The 5 Most Important Things I’ve Learned (To Date)

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I absolutely love learning

Two thousand and sixteen was my best year. I intended it to be. It was not 100% perfect or without difficulty by any means. Part of the reason it was my best is that throughout the year I prioritized learning and investing in self-improvement.

These are the top 5 things I learned in my quest for self-awareness, creativity, fitness, fulfillment and happiness.

“If you know about something but nothing’s changed, then you haven’t learned it.”

–Tony Robbins

 

1. Reading is Not Synonymous with Retention

THE PROBLEM:

It’s not what you’ve read, it’s what you remember and comprehend. Just because we read a piece of information does not mean that we actually stored it for later use or application. That “top 6 productivity tricks” article you read 6 months ago—try and recall more than 2 out of 6. Not so easy. Turns out that wasn’t a very productive read after all.

WHAT I LEARNED:

This was a major area of learning for me that has been building for some time now but crystallized in 2016. I love to read, but at best I can remember a few key takeaways from books and articles. That deteriorates over time. Pretty soon I’ve forgotten what I invested those minutes and hours in, or can barely share a concise summary, let alone repeatedly apply it to my own life. In our modern digital age, we are barraged with information constantly and this is only valuable if we can utilize this information and recall it when the opportunity arises.

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

The real productivity hack is to write everything valuable down and review it. Now when I read I take notes on 4×6 index cards. I also frequently and liberally underline or take notes within the book itself. Periodically I review these and refresh my memory of the most valuable insights I deemed worthy to write down or underline. I did not create these systems by any means, I directly modeled them from two amazing people. Ryan Holiday and Maria Popova. Just click their names and I’ve linked to two articles that got me going in this direction.

Book Notes

Taking notes when I read on index cards and within the books has helped me TREMENDOUSLY!

2. Action Bias—From Wishing to Willing

THE PROBLEM:

I have a large scale vision of what I want to become, contribute, and accomplish in life. That isn’t a problem—unless I’m not taking action towards it. It is easy to have dreams. It is easy to wish. We need our willpower, effort, and action to ever make it real.

“…Huge difference between knowing about something and knowing how to do it.

–Tony Robbins

WHAT I LEARNED:

Starting is half the battle. Look up Lao Tzu’s famous quotes and you’ll see the 1000 mile journey one. Beginning something that is important to us when we feel under-qualified, under-confident, and under-funded is not easy, but it is necessary. Everyone who’s ever accomplished or created anything started somewhere. Their conditions were not perfect, even if they have a tremendous success story that makes it seem like they are holier than thou. Starting wasn’t easy for them, but they did it. I had to start my writing dream for real in 2016. I just did it one Wednesday. Now the ball is rolling, now the momentum is building.

Action Bias

Be ready to act!

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

Simplicity. Start practicing with low stakes frequently. As skills build, raise the stakes. Think about what life will be like looking back with gratitude for having begun something that matters. Now imagine looking back knowing you never started and feel the pain of regret. My solution was asking myself the question: Do I want it or not?

3. Consistency

THE PROBLEM:

I’m intense. I relish this as a strength, but it is also a weakness. Intensity can be draining, it’s a pace that’s past sustaining. In my past, I frequently have given everything I have for as long as I can, and then burnout. After I’m exhausted I find myself still with mountains to climb.

Consistency

The consistency has to be right for the vision to work…just like with food.

WHAT I LEARNED:

Pace is the name of the game. Two runners embark on a 5-mile run—the one who sustains a consistent output will have better results than the one who sprints until exhaustion and needs time to recover then repeats the same pattern. Consistency was a weakness of mine in many areas  I aimed to reverse this and make it a strength.

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

“Intensity cannot replace consistency.” —Simon Sinek

I will keep my intensity but aim to practice and produce continually at a pace that I can handle. Intensity is an asset, but it cannot be all I rely on. My solution is to be intentional and decisive with my time—always making time for what really matters. Chipping away at the bigger picture, rather than swinging a 100lb sledgehammer trying to do it all at once.

4. The Importance of Priorities

Priorities

Priorities are what we are actually doing…not what we know we SHOULD be doing.

