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Playing in the Mud – Monday Memory – Don’t Give Up

Life. In one word, it can have so many meanings. Today, it means that there are so many distractions and issues that can get in the way of what we really want to accomplish. Lately, that has been my biggest problem and it is self-imposed. I want to be training and I seem to be doing everything else I need to do except training and I feel guilty each and every day. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I know I have a few months until my first race of the season and I am just not going to be ready. How do I know that now? I just do. We all know ourselves. But, it will not let me give up and submit to life.

In my Monday Memory, I went back to November 6 of 2016. Only a few months ago, I was talking to people about not giving up and how life can kick you in the face. I needed to read this today. I needed a reminder that I can believe in myself and that I can overcome anything. I have seen multiple posts lately with the quote from Rocky Balboa, “You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”

I have been taking some shots lately. I keep getting up and believe me, I will always keep getting up. Let’s all do this together. Let’s all take life’s best shot and get up and overcome.

 I bring you, Don’t Give Up.


Those three words are sometimes so difficult to say to yourself. We have other ways of saying them, “DFQ” or “Don’t Stop” or “Never Give Up” but they are all the same and all have the same meaning. Besides the two words “I’m sorry”, they may be the hardest combination of words to say.

They are not words to take lightly. You have to be in a pretty precarious situation or having supreme difficulty to be thinking of giving up. That challenge in front of you may look too large. These challenges could be anything. You can be facing big changes in life. You could be facing difficulties at work or at home. You can be working to achieve a goal. Hell, you can be just trying to get through each day. You can have problems and issues that you are dealing with. They are all the same. These things all want you to give up.

Giving up is easy. That is why the harder thing to do is Don’t Give Up. Think about it. When was something worth achieving easy? Was graduating with honors easy? Was it easy to move up in your company? How about those workout goals, were they easy to get to? How easy is it to raise kids? I am just shooting off things that I have seen people post of Facebook lately about their accomplishments of their life. Think about it, was it easy?

When it’s not easy and when you struggle to get to your accomplishment, it does not change the final goal. We all wish that everything we think of can instantly happen and we don’t have to stress about it, worry about it or give it a second thought. What would be the accomplishment if it were so easy? There isn’t one. But, if you struggle every step of the way, feel like to have to claw for every inch, you feel like you have poured your heart and soul into everything you have done, is there an accomplishment? Is there a story? How does that make you feel? Think about that…how does overcoming the difficulties in life make you feel? They make me feel freaking amazing.

Life is never going to change. It will always be a battle. There will be a balance of a job, family, relationships, hobbies, friends, exercise and one hundred other things in front of us every day. How you approach each day and how you look at all these “battles” is the key. Are you looking at a brick wall in front of you? Guess what, you can’t run through a brick wall. One of my favorite sayings is, “You cannot run through a brick wall, but you can take it down brick by brick until it is no longer in front of you”. What does that mean? It means that life is a brick wall, with each brick as something you face and a struggle that you may have. Combined they look formidable and impossible to overcome. However, attack things one at a time and remove one brick at a time from the wall and eventually that wall will disappear.

Overcome those battles and have fun, smile, be epic and keep playing in the mud!

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Playing in the Mud – Monday Memory “Fear Before Killington”

Weekly, I have been posting on the New England Spahtens Facebook page. These posts have motivated people, reminded people of their worth, shown people that they are not alone in the world and also shown everyone that we are all one family. The obstacle course world is the same. People feel alone. People do not feel worthy when compared to others. People do want to continue because they just don’t have that motivation.   I hope that these posts help change you and show you that you are all amazing people.

Besides weekly new posts, on Mondays I will be posting a “Monday Memory” of a Facebook post of the past. These memories will posted here, with a current introduction.

Be epic and as always, keep playing in the mud.

September 15, 2016 – Two days before the Spartan Killington Beast

Two or three days before Killington, people start to freak out.

I wanted to remind people that we are all scared. We all have fears. We all have worries. However, that fear also brings us all together.  Fear drives us and pushes us. I wanted people to begin to channel that energy for something positive and based upon the people I met on that mountain, I believe it worked.

I bring you fear.


Fear can do one of two things, it can freeze you or it can drive you.

