I Will Die Living

18 08 2013

One could call me a Retirement Hedonist — living on the Riviera Maya in Mexico, strolling the beach, enjoying yoga, playing with my Grand Babies, exploring my Inner Being, doing some travel….

So why did I sign up for a Spartan Obstacle Race?

Because my daughter Leslie, a Spartan Pro Elite Racer, encouraged me, and my doing this seemed important to her. It also involved a trip to Portland to visit Jessica, my other daughter. And. It was a few months away. No immediacy.

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A great opportunity for Mom-Daughter Time.
Seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’d done The Dirty Girl run twice – great muddy fun. Spartan couldn’t be that much different – could it?

Oh, my.

Leslie’s in the first heat, so we arrive early at the Washougal, Washington, race site. A Spartan Flag flutters and the sun emerges, illuminating the hover of fog over a blanket of lush green. A volunteer waves the way. Race Day.

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Race day.

Observing preparations and absorbing the palatable energy– I realize,

“Damn. These people are serious.”

Elite Pro Women.

Elite Pro Women.

A few of Elite Pro Men.

A few of Elite Pro Men.

 I’m registered for the second day of this two-day event. Saturday, I’m photographing my daughters as they abuse their sculpted bodies and watching them push themselves beyond previously unknown limits.

Leslie:

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Jessica:

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Shell-shocked, I’m secretly scheming:

How can I get out of this? What the hell was I thinking?!

And toward the end of that Saturday:

I can do this. I don’t care how long it takes. I WILL do this.

 Or. Die trying.

Actually: I will die living.

(My new mantra.)

Sunday arrives. Leslie competed with the Pros again and intended to also go again with me. That would entail her completing this rigorous event three times in two days. But she aggravated an old injury, and following her first-place finish, she could barely hobble. The previous day, she lost concentration on the last obstacle, falling off the Traverse Wall. Thus, 30 burpees and dashed hopes of finishing in the Top Three.Leslie ProSpartan Page Header - Version 2

So Jessica – who crossed the finish line 38th of the more than 1000 women who competed on Saturday  – was designated “to look after Mom.”

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The scenery in Washington is glorious. Washougal is nestled in majestic trees and rolling hills (mountains!). The race began with a Tony Robbins/Military style pep rally, “You are a Spartan! Look to the left of you. Look to the right of you. These are your Fellow Spartans! You will not fail! Aroo!”

And we’re off into a burst of smoke bomb.

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Let’s be honest here. I do not run. I walk. But for the sake of image and race photos – I do the obligatory sprint across the Start line. Then settled into my trudge up – severely up – the first half-mile. Across vistas, through trees and the first obstacle: hurdles. Not so bad. If you don’t count form.  All followed by a treacherous rocky-slidey down the same mountain.

While Dirty Girl involves climbing towers of tires, Spartans flip, drag, and push them. Spartans also do the Atlas Carry involving a 60-pound cement block and a requisite five burpees. They carry sand bags up a mountain, then back down. And walls and hurdles, over-unders, and a massive slip-n-slide into frigid muddy water. Dirty Girl had us boosting each other up stacks of straw bales and scrambling through a bit of squishy mud. This Spartan Sprint – only 5k (a loooong 3.5 miles) with 18 obstacles – had us crawling/slipping/grasping/sliding under (real) barbed wire for a full quarter-mile. Uphill. For starters.

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Then. Grab this chain – it’s fastened to a cement block. And get one of those logs. Take them around those trees and back. Together? At the same time? How far?

Leslie calls this the Toddler Obstacle – not totally unlike carrying a sleeping baby while dragging a screaming toddler and balancing bags of groceries. For her: static items such as chains, cement, logs –no problem.

“Need some help, Mom?”

I can do it.

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Although I did accept a “leg-up” for a couple of particularly tall wall-climbs.

I’ve watched my 3- and 5-year-old Grand Daughters shinny up rope cargo ladders at the playground. Those climbs, relative to their heights, must have been just as daunting. In my mind, I can hear 5-year-old Lucy: “You can do it, Nana. Watch me.” But this ladder strung between trees was at least 30-feet high. No safety net — Oh shit. I’m up. Now I have to get my leg over?! — And then, back down.

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I could feel Jessica’s nerves. (Is Mom going to panic and freeze? How do I get her down?)

Oh, ye of little faith. I am doing this. All of this.

I will die living.

