June of 2012 wasn’t a good time for Cem Colpan. He was suffering from asthma, weight issues, high cholesterol and a dangerous amount of fat in his liver. “The doctor said that I had to lose weight as soon as possible to prevent my liver from failing, but I just didn’t have it in me to diet and exercise. I had no motivation, was barely active as it was, and just felt like it wasn’t even worth trying to better myself, despite all of the health issues.”
Colpan was faced with an all too common, but sad scenario. Sometimes the drive or spark in order to get up and move just isn’t there. Sometimes it needs a fire lit under someone to make them jump up. Luckily, Cem was given those smallest of flames by way of his work manager.
“I opened up to one of my managers who was concerned and he told me about the Spartan Race and Chris Davis’ incredible story. I did research and noticed that there was a Super Spartan Race being held in New Jersey in September (2012) but I had my doubts. After being pushed by my manager, I had signed up for the race and began with the most basic exercise there was. Walking.”
When he started, it was all guns blazing – the gym was pounded 5 days a week, but he was deterred by the minimal results that were being shown. Training was slow, but steady. Walking slowly became jogging and the workouts became more efficient. More to the point, he had something to focus on.
“When the race time rolled around, I weighed 30 pounds less and was MUCH more active than before. The fat in my liver was decreasing, my cholesterol was lower and my asthma was little to no issue at all. I had completed the Super Spartan with the help of my manager, although it took 5 hours and 43 minutes to complete. After getting back home and resting a few days, I was constantly checking the Facebook page for any race photos and, to my surprise, my picture was one of the lucky few to make it. I felt honored and it was such a great accomplishment to actually be on the page.”
The high of the finish wore off and, “A few weeks after the race, I noticed that my workouts weren’t the same. I had lost a little more weight but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. Without a goal, I found myself stuck. So what was the next best thing I could do? Set a new goal and that was to earn the Spartan Trifecta in 2013.”
At the time Cem completed the CitiField Sprint, everything health wise was going great. He was 30lbs lighter, the liver issue was settled, the asthma was gone and the cholesterol was much better. But for some reason, a few weeks later, things started turning sour.
Everything was great up until a few weeks ago. My whole world began to come down on me. I was losing everything. “The first thing that happened was issues my family. Arguments started to increase and there was an imbalance between me, my mother, father and sister. Shortly after, my girlfriend, who had been an incredible source of support with my change ended up breaking up with me. As those situation were going on, I also found myself slowly losing my closest friends. I tried to keep my chin up and be thankful that two parts of my life were going well. Both work and my health.
It was about two weeks ago where, of course, work was now an issue as well. It was very taxing and I had remained completely ignorant to the depression that was slowly creeping up on me. I remained as positive as I could be and tried taking things one day at a time. I felt that I was being hit from all sides and nothing was going right. Then, August 23rd, it seemed like it was just another day until I began feeling faint. I got some water and thought that I was just a little tired when about one hour in, I collapsed.”
He was brought to the nearest hospital and some tests were run. No one could figure out what the issue was, including Cem himself. A psychologist was spoken to, but nothing became of it. He was released, and went home, but he preferred to be alone. Isolated.
“The next day must have been one of the longest ones ever. The depression had completely taken over and although I had my parents trying to help, it wasn’t working. My father took a walk with me so I could get some air instead of staring at the ceiling. On our way back home, I began to feel faint again. My father rushed me home and had me lie on the bed. I was on the verge of passing out again and both of my parents were frantic. They grabbed the ice, kept fanning me and talking to me to make sure I was responding. I was overcome with fatigue , unable to move my arms or legs. I just laid there in tears once again. I was slowly gaining my energy after getting help from my parents. By the end of the night, I was back to functioning normal again, but still silent.
Sunday came and I was finally ready to talk and told my parents everything that had been on my mind. I called my sister, my friends and even my ex. I was exhausted but felt that it was necessary to just open up entirely. Afterwards, I had taken a walk by myself. I was trying to push my limits to see exactly where I was at. I couldn’t find myself walking for more than a quarter mile without being exhausted and it was at that moment that I realized the path I took was the very same path I had taken during my first official “exercise” last year.”
In the blur of what was happening he had lost sight of the whole point of why he started and what for. His manager called him and pointed out that the Super was a mere 13 days away. Fearful that everything he worked towards may be lost, he trained “smarter, not harder” and saw it through. Eventually, the Super came and in his own words, Cem explains how it went;
“I loved the race. I believe that, for its level, it was definitely challenging. The hills were a brutal battle and I loved every bit of it. There was teamwork and camaraderie, even from complete strangers. I saw people helping each other up the walls and holding the cargo net so others would get over the net safely. I even had a few conversations and shared some of my energy gels with a few people along the way. I managed to complete the race in 2 hours and 35 minutes which was around my goal time so I’m content. The course DEFINITELY tested everybody’s strength and will and despite all the sweat and exhaustion, the course still managed to put smiles on just about everybody’s face. I don’t think I have a single complaint about the race and that’s saying something because I’m generally a picky person. It was great.”
At Vermont, Cem will earn his Trifecta.
To dig deeper and find what was once there is a hard thing to do. To have already given all you thought you had and then to have to find even more is something best realized at the finish line. And that’s when you’ll know.
What’s your excuse? Sign up today.