There’s a scene in the movie “300” where King Leonidas receives a messenger from Xerxes, the Persian king who is hell bent on conquering the world. The messenger tells the king of Sparta that he is to bow to Xerxes and submit to his will, or be annihilated. Knowing that the Persian empire were a million men strong, and Sparta, only a few thousand, Leonidas contemplated his next action. He looked at the men and women of Sparta. He looked at the children. He weighed the lives of his people. Then he turned and gave the messenger his reply; it didn’t end well for the Persian. This act started the war between the Greeks and the Persians and led to one of the most famous battles in history – the Battle of Thermopylae.
Historians now say that the Persian’s army ranged between a couple hundred thousand instead of a million, and that the Spartan’s had more than 300 at Thermopylae, but that’s irrelevant. What is important is that they stood bold and acted in the face of fear. They united as a country and defended it, at all costs. They rose to the challenge and excelled against all odds.
Personally, it’s not fear that motivates me. It’s stagnation and complacency. I need to challenge myself and work towards something or else I find myself feeling bored, and at rare times, slightly depressed. I need a driving factor that keeps me in check and makes me put in the work. That’s why, at the beginning of 2016, I signed up for three Spartan races. I took action. I wanted the trifecta.
The trifecta medal wasn’t the goal. Sure it looks good and it’s a nice reminder of my achievements, but I was looking for validation. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I wanted to know that I could push my body to the limit and come out standing on the other side. The finish line is what drove me.
Action is key to anything. I can talk about doing something, and have for most my life, then sleep on it and forget all about it. I can come up with all kinds of excuses for why I can’t do something. Maybe I don’t want to do something, but know that I need to. That’s when I need to look the messenger of fear and doubt in the eye and Spartan kick that bitch in the chest.
The Spartan Race is a true test of will and determination, especially for someone like me who doesn’t train for it other than run a couple times a week. It is designed to take you out of your comfort zone and push you to the limit. I love it. I think we have become way too comfortable in society today. It has shown me that I want to take my personal health to the next level. I want to train better and I want to compete more. That is why I will continue to sign up for new things that test me. It makes me train in preparation of the challenge. It keeps me working towards that goal. As of now, I think I’ll sign up for a marathon in 2017. Maybe an Ironman in 2018.
The first race was a Sprint, right at 5 miles with around 25 obstacles in north Charlotte. It was on a beautiful farm and the weather was perfect in April. I had a blast. I was sore for a week after, but it was a great time. It was my first obstacle course race!
The second race, the Asheville Super, was not so fun. It was honestly the hardest thing, physically, that I’ve ever gone through. The whole thing was grueling at 9 miles and with around 3,500′ of elevation gain. At 4.5 miles, my legs began to cramp up. Then came the 2 mile hike up the side of a mountain. To add insult to injury, they saved the hardest obstacles like the Herculean Hoist and the rope traverse for the end. After I crossed the finish line, I met my family then sat on the ground for about 30 minutes, unable to move. Looking back, I don’t know how I finished. I guess it was sheer will that pushed me through. As I ran, I recalled reading about the Navy SEAL’s; some of the best trained soldiers in the world. It’s the mindset that sets them apart. They believe, and it has been scientifically proven, that when you think that your body is done and can go on no further, you’re only at 40%. That means you got another 60% in the tank.
Then came the Beast race in Winnsboro, SC. This was held at Carolina Adventure World — one of the largest ATV tracks on the east coast. I packed a camelback and some racing fuel for this one; 14.2 miles and 32 obstacles. I thought it would be harder than Asheville, but it wasn’t. I thoroughly enjoyed this race, and after mile 7, I knew my body would hold up the rest of the way. This was to be the race that finalized my trifecta.
The human body is amazing. The way it copes with physical stress, and changes throughout duress, is awesome to feel. You can do so much more than you think is possible. It’s all a matter of perspective; it’s all in the mind. How much are you willing to feel? How much pain can you put yourself through? How far can you go? Remember, 40%.
One of the best things about the Spartan community is the people. Everyone is there to do the same thing — prove to themselves that they have the willpower and determination to finish the race. Look to your left. Look to your right. These are your brothers and sisters. If you fall, they’re there to pick you up and cheer you on. Being around this spirit of brotherhood and camaraderie is contagious. It’s an awesome feeling.
I’m going to take action in 2017. It’s gonna to be the best year yet.
I’m going to do more.
“The impediment to action advances action; what stands in the way becomes the way.” ~Marcus Aurelius