THE PROBLEM:

I want so much in life. Not materialistically, but experientially. There is a finite amount of time for all of us. 24 hours in a day, and ballpark 80 years to live if we take adequate care of ourselves. The problem is when to do what. What to be patient with and what to do now. My problem is doing too many things at the same time, not truly focused on the deep work it requires to manifest what I’m after.

WHAT I LEARNED:

I would rather accomplish or take action towards the key factors that make me happiest and most fulfilled. That means eliminating things. That means not everything will get done. That means learning to ignore the part of my brain that spurns me towards attacking 10 projects at a time and cutting that down to 3 at most. My personal bandwidth is exceeded by my ambitions. I download faster than I upload. My ideas come in tremendous flashes of insight, but my actions and ability to execute on these ideas are more like building a fire with friction—lots of time and energy must be expended before it starts to become real.

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

Continually asking what is most important? I do this several times a day, and it is now my go-to question when I have a major decision. There are secondary questions that stem from this too. What is most important right now? What is the most important long term? (1 week? 1 month? 6 months? 1 year? 6 years?) What is most important for others? The last question I need to ask a lot more. I’m overcoming a selfish behavior bias and it’s not all about me. I wrote more about The Reality of Priorities here.

5. Frame of Reference

THE PROBLEM:

“What things mean to you is always determined by what you compare them to, or contrast them against.”

—Tony Robbins

We are constantly filtering what comes into our experience through our own beliefs, past experiences, and our prejudices or fears. We need the ability to detach from our default frame of reference to understand and empathize with others. Looking at our own flaws in our worldview is not easy.

WHAT I LEARNED:

This is going to be something I write a lot more about in coming pieces. Frame of reference is like a thesis I plan on spending a lot of time on. I think I learned this based on my expectations of myself and how generally I can’t expect the same from others. I have put myself through some very challenging situations, seen some extreme wealth from up close, and explored who I am as an individual in depth. These factors determine how I view the world and interact with others. I can’t expect someone who’s never challenged themselves to completely relate to who I am or what I’m working towards. I can’t expect someone who’s never seen the insidious dark side of wealth to understand my growing admiration of minimalism and anti-consumer rhetoric. I definitely can’t expect someone to understand me who doesn’t understand themselves.

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

“To influence someone you need to understand what already influences them.”

—Tony Robbins

This quote helped bring awareness beyond my own frame of reference. I have a somewhat optimistic and positive bias (deliberately) that many do not share. The worldview we bring with us can be of great service, but we need the awareness of what influences our own worldview. Where did it come from? Did I consciously choose it or was it just what I became by default? Two people can look at the same event, and see different things. One might perceive an opportunity, the other a crisis. If part of our belief structure is not beneficial we can put in the work to re-evaluate and re-create our own beliefs. How do you see the world?

Frame

The way we view the world is malleable. It can change. It can also change what we are looking at.



 

This list of 5 learning experiences has all been part of a journey towards self-actualization. I am not perfect. I am not better than anyone.

I am learning.

I am growing.

I am working on giving and contributing more, at levels beyond myself.

That’s why I wrote this. To share some things I’ve been focused on and have helped me dramatically with happiness, fulfillment, and inner peace. I wish the same for you.

What Can I Give the World?

Blades of Grass holding Life's Essence

Blades of Grass holding Life’s Essence

Do I have anything meaningful to give to the world? Can I contribute and make my mark on an ever changing, crowded, and evolving planet Earth. Do my other 7 billion brothers and sisters feel the same way? Does everybody want to leave a positive legacy and be known for great things?

