I was introduced to Sparta and my quest to take on the Conyer’s Georgia Race on March 9, 2013. Notably, I’ll be taking on the majority of the course on my hands and knees. As a T-12 paraplegic, that is my best option for completing what I have been told is a grueling course. It all started with seeing a picture of Todd Love and Team X-T.R.E.M.E.’s efforts in Lessburg that made me want to take on this epic challenge. That means I have to get prepared.
How many times a day do you hear someone say, “ I CAN’T!” How many times do you want to say “I can!” One of the things I have had to deal with since I was paralyzed was hearing people tell me, “ YOU CAN’T” and I have always used that to fuel me and to prove to others that I can. When I was paralyzed at the age of 16, my family was told I had a less than a 1% chance of survival if I made it through my heart surgery. I beat those odds. I survived and I surpassed every Doctor’s expectations of my life. I did not take the word “Can’t” into consideration. I did not want to be beaten by this so called disability. I wanted to live.
This brings me back to where I started. “I CAN’T” is used so much in our daily lives and I am not immune to this either. I have in my life said, “I CAN’T” many of times and used it more recently. We all are human and we all tend to think we can’t do something and we make excuses and just give up from time to time. When I started my journey to become a Spartan and achieve Spartan Glory, I was told by friends and co-workers that I couldn”t do it. I was told that it would be too hard. It was almost as if I was back in the hospital again being told I would never walk again and that my life was over and that I had to sit in a corner, watch TV and just grow old and die.
I took that disbelief and used it to my advantage. I wanted to compete in the Spartan Race with a team or alone. I decided I was going to cross that line as a SPARTAN. Just like a lot of us, I work a full-time job at 40 hours week, train full time, with a family , and balance the responsibilities of everyday life. Sometimes you have to make it all work. So it may be putting two kitchen table chairs together and doing dips while you are making dinner or if it is family time in the living room, put your kids on your back and do push-ups. Not only is it a great workout, your kids will love it too. There are so many ways you can get in your workouts by just using your time wisely and putting forth an effort. So, “I can’t” is not an option.
The other day, I got a phone call from one my team members of TEAM PUSHHARDER, Kevin Patterson. Kevin is from my home town of Amory, MS. Kevin and I grew up together and he has seen my struggles. So, Kevin and I have some history together. When I posted up on Facebook that I was going to do my first Spartan Race and I was going to do this all by myself or with a team, he jumped up and took the call. I think Kevin volunteered to quickly. I laughed when Kevin called and said to me, “what did I get myself into?” Kevin, being a man of his word went to work. Kevin has went from a couch potato to an athlete. Kevin has his life back. He has lost almost 50 lbs in just 3 months. He took the words “I CAN’T” and threw it in the trash. This is why I am proud to have him on my team. Not only because we grew up together and he means a lot to me, but because ”I CAN’T” is not in his vocabulary.
The definition of a Spartan is a person of great courage and self-disciple, undaunted when face with pain, fear, danger or adversity. I don’t see the words “I CAN’T” in this definition of a Spartan, do you? I want to live the life that I am proud of, I want to live a life with full of “I DID!” I want to cross that line as a TRUE SPARTAN on March 9th, and say I did this with my teammates. I don’t want to say, We tried but we couldn’t. I will not accept that. I will not accept that defeat. I WILL BE A SPARTAN.
[Editor's Note: Spartan Race HQ would like to congratulate Michael and his wife Tiffany on the birth of their new son, Michael Elijah Mills. He weighed in at 8lbs and 19 1/2 long, born at 9:26 yesterday, November 28, 2012.
Michael Mills is a T12 paraplegic, the victim of a head on collision with a drunk driver in 1993 and though he’s been tackling wheelchair racing since 1996, competing in over 160 road and track races in the twelve years since, even representing the United States three separate times, he saw the Spartan Race series and realized it was the next challenge he wanted. He'll be doing the Georgia Spartan Sprint on 3/9/13. Want to stay tuned in to Michael’s journey? He’ll be regularly posting his story and training on our blog in a series we’ll be calling “Chasing Michael Mills.” Follow his facebook page. Want to support his cause? Check out Spartan Sprint for Berts Big Adventure | Michael Mills’ Fundraiser on CrowdRise. ]