I love a good challenge, especially one that I know will test both my physical and mental strength. I half knew what I was getting into when I said yes to running the endurance course (otherwise known as the e-course) at the naval academy in Annapolis, MD. Half knew….
I’ve been much more intentional about getting fit and healthy lately, recently completed (with success, I might add) a 30-day challenge, and started another 30 days on August 1st. I’m in a good routine, I’ve shifted my mindset and my habits, so there’s no better time to stick with it and continue on my path of getting fit and healthy.
Speaking of paths, without going into the long back story, I found myself at the start of an unmarked path in the forest with my husband, Will, our oldest son, Zack, 3 other teenage boys and our cousin, a navy seal. I was actually excited and looking forward to this challenge course! And then we started… a “light” jog. Um, yeah, I don’t run – let alone on a path in the forest over branches and logs spray painted red, with big blue arrows spray painted on trees in the direction to keep us on course.
One of the rules (aside from “don’t look down” and “don’t fall” – great!) was “slowest person at the front.” Yep, that was me. Remember, I don’t run, especially not in a forest where the path itself was an obstacle course.
Sweat dripping from every crevice and surface of my body, my breath stuck somewhere outside of my lungs, I half jogged, half just barely put one foot in front of the other. That alone was a lesson. Keep going. One foot in front of the other. One step at a time.
I never felt or thought that I wanted to quit. Quitting wasn’t an option. But oh my gosh it kept getting harder and harder. Every obstacle more challenging, every step on that forest path, harder.
“Keep going, you can do this,” I told myself, “you’re strong!”
Our cousin was pretty encouraging, and also could tell I was struggling. “Why don’t you go on ahead,” as he gave me permission to skip an obstacle (or several).
The first obstacle I skipped was voluntary. He didn’t have to ask or give me permission. I just walked around it. Others, there was no choice but to go through it. A handful I stood at and watched everybody else do them as I contemplated walking around or trying it, only to be told “go around.” In the end, I was okay with that!
What felt like a thousand miles was actually about 2-1/2. And after every obstacle we heard “we’re almost halfway.”
“You said that three obstacles ago!”
I balanced over logs in the mud and logs several feet above ground. I shimmied down slick mud slopes while tightly gripping rough, blister-causing rope and leaning way past my comfort zone, twice. I crossed a ravine on a rope, my blisters burning with each new grip. I cheered on my son Zack as he attempted every single obstacle.
I walked around the monkey bars (I knew I wasn’t eight years old anymore and couldn’t hold my own weight on my now blistered hands), two cargo net obstacles, two wooden walls, a woven log ladder, a series of roll over logs and the commando crawl on a single rope quite high above the ground.
I’m not ashamed or embarrassed that I walked around more obstacles than I completed. While I would have honestly loved to have attempted a few of the ones I walked around (definitely NOT the commando crawl!), I am extremely proud of what I DID do.
Will I ever go back and try it again? My cousin laughs and teases that we can do it again tomorrow. Ha! For me, maybe someday, but probably not.
I wish I had pictures to show you all. Instead, you’ll have to trust me and your own imagination when I say it was brutal. My only proof, aside from the witnesses of those I was with, are these blisters LOL. They’ll heal. I’ll get over the temporary discomfort. And I’ll hold the memory of knowing what I attempted and accomplished yesterday.
I’m no navy seal, but I am a pretty bad-a$$ 46 year-old mother of two!
I did manage to find an older YouTube video of some trainees going through the course (in under 10 minutes – WOW!). I think it took me about 45. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goeOFj73q1g It doesn’t show every single obstacle, but you’ll get the idea. Enjoy…
What’s the most challenging physical and mental obstacle you’ve overcome lately?