When I was in college, there was a game installed on my PC called Mahjong. You clicked the matching picture tiles in pairs and in doing so you cleared the board. For months I didn’t understand the challenge of the game – I just clicked on tiles and cleared the board over and over again. Finally, I asked my friend, Lopaka, what the point was of playing this game, and I remember him saying something about not liking it when he lost. I was puzzled. “Lost? What do you mean lost? You can LOSE this game?” to which he replied “Yes!” I kid you not, the very next time I played Mahjong, I LOST! I couldn’t believe it!
This is the first lesson about the power of suggestion and mind over matter that I recall in my adult life and my point in sharing this story as I begin telling my Spartan Trifecta story is that ONLY after I was TOLD failure was possible did the thought enter my mind and it changed what I BELIEVED I was able to do. But I would win again…
Saturday’s experience at Kualoa Ranch was an exercise in mind over matter on many levels. Last year’s Spartan Sprint at the Ranch with my wonderful friends and fellow submarine wives Tracy, Natalie and Eileen was amazing – and amazingly hard. Going into that race, I thought it would be a piece of cake but 4 hours (I don’t remember it taking THAT long but it did! EEEK!) on the SPRINT trail, and my body, told me otherwise the next day. It was much harder than I thought it would be, but Team HOUSTON STRONG pushed through (hooyah!).
This year as the Trifecta weekend approached, there were people cheering Brad and I on and people who believed we were trying to do the impossible. Along with the doubters I had my own set of fears based on the challenge of last year’s experience. Here we were trying not only to do a Sprint, but to complete a Sprint, Super and Beast in 2 Days – the first ever Trifecta Weekend hosted by Spartan Race (you can become part of the Trifecta Tribe by running all 3 in the course of a calendar year). INSANE! Once I was certain (a few hours before midnight Friday!) that Brad would be home to run the Trifecta with me with me, it seemed like everything was going to be alright on Saturday. But inside I was scared.
On the ride to the Ranch, I had our 3 children on my mind. Thankfully they were being looked after by our wonderful friend Emma which put me at ease about leaving them for 2 days. I wanted to run most for them. I ran next for my mother. She was an incredibly strong, resilient person before Alzheimer’s and dementia began taking her from us and I want my kids to see me as strong and resilient too, but not by watching me struggle as I watched my mother struggle. I want them to see me in a happy marriage where I am part of a team, enjoying my life, challenging myself and conquering those challenges. Next, I was able to check in with #R3RC (Run3rd Running Club) on Facebook and make a request for dedications. I was able to put some important dedications on my heart to keep my head strong and keep me moving when times got tough on the trail. Finally, my Stroller Warriors family continued to post positive words and my sweet friend Adrienne posted a wonderful message that made me cry (#theresnocryinginbeastmode). For people to tell you that you ‘inspired’ them to do something good for themselves just by being YOURSELF is humbling and motivating. I wanted to run for those who were watching, not to prove that this almost 40 mom of 3 could do it, but to prove that THEY as moms and women on their own wellness journeys could do it, too.
We arrived at Kualoa Ranch early, anxious to get to the starting area which is about 1.5 miles away from the parking area. My greatest joy before we started our trek was using the tourist restroom at the Visitor’s Center because they have Bubble Shack loofah soaps! AH they smell so good. It was the last place I felt clean and girly before the Spartan came out :). The Visitor Center staff were so friendly and helpful. Such good mana there.
When we got to the starting area, we took a few pictures, met up with some friends (a few who were willing to let me run with them if Brad didn’t make it – thank you again Nicole and Jenny!) and tried to get pumped up to do the Super. I could tell my husband was a little uneasy – this could be because he’d had about 12 total hours of sleep over the prior 3 days working at sea. We stood in the chute with the other 0900-0945 Super starters and waited for whatever wave pushed us forward. It was so nice to have Nicole and Ted there (and Paul and Tracy in front of us!) for moral support.
We crossed the starting line at 09:30 on Saturday and slowly figured out a game plan as we went through the first few miles of terrain and obstacles – run the flats and the downhills, speed walk the uphills, and power through the obstacles. We really did not want to burn out with so many more miles to go that day and 13+ miles to go the next, so we kept the pace nice and easy. We saw a young woman at the start of the Super who we know now was athlete Misty Diaz, crossing the stream with arm braces, and I thought, “DAMN. She’s going to kill this! There’s no reason I couldn’t kill it too. This is mostly mental!”
Everything was going great, THEN, at about mile 4 it totally happened. I stood up at the top of the reverse wall, tried to run down and hyper-extended my hamstring trying to stand back up after falling into a lovely half split. The medics asked if I wanted to be taken off the course. Brad wanted to know if I could keep going. I was in so much pain but I was SO PISSED OFF at myself and my injury I kept on going. I’d be damned if all these people were watching and waiting for me to succeed (and in some cases, fail) only for me to be out before I even get through the first run. Thankfully I already had knee compression on so I pulled it up and kept going. The next obstacle was carrying a bucket of gravel up and back down a hill. I thought I was going to die and fall down this steep hill with an orange Home Depot bucket and a face full of rocks as my consolation prize. But I made it. And I made it through every other obstacle (except the rope climb – I have yet to ring the bell). Thank God Brad was there to boost me and look out for me physically and emotionally. He was worried at first while walking ahead of me but I said aloud, “You’re not leaving me, you’re leading me!” I needed him to keep going so I would push to keep going, too.
As we came to the end of the race near the spectator area I heard a loud “GO JAMIE!” and I thought how cool it was that there was another Jamie somewhere doing this. After totally failing the spear throw and semi-burpeeing out with one legged pushups, I saw my friends Sara and Nicole there smiling and cheering. It was amazing to have their support!
We completed the Super in just around 3.5 hours and took an hour of rest before attempting the Sprint. My knee was screaming at me at this point but I thought I could make it through the Sprint course. And I did.
I felt so relieved, and sore, when we made it through the Sprint but I was not sure I’d make it to the Beast. Brad and I talked about how we’d gone too far not to get that last piece of the Trifecta pie, but I knew I’d have to think on it. We went home, refueled, bathed and put the kids to bed, and prepared to wake up the next morning to decide our fate then. What happened on Sunday would be more phenomenal than I could have imagined. It was painful, it was long, it was brutal at times. But I learned what being a “Spartan” was all about and WE learned how much of a team #teammuskopf could really be.
More in Part 3 tomorrow!