We did it! My brother and I and the rest of our team completed the Savage Race! What an amazing experience on so many levels! I was forced to face my fears, challenge my body, and work through limitations. I bonded with my brother, made new friends, and witnessed teamwork at its best. I received encouragement and acceptance and we all made it through the mud together.
The pictures above are to share a bit of the day with you and to tell the story of my brother’s support of me as I completed my first race. He is a veteran racer and moves with ease through most of the obstacles. But he kept my pace, never left my side, and even carried me at one point when my calves were not cooperating with me. This race is not only a story of personal triumph and courage, it is the story of two siblings rediscovering their unique bond and love for adventure and each other.
Courage is truly an amazing teacher. It is relevant in my work as I witness courage on a daily basis every time one of you sets foot in my office. I think one of the bravest things we can do is to share our Truth with another human being. And I consider my role as witness to be sacred. Through the Savage Race, I realized the power that comes with adding in a physical component. Moving through the course and facing each obstacle with supportive “witnesses” (team members and other savage racers) illuminated very clear metaphors for the challenges that Life presents. Below I have outlined a few of the many lessons that I gained through this experience, including a new appreciation for my brother.
Ask for help: There were many opportunities to ask for help that day. After jumping off of “Davy Jones Locker” (a 16-foot platform into the water), my calves experienced cramping. As my calves continued to seize up periodically for the remainder of the race, I had to accept that my body had some limitations in that moment that could not be ignored. I ran when I could and walked when I needed to. I said yes when my brother offered to carry me a couple of times to cover some ground and make it to the bigger obstacles. I accepted what I could and could not do that day. However, when I consulted a medic about what was happening to me, and he gave me the option to complete the race or have a team come and pick me up, I made an extremely clear decision that as long as I could walk, I was going to finish this one obstacle at a time.
A little dirt, never hurt: One obstacle required us to lay down on our stomach in 6-inch high mud to crawl under barbed wire. Crawling through the squishy dirt provided a wonderful opportunity to release perfectionism and any hang-ups about my appearance as we emerged from the mud completely covered! What a freeing feeling to have no self-consciousness about what I looked like on the outside. My full concentration was on my internal experience and on how I could support and serve my teammates. A true lesson in present moment awareness!
There is no going back:
Sometimes it is important to literally push yourself. Life only moves forward and it is our job to keep taking it one step at a time. Once I climbed up “Colossus,” the hardest part was the descent
on the other side which began as a straight vertical incline that we needed to slide down. Upon approach I truly questioned my ability to do it. Yet again, as in other obstacles, there was no going back down the way I came up and the people were beginning to pile up behind me. Here was one of those opportunities to call upon my courage. Just then, one of my teammates came up next to me and grabbed my hand. She said we would do it together. And down we went!
Give yourself credit: Once the race was over, it was a bit difficult to “come down” from all the excitement of training, anticipation, and the adrenaline of the actual event. Due to the cramping and not making it all the way through some of the obstacles I attempted, I recognized that I was beating myself up a bit for not meeting a fabricated version of “success” I had created in my head. I realized that I needed to give myself credit for what I was able to accomplish and that deep inside, I am truly proud of myself. It also gives me a goal and a yearning to believe that I can learn from this what I might do different the next time and that I want to try again. Be aware of the expectations that you set up in your head that may sabotage an opportunity for growth and expansion.
The importance of recovery: As many of you know and experience, your body does not bounce back at 40 quite the same as it did when you were 20! In the few days following the race, I had to tune into my body’s needs for more sleep, rest, and nourishment. I came to appreciate the concept of recovery and that sometimes it is more important than the movement. As always, balance is the key.
Remember those with whom you grew up and what makes that relationship unique: The most special part of doing the Savage Race for me was the time I got to spend with my brother. Even though we were surrounded by teammates and thousands of other racers, we never lost sight of each other. We had no other life distractions and could focus in on the task at hand. As adults with businesses and families, this is a rare opportunity. I also realized that what he and I tapped into was our shared love of competition, athleticism, and teamwork. These parts of ourselves got a bit lost in the process of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood until we rediscovered them again a few years ago through Crossfit. The Savage Race is a metaphor for our shared history that made us who we are today. So often we minimize the importance of sibling influence in our personal development. I could not imagine my life without my brother and I am forever grateful for our ability to deepen our connection as adults through this physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenge. So the next time your sibling invites you to share something that is important to them, that allows you to share in their world for a while, say “YES!” It may just be your most treasured memory yet!
There are many angles from which to understand courage. And there is so much to learn from the opportunities we take in life to venture out of our comfort zone. So go forth! Learn about yourself, the world around you, and things you haven’t even dreamed of yet!