It’s two in the morning and I am crammed into a red eye flying towards New York. From there I will hop on an hour-long flight to Vermont and drive another hour from Burlington down to Killington. I am almost four hours into my trip, but this has given me a moment to think about how far I have come over the last two years. Not that long ago, I was tying the laces of my newly purchased running shoes for the first time to run my first mile in I-couldn’t-remember-how-long. Six months later, I ran my first marathon. A year later, I ran my second marathon with a half marathon thrown in for good measure. Then, in the midst of binge watching American Ninja Warrior, I saw a billboard for the Reebok Spartan Races. “You will know at the finish line” the billboard proclaimed – and it was coming to Sacramento. The rest, as they say, is history. I ran the Sacramento Spartan Sprint that year and loved every minute of it; when I crossed the finish I knew I was hooked and I had to do more Spartan Races. Now, I am working on finishing the three legs of the Spartan Trifecta.
…But on to that later…I am getting ahead here. First, let me introduce myself. My name is Jeremy Dean, I am a proud father of a 6-year-old with a second on the way, and a husband of 9 years (and counting). I am also a Director at Trinity Technology Group. There are many marathon and half marathon finishers, not to mention Tough Mudders and Spartans, in the Trinity Technology Team. The company has sponsored team members’ participation in local running events to benefit local charities, including a handful that will run in the upcoming Urban Cow. There are also avid cyclists, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts on the TrinityTG team. We are located in downtown Sacramento, which, for me, means weather year-round that allows me to train outdoors. While discussing the upcoming race, past races, and the last couple years of training with Trinity leadership, I was urged to write about the upcoming (tomorrow) race, and about what I am going to train for next (and more importantly, why I like doing this stuff).
So why am I in this tin can with wings still awake with anticipation at two in the morning? …Because I am going to run for around 5 hours straight this weekend, eventually culminating in leaping over a finish line made of fire … wait, that didn’t come out quite right. I am about to run the longest of the three Spartan Races that I will complete this year: the Spartan Beast. The one I have chosen is in Killington, Vermont, which is the “home” of Spartan Races. It will be around 16 miles of mud, hills, and me wondering what I am doing here. There will be 30-40 obstacles: I’ll be crawling under barbed wire, pulling or carrying heavy objects, scaling walls, and I’ll conquer (once again) my greatest nemesis yet – the 30 foot free hanging rope that I have to climb. The course is also at the Killington Ski Resort, so saying it’s going to be a bit hilly is probably an understatement. I ran the Spartan Super (the middle race) in January in Temecula, California. It had a lot of elevation change (I now feel like I know how a day in the life of a mountain goat feels) and was a tough race. The Super was “only” 9 miles and had 31 obstacles. Part of the appeal of the Spartan is that they don’t tell you what the course layout is going to be until the day of the race, when it’s too late to go home. To prepare for this race, I added hill running and a lot more cross training. I also bought, and have been training with, a hydration backpack to help with hydration. Basically I am one of those geared-up running crazy guys you see cruising through your neighborhood.
If this sounds like too much hard work for running through the hills of Vermont, it probably is – for you. Still, my first race was really about wanting to get out there with some family and friends despite my limited experience and training. I won’t recommend going out to an event like this unprepared, but, like all these types of races it’s not about how fast you run or who you beat. It is about finishing, and it’s about what the accomplishment feels like to you (“You’ll know at the finish line”). I know I won’t finish first in this upcoming race, but I relish the challenge, the hard work that got me here, and enjoy testing my will to overcome what the course puts in front of me. So far that’s what keeps me coming back; that, and a small dose of craziness.
You’ll be hearing more from me. With the Spartan Beast tomorrow, the Spartan Super and Sprint in November, and California International Marathon in December, I’ll reach out to share what my training looks like, and I’ll share my race day stories with you. I’ll also let you know how my colleagues and family cope not only with my wild enthusiasm for these events, but with my urging that they join in too.
For the time being, I leave you with the Spartan Mission statement. I find it very similar to how I approach a lot of things in my life, especially work… maybe it’s what draws me to the challenge these races present:
We believe in changing your frame of reference and transforming your life.
Spartans laugh in the face of failure and continue forward.
We welcome challenges and embrace discomfort.
Be active. Be curious. Be human.
We are unbreakable.
We are strong.
We are Spartan.
Alright, enough for now. Back to trying to sleep before we land…
Watch this and try to resist the urge to join in.