I’ve been pondering these questions, and I think the answer to all is a yes. At least to some degree. Certainly I wasn’t born without SOMETHING meaningful to give back—I can’t simply be a taker or consumer. Surely, I can develop a worthy attribute, skill, or mission that gives value to others on the planet we share, and the planet itself. Making my mark on the world has been a calling I’ve always felt, sometimes with a crushing pressure. I reflect upon the cliche “pressure makes diamonds” and aim to thrive under the pressure of expecting greatness from myself. A challenge I’ve faced is overload. I literally want to be excellent in my skill set in so many things that it is overwhelming. On the positive side it I’ve got an endless To Do list of things that I enjoy and can categorize as productive time on some level. This is great, but there is a bottom line that must be met for me to be functioning as a member of society. Some avenue that is being pursued must create “a living” in the societal sense. I just thought of this metaphor about my current undertakings. Taking one swing of an axe at 27 trees one at a time is a bad strategy to cut them all down. Possibly a better tactic would be to completely take each tree down, sharpening the axe between each tree. Or taking a few choice trees and rotating between them 1/3 at a time. The most ideal plan may be to step back and look at the forest. What? Looking at the alignment of the trees and noticing which one if cut with the right technique and forethought may knock down several other trees using the force of gravity on its way down. That is just a metaphor, I don’t want to cut down any trees, I’d honestly rather plant many many trees in m lifetime. If that metaphor was written poorly or I lost you replace the trees with goals and cutting down with accomplishing. So if I try to accomplish 27 goals at once versus accomplishing one at a time, or clustering a handful, or looking at the complete picture and seeing which goal can accomplish many others once it is completed.

 

So realizing that I need a better strategy, what do I even intend to give. The list of what I want is clearly posted on my blog, and that’s somewhat partial and not as specific as the goals I’m working with now on a daily basis. But, all that is me me me. What about you you you and we we we? Will I create soley for a selfish and personal reason, or can I ensure that I’m giving value and hopefully creating in service to others and good causes. The latter sounds much more noble, but can I or you say that that is our intent at all times? I can’t. Maybe it’s because I was an only child for most of my life, but I’ve noticed in times of reflection that I often behave very selfishly. Look out for number one they say. I don’t really consider that a great piece of wisdom. Number one is just one number. Focus entirely on that and that’s just one looking after one. Can’t I look after many, and then should I ever be in need have many that would consider looking after me? Has a nicer ring to it. Looking over the words that are written above it’s apparent there is a lot of “I” in this writing. This is a reflective and personal questioning of my motives in life, and I hope that you can see some value somewhere within. Gratitude for reading my words. Let me finish by answering the question initially posed. What can I give the world? Myself, my best self, working hard, candidly as I pursue deepening my strengths, improving my weaknesses and overcoming the obstacles while taking ideas through the creation and execution process—defining dreams and questing for success for myself but also for the tribe that we all are a part of.

It’s Race Week

Race at Cowboys Stadium!This Saturday I’ll be in the stadium of the Dallas Cowboys doing the Spartan Sprint. I am so excited to be able to compete in the stadium of my all time favorite sports team!! This will be the shortest distance Spartan Race I’ve ever done, but I’m betting that the obstacles and bleachers will make up for the 3 mile distance, still providing a fun and challenging course. I am a die hard Dallas Cowboys fan, and always have been. This race represents an opportunity to sweat, struggle and perform in the same arena as the Cowboys on Sundays. What a wild and awesome experience. My first ever stadium race and I hear they are a different animal. Without the necessity for long distance endurance, more explosive athletes may have a better day.  This week I’m getting prepared to race my best race, I have nutrition and training at the best they’ve been so far. I’ve been really honing in my training and improving the consistency. I know that after my races in May (posts and videos to come) that I will have to really continue to innovate, improve, and invest in my training. I want to be at a true elite level, not just paying the extra money to sign up for the elite heats, but really being at my best and competing at a level worthy of the title elite. I have a long way to go and mountains to climb on my journey to the pinnacle of my own performance. But this Saturday I’m going to enjoy how far I’ve come and the chance to Throw Up the X on the Jumbotron at JerryWorld. I’ll be capturing and creating content over the weekend to showcase this unique and exciting experience. Wish me luck!

BattleFrog vs. Spartan Race. How did it measure up? (In my opinion)

April 11th 2015 I volunteered with some friends at BattleFrog Dallas. At that point, I had ran 4 Spartan races as my primary reference point for the Obstacle Course Racing world. What did I think of the BattleFrog? Does it live up to it’s Spartan counterpart? Let me tell you that BattleFrog is a serious race, and I was very impressed with the obstacles and course design. Volunteering was a truly fulfilling experience too, and I highly recommend it to anybody, not just for the free race either.

