It should be no surprise to anyone who follows my writing that I’m a huge fan and supporter of Spartan Race. In my opinion, it’s one of the best race series in existence, led by a group of people who have truly invested their entire heart and soul into a company which has a mission to get people off of their couch, and out being healthy.
I ran my first Spartan Race in early 2013, at the Miami Super, and instantly fell in love. I loved the challenge, was impressed with the organization, and most of all, admired the passion of not only the participants, but of those helping to make the event an epic and memorable experience for every singe person. I couldn’t wait to do another, and just a short month later found myself in Georgia, participating in the Sprint. With two Spartan’s under my belt, I coveted a chance to earn the Spartan Trifecta.
The Trifecta is earned by anyone who successfully completes all three race distances that Spartan has to offer in one calendar year. The most common, the Sprint, is typically 3-5 miles in length, with roughly 18-20 obstacles, and tends to offer a slightly less technical terrain than her larger family members. Then comes the Super, which steps up the competition a notch by asking 8-10 miles and over 20 obstacles of its participants. And finally, the Mack Daddy of them all, the aptly named Beast. Generally around half marathon length, with 25 or more obstacles, these races are hosted in extremely technical terrain, not only using the obstacles and distance against you, but also using the unforgiving land as a weapon to wear you down. The Beast does its best to dishearten even the most seasoned athlete, as they typically take the average participant 4 or more hours to complete, and are meant to mentally and physically challenge a person to the brink of giving up. This race truly encompasses founder Joe De Sena’s vision, as it is all about perseverance, about overcoming your own self-doubt, and about realizing that you can accomplish so much more than you ever dreamed possible. To learn that pain is not always a negative thing, but that it can also make you stronger; and once you achieve the euphoric sensation that is felt once that pain is overcome, it creates a pride in oneself that cannot be matched.
I want to experience this so badly. I want the Trifecta.
Unfortunately I was unable to make it to a Beast last year, but I began 2014 with the resolve that, this year, I would make it happen.
Well it is going to happen, but with an added bonus that I never could have anticipated. You see, this year I will not be earning my Trifecta alone. My husband will be joining me, every step of the way.
Why is this such a big deal? Well you see, just a mere month and a half ago, my dear hubby did not think he’d ever complete a Sprint, much less a Beast. Heck, he didn’t ever think he’d run a 5K! He was not a runner, not an athlete, and not interested in racing. That was my thing. I was the one who loved to run, race, and compete. He loved the sidelines, taking pictures, talking with people, and making connections. It worked, and we were happy with things that way.
Perhaps we knew that things needed to change, but we just weren’t willing to actually take the first step toward a change. Like so many people are, we were stuck in our comfort zone, unwilling to shake things up a bit. To be honest I probably should have pushed him harder to live a healthier lifestyle, but I didn’t. I was focused on me. My husband was overweight, had chronic high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and was experiencing pre-cursors for diabetes. Looking back, I should have encouraged him to be healthier, for his own well-being as well as for the longevity of our family, but instead I simply let him continue on his path while I pursued mine. For that, I owe him an apology. I should have cared enough to want to help him to change.
So what changed? Well a harsh reality check on New Years Day threw both of us into a spin. It was the type of situation that could ruin a person’s self esteem, that could tear apart a marriage, and that could derail one’s current resolve to reach their goals if they let it. We had to re-evaluate how we were living life, and had to make a conscious choice not to let one situation destroy us, particularly destroy me. And instead of pushing away from each other to cope with a tough circumstance, we clung to one another, and step-by-step pulled ourselves out of a dark place, together.
In that time we restructured our marriage, adjusted how we were choosing to live our home life, and changed how we spent our time together. Adam began walking to clear his head, which slowly lead to running, weight lifting, and walking with a weighted ruck sack. Date nights for us are no longer spent bellied up to a bar, drinking the night away, but instead we throw on our ruck sacks and walk together under the moonlight for a few miles. We have focused in on healthier living and cleaner eating. Since then, he has lost significant weight, returned to a normal blood pressure, and has reduced his daily pain immensely. My passion, has slowly but surely become our passion. We are sharing in a lifestyle that has brought us closer together, and has helped us relate to each other, listen to each other, and love each other more.
Last weekend we shouted “I Am A Spartan!” at the top of our lungs and embarked together into Raymond James Stadium to take on the Spartan Special Ops Sprint. We stayed with each other throughout the entire race, cheering each other on during obstacles, laughing, joking, and encouraging each other. When we crossed the finish line, the emotion in the hug that we shared is one that I won’t soon forget. We had done it, and we had done it together. It was amazing. I felt as though we had single-handedly won the race that day, and it was one of the first times in a long time that I did not care how long it took me to run, or where I had placed. I had watched my husband fall in love with something that means so much to me, and I was a very proud wife as I happily cheered him on through obstacles he never thought he would be able to do.
I cannot think of a better way to earn this title.
Very soon I’ll be sharing my review of the Tampa Spartan, as it will be published in the upcoming monthly Spartan magazine. Until then, I hope that each of you is also pushing past your fears of what you believe limits you, and I encourage you to rise above what you think you cannot do. I guarantee you will surprise yourself. I did. My husband did. And so can you.
Holly Joy Berkey