In two days, I will be on a mountain in Vermont. Standing at the base of the mountain that is scary. You look up and think, how the hell am I going to get all the way up there? You look and you see obstacles and carries and all these people around and you think…”30% of these people will not finish this race”.

You have a choice. You head into the race wondering if you will be a statistic, a number, a DNF and wondering if you gave it your all.

Or, you use your fear of the unknown and of that mountain and you use it to drive you. You motivate your friends, your battle buddies and your race family and you will tell them that they will make those climbs, they will carry those carries, they will complete the obstacles and the crawls and they will jump the fire. You use this Beast in front of you as motivation to make yourself a better person, a stronger person and someone who will not listen to the voice on your head saying ” I cannot”.

There is no alternative. There are no insecurities. There are no options in your day that includes failure. Stand in the starting corral, look to your left and look to your right. Let them see your eyes and your confidence and show them all that “We ALL got this”.

Let’s all congregate up in Killington tomorrow and conquer the Beast.

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Playing in the Mud – What is an Obstacle Course Racer?

Editors note: Russ Blatt of the award winning OCR scheduling app, OCR Buddy has frequently posted some amazing, motivational content to our community. Many have benefitted from his word and his views. I asked if he would be interested in capturing them for the website, somewhere they would be archived and collected forevermore, and I’m grateful he said yes.

What is an obstacle course racer? Who are those crazy people that run through mud, climb over walls, jump fire, swim through ice water, crawl under barbed wire and trail up and down mountains? Who are you? Who are any of us?

I have been racing through obstacle courses since 2013. Since that day, I have gotten confused looks from my friends and family. They have seen me limping the day after races, holding my back in pain and bruised and cut up. Then when I tell them about my day, they look even more confused as I light up and tell them about my day on the course.

They see me spend money on racing shoes, socks, race jerseys, entry fees, travel, hotels, gloves…over and over. When asked about my hobby, I tell them that there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

In 2014, when I broke my ribs during a race, the questions kept coming. Is it worth getting hurt? Is it worth the money you spend and the time away from home? I even got told by someone, “You are father now, when are you going to stop doing these crazy things?” While I was having trouble breathing in the hospital being checked for a collapsed lung and a potential of other internal injuries, I was proud to say, “I still finished the race” and showed them my medal.

So who are we? Are we crazy? Are we insane? Are we gluttons for punishment? Are we sadists?

Are we happy? Are we having fun? Are we having a great time with amazing friends? Is this something that we want to do again and again?

The answer to everything is yes. We are all of those and so much more.

We are just like you. We really aren’t that different. We just did something that so many haven’t tried yet. We signed up and went to the starting line. Whether we finished or not really does not matter. From that moment you step to a starting line, you are an obstacle course racer.

Obstacle course racing is not only about how fast you finish a race or about the shiny medals and t-shirts. It is about the journey from the starting line to the finish line. It is about the friends you meet and the bonds that join you together. It is facing something that is in front of you head on and doing everything you can to overcome it. It is about the teamwork that is takes to complete obstacles and feeling part of a greater community. It is also about the individual growth that happens while you are on that course and the different person that you are when you complete a race.

So what is an obstacle course racer? There are gym rats and couch potatoes, doctors and nurses, veterans and enlisted military, engineers and schoolteachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters and everything else in between. Some people are on pro and elite teams and others train on their own or do not train at all.

We are you. We are “normal” people who have jobs, go to school, have goals and dreams and families. However, and this is a huge however, something happens to us when we get to a race. We change. We are no longer those doctors and everything else listed above. We are one large community. We are obstacle course racers. We reach out and help each other. We do not leave anyone behind. We teach one another how to overcome fears and how to prove that anything is just an obstacle and it can be overcome. We become one.

So while the world goes on around us with all of the problems and battles that this planet throws at us, we are one large community with one goal…to be a team and to be sure that each and every one of us gets to the finish line.

So when you ask us who we are and you ask us why do we subject ourselves to the things that we do, maybe you should be asking yourself why you are not one of us. We are just like you. We just found something that we believe makes us a better person. It may not be for everyone and not everyone will enjoy an obstacle course race.   However it may be something that can change your life, just like it changed mine.

What is an obstacle course racer? Look in the mirror. There is an obstacle course racer in you.