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Thoughts from Vintage Yoga...

And Now I'm a SPARTAN

This past weekend I participated in a Spartan race for the first time, at the age of 60. It was so much fun! I was a little nervous because I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew I would run/walk at least 5k – I think it was closer to five miles – and I knew there would be 20 obstacles to make the run more challenging. What I didn’t know was how challenging it would be for ME.

A year ago, I’m quite certain that I would not have been able to do it. But for the past nine months Juan and I have been hitting the gym consistently. We’ve also been running, although without as much consistency. I’ve also been working on becoming more consistent with my yoga practice (which I think is the reason I’ve been able to participate in the Spartan in the first place). All this preparation gave me a little confidence, but I was still concerned about my low back and my left shoulder. (Those who know me know that I’ve struggled with low back issues for many years)

What I DISCOVERed is that you never know what you’re capable of unless you try. Case in point, one of the obstacles was a three-part water hole. Each hole was about waist deep and the color of a cappuccino with bits of coffee grounds floating on top. The dirt from the first two holes was piled up between the holes, creating a mound that made it challenging to climb out of the first hole. Once you reached the top of the mound, you had to be careful not to “slip-n-slide” into the next hole. Did I mention that the water was surprisingly cold? Any other day it might have felt refreshing. But on this day, the weather was a mild 75 degrees, so the cold water wasn’t as desirable.

I made it through the first two water obstacles without getting completely dunked. But then comes the third water obstacle. This time there is a wooden wall in the center. Participants must totally submerge themselves in order to go UNDER the wall!

I stood there trying to work up my courage. So did many other competitors. Some of them just shook their heads and went straight to the penalty loop. Then there were the ones who just did it.

What I found interesting is that nearly everyone who chose to take on the obstacle did the same thing; they got into the water, felt for the bottom of the wall, then reached into the water to feel how deep it was, before attempting to dive under it. As far as I could tell, nearly everyone did that, even after watching numerous people before them do it. We each had to know for ourselves where the bottom of the wall was and how deep the water was before we tried it.

After observing several others successfully accomplish the obstacle, I thought I was ready. Juan, seeing my hesitation, told me I could go to the penalty loop if I wanted to. I said, “This is what I came here to do.” Those words gave me the courage I needed to accomplish the task. I DID IT! And it wasn’t too awful!

One of the most physically challenging obstacles for me was the low crawl. It’s the one where you have to crawl under a canopy of barbed wire. I think what made it so challenging was that you had to crawl up a very steep hill. This is when you really begin to understand the concept of gravity! The higher up the hill I went, the heavier my body felt. Another factor that made it so difficult was the hillside was composed of loose sand and rocks. I couldn’t get my footing because the earth kept sliding away each time I pushed against it. When I tried to go on my elbows and knees, the rocks cut into my skin.

At one point I looked up and saw that I was beneath a gap in the wire. I realized I could stand up and get out of there if I wanted to. Next to me was a younger woman named Elena. She was Spanish. She said to me in her best English, “You can do it! Come on, let’s go.” So, together Elena and I made it to the top of that hill. Thanks Elena!

I was also challenged by nearly every wall I had to climb. Truthfully, Juan gave me a boost to help me get up so I could go over. If my goal had been to compete, I would have been disqualified. But my goal was to finish – the T-shirt you get at the end says “Finisher” in big letters – that’s what I wanted to do. Finish and do my best.

And now, I want to do it again. Juan and I have this thing we do. Whenever we go somewhere new or do something new like this, we have two questions that we try to answer. What am I leaving behind? What am I taking with me?

I’m leaving behind another layer of fear and self-doubt. This was one of the most physically challenging things I’ve ever done, and it gave me the confidence to know that I really can do anything if I put my mind to it.

What am I taking with me? More courage, confidence, and knowledge. At age 60, I kinda think I’m a bad ass! Now I KNOW I can go through muddy water, I can carry a 75 lb. Atlas ball, I can navigate cargo nets 30 feet high, I can drag a nearly 100 lb. chain (I think you’re supposed to drape it over your neck, but I couldn’t get it up there!), I can (with a little boost) climb over high walls, and I can leap over a wall of fire! Yes, fire and it was hot! And now I know what I need to do to prepare for the next time.

So, what about YOU? What do you imagine yourself doing, but for whatever reason you don't believe you can? What would it take to help you accomplish that one thing? Imagine if you did, what else might you DISCOVER you can do? I'd love to help you break your own glass ceiling!

With Love & Gratitude,

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