My friend Liam is a Beast, he could have won the Open Category race that day, but was slowing down to run with me.

My friend Liam is a Beast, he could have won the Open Category race that day, but was slowing down to run with me. I was struggling with this obstacle!!

Volunteering was fun? Yes, without a doubt. Being behind the scenes of an OCR event was a cool perspective, and made me totally respect all the volunteers even more at every race! There is so much work that goes into these races, and it’s easy to just show up run it and never give it a second thought. I was an elite course marshall on the 12ft wall and it was a great experience. Being able to help people overcome the obstacle from a physical and mental standpoint was very rewarding. There were a few racers I remember in particular, racers who I helped get over the top, through words of encouragement, and bringing out their own determination. I often heard “I can’t do it!” or “I’m going to fail.” To those affirming the negative, I would repeat with great force “Don’t say that! You CAN do it!” or “You’re almost there, don’t give up!!” To see someone who once vehemently believed they couldn’t accomplish something, change their mind-set and overcome the wall was really special. Seeing others in that situation gives me a good perspective when I’m suffering on a tough course or through a tough training session.

What makes BattleFrog tough? Is it tougher then a Spartan Race? I think BattleFrog presents more challenging obstacles, especially for grip strength and the upper body. I felt as challenged at the BattleFrog Dallas as I did at the Dallas Beast 2014, but the running was much less. The course was designed to strategically call on grip strength endurance, and overall strength endurance something which I found out was a real weakness in my repertoire. Not just being able to do monkey bars, carry gas cans and sandbags, but doing so during a distance running event in a sequence designed to promote total muscle fatigue. I personally realized during the gas can carry that my grip was weak, and my left arm was giving out sooner than my right. I had to stop several times and put the cans down. After that there were many walls, ropes, monkey bars and structures to climb and all required the grip strength that I had fatigued immensely carrying the 20lb gas cans earlier. Very challenging, and helped me re-visit my training protocols and include grip strength routines often. Overall BattleFrog gave any Spartan Race I’ve done a run for it’s money—and speaking of running for money, they pay the elite winners more then Spartan Race does. Is one race superior? To me both have their merits and I’ll continue to race both brands. I was just surprised that BattleFrog was able to hold its own and actually be more challenging than Spartans in some aspects.

I am committed to continuing my fitness journey and testing my progress via obstacle course races. I will be racing a minimum of 3 more Spartan Races this year: Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Lake Tahoe World Championship Beast course, and the Dallas Beast. I would really like to fit another Battle Frog in there too. Have you done an Obstacle Course Race, or several? Any comments or opinions?

200 Mile Relay Race in South Texas…Why Not?

Suddenly I’m thrust into an unexpected challenge. A friend of mine contacted me on Tuesday, informing me that a teammate for the Texas Independence Relay had dropped out, would I care to take their place? I said yes with little hesitation, even though I’m arguably “out of shape” presently. I chose to accept because I need this. It is well within my capabilities, and the only thing separating me from rising to the challenge is utilizing my time now for proper preparation, and adopting a positive mind-set that accepts the challenge and believes I can accomplish it. This will be a good spark to ignite my training for the May/June Spartan Races I plan on doing.

 

This is also a really cool race: historic, and requiring strategy and advanced planning. The race goes from Gonzales, Texas to Houston.

Road Tripping To South Texas this weekend

Road Tripping To South Texas this weekend

Fortunately the team I’m a part of has everything worked out, all I have to do is prepare myself, my equipment/supplies, and show up to run. All totaled I’ll be doing 3 legs, spaced out pretty generously…totaling 16.65 miles. That will be a  new personal record for most miles in 24h, but there is a substantial break between my first and second legs. I plan on foam rolling after all my legs, with some good stretching and I should be good to go. Nutrition and hydration are also key. I plan on starting hydrating extra today (2 days out), and even more so the day before the race. I’m learning that hydration is a pre-preparation priority, and that hydration during a competition should be never from a depleted state–starting saturated with water from the prior 24h seems to have a very beneficial effect, and I find myself less thirsty, and performing better. For some performance hacks, I’ll be consuming pickle juice, coconut water, and various supplements. I plan on using: Shroom Tech Sport by Onnit Labs, it’s a great energy supplement that actually uses your bodies natural ATP production system rather than being an external energy boost, Beet Elite–a natural Nitric Oxide boosting supplement made from real beets, lastly to take before sleep ZMA–a mineral based mix of Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6–helps the body during intense training to recover (click the link to find out more about ZMA).

