Dear Joe,

I’m a pretty normal citizen; a 25 year old female, former collegiate athlete, and now in a career which I absolutely love – teaching. A couple of years ago I began to get involved with running, and truly found my niche. It was something I could do, a way to clear my mind and spend time with myself. It was simply “me time”, and I enjoyed it. I eventually ran a few half marathons and figured “Hey, that was great, good job!” Then that was it, I casually kept up with it, ran a little here and there, but nothing much. Until recently when I found the Spartan Race. Now I have never done a Spartan Race, I have only heard about it and began seriously considering it just a few weeks ago. I saw that the book ‘Spartan Up’ had been released and decided to get myself a copy. Since it’s arrived in the mail, I’ve really had my head in it, and was able to read the majority of it while traveling back to California yesterday, bookmarking  it just after the chapter about the “Cookie Test”.

I was pretty intrigued by the test and immediately thought to myself, “Hey that’s me!” For the last few months I have been taking the cookie, the easy way out, not even giving myself the chance to hold off. For example, I was choosing to sleep in rather than run. Each night I would tell myself, “Ok Alex, you’re going to run in the morning”, but when morning would arrive I’d get up, move around in my nice warm bed, and just tell myself, “Nah, I’ll run later”. But did I ever run later? Nope.  This cycle continued for a while, the pounds packed on again, and I was back to square one.

Alex Lopez was inspired by “Spartan Up!”

But then I read about the ‘Cookie Test’, and it made me think about it a lot. After being exhausted from my trip back home (3 hour drive in the morning, flight to LA, bus ride to Union Station, train ride to Corona, and a car ride to my final destination in Lake Elsinore), I had originally figured the next day I would sleep in. That is what my plan was, and I was sure I wasn’t going to wake up till noon, but somehow now my intentions seemed to be different.

The next morning I woke randomly at 6:30am, slowly rising while I lay in bed. I kept telling myself, “30 minutes more”, but I couldn’t seem to fall back asleep. Then all of a sudden the ‘Cookie Test’ came to mind. I told myself that I wouldn’t take the cookie this early, that I’m going to get up and go run. So running I went. I was pretty shocked at myself, thrilled with the realization that I could talk myself out of sleeping in another 30 minutes, and there I was, outside in the fresh air in my running gear. I wanted to make the run count so I set out for a distance of 5 miles. No big deal, I’ve been running here and there, trying to be consistent, so hey, “I’ve got this” I told myself. The route I took began with a loop, a mile to the left with direct route back which would result in two miles right before I hit the straight away stretch on the other side of the street to achieve three miles.

My run was going great, it felt good to breathe in the fresh air, to take in the scenery, and to enjoy the fact that I was home. I had reached a mile and made the turn to head back to the point where I began, which is the entrance to the street where my house is.  As I’m running, I reach the two mile mark and begin the three mile stretch when I encounter an older woman walking on the sidewalk.  I made the decision to jog off of the sidewalk to pass her, and when jumping back on the sidewalk I felt a painful poke right below the base of my big toe. I had to do  a ‘hippity hop’ and stopped to figure out what was wrong. I immediately took off my shoe, looked inside, and what I saw was a thorn coming through my shoe. Not just your typical thorn, but a 2 inch thorn; where it came from I had no idea. My foot began to throb in the most painful way ever. I tried to take out the thorn but it just wasn’t happening. I finally removed the insole, bent my shoe backwards, and with my teeth pulled it out.

Before putting my shoe back on, I took off my sock to see the damage. I saw blood on the outside of my sock, then saw a puncture wound where the thorn had pierced through my foot. I couldn’t shake the pain, but tried to put my shoe on anyway. So there I was, at was the entrance of the street where my house is, and my first thought was “I could stop my run now, go home, and rest.”  At that point I was really talking myself out of continuing my run. I was about to throw in the towel and just say “F it”, but the next thought that consumed me was “Don’t take the cookie”. I began repeating that phrase over and over in my head, “Don’t take the cookie”. I put my shoe back on, laced it up, and went for the rest of my run.  The throbbing in my foot was immense, it freaking hurt like hell, but I had already decided that I wasn’t going to take the cookie; so I kept going, further, harder. One mile passed, then another, until I reached my goal . After reaching five miles, I decided to continue on and went for a hill workout. I figured the pain that I would feel from my workout would take over the throbbing pain in my foot, and soon enough I had forgotten all about it.
After I completed my five plus mile run and hill workout, I returned home. I immediately took off my shoe the pain returned. But it had drastically diminished because I felt incredibly accomplished; I had pushed through the pain, I fought it, I SPARTAN’D UP! And although walking is a hassle because my foot is still in pain, it’s all good! You know why? Because I didn’t take the cookie.

Alex Lopez

To buy your copy of “Spartan Up!”, click here.

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