Showing “tough love” is perhaps hard on the eye, but arguably the most sincere form of love a father can give. Taken directly from the same principle applied to boys in Sparta when they were trained to become warriors, the nurturing arm around the shoulders wasn’t always there. The long term lessons the child learned would prove, ultimately, that the best interests were always at heart, despite being hidden behind a veil of something they didn’t like.

A familiar face of not just the east coast races, but of the Death Race, too, the man known to everyone as Steve-O Opie Bones. But behind the wild hair and unmistakable beard, lies something a little more serious. His number one priority has been and always will be his two boys.

“Being a Spartan Dad was an easy decision. My main focus in life is and will always be my kids. I never sugar coat anything with them and always tell them the way the world really operates. My goal is to make them better then me. I want them to experience all that life has to offer. They have a ‘never quit’ attitude. It is a code that they live by daily. Kieran and Colin both ran their first kids race in 2012 while I was running the Beast. Since then, they have raced at Fenway Park, Citifield, Philly, and will be doing Tuxedo this weekend. While they were at Citifield this year, they also had the life changing opportunity to assist with the Special Needs Race. They have been surrounded by many incredible people during these races and many have become role models to them. They have learned to respect our Nation’s Vets and Honor our Wounded Warriors.”

Play time with Steve is a little different to most fathers.

But his passion for the right thing doesn’t just stop at his children. He points his finger at the country and remarks how a father figure is missing across this great nation.

“I hate to say it, but there are so many other countries who look at us as being “fat, lazy Americans.”  Take a look around and give it some thought. They might just be right. If you are allowing your son or daughter to sit around, eat junk food, watch tv and play video games, you are doing them a disservice. You are doing the entire U.S. a disservice. There are so many preventable and controllable diseases that plague our society. Take responsibility for your actions and get your kids moving. Your kids will thank you.

“I recently read a story about a Father that had his son carry a 23 pound rock as punishment for watching too many videos and not doing his homework. It is difficult for me to form an opinion on this when I do not have all of the facts. I do, however feel that we are too soft with our children. The fact that everyone gets an award and that everyone passes does not sit well with me. Getting away with the bare minimum just doesn’t cut it. Everyone, adults and children alike have more to give than we do. Our culture proliferates this thought that it is okay to quit. To not try harder than the bare minimum.

If you are a Dad and you are not racing with your children, you are doing it wrong.”

Michael Mills, the first Spartan Pro Adaptive Athlete – and good friend of Steve-O – shares his sentiments entirely. Tough love is good love. Although maybe the child won’t appreciate it at first, when they are old enough to realize – when it matters – it’s then when those loving seeds that were planted all those years ago come to fruition.

Steve and Michael worked together at the Death Race.

“People look at me and tell me I look just like my dad and that we have a lot of the same ways. I take that as a compliment. I remember growing up and dad was always there. He always made time for us. He would play games with us and he never worried about getting dirty in the sandpile. He always took us through the toy isle and would sneak in a Hot Wheels or two in the grocery cart when mom was not looking.

When you are young you don’t realize at the time why your dad had you do choirs or made you work for rewards, but as an adult, you appreciate those small life lessons. In the fall dad would make us go to the woods, make us help and cut firewood for the winter. We would have us load and unload the truck full of firewood. We would even have to go out at night in the cold and collect firewood at the time, I felt like it was slave labor. But little did I know it would be something that I took into my adulthood and to this day, I thank my dad for making me do things like that.”

“Another thing I can remember is being taught to say ‘yes sir’ or ‘yes ma’am.’ We were taught to be respectful and that was instilled in us at a very young age. He instilled the values of how to treat others and that no matter what you always had to do your best.  Everything my dad taught me as I grew up, I use today. My dad taught me to be a dad and I did not even know it and for that I am thankful.”

“A few weeks before I was in the car crash that paralyzed me, I had told my dad that I wanted to be different and that I did not want to be like the others. Dad told me to be careful what I wished for, I just might get it. Fast forward a month, as I am laying in the hospital on life support, I was fighting for my life……. Shortly after coming out of my coma and where I was actually alert, Dad leaned over to me one night and reminded me of the conversation that we had about being different. He said to me, ‘remember you told me you want to be different than anyone else, well, you got your wish! Now go out and live.’ Dad did not allow me to feel sorry for myself. He did not allow the wheelchair to own my life. He taught me how to own my own life and not allow something like a wheelchair or being paralyzed consume me and take my life away! I remember him making me push on my own in the thick mud after a rain from our front door to our grandmothers across the road. It was to build strength and to show me that it could be done. He taught me to be independent. Dad made me strong!

