyone was pushing and shoving to strategically place themselves before the gun went off. As our national anthem rang through the crowd, and I stood next to the best of the best, I felt honored to have made it this far. However, not a minute later, I was charging through the streets of the Olympic Village and on to the trail where we were exposed to the first obstacle, being a frigid water plunge. Leave it up to Spartan to test your grit straight out of the gate. Let's get these guys freezing cold and wet, and then send them up a 1,500' elevation climb. I learned my first lesson at this point; show up early to get a good spot, otherwise, you're starting off 150 people deep. And at this level, it's not easy to overtake people once you're behind. Being that I hadn't trained at altitude in comparison to many of the other competitors, my lungs were screaming as I went up the first hill. I was forced to go slow and even walk up many of the 50% grade climbs. However, while it did slow me down, I was conscious to keep my breathe under control and maintain a good pace. At the top of our first 1,500' climb, we reached the first obstacle where hand grip is crucial. Besides the altitude, the cold also worried me and how it would affect my hands. Being that a Spartan race is a competition where strength and hand grip is crucial, if I could not maintain my grip, then I was more likely to fail an obstacle. As I approached the pyramid monkey bar, I saw 8-10 other athletes already in the process of doing burpees, which is the penalty for not completing an obstacle successfully. This did not make me feel any better. How were the best spartans in the world failing an obstacle that is normally easy? Here we go.....I gripped that freezing cold bar and I was pleasantly surprised that even though my hands were cold, I was able to maintain my grip on these cold frigid bars. I made it through this obstacle and was able to overtake at least 10 people at this time. At about mile 8, after many more lung burning hill climbs, an extremely long log carry, I heard the cheers of the crowd. They were cheering on the first woman competitor who was making her way up the mountain. The elite woman start 15 minutes after the men, so these women are all but amazing as well. Lyndsay Webster, Rose Wetzel, and one other woman soon passed me on their way to the next obstacle. If there are any women out there who say they can't do something, aren't strong enough, or don't have time to challenge themselves; I hope you take the time to research these woman, as they are phenomenal athletes, mom's, and wives. The race continued on for another 6 miles, where I was faced with a very, very, very cold, arctic lake swim. If I had to guess, I would say the water temperature was in the mid-40's. I later found out that this obstacle caused many people to have to drop out due to hypothermia. No fun! After several more long, heavy carries; a rope climb; another monkey bar rig; and a second cold water plunge; I crossed the finish line after 3 hours and 23 minutes. I was exhausted, but ecstatic to have finished. Prior to the race, a close friend of mine sent me the quote that said "success breeds two things: more confidence, and more challenge. Confidence keeps you willing, but challenge keeps you humble." This really hit home with me after this race. For 14.7 miles I battled it out with the best in the world. They continued to push my limits, and at the same time we cheered each other on, and never let a person give up. They helped me to realize that although from different cultures, with different economic status, and different life experiences; we all had the same goal. Whether or not you're an athlete who competes in races, or a person who is looking to get back in shape after ten years of sitting on the couch; never stop challenging yourself. Never settle. Have laser like focus in your pursuit of greatness, but be humble and realize that we all have obstacles in our way. Whether it be a 10' muddy wall, or having the time to squeeze in some exercise between work and getting the kids to practice on time. You can do it! Challenge yourself. Take one step at a time. Then breakdown those barriers that stand in your way and become a better human!

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