 

In last-minute preparation I’ve been wearing my Training Mask, often even when sedentary

Wearing this mask as much as I can stand to get my lungs working even when "resting".

Wearing this mask as much as I can stand to get my lungs working even when “resting”.

. Warming up my lungs a few days out and working my diaphragm to hopefully enable me to get more oxygen during the race. Other than that, just made my final packing and shopping lists. A deep stretching and yoga session tonight will be the last step to prepare adequately for the short time frame I’ve had.

 

Follow along on Twitter, and Instagram @multitude27 to see Behind the Scenes.

 

 

(Morning) Rituals and Routines—What Might Be the Unifying Factor in Success.

BY @multitude27

Day Break. #nofilter

First post of 2015!!!!!!

 

This post is adapted from a post I published at Medium yesterday. I’m a huge fan and follower of Tim Ferriss (follow him on Twitter and his blog to be on the cutting edge of performance and success) Through his blog and podcast Mr. Ferriss has really emphasized the morning routine of the successful and how they vary but can contain striking similarities.

 

The following words are a synopsis of where I’m at personally adopting a functioning routine into my life.

 

 

(Morning) Rituals and Routines—What Might Be the Unifying Factor in Success.

I honestly don’t practice a routine right now. But, I’m developing a system. I am the type of person that can’t have a monotonous life, and routines are monotonous, or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. Completely wrong. In all my studying of success nothing recurs quite as often as having a routine to spark creativity and productivity. Maybe list making, but that is often part of the routine! Chicken and egg aside, I’ve put a great deal of effort into the study of routine and routine building in my life. However, to date, I have yet to actually practice my routine(s). To overcome my fear that having a routine would add too much monotony regardless of its productivity benefits, I’ve decided to create different routines for different styles of days. Wait, hear me out—there are core tenets that form the ultimate simplicity of my routine, but I tailor other aspects and steps outside the core to jumpstart engagement in how I want to direct and create my day. How does that work? Something like this: I broke days down into primary themes and differentiate/adjust the routines accordingly.

Each day should have one major goal/tenet:

Brain Dayslearn and absorb at least one truth, skill, or lesson.

Fitness DaysFocus on health and fitness, with a major workout or mission accomplished

Creative DaysMust create one item. Whether that’s a cog to a larger creation or a finalized product.

Money DaysCreate Income/Profit. Goals and target numbers set and strived for. Financial Management and Improvement.

Love Days—purposefully free of routine…spontaneity and freedom rule. Days devoted to love, and enjoying the moment.

Macro with some good morning Dew

Macro with some good morning Dew

 

What makes each day different is the desired outcome and goal. The goal overall is to have systems in place that make each morning an enjoyable and effective way to start my day. Designing the differences in the routines is in accordance with these goals. I wouldn’t say that each day is fully set out yet, in total detail but some things have been established. Each day gets it’s own musical accompaniment to the routine based on how I’m setting the tempo for the day. For instance, fitness days are geared towards higher tempo music to induce a more intense frame of mind before training. I believe certain days don’t need music.

The inclusion of a day free of routine I felt necessary, to avoid negative self talk and criticism. I tend to gravitate towards harsh self-appraisal so this can insulate me. Go on? A day where I can be free and spontaneous built within the greater framework of a structured routine system alleviates me from pressure or need to berate my failure. After all who can be mad at a day spent in freedom, love and pursuing the enjoyment of our limited time in this plane of existence? So I broke routine? End of the world? No. Not unless I can’t look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say that I lived my way and no day is bad. Which is never.

The purpose of this wasn’t to long windedly explain that I’ve got a different way of routinizing life, the purpose was to share what gets results and that’s why if you’re still reading you ultimately clicked this story.

