2013 was a heck of a year. As I started writing this, I looked back on my DIYS bio from February: I’d lost my first 30 pounds over the past year / through 7 races, and was so excited to have 13 obstacle course races ahead of me. 11 months later, I’m amazed to look back on a year marked by 100 events including 31 OCRs, a Spartan Trifecta, GORUCK Trifecta, and more than 450 miles.
When I started my fitness journey in 2011, I ran my first OCR (NY Warrior Dash) alone, which may have contributed to my sense of accomplishment I felt when I crossed the finish line. While I organized work teams and tried to rally friends to join me, I still did more than half the next year’s events alone; it was just me versus my own demons, me and my own goals. But over time, and after the confidence boost I got from Dirt In Your Skirt, I started seeking out other OCR fanatics on Facebook, people whom I’d never have met otherwise. Now I’m part of something much, much bigger.
Fast forward to June 2013, as I was sitting at my computer nursing a sprained ankle instead of running the Tuxedo, NY Spartan Race. I read about Ilene Boyar, an extraordinary woman who completed the Tuxedo Spartan despite the added challenge posed by her osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) with the assistance of her team over 8 grueling hours (http://blog.spartanrace.com/tag/ilene-boyar/). I found her on Facebook to tell her how awesome I thought she was, and she promptly invited me to join her, her husband Brent, and their team for the next month’s Warrior Dash (NY, again). And so it was, having never met a single one of these folks in person, that I drove up one Friday evening to a dark campsite in upstate NY…and the rest is history, as I’ve followed them up and down the east coast ever since. With groups like “Team Ilene”; Team Braveheart; Operation Enduring Warrior; Team Red, White, and Blue; and GORUCK (among others) we support one another, our adaptive athletes, and a variety of different military and civilian charities. We go at the pace the team needs and are completely focused on one another for support. We start together and finish together, no matter how long it takes. And there’s a tremendous sense of early camaraderie, even with newcomers; it’s hard to hide your true self when you’re struggling through something profound, and most people who choose to struggle for fun are kindred spirits where it counts. They’re my OCR family, and they inspire me every day.
A year ago, my stretch goal was finishing a Tough Mudder, as I was intimidated by the distance. With teammates like Ilene (who was then on her third Tough Mudder), I not only finished my first one, but I carried a large tire most of the 12 miles…because I could. The season took on a life of its own as I completed more and more events that I never thought myself remotely capable of before, at the urging of my OCR family. Following that fateful Warrior Dash, together we completed:
- 2 NJ Super Spartans – Vernon, NJ (Team Braveheart and Team Ilene);
- 3 Spartan Sprints – Amesbury, MA and Fenway Park (Team Ilene, Team Braveheart and Team Red, White, and Blue);
- the Civilian Military Combine – Brooklyn, NY (Team Braveheart);
- the Spartan Beast – Winnsboro, SC (Operation Enduring Warrior);
- 2 Tough Mudders – Englishtown, NJ and Charlotte, NC (Team Ilene);
- 2 Spartan Sprints at Fenway (Team Braveheart and Team RWB);
- a GORUCK Challenge – New York, NY;
- 2 GORUCK Lights – Sleepy Hollow, NY and Brooklyn, NY; and
- a GORUCK Heavy – Washington, DC;
with a few random events there between.
It’s a crazy life but I can’t get enough. This week a group of GORUCK fanatics with team TRVLSQD met up to ruck around New York City and distribute warm clothes and food to the local homeless on a very cold night. We’re ringing in the New Year rucking around Central Park. Then New Year’s brunch with more OCR family, and over the weekend a team ruck for Operation Enduring Warrior’s Run/Walk/Carry 2.0. I find I can’t say “no” to these folks and, as much as a particular event might intimidate me, I don’t really want to. I found a home here, and I’m never bored or lonely!
I’m spending the holidays feeling grateful for this amazing year, healing up (learning to cope with injury is a whole new adventure), catching up with family (OCR and non-OCR alike), and resting (more than usual, anyway) for a few weeks. 2014 is going to be another big year!