My first Spartan Race is less than eighty days away and I am excited and anxious to compete. The first one of anything is always the most nerve-racking and dreaded. I have real fears going into this. I wonder if I will be strong enough, fast enough, or resilient enough. Monday I busted out 3 miles on the treadmill with seemingly little effort and am sure I could have gone longer. It was as much a surprise to me as it was Gwen. Up until that point I haven’t attempted to run any distance longer than a mile at speed in almost six years. When I was a young Marine and full of spit and vinegar I would have laughed at anything less than 5 miles long. A lot has changed since then though and while I am pretty healthy today most of the last five years have not been that way. In 2007 when my mother passed away I weighed 220 pounds and couldn’t run across the room without dropping dead. Today I weigh 168 but it’s been a long painful road to get here.
There are many reasons why I am competing in this racing series and I hope I can find a solution to my money issues and complete all the races I intend to. I am lost in this world today. Unemployment has shaken my faith not just in me, but in my future, and the American dream as a whole. It’s hard to make sense of things when hard-working good people can’t even find a job. Were it not for my girlfriend’s decent salary we would be in serious trouble. I am frustrated by the seeming unjustness of it all. I have a step-brother who receives nearly 2000.oo a month from the government in disability. He spends these funds on junk-food, toy, electronics, and video games. He has no bills to worry about as he lives at home with his mother and my father and has all his life. His disability is that he has become so obese and overweight that his body can no longer regulate his hormones or endocrine system so he suffers from occasional seizures. Years ago he was told by several doctors that were he to adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle and shed about 100 pounds the condition and the seizures would go away and he could resume a normal and medication free life. In that time he has added another 75 pounds to his frame. Honestly what incentive is there for him to change? He makes more money and lives a more comfortable life then most by doing nothing.
To be frank I’m doing this because I have nothing else to do. It’s not the noblest cause ever but it’s the truth. Yes I enjoy pushing myself and being part of a community devoted to something great. Honestly though, were I working full-time and making money like I was just a few months ago, it is very likely I might never have made the commitment to do this. When the money is good and you can afford all the luxuries and comforts you’re accustomed to people tend not to look around at life with an air of dissatisfaction. When things are good most of us just focus on keeping it that way. Obstacle racing and other outdoor sports seem like excesses in foolishness and dangerous risks. Unfortunately this is all I have right now. I am free to devote hours to training daily that I would not have were I working. I’m free to network and market the race to people across the country. I guess in that aspect it’s a blessing. Right now I can devote my full attention and efforts to promoting, and preparing for the races. It would be nice if I could somehow translate that to a revenue stream, and maybe someday soon I will. For now though this is keeping me alive and keeping me sane. It channels my anger and frustration into something concrete and measurable and keeps my mind from wandering in dark places.
In ten days this year will be over. Like many people I am hoping for better things to come in 2012. I’m hoping that this “Great Recession” ends and companies start hiring again. I’m hoping to move away from the southeast and some of the attitudes here that I have found hard to adjust to in my nearly 30 years of living here. I’m hoping to find work and the money to ease the strain on my girlfriend and our lives. I’d love to compete in many more races than I have registered for so far. I think I could be a real threat to last years’ winners and even have a shot at the Championship next year in Vermont. Most of all I’m hoping to find a little bit of that self-respect and confidence I’ve lost over the past years. Living day-to-day worrying about bills, and food, and seeing the people you love killing themselves to make ends meet kills you bit by bit, a little every day. It erodes your sense of manhood and strength. It washes away your faith and hope and compromises your identity as a man. I was raised to be a provider, to be dependable and self-reliant. As a Marine I was told I was unstoppable and could overcome anything but it’s hard to hold onto that belief when reality is beating you down. Today I am struggling. I want nothing more to go to sleep and not wake up, to hide from the world, to wake up from this nightmare but I can’t. Instead I will work out and sweat. I will talk to people about this race, kiss my girlfriend and hope tomorrow is a better day. It’s all I can do, one foot in front of the other one step at a time. Hopefully I will make it to the finish line.