I felt him touch my arm. I turned away. Surely it was not time yet. He said my name. I said “No it’s not time.” “Yes it is, let’s go buddy,” Pete said. I replied, “I can’t do it, I didn’t sleep babe, not a wink.” He said, “You are going to do it. Imagine what your Dad did when he was in boot camp or fighting in the war. You can do this.” I opened my eyes, looked at him and said, ” OK, OK.” He left the room. I laid there for 10 more seconds and thought … why does it always go back to my Dad when I need a reminder I can do something?
This is how I woke from my one hour of sleep Ryker granted me on the night before my first Spartan Race. My first Spartan Race, Thailand’s first ever Spartan Race, Brody and Parker’s first kids Spartan Race.
A few months back, Pete called me and was screaming on the other end of the phone. He told me he had the best news ever. Best news ever? I couldn’t even grasp what that might be. So what was it, I asked? The, The Spartan Race is coming to Thailand in September. And guess what, Brody and Parks can do it too!
You know what these races are, right? It’s become a craze in the US and it’s leaking into many other parts of the world; 14 other countries including Australia, South Korea and Canada to name just a few. They have different distances; 3 miles to marathon distances with 20 some odd obstacles to conquer. Now they even different franchises with a little of this or a little of that. Pick your poison I say, or your choice of self torture.
Pete said I had to do it! I had to! We did our typical dance. I say no, he says yes. I say I can’t, he says you can, you can! I use the kids as the excuse, throw in I’ll still be nursing the baby. Then he gets emotional with me, touches on my feeling heart and says, “This, this is going to be your comeback race, this is going to be your achievement after having Ryker and getting back into shape; this is going to be your race.”
Well, fair enough. Sign me up. And sign those big boys up too.
I don’t do dirt. I don’t do swims in water I can’t see the bottom of. I don’t lift heavy things, only heavy children. I don’t swing on monkey bars and I do not climb up walls and jump down off of them.
I run. By run I mean I jog and some times I run. It’s my happy place that will someday hit me hard and make my knees weak and my hips ache. But for now it’s my thing. I strength train when I am in Bangkok with a trainer who is the best but I haven’t gotten back into it with him in over a year with pregnancy and all.
Over the next few months if anyone asked Pete or I about the race we would share we were doing it. They would ask if I was training for it and I’d reply no. I’m going into as I am. I am not going to over think it and I am not going to look online at what it’s like. I am going to show up and do my best.
There were two other couples doing it with us. The husbands all chatting about it and getting amped. Us women laughed and said let’s just have fun. We will do our best.
A week before the race I got an email from Spartan Race stating what I needed to wear and what the children would need. I got organised, made a list which I “lost” the next day after I clicked on the videos of Spartan Races. After that I couldn’t focus on who needed what and why and when. OMG! That’s all I thought. What the heck had I gotten myself into?
I spoke to Pete and said I was starting to freak out and not in the way he did when he found out this race was coming to Thailand. I meant freak out like I might vomit because I am scared. He shrugged me off as he knows to do. You don’t add gas to someone in this state, you let the fire simmer and hope it goes out.
We left a day early to head to the area the race was. We set up in an Airbnb house and the kids began to enjoy the luxury of a pool in their backyard again. They are certainly missing this from their life in the USA in the summer months.
Ryker had been fighting a cold since we got back from our summer holidays. When he gets a cold it isn’t an easy task to get rid of it or work through his system. I was starting to see signs that it was improving until I put him to bed on Friday night and around 11pm he began coughing, and wheezing. I’ll spare the details, but this went on until 4:30am. After I crawled out of bed I showered. While in there I felt a twinge of sorrow and pity for myself, something I know Pete wouldn’t have wanted to hear me say. I somehow just imagined I would wake up feeling great and ready for the race, after all this was my comeback, right? I washed my hair letting the water wash away the long night nasties and did what I know best, choosing to make it not break it with my attitude.
We met our friends and their children and got in line to let the race day events begin. The energy at the race site was contagious. The music was blaring and soon an American accent hit the airwaves with race times, time delays and many, many Aroo’s!
