Happiness, it does not come in pill form, or served in a cocktail, it is not found in a race, or on a island, it’s not just one big thing, it’s all the little things put together. Happiness starts with you – not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but with you. You must find what makes you happy, and when you have a bad day, find those things that make you happy and incorporate them into your daily life.
I know what you are saying, easy for me to say. But the thing is, it isn’t. I have never taken a single step in anyone else’s shoes, so I don’t know what is easy or hard for anyone else, but I do know that for me it took 10 years of destructive living before I found what works for ME, not anyone else but me. I was not always the man I am today, but my past helped shape me in who I am today, and the man I am today will help shape who I will be tomorrow.
I was raised in a foster care system, where I was told that I was nothing more than 20$ a day to that person, I was for the majority of my teenage years treated as pay cheque, as a job, no compassion, no sympathy was shared on me. Now I did have some amazing influences in my life, a local broadcaster came into my life as a mentor and soon a father, an emergency care worker who I believe is an Angel, she was a part of my journey for a short time, but in that short time she helped shape me in who I am today. Years later thanks to social media we were able to reconnect and I am forever grateful for her and her family for what they did for me. But unfortunately a teenager needs constant care, and part time influences where not enough to keep me focused on what I needed to do. I was easily influenced by the wrong crowd and I made unfortunate life choices that eventually ended me up behind bars. I was homeless at one time, sleeping on friend’s couches and on some nights in bus shelters. My life was so destructive that one night I was sitting on my bed with my head down looking in one hand a bottle of oxy, and in another a bottle of jack. I spent my rent money on these items, I was done with the pain of being alone. Seconds before I was to down the pain numbing bottles, my dog buster walked intot he room and sat in between my legs with his head in my lap, looking up to me, with his puppy like eyes I broke down. I’ve never cried so much in my entire life.
I thought how selfish of me, I am not alone, this animal needs me, he needs me to do the simplest things that bring him so much joy. I mean scratching his belly, feeding him, taking him for walks, tossing a ball, brings him so much joy. Why can’t I find similar joy in very simple things? SO I tossed the bottles, got a gig as a DJ for a new year’s event (that saved my rent) and I decided that I would give up booze as a new year’s resolution and run the 10k race. That night I passed up a few bumps from some “friends” and patron bottle service, as this was my first test. SO I passed my first test and started the year sober, 6 months later I ran my first 10k in sub 42 mins (exceeded my goal) and I haven’t been drunk since. Now I can have a drink here and there and not worry about my past coming back.
If you are looking for a secret remedy or an answer to your problems, I don’t have it, but what I can tell you is that the answer is out there, you just have to find it. I mean it took me 10 years, I didn’t realize that 2 years after that 10k race that I would later work for Spartan Race, I had no clue that 5 years after my first Spartan Race that I would be opening up a 6,000 square foot OCR training facility and I would say you are crazy that 7 years after my suicide attempt that I would be inspiring so many others with my words and actions.
Remember it’s your shoes, your choice and your life to live. Some of us don’t need to hit rock bottom to realize our true potential, but realize that where we are today is a direct correlation on where we have been, and I am firm proponent that to know where we are going is we must first remember where we have been, so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Life is an Obstacle course, and our happiness is the medal. Wear it loud and proud.
Now excuse me while I dance. As my dad always said, every day that we wake up is a good day to dance.
August 28th 2014 at 9pm I was doing a 51inch box jump, I made it but fell backwards directly onto my wrist. For 6 months I could not do anything with my wrist, it wasn’t till June 2015 when I could final do a push up, and till this day I still struggle in the push up position ( I am now at 30 consecutive pus ups before I have to stop). Also with starting a new business and being a step dad, making the time to log in the klms is very difficult. Not having a set schedule and random pop up meetings throughout the day made it very difficult to put in the klms needed to bring your “EH” game come race day.
Now this blog is not about excuses, its about determination and setting a Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Goal (S.M.A.R.T) and accomplishing it. Spartan Race has become famous for leaving its races to the imagination and telling us that we must train for the worst so we can give our best, but a “smart” athlete knows what she or he is getting themselves into so they can prepare for the worst. So let’s through a few stats out there, 48.67k (more like 50 when you add the obstacles such as log, jerry can, tractor pull and atlas carries) and an Elevation gain of 11,456 feet and an elevation loss of 11,483 feet. We talk a lot about the gain, which sucks, but a real kick to the ovaries and or bean bag, is the loss. We all know races are won on the downhill, but that’s where knees are truly tested as well.