Carl Jung wrote about the four archetypes, four stages, that we as humans move through during our adult lifetime:  Athlete (we are preoccupied with our appearance).  Warrior (out to conquer the world and emerge ahead of anyone in the way).  Statesman (our focus turns to serving others to make the world a better place).  Spirit (we realize that we are infinite spiritual beings having a temporary human experience).

My daughters are beautiful, amazing Warrior Women.

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Leslie St. Louis

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Jessica Dover

I’ve also been a Warrior in my own way, raising them, starting and managing my own successful business. And now, I’m relishing my life of being part of, rather than conquering, the world.

And no. I hadn’t trained enough. No way could I even try the rope climb. And I fell flat on my back attempting the Inverted Wall. (Jessica helped me by doing 15 of my 30 burpees for that failed obstacle.) I almost hit the target with the spear throw (“almost” doesn’t count). And perhaps I could have done the Traverse Wall, but not after all the other trudging, crawling, swimming, hurdling, slithering, sliding, climbing that day …. So overall I did about 75 burpees– albeit modified, very slooooow ones.

But. I did it.

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And finished #1 in my age group.

This statistic would be so much more impressive if I could omit the fact I was the only person in my age group (others had more common sense?). However, in this year’s race season, there have been 11 of us Spartans aged 65-69.  Currently, I rank #5.

To add further perspective: On this Sunday, Leslie, a Pro Racer, claimed the First Place female title, clocking in at 50 minutes.  On Saturday, Jessica finished in 1 ¼  hours. The event took me 2 ½ hours.

I can barely move. My knees are raw. Shoulders ache. I limp. I’m still digging mud out of my ears and various orifices.

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In the words of three-year-old Grand Daughter, Sky, who ran a Spartan Kid Race:

“I won!”

Lucy: "I made so many friends in the mud!"

Lucy: “I made so many friends in the mud!”

Sky: "I won."

Sky: “I won.”

Yes. I won.

Not fading away. Living.

So, today?

Do I meditate with a beach sunrise? Or. Attack the world with a Spartan Race?

I will die living.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”   Hunter S. Thompson

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson

Related Links:

Although Leslie’s website  and Facebook, Colorado Obstacle Racers, targets events in Colorado, it is also a great source of overall information on obstacle racing, human interest stories, and data applicable to life and wellness —          http://www.coloradoobstacleracers.com/index.html

To experience beautiful writing and a valuable perspective on intention, outcomes and success, read the story of 3-year-old Sky, Eye of the Tiger: My Preschooler Won the Spartan Kid’s Race               http://www.coloradoobstacleracers.com/1/category/leslie%20st%20louisa786cd900c/1.html

Spartan Race site:    http://www.spartanrace.com/index.html

Obstacle Racing Media is a new online e-zine dedicated to the sport:         http://obstacleracingmedia.com/

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12 responses

18 08 2013
Sue Baldwin

I am so damn impressed! I hope that you broke out in several choruses of “I Am Woman…Hear Me Roar!” You are my hero, Mary Jordan! Back to floating in the swimming pool!!!!

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18 08 2013
Mary Jordan

Ha. Great song idea! Thanks for the comment….

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18 08 2013
Susan

Mary! I completely loved this!! You are such an inspiration. And you are pretty amazing too! Still healing and resting, My own sort of Spartan race. Thanks for writing this. Love you Susan

Sent from my iPod

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18 08 2013
Mary Jordan

Susan, YOU are the inspiration. From the day we first met. Get well. Come home.

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18 08 2013
maryLou

WOW – I am impressed! I do so admire your gumption.

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18 08 2013
Madeleine

A wake-up call for me….

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18 08 2013
Cathy Sue Sagerser

Mary…You are truly a gift in all of our lives! Oh my.. and I love the way you have written about your truly intense and wonderful experience. Inspiration and heartfelt determination…Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

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18 08 2013
Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua

So does this mean you’re ready to tackle the next Fuego y Agua Survival Run? LOL I am so very proud of you. YOU, mi amiga, are my heroine. And you tell some wild exciting stories, too!

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18 08 2013
Mary Jordan

Fuego y Agua?! hahahahahaha
But I’d love to see you guys again….Thanks for the good words.

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18 08 2013
Alicia knauf

Wow Mary, you are my hero!

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19 08 2013
Charlie

Mary you even look good covered in mud.

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19 08 2013
Connie L. Marks

I hold you and your mantra in high esteem Mary. Miss experiencing your energy. It is contagious…

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