My nerves were pumping and I tried to settle the kids and prepare them for our departure for an hour or so, or so I thought. The kids were eager to begin their race too but they had to wait until noon. They were able to do some obstacles to keep them busy which they really enjoyed.We set off at about 8:30am.
7km, 20 obstacles, almost two hours of running, walking, swimming, climbing, carrying, crawling, pushing and screaming Arooooo! It was insane. We completed all but 4, the 4 we missed left us doing 20-30 burpees each time.Our friends that we did the race with, Morten and Annemette, are now a part of the story of the scars we will have on our bodies for evermore. We pushed each other, laughed at each other and supported each other. For the team player that lives within me each day, my soul is full with those things alone.
Our children, cheered us on while we failed at the climbing rope, crawled under barbed wire (not my choice of obstacles for my sweet boys to watch and worry their Mama would get cut). They watched us climb up one more rope wall and then together, Pete and I jumped the fire together, hand in hand with a hug and a tear stained, filthy kiss to seal it off.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically in my life. It pushed me in ways I probably never had before or never would have, if someone hadn’t pushed me to do it. There were times Pete tried to help and I said no, I can do this one. There were times I had to accept help, be it a push,or a back to step on for extra inches to climb up over that wall. I carried 20kg of sandbags and imagined it as one of my children. “I won’t drop you, I won’t,” I said to myself merely just keep my mind distracted from the agony of carrying it. I imagined my Dad, in full military gear with boots on and no socks in the exact heat I was burning under running for safety, for his wellbeing, for his life. No amount of weakness would allow me to break when I went to that place.
While we cooled down and hydrated, Pete did what he does. He complimented me, and said “You did this all with no sleep. Just look what you are capable of Meghan.” He hugged me again, which is gross when I think of it now because of the filth factor, but lovely just the same. And in that hug I cried for the second time that day.
After a shower and 8 bottles of water we prepared for the Kid’s Spartan Race. Brody and Park needed no preparation. They were ready. Camden hadn’t realised he wasn’t old enough to participate in the race. Being given a tee shirt and a headband kept him feeling a part of the team. When the race began he happily took his place next to Pete and I to watch his brother’s perform.
I just realised. I cried three times that day.Watching the boys climb walls, and pull themselves up ropes and climb up and down ladders was just awesome. They were in their element. And Cam in his, cheering them on by their respected nicknames, “Come on Brod, Come on Park!!!”
On the way home they asked us when the next Spartan race was. Brody asked when he’d be old enough to do the race Pete and I did. We made a promise we’d Spartan race with them for as long as we could. I looked back at the three of them and smiled. I turned around and peaked at Ryker next to me. Then the reoccurring thought I’ve had over the past year came to me once again. These boys, they are brave and strong and capable of conquering anything.In my quiet space since the race, the journey home, an hour alone today while the baby napped and the kids were at school I did what I do and reflected.
The last 13 months of my life have been beyond measure. Beyond anything I could have ever imagined. There are months that have I’ve experienced pain and suffering and worry and fears in the deepest depths of my soul. They are months that have shown me understanding and forgiveness and disbelief. They have fostered friendships I never knew I could have. They have taught me things I never thought I would ever have to learn.
They have given me the ability to connect with people on levels of life experiences I never thought I possibly could. They have brought me strength and healing and forward movement. I have pushed myself physically, ploughed through limits I thought were always going to be there. I’ve found acceptance and peace and a determination to survive with the strongest mental strength I can. These months, well they have changed me and changed the shape of my heart and I can see now they turned me into what I had no idea I was headed into becoming.A Spartan.
The Spartan code
Words to live by
• Spartans push their minds and bodies to their limits.
• Spartans master their emotions.
• Spartans learn continuously.
• Spartans give generously.
• Spartans lead.
• Spartans stand up for their beliefs, no matter the cost.
• Spartans know their flaws as well as their strengths.
• Spartans prove themselves through actions, not words. (This one, I might not follow … but, hey! I’m a writer … that’s my thing, words!)
• Spartans live every day as if it were their last.
– We are Spartans.
– On and off the course.
– 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.
Meghan is mum to four happy boys and a loving wife to her husband. She embraces life in Thailand and tries to fit in with the Thai lifestyle and community as much as she can. We are grateful for her contribution to the magazine as with four boys time is a precious commodity.