“Now, here I am a dad and my oldest of three, Brandon and I have quite a bond. At first, we tried all sorts of things. We tried cub scouts that did not work. We tried baseball that did not work. Then, we found Spartan Race. I decided almost two years I would compete in my first Spartan Race. Brandon wanted to try the kid’s race as I competed in the GA Spartan Sprint last year.  After we finished each of our own races, Brandon told me he wanted to follow in my footsteps. He made his choice; he wanted to be a SPARTAN. Now as a dad, this is what I wanted to hear. He found what he wanted to do and it was something we both had in common. This year alone, we have completed 4 OCR events together, he and I have completed our Spartan Sprint and our Super and Beast are planned already. This year, I will earn my first TRIFECTA alongside Brandon. I have seen him grow and grow in the last 2 years. He went from shy, quiet and almost afraid of trying new things, to the adventurous, dare devil that he is today. I put down his growth to Spartan Race and us having this in common. We both look at life obstacles and we take them on. That is what a Spartan father and son do!

“I have learned a lot in my life and I have been taught so much. All these things I have learned, I am passing them down to my children just as my father did for me and his father did for him. Passing down values is more important than leaving someone a lump sum of money. The money spends and eventually goes away, the lessons and values we pass down, never go away. Watching your children grow and become stronger each day and watching them become their own person has been a blessing. Seeing your children succeed and knowing you had a part in that is the greatest reward. Being a Dad or a father, or whatever you want to call it, has been my greatest reward. No medal, no paycheck, nothing can match that.

If you haven’t already done so, speak to your father today if you can. Pick up the phone, go to his house, whatever the case may be. Then thank him.


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By Alec Blenis

This weekend, Spartan Race returns to the Georgia International Horse Park for its 4th year. Located 30 miles east of Atlanta in Conyers, GA, the horse park was host to the mountain biking and modern pentathlon events during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. With over 15 miles of single-track trails and hundreds of acres of undulating terrain, it is also the perfect venue for a Spartan Race. This 3+ mile Sprint distance race has historically been closer to 5 miles than 3, but with only moderate elevation gain, this is one of the fastest paced Sprint courses on the Spartan circuit.

While it’s impossible to say exactly what this year’s course will entail, previous courses have all had one thing in common: a very tough barbed wire crawl. Without a doubt, Spartan Race will take advantage of the Georgia red clay, so be prepared for a tough crawl, rolling mud, and heavy shoes! All Georgia races thus far have included an object carry around mile 3, which I suspect will remain the same for this year. However, Spartan Race loves to mix things up so I wouldn’t be surprised if they have something new in store for this weekend. I hope you are prepared for lots of obstacles back to back, because last year’s course was relentless!

On the men’s side, we have three of the top 5 runners from last year’s race competing: Alec Blenis, David Magida, and Elliott Megquier. Alec was the fastest of the three last year and has home court advantage, but David beat Alec the last time they went head to head. Elliott is always a force to be reckoned with, but a clumsy mistake on the monkey bars last year nearly cost him the podium. If all men have a clean race, it will be an exciting fight for the win.

For the women, we have TyAnn Clark of the Spartan Pro Team hoping to dominate the field, but she will be challenged by her teammates Andi Hardy and Juliana Sproles. It will be TyAnn’s first Georgia race, so Andi and Juliana’s knowledge of the terrain may play to their advantage. Good luck!

Spartan Pro Adaptive Athlete Michael Mills will be competing this Saturday was well. Paralyzed from the waist down, Michael competed in his first Spartan Race at the horse park last year. Since then, he has climbed Stone Mountain numerous times and has been training harder than ever. This year, he’ll be racing alongside his wife, Tiffany. Be sure to cheer them on if you see them! We will also have Amanda Sullivan and triple amputee Todd Love running for Operation Enduring Warrior. These are truly inspirational athletes that you don’t want to miss seeing in action.

Sign up for your next Spartan race and we will see you at the finish line!

 

*** Alec Blenis is a full-time student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Spartan Pro Team athlete, plant-based ultra runner, and #6 ranked Spartan Racer for 2013. Beyond his extensive Spartan schedule, he is currently training for Six Days In the Dome in Anchorage, AK. For more, check out alecblenis.com.