My routine system I’ve discussed is complicated, but it suits me because I’m complicated as well. That being said I do know that a high level of complication can ultimately defeat the real purpose of a routine…to simply do tasks in a manner that doesn’t require the level of conscious thought it would to independently accomplish these tasks: with the overall system leading to higher functioning as a human.

Here is the simple stuff. What have I found to work for me and common among the successful?

COMMONALITIES AMONGST DAYS:

  • • Each routine should include the sourcing/planning/preparing of the day’s first meal.
  • • Make Bed
  • • Hydration—8–20 oz. of water.
  • • Some form of affirmative thought/visualization/gratitude/meditative time
  • • A baseline minimum physical activity: Yoga/Stretch, 200 pushups, breathing exercises.

Following these activities I would tailor the following steps to the day. Creative days would involve a writing practice with various projects ongoing. Fitness days, a great training session or sessions. Money days, an evaluating my personal and company finances with increasing income and profit taking center stage. Brain days, deeply immersive study of a subject of my choosing. Love days, who knows?

Overall, I think that using these commonalities as a foundation and building off of them can prove very beneficial. The rest of your day already has a sense of purpose and accomplishment. You’ve followed a routine, and that’s a key to reaching a happy and successful life. Ask anybody. Anybody that you consider to be successful, and see if they don’t have some form of routine to become more effective.

 


 

Any thoughts or comments? What do you do that is different or similar to my set up? Am I crazy? Let me know in the comments below or Tweet me @multitude27 on the side bar.

 

Thank you,

 

Brendan

My first Spartan Race…the Texas Beast 2013: Part 1

Time has certainly flew by since I last posted about my pre race preparation, fears, and excitement leading up to the 2013 Texas Spartan Beast. I never got around to publishing a follow-up, or any posts whatsoever until last week, due to my new job and the demands required of me (another post on this to come).

All that aside I want to share what it was like that fateful day—December 15th, 2013.

I had my Up band in a plastic bag in my camelbak tracking my steps...might not be 100% accurate, but closer than nothing.

I had my Up band in a plastic bag in my camelbak tracking my steps…might not be 100% accurate, but closer than nothing.