This race tested us all physically, but also mentally as well. Let me tell you when I was at the 75% mark of the first loop, when I was going around the lake, that’s when I was really questioning my life choice of going into this race, but then came the water, and that my friend was a morale booster. I was feeling alive and ready to tackle anything that came my way (I also thought there was no more hill climbs) I think the Race Director Dan Luzzi aka the Luzzinator knew this would be the case so that’s why he decided to add the mile loop of hell, which included a nice stroll back up the mountain, and we were greeted with Atlas lift, sled drag, and the slap on the back log carry, followed by the tire carry. That was a roller coaster of emotions right there, I legit went from hating life, to loving it, to hating it all in a span of 45 mins, but that’s what Spartan Race is supposed to do.
Volunteers, you all stepped your eh game for this race, you were all tough as nails when it came to the obstacles, some concerns though, on the first loop for the rig, I got through the second lane but I dint have 2 hands on the final ring, I was not aware that I had to as no one expressed that rule to me. I held onto the last ring with one hand and was in control and I was about to high five the volunteer as I completed it, but she broke my heart and told me I had to do burpees, I recall on the rest of the obstacles that when I got to the end I made it clear that I had both hands on the final bar. Also if you are a volunteer, and someone obviously fails, and they know it, please take caution when telling us we have to do burpees, as we know what we have to do, we like salt in our bodies, not on our wounds ;) But ultimately thank you to all the volunteers who are at the top of the mountain for 8,10,13 hrs its not easy, I remember my first year as a volunteer and doing the water at the finish line, being hunched over on the floor (they weren’t on stands like they are now) struggling to keep up with the water demand.
Some new things that I experienced on this race were as following WARNING going to get personal: Toe nails, make sure they are clipped, I’m usually really good at keeping nails modest (gf will be first to let me know that I’m letting my nails go) but my pinky toe was a bit too long and on that down hill I was hearing my pancake telling me to clip my nails. Also chaffing in the rear region, that sh!t is not fun (no pun intended) not entirely too sure where I’m going with this but yeah it was not fun. Also urination, sorry to the racer who went the wrong way and ended up getting an eye full of some man parts, we all know that runners while in a race become the dumbest people on the planet, we are focusing on so much things, keep back straight, shoulders back, breath, and keep hydrated. We get to a wall and ask what do we have to do here? You get over it you nincompoop, its not rocket science, but like I said us runners become pretty held back when it comes to common sense stuff. So yeah follow the flags or else you might see something you could have gone without.
What saved me this race? When I asked a lot of people what they were bringing with them as they plan to be on course for 7,10,13 hrs, and not one person mentioned salt tablets. We need on a daily Carbs, fats, protein and MINERALS. The loss of salt is also connected to cramping and hyponatremia, a rare and potentially fatal condition in which over hydration leads to low blood sodium levels. I also noticed early in the race that my urine was not clear so I focused on hydration and set a goal, it felt great to yell VICTORY, my pee is clear, the medics were jacked to hear that. My fuel for the run was mostly vegan inspired, mashed sweet potatoes with organic honey (no bees were harmed in supplying me the sweet, sweet goodness of that organic honey), avocado chocolate pudding, that I placed in zip lock bags. And finally sticking to my plan, we told ourselves what our pace should be and our watch (well not all of us, our fellow runners Garmin crapped out) helped keep us on track. The Fenix 3 was worth the price tag when it came to this event. Support crew, having someone there to keep you motivated, distract you from the pain, and have everything ready for you so when you tell yourself you can’t do something, they are there to remind you that yes you can. Finally what helped keep us going is that on the 2nd lap little things kept our moral up, things like the sand bag was only one bag, the rig was only one section, the mile from hell was only for the first loop, so no log carry, tractor pull or tire carry, and the jerry can carry loop was shortened (it still sucked but like I said it’s the little things).
In conclusion I’m here to tell everyone that if you set a SMART goal, you can achieve anything, we left at 8:15am we power walked up the mountains, kept hydrated and eat when we should, and on downhill we jogged, on some flat terrain we lightly jogged and beat the first cut off by 1hr, on the 2nd lap we didn’t run at all, kept our average klm at 12 mins (goal was anything below 15), with this plan we were able to beat every cut off by at least an hr. Our goal was just to finish it and that we did. Thank you to the build crew of the race, our support team, and my fellow runners who helped us stay focused on our goal. Some say run your own race, but if you have others with same plan, and use safe words, anything is possible. Our safe word for when we wanted to jog was Leonidas, and when we wanted to cool down was Batman, we didn’t judge each other when we needed to batman, as we knew our pace and we knew when we should go and when we need to rest.
So surround yourself with like-minded individuals and you can accomplish anything.
Set a SMART goal. Don’t let excuses define you.
Blogging thoughts from OCRA Team