I look like I’ve been beaten with a metal pole and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, but I did it! I conquered The O Course.
Last October, I took my first stab at this military-style obstacle course and I failed. I was not mentally prepared for how intense it would be and I was overconfident and ill-prepared. It was also cold and pouring rain. I was miserable. I bailed on the course about 75% of the way through.
I always felt disappointed with my performance and I was mad at myself for giving up. So this time, I prepared. I watched videos online of what people were wearing. I bought training gloves to help protect my hands from all the pulling and heavy lifting. I strategically picked my clothes and packed my bag, but most of all, I mentally prepared myself for the event. I knew what to expect this time and I was going to dominate it!
I don’t know that I dominated it exactly. With a final time of 1:37, I didn’t even make it close to the top 20 female finishers. But it doesn’t matter. I am as proud of this accomplishment as I am about my first half marathon.
The absolute hardest part of this course for me was carrying big buckets full of sand the width of a volleyball course. Of all the crazy obstacles, this was the one that almost broke me. These buckets were the absolute threshold of weight I am able to carry and I literally could barely walk 2 steps without having to drop them and try again. I made it halfway and just stood there in defeat. I had to walk all the way back. The width of a volleyball court has never seemed so long. I truly didn’t think I could do it. My hands were raw and cut and my shoulders were screaming. If it wasn’t for a very encouraging O Course leader, I never would have made it.
Every time I dropped the buckets and stood there crushed, he would stand next to me and tell me to keep going. Every time I said “I can’t do this,” he would answer back, “Yes, you CAN!” If I dropped the buckets, he was by my side encouraging me to pick them back up and power through. He counted down the steps to the end and helped keep me positive. When I finally made it to the other side, I was so relieved. The next three obstacles seemed easy by comparison.
I have a much different kind of pain after this O Course compared to the last one. I am legitimately injured. My arms and shoulders are aching, just like last time. But this time, I am covered in wounds. My legs are bruised and battered and I have blisters on my hands. I don’t think I’ll be wearing a dress anytime this week!
It is utterly amazing to me how much of this event is mental. The biggest difference between my October attempt and this past weekend’s O Course was my willpower. When I was on the brink of failure, another person’s encouragement helped me tap into a reserve of energy I never would have found otherwise. It gives me confidence that I can channel this same power for my first marathon this year.
The other amazing thing about The O Course is the camaraderie you feel with complete strangers. There’s something about being pushed to your limits together than can make you feel close to each other. Everyone helped everyone – whether it was giving someone a boost over a wall or a high five at the finish line, everyone was in it together.
Even though my body is decrepit and bruised, I feel proud. In the words of one encouraging Twitter follower, “scars and bruises are the medals of warriors and soldiers.” Damn right.