 

 

 

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Guest Blogger Michael Mills celebrates life with Spartan Race

This year, 2013, marked 20 years that I have been paralyzed and I wanted to make it the best year of my life. When you hit the 20-year mark in anything, it is always important, as it marks a large passing of time. Twenty years is a long time, it’s celebrated in a marriage, in a career, and it is essentially a lifetime. That 20-year milestone is always honored. Well for me it was no different. I wanted to celebrate my life by doing things that were a challenge and doing something that no other paralyzed person has done.

It all started with the Spartan Sprint in Conyers, GA.  I decided I would do a Spartan Race. I was not sure how I was going to do it, but I was determined to compete in it. Not long after I made the decision publicly to do the Spartan Sprint several of my friends decided to do it with me.  The entire team was new to Spartan Race except for one athlete, John Hate Sales. John was our veteran and he knew all about the race and the rest of us knew nothing.

We didn’t care; we just wanted to do it so we jumped right in it. We took off and within the first mile I had a blowout. I had no way of repairing the wheelchair but I was not going to quit after just starting. I made the decision to carry on with a flat tire. In true Spartan Fashion I was going to carry on. I was to finish or be carried out on my shield. We started as a team and finished as a team and we were all proud. It’s because of the team and their help that I became the first-ever paralyzed person to earn a Spartan Sprint Medal.

Next was the Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, VT. Someone on Facebook challenged me with the comment “He really did not do anything, he was simply carried by his team! He really did not earn that medal!” That really upset me because I know what I did and I know the work that we did as a team. This is where my next challenge came about.

Steve-Opie Reid contacted me and said, let’s do the Death Race. I told Steve-O, “YOU HAVE LOST YOUR MIND! There is no way I am going to do the Death Race!” Then I thought to myself, this would prove to everyone that doubted me in the beginning that I am a true Spartan Athlete. So, I agreed to enter the Spartan Death Race. From the start, I knew I was in for an adventure. From cutting grass and small limbs with scissors to building an amazing rock trail with a group of amazing people, the Spartan Death Race was an adventure.  I lasted a little over 24 hours before I was cut due to a time hack. I was the 20th person to go out of the Spartan Death Race but 19 before me quit and my goal was to go as long as I possibly could, and I did it. I never quit and I feel I beat many odds within that 24-hour period.

Last event of the year was my most recent, The South Carolina Spartan Beast. This event truly lived up to its name. “THE BEAST” was by far the hardest event of the year. I joined a new group of OCR crazy’s called “THE DIRTBAGS!” This group of men and women took me in and allowed me to be part of the team and I am sure glad they did. These guys and girls worked hard to help me the entire day. We all worked together as a unit. We had Zackary Paben, Steve-O and countless other volunteers along the way that helped and for those, I am forever thankful. Halfway through the day, my left contact came out and was put in a Ziploc bag so we could carry on. We knew we were on a time limit so we did not slow down. With three hours left in our day, my right contact rolled behind my right eye. I am completely blind by now. I am paralyzed and can’t see. I had to trust my team and the ones around me. We still had obstacles to get over and still finish the course.  As we come to the finish, I could see a blurry finish line and I could see a blurry figure holding the Beast medal. I leaned over and was given the hard-earned medal by Chris Davis. As Chris leaned over and hugged me, he said, “I told you I would wait on you!” To know that I had all the help I did on the course and to know that the rest of my fellow teammates earned their Trifecta that day, I was proud to have fought for 10 hours straight on what I would say, was one of the hardest things I have done to date.

 

For me this year was the year I wanted to prove to anyone who has ever doubted me and that has said that people with disabilities could not be athletes much less Spartans. I am here to tell you, that you are dead wrong. I am a Spartan. I am a Spartan three times over and to be the first to have done each of these in a wheelchair is a dream come true. I will tell anyone if you are disabled or just wanting to live a better and healthier life, DO A SPARTAN RACE. It changed how I see things and how I tackle life now. It will truly do the same for you!!!!!

See you in 2014 Trifecta!

 

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by Michael Mills

“IF YOU HAVE A GOAL BUT OFTEN GET DISCOURAGED BY OTHERS, REMEMBER…… THOSE WHO LACK BELIEF IN THEMSELVES OFTEN TRY TO ROB YOU OF YOURS!” – Rolsey

Every year about this time, you here the talk of New Year Resolutions. You see gym memberships increase and you see all sorts of advertisements about the same thing.  Then, before too much time passes,  you see everything dwindle away. You see the gym go back down to the normal crowd, you see less and less advertisements as time goes, and everything goes back to “normal.” I started to look into this and saw that many make unrealistic goals instead of making small goals instead. I have always felt that if you start small it grows into something bigger.

