Last Saturday I participated in the Pa Spartan Race. I registered not really knowing what I was getting into. I’d heard of mud runs and I’d been running more so I thought why not?! About a month before the race I realized that I needed to start doing more then just run so I added sit ups, push ups and burpees to my routine. 2 weeks before the run I found the Spartan Chicks and that is when I found out exactly what I had gotten myself into. This was the mother of all mud runs with intense obstacles, walls, barbed wire, fire etc. I began to get a little nervous! I realized it was time to step things up; I did two sets of burpees each day, push ups at the kitchen island whenever I was in there, which is a lot with three kids. Every afternoon I carried two backpacks up our steep hill, one in the front and one in the back along with a viola and sax just to get the extra weight. It’s not a rock or a sandbag but as a mom of three I’ll take what I can get. Even with all this, I felt like it was little too late to be in the kind of shape needed for a Spartan Race. I reached out to the Spartan Chicks on line with my fears and received and outpouring of support and encouragement. I was encouraged to run my own race, take my time, take one obstacle at a time, and believe in myself. Wow, this was starting to sound a lot like Yoga Philosophy. How often in class do I say “listen to your body” “find your edge w/o going over” “Accept your body exactly where you are w/o judgment” My worry and fear had gotten in the way and I wasn’t enjoying the process of training and being in the moment, in my body. I was so grateful that I’d reached out to these women. I felt such clarity and even a sense of calm. I knew I would do the race and finish it and have fun.
My yoga principles helped me out throughout the race. There is a practice called walking meditation where you use the experience of walking as the focus. The first two miles of the race was straight up Blue Mountain. Many participants stopped or sat to catch their breath. I knew I couldn’t stop so I looked at my feet, got into my zone and just repeated the mantra ‘one step’ until I got to the top.
The same mindfulness came into play with the bucket of rocks. I focused only on my breath, breathing in and breathing out. I didn’t look to see how far I had to go or how far I’d been. I focused on each step and each breath.
Going down the mountain was equally as challenging to me. I was cautious and went slow. In retrospect it was probably the hardest part for me mentally. It left me with anxiety that I didn’t expect.
Before the race I was afraid of the fire and I jumped over it with such a sense of freedom and pride. I am proud to say I finished the 4.8 miles and 20 obstacles and had fun!
Yesterday was a week and a day after the Race and I found myself running a 6 mile loop, a loop I hadn’t run in almost three years since my Dad died. The run gave me time to reflect.
I’ve faced my share of obstacles over the past few years; I lost both of my parents in a span of 17 months in addition to a long list of other tragedies. Grief and stress take a tremendous amount of energy and all of my energy went into living each day, taking care of my family and running my business. I didn’t have any extra energy to run. The Spartan Run and especially the Spartan Chicks came into my life when I was ready for it. There is a Buddhist expression that says ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will come” The time was right for me to head down this path and I consider each one of the amazing Spartan Chicks as my teachers for inspiring me.
The symbolic meaning of the lotus flower is something I hold near and dear to my heart. The lotus flower grows in the mud and rises into something beautiful. Despite challenge and difficult circumstances it still blooms into something beautiful. Ironically I got a lotus tattoo years ago long before I understood suffering. Now I feel I’ve risen through the mud, symbolically and literally!
I’ve thrown my list of stress and grief into the flames of the last challenge because it is my story but it doesn’t define me. I faced my obstacles and conquered them.