Hey there ,
This past Saturday I drove north of Birmingham to the outskirts of Warrior, Alabama with my family and two intrepid tribe members to participate in this year’s Warrior Dash.
The Warrior Dash is a 5k obstacle course/mud run, this year’s emphasis was clearly on the mud.
For Ned, Paula and I this race was a good two years in the making. We had originally intended to run in 2011 in Tennessee but our plans fell through. Actually, I dropped the ball.
I had gone so far as to set up a training session on Saturdays several months in advance. I was taking all skill levels and the ostensible goal was that we would all work as a team. We would start together and we would finish together.
Unfortunately, my leadership skills just weren’t up to the task, more advanced runners were smoking the beginners on our practice runs and I wasn’t proactive enough to maintain a cohesiveness in the group. In the end I used the excuse of my father’s recent passing that spring to bail on the project entirely.
When Ned brought up this year’s race I was immediately reminded of last year’s failure. The fact that it was going to be local didn’t make it any easier to evade. Ned, oblivious to my reservations, forged ahead and registered his wife and himself for a two o’clock start. I stalled a week or two, long enough to miss the cheapest entry fee, and finally forked over my $65 for the race. After that I pretty much put it out of my mind.
There are many of my colleagues who preach the importance of competition. It can form the backbone to your training and provide a focus and direction essential to growth and development.
I have generally avoided competition. Not because I fear the event so much as I can’t stand the anticipation of the event. I can really work myself up into a lather over nothing. The worst I think was the jitters I would get before a jiu-jitsu tournament. I entered several of these out of respect to my instructor. Despite having fought all comers in practice three times a week for several years there was something about an official tournament that left me completely unhinged. My stomach would be in knots and palms would pour sweat. It was a supreme act of self control not to just walk away.
The Warrior Dash held a little of this, but it also held last year’s failure which held a greater prominence in my mind. I did not cultivate a team this year. I was running with Ned and Paula but we did not train together and there was nothing “official” about our association. We were just running together.
Leading up to the race I didn’t even realize I was nervous, until I was struck with diarrhea three hours before the race. Grateful that this had struck way before we got to Warrior I emptied my bowels and resolved not to eat again until after the race.
And the race went fine, despite cooler than anticipated weather and a little rain. We all wore the same style Vibrams and realized, given the muddy conditions, a bit more traction would have been helpful. But we were more than ready for the race and finished together in high spirits. The obstacles were fun as well as challenging and I was pleased to note that the kilt I wore worked quite well under the conditions. All in all we finished in under an hour and celebrated with giant turkey legs and beer amidst the praise and adulation of my wife and daughters.
And now I’m starting to think about next year. The success of this year, the joy of crossing the finish line as a team, has me rethinking the whole leadership thing and considering getting a new crew together to face the challenge as a team. My oldest daughter has expressed an interest and I’d really like to cross the finish line with her.
You’ve heard me tell you before about the power of failure. There’s a reason it stands out so clearly in our minds and the feelings associated with it are so strong. It’s so we’ll pay attention. Study your failures. Locked inside them are lessons. Lessons which when properly applied will ensure your future success.
Everyone falls. What separates the successful from the non is what we do after we fall. Don’t be afraid to fail, or if you are afraid, do whatever it is anyway. Then when you do fail, for eventually we all do, don’t run away from that failure. Look at it, study it and learn.
To your perfect imperfection,