Spartan Race Thailand: “Back to Normal…”

“I get knocked down, but I get up again, You are never gonna keep me down…”

On November 3rd, 2018, I jumped across a fire pit in Hua Hin Thailand, threw up my arms in celebration, and crossed the finish line. I was muddy, my Nike trainer shoes were ripped, my legs ached, and heart was beating out my chest. It was only a “Spartan Sprint” race, and it was the “Open” (non-competitive) heat. I was a total wreck. I was also ecstatic.

Something inside me felt awakened. It was a feeling I hadn’t experienced in over five years since dropping out of college running due to lingering injuries and crippling depression. I went back to the hotel room and reflected on what I felt that day. I decided I wanted to commit to see what this whole sport was about and how I could improve upon my mediocre but invigorating performance.

What followed was a rollercoaster of ups and downs in life. We all go through these chapters of challenges and periods of peace and contentment. After enjoying consistent training and building back a solid base of running, the latest “low” for me came earlier this year in the form of a surprise Achilles injury. I didn’t run for three months and thought my whole year of racing would be heavily compromised. However, as a stubborn coach and athlete, I did exactly what I tell people I work with to do – I did what I could! Hours of cross training, weights, investment in rehab sessions, and patience. A lot of patience.

Things got better. They always do. June and July were full of miles, pull-ups, and consistency.

On the plane to Chiang Mai I asked myself why did I want to win this race so badly? It didn’t make any logical sense. My life would be “back to normal” in literally five minutes. All this self-inflicted pressure for what? I narrowed it down in my mind to several personal reasons…

I wanted to win in Thailand. Even though I am not Thai, I have called it “home” for several years now.

I wanted to win so people could better understand that I care a lot about this sport and want to see it grow.

I wanted to win so my family could see that the questionable, “unconventional” life choices I have made are not all completely for naught.

I wanted to win so my coaching clients could see that you can always bounce back from setbacks if you commit to consistency and follow a smart plan.

I wanted to win so I could celebrate with my friends, especially those who also did the race.

Lastly, I wanted to win for my girlfriend to see that all the time I spent out on the roads, in the gym, down by the pool and sauna—all of it was somehow worth it on this day.

Was it possible? After so much time taken off running this year? I was about to find out.

On August 13th, 2022. I jumped across the fire pit in Chiang Mai Thailand, threw up my arms in celebration, and crossed the finish line. I was muddy, my back scraped up, knees bleeding, legs aching, and my heart was full of f*cking gratitude. Reality sunk in immediately. I just won the elite heat of the Super Spartan Race in Thailand. The roller coaster of emotions kicked in as I slowly walked back to the showers after the finish line interview. I have to admit that I teared up in this moment, quickly wiping my eyes and face as I don’t really like people seeing me cry…..

Guess what? Life was “back to normal” after that cold shower. But that didn’t stop me from smiling every time I thought about what just happened.

Going forth there will be upcoming pains and parties, highs and lows, peaks and troughs. But races like Spartan and other physical challenges help remind us that we are so much more than our job title, the car we drive, the neighborhood we live in, the places we frequent. People come together from all walks of life to challenge and better themselves. These events help us better grasp that connection with our core values, our passions, community, nature, and overcoming obstacles one hop, step, jump, and swing at a time.

That’s all for now. Off for a (slow and steady) run!