Every year when I set goals/resolutions, I use these 9 simple steps in setting and achieving my goals. I would like to share these with you as they are great tools in creating and reaching your desired goals. 1. Focus on one resolution, rather several. 2.Set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be. 3. Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day. 4.Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too big a step all at once. 5. Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you that you have to report to. 6.Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait the goal to be finally completed. 7.Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits. 8.Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal? 9.Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment by moment, rather than living in the past or future.

I was thinking the other day about 2012, and how my goals played an important role in my fitness and my life. I started my racing season in 2012 with my Resolutions/Goals laid out in front of me. I had a coach and I was determined to come back on the racing scene with a vengeance.  My goal was not to destroy the competition, but to destroy the previous year’s results. Without making that resolution in December of 2011, I knew I would not be able to set a goal and chase it. With the resolution in mind, I set out to achieve much more than I have had in some time. I had planned out my events and I had planned out my goals. My first race of the year was with a brand new racing chair just built by Xcalibur Sports Chairs out of Madison, GA. I knew that it would help me go faster as it was lighter and well built. But without the training, I knew I would not achieve those goals I had set out for myself. From my first Race of the year in February all the way to my last race in October, not only did I reach my goals for every event, I surpassed each and every one of them. My first race of the year, I was 6 minutes faster than the previous and then my last race , I was 13 minutes faster than the year before. So, as I look back on my year, I am proud to say I have stuck to my goals and not only did I achieve them, I surpassed them and they would have not happened unless I set out a goal and a Resolution.

Now that it is 2013, I have new goals set. Not only will I have the same goal of beating my times from the previous year, I also will add my obstacle course racing goals to the mix. Since I started my journey to achieve Spartan Glory and crossing the finish line with TEAM PUSHHARDER on March 9th, 2013 I knew there would be obstacles that would test my abilities and test me mentally as well. So, I have to plan my resolutions and my goals accordingly. So I thought I would share some goals and some resolutions with you and I have a few in the back pocket that I will not share as these goals are some really awesome ones that you will see in the near future.

So, let’s start with my first goal/obstacle of the new year. Rope Climbs…. I am already able to climb ropes but am I able to climb ropes while being exhausted from crawling 3 miles? Will I be able to grip that rope when I am soaking wet and muddy? These are the things that run through my mind and that is why I am setting a goal before March 9th, to be able to climb a rope soaking wet and muddy and being completely exhausted. My second goal/obstacle is the Wall. The wall is something I am sure will be a very difficult obstacle to climb over. With that being said, the wall is the one thing I do know that TEAM PUSHHARDER will help me overcome. I do know that I have to build strength once I can reach the top to pull myself up and over and that is where my next goal comes into play. I have to build that strength to do so. So, I am in the process of building my own makeshift wall at home to climb and traverse over. My third goal/obstacle is the nets. I have to be able to climb and hold onto the nets to get over them. So, again upper body strength plays a big role in my training. Then my last goal/obstacle which is going to be my most challenging goal yet, will be as many has asked me how am I going to cross the fire if any? Well, that has been my biggest one yet that I have not figured out a way through. Not to say I won’t figure out a way as I always do, but I can tell you this, the fire jump will be my biggest obstacle.. I will find a way over and through it. you can bet on that. I also happen to have the opportunity to be near some amazing Spartans, Andi Hardy, Steve Power and Stacy Shuler. I have plans to train with these awesome people in the coming months and will be able to learn from all three of them on training and reaching my goals for my first Spartan Race.

The old saying goes. IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU PLAN TO FAIL! I think so many people just go out and not set goals, resolutions or whatever you may call it but if you don’t plan you are destined to fail. In the last few months, I have had people question my ability, my efforts or even wonder why I chose something as hard as a Spartan Race to break into the Obstacle Course Racing World. I simply told them, “YOU HAVE TO HAVE A PLAN! YOU HAVE TO HAVE GOALS, YOU HAVE TO GO AFTER WHAT OTHERS THINK IS IMPOSSIBLE!” For myself, I see everything as a possibility. Never as an impossibility. So, if you are reading this and are questioning if you can do a Spartan Race for 2013. Don’t question it, Set it as a goal. Set it as a resolution, you are going to train hard, work hard and prepare for Glory just like many of us are already doing.

