It all started over 6 years ago at a free kickboxing class. There was a woman in there who mentioned she was doing a race in two weeks and asked me if I wanted to do it with her. She said it was a Spartan Sprint and since I’m up for anything I figured why not. I signed up..did the race and just like the tagline says…I KNEW AT THE FINISH LINE! I was hooked.
That was in 2012 and since then I’ve done well over 75 races completing two Spartan Trifectas, Tough Mudders, Savage Races, Terrain Races, City Challenge Races, Rugged Maniacs, GORUCKS you get the picture. I’ve met so many amazing people, collected some cool medals, some pretty epic bruises but I also started to lose myself. I was gone most Saturdays or Sundays and I was missing my family. I have an amazingly supportive husband and three kick-ass kids but they were starting to take a back seat to my new “hobby”.
What started out as one race a year quickly grew into an addiction. I was not satisfied with one medal, I needed them all! I was not happy just being a Spartan..I wanted to do all of the races! Anytime I saw someone signing up for something I quickly signed up too. My weekends were quickly booking up and it was taking precious time away from my family. My husband and I always liked to hike together but I no longer had time for that. I missed out on my son’s first weightlifting competition because I had to do the Super to get my Trifecta. It all started to feel wrong.
This was supposed to be fun..this was supposed to be another way to stay active..this was supposed to be a part of my life..this wasn’t supposed to BE my life. The vibe at the races also started to change a bit. When I first started it was all very lighthearted. It was such a new sport that competition was not at the forefront of people’s minds. We were all adults out there having fun playing in the mud. As the years went on it got a bit nastier even amongst open heat racers.
People were starting to worry about how other people were racing and making snide remarks on and off the course. This was not what I had signed up for. I can understand caring in the heats where money is involved but for those of us just looking to get off our couches, I don’t think it is necessary. I am not leaving my family on a Saturday to be judged and scrutinized. As the years went by it became less and less about having fun and more about doing it to say I did. I ran multiple laps in one day to get two or three medals and I had even driven from one venue to another and did two different races on the same day. Something needed to change.
I took a step back and decided if I was going to continue racing I was going to do it on my terms. I was only going to do the races I truly enjoyed and I was going to lose the FOMO. The Tuxedo NY Sprint is where my journey started and I have done it every year since then , except for this year. I was registered but when we decided to celebrate my twin sons 16th. Birthday that day by having a big night out in the city I decided to skip the race.
My husband is the best guy in the world and told me to go and do it. Afterall we only live 25 minutes away and we would not be leaving until 3 in the afternoon. But what if I got hurt? What if something happened and it took me longer than I expected? What if I ruined their birthday? I couldn’t do it. The “old Tara” would have but this new one couldn’t risk it. Being there for my boys was way more important to me. One of my sons started racing with me a bit and we were both supposed to do the West Point Sprint this past summer. He got really sick and I ended up spending 10 days in the hospital with him. We got out the day before the race and he was not medically cleared to do it. He told me I should go without him but that did not feel right at all. We were supposed to do it together and he couldn’t go so I skipped it.
The backlash I got from some people was crazy. People couldn’t understand why I wasn’t going. I didn’t go because I’m a mom before I am an obstacle course racer. I am also a wife first and ended up skipping Rugged Maniac this year because I raced 4 weeks in a row and wanted, no, NEEDED to go hiking with my husband.
I took a training class with a prominent figure in this sport a few months ago and he said something that really stuck with me.
He said one day you will die. Who will be standing at your grave?
It won’t be a race director, it won’t be a course builder it may not even be your OCR friends, but it WILL be your family. Do not lose sight of that, do not let this become the most important thing in your life. I did that for 5 years but I am not doing that anymore. I am going to be more selective with the races I sign up for from now on because I did lose a lot of money by registering for events I didn’t do last year. But making memories with my family was worth the money I lost.
In two weeks I am going to Fenway to race with both of my sons and my husband is coming to watch. We are going to make a weekend out of it…now that sounds like FUN! I still love racing and you will still find me out on the course but I am going to be better about balancing racing with family time.
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