Nothing is easier than making excuses.
It’s too cold… I don’t feel well… My training isn’t what it used to be… I’ll just make it up at another race… I don’t have the right gear to wear… It’s not worth the trip…
The hard part is shutting those thoughts down. And it was hard for me. I kept checking the forecast nearly everyday, seeing what the new low was going to be, questioning my sanity and resolve each time I peeked. Watching that high of 30 degrees on race day drop…
24… 18… 15… 11… 6…
If only tuning that out was possible. Unfortunately when you need to make sure you pack the right gear for it you really can’t afford to ignore it. Nor does everyone and their mothers posting about it on social media make it easy to ignore.
When I signed up for the race I was really at my peak. It was the day before racing at Killington. Before a date was set in stone, before Greek Peak was 100% confirmed as the venue. I welcomed the challenge at the time. That feels like it was already years ago.
During the winter season, my training suffered. Dealing with health issues, it felt like a constant uphill battle. Making sure I took the time off to let myself recover became a hole that digging out of became continually more difficult. One week turned into a full month, which turned into nearly the entire off-season. Getting back into wasn’t the hard part. Getting the old habits back was. I could show up for a day and not feel 100% so I’d take more time off instead of just dealing with it head on. It wasn’t until nearly February when finding a formula of habits started working for me. Even then I was nowhere near where I had wished I had been.
That’s part of the beauty of Spartan Races. While you’re out on the course you may technically be competing with others but for the most part, it’s really a race against yourself.
I do not like the cold. I weigh about 150 pounds, have almost no fat on me, and besides my beard, next to no protection from piercing cold air. The only thing I dislike more than cold air just happens to be cold snow and, of course, Greek Peak was absolutely covered by the time the race started. But by the time the race started I found myself feeling young again. I was jumping around, enjoying being in the snow and really felt the adrenaline surging through my veins. Nothing has felt that refreshing in ages.
The race itself most likely would have been a breeze without the brutal conditions related to the freezing cold and icy surfaces. It was almost impossible for me to grip the spear despite wearing gloves during the rest of the race. Other than that I had a perfect race due to certain obstacles being dumbed down (eg. multi-rig with only rings) and the climate being the greatest challenge. You warm up quick out there when you’re coated with a few solid layers of Under Armour ColdGear.
Every excuse I had was thrown out by the end of the race. While I didn’t place anywhere near where I had hoped to in my mind, my poor training and conditioning during the winter months was what held me back from pushing harder and placing higher. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about what you have accomplished in the past. What’s difficult is understanding that everyone takes steps backwards occasionally. I’m already making excuses why I won’t do it next year even though (as of today it’s been announced that Spartan Race will return to Greek Peak on March 10, 2018) there’s no chance I’d miss it.