[Editor's Note: 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. ]

 

 

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by Michael Mills

Do you remember when you were a child how you would stop at nothing to get what you wanted. If you saw something on the top shelf that you just had to have, you would do whatever it took to get there. Climbing chairs, stacking books, anything you had to do, just so you could reach it. What drives us to do what it takes to finish the job? DETRMINATION! Determination fueled us children. We were so determined growing up, it almost seemed effortless, just a part of our DNA. No matter how small or how large the objective was, if we wanted it then we had the same mentality. We were determined!

Mills’ car from the 1993 accident

In my last blog, I talked about having a purpose and why that purpose is so important. If you don’t have a reason to start something, you typically don’t follow through with the initial intent. In order for your purpose to mean something, you have to carry on through with it what you started to completion. So how do you keep that purpose alive? How do you keep that purpose hot in your heart and soul? You have to have HEART and DETERMINATION. Without these two go right alongside of your purpose. When times get tough and the training gets harder it becomes more difficult to keep that motivation and to keep that purpose moving!

Determination has been a recurring theme for me. I had the opportunity to the other day to talk to a friend name Rene Rodriguez. Rene and I talked about what our purpose was and what we felt kept us going day in and day out to achieve our goals. One thing that Rene said to me that stuck in my mind was he saw a lot of DETERMINATION in me. Then just yesterday, I was told the same thing by another person, that she “saw a lot of determination in me.” So, this got me to thinking, what is it that people see as determination? Is it that self-worth? Is it that I am determined to prove people wrong? Or is it both?

When I had my car accident that left me paralyzed in 1993, I was told I would never walk again and that I would have to learn to live all over again with my new found life being paralyzed from the waist down. I was told that I would have to learn every single thing all over again and that it would be a hard road to travel. While in the hospital, I really felt as if I was not doing enough to better myself and I felt like I needed more time with my therapist. I felt like I was not getting well as quickly as I wanted to or should. I became frustrated.

One night, while I was in the hospital it hit me. I wanted to go home. I did not want to be in the hospital anymore. I had to figure out a way to go home. So, I got up out of my hospital bed and snuck into the rehab room that was filled with rehabilitation equipment. I started to exercise while no one was looking. I wanted to get stronger and faster so I could get out and home. This became a nightly routine and the nurses started noticing my disappearing act. Luckily, they let me continue. The nurses would watch as I would sneak out of my room and sneak into the weight room. They would watch me work 2 to 4 hours a night in the dark with just the emergency lights on. I did not want any help and I did not want any handouts, I just wanted to be better so I could get in the best shape as I could so that I could go back to a normal life of being a teenager. Without the determination I had, it would have taken me longer to get out of the hospital and I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Same goes for my training with the Spartan Race. I have a purpose and that purpose is to complete a Spartan Race and cross that finish line with my team on March 9, 2013, but without the determination and heart of a champion there’s no way I could do it. I would give up quickly after the first sign of an obstacle that would cause trouble. I am asked every single day how I am going to complete the obstacles. Even I don’t know the answer to some of them, I just know I’ll continue.

I study too. I have also learned by watching every single Spartan clip on YouTube or Spartan Race TV to learn the obstacles and see what they’re about. I study them look at them hard and see what I can do and prepare for the things that will be difficult or extremely hard. I know that I will have my teammates to help me through. No matter what happens, you will never hear me say I didn’t try. I have the heart and determination of a warrior and I will not go down without a fight.

When I set out with the goal to compete in my first ever Spartan Race I knew that it would not be easy and I knew it would test my manhood. I knew if I did not set out with a purpose and keep the drive and the determination, I knew that I would never be able to complete my task. I keep the motivation going by constantly surrounding myself with positive reinforcements and to keep the fire hot. I am always working hard and trying to better myself in hopes of beating the goals I have set out for myself…with determination

[Editor's Note: 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. ]

 

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It Started With a Purpose

Have you ever wanted to know what makes someone tick? Have you ever wanted to know what is the reason why one puts their body through so much torture day in and day out? Well, I do. I see people every day that inspire me to push my limits and I see people that do extraordinary things. I often wonder what motivates them and what are their reasons. So, I thought for this week I would reach out to some of the coolest people I know and ask.

When I was looking over Facebook the other day, I came across Hobie Calls Facebook status and started to read over the post about his results for 2012. I was blown away by all the 1st places he achieved for this year and I started to wonder “WHAT’S HIS PURPOSE?” I wondered what pushed a man to  achieve 15 1st places and only 1 2nd place for this year? I wondered what drives him and I really wanted to pick Hobie’s brain on this.. So, I reached out to him and simply asked “Hobie, What’s Your Purpose?” Hobie replied with this:

My driving force is to encourage others to live healthier and never give up. Where that comes from, I don’t know.. LOL.. 

