My Spartan Adventure

Blood, mud, and barb wire,
Up mountains and over fire,
I AM SPARTAN, AROO!

It’s been one week since I became a Spartan – and I didn’t even have to look like Gerard Butler to achieve my new found status. All it required was 8+ miles of of mud and sweat, the overcoming of a number of treacherous obstacles, and a lot of grit. Running the Salt Lake City Super Spartan was honestly one of the most difficult things I’ve done both physically and mentally. And it was incredible!

Pre-race Spartan pic

Pre-race Spartan pic

It was a hot summer day in Utah, which meant temperatures were in the upper 90’s. Over the course of a little over 8 miles we had to wade through mud; climb under, over, and through a number of walls and cargo net obstacles; climb up ropes and pull things attached to ropes; we carried buckets of gravel uphill and hefted heavy stones; we tossed spears, did burpees, crawled under barbed wire, and jumped over flames. While thousands of people ran this same course that day, the victory I felt was personal. I’ve had a goal to get a team together and run this race since the beginning of the year. It was more difficult getting people to join my team than I thought it would be, but in the end, there were just enough of us. We trained hard for 6 months – admittedly we could’ve done more, or at least I could’ve. There were a number of times I felt like giving up; tossing in the towel and taking a nap instead. And even if I had, I don’t think my team would’ve let me. I learned a lot about myself and my ability to push myself further than I thought I could. Every ache and pain was worth it, just to prove to myself, that I am capable of accomplishing anything. I know that all sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true. It gave me a glimpse of what I could accomplish. Not only on the race course, but in life. Now, if you’ve never heard of Spartan Race, where have you been? The Spartan Race is one of many, in a long list of obstacle course races, each with different challenges and each drawing hordes of athletes to their various events. Their popularity seems to come from the fact that they are so much more than endurances races, and they aren’t just competitions of strength either; they challenge competitors to be more well rounded. This is what initially drew me to the Spartan Race. I’m not a fan of distance running, unless I have something to keep my mind occupied (ex: cross country running vs soccer). So to just run for miles and miles seems awfully dull – for those of you who love this I mean no disrespect, it just isn’t my particular cup of tea.

Post-race Spartan Glory!

Post-race Spartan Glory!

Another aspect that I love about the races, and didn’t fully appreciate until race day, is the sense of camaraderie and support along the course. In fact, unless you’re in the elite heat, it seemed like most racers weren’t concerned about beating you as much as they were with pushing themselves. It may be this way in other races, but I think these races take it to a new level. In a marathon I can’t help you run any of the miles, and I can’t run your miles on an obstacle race either, but in an obstacle race I can lend you my hand to offer some help over a wall or boost you up a to reach a ring. In essence, running it with friends, or making some along the way, means you have real physical and psychological support throughout the ordeal. We’re already halfway through 2015, what are you going to do to finish the year out strong? What memories will you create? Even though the pain of this first race is still fresh in my memory, I’m already planning my next one. Maybe you’ll join me in achieving Spartan glory, AROO!

A little dirt never hurt, right?

A little dirt never hurt, right?

Adventure Movies

One of my great passions is film – watching them, talking about them, and I wish I knew more about making them. Films can take us to places we’ve never been, or even imagined. The best films can inspire us, make us to reflect, or motivate us. I like to think of movies as the gateway drug into my wanderlust addiction. As a kid I saw adventurers travel to exotic locations and I wanted to do that, and even today movies make me want to get my adventure on. So I decided to devote a post to some films that have fed my desires to travel (in no particular order).

 Indiana Jones – this is the quintessential adventure movie. The ultimate adventurer. This guy is rugged, he travels the world, speaks several languages, and is named after a dog. This guy is my adventure hero, but isn’t he everyone’s?

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – while the movie is nothing like the short story (that’s a discussion for another day) it was all Martina and I could do to not hop on our laptops and book tickets to some new destination. Walter Mitty is just a regular guy who finally steps out of himself and finds adventure. Like me, he’s just a man living his life, trying to make sure it doesn’t pass him by.
Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit – not exactly the travel most of us would have in mind – and giant spiders are a huge turn-off for me – but regardless, there are probably few films that compare to the adventure that each character has in these films. Not only do the characters see new and exciting things, but in many of them we see growth and change. That’s what travel can do to a person, it can change you and reshape your views of the world.

Up – perhaps the most touching Disney movie ever. When I see the love that Karl and Elie have for each other, I see me and Martina – especially their mutual love of adventure. I seriously don’t know where I’d be without Martina. And more importantly, I don’t know where I would go without Martina. She is my travel buddy and my best friend. Squirrel!
The Bourne Series – so this series is not exactly a travel series, but if my passport was filled with stamps and visas from all the countries that Jason Bourne has been to, it would be one mighty happy passport. Knowing several languages and martial arts wouldn’t be too bad either.

The Motorcycle Diaries – this film is one of the more thought provoking ones on my list. As the film states, “Let the world change you, and you can change the world.” Regardless of your feelings towards Che Guevara, and how he tried to change the world, this movie reminds us that traveling should change us; travel should cause us to grow. And maybe one day I’ll get to go on an epic motorcycle journey.
Star Wars Series – long ago in a galaxy far, far away… people were traveling at lightspeed and using their T-16’s to bullseye womp rats. Oh, and they were fighting galactic wars throughout numerous star systems. And don’t lie. If that Star Tours ride at Disney was real, you know you’d be booking your trip to ski the wintry peaks of the planet Hoth. Don’t we all sometimes feel a little like Luke – wanting to escape our mundane life for something more exotic?

The Muppet Movie – the original Muppet gang gets together for a good old fashioned road trip to make their dreams come true. Like any good adventurer Kermit meets others like him and forms friendships, over comes hardships, and follows his heart. There are some classic songs, and what road trip is complete without some singing?

These are just a few of the films that have inspired me to travel, and if you haven’t seen some of them, I hope you get the chance. If you have any suggestions for me, leave your list in the comments below. These adventure movies should help hold you over until your next grand adventure!

Natural Born Explorers

Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like to explore? Someone who hates adventure? I don’t think I ever have. Granted, we all explore or adventure in our own ways. Many of us adventure in far off countries – some of us on a shoestring and other with a silver spoon. Many of us explore through the use of the internet or through books. But no matter how you explore, you love it. Why is exploration so central to our lives? What makes us long for adventure? Well, you could say we’re born with it.

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What is this? Can I eat it?

This will seem off topic, but I love being a dad. Everyday I see my son learn something new, and in small way, I get to experience the world in a fresh light. Everything is so fascinating to him – from the balloons at a birthday party to the little potato bugs on the sidewalk. He loves to makes silly noises, hit things, bite things, and grab things. He wants to understand everything around him, and with the exception of some of the more dangerous or disgusting items, we encourage him to explore. So from the beginning, we’re explorers.

Exploring is how we learn – about ourselves, about the world, about everything! Life is exploration. Athletes explore the boundaries of human performance, scientists explore the laws of physics, artists explore the possibilities of imagination, and the list goes on.

So if everything we do can be looked at as exploration, if everyday can be a new journey ask yourself: how do you adventure?