The Couple That Races Together, Stays Together
My wife, Paige, and I ran our first Spartan Race together in Indiana at the end of April this year. It was our first time doing anything like this together and it was quite the experience. I had ran my first Spartan Race in 2013 and afterwards tried talking Paige into doing one together. Keep in mind, she is a stay at home mom who was never really into sports in High School, doesn’t really “enjoy” working out, and her motto is “I’m only running a marathon if a bear is chasing me”. She works out on the elliptical periodically and does Turbo Fire workouts, so needless to say, the Spartan Race was extremely out of her comfort zone.
Being the “go-getter” I sometimes think I am, I took the lead and signed myself up and Paige at the same time…
SURPRISE PAIGE! We are going to run a Spartan Race together (preparing to be physically beaten, or killed…). We cannot back out, because it is non-refundable and it would be a waste of $200+. I could tell by the look on her face that this was the last thing she wanted to hear, especially since no one else was going to make it to the race with us.
I had initially tried to get my three other sisters and their husbands on board, but no one was able to make the race for different reasons. So there we are, Paige and I, the two lone Spartan Race rangers… Paige planing my death, and me smiling from ear to ear… It was REAL now.
Watching My Back…
Leading up to the race, I could tell Paige began getting nervous. When I would bring the Spartan Race up, she was extremely hesitant in her responses and was far from excited to run it. She told me multiple times over a month’s time that she was “probably going to die” during the race. I kept trying to convince her that we will do it together. I will help her though everything and be right by her side the whole time.
Our goal wasn’t to keep up with everyone else, it was to only finish the race. It didn’t matter if we did it in two hours, or four hours. We had to start together and finish together…
I knew the feeling I had after my first Spartan Race. After running my first race, I knew that I NEEDED to run a Spartan Race. I needed to get out of my comfort zone, get off the couch, get dirty, and out of my element. It was extremely important in changing my way of thinking about life in general… I knew that Paige needed to feel the same thing I did.
She has a routine of taking care of our three daughters, taking them to school, preparing meals, and cleaning up after the three child tornado sweeps through the house. Rinse and repeat… I needed to get her out of her element and also show our daughters that you can do anything with enough determination and drive. She needed to get out of her element and do something crazy… Something that makes you want to quit, roll over and play dead, but keep on pushing through the pain and finish what we started. What better way than the Spartan Race?
Months Leading Up To Our Spartan Race
Throughout the months prior to the Indiana Spartan Race, we would go for walks and run the sledding hill in our neighborhood, but honestly I did her a major disservice by not helping her train more leading up to the race. I also did not train enough myself prior to the race, but did a lot of interval training because I knew it would help me the most in the shortest period of time. Needless to say, each of us were not in our best shape at the time of the Spartan Race.
The day prior to the race, we went to TJ Maxx and got some clearance workout gear for the race. I got compression socks, compression shorts, and a compression shirt. Paige bought some compression capris and a dri fit shirt.
I was hoping she would be more excited than she was once we got some new garb for the race, but again she just said that shes is probably going to die…
It’s Go Time!
Now it’s race day… I’m excited, somewhat nervous (as I always get), but mostly trying to reassure Paige that we will do this together and she can finish the race.
We had a 1:30pm start time and started our hour and a half, butterfly filled, journey to Laurel, IN for the Spartan Race. We had also signed up our two older daughters (7 and 5 years old) for the kids Junior Spartan Race (1/2 mile) and they were super excited!
When we arrived at the race site, I feel like Paige’s nerves eased a little bit once she saw people of all ages, shapes, and sizes lined up for the race. I made sure to point out the mix of people at the race venue to help try to ease her jitters. Of course, in the back of my head, I had reservations about my own conditioning for the race, but I tried to make sure that didn’t show.
Who Am I? I Am Spartan! Aroo Aroo Aroo
The race started off with some easier obstacles such as the net crawl and the over, under, through, walls. If you have ran a Spartan Race before, you know that everyone is very gung-ho for the first mile or so. People are running at a faster pace than they should be and we both fell into this trap ourselves.
I will never forget, after a short period of time into our run through very hilly terrain, I looked back and saw Paige… I slowed down to get next to her and she grabbed my arm, pulled me in, and softly said, “Zach, I really don’t think I can do this.”
At that point, I could tell that she pushed that initial run too hard. We needed to slow down. I told her, “you CAN do this, all we need to do is walk this portion. We don’t need to keep up with the rest of the racers.”
Once we finished the initial running portion, we met our first mud obstacle which consisted of 30 yard mud pit which was the consistency of nearly settled concrete. This was to the point where we could barely move our legs and the mud grabbed your foot and tried to pull your shoes off…
Paige approached the mud pit and with a swift slippery slide, did a pencil dive straight into the pit. Following the pit immediately was the muddy, sloped, barbed wire hill climb. The rest of the obstacles proved to be as challenging as they were the prior year, if not even more challenging…
We may have walked a lot, we may have took breaks on the side of the trails, but most importantly, we didn’t quit!
Lessons Learned Becoming Spartans Together:
We didn’t finish in record time, but we completed our goal. We FINISHED WHAT WE STARTED!
It took us just a little less than three hours, but for those three short hours, we needed each other. I needed to see her succeed at something that she felt was impossible. She was my inspiration for the day.
Paige needed my help through the majority of obstacles, getting over walls, monkey bars, doing the concrete bucket hoist, etc… We had to work together. We couldn’t leave each other behind on any obstacle.
Too many times in life, I feel like either the travel involved in my job, or our kids activities tend to pull us apart. We tend go our separate ways and take care of things that are priorities at that particular point in time. The Spartan Race pulled us together to the point of depending on each other again.
There were a few times where I would convince her to jog again through the course, only to look back and see her fall back. Those points in the race made me realize that we are different, and she requires certain attention and encouragement that I may not always have given while at home.
I gained a new respect for my wife. Watching her run the Spartan Race, go through points where she didn’t necessarily “want” to quit, but her body was telling her to quit and that was all she had, but she never did quit…
It was a thing of beauty.
She showed an extreme amount of determination and dedication to complete the obstacles. My pride for my wife grew by 10X.
Paige, if you are reading this. You are amazing! I’ve been wanting to write this for a while and thought about it often. I guess watching the Spartan Race series on NBCSN gave me the itch to finally put pen to paper.
Remembering back to that time, I am still extremely proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone and tackling something that seemed impossible!
I had this great idea to hold hands and jump the fire as a team, you know, finish the way we started… Well… That didn’t work as well as I hoped. Here’s the sequence of events. For some reason, she was complaining that her butt felt like it had burns on it… Oops!
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Until next time…
Stay fit, my friends.