Coming from a man, who just had 15 1st place finishes out of 16 this year, I think his actions speak louder than words.. He truly has the drive to be number 1. Congrats to Hobie for his great 2012 season.

I also looked at one of the crowd favorites and my favorite, Ella Anne Kociuba.  I started following Ella shortly after my journey began with  Sparta. After reading her story I quickly realized that she and I had a lot in common when it came to tragedies in life. If you don’t know Ella’s Story here is the link, it is worth the read (http://blog.spartanrace.com/tales-from-the-chicked-ella-anne-kociuba/)  This girl does not let anything stop her and that made me want to know more about Ella Anne Kociuba. So, I did the exact same thing. I reached out to Ella and asked “What’s Your Purpose?”  Ella replied with this:

I’ll compare my drive as if it were fire. My surroundings give me the strength to grow but I tell you what, if you get in my way of my goals, I will burn you down. I guess you could say that I got tired of suffering, tired of wishing, dreaming, and crying for my dreamsThe journey to where I am today, was by no means easy and it still isn’t. I have faced failure countless of times, I have tasted disappointment like it was my only resource for food before, but I never ever given up myself. I knew what I wanted and I knew it would take lots of hard work and time to get there. I proved to myself that you can do anything if you give it your everything. And that is what I believe should be everyone’s goal in life, to define your odds day in and day out and no matter what it is that you’re after, just know that it will happen if you make it happen.

The next person was actually the first person who came to mind when it came to “What’s your Purpose?” It was none other than Rob Baily founder and creator of www.flagnorfail.com . For those of you that don’t know what Flag Nor Fail is, it is a clothing line that  is based on the definition of “FLAG NOR FAIL is a mindset. No surrender and no failure. Flag represents surrender, much like one would wave a white flag to admit defeat. No surrender, no failure.”  I love the Purpose of what Flag Nor Fail stands for and there are countless times when I am out training the words “FLAG NOR FAIL” comes to mind. Never to give up and Never to Surrender. I don’t know of any company that like this.  So, I wondered what Pushes Rob Baily. So, I reached out to Rob as I did with Ella and Hobie and asked “What’s your Purpose? Rob replied with this:

My  purpose is to take steps forward from yesterday. To improve daily. Show the World who I am and what I am capable of …. And hopefully inspire people to be a better version of their self… or at least chase that version.”\

Not only is this man so far ahead of his time, He has so many talents under his belt. He is a photographer, video editing specialist, and has built Flag Nor Fail from the GROUND UP!! This man, is one in a million and This guy “KNOWS HIS PURPOSE!”

Almost everyone knows my story and what happened to me on 05/02/1993. But do you really know my purpose? Several years ago, I was severely overweight and I was on the fast track to death. Now, this was after my car accident and had a second chance at life.. I had let myself go, I had gained well over 120lbs. and was at a weight right at 270lbs and a size 40 jeans. My wheelchair was so big that I had trouble getting through the average doors. I was way out of shape and well on my way to a fast death if I did not change. I was eating fast food morning, noon and night for my meals. I was wasting money and my life away and while doing so, I developed a huge internal infection. The infection landed me in the hospital for over two weeks and the one thing that the Doctor said to me was “ if you don’t change your lifestyle, I will see you in here in about 6 months again but this time it will be wearing a “TOE TAG!” I knew then I had to change, My purpose became my life. My purpose became so important and that I knew I had to change. So, after being released from the hospital I went home, I took the garbage can to the fridge, Started dumping all the junk foods and then went to the pantry and did the same thing. I knew I had to make a lifestyle change if I wanted to live. I started caring for myself again, I started caring about what went into my body because I knew if I didn’t, my life was over. One year later, I had lost over 100lbs and started competing again in wheelchair sports. My Everyday wheelchair now fit inside my old wheelchair. My racing chair could not fit inside my old racing chair. I was in better shape than ever. I had control over my life and IT FELT GREAT. So my purse is simple, I want to be around for many years to come for myself, my wife and kids.  So, I used athletics and sport to reach my goals and to stay healthy and that is what allowed me to be here today. When I found out what a Spartan Race was for the first time, I saw a challenge that could be accomplished if I simply put my mind to it, took what I have learned from my life, from what I have learned from others such as the mentality that “anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it!”

