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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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.

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