What was it like?
My first Spartan Race really blew me away. These races are large-scale undertakings, and nearly a festival atmosphere. Music, food, merchandise, and ongoing fitness challenges throughout the main event area, along with a great view of the finish line and last few challenges. You see the apprehension and nerves on competitors about to embark onto the course, and you see the look of exhilaration, satisfaction, and exhaustion on those who have already finished. Arrive and pick up your race package…with the warning YOU MAY DIE in loud bold print. The contents includes bib/number, tracking and timing bracelet, headband, and other pertinent race day documents/items. I’ll never forget lining up at the start line and seeing those surrounding me with the mix or excitement and trepidation. A master of ceremonies ignites the crowd with a Spartan speech enticing “Sons and Daughters of Sparta” (racers) with glory. A loud response of “AROO!” is given in reply. A remote control aircraft with GoPro camera captures the action for promotional and social media purposes. The MC then pops the tops on a couple of smoke grenades and throws them directly in what will be the first few steps of a 15.5 mile journey. The signal is then given that the race has begun and the first obstacle is the obstructed vision from the grenades. Once out of the starting gates the strong runners and those who chose to be at the front quickly separate themselves from the pack of average racers. I was advised (and thankfully so) to maintain my own pace, and not get caught up in the foot race aspect of this event. It will be a long day and my energy reserves will be needed for the last miles. I am keeping a decent pace, fueled by adrenaline and the substantial nutrition packed fuel I’ve ingested. Others pass me, I pass others as we enter the first real obstacle. Balancing on small tree trunk sized logs and jumping between them. My shoes are already pretty muddy, and the poor fellow in front of me looks to have the same problem. He makes an awkward attempt to leap from one log to the next and slips out sideways…impacting his ribs on the log as he plummets. Wow, I think to myself…too early in the game to hurt myself like that. Once I’m up on there and noticing traction problems myself I’m quick to jump down and voluntarily take the 30 burpee penalty and not potentially end my race 3/4 of a mile in. Running after those first burpees was tough, but I soon regained my steady pace. The next few miles were some of the toughest in the race when it came to running…about 5 miles of hill climbs and descents over treacherous terrain. To me the hardest obstacle of the day, and what really killed me was at the end of the hill section. The Bucket Brigade: fill a 5 gallon bucket to the top with around 75 lbs of gravel, then ascend a steep muddy hill, and descend another route. I messed up on this, and due to the non honest nature of another racer ended up having to repeat it (30 burpee penalty not an option). At the top of the hill it was common practice to put the buckets down and catch ones breath before the downhill portion. I witnessed some people with less than allowable levels of gravel grabbing dirt and sticks and anything they could find to add to their buckets to reach the permissible level. At the time I thought little of this, due to being quite tired, and aiming to recover. My bucket was then grabbed by one such racer, and I was left with a less than full bucket. I didn’t notice until the bottom when I had to repeat due to a level of gravel that wasn’t acceptable. I was totally pissed off because I knew mine was full when I started. (Pro Tip: Sit on your bucket to avoid this) Repeating this obstacle probably took me 25- 35 minutes and drained plenty of my energy. All I could do was to push onwards. However, the hill section also held one of the coolest obstacles of the day…the memory challenge. Based on the racers bib number they must look up a code on a large board, and then memorize it for later recital. I saw other racers bust out the pen and paper to help them, but I chose a different approach. I would recite the code sequentially the steps I took and my breathing. I ran nearly the next 8 miles expecting to have to recite it, and eventually gave up, annoyed by constantly repeating this code in my head. I figured it would be a few miles after the board, maximum…but it was around 10 miles later. Many miles and obstacles later I came across and open area where people were doing burpees for what looked like no reason. No monkey bars, no gravel buckets, nothing that gave an indication as I approached. “What’s the password?” No way. Really!? I just tried to stop reciting it about 3 miles ago and now I’m prompted to remember. Somehow I remember it and pay no penalty. Great! I did well on most obstacles…failing only 2 entering the home stretch—the first obstacle of the log jumps, and then I failed the rope traverse (next time I’m letting my arms recover after the Hercules Hoist). Another bucket brigade of a less dramatic incline was included in the last few miles and that was a tough one! I ran through a creek bed with water in it and was wondering how much longer this was going on for when suddenly I popped out and could see the finish line…but some of the toughest obstacles remained between me and my medal. The traverse wall, and climbing a rope from a submerged in water starting point. I failed both, the traverse wall—30 burpees!(I just had bad technique as I’d later learn). I also had bad technique on the rope climb and was forced to dyno for a higher knot but failed to grip the rope, so I plummeted into the muddy waters below. Disoriented and exhausted I emerged to do another 30 burpees doubling my previous total in the last 500 feet to the finish. I was dragging and suffering at this point. Then something happened. I heard a faint voice of encouragement from the crowd: “Do it for Canada!” I suddenly spun around to see my friend and race mate standing in the crowd watching me. A few things all flowed through my head “how long has he been waiting for me?” “he certainly must have had an easier time then me.” “How long have I been out here on the course?” but overall the encouragement powered me through the last half of the burpees and then it was on to the finish. Pretty simple obstacles of the slippery wall and the fire jump stood between me and the end of a hard day. As I was climbing the slippery wall a volunteer offered his hand to help me overcome the obstacle…I refused, determined to use my gumption to get to the finish or pay the penalty. I drew up the last of my reserves and beat the wall, jumped the fire and sprinted the rest of the distance to the finish line.

Determined to finish!

Determined to finish!

5 hours flat was my time.

My results

My results

My friend placed 6th overall in the open category beating me by 2 hours with a time of 3 hours flat. A medal and a banana were pressed in my hand as I crossed, and I couldn’t help, but think of the branding Spartan Race has used—“You’ll know at the finish line.” That is the most apt description of how I felt. I definitely knew. I realized I had much more capabilities than previously known, and I also knew that this wouldn’t be the last time I finished a spartan race. And it hasn’t been…