While I train for my Spartan Race I am reminded daily, that Life is about Struggle, Life is about Challenges, Life is about obstacles and Life is about achievement and without a purpose and without a will to fight, Life can be the hardest challenge but if you have the No Retreat, No surrender attitude, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.  With that being said, What is your purpose for getting out of bed every day and doing what you do? What is your Purpose for Achieving Glory? Once you find out what it truly is, then you will be able to achieve all that you have set out to do for yourself.

Lastly, I want to Thank Rob Baily personally for believing in me and giving me the courage to start on my journey as I chase for Spartan Glory.. THANK YOU Rob!!!!!!

 

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by Michael Mills

The Power of Change.

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.  I write a weekly blog recounting my training as I get ready to become a Spartan!

I wanted to first of all thank my lovely wife Tiffany Mills for the birth of our son, Michael Elijah Mills. Elijah was born on November 28th, 2012 at 9:26 A.M. He weighed in at 8lbs and 19 ½ inches long. Next, I would like to thank everyone who sent encouraging messages and posts on my Chasing Spartan Facebook page last week as well. We read every single one of them.

Change is a part of life. Whether that change is good or bad, we all experience it, we all live it, and we all have to deal with it in one way or another. Some of us deal with change better than others, but at the end, it is how we react toward change is what makes us who we are.

When I was paralyzed on May 2nd 1993, it changed my life in a way I never thought I could handle. I lost the use of my legs. I lost everything that I knew in an instant. I lost the ability to ride a skateboard, walk down a sidewalk, run a mile, and everything else that a typical 16 year old did. Well, at least I thought I did. I took that change and made it a positive. I looked at what most others saw as a tragedy and decided to see it as a blessing. I have been paralyzed now for 20 years and I will say that change on May 2nd 1993 changed my life for the better. I do more than the average person without any limits.

My most recent change was on November 28th, 2012 when my son was born. Now for those of you who are parents, you know what sleepless nights and staring at the crib to make sure your child is still breathing feels like. The schedule you had prior to the birth has gone out the door. You are now on your child’s schedule. You eat when you can and you sleep when your child is asleep. Everything revolves around your newborn baby. Needless to say, your training will take a back seat to what is most important, your family. Your family should always be the highest number on the priority list

When change happens in life, we tend to move around it and hide from it. Sometimes, we have no choice but to face it. For me it has been my diet and my training. I knew when Tiffany I found out that we were going to be parents again that our training schedules would change. For her, she has been used to going to the gym, walking and even teaching a class or two during the week. Now she is restricted for weeks as she just gave birth to our son. For me, I am restricted because I work fulltime and I have the cutest little responsibility ever to take care of now back at home.

Tiffany and I talked about my training the other day and she knows the importance of my training for several reasons. My health is the most important and she knows that. Being paralyzed, if you don’t take care of yourself, you could get sick easily and then well, it could all go downhill from there. Many people with disabilities die at a young age and the most common factor is their health and not taking care of themselves. Me, I want to be around for a long time and see my children grow up. I want to be healthy and I want to live that life I have always dreamed of. So, Tiffany pushed me Saturday afternoon to go and train. I started thinking about ways to train as a Spartan when times got tough. I tried to figure out a little WOD during the SEC Championship game where Alabama and Georgia would play their hearts out. I decided I would WOD out this game. I decided that every time Alabama would score I would do pushups. Georgia scored, I would do dips. For every field goal, I would do abs for Alabama and for Georgia, I would do plank for one minute. Now for my pushups, dips, and abs, I did 100 each time someone scored. It was a workout in itself. The final score was 32 Alabama, 28 Georgia. I was beat. Not only did I get to watch a great football game, I got to work out at the same time. I was able to spend time with my wife and my son and get it all in at the same time. This goes back to last week’s blog “I CAN’T!” You CAN if you just find a way. There should be never a reason why you can’t do something.

Sunday was my first day back of training after Elijah was born and I have to say, it felt great to get back and chase those goals I have set. I feel my most recent change has motivated me to the next level. Instead of finding an excuse to skip training, I am coming up with new ways to train when the opportunity strikes. I think Change can be a good thing if used properly. Change can be bad or change can be good, it is all how you see it and learn from it.

What will Change do for you?

[Editor's Note: 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 Bert’s Big Adventure | Michael Mills’ Fundraiser on CrowdRise. ]

 

 

 

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by Carrie Adams

It started with an email.  A friend sent me a recent Travlete article featuring a man, and accomplished athlete named Michael Mills.  He was looking for training tips for the upcoming Georgia Spartan Race being held near his current home, Covington, GA.  It’s not uncommon for first time Spartans to seek out tips to tackle our courses.  Known for their brutality and secrecy, we don’t release course maps, any insight into how to prepare is something that our community is always looking for.  His request, however, was unique because of how he’ll be completing the course.  Said Mills in the email, “I am looking for all pointers anyone can give, training and etc. I am actually going to crawl almost the entire 3 miles of the course. I will use my wheelchair some, but the majority of the time I will be crawling.”

