I. . . am in pain.
Scratch that. I need a better opening. I need something more dramatic. Something to convey the stygian depths to which my spirit has sunk thanks to the difficult, nigh-unthinkable amount of work, effort, pain and sweat I expended merely a few days ago, effort that left me staggering with weariness and wincing in agony with nearly even the slightest movement. Something like that. Ah-ha!
I am in . . . a lot of pain.
And I did it all for you, my friends. All for you. I can’t believe you made me do this. I mean, seriously. It’s no joke this whole pain thing.
Though, perhaps I should back up and explain just a bit before I continue with the rant and the lesson within the rant.
A year ago, in a fit of manly bravado, (my wife signed up to do the race and completed it with some friends of hers. When I inquired as to whether I could come along with her that
day and cheer her on, she didn’t hear the cheer her on part and thought I was volunteering to come participate with her. To which she replied, quite quickly and without any
forethought, “But you’re not in good enough shape.” Which lead me inevitably to the website where I signed up two days after she crossed the finish line) I signed up to compete in the Battlefrog Obstacle Race Series.
The Charlotte version of the event graced me with the opportunity to cover 8 kilometers (about five miles) of running, interspersed with 22 different obstacles. Each and every single one of them designed by sadistic former U.S. Navy SEALS with a taste for torture.
Each obstacle was designed to test (read damage with intent to humiliate) every part of your body. Not only did we have to climb walls, we had to climb walls that were leaning
back over us at a 60-degree angle. Like so. No, this was not easy. Had I stopped to think
about it, I’d probably never have agreed to do this.
But when my inner caveMAN rears his head, there’s not much thinking involved.
Out of 1,219 people participating in the race, I finished 895th. Which, now that I think about it, is pretty darn good. I was hoping to finish, but wasn’t all that certain I would. Feeling pretty good about beating out the other 224 people in the event. Even better, I finished 30th in my age group. Out of 51, so that’s almost the top half.
I finished in under two hours and only gained approximately 3.2 pounds of mud ingested into various bodily orifices. (Friends, I’ve got mud in cracks I didn’t even know where places that I had cracks.) After I crossed the finish line and gloried in the sensation of the heavy medal being lowered around my head, I staggered off to the festival grounds, desperately in search of food.
It was right around then that I really wished I’d thought to actually eat something before heading out to the race four hours before. Skipping breakfast before an endurance workout. . . Not a good idea. Still, I survived.
Which meant I could live to the next couple of days, to experience the torture of overworked muscles trying to let me know just how much they appreciated me not training for the silly event. Those piercing screams heard and reported through most of south Charlotte on Sunday? Yeah, sorry about that.
So, I hear you thinking, that’s all well and good. But why did he blame us for his pain? It’s simple. I blame you for my pain because a) I’m kind of whiny that way and don’t like to take responsibility for doing the spectacularly stupid things that keep happening in my life so frequently and b) to make a point about your unexamined life.
Last time out, I talked about how you can look at experiences through different lenses and come up with different stories. I also promised that I would talk about how you’d know which memories would make for good stories.
To my mind, the best way to have a good story that you will want to write about and others will want to read is to actually go out there in the real world and live a story. That’s right. . . When they tell you to write what you know, that’s actually sound advice up to a point. The important point is for you to get out there and have the sorts of experiences that not everyone will be able to attempt. Do the things that not everyone can do.
Then come back and think about what you’ve done. If you’re like me, that thinking part following one of these adventures often takes place in either a hospital emergency room or the guest suite at the local constabulary. You’ve got to think about what makes your story unique. What makes your story something that others will be able to connect with, even if they’ve not ever had the experience you just did.
Sort of like I just did above.
Next time, I’d like to take another look at the Battlefrog race and see if we can break it down a bit more to look at what — exactly — makes for the important pieces of a story.
Take care, friends.