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.

“I have the strength and the heart, just need a little advice.” He assured Travlete.

Intrigued, I contacted Michael myself, the polite Southern man with Southern manners, who insisted on calling me Miss Carrie had completely won me over and I was willing to help in any way possible to help him not only get ready for the race, but to share his journey with our Spartan community.  Not since the Chris Davis Project did I feel so compelled to share this story of toughness, of dedication, and of heart.  Michael Mills has all three.

I’ve asked Michael to share weekly blogs about his training his preparation and his journey towards Conyers, GA 2013.  Here is part one, how he found Sparta.

Michael’s car post-accident

My name is Michael Mills and I’m a T12 paraplegic from Covington, GA. I’m 36 years old, married with an amazing wife named Tiffany Mills.  We have two children Brandon, 11 and Katriana, four. We also are expecting our third child on or around 12/3/12. We are excited to welcome Michael Elijah to our family.

On 5/2/93 I was headed home from a typical day working from my best friend’s house and was less than three miles away when I struck head-on by a drunk driver.   The accident nearly cos me my life and left me with countless injuries.  When the paramedics arrived, I was dead for 28 minutes.  They pronounced me D.O.A.

My car had landed in a yard near the scene of the crash. The woman who lived in the home actually got into my car with me and tried to save my life before the paramedics arrived.  After they pronounced me dead, she pleaded with them to, “Please try one time,” to revive me.

The paramedics tried one time and as soon as they shocked me, I came back to life.  My injuries were significant.  I sustained a left eye socket fracture, left jaw fracture, left broken shoulder, all of my ribs sets broken on the left side, and almost all on the right.  Both of my lungs were punctured, I sustained a compound fracture of the left femur and required countless stiches. My aorta was severed and my left ventricle was damaged to my heart. Because of the damage to my heart, I lost the majority of blood from my body.

Lastly, I was left paralyzed from the crash. The doctors told my parents if I made it through the surgery, I would be a vegetable for the rest of my life.  I survived the surgeries but only time would tell.   Two weeks later I came out of my coma and was for the first time since the accident alert and aware of what was going on.  I had survived.  I was still alive.  I spent the rest of my summer in the hospital, I also turned 17.

I made it out of the hospital just in time to go back to school the same year. I was back in school just three months post-injury. I spent more time in the hospital later on in the year and the following year but still was able to graduate that next school year.

In 1996, I found wheelchair racing. I found racing by watching the 1996 Olympics. I was hooked. I went out bought a used racer and the rest was history. I started racing everywhere. I began to get better and faster. I started to compete all over the world.  Here it is, 12 years later and I’ve raced over a 160 road and track races in my career.  I’ve been world ranked and have had the opportunity to represent my country three times in my career and have loved the opportunities to do so. I just recently finished my 2012 with one of the best seasons ever.

A few months ago, I came across a photo of man dawning full military gear and saw him with only one arm.  It was Todd Love from Team X-T.R.E.M.E.  He was crawling through mud and when I Iooked a little deeper I found Spartan racing.

I thought to myself, “I can do this. I want to do this. I need to do this. I’m going to do this.”

I immediately signed up without hesitation. I decided I was going to do this Spartan Race. I posted up on Facebook I was going to do it and I had a few friends say they’d do it with me. I had some people say it couldn’t be done and that fueled me even more. So, I set out to prove everyone wrong that didn’t believe in me. I want to prove that there was no such thing as a disability. I wanted to prove that a disability is simply a mindset. You can do anything once you set your mind to it and I know that.

I wanted to raise awareness for a local charity called Berts Big Adventure. BBA is a non-profit who takes chronically and terminally ill children to Disney World so they can be kids for one week. They treat the parents too. This was a big deal for me, because without support from the people in my home town of Smithville, MS my family and I wouldn’t have made it. Everyone pulled through to help us and that’s why I want to help BBA.

I’ve decided to do my first ever Spartan race crawling on my hands and knees for a better part of 3.1 miles.  So I train six days a week and sometimes three times a day to get ready for my event 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. http://www.crowdrise.com/ChasingSpartanMichaelMIlls

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